Plan Your Vacation

As I start to plan my next Europe trip it dawned on me how horrible I was at this "planning process" when I first started years ago.  It makes me laugh thinking back.  Leave it to say I have gotten much, MUCH better over the years.  This next trip in particular. 

When I first started traveling I would make a list of my top cities I wanted to visit and then hunt for excellent travel deals.  I had yet to discover Thrifty Traveler, Google Flights or other like wise amazing sites so I relied on places like Priceline.  I would google a few attractions and make a mental list but that was about it.  With each trip I would do this, sometimes writing down a few notes but for the most part I would "wing" it.  I did ok and always managed to see what I hoped for.  Found a few deals here and there but it was always a bit stressful even if the country spoke English. The hardest part for me was getting from one place to the next.  Literally how was it going to happen.  After my Mom and I had a scary, horrible experience in Greece renting a car I swore to get better at my travel planning.  (PS don't EVER rent a car in Greece!)

I was fortunate enough on my trip to Paris, Barcelona & London to travel with my best friends sister.  I had heard about this style of planning from some other friends of mine, however I had yet to experience it for myself until this trip.  Her planning skills blew my idea of traveling out of the water.  It was so relaxing and easy.  Every day we had a itinerary, which we could follow, or not, depending on how we felt.  There were walking paths mapped out and along our routes were markers labeled for food stops.  All of which had 5 star reviews online.  So anyplace on the map we decided to stop and eat at was AMAZING.

So here I am planning my next big Europe trip.  These are some tips & tricks that have helped me make my traveling fun and relaxing.

Google My Maps

1. If you haven't used My Maps on Google, do so!  You can create a new map for each city you are planning to visit.  Add all your site seeing, museums, restaurants, hotels, etc to your map.  Each icon can be changed to help label your marker. You can even color code if you like. 

Once done, you can then add walking paths to each marker.  This can also help you know how long it will take you to walk from point A to B.  If it's to long of a walk plan ahead and find the nearest public transit.  Guess what, you can then label on your map where to catch the bus/train and where it will drop you off! 

I use this to help me get to my hotel the fastest and easiest since I know I will have a suit case in tow. This can be such a life saver, and make getting to and from the airport stress free.

useing google my maps.jpg

What To See & Do

2. Once I have my cities picked and major flights booked it's time to start the planning process.  The fun part, what do you want to see and do when you're on Vacation?  For me I want to make sure I don't miss any top 10 attractions that are must-see. So I google " what to see" or "top 10" in "Amsterdam".  This will give you two billion links, but I'm only looking for 2-3.

what to do in amsterdam.jpg

Try to avoid the AD links at the top, they can sometimes be misleading and may not contain all the info you are looking for. 

1st - Trip Advisor because they will have tons of reviews on just about anything and their top 10 is normally pretty close to what I am looking for as far as major attractions.  I then start to read and follow links to connected blogs to compile a list of MY must see's.

2nd - I choose a 2nd link that is specific to that city and looks reputable.  For instant the I Am Amsterdam website has lots of great links. Each city will have something similar-ish.  These sites might have something extra or discount tickets not easily found on a big site like Trip Advisor. 

Once I have my must see attaractions mapped out I read a few blogs I found that mention "hidden jems" or less traveled sites.  From here I find a few that look interesting and add those to my map too.

- Remember once you have this list started make sure to add all these spots to your My Maps on Google.  You can also add comments on your map so you can reference a website or ticket info.


So I hope this helps you get started on your next fun adventure.  If you have questions or need some tips I'm always happy to chat about the places I've been.  Just say hello!

Next up, I'm writing a blog post on how to create the perfect itinerary for your vacation.  Including links, maps, budget and planning sheets...

Growing Too Fast

My little lady is growing too fast. This months milestone was crawling at lighting speed and standing.  She still has her ridiculously cute laugh that vibrates, and she has added even more facial expressions to her ever expanding repertoire.  However, I think the biggest one that got me was the two bottom teeth that came in on Christmas day. 

Her favorite activity is talking especially when others are conversing around her.  She will raise her voice so loud you have to stop and listen to what she has to say.  This is especially the case at the dinner table, which or course she now needs to be a part of while munching on Cheerios & yogurt melts.  When the day is done there is nothing better than some quick snuggles (she doesn't like long hugs, which I'm determined to change) and some tickles.  The best laugh's are right before bed. 

With the new house I'm hard at work designing and decorating her new room.  I was at Oh Baby yesterday at the Galleria and noticed their adorable clouds hanging from the ceiling.  That's a must.  A cute little reading nook, since she can't get enough of her books.  Honestly, these were her favorite this Christmas.  The gifts she got most excited about.  The Pinterest page is filling up with ideas.  Can't wait to share the progress once I get started.  So until then, here's my baby's 9 months photos. :)

9 Months Old

Let the remodel begin

This cute little 1940's house is now ours.
I can't wait to make this house our perfect home.

Here's the story ... well it really starts back in 2009 when I purchased my first fixer-upper.  I was ready to own, not rent.  So I started my search and by luck and the knowledgeable skills of my real estate agent I landed my first home in South Minneapolis.  It was a blind auction and I won the bid. Holy cow! It was a beautiful 1910 home, original wood work, hardwood floors, a nice city size yard, and so much potential.  The house was scrubbed from head to toe, painted inside and out, completely re-wired, remodeled the basement, kitchen & bathroom, and refinished the floors. I'm sure I'm forgetting something but this gives you a idea.  The whole remodeling over a few years probably came to under $15k and the house sold for double what I paid.  Yup!  For my first property this home was a land slide and I loved it to pieces. 

Fast forward to 2016 and I'm on the hunt again for my next property. I set a budget and had a rough idea of what I wanted. 3br, 1 ba, in the cities or close by with lots of potential.  About 30 days into looking I was starting to feel like it would never happen.  From August - November I looking at over 50+ homes and made 5 offers that were outbid!  For every home I liked there were 10 others that were horrible.  Not just icky, but, "please condemn this home and tear it down, the neighbors will thank you."  Then finally one night, at 10pm, I'm searching the MLS and spot this perfect home...

  • 3 Bedrooms, 1 Bathroom - Check
  • Large city lot - Check
  • Quite street & park close by - Check
  • Lots of potential - Check check!

Of course it was out of my price range, but they had a open house next week so I told myself if it was still on the market I'd go, "just to look." Of course I loved it and saw all the potential this home had.  I call my agent and told her I needed to make a offer, even if it was low.  My letter to the sellers told of our small family, our dog Potatos, and how much we loved the home.  After a stressful few days over the weekend we got the good news we needed, they accepted our offer!  It turns out the letter I wrote brought the owners to tears.  This had been their family home and they loved the idea of a new family moving in. 

So 30 days later ... this little gem is ours.  Let the remodel begin!

A special thank you

I have to give a huge thanks to my realtor Lisa Leicht.  This home would not have happened had it not been for her knowledge and hard work.  I can't thank her enough.  If you are in need of a realtor there is no one else I would recommend more than her! 

Lisa Leicht at Edina Realty

Stay tuned for the remodel progress photos & updates ...