Tag Archives: Travel

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 🙂

Labor Day Road Trip Tips

Labor Day Road Trip Tips & Advantages

Labor Day weekend is upon us. I know I’m not alone when I sit here shaking my head, thinking “where did the time go? Summer just flew by !!

Although there are still a few weeks before Autumn officially begins, Labor Day Weekend is (for all practical purposes anyway) the unofficial end of summer. Many families celebrate this long holiday weekend by taking a road trip.

Traveling by car has many advantages for families … especially those with young children 🙂

~ AAA has reported that the price of gas hasn’t been this low since 2004. Spending less at the pump puts more $$ in the vacation budget — sounds like an advantage to me.

~ Your kids are in familiar surroundings … in their own car seat, have their own toys, their favorite snacks, etc.

~ You can take as many breaks as needed – when you need them. You can get out to stretch your legs or sooth a cranky child.

~ You choose meal times and where to eat.

~ You could go “old school” for the weekend … unplug (give your electronic device their own vacation). You could use an atlas to map out your route. If you happen to miss a turn off along the way, just say “we’re taking the scenic route”.

~ Continuing with the “old school” theme, you can play games like “I Spy”, or sing songs together, color / work in puzzle books, or play the license plate game, etc. Have light-hearted conversations … use this time to re-connect with each other without electronic distractions.

~ Take time to make unplanned stops … pull over to the see kitschy things like “the world’s largest ball of yarn” 🙂

These “old school” ideas may sound corny, but they will help make some wonderful family memories … memories your families will cherish for a lifetime (even if they never get posted on facebook or twitter) !!

(Photo Credit to Getty Images)

Customer Service Business Wisdom

Great Customer Service is #1 at Tracy Helps You

Customer Service skills have been a part of me for as long as I can remember.

I remember my very first after school job ~ at a dry cleaner ~ my manager, Elsa, told me to always be polite and treat each & every customer with kindness, patience and respect.

I’ve had numerous jobs working with the public since that first part-time job as a 15 year old. I worked in retail back in the day when “the customer is always right” motto was the rule, not the exception. I mean the days when the cashier actually punched the price in the register and counted out your change. I’m talking about the old days when a store clerk actually knew something about the department they worked in. The days when the employee would actually help you find the item you’re looking for, instead of just saying, “if you don’t see it, we must be out of it”. Please don’t get me wrong, I know there are some excellent retail employees that go the extra mile to give great customer service, but it saddens me that they seem to be so far & few between. When I find such an employee, I always make sure to thank them for their great customer service 🙂

I have also worked in several different venues of the travel industry. I’ve worked security at O’Hare airport (before 9/11, thank goodness) … I’ve worked the ticket counter, the gate, the ramp/bag room, and operations for United Express (a regional airline) at O’Hare. I’ve worked in the reservations department of Apple Vacations. I’ve been a online casino travel agent in several different agencies over the span of my travel career.

I also volunteer a lot. I’ve always been the person in the meeting that is first to raise her hand to help. Many times that urge to help has placed me in positions of leadership … like being the chairperson on the committee or being the Cub Scout leader when no one else wanted to take on the commitment.  

I’ve always worked with the public … all these positions require great customer service skills to be successful. All of this experience working over the years has honed my people skills, which of course, means that I have many, many (many – a lady never divulges such things) years of customer service experience.

As the owner of Tracy Helps You, I can assure you, my customer, that I (and/or my associates) will always do our very best to “help you” with kindness, patience and respect … a lesson I learned at my very first job, way “back in the day”.

How may we “help you” ??

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.

 

Planning Your Summer Vacation

It’s summertime !!  Where did you go on your vacation ?

What ? You haven’t had one yet ?  Don’t worry, there’s still time 🙂

That being said, remember that time has a way of flying by quickly.

What kind of vacation do you like? Do you like laying on the beach, soaking up the rays? Do you like visiting theme parks with thrill rides? How about spending time in the great outdoors enjoying nature? Or maybe you like being pampered at a spa? Are you a history buff?

There are so many different choices … just choose the one that fits your idea of the perfect vacation.  Then, of course, there are multiple forms of transportation to get you there … plane – train – car – boat. If you choose a cruise, your transportation is part of the vacation 🙂

For me, I think I’d have to say my favorite would be a cruise. Waking up each morning in a new place is a fun adventure (and you don’t have to keep packing and unpacking) … but I also love Disney World.  I believe everyone should be a kid at heart. So, for my dream vacation, I would love to book a Disney Land and Sea Package. For a week long vacation, you can choose 4 days at sea and 3 in the parks, or 3 at sea and 4 in the parks.  You can customize it to work with how many days your vacation is, for example 3,7,10 or more days.  I think I’d like to do the parks for the first part of the week, so then I can rest my poor tired aching feet while lounging poolside sipping a Pina Colada or, perhaps, a Bahama Mama on deck.

John thought this shark wanted it's belly rubbed.

My husband thought this shark wanted it’s belly rubbed.  Umm … Honey, it’s not a dog.

 

I just love being on vacation, our last trip was a romantic cruise to the Bahamas celebrating our anniversary!  While I love traveling, I also love the researching and planning part of it.  I love searching for the best price. Sometimes I really miss being a travel agent.  I loved meeting with my client and discussing their dream vacation; finding out their interests and their budget, and then putting together a trip that they’d always remember 🙂

While I don’t currently work with an agency, I can still use my knowledge and many many years of experience to plan a wonderful trip for you.

There are so many online booking options. Let Tracy Helps You do the time consuming research and planning for your next vacation.  With my extensive experience, I’ll put together a great trip for you and help you make the reservations online. BTW, sorry for all the smiley faces, but planning vacations makes me happy.

Leave a comment telling me about your dream vacation 🙂