spreadsheets and suitcases

organization + travel = family fun

IHG magic and good news for Global Entry travelers to the UK

Hello, I’m back after a brief hiatus.  I thank you for your patience.  I was getting rid of a pesky ovarian cyst and working my travel hacks on the Disneyland trip for next spring.  Also, I have some great news that means we’ll never have to wait in that endless Passport Control line in London ever again!  Read the rest of this entry »

1 Comment »

Europalooza Trip Report Part 16: back to our rock in the middle of the ocean

After a long-planned and fun trip around North Carolina, England, France, Spain, and NYC, it was time to come home.  We’d been away for nearly 3 weeks, and being in our place sounded pretty good.  Obviously, I love traveling.  But there’s nothing like your own bed, a full kitchen, and 2 bathrooms.  WAIT- I’m getting ahead of myself!  All these luxuries were still over 14 hours away from our wake-up time this morning…   Read the rest of this entry »

1 Comment »

Happy Blog-aversary to meeeeeee

My blog is old enough for kindergarten!  I’m celebrating 5 years of blogging under my belt today. I may not post as often as I should, but I do enjoy sharing our planning and travel with you readers 🙂

Anyway, here’s a look back at last year’s capsule post:

I will have greatly enjoyed our European trip, having packed just the right amount of clothes, purchased the perfect magnets/souvenirs, and taken precious photos of my family having both spontaneous and planned fun.  I will be spoiled by having seen my parents in December (for Xmas in North Carolina), January (on the way back from Europe), March (for the band trip), and May (when they visit Hawaii for DD’s graduation).  I will be getting ready to send DD off to college and wondering if I can pay for tuition with a credit card…think of all the miles!

THAT IS SPOT ON!  The carry-on only packing strategy worked beautifully, I love all the magnets/souvenirs, and have the trip photos in a slideshow as my screensaver.  I am indeed spoiled re: family time, having seen my parents and sister/niece quite often in 2019.  The NYC trip was incredible, and we had such fun times at DD’s graduation.  DD is off to college- and I CAN PAY TUITION WITH A CREDIT CARD!  I chose my Bank of America Premium Rewards for the charges- the 1.5 points per dollar I earn can be redeemed for all kinds of general travel costs, and since I don’t have any travel planned until next summer, the charges won’t co-mingle with everyday expenses.

Next up for me is more planning.

  • I’m about 10 months out from my next trip…shhhhhh, it’s a surprise mother-son trip to Disneyland.  I did a similar surprise Disneyland trip with DD when she was around the same age.  DS has heard all about it but has no idea it’s coming for him, too 🙂  I gotta figure out this MaxPass thing…
  • 2021 will likely see us in Ecuador again!!!  By then, the timing will be right to visit the Galápagos Islands.  DS will be old/strong enough, and DH will be young/strong enough, haha.  Not sure of the season yet.

Ok, now to the capsule statement for next year…

DS and I will have had a magical blast at Disneyland, with a new pair of Disneyland socks for me (a story for another day).  I’ll be much closer to deciding when to go to Ecuador, and getting ready to use some of my tuition-related points on the travel activities.  I may have a new-to-me car, as my primary vehicle is starting to become less reliable.  DD will have finished her first year of college, and I HOPE contemplating taking a stab at the Disney College Program.

Thanks for reading!

Leave a comment »

Europalooza Trip Report Part 15: lions and tigers and science, oh my

After traveling all day and a good night’s sleep in New Jersey, we were ready for the last day of our vacation- in NYC.  I am unable to have a lazy day at home when away from mine, so I had a whole list of things to do/see.  First, a lovely breakfast at the hotel, included in our rate.  Then, we tried to arrange for the hotel’s “local” shuttle to drop us off at my parent’s home, since it was within the 3-mile operating radius of the shuttle.  Unfortunately, it was booked, so we called a cab instead, and quickly arrived.  Once we were reunited with the kids, who’d slept and breakfasted at my parents’ house, we headed out to what my niece calls, “New Yorkie.”  Read the rest of this entry »

