Where did the time go?

How are you surviving 2020 so far? Did you jump right in with all the intention to take on #allthethings and #alltheresolutions?

Did you take our advice and start planning for the year?

Me – I feel like I’m still playing catch up, and not quite ready for the new year.

Because last week my youngest turned two years old. And the day after I celebrated 11 years with my hubby and I’m sitting here wondering to myself how in the world did that all happen?

Let’s start with the anniversary – because that’s a doozy. 

I got married to a soldier in a Georgia courthouse 11 years ago, Sunday. We eloped so that I could move to Germany with him.  

That’s right. I got married in January and by March I was on a plane headed out of the country for the first time ever. I was from a small town in Kansas and married this man and flew halfway around the world only to have him deploy for a year to Iraq just months after I got there.  

I was alone. I was unemployed. I was not really sure what to do with myself. So I traveled.

Did you know that’s when my love of travel really started?  I made friends and we got up and went. To Poland to shop for polish pottery. To Paris where we rode around on Segways and took food tours and walking tours. We went shopping for pottery in France. We ran all over Germany and took down so many flea markets that my house is one Kathe Wolfthart chimney decoration away from being a German tourist trap. 

And all that travel with my friends – it made me brave. And the connections and bonds I made totally saved me. And the people I traveled with? 11 years later we are still planning annual vacations to get together.

When my husband came home we just kept going. To Ireland, France, Italy, Montenegro, Spain. Every chance we could we were on the road somewhere. 

And from all of that we built this life. Travel is where we really found each other again after he came back from that deployment. 

Flash forward two kids later and now my youngest is two AND we have a seven year old and I can’t help but wonder where did all of that time go?

What I do know is that I feel so incredibly blessed to have taken advantage of opportunities when they were presented to me instead of waiting for a better time. Because if I had waited I wouldn’t have been as brave. I wouldn’t have seen and experienced as much. And, for all I know, my life would have been much much different than it is today.  

Someday I’ll go there. 

Someday I’ll see that in person.

We can always say, “someday.” Well there are 7 days in a week and someday isn’t one of them. 

So make 2020 your year of trying to turn your “somedays” into an actual day. 

And if I can help, you know I’d love to!

Until next time, happy wanderlusting!

XO Krystal

 

Auld Lang Syne and Other Reflections of the New Year

Every time I hear the ball drop I can’t help but think of Billy Crystal in When Harry Met Sally (my all time FAVORITE movie btw) when he looks at her at the end when everyone is singing Auld Lang Syne and says “What does this song mean? My whole life I don’t know what this means.”

In a nutshell, the song itself is reflective of not forgetting our old times with friends, and is basically about two friends catching up, their friendship having been long and occasionally distant.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t we basically starting every year with a song singing about how we need to reunite with our friends?

Personally, I love the New Year, but I loathe resolutions.  Resolutions seem to always remind me of all the things I should be doing, or that I’m not doing well. I feel resentful of them somewhere around March, and by April they are a distant memory.  

 

Then I heard a suggestion from Tim Ferriss that turned the idea of resolutions on my head.  He encourages you to reflect on the past year (or two if you wish) and come up with a list of the things that made you happy, or your best self. Then you take that list and actively schedule in more of those things.  

If you are not new to our newsletter you already know – I’m all about living a life by design not default

What better way to do that then by planning out and intentionally doing all the things that make us happier, better people?

And what better way to accomplish that then by planning a vacation with your friends?

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So let’s put it on the calendar, make your wishlist, make your plans, call your people and put it on the calendar. 

2020 has a lot to look forward to, from the once every ten years Passion Play in Oberammergau, Germany, to the Olympics in Tokyo, to all of the milestones, anniversaries, birthdays, graduations and other special events you are personally celebrating in your lives.  Not to mention all the great trips Serendipitous Traveler will announce this year!

This February I am lucky enough to celebrate a series of 50th birthdays on a Girls Cruise that we planned over a year ago. Over the holidays my family made plans for a cruise reunion in 2022.

