Tag Archives: Travel

Book Review & Giveaway ~ Snowfall at Moonglow by Deborah Garner

My Thoughts & Review  A personal and/or virtual assistant can help you check items off your to-do list. Delegate some tasks to us today.

I just returned from an afternoon spent at the Timberton Hotel in Montana. Well, not really, but that is one of my favorite things about a good book, it takes you away from reality for a little while. Mist, Betty and the rest of the gang are doing great.

This is the 5th story in Deborah Garner’s Moonglow Christmas novella series. It is a heart-warming story set at Christmastime that shows the importance of simple kindness & caring is to people. I’ve read and reviewed all of them, and they are all similar yet quite different. I look forward to them each year, reading it ushers in the Christmas season for me. Continue reading

The Ark Encounter was on my travel log this year

On the Road Again! My 2019 Travel Log

As I write this blog post, I’m on yet another road trip. I’m traveling to Tennessee for a romantic getaway with my husband prior to a business training meeting. I love tacking on a couple days either before or after a business trip for some personal time away.
So far, this year has been full of travel for me, and I love it 😊 I love the fact that I control my schedule. I decide what goes on my calendar and when. One of my favorite perks of owning my own business, is the freedom to choose when I work and when I don’t … I don’t need to request time off from a boss … I am the boss!
Sorry for getting off topic, can you say SQUIRREL 😊 Continue reading

Holiday Pet Care

Holiday Pet Care

Autumn is officially here (even though it feels like Indian summer) … the holidays will be here before we know it. To me, the holidays are all about spending time with family and friends ~ near and far. You may already be checking airfares to find the best deal. When you travel to see your loved ones, don’t forget about pet care for your fur babies … they are family too! Who will take care of them? Continue reading

Alaska Cruise Selfie

NCL Alaska Cruise 2019

It’s hard to believe that nearly a month has gone by since my cruise to Alaska. My husband and I cruised with 2 other friends. The natural beauty of the Last Frontier was breath taking. I have so many photos of spectacular mountains and waterfalls, each one more awe inspiring than the last. We were blessed with beautiful weather, sunny each day with not a drop of rain (despite everything I’d heard about being prepared for rain daily). It was an experience I’ll never forget. We want to return someday just to explore more inland. I highly recommend our travel agent, Terri, she was great – and put up with lots of questions 🙂 Continue reading

Top 10 Packing Tips for A Cruise Vacation

Top 10 Packing Tips: Cruise Vacation

As you know, I love to travel. You also know, I am a detailed-oriented, planning and list making kinda girl 😊 I want to share some of my tried and true travel tips with you (a little bit of a tongue twister there).

Cruising is one of my favorite ways to travel. I love being on a huge ship, it almost feels like you are in a city … a city at sea. I love that you are always moving, traveling from one place to the next. I love that you wake up in a different port each morning. I also love that you have the same room and only have to unpack once yet get to experience so many different locations. Continue reading

River at the end of the hiking trail at Mendotta Hills Campground

Review ~ Mendota Hills Campground

As many of you know, I love to go camping. I’ve decided to write a campground review of my personal experience during my travels. Of course, these will be my honest opinions based on my visit.

MENDOTA HILLS CAMPGROUND

6642 US HIGHWAY 52 ~ AMBOY, IL 61310 ~ 815-849-5930

https://mendotahillscampground.com/

Mendota Hills Campground is a family owned and operated campground. It has close to 200 campsites, with probably at 2/3 being seasonal sites, and the remaining sites available for overnight guests. There are 3 lakes stocked for catch & release fishing. There is also a swimming lake with a sandy beach and water toys. It seems the main mode of transportation once your camp is set up is by golf cart. There are couple nice trails for an easy hike. The staff is friendly and helpful. The camp store is well stocked with supplies you may have forgotten. In addition to ice and firewood, they have candy, novelty ice cream and an arcade room. They have public restrooms, shower houses and laundry room. There is a nice playground near a pavilion. Also nearby is a volleyball court, basketball court and archery range.

Everything you might expect from a family owned – family friendly campground 😊

I have stayed at this campground on 3 different occasions.

  • June 2016 (back-in electric/water site – it was hotter than Hades)
  • September 2018 (rental cabin – it was cold & rainy)
  • May 2019 (pull-thru FHU site – it was perfect IMHO sunny and 70’s)

Let me start by saying that I had a great experience all 3 times 😊 I mention the 3 different visits because I experienced a different type of campsite each time.

Here are some points that I feel they do right:

  • They have weekly themes
  • Family/kid friendly activities (mostly on weekends)
  • Pet friendly
  • Non-denominational church services are offered on Sunday mornings with a pot-luck lunch afterwards
  • Free Wi-Fi

Here are some points that I feel could be improved:

  • The back-in electric/water only site we were at was very unlevel
  • The pull-thru FHU site we were at had very odd placement of the power pedestal, water spigot and sewer drain (we had to borrow a 30amp power extension cord and 2 additional stinky slinky extension hoses to be completely hooked up)
  • General updating (however, we spoke with the owners and they were telling us that there are in the process of updating the campsites section by section)

Overall, I feel this is a lovely place to spend a long weekend relaxing and enjoying the great outdoors. I give it 2 thumbs up (although I have simple needs) 😊

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