Day 3155 – Plan A Solo Vacation Day! – or – How I Plan My Own Vacations

I love talking about traveling with other people. I love helping people plan their road trips. I love giving advice on how to have a trip that’s great for you. So I’ve been super excited about this “fun day” – Plan A Solo Vacation Day!

When I first started thinking about this a month or two ago, I thought that I would do something in Maryland or close by. There is so much to do so close to me. I can even drive to the beach for the day. I love living in such a central location.

In January, I read a fantastic book of poetry, The Princess Saves Herself in this One* by Amanda Lovelace (This is an affiliate link to buy the book on Amazon. If you buy it, I will get a small percentage of what you buy and anything else you buy. I only share affiliate links to products I LOVE and have used/read myself). I loved this little book so much I started following her on Facebook and Instagram, which I don’t do often for authors.

Fast forward to me thinking about this trip and I happened to see a book signing event pop up for her new book! I thought, this is totally perfect! It will combine my love of reading AND driving.

When I start planning a trip, I look at things in the area to do, I do random searches to get an idea of what I’m looking at for price, I look at the Rocketmiles site for hotels that would give us bonus miles for our Southwest credit card. A new thing I’m adding into the mix is Govx. I found out about it through looking into tickets for a music festival. It was considerably cheaper than the normal tickets. They offer discounts for current and former military AND local, state, and federal government employees including first responders, fire fighters, police and more. The discounts are across the board, from travel to products, and more. I haven’t used them yet to get anything, but am thankful to have found them. They offer discounts for the Choice Hotels, The Wyndham hotel group and Omni Hotels & Resorts. As well as theme park discounts and more.

I will then look at how far away the destination is. At this point is when I try to figure out my budget and my goal(s) for the trip. How much can I spend on this? Do I want to stretch my money with cheaper lodging so I can stay more days? Or do I want to have an epic experience for less nights in a great location? I figure out what my MUST do’s are.

Then I start working through my spreadsheet (which you can get for free if you sign up for the Journey With The G’s email list) and seeing how I’m doing with what I want to do and how much I have to spend.

At this point, my bare minimum trip will be a drive to the signing the day of, doing some exploring in the area, and driving back. (I’ll try to do some Facebook Lives no matter what I do, so stay tuned.) We don’t really have any money set aside for this as it was a totally last minute idea I had. So at a minimum, I’m looking at the cost of gas, the cost of food, the cost of the book(s) I buy at the signing, and whatever fun little side adventures I find. Bret and I have decided that if we get money back on our taxes or if what we have to pay isn’t as high as what we’ve saved, then I can splurge for a bigger trip. So we’ll see how that all shakes out.

If you want help planning your epic road trip, check out my brief and helpful book – Planning an Epic Road Trip on any Budget. I use the same methods when planning my own trips.

Have you taken a trip by yourself? What was it like?

This guy was taken on one of my previous solo trips. 🙂

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Day 1489 – Vacation!

We are currently on vacation! I plan on updating the blog every day, but we’ll see how that goes! 😉 We are actually on vacation with previous clients! Tif has been a friend for over 20 years…which always makes me feel old to say! I am so excited to kick back and relax.

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I didn’t realize how badly I needed a real vacation until yesterday. It has been a very full few months and I am more drained than I realized. I’m very much looking forward to chilling with good friends! We had such a blast just getting down here (which is a blog post in itself!) I know it will be a super great time.

I mean, look at the view.

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Day 920 – Road Trip Adventures

Where have I been? What’s new? What adventures have I been on?
Grab a cup of coffee, tea, soda or water, pull up a chair and I’ll tell you a tale.

Bret tells me sometimes my blogs are too long, so I’ll give you two versions – a short list for the readers on the go and a longer version for the readers on the stop. (one thing we learned while away is that Bret’s dad tells corny jokes….so do I…he was a bad influence.) 🙂

  1. We just returned from a cross country drive to visit family.
  2. The Hunger Games was a great book.
  3. A Honda Civic is a great traveling vehicle.
  4. We are a spotlight vendor in the newest Perfect Wedding Guide.
  5. We received The Wedding Wire Bride’s Choice Award for 2012.


Morro Bay California at night.

