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!

I’ve Got Good Intentions

intention1I remember a time in my life when I was just existing. I had no real intentions at all, I was just going with the flow. At this time in my life, I am growing and living my life with intention….how about you?

Some intention? Maybe just a little?

We have to have some intention, even if it’s just a little! I am not saying that you have to have the rest of your life planned out, vision boards and a 5-year plan…every single moment, just an intention. I am guilty of having a vision board and a mission statement. I have them because when I get too busy doing nothing or begin to wonder why I am doing what I am doing at all, I can look back and see that I once had “these” intentions and I need to get back to my mission.

I talk to a lot of people daily and a lot of them are just existing, they have no intentions intention3right now. Existing…floating…blowing with the wind, excepting that “it is what it is”. We need to have some kind of intention, any kind. Whatever intention that will give definition to what you are about right now…and we know that intention will change at some point…but right now, its your intention…own it and do something!

Don’t be a “I wonder what I should do for my birthday” kind of person. Be more like, ” Alright, I am calling up the girls and we are going out to celebrate” kind of person.

Be the one who states what their intentions are and gets out there and lives it…out loud!

Make an intention, a selfish one. One that is all about you and what you know is best for you at this time in your life. We have to stop living with ambiguity when it comes to what we want in our lives right now.

Say what you want! and say it with your CHEST!!

intention2Are you not interesting in dating right now? Say it!

Are you focused on your passion right now? Or finding a genuine connection? Say it!

Are you more focused on traveling? Making new friends? Making positive changes in your life? Say it!

And after you tell yourself those things, whatever they are, live it..live with those intentions. Sometimes we have to tell ourselves those things out loud so that we can hear them. I am an over-thinker so if I don’t say some things out loud they just get lost in the shuffle of the many things I tell myself…… (oooook they may have been too much but, anyway…)

You know what happens when we speak things out loud? We are more responsible for them, accountable to them and the universe hears you loud and clear! The Universe and God hear you loud and clear… and reacts to the words you speak…SO watch what you say! Mean what you say!

Right now I am back to wanting to be healthier on the inside so I am declaring out loudintention that I want to make better choices with the foods I eat, what I watch and the people that I communicate with. My insides just need a whole makeover…but I am not just thinking it…I am saying it out loud. NOW, I am holding myself accountable and so is the Universe. I now have more awareness of what I am putting in my body, soul and mind because I repeat it to myself; it is no longer just a thought in my head.

I believe that part of living this life is doing it with some intention. We should have a life where we have intention- that is personal, selfish, and just for YOU…and then go out there and live it. If you don’t, you’re just talking, lost in the wind, taking whatever is given to you.

Go out there and live your life on purpose, with intention. If you think that it is cuffing season, go on out there and cuff away! If you are passionate about music, fitness, traveling, reading, swimming, or art,  get out there and find a space to enjoy it!

IMG_5122Say what your intentions are and do your thing. It will bring so much clarity to the way you do things and you will have a “why” to go along with that. Once it comes out of your mouth, you will have things and people put in front of you that support what you’ve said. Again, watch what you say because that is the good and the bad, believe me!

It seems like a small thing, but making my intentions known out loud has changed how I do things, whether someone was there to hear me or not.

So say it! Then go do it…

 

 

 

6 Ways to Become a More Independent Thinker

independentthinker4Do you find yourself relying on the opinions of others instead of thinking for yourself? I know that I have found myself listening to others in order to make decisions about my own life. When I hear myself say it, it doesn’t make sense, but I did it…a lot! Most of the time, the advice was ill-advised and I was left wishing that I would have just done what I was telling myself. Learning how to become an independent thinker takes some retraining of your brain…THAT takes time and energy, and a whole lot of patience. Ok, so I have a few steps that you (and I) can take to start thinking for yourself.

