8 Hacks to Maximize your Hotel Stay

hoteltips1I love to travel. If I am home for too long without a little break, I go through withdrawals. Traveling relaxes me. It gives me a chance to clear my head and think about something besides cooking and cleaning. I get the chance to refill my cup because I am constantly pouring out.

I spend quite a bit of time away from home…between visits, vacations and my son and the busyness of chasing his dreams. I have learned so much about how to save money and maximize my stays, whether in big or small ways. We may not find the hotel that has it all and is our true “home away from home”, but we can make even the smallest getaway feel like a gift.

Here are a few of the things that I have learned through my travels and stays in hotels…

Arrive early, stay late.

I learned this little treat on my last cruise in August. If you are a part of a loyalty group, based on availability, if you ask about coming early or staying later, the hotel will usually oblige. Believe me, it is not unusual for someone to ask for an extension. They will hoteltips2normally say that they cannot guarantee the request in advance but they can make a note in the system and most will try to accommodate. On our last stay in Miami, not only did they allow us an early check-in at 11:00 am, but they upgraded our room to the penthouse suite…oceanfront! So whether you arrive one hour earlier, or four, like we did, it is still a win.

Let them know in advance that you are celebrating an occasion.

Call the hotel ahead of time and let them know of your occasion. Whatever it is…anniversary, birthday, baby, or just a night away from the kiddos, give them the opportunity to gift you something. Whatever it is, they will be happy to show you their appreciation for choosing their property to celebrate your special occasion.

Know something about the property you’re staying at.

Do your best to show up with some knowledge about the amenities and the fees and incidentals that may be included. What perks do they have? Also ask the hotel agent about any insider information, places you should visit, restaurants, or practices that you can employ during your stay. They may have special connections or coupons to make your experience more pleasurable.

Be Loyal.

hoteltipsMost hotels treat their loyal people like royalty. Try to find your favorite place to stay when you visit certain places and be loyal to them. Learn about their loyalty programs and how you can make redemptions and receive perks for your stay. This is important for adding to your experience. Be sure that you find out if you are a member of their loyalty program. You may earn complimentary nights, vouchers, or extras while you are there. A lot of people have travel credit cards that they may be able to add cash or points to the room or use for hotel breakfast if it is not included.

Just ask

Do not be afraid to ask for extras! The last hotel I stayed in was a four-star and they had slippers, robes, extra conditioner, iPhone cords, extra pillows and additional coffee that were complimentary. Just ask! Most of the time, the hotel has basic sundry items; they just don’t advertise it.

Know The hotel lingo.

You may want to request an upgrade, room change, or put in a complaint…know the hotel language so that you get what you are asking for. When you use hotel verbiage (i.e. occupancy, loyalty, satisfaction or guest) you let them know your status as a frequent traveler and that you know your rights. Just remember that it is all about who you talk tohoteltips3 and how you talk to them. If you are not happy with the outcome of what you ask for or a complaint, make a suggestion yourself of a fair solution. Try to resolve all requests through the person you are talking to but take any complaints straight to management.

Book direct to save money.

Most people use travel portals like Hotel.com or Expedia to book their stays. You can usually get the same prices, if not less and receive your hotel loyalty perks and other rewards. You may also be able to negotiate a better price. Often the local manager may be happy to work with you, especially with big party group rates.

Get to know the staff and tip well.

IMG_5122Being kind does truly go a long way. Still talking about our last stay in Miami, we tipped well and word got out. Whenever we strolled around in the hotel or came in and out, we always had someone wanting to cater to us and calling us by name, even in the restaurant. Whenever possible, call them by name. We all like it when they remember our names. Also, ask the staff about their opinion on local insights. Doing these little things really does make your stay a lot more enjoyable in my opinion.

I am sure that there are plenty more tips and tricks but this is from my experience with my last stay in Miami.

Happy Travels!

So Much More Than You Think

selfworthI don’t know why, but self-worth is a confusing thing to many.

Emotions move from one extreme to the other. One minute you just know you are the *ish and the next you feel worthless. Emotions can make us crazy! We have all had moments of low self-worth which is honestly ludicrous to me because we are all so freakin’ awesome…seriously.

