Planning Vacation in 2016

So, I bet you can’t guess what’s on my mind right now…

beach

I initially told Kevin that we weren’t going on vacation this year, that we were going to have a staycation and save some money ….

And then I got to talking to a friend of mine at work and she was raving about her stay on South Padre Island and I thought … hhmm…. that wouldn’t be too expensive, right??

And then I talked to another friend of mine at work who just got back from Destin, Florida and how she rented a car to drive down there and I thought … hhmm…

So I started doing some research.

Let me just say, that I LOVE doing vacation research. The possibilities are nearly endless.

I looked up cars and it would cost us about $300 dollars to rent a car for a week. I thought, okay, we’ll drive to South Padre island, it’ll take us two days down there and back, we’ll take our time, stop off whenever, wherever, we wanted … we would get the XM Satellite option and Kevin would have all sorts of stations to listen to .. it’ll be cool.

Then I started researching hotels in South Padre island and things to do – which admittedly, wasn’t much. But that’s okay, we would relax, enjoy the sun/beach. Our Hawaii vacation, though freaking awesome, was anything but relaxing, we went on excursions every day and we were constantly on the go. But we figured, WE WERE IN HAWAII, and we would likely never go back, so we wanted to see as much as we possibly could. And we did. We island hopped and we got some pretty fantastic pictures, which I have yet to show you or talk about, but I’ll get around to it, eventually.

I presented my ideas to Kevin. I was excited, I had a plan. This would be different, relaxing and relatively cheap compared to vacations in the past.

Kevin was less than thrilled with my idea. In fact, he shot me down. In fact, he hated the whole idea.

He wasn’t excited about taking four days out of our vacation to drive. He’s never been one to like driving anyway, he feels like it’s a waste of time so no, that idea was shot.

I didn’t give up though. He wanted to cash in our frequent flyer miles and fly down there, the problem is, there really isn’t any place to fly TO. There’s Brownsville, TX, but American Airlines doesn’t go there, the closest we can go is San Antonio. So I thought, okay, let’s fly into San Antonio, spend a few days there, see the sights, (they have a hop-on-hop off boat tour thing which I thought looked fun), and then we would rent a car and drive the five hours to South Padre Island, spend a few days on the beach, drive back to San Antonio and fly home.

Again, Kevin shot me down. I just couldn’t get him excited about South Padre Island.

I got to talking to my friend again at work and she mentioned she wanted to spend her 25th wedding anniversary at a Sandal’s resort.

Hmmm….

So I started researching Sandals in the Bahamas. We’ve talked about wanting to go back someday. I figured we could fly out of Tulsa using our frequent flyer miles and stay at the resort for four days, then come home. We would then have a few more days at  home to goof around.

I started shopping prices, dates, things to do, which admittedly, there wasn’t much to do during the day at the Sandals resort, the beach, of course, but so many days of sitting on the beach and even I, who loves to sit and read, would get bored. So I figured four days would really be all we could handle. But there looked like there would be plenty to do at night, so that would be fun.

I approached Kevin and he loved the idea. Sandals is basically a cruise on land. It’s all inclusive, which means it includes food/tips/drinks. We love that concept because then you don’t have to worry about where you’re going to eat and how much it’s going to cost.

We HATE spending money on food. You’re literally eating your money. Hate it.

I had everything lined up. It would cost us about $2,200 dollars for four days. Remember, our flight was “free” with our frequent flyer miles, we would have to pay taxes (GRR) and luggage fees.

I hesitated clicking the “book it” button. We sat around and talked about it for a while then we went to the Sandals website to look at pictures of the resort. (We were booking the resort through hotels.com – highly recommend, by the way).

The pictures were nice – full of nicely-dressed people standing around with smiles and drinks, looking happy and oh-so pretentious.

Pretentious.

Kevin and I looked at each other. “Do we have to dress up for this place?” Kevin asked.

“I hope not,” I said. “Though if we want to eat at some of their nicer restaurants, we’ll have to dress a little nicer than a t-shirt and shorts.”

Now, we know the pictures on the Sandals’ website are meant to entice and advertise for their resort, but honestly, it sort of turned us off because we’re t-shirt/shorts sorts of people and if we’re going on vacation, the last thing we want to do is dress for work. (Well him, anyway, since I’m in scrubs all day every day).