Over the top to plan that far in advance? Not at all! In fact, when you are juggling so many different schedules and budgets, I argue that it’s the only way to plan a large trip like that. 

Whatever it is you are wishing to do – it’s never too early to start planning. And when you are ready, you know I’d love to help! So here’s to our old friends, and new friends we bring into our lives, and to intentionally planning for all the great experiences we will share with them in the New Year!

Until next time, happy wanderlusting!

XO Krystal

Ready to plan your next adventures? Click here to schedule a free consultation call with moi to discuss your next group travel adventure

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Serendipitous Squad Travel Community

It’s been a little over a year since I started Serendipitous Traveler. Like any new entrepreneurial journey, year one definitely came with ups and downs. It takes awhile to find your footing in a new industry, to learn who all the players are and to decide where you plan on staking your ground.

It’s largely known that the travel industry is a conundrum.  There are so many options a person has when it comes to booking their travel – from Online Agencies like Expedia for the budget traveler, to large corporate consortias, to small agencies like myself. There is no shortage of finding what you need. There is someone out there ready to serve up what you ask for, you just have to be diligent enough to ask. Yet, for all of us out there, no one still understands airline pricing, so at least we all have that in common.

So, when I decided to declare my niche in this industry, it was very clear to me from day one what kind of travel I wanted to specialize in.  Girlfriend Getaways! I wanted to be the #girlfriendgetawayguru. Why? Because I know how important they are and what a cornerstone they have been in my life. So, I set out on a mission – to take care of the people that seem to spend so much of their time taking care of everyone else, and encourage them to travel with their girlfriends.

This was the feedback I got:

  • I don’t have anyone to travel with
  • My friends don’t like to travel
  • My friends can’t afford to travel

And just like that I knew what I needed to do – founded the Serendipitous Squad Travel Community. They say your vibe attracts your tribe and at Serendipitous Traveler we 100% agree. And we say, if you don’t have a squad to travel with, then we want you to travel with us.

We believe in community over competition.

We believe in supporting one another through all walks of life.

We believe that we are our best selves when we practice real self care.

And we want to see as much of this world as we can before our time is up and want to do it in the company of other extraordinary women who believe these things, too.

Because we want to live a life by design, not by default.

So I invite you to join us. We have a private Facebook community called The Serendipitous Squad Travel Community.  Starting in 2020, we will be hosting group trips. We have some domestic and some international plans up our sleeves, but here is the kicker – we are announcing them in our Serendipitous Squad Facebook Group first.

Our first hosted trip will be announced on Black Friday. We will make a general public announcement later, but I’m a little worried that if you wait for the general announcement, the trips might be sold out.

And I’d hate for you to miss out.

So do us both a favor – jump into our private Facebook Group.

Done? Good!

So happy to have you as a part of the squad!

Until next time, happy wanderlusting!
XO Krystal

10 Rules for a Successful Girls Weekend

When it comes to getting away for the weekend, there’s a lot that goes into it. It takes a lot to plan, coordinate and get several busy women to take a break and make the time for each other. Yet, we know – and study after study shows – that when we do we are happier, healthier, people!

But if you are going to finally bring the girls together, here are a few rules to make it a successful getaway:

Rule #1 – Pick a date and stick to it.

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It’s hard to sync up multiple family schedules. Especially when you don’t live local to your girlfriends.  School activities and breaks rarely match up perfectly.  If you have to factor in a spouse’s work schedule it makes it doubly hard. But if you don’t control your calendar, your calendar will control you. Pick a date, make it sacred and stick to it. This is your weekend and you deserve the break.

Rule #2 – Set your budget ahead of time

This may seem silly, but the older I get the more apparent it has become to me that not everyone operates on the same budget.  Every person has their own set of personal considerations to deal with. So to be transparent and head off awkward conversations later on- set the budget. These are your friends! They are nothing but supportive and considerate of your situation. That way your friend doesn’t suffer from sticker shock when you suggest the tasting menu at the hot new restaurant you just heard about.