  1. independentthinkerLet go of your preconceptions. As an independent thinker, all of the things that were “instilled” in you or that you were indoctrinated into believing have to go. These are things that were given to you by people who you trust and you adopted the thinking. Sit down and think rationally and keep an open mind. Have you ever thought that those things that you were taught and now make up your reality may be wrong? Think about them…do this thinking without emotion and see what you come up with.
  2. Question all things! DO not just accept everything that you are told. Ask yourself WHY every once in a while. You don’t have to think the way the rest of them think or do what everyone else is doing. Just because things are being done one way now, does not mean that it will be done that way forever. Try to become more aware of independentthinker1all of the hypocrisy in your life and the lives of those close to you.
  3. Watch/listen to educational material. I am a reader and definitely listen to podcasts often, if not daily. Free education is everywhere. Take advantage of it in your free time. You won’t be sorry. And do your own research. Take your time looking for information that will help you make a fair judgment about things you have an opinion about. If you enjoy debates, you need to have information to back up your opinions. This way you can also form opinions using logic and not emotions…things get heated for no reason that way.
  4. Travel more! This is my ultimate favorite of course. For a change in perspective, we have to get out of our neighborhoods and see what things are like out there. Seeing independentthinker2the way other people live makes you realize that the environment that you live in is just a bubble, and there other ways to do things. Things are a certain way for each of us, but we should know that it is not going to be the same way for others. Get out there and see a different perspective so that you can learn more about yourself as well.
  5. Watch the company you keep. “If you are the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room”. DO you know that saying? I LOVE that saying because, for me, it is driving me to find people that are where I want to be. I mean, we all know something that we can teach to others and we should fill our lives with people who have knowledge that we are pursuing. It is especially rewarding to find others that are on the same journey or close to it. This way you all can expose each other to new ideas and lend a hand or two along the way.independentthinker3
  6. Read more! Honestly, there is nothing like curling up on the couch with a good book and escaping reality…if only for a couple of hours. Libraries are one of my favorite places, along with the book store. All of the knowledge that is waiting for us to grab! We need to continue to enlighten our minds. Reading makes us more well-rounded and insightful and The more we know, the more thought-provoking and solid our conversations, opinions, and stance will be.

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.

 

 

Are You Living Your Best Life?

trysomethingnew1Do you feel like your life is on pause? Is this a chapter in your life that you are confused about what you want to do or frustrated about where you currently are? Do you need something new? Most of the time, we like to be comfortable. Most people just sit and wait for the next thing to come to them..or they just keep doing what they are doing and complain and/or overthink about it the whole time.

So what do we complain and/of overthink about?

  • We want more money and more financial stability
  • a great partnertrysomethingnew
  • we want to lose weight because we are sick and tired of being tired or being self-conscious all of the time
  • frustrated because we feel stuck in our jobs and we are not using our creative energy
  • we want more sex
  • we want more positive energy around us

That is just some of them. If we do not try something new to change the experiences that affect us negatively, nothing will change!

We have to occasionally introduce something new into our lives…it can be something big or small. Doing the same thing over and over again is going to get us what we have always gotten and if it is not what you want, why don’t we change it? You are not going to get a new result doing what you have always done. Do something NEW…

trysomethingnew3New things not only give us different result but we learn more and they bring us happiness, we receive change and a broader perspective and development. We never know how we will grow from that something new. When we do new things, a lot can happen to us. We can overcome fear, we learn new experiences and how to conduct ourselves in uncomfortable situations, get to know more about ourselves, grow, and maybe even meet some new people.

We have to stop spending time trying to hope and wish things into existence. Not gonna happen! We have to move! Put those thoughts into action. It may take some time and energy but if you want something you are gonna to have to put feet to it. If we don’t ever try anything new, we leave a lot out there to be discovered and enjoyed by someone else. Something that was supposed to be yours.

