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Spend Money on Experiences…And Buy Those Shoes…

As I have hit almost 40….my goals are different than they once were. I have spent years working hard, getting through school, and being frugal along the way.

I have always been a shopper and a deal seeker…this will never change but my priorities have shifted in the last year. Let me explain…

I worked as a teacher for 3.5 years, became an assistant principal for almost 14 years, and currently work at a district office for a school system.

When It came time to purchase a house; The bank said I could afford a very large house; I never felt comfortable with paying more than I would in rent on my own and thus…chose a new, nice neighborhood that served my needs. I felt with this my life would be more abundant and having resources and freedom was essential to my well-being.

With my cost of living being low (lower than most rent) – it afforded me the opportunity to have more experiences.

For me, experiences create happiness. Spending time on a vacation has always been important in my family and that connection has continued even after my dad’s passing.

For me, experiences create a life change every time it happens. I get excited about the adventure, during, and after…The picture above is in Africa. Still cannot let go of the first time an elephant looked at me right in the eyes.

Strong memories make me happy and as Marie Kondo would say. “Does it bring joy”

One of the most exciting and scariest things I have ever done was getting in a microlight and flying over Victoria Falls.

I can never undo the experiences I have had. I am continuing to learn, grow, and remain grateful.

Machu Picchu taught me so much about drainage. Didn’t see that one coming – did you? The Incas were incredible masters of building and when the rain comes (and it did on this trip) everything was completely saturated and fog rolled in; the weather (mainly fog) then rain stopped and everything drained perfectly….

Seeing the Pyramids and remembering King Tut on my 6th Grade Social Studies Book was epic. There has been unrest in the area for years but ventured out and had the best time!

Keeping up with the Kardashians is Real

As I have approached almost 40….I remember getting my first Lexus RX 330 (at the time) Bamboo color and it had every bell and whistle. I loved that car and drove it til it was on its last leg. I do not regret that car or how much it cost me, but I remember in 2003 – it was expensive and it was a big spend.

If spending a lot of money, you should know – driving a car off the lot – instantly $7k drop in value it but it is the American way to go big or go home.

Do what gives you sustainable happiness.

I spend the majority of my money on experiences now.

I sign up for credit cards (I can do a post on this) and take many free flights to locations….

Like my mom and I wanted to Trick or Treat at Disney – free flight, free hotel – pay Disney for Not so Scary Halloween Party and we went Trick or Treating!

I grew up taking a minimum of 4 nice vacations a year and when I say nice – cruises, explorations, adventures, and Disney. Let me say, they were nice vacations but not extravagant and I continue to live this way today. I would rather take 4 nice vacations at 4 star than 1 5 Star Vacation.

This upcoming weekend, my Mom and I are going to Florida and will be taking a Disney cake decorating class. Experiences are not always vacations, they can be eating out for dinner (though I would rather spend more for a trip than an expensive meal) and concerts or a football game.

I like things…..and I buy them….this where Instagram has helped me. I am able to get a lot of wonderful items or new products without paying for them (alternate revenue source) – yes you have to claim it on your taxes but my cash can be spent on other things.

Sustaining happiness and remaining grateful … the keys to life.

I had a few people ask in the last week, when are you getting a new Lexus and I didn’t have an answer…my car has 208,000 miles, runs well, is safe, and gets me where I want to go. I can afford to buy the car, but I also just booked a trip to Antarctica….my happiness of completing my 7th continent has much more value than a car.

I think for me it comes back to the experience of buying a new car and getting exactly what I wanted…..it represented that I worked hard and paid for it; it never mattered that it was a Lexus or could have been a Porsche…it was not a label thing – it was a bucket list item.

I am living my best life …day by day. I challenge you to evaluate your things v. your experiences. If you will be happy with the new car, buy it. If those amazing shoes will make you smile – buy them!

You will regret the things you did not do more…than the things you did ❤️ and if the need arises….I might just buy that car 🚗

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0 In Airlines/ Bucket List/ Couples/ Family/ Female Travels/ Itinerary/ Photos That Inspire You to Visit/ South America/ Travel/ Travel Advice/ Travel Gear/ Travel Tips

13 Things to Know: Visiting Patagonia and Hiking Torres Del Paine

1. Airfare: will run you a pretty penny. Look for deals. The first part of the trip was booked when I found a flight from NY to Santiago for $490. The flight stopped in Atlanta on the way and flying from Atlanta to Santiago was over $1600 and Delta does not let you miss a leg to get a cheaper fare – they will cancel your flight.