Rule #3 Make reservations.

It seems silly, and there are more and more places getting away from this, but when possible make reservations for dinner at least one night while you are out.  You aren’t used to traveling in a large group, and those are most easily accommodated with reservations ahead of time.  Especially if you DO decide to indulge in that tasting menu.

Rule #4 Have a plan.

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No I don’t mean schedule every activity down to the minute. But have a general game day plan in mind ahead of time so everyone knows what to expect. Getting 6-10 people to make a decision in the moment is like pulling teeth. Then you have to run 6-10 people through showers to get ready. No thanks. But if everyone generally knows that you plan to head to the outlets when it opens up at 10, or that you have brunch reservations at 10:30, everyone can plan out their morning accordingly.

Rule #5 Book as far in advance as your schedule allows

This goes back to the “Pick a day and stick with it rule.” It’s even easier if you have an annual long weekend/week like Labor Day or Memorial Day that you always plan for. But the further out you plan, the more time you have to budget/save accordingly and to hash out a plan with your friends.

Rule #6 Rotate planning responsibilities

It is exhausting year after  year coming up with something to do, somewhere to go. It takes a lot of effort to do the research, make a plan, pitch the proposal, and make the necessary bookings and reservations. This often falls on the shoulders of one person. Spread the responsibility (and stress).  Take turns planning and being in charge of the event. This gives you more variety to the types of trips you have, and makes it easier to have it annually.

Rule #7 – Not everyone is going to make it, and that’s ok

Not so much a rule as a handy reminder. It’s hard to get 10 people together every year. Life happens. Baptisms, weddings, funerals, school plays.  Take the time to acknowledge the chapter of your life that you are in and honor that. It’s impossible to make every event every time. But don’t give up on the opportunity for everyone to get together if one or two people can’t make it. There’s always next year!

Rule #8 Don’t cover down for every little thing prior to you leaving

This was particularly hard for me when I first started taking annual girls trips. I would go out of my way to make it as easy on my partner as possible while I was gone. I would meal prep, lay out kids clothes, color code a calendar, do all the laundry, clean the house, etc etc etc.  Then I remembered – my spouse is my PARTNER, not my EMPLOYER.  I don’t have to do everything for him because he is in this WITH me. And totally and completely capable of cooking, cleaning, and clothing kids while I’m gone. Which leads me to…..

Rule #9 Bless and release what happens while you are gone

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So what if your kids eat mac and cheese for five days straight and wear mismatched clothing? There are worse things (like never taking a vacation and having to be responsible for everything 24/7). And work will absolutely survive while you are gone.  Partner with a trusted colleague to handle emergent cases while you are traveling and agree to do the same for her when she is gone. Then bless and release. This is your time. You have earned it. Don’t waste it by stressing about things beyond your control.

Finally,

Rule #10 Someone always pack a wine key

Nothing worse than being in your hotel or your rented villa, you are ready to toast the start of vacation with your girls and you can’t find the wine key. Someone always pack a wine key (just not if you plan on bringing a carry on).

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The bottom line: you deserve a weekend away with your girlfriends. Why not make it the best it can be?  And if I can help, you know I want to!

Until next time, happy wanderlusting!

XO

They say your vibe attracts your tribe, and at Serendipitous Traveler we 100% agree. Do you have wanderlust? Do you want to connect with like minded people? Are you looking for a tribe? Look no further! Join our Serendipitous Squad Travel Community on Facebook and keep in touch! We are a tribe of women who believe in community over competition, love travel, suffer from FOMO, and want to be kept in the loop of #allthethings. Join us!

 

The Scariest Thing About Traveling……

Traveling is the one thing found on everyone’s bucket list, yet there are so many people who don’t travel because of a fear they have. Today I thought we’d pick apart a few of these fears and tackle them head on.

Fear #1 – Afraid to travel alone.

