6.26.2014

Traveling on the cheap: Let someone else pay your way!

I'm back with another soapbox on how to travel on the cheap! 


On of the most frequent comments I receive is "how do you afford to go on so many trips?!"

I've got a few different ways to share, but in this post I'm telling you to let someone else pay the tab.

That's right... why pay for your own trips when someone else will!?

I talked briefly about how I used to put all my living expenses on my TJMaxx Mastercard, simply because it racked up points towards gift certificates to there, and I'd turn around and pay the card off out of my bank account every month.

Shortly after returning from Australia and realizing how much more of the world I still needed (not wanted, NEEDED) to see, I realized there were better ways to accumulate "rewards" for these daily things I'll always be buying regardless.

Nowadays my gas, my groceries, my shopping habits, all go towards funding travel.

After a few weeks of reading up on the various 'rewards' credit cards, I decided that the Barclay Arrival+ was the best option for me.

I NEVER use my debit card. But I am also VERY aware of any money I spend and any money I earn, I am not sure I would recommend this if you are one of those people who never has any clue how much is in their bank account or are constantly overdrawing. I would imagine you could end up in deep credit card debt pretty quickly.

So, why did I choose the Arrival Plus? They go on a 'pay yourself back' system, versus some of the other cards I looked into where you have to book your travel THROUGH them (Chase Sapphire Preferred, Capital One Quiksilver, etc, etc.) I choose this based on my own travel preferences. I cannot preach enough how important it is to research the cards first (a simple Google search for travel reward credit cards will yield a ton of breakdowns). I can log into my account and am easily given the option to pay myself back for any travel related expense.

There was a 40,000 pt bonus (equivalent to $400)  if I put $3000 on my card within the first 90 days.  So after receiving my card in March, I had recently racked up enough points to "pay myself back" for roughly $500 worth of airline flights I had booked. By doing nothing but going about my daily life, with my regular spending habits.


Granted, there is an $89 yearly fee on my card. If you consider the perks, it weighs itself out in my opinion. $500 worth of free airfare is the equivalent of 5 years of paying the annual fee.

There are a TON of options. However, a LOT of rewards cards carry obnoxiously high % rates. I am very meticulous about paying off any balance I carry religiously, but apparently I'm a freak of nature, so... just a heads up HA!

If you always fly Southwest, look into the Southwest card (I think they're offering 2 RT flights if you sign up and spend x amount in the first few months... not a bad deal!). Same with Delta, or any other airline. If you are loyal to a certain hotel chain, they probably offer a credit card specifically catering to their perks. Just be responsibly and make sure you know what you're getting into, but all in all I think it's a great option to rack up a few travel perks while living your normal life!

(Note: This is not a sponsored post, nor am I affiliated with Barclay or any other credit company, I am simply sharing my own experiences. Credit cards can be a slippery slope though, tread with caution and make sure you're aware of all terms and conditions before signing up!)

To read up on my other Traveling on the Cheap tips, click here!

6.25.2014

june: currently

Happy to hear that Indiana's gay marriage ban was just ruled unconstitutional. Frankly, let people love. Encourage them to love. Who cares who they love... it's a hell of a lot better than encouraging people to hate. 


Relieved 
to report Olivia had another round of scans at Riley yesterday, and they're still showing no change. Every day the cancer doesn't reappear is another day to celebrate in my opinion! I hope we are celebrating for a VERY long time. Every scan makes me incredibly anxious, I'm not sure it will ever get easier!


Obsessed with Sam Hunt. Speakers and Leave the Night On are my favorite. Go listen. GO! 


Giddy about heading down to Jamaica this weekend. It may be my second home, and I may go there WAY too much, but the excitement to be back never fades. I miss it all the time.


Confused about relationships, the male species, my trajectory, everything really involving that aspect of life ha. But what's new. I think I've just been over-thinking it lately, a little too much over-analyzing perhaps?! 


Snacking on cherry tomatoes from my tomato plant I've been growing on my porch. May be a tad geeky, but I love that feeling of 'hey, I grew this!' when I'm eating my tomatoes or my strawberries! 


Wondering if I'll ever grow out of the 'middle of the afternoon ice cream run' stage, at 26 it's still going strong though


Wearing hot pink pants and 6" wedges. Sometimes you just need a little extra vavoom to get you through your Wednesday 


Working on a post regarding the gazillions of questions you all ask me in terms of saving for vacations, cheap traveling, how I go so often, etc, etc. There's just so much to share, haven't figured out how to organize it yet. My post about flying on the cheap is still live though, so feel free to refer to that in the mean time!

6.24.2014

What happened to love?

 

Do you ever find yourself in conversation with an older gentleman, probably someone's grandpa, and he gets on the topic of his late wife. Do you notice the glimmer he gets in his eye? The smirk when he mentions those quirks shes had, the love they shared, the longing ever since she passed?

