Who Needs a Vacation After Planning a Family Vacation – I Do!

If your family is anything like mine, vacation planning is left up to mom. I have been named the family Chief Vacation Officer. I have the overwhelmingly stressful job of planning a vacation that will be memorable, fun and exciting for everyone from grandparents to babies. Each year after our family trip, I need a vacation! As much as we joke about it, statistics show that most moms do the planning and most moms need a post-vacation vacation! In fact, Alamo Rent A Car’s Family Vacation Survey found that 93% of moms have felt the need for additional time off to recover from family vacation. You can read about more interesting survey stats in the Fact Sheet on Alamo’s Scenic Route.

Family Vacation Planning

I can’t think of a time when any other member of my family has made vacation plans. Of course, they all have suggestions of where we should go. But their involvement ends there.

The Planning

The planning often takes on a life of its own. I would imagine the more family members involved in a vacation; the harder it is to plan. I plan a four generation trip for my family each year. I need time away alone each year when we get back. The trip usually includes my mother, my kids (with spouses), my grandchildren and me and my husband. I am in charge of everyone’s vacation happiness. I stress over everyone’s vacation happiness. I need a vacation from our vacation!

Planning first starts with so many questions:

  • Where will we go? Everyone has an opinion and an idea. At least one family member will be disappointed about something.
  • When will we go? Work schedules and school schedules have to be coordinated.
  • How many days will we go?
  • How will we get there? Drive? Fly?
  • One villa for everyone to stay together (No!) or separate rooms?
  • What’s the budget?
  • What is each family member’s “must do” at our selected destination?

Photo Credit: www.toursandtravelideas.com

This is just a sampling of the questions I start with. Once we select a destination, the REAL fun begins! I make lists. I make spreadsheets. I color code the information.

  • Are there any special attractions we want to see at our chosen destination?
  • Where will we eat? Making sure that food allergies are handled at the selected dining spots!
  • Will we all stay together or split up? Stay together most days?

The Research

Next comes all the research. There are so many destinations and so many websites. Which one can you trust to give you the best information? Sites like Alamo’s Scenic Route can give inspiration on where to visit next, as well as tips for everything from packing for your trip to making fun crafts that capture your vacation memories.

Vacation Time

When our vacation time finally arrives, I admit that I spend most of my vacation time making sure everyone is happy and doing what they want to do. If we visit a destination like Walt Disney World, I usually try to arrange a special event or attraction for each of my grandchildren or a special dinner “date night” for my children and their spouses. Making sure everyone gets to do what they want to do is exhausting!

If we’re staying in a villa, I’m off to the grocery store the minute we arrive to make sure everyone has their favorite snack.

I honestly spend so much time before and during a family vacation planning for each family member and making sure those plans go off without a hitch, I am not only physically exhausted afterwards, but I’m also mentally drained.

I love my family to pieces. I want them to enjoy family vacations together. Making sure they are happy when we take our yearly family vacation leaves me DONE!

I definitely need a vacation after planning the family vacation. Don’t you? Where shall we go? We can check one of my favorite sites!

10 Important Travel Safety Tips

Travel Safety Tips

For some people, travel is a way of life and something that you do as often as possible. For others, travel is rarer and something you plan and save for over a long period of time. No matter which type of traveler you are, safety is always important. I have been fortunate to be able to travel often, and over the years I have come up with some important travel safety tips to keep in mind.

Know Before You Go

1. Research, research, research, and then research some more. The more you know, the safer your travels will be.

2. Know where to go if you have a problem. If you’re traveling out of the country, know where your country’s embassy is and how to contact it.

3. Before traveling, have a plan in place in case of an emergency. What will you do if you or someone in your family gets sick? What happens if you end up in a hospital far from home? Consider purchasing a membership with MedjetAssist. If you become hospitalized internationally or domestically (more than 150 miles from home), MedjetAssist will arrange medical transportation to the hospital of your choice in your home country. Peace of mind is worth the membership fee.

3. Leave valuables at home. As tempting as it is to bring along all of your gadgets, don’t do it. Your phone takes pictures and sends emails. What more do you need?

4. Take photos of any prescription medications, important documents, and the credit card you will be using. If you lose anything, you’ll have all the important information you need.

5. Choose a hotel where security is good, and public transportation is readily available. You can easily find this information from your preferred travel advisor or online travel sites such as TripAdvisor.

While You Are There

6. Once in your hotel room, check to make sure all of the doors and windows have working locks. Always use the peephole before opening your door.

7. Before leaving your hotel, ask the concierge for directions. Check to see if there are any areas you should avoid and find out the easiest way to get where you want to go.