Now, when I get in my mood and recognize my *ish, I try my best but I sometimes still get the urge to feel less than fabulous…small. When I get this way, I do a lot of things to get out of my funk, first things first though…my thinking. I used to look for my self worth in other people and things, pretty much many things outside of myself. I mean in a far off distant land somewhere…waaay over there…there I was looking for my value. selfworth3

I looked for it in people. When we think we are not enough, we look for people to tell us who we are. We look for them to give us value and hand us our self-worth. The problem is these people are usually unavailable and uninterested in having this job.

We also try to find our self worth in the successes. Since we are in a place of feeling like we are not good enough, we get to a place where we are desperate to prove that we are the bomb and we work ourselves half to death and look for our values in the abilities and the things that we can purchase to make us seem valuable.

Some people try to fake their way through to their self-worth. We are who we are. You can fake all day, but just like when you try to paint over a wall with no primer, the true colors are gonna come bleeding through. Do not overcompensate by faking your character or emotions.

selfworth2There are people who will chase that dollar down so that they can get all of the things that “Joe” has and prove that they should be valued. They are out there flexin’ in that brand new car and living beyond their means but eating Oodles of Noodles at home alone.

We have to stop searching for our self worth in external things. It is a human or natural tendency so we have to work on that one. Please do not beat yourself up about it. Recognize it and work on it.

What we have to realize is we can change this habit, any habit really that we do not want. If you have aligned your self-worth up with things, you will never have enough or be enough. That money, success, and that person will never be enough. And another thing, you will never be that person on social media that is more confident, funny, or successful than you…it is impossible.

So what can we do?

First of all, you have to realize that you matter! Everything about you is important. Whatselfworth1 you say and do matters. You have the ability to make an impact with just your presence before you say or do anything at all.

AND, realize that you are just not going to be perfect. And guess what? You do not need to be. I believe that as long as we commit to being better, doing something to improve as a human, it is all good. We should accept who we are, as imperfect as we are, and be better, because YOU want to, not because someone has a problem with you being you.

IMG_0874Knowing these things and putting them to practice has really helped to center me. What you see when you see me, is someone who is the product of all of my experiences thus far. All of my experiences, upbringing, and personality quirks all wrapped up in one hot mama! The more experience that I gain, the more value is added to me. The more unique I also become.

I have value because of what I have experienced…so do you!! Stop underestimating your value…and definitely, do not let anyone else do it.

SO we need to show ourselves that we like what has been created in us…LOVE it, actually. We can do that by being and living as our authentic selves. SO just like you “like” and “love” someone else’s post on Facebook, do the same for yourself…give yourself a high five because you like what you did and who you are becoming….

Let’s get it!

10 Reasons to Vacation Right Now!

 

IMG_0300Now more than ever I love traveling! My boys are older so I am more inclined to get up and go, with or without them to get away from home and get some downtime. We all need it. We need to be able to remove ourselves from the “every day” and refill our tanks. Even if we take a day off, I don’t know about you, but that day off from work is just a day off from work. I can find a trillion things to do at home that will make me think I should have just gone to work.

vacation1I have been taking yearly vacations now for about 6 years and I need it! It is like breathing for me now. And at least one vacation is a cruise. Actually, I will be going on one soon and I cannot wait!! I love seeing new places, trying new dishes that I never would have tried at home, and getting to know a foreign culture. Now that I started this, I do not know how I did life before. I have a wanderlust spirit now and it gets stronger with every new adventure I take.

