Category Archives: Travel

Tracy Helps You Saves You Time

The Most Wonderful (aka Busiest) Time of the Year

The Holiday season is upon us, and it’s the most wonderful time of the year. There are so many fun things to do, like spending time with family & friends … traveling … going to parties … shopping … wrapping … not to mention, celebrating the actual Holiday.

All these things are wonderful, but can also be stressful. Adding these fun activities to our already busy schedules can sometimes feel overwhelming. You are only one person, and you only have so much time. It’s the perfect time to have a Personal Assistant !! Continue reading

Maiden Voyage Camping Trip

First Camping Trip of the Year

My husband and I love to go camping 🙂

As you know from a previous blog post, we purchased a used travel trailer last month. That post detailed all that happened, but to sum it up, we were deceived and bought a camper that had several issues. We spent the month of May and many $$ to get it ready for safe travels … everything isn’t perfect, but we repaired what we felt were the most important items.

This weekend we are embarking on our Maiden Voyage with it 🙂

We picked it up from the RV repair place on Thursday, and I have been getting all our camping gear transferred from our old pop-up camper to the new one. It’s been a lot of work, but also a lot of fun setting up house in our new (to us) home away from home.

We have been watching lots of You Tube videos to learn how everything works. We’ve (well I have) read the owners manual cover to cover. We have camped for many years, but never in a camper.

We have to learn how to:

  • level the camper at the campsite
  • hook up the electric and water
  • operate the awning
  • make sure the propane is on and the frig & stove work
  • take care of all the bathroom chemical stuff
  • emptying the holding tanks (you know what I’m talking about)
  • and stuff we haven’t even thought of 🙂

I’m hoping for a wonderful weekend filled with fun memories of this first camping trip in our new camper. And I’m hoping that these new fun memories will replace my first disappointing ones & help me to regain the excitement I had when we first decided we were going to buy a camper with a bathroom – a definite upgrade from our pop-up.

Let the fun begin 🙂

Old Camper - New Camper

Camping Season Has Arrived !

I love the month of May!  The weather is getting warmer, the lilacs and other flowers are blooming … and it’s time for camping 🙂

My kids were older, both teenagers when we started camping with our family. Our first trip was as part of a larger group of families that camped every year over Father’s Day weekend. We bought a large tent, tarps, a camp stove, and a lantern. We already had sleeping bags and other essentials. We bought some old pots & pans / dishes at a garage sale. We had a great time. We did this each Father’s Day weekend for 3 years. It was our only camping trip each year.

Then my hubby and I decided we were getting tired of sleeping on the ground, so we bought a used pop-up camper. We continued with the annual trip each June for a few more years. Now the kids, ahem … young adults go on this annual trip without us. Over the past few years, it has been just the hubby and I, and we really like it. We enjoy the peace and quiet 🙂 We usually plan a 3 day weekend camping trip for June, July, August and September.

This Spring, we took the plunge and bought a used travel trailer!  No more middle of the night trips to the bathroom for us 🙂 We actually bought it off EBay and went to pick it up last week.

We were so excited when we first saw it. We knew from the eBay description that there were a couple of minor things wrong with it. It’s a 1999 model, so just age alone was a contributing factor. We trusted the seller when they said that there had been a previous leak but it had been completely repaired and no longer leaked. We trusted the seller when they said the awning had a tear but was still usable. We trusted the seller when they said that the crack in the plastic vent cover was only cosmetic.

Then we drove home with it, six hours in the pouring rain. Then we parked it outside our house for the night, and it rained all night long. The next morning, the sun was out, so we decided to start moving our camping gear from the pop-up to the new trailer. The first thing we noticed when we went to unlock the door was that the entire plastic vent cover was gone … it must of blown off during the long ride home from southern Indiana. So, I taped a piece of plastic over it so the back of the refrigerator didn’t get any more wet than it already was. Then we went inside to discover that it did leak … not giant puddles, but the wall was moist and soft to the touch in the same place the previous water stain was. We then opened the awning to find the tear was nearly half way across. I was mad … so mad. I hate being lied to. So I waited a couple days to cool off, then sent a (very professional, not emotional) ebay message to the sellers explaining that we were very upset that we had been deceived by their description, and that we thought they should be responsible for the cost of the repairs to get it to the way it was described as perfectly usable.

I waited a week for them to respond, and then I opened a resolution ticket with ebay motors. EBay has strict guidelines about items being “as described”. They will investigate the situation and try to work with us to get some of our money back.

We are taking it to a RV repair place to get an estimate for the needed repairs. Hopefully eBay will convince the sellers to cover those costs.

