I want to add content that's valuable to YOU, so please let me know what you'd like to learn about. You can leave suggestions in the comments below or e-mail me! See you on the web!
As I mentioned in my last post, I've launched a YouTube channel, and am adding a podcast to the mix! You can access podcast episodes on the lower right of this page, and once approved, we'll be listed in iTunes as well.
I want to add content that's valuable to YOU, so please let me know what you'd like to learn about. You can leave suggestions in the comments below or e-mail me! See you on the web!
After months of playing the "should I or shouldn't I" game, I've made the decision to launch the YouTube channel I mentioned so very long ago! My goal is to upload new videos on Wednesdays each week, and I'll be covering travel topics from cruising to traveling with a large group to Disney destination vacations, but I want to make sure to post the content YOU want to see. Leave me a comment of the type of video you'd like to see. My first video will go up on Wednesday, and I'll update this post with a link to the video once it's available!
It feels like just yesterday, Scott and I were packing to go to New Orleans for New Years and the Allstate Sugar Bowl, and yet, tomorrow is Mother's Day and social media is full of pictures of spring flowers, prom and graduation pictures, and all the signs of people anxious to kick off summer.
With time passing so quickly, what are you doing this summer? Scott and I are looking forward to our trip to Walt Disney World in September and have our dining reservations made and are taking advantage of the free dining promotion released a couple of weeks ago! September isn't really summer, I realize, but it's always summery in Orlando, and it's our big vacation for the year, so I count it as summer! Personally, that's one of my favorite parts of being a travel professional...watching for promotions and offers that will save my clients money and enhance their vacation, even if they become available after the trip is booked. Those are some of the best phone calls ever, where I get to share that I've saved a client $$ by applying a promotion for them without their having to watch for deals or alert me that they have seen an offer.
Time flies when you're having fun, and I hope you're having a great 2018 so far.
We typically don't travel for the holidays, unless it's to see family. Cold weather, airport lines, and the general moodiness of it all can lead to unpleasantness. At the end of 2017, however, we had the opportunity to travel to New Orleans, which was a lot of fun. We were part of a larger group, so there were a lot of things we "had to do" and our schedule was some what regimented,but we did get some time to get out on our own and explore a bit. The unseasonable cold hit New Orleans as well, and we weren't able to do everything we wanted, but that just means we'll have to go back. Foodies that we are, I noticed how beautiful the presentation on the food we ate was. As this was my first time in New Orleans, I can now say I have been down Bourbon Street, but can safely say I won't go back. Twenty years ago, it may have been a different story, but seeing people just being ridiculous, up to and including a man relieving himself in a corner, isn't my idea of fun. The people of New Orleans were friendly and welcoming, and as I said, I look forward to returning when we've got more of our own time to explore places like the Garden District and maybe take a guided tour or two.
Last weekend, we were fortunate enough to be in one of my favorite places in the world, Orange Beach, Alabama. We went for a family reunion, which in itself was wonderful and an overall great trip. Scott and I even proved to ourselves we could power through the 18 hour drive in one fell swoop and did so overnight on the 4th and 5th.
One thing we didn't necessarily count on was Hurricane Nate making landfall. Before we left, we saw the storm tracking off the coast of Central America, so we knew we had to watch it carefully, and I'm grateful to say that the eye of the storm went west further than expected and made landfall in Louisiana, not that I'm grateful that they got the brunt of the storm. Talking to the Alabama locals, the Eastern side of a hurricane is the worst side of the storm, because that's where the "hook" is. Estimates for wind gusts of the storm were 30-50 mph, which we often have in Nebraska. What we don't have is the walls of water that come with that wind in the form rain and waterspouts emerging from the ocean.
Storms of this sort are so dangerous because they are so unpredictable and change so very quickly. For example, before the rain hit, a waterspout formed about 10 miles offshore and blew ashore, creating the need for a tornado warning. Voluntary evacuation orders were put in place by city leadership and a mandatory curfew was set from 8pm on Saturday to 6am on Sunday.