Now we needed to get to New York and from Santiago to Punta Arenas. The NY flight was around $250 (paid with miles) and the flight from Santiago to Punta Arenas was $300 per person. Again, not cheap.

Flights on the way down:

Delta 5893: 8:53 AM – 10:43 AM CMH to LGA

Delta 2210: 5:59 PM – 8:38 PM LGA to ATL

Delta 146: 8:50 PM – 5:38 AM ATL to SCL

Latam 283: 3:23 PM – 6:45 PM SCL to PUQ

Flights on the Way Back:

Latam 12:08 PM – 3:33 PM PUQ to SCL

Delta 147: 8:50 PM – 5:38 AM SCL to ATL

Delta 2933: 7:30 AM to 9:47 AM ATL to LGA

Delta 5888: 1:42 PM to 3:43 PM LGA to CMH

2. Transportation

Once you get to Punta Arenas, there are buses that will take you to major cities however there were a lot of little finds I wanted to check out so a rental car was the best option $450 for 6 days. Keep in mind limited rentals available so book early and renting a car for a day might be $200 and has to be returned by 6 pm so plan ahead (Europ Rental Car)

3. Plan ahead know what you want to do.

Day 1: arrival and driving 2.5 hours to outside the Torres del Paine Park. The Hotel CostaAustralis was perfect and absolutely a highlight to the stay. (This hotel is highly recommended)

The bus was perfect for day 2 as we rode and slept a lot on the bus and they stop for scenic things. Restroom and food options. The bus tour was from Chile to Argentina visiting Perito Mereno Glacier and seeing El Calafate

Day 3: from the hotel. We took a boat ride in the Patagonian Icefields and I loved every minute of it. It was a bit cold but beautiful. We were served a Chilean bbq. We were supposed tondo the Balmaceda y Serrento Glacier but there was a fatality so all zodiacs were cancelled but we did the boat ride that was quite lovely.

Day 4: We drove 2.5 hours to Hotel Torres – a beautiful hotel in the midst of Patagonia (Highly Recommended) . This hotel was not cheap but privately owned and absolutely stunning. The hotel had wonderful food and close parking to the trail for Torres del Paine. While here, did a horseback excursion in the afternoon and planned for Hiking Torres del Paine the next morning.

Day 5: we hiked Torres del Paine while mom went to the spa for the day. The hike was good – long- 13 hours of hard hiking. I am not kidding. Returned about 4 pm to the hotel and went for a drive to see the Grey Glacier.

Day 6: We drove around Patagonia inside the park for a few hours then headed out to Punta Arenas – a 6 hour drive from the Park. When arriving in Punta Arenas – one of the last places in South America before Antarctica – we visited a few of the cemetery markers – beautiful largeresting places. The city is quite lovely.

Day 7: Drove to the airport to catch flights home.

4. Weather

The weather can change on a dime so be prepared. April is considered a good- pleasant temperature time to go. 40-50s and at night 20-30 degrees. All I can say is we had the best visit and weather when we went. The winds can be extremely strong – come prepared for rain, wind, and cold – bone chilling weather.

5. So much to do in Patagonia

The list of things to do is plentiful. For starters – hiking and driving will consume a lot of your trip. For those reading this, I am really not a hiker – I don’t particularly enjoy walking in the wilderness while animals can potentially get me. You will not normally find me on a hike when back at home. The hikes in Patagonia are hard – they are for people who exercise (which I do) and have endurance. I found the Torres del Paine hike to be the best part of my trip. I was proud that I did it and so thankful that it was clear when we arrived. It was the hardest thing I have done and the half marathon I completed did not compare.

For those non- hikers, my mom found that the spas were nice and enjoyed reading, relaxing, and no cell phone service a welcomed part of the vacation.

Horseback riding, boating, guided tours of glaciers or tours of the landscape are some other options. Hotel Torres had a collection of options they provide and the list was incredible!

6. Food in Patagonia

The food is terrific. Barbecue is popular and culinary experiences are wonderful. The steak, mushrooms, lamb, seafood are all very popular. Sharing food is very popular in Chile and Argentina. People are family oriented and spending time barbecuing in the yard is popular. Three hours of cooking and tender meat will be upon you.