Here are some reasons why you should take at least one big vacation a year…

  1. You will get to know yourself better. You get a chance to think in your quiet times and the opportunity to see how you react when you are in different situations. I journal during my vacation to check in on my feelings and think about my life. I also record things that happen that I may forget when I return home to the craziness.
  2. You become smarter. Going to all of these different places helps you to gain moreIMG_6276 knowledge about the world, maps, geography, cultures, and languages. I definitely have a better sense of direction after all of my travels so far.
  3. You get to experience something new. Nothing can really surprise you about where you live. It is different when you get out there and travel. There will be plenty of culture shocks…and it is a  beautiful thing. Staying in one spot for me is boring…might as well travel and get out of that.
  4. You make wonderful memories. Nothing compares to that! Collecting special moments will always be better than collecting things. I mean, after a while, where will you put all of that stuff? If you spend your life in one place, every day seems the same.
  5. You may just find out what the meaning of life is. I believe the meaning of life is a little different for all of us because we are called to different things and we have different gifts. While I travel, I spend time with me and think…write…pray. I always think about my purpose and the things I want to work on or change about me and my life while I am away. Almost looking for a fresh start in some areas.
  6. vacation2You sometimes get to see places that you have only seen in pictures. When you step into a foreign land that you have looked at on Google or Pinterest, it seems so magical. It is such a gorgeous feeling to actually BE in the places that you have dreamed of being in, knocking things off of your bucket list.
  7. You will inspire others to travel. Even though traveling is not a hard thing, it can be hard for someone to begin doing it. When you decide to get out there and make your dreams come true, you will inspire others to go and do the same.
  8. You will have exciting stories to tell. Our passports tell some exciting stories! When you have gone out there and experienced other places, you will have hundreds of stories to tell. Each day of travel brings something spectacular to your life.
  9. You meet some amazing people.
  10. vacation3 Every person on vacation has a beautiful and unforgettable story. You learn and you are reminded of the fragility and the intensity of life. I will never forget the awesome people that I have met on vacation, some of them are now great friends of mine and we plan to travel together in the future.
  11. You will become a better person. When I travel, I see a different perspective on life. Since I have been learning these new cultures, I feel like it is easier to be more tolerant. I am more compassionate, understanding, forgiving, and definitely more at peace.

IMG_6233These are just some of the benefits of travel. Every time I pack my bags, I am deciding to create another adventure and leave my mark in those special places. I am no longer afraid to step out of my own little world and see what is out there. Memories and excitement are out there waiting for us…I am actually getting ready for my next vacation as I write and I can’t wait. See you out there.

 

 

Comparison Can Bring You, Joy, Too!

goodcomparison4Sometimes we watch people “come up” and the green-eyed monster shows up on our shoulders making us wonder why they are getting the things that we have been longing for. Friends are getting new jobs, new lovers, getting engaged or married, having babies, buying nice things, becoming famous, getting promoted and/or getting recognized.

We can look at what is going on in their lives and not feel negative emotions. It’s possible! You can admire what you see happening in their lives without questioning your own success. Economists and psychologists call it downward comparison.  If you compare upward about things you can’t change, then you’re just going to feel stuck. No Bueno!

Comparing ourselves to others does not have to be an unhealthy, negative practice. It doesn’t have to be self-loathing or full of jealousy. Comparing yourself can be goodcomparisonproductive…say whaaaaaaat?!

There are pros and cons to this thing right? It is not good if we are trying to gain a sense of superiority or avoiding challenging yourself to do better. Or comparison can remind us of our own fortune…it serves as a reality check.

It can motivate us, give a different perspective, and make us appreciate our lives.  Comparison can lead to some incredible breakthroughs.

I know this sounds completely unusual. The internet and popular opinion say that we should stop comparing ourselves to others. There are so so many articles out there that tell you why you shouldn’t compare…and I agree with their points. This is just another way to look at a comparison.

goodcomparison1Honestly, we should definitely delight in the success, well-being, and growth of our loved ones. A little comparison can cause a light to go off in your head…your life and motivate you to not only aim higher but to put some action to it. Celebrating others and comparing may help us see where we are,  how far we have come and that we should be celebrated too. It can show us that we are worthy of more and push us forward.

When you see others win, you realize that you deserve more too, that you can grow as well, your time may come later but you are still worthy of your heart’s desire if it lines up with your destiny.

This is something that I have been working on for a while and it really has kept me on goodcomparison3track. I do not have envy in my life. I feel good about who I am becoming. I spend less time being self-deprecating (not all the way there yet- this will be a long journey for me) and it feels good to have less negative emotions flowing through me.