Nate moved quickly and was gone seemingly as quickly as he arrived...and was set at a Category 2. Being through what we experienced, I cannot imagine what the people who experienced Harvey, Irma, and other storms at higher categories have been through. My advice during Hurricane Season,which is July through November, is to be watchful if you're traveling, be prepared, and have a plan. If you're at a resort or on a cruise ship, they will take care of you and keep you safe as long as you follow their instructions. These storms, no matter what category they are, are no joke and not something to be taken lightly.
Sitting here writing my blog this week, I'm trying to think of a single person I know who doesn't have a "favorite" vacation spot they've been to more than once, and I can't think of anyone. There are as many favorite destinations for as many reasons as people can create, and two people may have the same "favorite" destination for very different reasons. While it's great to go back to something familiar and comfortable, I would extend the challenge to you to stretch your comfort zone just a bit and the next time you're in your favorite vacation location, try something you've never done before. Whether it's as simple as a dish that you've seen on the menu of your favorite restaurant on vacation, but never tried it, DO IT! If it's a new adventure that will give you some new perspective and new appreciation and add another reason to your list of WHY wherever it is is your favorite vacation spot, DO IT!
What are some of your favorite vacation spots and why? I have a number of them, and will be traveling to one of them in a little over a week. I'm VERY excited about my trip, even though it's a short one!
Share in the comments below!
Over the past two weeks, the US has experienced two devastating hurricanes, the second of which made landfall in Florida this morning. Our hearts go out to the people of Texas as they continue their clean-up efforts from Hurricane Harvey, and the people of Florida as they prepare for what Irma brings them. Even before Irma arrived in Florida, her path of destruction has been nothing if not devastating. Barbuda, the sister island to Antigua in the Leeward Islands, was all but destroyed, leaving 1500 residents homeless. St. Thomas and St. John in the US Virgin Islands and St. Maarten in the British Virgin Islands were hit as well, and hit hard. The pictures with this post are Trunk Bay in St. John, USVI and the man-made reef project in Serenity Bay on Disney's Private Island in the Bahamas, Castaway Cay. Sadly, a storm blew through and destroyed this project years ago, as well as took the ship set of the Flying Dutchman from the "Pirates of The Caribbean" movies, which had been "docked" at Castaway Cay as well.
We continue to hold all affected by these catastrophic storms in our thoughts and in our hearts, and express unending gratitude to first responders, rescue task forces, and FEMA workers who are deployed away from their families, sometimes for months at a time, in order to help in whatever ways they can.
If you'd like more information on how storms are handled from a travel perspective, leave a comment below and we can explore that in a future post. Stay safe wherever you are and tell your loved ones how much they mean to you!
On your next trip to Walt Disney World, you won't want to miss the opportunity to dine at Disney's Coral Reef restaurant, housed inside the Living Seas with Nemo and Friends pavilion. Reservations are required for this popular spot, but going to the trouble to get them is very, very worth it. The family-friendly atmosphere is fun and light with a distinct elegance to it, but not so fancy that you won't feel comfortable in whatever you wear around the park. Best of all, the Coral Reef restaurant accepts Disney Dining Plan table service credits!
DID YOU KNOW: In 2018, the Disney Dining plan is being modified to allow 1 cocktail per guest (ages 21 and over) per meal?
Want more details? Ready to plan your 2018 Disney destination vacation? Head on over to our Contact Us page and send us a message!
Before sailing on our first cruise, I thought...what could there POSSIBLY be to do floating around on a ship for multiple days? I'm going to get so bored! That theory was put to rest quickly with our first cruise, which was not on a Disney Cruise Line ship. We had a great time and it was a learning experience for our future cruises, which, to date, have all been on Disney Cruise Line even though we don't have children. That's another blog though. Having sailed on each of the four ships currently in the Disney fleet (and anxiously awaiting the three new ships that will launch in 2021, 2022, and 2023), here are 10 ways that we've discovered that you can RUIN your Disney Cruise Line vacation!