If you are out here feeling like your life is on pause, go do something new. Take a step toward that dream. Who wants to do the safe things all of the time? That life, I can imagine, is probably kind of boring. I mean, don’t do anything illegal, but venture off the beaten path every once in a while. Start challenging yourself, talking to people you would not normally talk to, Take the stairs, research a hobby, go find a completely different job or partner, have honest conversations with your loved ones…whatever it is, do it! If it makes you nervous…try it, within reason of course. Just try something new, something you have always wanted to do.

Ok so here is a reminder of what happens when we try new things…We

  • Meet new peopleIMG_6278
  • Learn more about ourselves
  • Expose ourselves to new ideas
  • Relieve boredom
  • Break up the routine in our lives
  • Increase our overall satisfaction
  • Give us more interesting things to talk about
  • Expands our perspective on life
  • overcome fear
  • We become more interesting people
  • Discover what we like and what we don’t like
  • Boost our overall confidence level
  • We experience more of what life has to offer

See, there are so many awesome reasons to get out there and try new things. What is holding you back? We can’t be afraid to get out of our comfort zone. You will only get to live this life once and I am sure you do not want to get to the end of it and have a lot of regrets.

trysomethingnew2This summer, why don’t you go ahead and try to become a little bit of a “yes” person! When the opportunity presents itself for you to have a new experience, challenge, or idea, go for it! Try not to make an excuse and just go for it. You will see that the benefits will more than likely outweigh the risks. Isn’t life way too short to settle for living a bland one?

So what are you going to try first?

Comfort Is For The Boring

comfort1There is nothing like a comfortable bed with lots of fluffy pillows and a nice warm blanket. I know this and I want that in my life…every night! I like my bed and other places that I sit and/or rest to comfortable, but what about my life? Just how comfortable do I want to be?

If you are presently comfortable with your life, your routine, and your relationships…I think it is time to force yourself to get uncomfortable.

Something that we need to think about is the more we sit still and be “happy”, the less we actually grow. The more we stretch beyond our comfort zone, the more we grow.

You know what is not comfortable for you, personally. Talking to people who are where you want to be in life. Going to places you want to go alone. Taking a chance on starting that business or writing that book you have been dreaming about.

When you realize that you just wash, rinse, and repeat daily, you have to throw a comfort2monkey wrench in that comfort and push yourself to do something out of your comfort zone. Start questioning yourself and your motives, saying no when you used to say yes, or yes when you always said no, go out instead of making excuses to stay in (that one used to be me….frequently!).

Getting out of our comfort zone is really the only way that we will see growth in this life. The more we do, the more confident we will be and the more self-assured. We may fail at times, but we will eventually fail our way to success if we learn something from the failure and take notes.

If you think you know your path and have everything you need to get there, you are way too comfortable and you may get your feelings hurt. Our thoughts cannot be set in stone about our future. God is the only one who knows and He will not let us know anything before its time. So for us, our path will never be clear, so we should just strap up our boots and enjoy the ride… and get uncomfortable. We never know how much more fully we will enjoy our lives or how truly happy we can be until we let go and face being out of our comfort zone.

comfort4So if you are living a mundane and routine life, I urge you to throw yourself a curve ball every once in a while. There is so much out there in the world to explore and learn. And what about those things that pop in your head that you want to try? Do not leave those things undiscovered if it is in your power to do them! I am sure that is not how you want to live. To do things you have never done, meet new people, have new discoveries and explore new places…that is when you will feel like you are doing more than existing.. you are LIVING and being the person you truly want to be. How do they say it? You will be “Living your best life!”

The only way to get there is just to do it! Get out of your comfort zone and see what your life can truly be. Get uncomfortable! There is nothing wrong with doing something for the first time, even at our age. We can be awkward and embarrassed while having new experiences, it’s ok. We can embrace those moments that we find ourselves in where we do not know what to do or say, oh well.