We really do love our new (to us) little camper and can’t wait to take it out for her maiden voyage 🙂 We just didn’t expect to have to put a lot of money into repairs so soon 🙁

Oh, and by the way … our pop-up camper is for sale … make us an offer we can’t refuse 🙂

Vacation Suitcases

Planning A Vacation ~ Spring Break or Anytime

As you may or may not know, I used to be a travel agent. Planning a vacation was one of my main job duties. I was actually employed in the travel industry for 25 plus years. As well as being a travel agent, I also worked in the reservations department for Apple Vacations for a couple of years, and worked for United Express Airlines for 14 years. All that to say, I’ve planned a vacation or two in my day 🙂
Lots of things have changed since I graduated from travel school in the 80’s … the internet being the most profound one. Planning a vacation online is easy for anyone with even a modest familiarity with computers.
Many people book their own travel these days. Most travel websites are very user friendly, guiding the user along each step of the way. After just a few clicks of your mouse and entering in your credit card info, you can pretty much start packing your bags 🙂
Perhaps these check lists (that I’ve found online) will be helpful to you as you plan your next vacation …

Always remember, if you don’t have the time or just plain don’t feel like it, I would be happy to “help” you by doing all the vacation planning research for you … I’m just a phone call away 🙂

Need A Ride ?

Need A Ride ???

Are you traveling for the holidays? Do you need a ride to or from the airport? Maybe you need a ride to and from a doctor’s appointment or hospital for an out-patient procedure. Many people choose to take care of medical appointments at the end of the year to take advantage of flex spending account balances and paid deductibles. Continue reading

Spring Break Getaways

Spring Break Getaway ~ Staycation ~ or ~ Clean Up Week ??

When did Clean-Up Week change to Spring Break ? Back in the day, when I was in grade school (late 1960’s / early 1970’s), Chicago public schools had a week off in the spring called Clean-Up Week. It was always a “staycation” for me because we literally cleaned. It was a time of major spring-cleaning at our house – wall washing, hands and knees floor washing. Whenever I smell Pine Sol, I have flashbacks to scrubbing the stairway to our second floor apartment on Southport Street. My grandma (who raised me) used to say she loved to give the house a good “airing out” after a long winter. I remember her hanging the kitchen curtains on the pulley laundry line and watching them flap in the breeze on a sunny spring afternoon. 

I’m not sure exactly when, but by my high school years, it was called Spring Break. I have wonderful memories of my senior class trip to Hawaii during spring break. As a travel agent during the 1980’s, I can attest to the fact that spring break travel was very popular, especially for college students. During the 1990’s, it started becoming a popular time for family trips as well.

In the last 10 years or so, the “stay cation” concept has been gaining popularity.  The idea of taking short day trips and then sleeping at home seems to work well with the current economy. You can sight see and check out local tourist attractions while saving money on lodging and breakfast. 

So, what does Spring hold for you this year? My husband and I plan on a combination of Clean-Up and Staycation. We have some small projects around the house and I think it will be fun playing tourist in my hometown of Chicago. What are your plans … similar to mine or warm tropical getaway? 

photo by: eskedal
Warm, Sunny Beach in the Bahamas is perfect for Spring Break

I’m Dreaming of a Warm, Sunny Spring Break Beach Vacation

It’s the middle of February 2014 ~ time is flying by fast … but not fast enough for those of us who are getting tired of winter. Yes, I’m still working on my early kitchen spring cleaning project, but a girl can dream, can’t she?

I’m sitting at my desk, watching the snow fall outside my office window, while I’m watching a slide show of my last warm sunny vacation to the Bahamas for my anniversary last year. We took a cruise on NCL … it was wonderful. We had so much fun ~ great food, live shows, numerous choices for entertainment, fun excursions, plenty of free time for relaxing on deck ~ I really ♥ cruising!

NCL Bahama Cruise Welcome

This greeted us as we boarded our cruise ship, the Norwegian Sky.

Alas, we aren’t taking a spring break trip this year … but I’d love to help you plan yours. Where would you like to go? Close by or far away? With kids or without? Lounging on a beach or packed with action and adventure? What’s your dream vacation look like? Share your ideas of your dream vacation in the comments below 🙂

I have decades of experience working in the travel industry … at times I really miss it. I’d love to work with you to find the perfect vacation for your family. BTW, I can also take care of your pets for you while you’re away … such a deal 🙂

Burr ... Below Zero Temps

Visiting Minnesota During A Deep Freeze

My husband and I like to take weekend getaways whenever we can.  We believe its good for our relationship to get away from the regular routine of everyday life once in a while to reconnect with each other.

Granite Falls, Minnesota

Enjoying our visit to Granite Falls.

Last weekend we went to visit some friends in Granite Falls, Minnesota. It was a very long road trip … just over 9 hours each way. The weather was quite frigid, well below zero, but we managed to stay warm … think – layers, layers, layers 🙂

It was fun to spend time with old friends. They moved to Minnesota last July, and this was our first time seeing their new home. They are truly gracious hosts and great tour guides! We planned on having a relaxing, low-key visit and it really was. We enjoyed wonderful meals and long talks. We went to church and then shopped the stores in their small town . We played games and watched a movie, we saw Coach Ditka’s number be retired and saw the Bears win {gasp} on Monday Night Football. We even went bowling 🙂

Our plan is to go back next summer to visit and go to the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum in Walnut Grove. The cast from Little House on the Prairie will be there in July … sounds like fun 🙂

All in all, it was a wonderful getaway and we look forward to visiting again.