10) Don't try new foods
If you are a picky eater, a cruise is actually the perfect environment for you to try new things and step a bit out of your comfort zone. With food being included in the price of your cruise (other than specialty restaurants Palo and Remy and concession items), you can order anything from the menu and try it. If you don't like it, your wait staff will happily bring you something you will like. Also, if you REALLY like something (say, on steak and lobster night), order multiple of whatever you want.
9) Don't relax
There are always activities happening somewhere on board, from mixology classes to fitness classes, character meet and greets, games and activities, movies (first-run and Disney Classics shown on Funnel Vision) and more. Each evening, a Personal Navigator will be left in your stateroom outlining the activities available for the following day. If your speed is more pulling up a deck chair and enjoying a frosty vacation beverage, do it! It's YOUR vacation. Make it what you want it, but make it a point to go back home refreshed with memories of a relaxing vacation.
8) Don't see the stage shows before/after dinner
Each evening in the Walt Disney Theatre, broadway-caliber shows take place. If you choose early dinner seating, you'll have the opportunity to go to the show after dinner. If you choose late dinner seating, you'll go beforehand if you choose. Amazing casts of very talented crew members will sing, dance, and bring magic to life on stage with classics like The Golden Mickeys, Tangled, Beauty and the Beast, and Frozen. If you'd like to enjoy a pre-dinner cocktail or light snack, concession stands are right outside the theatre, or waitstaff will walk through prior to the show to get you what you need.
7) Don't Dress for Dinner
I get it. You're on vacation. The last thing you want to do is get dressed up for dinner. Well, let me tell you, there's something so special about getting ready to enjoy a beautiful meal in a beautiful restaurant that is something we truly look forward to. Clients of mine took their very first cruise in June of this year, and dressing for dinner made such an impression on their 12 year old son, he completely changed his wardrobe and hair to reflect a more polished, "fancy" look for every day on their return home. If you're planning on eating at Palo and/or Remy aboard the Disney ships, a little fanciness is required.
6) Don't pack sunscreen
As a true "ginger" red hair/extremely fair skin, I can spend a total of about 15 minutes in the sun before showing signs of pink. Caribbean sun is more intense, so by all means, pack sunscreen that works for you and remember to reapply often, even if it says waterproof. On our last cruise, we saw a fellow passenger that was the color of a maraschino cherry, and it was early in the cruise. I actually hurt for him.
5) Don't make reasonable requests
One of the best things about Disney is the culture of making magic happen for their guests. If you had a particularly delightful dessert and would like it again the following night, if they can make it happen, they will, even if it's not on the menu. I will caution you that this is not a license to take advantage of your wait staff or make life for your room steward impossible. Sail with the golden rule, and it will be a magical journey for all involved.
4) Don't take pictures
While you don't want to be "that" guest who is constantly shooting pictures and forgetting to be present in the moment, take pictures! Be creative and think of ways to make your vacation memories as fun to watch/review in 5 years as they are the moment you get home.
3) Don't try new things
One of the greatest parts of cruising is having to unpack once and getting to see new places every day. Plan an excursion for something you've never done before at least once on your trip! I will caution you that wandering around in many of the ports without some sort of excursion planned is not safe, so make sure you're mindful of safety, first and foremost. If you have specific questions about a port, the guest services desk onboard is very helpful and will provide tips and tricks to make your cruise a pleasant one.
2) Don't get to know your waitstaff
Disney is the only cruise line that features rotational dining. You'll be assigned a rotation of their dining rooms, and your table number will remain the same at each of them...and so will your wait staff. The crew is from all over the world, so taking time to get to know them, and allow them to get to know you, will make for a more fulfilling vacation. We have staff friends we made on a Disney cruise in 2009 that we're still in contact with!
