spreadsheets and suitcases

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Europalooza Trip Report Part 3: in which my optimistic nature is tested in 2 different countries

Part 2 left off with me and my family heading to Raleigh Airport (RDU) on Christmas Day to catch our nonstop flight to London on American Airlines (AA).  BTW, I updated that post.  Can’t believe I forgot to mention The Nutcracker and the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences!  Go read it, I’ll wait.

Ok, now that you’re back…the European adventure was about to begin!  First, though, we had to drop off the rental car.  This is where some of my troubles began… Read the rest of this entry »

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Europalooza Trip Report Part 2: Family Time in North Carolina (updated)

When we last left off, DH and I had figured out the keyless rental and arrived at my sister’s place in North Carolina.  After much hugging and kissing and settling in, we set about making plans for the next several days.  It had snowed the week before our arrival, but the weather was clear for our whole stay, much to DS’s disappointment.  Ah, a small child’s dreams of snow…little did we know that heavy snow would make an appearance in our trip, later on and thousands of miles away…but we’ll get to that. Read the rest of this entry »

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Europalooza Trip Report Part 1: Escape from Hawaii

You may have noticed that I changed the name of this trip for purposes of simplicity.  Easier to type Europalooza than Spain and France in 2018 or So Help Me, which is a name I still love because of the Monsters, Inc. reference.   Anyway, Europalooza it is, for the duration of this Trip Report.

Departure day dawned…sunny? cloudy? rainy?…actually I didn’t pay attention to the weather at all, haha.  It just dawned, and it meant that I was up early due to have a pesky all-day work training to attend.  The packing lists had been printed and posted a few days prior, with almost all of the packing already done.  Just a few housechores left to do: Read the rest of this entry »

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Weeeeee’re back, baby!

OMG what an awesome trip we had!  Didn’t miss any of our 10 flights, stayed UNDER BUDGET at Disneyland Paris, and packed just the right amount of travel-sized toothpaste.  Does it get any better than that?  I think not.

I’ll be doing a full day-by-day Trip Report, but here are some pics to whet your appetite…

nc chaos

“Mami, pick me up!  Tía, me too!” -North Carolina

platform 934

Platform 9 3/4, King’s Cross- London

dlp entrance

Disneyland Resort- Paris

puente de triana

Puente de Triana- Sevilla

la boqueria

Mercat de la Boqueria- Barcelona

bronx zoo

Bronx Zoo- NYC

Going to try to start posting the Report within the next week 🙂

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Global Entry for families- a Trusted Traveler Program

I wrote about the different Trusted Traveler Programs offered by the US Department of Homeland Security before, when discussing my Adventures in Passport Control.  A small correction to the end of that blog post: Global Entry (GE) privileges no longer extend to children traveling with the GE parent- everyone needs their own.  GE Membership still includes TSA PreCheck, which is helpful for the airport security line.  So you have an advantage at takeoff with a smoother security process, and at landing with a smoother Passport Control process.  Nice!

I felt it would be helpful for me especially, given my previous encounters at Customs & Border Protection (CBP), to have had a thorough background check and obtain a “Known Traveler Number,” another term for the GE PASSID #.  For us, that meant that we would need to spend $400 for the privilege of faster passage through immigration/passport control, since we would all need to apply and be approved for the Program individually.  Or did we???

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Leggings, Linking, London, and Lauderdale

Pre-trip prep time!  It’s down to the details now that all the big stuff has been settled.

—First thing I’ve been thinking about lately is WARM clothing.  We’re typically wimpy re: winter weather after living in Hawaii for so long.  I started an inventory of cold-weather gear and quickly realized…

im-gonna-need-cold-weather-meme

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Yay! The Paris-Seville ticket saga is OVER!

This particular ticket purchase was a true roller coaster of emotions: from the high of getting a budget-appropriate late afternoon flight booked with Transavia in May, to the low of “unbooking” after they changed our departure time to 7am (ugh), to the 4 months of uncertainty since then as I tracked prices and they kept going up, and up, and up.  Well, I finally slayed this particular travel dragon thanks to a small amount of date flexibility, a museum request visit from my husband, and a shiny new credit card sign-up bonus. Read the rest of this entry »

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Disneyland Paris Planning

So, I mentioned that we would only spend 1 day at the Disneyland Paris Resort on our upcoming European tour.  You all know how much I love Disney, but Paris has so much to offer that 1 theme park day was all I was willing to spare.  It follows then, that I had to plan an epic day, trying to hit all the Paris-exclusive rides and experiences available.  Yes, we are planning to open and close the Parks.  Here’s how I hope it will go… Read the rest of this entry »

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Happy Blog-aversary to meeeeeee

This is a short and sweet celebration of 4 years of blogging.  I’m grateful to still have this outlet for all my planning shenanigans.  PLAN-anigans?!  Yes, I just made that word up, and …yes, you’re all very welcome to use it.  If I ever change the name of this blog, it’ll be to “Plananigans: the joys of an orderly life.”

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

I’m in the thick of advance planning for Europe 2018, as well as being super focused on finishing off the car loan a year early.  I’ll be grateful that we can take the kids on these adventures, and soak in their gratitude, as they have really started to express it.  I’ll be banking any miles/points bonus opportunities and sharing them here.  I hope everyone can achieve their travel dreams, and hope to help them along!  Here’s to another year!

I’m going to call it a success.  We did in fact pay off our car loan over a year early, so that bit of the budget has already been reallocated to the Car Replacement/Repair Fund.  And the kids are getting ever more excited about the trip, with my son making a passport for his stuffed bear, and my daughter planning all the pictures she will take with a new camera she is saving up for.  I hope my sharing the ways I’ve used miles and points on this trip have been helpful to all!

Next up for me is more planning.

  • I’m considering getting a new credit card to help offset that pesky Paris-Seville trip cost.  It’s been a long time since I applied for one- almost 2 years, which is a lot for someone who loves sign-up bonuses!  Anyway, I’m still comparing which would work best for me, so I’ll write about it when I decide.
  • my daughter’s school band is doing a trip in the spring- to NYC!!!  They’ve been talking about it for about a year, and after several information sessions, and meeting the minimum number of participants, the trip is officially ON!  I will be going along, of course, but as an independent traveler.  I’m taking my son and staying with my parents in NJ- should be a great time.  Another trip to plan, yay.  Planning to use my Alaska Companion Fare for these mainland tix.

Ok, now to the capsule statement for next year…

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!

Thanks for reading!

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I feel like a real EuroSTAR

I took the Eurostar train from London to Paris once before, and I remember it was pretty cool.  I was all, European Rail Travel! Crumpets to Croissants! The Chunnel! For this trip, once our departure to Europe changed from the NYC area to North Carolina, and the opportunity to fly into London was in play, I realized that my next Eurostar opportunity had arrived!  I immediately started researching, and saw the magic words any uber-planner loves…“prices are cheaper the earlier you book”Read the rest of this entry »

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