After comparing yourself, you may look yourself in the face and affirm your values, your own worth, and even bigger, what you want out of life.

In the book, Ego is the Enemy, Ryan Holidays says, “Stare at it until you can. Only then you will understand what matters and what doesn’t. Only then can you say no, can you opt out of stupid races that don’t matter, or even exist.

goodcomparison5Stare at it…

Look at it…

Soak in it…

Own your feelings! The more we look at other people and compare our movements with theirs, we will look at where we are and where we wanna be. You will understand what matters to you and what doesn’t. You will learn your worth and act accordingly…

7 Ways To Simplify Your Life

Simplifyyour lifeLately, I have been trying to simplify my life. I was starting with my home. Throwing away or giving away things that no longer serve me. Every day, I am becoming more and more aware of what is really worth my energy.

I am seeing that my life will not be better if I do more, add more people to my circle, or make bigger changes. My life can be fulfilled, happy, and very exciting without putting more things on my list or people in my circle. I just need to have the courage to prioritize looking at the things and people in my life and rid myself of the extra. I know that it is possible to do less and live more and that is what I am aiming for this second half of the year and going forward.

Having a lot of people around me had me focusing on a lot of extra BS and that had my energy all over the place…if not drained completely. I cannot even count how many times I said “yes” when I wanted to say “no”. Am I the only one? Probably not! No wonder we are anxious in the presence of certain individuals. It is time to trim the fat ( when I said that I was looking down at my belly as my laptop is sitting on my lap and I have 60 days before my cruise….anyway). simplifyyourlife3

Ok so decluttering your life can cause so many good things to happen. For one, I have been removing the negative thoughts and toxic people from my mind and my heart and that is making room for more good…I am so ready for that!

So how can we declutter?

  • Clean up and keep it that way! I am currently going through my home room by room throwing away what no one can use, giving away what I don’t use and keeping what I love. What else helps is cleaning up after yourself right away after you get everything cleaned up. I am now feeling less stressed when things are being kept tidy and neat. This is an easy way to simplify your life. For some reason, it gives me a calming feeling and opens up my mind to be creative and to think clearly. Cluttered home gives me a cluttered mind…
  • simplifyyourlife1Go a day without spending money! Lord knows that this is hard for me. It is so easy to spend money, and it can be so convenient. It is very challenging to stay away from your morning Starbucks or picking up a quick fast food meal. I want to challenge you to make your coffee at home…and your meals. Even if it is for only one day, it is one way to control some of the aspects of your day…, especially your bank account balance.
  • Say what you mean, and mean what you say! Make an attempt to simplify your thoughts and what you say. Be authentic and sincere. We have to stop sugar coating and just share what is on our minds. When we do this, we are being true to ourselves. We do not have to apologize for what we feel, just speak our truth. It’s just that simple. Or is it?
  • ok, so let’s release some social pressure here. Say No! Do what you feel like doing and do not feel pressured to help or entertain others if you do not want to. Do not feel guilty for not going somewhere, that is a good way to always feel pressured and overwhelmed. Do what YOU want to do and kindly turn down what you do not. You do not even have to drop an excuse or reason. Find comfort in knowing that yousimplifyyourlife2 are doing what makes you feel fabulous and not FOMO anymore.
  • Reduce your commitments. A lot of us have so much on our schedules. Too many things that have to be done…at home, work, school, in our religious and civic lives with our friends and family..oh don’t forget our hobbies have to fit in there. I write everything down in a giant planner and that thing is marked up on most days. It can be overwhelming. I decide which of these are going to bring me joy and value and I ditch the rest. I do not want to invest my precious time doing things that won’t add to me. Let’s get rid of the rest. Sorry, not sorry.
  • Examine your routines. There aren’t many of us that have a set routine in our daily lives. Without that kind structure, we sometimes end up with chaotic days and are less productive than we thought we would be. If it’s better for you to do your laundry all in one day instead of several days through the week, do it. Write everything down that you wanna get done that day. If you do not get it done that day, move it to the next day…do that until you get it done.
  • simplifyyourlife5Declutter those friendships. It does not sound like a positive thing but we have to realize that we have let some people stay in our lives longer than we should have. We have to spend time with people that add to us. People that have positive energy and vibes that make your heart smile. Hanging around those kinds of people help you to feel happy and grow.

