Simply Traveling: Lessons in Travel Planning

One of my favorite places in Florida 🙂

* I wrote this entry before the creation of SimplyEvani but since it’s travel related, I decided to keep it!

I’m finally back and I’m back for good! I know I’ve been so inconsistent with blogging these days but I’ll be better about it now that all vacations are said and done. Find a way to forgive me while I entangle you in a post about our crazy vacation.

So for those of you who follow my blog,  you remember my post about planning this vacation to Florida. It was clearly already an ordeal planning for it but it became apparent that planning was only half the beast. Here are some of the lessons I learned on our vacation gone wild:

Despite our problems with Delta, the touch screens were wonderful on our flights!

After all the anticipating building to Florida, 2 weeks before we leave  I’m calling Delta airlines to see what their change policy is. Lesson #1: ALWAYS check airlines change policy prior to purchasing. After checking the weather report at least 5 times a day for a week, it was obvious that thunderstorms were eminent. Suddenly all appeal of Florida was gone. Much to my dismay, the change fee for Delta was $200 per ticket, not including the difference in flight price. After my days of panic trying to decide what to do, Rob made the executive decision that we would go anyways. I moped about the weather endlessly but I resigned to make the best of it and we kept our reservation. Lesson aside, Florida could not have been any more sunny and beautiful than it was when we went.  (We just barely missed Hurricane Irene, which came in 2 days after we left. Imagine if we had booked for that weekend instead!)

Lol

The night prior, I had checked us into our Delta Airlines flight and learned of the checked baggage fee (Lesson #2: Always check for hidden fees on airlines and hotels). For those of you who know how proud I was of us paying so little for our Florida trip, you can imagine the look of horror on my face. At 6:00 am the next morning on our way to the airport, Rob and I were consolidating our luggage into 1 (which was totally do-able!). I had already printed out our boarding passes when I checked us in the night before and as we excitedly go through security check points (yea, we’re new to the travel thing), I notice our tickets have seats printed on them. And the seats are in different rows.

Lesson #3: Don’t be afraid to ask for what you paid for. As I realized either bookit.com or Delta had screwed us over, I was determined to make this change. Approaching the Delta airlines counter several times, I made sure Delta knew I was not to be denied.  When the employee asked if we were willing to sit in the emergency exit, I willingly jumped on that. Moments later, they gave us new boarding passes to the emergency exit, which was a godsend to Rob’s unbelievably long legs. We had the best seats on the flight. Much to my dismay, we were assigned separate seats on 3 out of 4 of our flights. After our first victory, sternly requesting the emergency exits on the rest of the flights gave us seats together.  Although I credit our tenacity at demanding what we paid for, I have to give props to Delta for always accommodating us.

So true

Upon arrival in Florida, the weather was phenomenal. I won’t bore you with all the details of how beautiful and sunny Florida was. We ate, drank and enjoyed ourselves to our heart’s content (I will probably do a separate blog on travel tips and recommendations on Florida later). The funny part of vacationing was that the more we tried to plan, the more plans fell apart. On Monday, one of our few full days in Florida, we woke up at noon (EST). The planner in me was furious that we slept half the day away but we just went about our day and it ended up being our favorite day at Typhoon Lagoon. Lesson #4: Don’t feel guilty about doing what feels right on vacation (aka sleep). The day we slept in, ended up being out best day and we didn’t crash mid-afternoon.

After allowing things to go with the flow, we had a fantastic time. Although everything seemed to fall into place this time, travel planning is best learned by trial and error. While some of these seem like common knowledge to travel veterans, it was our first time and we learned lots. Hopefully someone out there can learn from our experiences! When we plan our next  trip, I know there are a few more things I’ll be watching for.

I’ve missed blogging and all my readers dearly, I hope you missed me too! 🙂

Happy Tuesday!

Advertisements

Life is full of disappointments Part II

Okay friends, I know this excuse is getting old but I can’t do a Favorites Friday this week because I am in major packing mode for another vacation! I’m headed to Florida for the next 5 days with Rob while it’s thunderstorming (yep, story of my life).

