Marching to a Different Beat

2014 was definitely a year for the record books.  This was the first year in the past three years that I was NOT on a plane and traveling to some fab locale every month.  Not that I didn’t want to do that– by now you all know I LOVE to travel.  But, unfortunately, this was a year that life threw me a few lemons and not only did I have to make lemonade, but I had to put on my big girl panties and sacrifice my love of travel for the greater good.  A few years ago, I would have DEFINITELY complained about this and been all “salt lake city.”  But, even those things that appear to be really bad, really aren’t.  Behind every dark cloud, there’s a silver lining.

So, for someone such as myself who loves to travel, and had a good chunk of their plans overcome by events, what could possibly be the silver lining behind this dark cloud?  Well, for starters, I completed my 50 X 50 bucket list this year.  Yep, I finally finished visiting all of the states in the US, with some time to spare before my 50th birthday.  What else?  I let go of some of my inhibitions, stripped down to a two-piece and paraded down the road in Trinidad with thousands of my close friends and masqueraders on Carnival tuesday.  Most people do not know it takes and act of congress and all the power of God for me to be seen in shorts out in public.  However, the amazing display of the colors (and the Hennessy) definitely helped get me over my fear (at that moment).

Is that all?  Of course not!  Although I have not reached my goal yet of working in the travel industry as a career, I actually took a former colleague on her FIRST trip out of the country.  How major was this?  MAJOR.  Since she didn’t have a clue of where to start, I actually coordinated all of the arrangements.  All she had to do was grab a passport port, purchase her plane ticket and pack her suitcase (oh, and pay part of the lodging fees).  I literally walked her through the process of checking in online, processing through customs and immigrations, taking public transportation in a foreign land and liming with the locals.  The smile on her face and excitement in her voice when we returned stateside were— PRICELESS.

Wow, that was great, right.  But wait, there’s more.  Perhaps the biggest highlight of the year was meeting some very FABULOUS people during my travels and establishing genuine friendships with individuals in at least four countries.  At least two individuals are after my own heart by sharing my love of travel.  So, although I didn’t travel as much and as often as I would love to, my trips were EPIC and my experiences will travel a lifetime with me.

I truly wish you all a very blessed, happy, adventurous and joyful new year’s eve and day and we will see where 2K15 takes me!  All the best!

Use or Lose

Tis the season not only for merriment and high spirits, but also for making sure all of your end of the year checklist items are complete.  On the professional front, employers send out the friendly reminders to employees take leave to make that their leave balances do not exceed the allowable carryover limit for the following year.  Flexible spending vendors send reminders to their patrons to make sure that any available funds in their accounts are exhausted before the 11:59p.m. on 31 December.  Other individuals rush to make those last-minute charitable donations in support of their 2014 tax deductions.  So, while you review those last-minute details on your end of the checklist and prepare for 2015, it is important that you check all of your frequent flyer and loyalty rewards programs to ensure that your points and miles are still intact.  The last thing you want to find out is that there are no points or miles expiring due inactivity.

There is nothing worse than accumulating hundreds of thousands of miles and tens of thousands of loyalty reward points, only to have a program change their terms and take away some (or all) of your mass accumulation.  But, before you decide to be frivolous with your points and miles, take a moment to decide what would give you more bang for your buck.  Do you have a trip planned, but hotels in the area are overly priced?  Consider using cashing in some points or miles.  Need an economy rental vehicle, but the daily rate is $75 or more per day (yes, kinda ridiculous, but I have actually seen that figure before), consider using some your miles or points.  Do you have that once in a lifetime trip to Australia planned and want to say a few dollars, this would be the time to definitely cash out.

No matter what you decide, make sure you familiarize yourself with the rules and regulations for your various programs so that you do not end up losing your precious miles and points.  I