1 Comment »

Europalooza Trip Report Part 14: making it back to the US…barely

So after many days of fun, Europalooza was finally coming to an end.  Today was all about travel.  The plan: get to Barcelona airport via DH’s friend, take a short hop from there to Munich on Iberia (via Lufthansa codeshare), then, after a 1 hour and 40 minute layover, fly from Munich to Newark on Lufthansa (9 hours and 25 minutes, ugh).  Then we’d meet up with my parents, have a nice dinner at home, and get a full night’s sleep before having a whirlwind NYC touring day.  Best laid plans…  Read the rest of this entry »

Leave a comment »

Europalooza Trip Report Part 13: wrapping up Barcelona :)

Funny story first: my husband read that last blog entry, and afterwards he mentioned to me that he had completely forgotten about the Telepizza incident!  He’d simply cleared it from his mind, and reading it here reminded him of the whole thing.  Then, he mentioned that the other restaurant we’d tried was really good, and when was I going to write about that one?  My turn…I had absolutely no idea what he was talking about.   Read the rest of this entry »

Leave a comment »

Europalooza Trip Report Part 12: mosaics, stained glass, and Telepizza

We had a great night’s rest at our Barcelona hotel.  Another great thing about it besides the beds?  Free Breakfast!  We were needing some fuel to set us up for our day, which included several of Barcelona’s biggest tourist/cultural attractions.  A Gaudí extravaganza was planned, including glimpses of La Pedrera and Casa Batllo, a wander around Parc Güell, and an exploration of La Sagrada Familia.  Would curvy houses, nontraditional parks, and an unfinished church hold the kids’ attention?  Maybe.  But first, FOOD.   Read the rest of this entry »


Europalooza Trip Report Part 12: in which I dip my toe into the freezing Mediterranean

After a fun 2 full days in Sevilla, it was time to travel to Barcelona.  Our friend graciously drove us to the airport 🙂  Our flight was at around 9:30a, and we arrived at the airport by 8:15a.  I had reincorporated the duffle bag that held the dirty (now clean) clothes, so were back to having 5 pieces (1 backpack for each traveler, plus the rolling carry-on).  Shouldn’t have to get into that long line to check in a bag at the Iberia counter then, right?  The problem was that European airlines’ definition & dimensions of “personal item” are much different than the American airlines…  Read the rest of this entry »

1 Comment »

Europalooza Trip Report Part 11: New Year, Old Memories

¡Feliz año nuevo!  January 1st, 2019 found us in one of the most special places in the world to me: Sevilla.  Out itinerary this day had us hitting my daughter’s favorite bakery and playground, our neighborhood and apartment, a place to eat my favorite tapa, and a recreation of a treasured photo.  We woke up without an alarm- a true luxury!

We breakfasted with our friend, who had gotten in at 4am!  She jumped right into a Spanish New Year’s Day tradition that I was not aware of: watching the Vienna Philharmonic’s New Year’s Day Concert live on TV.   I have to say, it was a lovely and gentle start to the day- and year!  Gotta love Strauss, especially while consuming reheated Freiduria chicken wings.  After a while, my itinerary began calling out to me…this was our last full day in Sevilla, after all…  Read the rest of this entry »

Leave a comment »

Europalooza Trip Report Part 10: Hola España

A note before I commence with the Trip Report: I was of course deeply affected by the fire that destroyed the roof and spire of the Notre Dame.  DH and I feel honored to have visited it so recently, as, even with renovations, it will never be the same again. The kids will always have that memory, too.  Travel is important!  Ok, let’s proceed.

After a nice evening in the Star Trek-themed Paris airport hotel, we woke up at what felt like dark o’clock.  Our nonstop flight to Sevilla (SVQ) on Vueling had a listed departure time of 7am.  It took less than 5 minutes to go down the elevator, drop our room keys at the front desk (which was this hotel’s checkout policy), and enter the terminal.  This hotel was definitely very convenient for early departures.  Read the rest of this entry »