Many restaurants do not accept credit cards

Service is really slow amd dinner is late starting at 8 pm

If you see a large group- inclination is to keep movong on but instead join in – you don’t want to miss the amazing food

7. Language

Most people in Chile and Argentina speak Spanish but as a native English speaker, everyone we encountered in Patagonia spoke Emglish without a problem. The hotels had a lot of employees from New Zealand and Australia as well as Europe. Google translate can help

8. Cell Phone Service

Cell service is limited in parts of Chile and Argentina but when you have service – the Verizon cell phone only charges $10 a day for unlimited service but make sure you have this turned on before leaving the US

9. Things You Need to Bring

A. Sunglasses

B. Socks

C. Hiking Boots

D. Hat or Beanie

E. Sunscreen

F. Travel Insurance

9. It is expensive in Patagonia

I am pretty sure nothing was cheap in Patagonia – the food was expensive, clothing – expensive, wool- expensive, accommodations- expensive transportation – expensive

10. Patagonia is Huge!

A. Travel is slow, border crossing is easier said that done (unless your rental has the right paperwork; you cannot go) – you must plan the details because it can range 3 hours to 15 hours throughout Patagonia.

11. Patagonia is Environmentally Conscious

There is no trash on the side of the road or in the wilderness. Everyone is environmentally conscious and makes an effort to keep things need and organized. Wildlife is unique – views are incredible and everything is pristine

12. Come Prepared

You must come prepared with clothes, extra battery charges, food, snacks, water.

13. A recap of what you need to know:

– Patagonia is expensive

– well worth the visit

– The views are incredible

-Pick accommodations wisely

-Rent a car in advance

-Be environmentally conscious

– Weather is crazy

– internet? What is that?

– Bring warm clothing and put items in ziplock

– Sunscreen, sunglasses, hiking boots should be brought

– Patagonia is safe

– If hiking Torres del Paine – consider Hotel Torres when you do the hike

– Travel Insurance

Costs: for 3 people

El calafate: $311.94

Boat Ride: $432.89

Car Rental with Insurance and all Gas: $636.79

Bags: $168.16

Hotel Torres $940 (2 nights)

Food, Horses $225.73

Hotel Costaaustralis: $507.47 (3 nights)

Hotel Cabo Hornes $184.51

Travel Insurance per person: $81

$50 per person per day – maybe less depending.

Flight to NY: $386 per person

Flight to santiago: $579.03 per person

Flight to Punta Arena: $350 per person

**some of the costs were paid with miles**

$2,000 per person would include all food, car, hotel, excursions, and flights

0 In Airlines/ Bucket List/ Budget/ Couples/ Family/ Female Travels/ Itinerary/ North America/ Travel/ Travel Advice/ Travel Gear/ Travel Tips/ United States

4 Days Visiting Yellowstone & Jackson – What to Know!

My first visit to Yellowstone was circa 2012 and it was incredible. Having the opportunity to return to Yellowstone is a quick…..ABSOLUTELY! I had some airline miles on Alaska Airlines to use and the flight was completely free!

Left Thursday after work and flew from Columbus, Ohio to Seattle, Washington onward to Bozeman, Montana.

The arrival was scheduled for midnight in Montana, but based on plane troubles arrived around 3 AM. It made for a short night of sleep, but getting to the park is the highest priority. Yellowstone is a large park.

Friday morning around 9 AM left Bozeman, Montana for Yellowstone National Park. There are a couple of ways to enter the park, but drove into West Yellowstone taking the route north to circle the park ending at the Yellowstone Lodge.

As you enter Yellowstone from West Yellowstone, you have a few choices…..the option of going toward Mammoth Springs (North) was the path taken. There are a ton of pull offs to see waterfalls, paint pots, geysirs, and Mammoth Springs is an excellent spot to take a lunch break. During the stop, watched the Elk walk around the city area; these animals are beautiful but you really need to stay back as they are known to be quite aggressive.

The drive continued with stops at the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and lookouts.

Several locations have animals that are close to the vehicles. It is important to know that these are wild animals and you need to keep your distance.

The bison walk next to the cars, but will become aggressive if you get too close. The same with bears, elk, deer, etc.

During this trip, I was amazed at the number of people trying to get the right picture of the animal; willing to risk their lives for a picture.

Since I have been home, there are have been two people attacked by bison and one guy ran across the Grand Prasmatic Pool – use your head and do not ruin these opportunities for everyone. If things like this continue, they will put up fencing and limit access.