Fast-forward to modern day men, and that glimmer is gone. I can't tell you the last time a guy brought up a relationship and he actually seemed happy to be in it. When he didn't call her "crazy" within the first 10 minutes, or complain about the things she does, the things she says.

What happened? Where did the love go? When did we, as a generation, lose that sense of pride and commitment to a relationship, to our 'partner'?

It's refreshing to hear a guy bragging on his girl, instead of complaining about her. It's adorable to watch a fellas eyes light up when his girl walks into a room, as opposed to hearing him groan and make some one-off comment. It's admirable when it's clear a man can't get enough of her, and has eyes for no one else, instead of trying to flirt with any other woman around.

This isn't some feminist rant about holding doors or paying for the tab. It's just a mind dump where I confess that it makes me sad. It makes me sad that all these guys date these great girls and act like they could care less if they were even around.

Maybe that's part of the reason I continue to chose to be single. I don't want to juts be in a relationship because it's expected. I want to be in one because I can't get enough of someone, and they can't get enough of me. I want to be in one where we make each other awesome, and happy, and elated and maybe this is just me dreaming un-achievable dreams, but I find that hard to believe when I've met so many grandpa's and grandma's who still have that glimmer in their eye.

6.18.2014

English as a second language.

Saturday night a few girlfriends and I were sitting on the patio of one of our favorite bars having a couple drinks people watching. We lucked into a prime real estate facing the sidewalk, and were enjoying the sights and sounds of the stragglers the Pride parade earlier that day had left behind. 

The only problem was that one of our newly single girlfriends kept getting confused between "people watching" and "people staying", and we kept ending up with, well lets just call them 'new friends' who hung around to chat. 

A few of these happened to be from Peru. With the promise of salsa dancing lessons, I exchanged numbers with one of them and forgot about it. Three days later I was awoken to my phone vibrating with texts... 

At first I couldn't figure out if it was a drunk friend or a foreigner.  Once I did I cringed at the fact we had exchanged numbers, and went back to bed.


The struggle is real, my friends. I think I'll chalk that up as a "whoopsy daisy", and rely on Arthur Murray to learn how to Cha Cha instead. 

6.17.2014

Today I love... must haves


I'm pretty easy when it comes to beauty products. I don't wear a lot of makeup, and have a reputation for getting ready in 15 minutes flat. On the flip side, I'm fiercely loyal once I find products I love. Today I am sharing a few of those with you!




1 // African Black Soap // I can't stand fruity smelling body soaps, and have crazy sensitive skin, so stumbling upon this was a win win for me. 

2 // alba hawaiian lip balm // I made the mistake of looking at the ingredients list of my old lip balm and was immediately freaked out. This stuff is 100% vegetarian, and made of things I can actually pronounce. Not to mention it's like spreading a tropical getaway right onto your lips!  

3 // Burt's Milk & Honey lotion // The scent of their Milk & Honey lotion is so light and easy, and I love the richness of this lotion. It actually feels like it's moisturizing my skin instead of just laying on top of it.  

4 // Marrakesh KaHm // I absolutely LOVE the smell of this hair care line, and it doesn't leave the buildup in my hair like the It's a 10 products do. With my love of changing hair colors, and curling my hair, this also helps make sure I'm not walking around with a head of nasty nappy-ness!

5 // TokyoMilk DeadSexy No.6 // Hands down my favorite perfume. I originally picked this up at a boutique in Maryland when visiting LT, and have been reordering it ever since.  


What are some of your must-have's that I need to check out? 

6.16.2014

Story of a boy.

Boy meets girl.

Boy gives girl his number, and invites her to hang out.

Girl already has plans.

LinkedIn tells girl that boy checked out her profile.

Girl texts boy, boy doesn't reply.

A week later, boy asks girl to lunch.

Lunch is fun! Boy and girl laugh a lot!

Boy invites girl to a gathering next week.

Girl texts boy, boy doesn't reply.

And people wonder why girl chooses not to date.


6.10.2014

Coasting for Kids

Pulling off exit 24 Olivia started squealing about the coasters in the distance. 

The last time I had taken that exit I had a car full of friends and we were still sporting our prom updo's and sleepy eyes. It was our high school's tradition - EVERYONE went to King's Island the day after prom. This time I was in a car with a 4 year old, a 9 month old, and my brother in sister in law. The giggles and gossip were a bit different than they had been on the trip 9 years earlier (Whoa. 9 years since high school. Whoa)


Back to the story at hand... we headed down early Saturday morning to hang around the waterpark and ensure we were back at the KI gates at 8am Sunday for the Coasting For Kids check-in.


More than 100 of us traipsed around the park all day in our purple shirts, riding coasters and spreading the word about GKTW. At lunch they told us we raised over $20,000 for Give Kids the World Village, which is SO AWESOME! 