8. If you’re renting a car, take photos of the car inside and out when you first pick it up. Report preexisting damage. Your photo will provide proof of anything present before you took possession.

9. While sightseeing, walk like you know where you’re going. You are less likely to be approached by someone with ill intent if you are alert. Don’t bury your face in a map. Consider downloading an app that can give you directions you listen to through earbuds. 

10. Keep a backup stash of money and a second credit card hidden away in your hotel room. If your purse or wallet is stolen while you’re out, you will have a financial cushion. Hide these in separate locations, such as inside zippered cushions of chairs, under the television, or under the ironing board cover. Hotel safes are not always the answer. They are often susceptible to tampering with a default unlock code of 000000, which is rarely changed and is known by hotel staff.

What safety tips can you share?

This is a sponsored post syndicated by MedJet. All opinions are my own.

Is Your Family Connected? Of Course They Are! Then You Need DOJO

Our homes contain our most intimate data. More than 10 billion devices are connected to the Internet, most of them in people’s homes. However, the security of these devices and our privacy within our own homes is an afterthought. To have a truly smart home, we must secure our Wi-Fi network and its connected devices. Dojo by BullGuard is the world’s most comprehensive smart home cyber-security solution and was built from the ground up as an enterprise-grade, network security service for the smart home. There are billions of connected Internet of Things devices on the market today – from smart alarms, thermostats, baby monitors, smart appliances, lighting, locks and more – and Dojo by BullGuard is built to protect them all.

Dojo Security Device

Set-up couldn’t be easier. Simply connect the Dojo unit to your Wi-Fi router and download the Dojo APP. This old lady didn’t need any help from her kids – so you know it’s easy!

Everything you need comes right in the box ~

The directions are simple and easy to follow ~

If you are a “smart” connected family, chances are you won’t need help, but if you do, the Dojo team is available via phone, chat or email. Dojo is easy to use with real-time status information and notifications.

The Dojo APP keeps you informed of all the devices connected to your Wi-Fi  network, let’s you block unauthorized devices, keeps you informed of risk and privacy breach when Dojo detects and blocks. Dojo keeps in touch via its unique chat app and only gets in touch when there’s something wrong. Dojo makes sure you’re aware of any issues before they affect your privacy or security. A couple of taps later, you’ll have everything under control!

The App is easy to use too!

Dojo has a simple visual indicator to go along with the APP notifications, the pebble will light as well. Green means all is good – Yellow indicates that Dojo found something and took care of it – Red tells you there was a breach that was blocked and may require input from you.

Dojo brings Enterprise Grade Security to the home and all the smart devises connected to your home network. It constantly studies your home network to enhance protection at all times.

Dojo by BullGuard retails for $199 which includes the first 12-months of service, and is available for purchase online at bestbuy.com, and on shelves at BestBuy stores nationwide. After your one year service that is included, continued service will be $9.99 per month. No contract or commitment required.

The reviewer has been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card and/or received the product/service at a reduced price or for free.

TravelSmart Mobile App – Don’t Leave Home Without It!

TravelSmart Mobile App

Allianz Global Assistance, a leading provider of travel insurance and travel assistance, has launched an impressive and updated mobile app – TravelSmart™What’s so special about this travel app? As someone who travels often, I want to be confident that I have as much information as possible at my finger tips, especially if an emergency arises.

The cool thing is that this app is free and anyone can download it even if they don’t have a policy with Allianz. Be prepared for travel emergencies and get help fast with the TravelSmart app from Allianz Global Assistance.

So what makes TravelSmart better than other apps?

The TravelSmart app features a simpler and more intuitive user interface that gives you access to all the travel information you need like travel insurance details, claims status, flight status, and local emergency numbers – all from the app’s home screen.

In Case of Emergency

You can easily and quickly get help in case of a travel emergency. The TravelSmart Contact Us button on the home screen allows travelers to reach Allianz Global Assistance medical assistance or customer service from anywhere in the world with just the touch of a button. The app includes a global directory of medical facilities, police stations, and US Embassies, as well as expanded options to quickly get in touch with Allianz Global Assistance. If you happen to be an Allianz Travel Insurance policyholder, you can log in with your account information to get access to a full suite of policy management and claims filing capabilities.

For Policy Holders

Access to Allianz Travel Insurance policies including the ability to store policies in the app and access a policy from the app’s home screen so travelers can quickly access their travel insurance benefits.

File and Track Claims using the app to initiate a claim, update or add documents, select your preferred claim payment method or check the status of an existing claim. Customers can start their claims process on the go and select direct deposit or debit card payment to receive their payment faster than check by mail.

But you don’t have to be a policy holder to download and use the app because there is so much more the app can do for all travelers!

