spreadsheets and suitcases

organization + travel = family fun

Consulate and Embassy- what’s the difference?

I recently had cause to consider the title question, and realized that I couldn’t quite answer it.  It was on my mind as I renewed DD’s passport and needed to browse the travel.state.gov website for the appropriate forms.  It popped up again when my parents sent me a box of some childhood documents, including my original application for Naturalization, which had some government addresses on it.  Do you know the difference between a consulate and an embassy?  Let’s find out! Read the rest of this entry »

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Award travel success- transatlantic flights

I plugged our voyage  into the Great Circle Mapper, an excellent site to determine flight miles between destinations, potentially very useful in the near future (see Flights to Spain and Flights within Spain further down).  This is what came back!

europe trip route map

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Award travel success so far, European hotels

Yeaaaaaaaaaaah buddy! We currently have 4 of 7 hotel nights needed covered with points, with 2 of the remaining 3 hopefully covered by certificates later this year.  I shall now regale you with my recent adventures in hotel booking.

Um, have you ever noticed that European hotels (even American chains) rarely sleep more than 2 people?  I’ve had quite a time setting up 4-person rooms in London, Paris, and Barcelona.  We are lucky to be able to stay with family or friends in our other 3 stops (North Carolina, Seville, and New Jersey).  My chart:

Location # of nights needed # of nights booked on points # of nights paying OOP % nights covered
North Carolina  3-4  3-4 sister points  0  100%
London 1
Paris 3
Seville 3  3 friend points  0  100%
Barcelona 3
New Jersey 2  2 daughter points  0  100%

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Some lighting, some watching, some planning

 

Lighting: I hope everyone had a Happy Hanukkah if your family celebrates the Festival of Lights.  This year, my son was finally old enough to remember the candle-lighting prayer from one night to the next.  He previously would just hum along with big sister and dad, but now he knew the words and sang more confidently.  This bodes well for the future, since my husband’s family tradition is that the youngest family member leads the singing, and my little guy will have to step up to the musical plate once DD leaves for college.  I received some fun Disney-themed gifts for Hanukkah this year, including this trading pin jigsaw puzzle and Mickey sanduche-caliente maker.

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Travel deal FROM Honolulu! And DLP details :)

If ever I planned to fly in a westerly direction, I would totally take advantage of this deal from AirAsia.  Fly to Osaka from Honolulu for $129 one-way!  Here is just a sample of their fare deals, full chart at this AirAsia link.  As you can see, there are many other destinations available at reasonable prices.  Though it says “All-In Fare,” there are are some additional fees for transaction is US Dollars.  But the fare is so low that it won’t detract much from your savings.  Book by this Sunday, September 17th.

airasia honolulu

I took Japanese in college, and if I was in the position to take advantage of these kids of short-term deals, I would definitely jump on this one!

 

As far as my personal planning for trips I can go on, I’m waiting to be able to book hotels in Paris, Barcelona, and Seville over the holiday season.  I check every few weeks, and the calendars still don’t go out that far.  I’m wanting to use some rewards points, and the availability is understandably limited.  If I were just paying out-of-pocket, I might not reserve so far in advance, but they only release a certain amount of rewards-eligible rooms for that week of/after Christmas.

Since I’m in a holding pattern on hotels, I’m currently working on making the itinerary for Disneyland Paris.  We’re only spending the one day there, so I’ve looked at the attractions descriptions and maps for both Parks, and made a chart that highlights our must-do rides and such.  I am spending all of our time on stuff that is different  or unavailable in the US Parks.  Here’s a sneak peek:

dlp details

Looking at this list makes me so, so happy.

candace heart eyes

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Hey, I’m learnin’ here: Disneyland Paris

In a unique position here: planning my first trip to a Disney Park!  One specific Disney Park, to be exact: Disneyland Paris.  My sister went once, but that was in the Dark Ages when it was called Euro Disney Resort.  Of course I will take any info she can provide, but I’m essentially starting from scratch.  Here’s what I know about Disneyland Paris: Read the rest of this entry »

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Flights and Mice- Part 3

This is our last installment, where my sis boldly (ha!) details her adventures on the flight home from Honolulu.  My comments in RED.  I’ll be back soon with a regular post, lots of Disney news lately 🙂

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Flights and Mice- Part 1

Hello, there! Something exciting: my sister has graciously agreed to share the details of her experience traveling with my favorite niece.  It’ll be her report of the travel TO Hawaii, then I’ll interject an Aulani Report and some reviews of other local activities, and then it’ll end with her travel FROM Hawaii.  These are her words- any comments I add will be in RED.

and away we go

And away we go…

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A tour of My Planning/Trip Binder

Hey friends (and several new followers)!  This post was requested by Jen 🙂  She wanted to know more about my Trip Binder and how I organize this low-tech item.  So here we go!

planning binder11

Here she is at my office.  That’s my eBags Kayla Town Square bag that I use for work.

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Planning for Aulani

Hey hey, my niece and her personal assistant, AKA my sister, are coming to town soon!  We have a bunch of fun stuff planned, including trips to the Honolulu Zoo, Sea Life Park, the Oahu Railroad Train Ride, the beach/pool, and of course, Aulani.

candace heart eyes

This will be my niece’s first official Disney Experience.  I’m thrilled that I can be a part of it- you may recall that DD’s first Disney Experience was a Disney Cruise and WDW trip with me and my sister. My being a part of this Aulani stay with my niece means another Disney tradition continues!

Since we’ll have 5 people (DH has to work), I once again looked at renting DVC points from David’s DVC Rental.  We needed either 2 rooms or a small villa, and cash rates WITH Kama’aina discount were coming in at nearly $1000.   Looking at the points rates on the DVC rental site, I saw that going through them would save a huge amount.  We wound up securing a standard 1-bedroom villa (sleeps 5) for $660.  Since my sister and I are splitting the cost, it’s very reasonable.  Our past Aulani stay was in a regular ocean view room.  It’ll be nice to have the extra space and kitchenette.  Here’s the floorplan:

aulani 1br

The bed is king-sized….me and both kids can probably fit on there 🙂  The pullout bed in the living area is queen-sized.

 

 

I tell you, the property is very beautiful, well-appointed, and includes all the Disney details you would expect…but I think the thing I’m most looking forward to is the lazy river.  That thing is AWESOME.  Another thing I’m looking forward to is the Menehune Adventure Trail.  I think DS will really like it, as it involves puzzles and is a scavenger hunt.  And depending on how DD does grade-wise this quarter, I may look into booking a treatment for her at the Painted Sky Teen Spa.

I’ve prepped homemade empanadas (my niece is crazy for them), got my jigsaw puzzles up and out of the way, hung a bell on the front door in case of any escape attempts, purchased a variety of yellow beach/pool accessories (her fave color), and unearthed the outlet covers that we used when DS was a toddler.  Hurricane Niece is coming to town!

But wait, there’s more!

  • Kama’aina, I found this great discount for Sea Life Park, which expires soon (3/19/17)!  You just bring a receipt from Times Supermarket for $20 or more to get 2 adult tix for $25, which is $15 off each ticket.  Nice deal.

Perhaps I can persuade my sister to do a guest post on her experience traveling with a toddler, following some of my tips…get back to you guys in a few weeks on that.  Also coming soon, by request, a post about my physical trip binder(s) and how I put them together.  I have one specifically for Disney, and one for all other trips- see below.  Have a great day!

binders1

The lowest of all possible techs

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