It was a great day. My sister-in-law, mom and I were easily the daredevils of the trip.... often leaving my brother sitting with the kiddos while we rode coaster after coaster. Olivia tackled every kids ride she could, eagerly eyeing the "big kid" coasters for when she grew a few more inches.

In making sure the littlest skittle got the most out of her very first King's Island experience, I introduced her to Dippin Dots, she was instantly hooked!


There were 3 main coasters that we got to ride unlimited on, the Banshee, the Diamondback and the Racer. It was pretty cool seeing the carts full of purple shirts, and realizing what it stood for.



Coasting for Kids and Kings Island provided us lunch, during which they announced the Top Fundraisers and handed out prizes, I'm happy to announce that with the help of all of my awesome family & friends I was the Top Fundraiser from the Kings Island group!


Despite a misty rain off and on all day, we didn't let it dampen our spirits. It was a great time logging a few theme park hours with my family and my inner adrenaline junkie self had a BLAST on all the coasters. I think the funniest moment of the day was when my mom & I decided to ride the Banshee front row, and it started raining. Let me tell you how painful rain drops are when you're flying through the air 70some mph. OUCH!


I can't wait to participate in this event again next year. Give Kids the World is such an awesome organization, and after seeing what they did for Liv and my brother and sis-in-law I want to help them raise every dime I can for these kiddos!

 

6.05.2014

Hey you. You're awesome.

Things that are awesome (in no certain order):

You all. 

This blog has been an open book when it comes to my niece and her battle with cancer. From the day they found it, to surgeries to bald-headed birthdays, to the horrible no good very bad days I'll never forget. It's hard to sit back and watch, feeling absolutely helpless. Maybe that's why I felt so passionate about the organization in my last post.

Having been diagnosed with cancer just months shy of her 2nd bday Liv has had anything but a normal childhood, and my brother & sis-in-law have had anything near a normal 'parenthood'. Give Kids the World truly took care of EVERYTHING on Liv's wish trip to ensure the only thing on any of their minds was how much fun they were having. From airport transfers, to Olivia's medical needs, to theme park passes, to baby sister Emily's diapers, from ice cream for breakfast & Disney princesses reading her bedtime stories... Literally nothing was left out. No doubt in my mind it was one of her first, and probably best, memories of a "normal childhood"


Monday evening, when I asked Olivia about ridi
ng roller coasters, she just looked up at me and matter-of-factly said 'Don't be scared Chelsea'. Easy for you to say, kiddo. Easy for you to say. We've all been so scared for every doctor visit, every scan, every phone call. You're the brave one, here!

Our 'Coasting for Kids' team, Teamtastics (Liv named us) has raised over $2000 for Give Kids the World in just a few days. I've had emails come in saying donations were made from people I've never even crossed paths with in real life, only communicating with via twitter. The power of social media is amazing. It inspires me that you all have grown to love and cheer for Olivia just as much as we do. It's SO amazing! 

It warms my heart beyond belief how many of you have donated your hard earned money to help other kids with life-threatening illnesses and their families have this same treatment. I can only imagine how many smiles we're helping to spread! I thank each and every one of you, and can't wait to ride those coasters Sunday in honor of every brave little kiddo who is currently fighting or has fought this battle

I get giddy thinking about how many smiles these donations are going to spread. These kiddos and their families deserve nothing less!

We're still able to continue accepting donations for a few more days, even if you don't want to donate please PLEASE check out Give Kids the World and what they do, it's awe-inspiring.

http://support.gktw.org/site/TR/CoastingForKids/General?px=1228361&pg=personal&fr_id=1236

So thank you, again

6.02.2014

I need your help!


Watching my now four year old niece battle cancer for over half of her life has been one of the hardest, yet most inspiring things I've ever gone through. Oftentimes the biggest struggle was feeling absolutely helpless as I watched her fight for her life.

This past spring, after completing her second (and hopefully final, EVER) bout of chemotherapy and radiation,  Give Kids the World and Make A Wish foundation helped make my niece Olivia's "wish" come true. She was granted a trip to Disneyworld, and had the most amazing time of her life. I have never seen Olivia smile as much as she had when she was telling me about the week she spent in Florida, and the resort they stayed at, and all the characters she met. While this is a gift I could never repay, I want to make sure every kids wish is granted the way Olivia's was.

I'm not one to ask for help/donations unless it's something I am truly passionate about.  This coming Sunday I will be participating in a 'coaster-thon' with Liv, any donations I receive will go towards granting the 'wishes' of other kids battling life-threatening diseases as well. 


Please help me spread some smiles. This organization is truly one of a kind, and what they offer to the kids & their families is worth any dollar you can spare, I guarantee it. 
http://support.gktw.org/site/TR/CoastingForKids/General?px=1228361&pg=personal&fr_id=1236



Even if you can't donate, I encourage you to read up on their foundation and the great things they do. We might not be able to ensure these kids beat cancer, or whatever they are up against.... but we can make sure they get to smile and have fun, the way kids are supposed to do.