So. We scratched the Sandals idea. Though we would still like to go to one of the resorts some day – we’re not totally tossing the idea. And $2,200 for four days?? We could go on a cruise for cheaper than that.

Which brings us to our latest vacation idea – another cruise.

People, you just can’t beat a cruise, you truly can’t. It’s not as expensive as you might think it is. Especially when you start comparing what you get on a cruise and what you get when you have to pay for all of the individual goodies by themselves.

Again. I fought against another cruise. I love cruising, don’t get me wrong, but they are hard on me. I’ll be honest, I get seasick. Not so bad that I’m stuck in my room puking my guts out, but there have been a few occasions when we have run into rough waters and I’ve had to sit, breathe and drink ginger ale. (Which helps a lot, by the way).

I really wanted to take a break from cruising this year. But then Kevin said, “do you really want to look back at our lives and have nothing to show for it? Look at all of the fantastic vacation pictures we’ve taken over the years and how many stories we have to tell. Let’s do it.”

And still, I hesitated.

And then, I noticed how tired Kevin was looking. He’s been working really hard lately and taking very little time off. For those of you that don’t know, he is self-employed which translates into, he is always working. When he’s not at a client’s, he’s working from his office after 5:00 and on the weekends. He never really gets away from it.

Which got me thinking, what if we went on another cruise, he would have no choice but to relax if we did that. We’re out in the middle of the ocean, he has no where to go.

One of the places we haven’t been to is Bermuda. And to reach Bermuda, you leave from Boston or New York – which we have yet to visit Boston, (well me, Kevin has been for business) and we want to go back to New York because that was the year we left for a cruise from New York for the Bahamas shortly after he had his motorcycle accident and we didn’t get to do as much as we wanted because he was weak (and probably shouldn’t have gone on vacation so soon after his accident anyway).

So I started researching a cruise to Bermuda. Kevin told me dates that would work for him and his business and I set to work

I went to Royal Caribbean’s website first, because we haven’t cruised on that line yet, but their cruises were only 5 days and leaving from Baltimore and New Jersey. That didn’t work for us.

Then I went to Norwegian’s website – we sailed with Norwegian last year when we cruised the Hawaiian islands and we really liked it. I started with leaving from Boston, but the dates didn’t line up so I looked at leaving from New York.

The dates matched.

Then I went to American Airlines’ website to look at flights. I always start my search leaving from Springfield because if we can avoid driving four hours to St. Louis/Kansas City/Tulsa, then we’re going to try and avoid it. The down side to cashing in frequent flyer miles is that you’re limited on your dates. You just sort of have to make it work if you want to cash them in. And since paying for flights can cost $1,000’s of dollars, we make it work.

To my surprise and delight, flying from Springfield would work. (If Springfield hadn’t worked, I would have checked Tulsa then Kansas City – we try and avoid St. Louis airport unless we don’t have any other choices).

Here’s a little tip if you’re looking into booking a cruise – bite the bullet and arrive at your destination the day before you’re supposed to board the boat. We flew down ON the day we were departing one time, ONE TIME, and never again will we do that. It was beyond stressful worrying about whether the flights would leave on time because one little hiccup and we risk not boarding the boat in time. In fact, the time we flew down on the day, we were one of the last to board, we cut it that close.

NEVER. AGAIN.

So we always fly in to the city the day before, spend the night and then it’s no big deal to get to the pier the next day in plenty of time. In fact, we’re always one of the first batch of people to board the boat.

This particular cruise is from Sunday to Sunday. So, the plan is, since we want to spend a few days in New York to finish sightseeing the places we didn’t have a chance to see last trip, we will fly in on Friday, get to New York about 11:00 PM, then we’ll have all day Saturday to sight see. Sunday, we’ll have a nice breakfast, check-out of our hotel and make our way to the pier.

There was one flight back on the Sunday the ship returns but it was at 7:30 AM and the boat won’t dock until 8:00 AM, so that won’t work. We’ll have to spend Sunday in New York, do more sightseeing, then catch the plane back home on Monday. It will be back to work on Tuesday. It will be rough, and I’m sure we’ll be exhausted, but we’ll handle it.

We haven’t booked it yet – we’re still talking, but I think we’re about 80% sure we’ll do it. This is what we do every time we plan on going anywhere – we talk it to death before taking the plunge.

Yes. It will be expensive (but not as expensive as other trips), but you know what? I work hard, Kevin works harder. We deserve one week of the year for some R-and-R.

Don’t you?

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