Flight Status Tracking

Real Time Flight Status Tracking allows app users to track their upcoming flight by adding a flight using the “My Trips” feature. Users can search upcoming flights from any itinerary on any airline, and add them to their trip with just a few taps. The app provides on-time status and gate information for flights departing within 3 days to help travelers prepare for the next leg of their trip. Easily add your upcoming flight(s) into TravelSmart using airport locations and dates, or by flight number and date.

Assistance Around Me

An Assistance Button on the home screen takes users to the “Assistance Around Me” database, which uses geolocation to direct travelers to local hospitals, doctor’s offices, pharmacies, police stations and U.S. Embassy locations and includes turn-by-turn directions. Allianz Global Assistance flags recommended hospitals within the app so travelers can identify vetted facilities quickly.

If you need to fill an emergency prescription overseas, TravelSmart gives you the universal name for more than 750 common medications so you can be confident you’re asking for the medication you need.

Emergency Numbers

Global Emergency Numbers from the Home Screen means travelers with enabled geolocation can dial the appropriate number for police, fire, rescue, and the US Embassy for over 200 countries in seconds.

Medication Information

A Medication Dictionary allows users to store a photo of their prescription label and find international names for more than 750 common drugs.  These features make refilling prescriptions faster and easier while traveling.

First Aid Help

A First Aid Terms Translation feature provides translations for 60+ illnesses, injuries and first aid needs into 18 common languages so that nothing gets lost in translation, especially in an emergency. Nothing gets lost in translation. Quick: How do you say “food poisoning” in Portuguese? Get 60+ first aid terms translated from English to 18 common foreign languages for easy reference if you need to communicate about your health while abroad.

The TravelSmart app is free and will be available in the App Store or on Google Play starting in mid-November. More information is available at www.allianztravelinsurance.com/travelsmart

I know I won’t be leaving home without TravelSmart!

This is a sponsored post. I have been compensated for my review. All opinions are my own.

Music Lovers Rejoice! Sonos One is the Smartest Speaker Around!

Dance like nobody’s watching and sing like nobody’s listening – All through the house with Sonos One – the smartest speaker around!

Sonos One Speaker Best Buy

Today’s busy world has us all looking for the easiest and quickest way to do things. Add in an easy and quick way to find the music you love to listen to and manage other aspects of everyday life – and BINGO! You’ll never want to be without Sonos again!

Do you want to start and control your music with your voice? Get ready for Sonos One! Sonos One is the smartest speaker there is – with Amazon Alexa built right in, you can play songs, check news and traffic, manage smart devices and enjoy all those other helpful Amazon Alexa skills using a single Sonos speaker. Sonos One blends great sound with Amazon Alexa, the easy-to-use voice service, for hands-free control of your music and more. Use your voice to play songs while you cook. Tell Alexa to turn the volume up while you’re in the shower. You can even request a lullaby, out loud, when you’re tucking in the kids.

Put your speaker wherever you want. Plug it in. Tap the app – it connects to your WiFi and you’re ready to rock. Just like that. No wires. No programming. No kidding. Sonos can play everything and anything! Perfect with the most popular streaming services, on-demand Internet radio, podcasts and audiobooks – anything you love to listen to. The Sonos app helps you quickly search through all your services, send it to different rooms, and even adjust the volume from a different room.

Since the built-in Alexa responds to any voice, anyone can take charge of what music plays. Guests can request their favorite songs in real-time. No matter who says it, Sonos plays it. With Sonos, the songs stream from your WiFi network (not your phone), so there’s never any of the dropouts, delays or interruptions associated with Bluetooth.

  • Combine voice with the Sonos app to manage all your music in one place: Amazon Music, Spotify, Apple Music, internet radio and hundreds of other streaming services.
  • Connect wirelessly with other Sonos Home Sound System speakers to play music in any or every room
  • Enjoy surprisingly rich, room-filling sound from a smart speaker
  • Start and control your music with your voice. Amazon Alexa built right in.
  • Play songs, check news and traffic, manage smart devices and enjoy all those other helpful Amazon Alexa skills using a single Sonos speaker.
  • Seamless all-black or all-white color with smooth matte finish for an appearance that fits in any home.

This is definitely one of the most fun and easy to use gadgets we have gotten in our home. It’s so much more than just music and dancing and singing! Turn on lights, adjust the temperature, and more. Sonos One also lets you control your smart home devices with your voice – Since Sonos and Amazon Alexa are continually updating with new features, services and skills, your music and voice options will both keep getting better over time.

With Christmas right around the corner – why not give the gift of music from Best Buy and Sonos One! ($199.00).

The reviewer has been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card and/or received the product/service at a reduced price or for free.