Now, I grab my own cup of coffee to write. Bret and I love to take this trip. It’s such a wonderful time of bonding and adventure. This was the second time we drove cross country to visit family. We learned a lot last year. So, this year, we brought a lot of cup-o-noodles and travel mugs because hot water is free and refills are cheap. We also brought our own snacks, sodas, water and juice beforehand. Saves a LOT of money. We also toss a ton of blankets in the back seat for sleeping. I have to say at this point that THE BEST rest stop in the country is Russell’s Travel Center. It’s located just over the New Mexico line after you leave Texas. They have showers, a game room, clean restrooms (this is a rarity on the road…really), lots of food, coffee and drinks. My favorite part is the chapel. A little room with sermons playing and stained glass windows. Such an awesome little touch for travelers. Last year we stopped here, took our coffee mug to the counter, told them it was a refill and they let us have it for free. This year we stopped because after only 2-3 hours of driving, I was done. My normal stretch is about 5-6 hours. Bret wasn’t ready to drive either…since he only had 2-3 hours of sleep! So we parked and I hopped in the back seat and we took a nap. About 4 hours. I was shocked when I woke up, to be honest. It’s hard enough sleeping in the car, but to sleep that long at a rest stop where people are milling around, it was quite an accomplishment.

We thankfully discovered one of the best secrets of long road trips last year…audio books. Now, they have to be interesting. We took a short drive (8 hours) last year and the book we were listening to was SO technical that it was putting us to sleep. My books on the way out were the Hunger Games trilogy. I lucked out and got them from a new library branch just before we left. Because of the movie coming out in March, they have been hard to find. It was a bit gorier than I expected, but still was a great read…listen.

I’m so thankful for my little Honda Civic! The gas mileage is incredible. We use mid-grade gas and it cost us only about $500 total (there and back plus driving around in California). It also has a 6 disc CD changer, which is perfect for the books on tape. Ah, love that car. ::swoon::

On the way out, we stopped at the Aquarius Casino Resort in Laughlin, Nevada. It was a really nice casino. The bed and sheets were just amazing. (Granted, I’m sure any bed, sheet or shower would have been awesome after driving for 2 days.) I had picked them because the traveler pictures from trip adviser looked like the website, that’s a huge thing to me. I’m so happy with the choice.

While we were in California, we mostly just spent time with his family. But we did squeeze in a few fun extras. First we went with friends to SkyWalk in Fresno. It was literally a room full of trampolines. Best workout I’ve had in a while!

We also took a trip up to Shaver Lake in the mountains and made a day trip to Morro Bay on the coast.

On the way back to Maryland we stopped at a few really nice car shops. First, we stopped by Garcia Honda in Albuquerque, New Mexico to make a copy of my car key. They had one of the nicest waiting rooms I’ve seen and all of the staff were very nice. I think it was Mr. Garcia himself who walked us to the service desk.

As we were driving through New Mexico, I noticed a chip in the windshield. Our first stop was Napa Silver Moon Auto Repair in Santa Rosa, New Mexico. They couldn’t fix it, but the guy that Bret talked to was very respectable. He told us to check out Amarillo. When we arrived in Amarillo, we put auto repair in the GPS (another huge essential in a cross country trip!) and were directed to AA & A Windshield & Glass in Amarillo, Texas. The guys that helped us were beyond nice, fixed the crack in under 5 minutes and gave us a very fair price.

Right before we left for California, I was contacted by my Perfect Wedding Guide agent letting me know they had chosen me as a spotlight vendor in the new guide. I get a two page spread with nine images from my last wedding, a blurb from the bride and references to other wedding vendors.

If this wasn’t exciting enough, while we were in California, I received an email from Wedding Wire letting me know I had receive the Bride’s Choice Award! Only the top 5% of wedding vendors receive this!!

I am honestly floored at all these things. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for my amazing clients. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!! I still can’t believe I get to do this ALL the time now! I’m so thankful I could just go to California whenever I needed to (we changed the dates several times). It’s a good thing my new boss is flexible. 😉

I am so excited about the next few months. I can’t wait to share all of my new adventures! Make sure you sign up to follow the blog so you don’t miss anything! (on the bottom of the page or to the right!)