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Solo travel, especially solo travel among women, is on the rise, but there are still so many people worried about trekking out on their own.  Women have a special subset of issues to work through on this set – fear of unwanted attention from men being the #1 feedback that I get from my female clientele.  So what’s a girl to do? Fortunately she has a couple of options.

  1. Join a group tour.  There are several amazing small group tours out there that are doing amazing things.  Many, like G Adventures, cap tours at around 10-15 people so you don’t feel like you are being shuttle herded with the masses.  There are a growing number of options for women only groups as well.  Check out our private facebook page The Serendipitous Travel Squad or sign up for our newsletter to keep in touch on Serendipitous Traveler’s upcoming group trips.
  2. Work with a travel advisor to map out your itinerary. Most importantly –  do your research.  The fact remains that some places are more friendly for solo travelers than not. A travel advisor can help you work through the best ideas, safe places to stay, and help set you up with a solid itinerary so you are never out in the wind.  As long as you use a travel advisor, you always have someone that knows where you are and you have someone to check in with as you go.  

Fear #2 – Afraid of something bad happening

I get this fear from solo travelers, groups, couples….basically everyone.  And I get it. Especially if you re traveling somewhere foreign and you don’t speak the language. And there’s always a litany of things that can go wrong. And was anyone else scarred by the movie Taken? Well even if your dad isn’t Liam Neeson, there are plenty of things you can do to mitigate disasters while traveling. Here are some of our favorites.

  • Be cognizant of your surroundings.  Pickpockets are there and they like to take advantage of crowded tourist spots. Because tourists are always carrying money and are distracted by the sights around them. So many people get pickpocketed and don’t even realize it until it’s too late. But if you are on guard and cognizant of where you are, you can easily avoid being a target. That means, guys, put your wallets in your front pocket. Girls, travel with a purse that zips up and is in front of you.  If you need a backpack, know that you are walking with a bit of a target on your back and keep it close by. Invest in a brand that is slash proof (we like these from ebags), and again, be aware of your surroundings.  If someone is begging from the front, make sure their partner isn’t digging through your pack from the back.
  • Invest in RFID blocking sleeve, wallet or ID holder.  I was shocked last year when I attended a trade show and a supplier showed me how easy it was to swipe credit card information using an app on her phone. Anyone sitting in a public place can gain access to hundreds of credit card numbers and have something purchased and charged up before you even get back to check the balance in your hotel room.  RFID blocking sleeves, wallets, etc are a cheap investment that can save you a lot of time and headache while traveling.
  • Be wary of public wifi.  In a world where we are always connected, it’s tempting to take advantage of a cafe pit stop and check up on your social channels. When you are traveling, you are probably spending more, so it’s natural that you’d want to check in on your finances or your credit card statement.  Unfortunately, public places are traps for mining your data.  It’s too easy to set up a hot spot and call it “Whatever Establishment You Are Sitting At Free Wifi” and dupe unsuspecting folks.  If you much check your wifi, be sure to ask someone if there is free wifi before linking up. Better yet, wait until you are back in your hotel or spring the few bucks and pay for the data. It will save you more money in the long run.

Fear #3 – Afraid of the unknown

 

You just don’t know what you don’t know.

  • How to get from point A to point B.
  • How to use the subway system.
  • Where to go for dinner.
  • What museum should you visit. Do you need to purchase tickets in advance.
  • What do you pack.
  • How to read your train tickets.

And this is where a good travel advisor comes in. They arm you with information so that not only are you adequately prepared to travel, you are armed with enough information to really enjoy and be wowed by your travel.  After all, if you understand what you are looking at you are getting twice the value. At the very least be sure to arm yourself with a good guide book to get you started.

Travel can be an intimidating experience, but fortunately with the right preparation, anyone and everyone can have an enjoyable travel experience.

Face your fears and get out there!

Until next time, happy wanderlusting!

XO Krystal

 

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Disclaimer: In the name of full transparency, please be aware that this blog post contains affiliate links and any purchases made through such links will result in a small commission for me (at no extra cost for you). I only recommend items that I personally use and gift to my own clients and just want to share the love with you!