Finished driving for the day and ended at the Yellowstone Lodge located on Yellowstone Lake. It is absolutely beautiful. Yellowstone is at a high altitude and even when it is summer….it can still be quite chilly. There is a lake and many people end up the hospital because of hypothermia from the lake…keep this in mind. Visiting the park in June, it can be 70 degrees one day…..and can change the next….

Woke up Saturday to snow on the ground! Based on the elevation and driving conditions several roads were closed so we drove from the Yellowstone Lodge north to the bypass and then visited the southern part of the park. Drove to Old Faithful and had lunch right after the eruption. The park service posts the time and the app (when you have cell service) will also let you know the approximate next time.


On Sunday, we drove down to Jackson, Wyoming meeting some friends and exploring the areas. This is where we saw the first bear on the trip! We drove to our hotel and checked in at the Jackson Lake Lodge. This is between Yellowstone National Park and Jackson, Wyoming.

The Jackson Lake Lodge was located pretty close to Jenny Lake (a hidden gem) and Colter Bay (another hidden gem) that are in the Tetons. The hotel was expensive but was at the base of the Tetons and had fantastic views. On Monday mid-day left the Tetons and drove back through Yellowstone on the way back to Bozeman….a few shots on the way back.

If given the opportunity to visit Yellowstone and/or Jackson, Wyoming – definitely take the opportunity. If the weather is decent, I would highly recommend white water rafting in Jackson Hole. This trip did not have time and the weather was a bit cold, but the last time…it was one of the major highlights!

–Heidi

Costs for Yellowstone:

Rental Car: Alamo: $560

Quality Inn Bozeman: $185 per night

Lake Yellowstone Lodge: $390 per night

Alaskan Airlines Flight: $450 (my flight was paid with points)

Jackson Lake Lodge: $400 per night

0 In Airlines/ Bucket List/ Budget/ Couples/ Female Travels/ Travel/ Travel Advice/ Travel Tips/ United States

72 Hours to Visit Hoover Dam, Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon, Bryce, and Zion National Parks–Can it be done?

72 Hours to see Hoover Dam, Grand Canyon, Antelope, Bryce, and Zion National Parks

Grand Canyon Visiting Las Vegas for a whirlwind out west in 3 days! I had limited time and companion airfare on Southwest that allowed me go on a quick adventure and I can never say no!

Las Vegas is such a fun place to visit. Back when I was doing my dissertation, I spent 3 weeks out in Las Vegas writing my paper and booked 3 weeks in Kauai to finish….yes, you read that correctly. I have always enjoyed Las Vegas and while living in Ohio, the phone constantly rang and friends wanted to go to lunch or do this and getting away was perfect for writing that paper. There was motivation to accomplish goals.

For the Las Vegas Trip, it was meant to be a quick trip….Leaving Ohio after work and flying to Las Vegas staying at the New York New York for the first night. After a long day of work and travels- arrived around 10 PM Vegas time or 1 AM Ohio Time. The first stop was In N Out Burger followed by a stop down in Old Vegas.

Saturday morning; got up super early to be at the Hoover Dam before the major traffic. It has been a couple of years since I was out there, but thankfully the new highway makes the visit much more enjoyable. If you have not been to the Hoover Dam; I highly recommend visiting.

From there, trudged on to the Grand Canyon…there are a lot of options, but purchased the Park Pass for a year (National Park Service for more details) there is a Desert View Drive that has a lot of pull offs and is perfect for a short stay at the Grand Canyon….

Mind you, we are still trucking because we have booked a 4:30 Antelope Canyon tour in Page, Arizona.

The goal was when finished to see Horseshoe Bend but this trip, parking was full and fines were high for parking along the highway.

The next morning we got up early and drove to Bryce Canyon to see the Hoodoos and then to Zion National Park. With it being the height of summer..definitely busy. In order to hike the Narrows. Get there early and plan on a 45-1 hour bus ride. After driving through the park, headed back to Vegas.

We arrived back in Vegas around 2 pm stopping at In N Out when coming back to the edge of Vegas. The rest of the evening was spent walking the strip and stopping at cafes. Our last night was spent at the Venetian. Definitely worth the splurge!   

This was a quick 72 hour trip and you definitely need more time to see each of these spots, but if time is limited; I would go for it. YOLO!

– Heidi

Costs:

Rental Car: $230

New York New York Hotel: $250

Best Western: $230

The Venetian: $350

Antelope Canyon Tour: $65 per person (morning is better than evening)

National Park Pass (year) $80 for the car – already purchased

Flight: $250 (free as I was using Southwest Companion Fare)