1) Don't count on fun
There truly is something for everyone on a Disney Cruise. If you DON'T have fun, you're trying not to. From the night clubs and piano bars to onboard activities and spa treatments, enjoy yourself! That's what vacation is all about, right?
If I've enticed you and you want to sail BEFORE September 30th of this year (or take any sort of Disney destination vacation for that matter, hop on over to our Disney Promotion 2017 page and fill out a brief form to let me know what sort of trip you'd like to take! I'm offering up to $500 on Disney destination vacations that are booked by August 31st and travel by September 30, so don't delay!
Happy Sunday travel enthusiasts. Candice asked me to guest author her blog this week. I thought I would give you an introduction so you know me as more than Candice’s husband. I have had the travel bug for as long as I can remember. Some of my earliest memories include a trip to Disneyland in California with a stop in Las Vegas when I was nine. That one sticks out because it was my first foray into gambling. Thanks to 9-year-old me sliding quarters into the slider machine with my dad and getting caught, my 14-year-old brother got to sit at a slot machine pulling the lever next to my mom for a couple of hours. Some of my favorite places in the U.S include Chicago, New York, and Washington DC. The furthest away from home I have been was to visit Manila in the Philippine Islands for work. That trip will be worth another blog some other day and was a once in a lifetime trip for me.
Now, on to the point of my blog post today. My first trip to Disney World in Florida was several years ago. We were spending a couple of days in the parks and then getting on a Disney Cruise ship for a celebratory cruise. I had never been there and there was so much that I had to see and do. We set our sights on the Magic Kingdom park. It was a typical late summer day in Orlando, hot, humid, more people than I typically like to be around. It is important to note that I had never been there before, but as a typical type A male figure, I knew what I wanted to do, where I wanted to go.
We started out going left. We went on Splash Mountain, now one of my favorite rides. We then took off to go do the Haunted Mansion. After that, we went to Mickey’s Philharmagic which was new at that point. From there, we went to Space Mountain. We found a quick service restaurant for lunch (sorry, don’t remember which, but I think it was close to the Mainstreet USA). It was after lunch that I decided that I wanted to go ride Big Thunder Mountain, then back to Adventureland to the Jungle Cruise, at which point the daily rainstorm happened and I was drenched as I was seated on the entrance to one of the Jungle Cruise boats...the only seat NOT covered by the canopy. As you can guess, by this time I was tired. I was getting punchy, but I still thought I knew my way around better than anyone who has ever been there. I wanted to go to the Winnie the Pooh ride next. I started to walk confidently. My loving bride had finally had enough (she had been there previously and lives and breathes Disney). I was walking confidently to where I knew I wanted to go. She stopped and very sternly told me that I was going the wrong direction. We argued, I got out the map. I put the map away and started following the expert in the family.
We were tired, I was wrong, and I learned a very valuable lesson. Have a plan to get around the parks. No matter what park you go to, have a plan and listen to those that know more than you do. Because of me, in a little over 4 hours, we had been to every land and still had more that we wanted to do. Our feet were tired, we were beat. We ended up leaving early that day and missing the fireworks because of my stubbornness earlier in the day.
Let me end with the only good decision I made that day. Go Left first. Most people have the inclination to go right, so by taking a left, you can avoid some of the larger earlier morning crowds. Other than that, I didn’t do anything right. Your plan should include doing everything you want to do in each land of the park before moving on to the next area. Plan your Fast Passes accordingly. For example, get your fast pass for Splash Mountain early in the day, get the one for Mine Train about mid-day and get that one for Space Mountain late afternoon. Utilize your Fast Pass times to help plan your way around the park. (the only downside to this is that it makes it a little bit more difficult to get extra fast passes)
My final thought, hire a professional. They can help you plan everything and they LOVE doing it. They can help decide on the right resort, the plusses and minuses of the different parks on each given day, clear down to the right kind of park tickets you should buy.
Thanks for reading and have a great day!