I might try to post at least once while I’m there but overall I promise to be a better blogger once all vacations are said and done!

Happy Friday all, I hope you miss me, I’ll miss you!  : D

Simply Traveling: Adventures in vacation planning

* I wrote this entry before the creation of SimplyEvani but since it’s travel related, I decided to keep it!

Rob and I have taken all of our major vacations (and most of the minor ones) with other people. So as we embarked on the rollercoaster that was planning our own vacation, I was painfully unaware of how crazy it would make me. Luckily, Rob is always prepared for my insanity.

Daytona here we come!

First off, we had less than a month to plan a vacation in August. For me, that was like trying to fit an elephant in a suitcase, it’s just impossible. I was nearly content with spending my week of vacation sitting at home watching How I Met Your Mother reruns when I found a deal to Orlando, Florida through Bookit.com. Flight and Hotel for 4 days as low at $309! Now it isn’t my first rodeo on a travel website and I knew that taxes would take it to around $380. But under $400 seemed viable and suddenly the race for a vacation began.

I started by mentioning it to Rob and gauging his response to this deal. In clearly an act of insanity, once Rob is in, I suddenly drop out. I start rationalizing all the ways that it isn’t fiscally responsible and how unnecessary a trip would be. Cue Rob for his next step, convincing me back into the vacation. For a few days, we dance back and forth mostly with me being gung-ho one minute and completely against it, all within the same short breath. One of my biggest flaws is my incessant need to research so I look up every viable hotel that fits with the deal and as soon as I’m enamored with a hotel, I start looking into reviews on tripadvisor.com. Then within an hour, I completely hate the hotel and move on to the next. You can see how this drew out for a good 4 days as I wiped out a majority of the hotels available in Orlando, FL.

Since we’re walking distance, we’ll definitely be in Downtown Disney!

Much to my dismay, this cheap deal through bookit.com was poised to end by midnight on Friday July 8. Come Thursday night, I singlehandedly researched my way into every hotel and scenario and was defeated. Rob comes over around 8 pm on Friday and takes the laptop. With me feeling dejected and overall beat from the experience of vacation planning, he finds a deal for a “Mystery Hotel located in Downtown Disney”. What this meant is that bookit.com would not publish the hotel’s name and guaranteed a list of amenities with a fabulous price. This seemed like the perfect solution. I began to panic about what if the hotel was bad, or had tacky furniture or even worse had no pool. Much to Rob’s dismay, I managed to google search until I had a pretty good idea what this “Mystery” hotel was. More to save his sanity than my own,  I decided not to look into it’s reviews. I told him I was ready to book and we decided we were in.

DisneyWorld, here we come!

My voice rather shaky as I confirmed the details of our flight and hotel, I worked through my panic and gave into the madness. Yes, we were paying $468 dollars (flight, hotel and the cost of shuttles to and from the airport directly to our hotel). Yes, we were going on vacation alone. And Yes, it was basically non-refundable. Those points made me panic. But imagining the 5 days and 4 nights we’ll stay in our beautiful hotel in Florida, I could not be more excited! Our hotel has constant shuttles to all the DisneyWorld parks and we’re within walking distance to Pleasure Island and Downtown Disney. We’re planning definitely to stop by DisneyWorld, possibly the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Daytona beach. Moments after booking and getting the confirmation, I had brief moments of panic, followed by Rob squeezing my hand saying we did good. It makes me feel good that making decisions in life will be so much easier and more enjoyable with him by my side.

Besides my car, I’ve never bought anything as expensive as this trip. My panic and anxiety comes from the fact spending $400 doesn’t come easily to me. Planning this vacation was a lesson in learning to let go for the sake of enjoyment and trusting that I won’t make poor financial decisions. I mean, the best part of living at home is being able to save for life AND save for vacations to enjoy it all along the way. All I know is that in the coming months, I think I’ll need a vacation from vacation planning!