If life is what we make it, and you are not satisfied, we have some work to do. Let’s dosimplifyyourlife4 more of what we love…those things that make us happy and make our lives lit!  As we declutter our minds of the people and things that cause us to be or feel out of character, we will have room for the people and experiences that bring us to life. Those things will be easier to see when the messiness is cleared away. At the end of the day, this is the only life we have to live…why not do it to the fullest with the things and people that give us energy, not drain us.

 

10 Best Tips to Managing Money

MoneymanagementMoney management is a very tricky subject that can leave many feeling apprehensive. Finances can lead to arguments in relationships and lots of worries, maybe even depression among some. I am well into my 40s and I have talked to people my age that have been putting off saving for retirement….NO! Some have never heard of having an emergency fund for a rainy day. It is never too late to get your finances on the right track so we need to get started and begin to make good financial choices so that we can live the life that we dream of.

So here are 10 money management tips to get us started on the right track…

  1. Acknowledge your priorities. Before we even think about creating a budget, we need to know what our priorities are. We have to see that our money goals match up with our money habits. Any part of your financial life that makes your stomachmoneymanagement2 sick at the mere thought of it is now a priority. Whatever concerns you most, make that a priority.
  2. Know your monthly income. This is so important because you cannot manage your money without knowing what you earn. This number is easier to know when you are a salaried employee. If you work for yourself, like I do, you have to estimate this number. Once you determined that number, do not forget to add your side gigs in.
  3. Track where you spend your money. Some banks have software that will show you where you are spending your money on the websites. This process can be overwhelming so taking it one month at a time. This means you have to keep receipts, credit card statements, bank statements, housing and utility bills, and those electronic payments like Amazon and PayPal records. Write down everything in categories and label your wants and needs.
  4. moneymanagement3Have a plan. First, we have to look at our spending habits. Look at your expenses, if you are spending money for a gym membership and you never go, it is not important so it can get cut out. Go walk in the park for free. Do you go out to eat every day? That is not necessary and can get cut down or out. Go do some grocery shopping and buy things that you can prepare and bring to work for lunch. Cut out what is not a need and/or not important to you and start saving to build your emergency fund.
  5. Stick to the plan. Once you figure out the plan, you have to stick to it! Give it a full month. You may have to tweak some things until it works for you. Find a budget that you may want to try. There are a few budget worksheets out there. My boys have vision boards so that they have visual goals that they see often. I believe this helps you stick to your plan because it keeps your goals fresh in your mind.
  6. Expect emergencies. We should always have some easily accessible liquid funds.  They say you should have six months of income saved, maybe you can start with having 1-3 months. You never know what may happen out there. You or your moneymanagement4partner may lose your job, or some medical emergency may arise, or a tire blows on your car. How you put away money away for an emergency is up to you. Having money to deal with problems as they come definitely gives you some relief and makes you feel more secure. Most emergencies have enough stress with them as it is; not having the finances to take care of them will add more.
  7. Save early and often. The sooner we save, the sooner we build interest. Whether you do a savings account or an IRA or 401k, you will still need to consider the future. I just started saving when I shop. No matter if its the grocery store or anywhere else, when the receipt says, “you saved $….,” I actually put it away so I really save it and not just spend it somewhere else.
  8. Take advantage of free money. If your employer matches your 401k, you need to take advantage of that, it’s free money! Another place to look is your health insurance. Some build up a little side savings account.
  9. Look at your debt again. You may need to consider refinancing your car for a lower rate or transferring a credit card balance to one with a lower interest rate. It is worth combing through your debt to find out where you can save money to put away.
  10. moneymanagement1Find what works for you and keep doing it. “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.” Once you find a system that works for you, do not get distracted by the new trends, apps, and TV financial advisors advice. It is sometimes tempting to try the next new thing but if you are in a good rhythm, keep it going. Your focus will pay off!