Now that it is officially 2015, it is time to get down to business. A new year means making New Year resolutions and hopefully, following through with all of them. My first goal of 2015 was to get my kids their passports. Luckily, we live in a vacation destination and there is plenty to do without going very far, but not having passports for the kids have caused us to pass up some great travel opportunities. No more! On the first day of January we took kids to the post office and applied for their passports. Their tickets to the world! I can’t wait to start planning some big adventures.
First thing I do is pull out my calendar. I need a visual of the year to make sure my goals line up with reality. Then I have a powwow with the familia, usually over tequila, to discuss travel plans and budgets. I travel with a large group or a larger group, so it is important to get everyone on the same page. Also, Sis, Grams and my daily schedules are so intertwined with babysitting and work that one quirk in the system or miscommunication could throw everybody off. Plus, HotDaddy appreciates it when I include him in the planning. There have been many occasions where he has walked through the door with me springing a trip on him.
“Hi honey. Welcome home. Oh by the way, pack your bags. We are leaving town!”
On the Books for 2015:
We usually have an RV trip planned already, but Sis and Ozzy have decided to upgrade the family RV and it won’t be ready until the spring. They are planning a cross-country road trip to retrieve their new RV, which we were invited to join. This is right up my alley, but unfortunately it may overlap with our trip to Savannah and St. Pete Beach. So we shall see.
Bye, bye Enterra. You will be missed!
We have our annual trip to St. Pete Beach already booked, but this year we are adding a side-trip to Savannah. I’ve only heard wonderful things about this historical city and I’m really excited. I have already been plotting out where we will be stuffing our faces. Then it is off to St. Pete, where we will be relaxing on the beach for a week!
I will be keeping a diary of the trip in order to better share our experience. This trip will include two flights, a train trip, a few shuttle rides and two cities! The kids have only been on short train rides, so it will be interesting to take them on a longer journey.
Las Vegas will be on the itinerary again this year. I love Vegas and literally get cravings to return. We go so often, that I am really good at keeping the cost in check. We are a part of the players club, which give us great room rates. We don’t have to fly there and I have tricks to saving on food and activities. Read more about my tips for Las Vegas, HERE.
When the new RV arrives, you can bet we will be loading up and heading out. We have our favorites, like Halloween at Vail Lake, but we have decided to sprinkle in some new destinations this year. I am pushing for Yosemite this summer. The scenery is breathtaking!
For more tips on RVing check out these posts:
I’d like to squeeze San Francisco, Del Coronado Hotel, a cruise and at least one international trip. We will have to see how the budget pans out.
Keeping the Cost in Check:
Now that I know what I’d like to accomplish, I dive into research. I search for flights on Google Flights and then I track them on Yapta.com. I research hotels on Booking.com and Hotels.com. Those are just my favorites, because I’ve always found the best rates on those sites. I also sign up for any rewards groups offered that way I earn points that can go towards future trips.
Once I know a rough estimate of what my adventures are going to cost me, it is time hustle. I work as a bartender, so I pick up as many shifts as I can while I’m in town. I work nights, so my days are free to spend with my kids and sometimes to write. I usually have to save my writing to late hours of the night when the kids are sleeping. I write for Cigar & Spirits Magazine as well as freelance for various publications, earning me extra income towards travel.
I work for tips, so every night yields a slightly different number. Since my hourly wage is consistent and I have an average of what I make in tips a week, I can figure out what I can realistically put away for travel. I have a travel account that I pay into like a mandatory bill. I don’t think of travel as optional, so I don’t treat it as an unimportant expense. I don’t adjust my savings to my lifestyle; I adjust my lifestyle to my savings goals. Otherwise, I’d never save anything.
Get that plastic girl! It is credit card mania. I am not advocating getting yourself in debt, but have a couple great travel cards is so worth it. It will save you tons of money, if done properly. I keep my cash in the bank and use my best travel-points card for all my monthly purchases and bills. Then I pay the card off with the cash I actually have. This only works if you keep in mind the balance you have available in the bank, not the credit line available on the card.
I like this, because you earn points every day and before you know it, you have enough for a free flight, room or cruise. We are planning a Disney cruise for 2016 and I am burning my new card up. Plus, when you have a Disney points card you are able to finance the cruise in payments. I like this a lot!
For more tips on saving money and research for trips check out these posts.
Anyone who knows me, knows I like my grub and my drank. So, in order to indulge my guilty pleasures, I have to work it out. With a busy life, it is easy to push it aside, but I find I work better and I’m nicer if I’ve had a great workout. I try to accomplish this three to four days a week, in the mornings. I have little kids that aren’t in school yet, so I usually include them in my exercises. If I take them to the park or playground I use the opportunity to use the equipment available. Chase the kids around for cardio, squat up the stairs, pulls- ups on the bars, etc. Sometimes I even take the kids to gym with me.
Some people wait for spring cleaning to clear out the old, but I like to do this right in the beginning of the New Year. The kids usually get a ton of new clothes at Christmas, so I have to clear out the closet before adding the new anyway and I like to think ahead for trips and what should be saved. Yes, I already have things put aside for Florida. I like us looking fresh for trips.
So that is what 2015 is looking like so far, but I’m always down to mix it up if something more interesting pops up. I am currently working my booty off saving that change, but I have my vacations in my mind and that is what keeps me motivated!
What do you have planned for 2015 and how do you prepare?
Author: Hot Mama
I’m a busy working mama, who understands the importance of taking a time out to enjoy life. Always ready for an adventure, this mama will not hesitate to pack the family up and go. Family vacations are a great way to bond with your kids and create wonderful memories that they will carry with them throughout their life. A fabulous getaway doesn’t have to break the bank! I’ll give you the tips and tricks you need to make every trip memorable, reasonable and HOT!