We are the only ones responsible for our lives and how we live in the end. You choosecomfort3 your emotions at the end of the day. How do you want to live this life? What attitude toward your life experiences do you want to have? Do you want to remain stagnant and “comfy” or grow while experiencing more of what life has to offer? I am learning more and more that when I open myself up to doing new things and learning from them, I feel more alive and confident in myself…the feeling is like no other!

So just do it…get uncomfortable and live your best life

 

 

I’m an Independent Thinker…My Bad

blackboard business chalkboard concept

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From the earliest times that I can remember, I have always been very independent in my thoughts. That is probably why I was never part of a clique. I like everyone and didn’t mind having friends from different cliques. I am the same way today. I attempt to get along well with everyone for the most part. Not all of the people I talked to like each other but that is not something that I worry about. I am only concerned with keeping balance in my life and when an individual no longer fits into my journey, they fade…that’s it. I don’t love someone because someone I know loves them, nor do I hate someone because someone I love hates them. I have so many other things going on in my life and that seems like something that I do not have time to keep up with.

Like I said, I have always been an independent thinker, but there were times when I was younger that I relied on the opinion of others when I wanted to do something. As I got older and realized that I had been living other people’s lives and not my own; I have been retraining my brain so that I could rely on me ( and my God, of course) to act in my best interest and follow the dreams that I have for me.

woman wearing white off shoulder blouse

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One thing that I have started to do was to let go of the beliefs that others have that I decided to adopt solely because they did. I think rationally and stay away from believing out of emotion. Our parents and grandparents…and other family and friends have pretty much taught us our reality, but that does not mean that it is right. I live for myself now. I read self-help and thought-provoking books. I even read history and some philosophy…whatever I feel like learning more about. The more we know, the more insightful our opinions and thoughts shared will be. Along with that, we have to question everything! Just because something is done one way, and it always has been, does not mean you should not ask why it is done that way. When we question why things are the way they are, it helps us to become aware of the hypocrisy that surrounds us and others. What do you REALLY know?

You also have to surround yourself with intelligent people with similar values. What’s that saying? “If you are the smartest person in the room, you are in the wrong room.” When I heard that the first time, I walked away from the podcast that I was listening to. I had no idea that I had been doing this the wrong way all of this time. I am a helper by nature and I always felt drained after that kind of get-together because I spent so much time and energy pouring out. Then what?! Who is replenishing this woman? I had to do it alone! That is when I found out how much of an introvert I really am…and how much I truly love my own company. If we are pursuing knowledge, we should search out those on the same journey. These are the people who will listen to us as much as we will listen to them.

I mentioned it above…I also listen to podcasts…like every day! There are so many out there. I will list my favorites so far at the end. Whatever you have an interest in and do not have the time to read about, there is probably a podcast out there for you to listen to.

think outside of the box

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On the way to work, dropping kids off at school, on lunch breaks, anywhere, I am trying to gain more knowledge on how to live life in a way that helps me be my best and protect my peace.

We have to make sure that before we share our thoughts, we have done some research that will enable us to have an educated and informative conversation. We should always try to be fair in our judgment of a subject or thought of another. We can have great conversations where we can all sharpen each other and healthy debates that can have us laughing, crying, and learning. For some of us, that is what we call a good night with friends.

Another thing that has helped me become a more independent thinker is all of the travel I do. We have to get out of our little space in the world and see things that we do not see every day. You get a different perspective on life and love. You get to see the other people live and see how privileged you really may be. Just because we are used to seeing and living a certain way, does not mean that it is that way for everyone and we won’t find that out unless we venture out.dsc_2694

Those podcasts I currently listen to….

  • Having it A.L.L. with Matthew Bivens
  • The Overwhelmed Brain with Paul Colaianni
  • The Lifecoach School Podcast with Brooke Castillo
  • The Potter’s Touch with Bishop T.D Jakes
  • Elevation with Steven Furtick
  • Cocktails and Confidence with CeCe Olisa and Chastity Garner (Cofounders of the CurvyCon)