Monthly Archives: January 2011

I’ve Got to be Kidding Me

Shortest blog post ever:

I just spent the last half hour trying to figure out how much a train ticket from Amsterdam to Prague would cost.


How to Win Arguments and Influence Husbands

After writing yesterday’s post, I continued clicking around on the internet to see if there was any way I could further decrease the cost of our Universal Orlando trip.  Very few clicks resulted in an answer–yes, there absolutely was a way.  How?  By changing resorts.

Now, this was obvious to me from the very start–after all, we were staying on-site at Universal, and at the most expensive of the three resorts, Portofino Bay Hotel:

It’s supposed to look like an Italian fishing village.  In…Orlando.

As I’ve already discussed, this was my husband’s decision.  He wanted to stay on property for a number of reasons, all convenience-related.  But yesterday I discovered that if we switched to a different on-site resort, we could save over $400 from what we originally booked–using the annual pass rate.  I then set about convincing him to make the switch.

I showed him videos of the other resort–Royal Pacific Resort–online.  I showed him photos, like this one:

Doesn’t a tropical theme make more sense?  I think it does.

I explained to him the concept of pool hopping, proximity to the parks, and how important it was to me to save money.  Nothing worked.  At least not until we changed the subject to our not-yet-planned summer trip.

During dinner–which I cleverly planned at his favorite pub (who am I kidding–all pubs, as long as they serve wings, are his favorite!)–I told him that he got to pick where we went on our summer vacation.  My stipulation was that it had to be a cruise, because cruises are inexpensive (relatively speaking) and relaxing (unless you are traveling with me and I have a clipboard and a netbook).  He then announced that he’d go on any cruise…as long as it left from Amsterdam.


Now, cruises don’t leave from Amsterdam.  Well, actually, river cruises do, and while that’s number seven on my travel dream list, there’s just no budget for that any time soon.  But he conceded that he’d be fine with just spending a week in Amsterdam–no cruise needed.  He got very excited about this idea, and started listing off the things we didn’t get to do when we were there that he wants to do on a return trip (though the pastry shop with the apple turnovers was also on the list)  He concluded with ‘and we can stay at that same hotel as last time’.  At which point I grabbed the opportunity to point out one interesting fact–the amount we’d save by simply changing Universal Orlando resorts would pay for FIVE NIGHTS at that particular Amsterdam hotel (The Convent Hotel, if anyone is wondering.  I reviewed it here.)

I’m happy to report that the change has been made.  ‘Cheaper’ tropical resort has been booked, and insanely expensive Italian fishing village resort has been canceled.  I feel so much better already.

Oh–and for those of you dying to know–there’s a near zero percent chance that we’ll actually be returning to Amsterdam this summer.  I squashed that dream rather quickly, after a brief survey of flight prices.  He’s since selected Northern California as his runner up choice (note the obvious lack of CRUISE), though even that may be out of reach this year…but we shall see.

As I write this, I realize that I’ve not written my typical ‘here are our travel plans’ posts for my next two…er, three…trips.  So stay tuned for posts on the mother’s day Disney extravaganza, more details on this trip–the long weekend with the husband at Universal–and hints about super-secret mission impossible solo research trip I’ve been planning for over a month now.

I Think I’m Going to be Sick

For whatever reason, it seems I’ve subconsciously deemed this week as ‘the point of no return’ week in regards to the whole ‘I’m going to write educational travel books’ thing.  On Tuesday I told my boss I’m taking a year-long leave of absence.  On Wednesday I told my team (they didn’t look thrilled).  Thursday was a wash, as it was a snow day–thought I did get a lot of work done on the marketing section of my book proposal.  Friday I talked to the head of HR.  And today…today I purchased not one but two different annual theme park passes.

I think I’m going to be sick.

To be fair, it makes financial sense (am I the only person in the world who can say that after having just spent almost $800 on amusement park admission?!?)  I knew I’d need the Disney Annual Pass all along, and it was technically a birthday gift from my mother anyway (thanks mom!)  But having actually ordered it makes it more…real.  I’m taking a year off and researching and writing this book.  No.  Matter.  What.

The other Annual Pass is for Universal Orlando.  Yes, I just bought an annual pass for a place I’VE NEVER EVEN VISITED.  Why?  In the interest of saving money.

You see, my husband and I are going to Universal for a long weekend in May, attached to the end of my mother-daughter Disney trip.  There’s no undoing if this, no matter how much I may want to undo it–his heart is set.  To Universal we shall go.  I figured out that the difference between the 4-day pass I’d be buying for just that trip and an annual pass was $80.  I then called to see what the AP rate was for the room we’ve booked–and of course they don’t have the ‘basic’ room we booked available at an AP rate.  They did have a ‘better’ room available, and it was still a savings of over $100 from our original booking.  So I changed it–and bought the pass.

To be fair again, to write the Universal Chapter, I have to go back to the parks.  And I would have had to pay for admission, which would have been anywhere from $150-$200.  Instead, I’m saving $20 on our next trip and getting in for free for however many days I need for said research.   If that’s not ‘financial sense’, then I don’t know what is.

So then why am I still feeling moderately ill?

One Small Step

If you’ve seen my New Year’s Day post, you know that I’ve decided to take my travel addiction and my writing compulsion and combine them into a career.  Am I crazy?  Probably.  Am I going through with it?  Absolutely.

Yesterday I informed my boss that I’m taking a one year leave of absence, starting next school year.  This was a big step.  Since then, I’ve been waffling back and forth between over-the-moon excited and under-the-covers horrified.

I mean really–who does this?  Who leaves a perfectly good, moderately-paying job for an entire year to try to ‘make it as a writer’?  The answer?  I do.

I realize I’ve been rather vague with descriptions of the book I’m working on, but since I’m out of the one-year-leave-taking closet, I might as well out the book idea as well.  Clearly it is travel-related, or else I would not be posting it here.  So without further ado…

I am going to write destination-specific travel books that help parents make every aspect of each particular destination an educational experience for their children.  Book One–Walt Disney World.

I have a plan, of course.  I wouldn’t be me without a plan.  I’ve been saving up to do this, so we won’t lose the house.  In fact, we will live exactly as we have been for exactly the one year I’m taking off.  I’m also following all of the book publishing rules.  I’ve been working on the book proposal for over a month now, and have begun working on my ‘platform’ which, apparently, is something all authors must have before they become authors.  To help me out with this goal, please visit the website I’ve managed to create at and/or tell all of your friends to read this blog.  I have several back-up travel writing plans if this book idea does not pan out.  Finally, and most importantly, starting at the end of June, I’ll have 14 months to make the dream a reality.  If it doesn’t work out, well, I’ll have at least spent a year and two months working my butt off trying.

If I’m going to regret something, I’d rather it be something that I did–not something that I didn’t do.

Wish me luck!

Dear Husband–Your ‘Option C’

This list is dedicated to my dear husband who, after being given two vacation destination options, asked if there was a third.  Sweetie, this list is for you.

In my life, I would like to…

2.  hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.
3.  take a train from Toronto to Vancouver, stopping all along the way.
4.  drive the entirety of the Ring Road in Iceland.
5.  spend a month island hopping in Hawaii.
6.  rent a house in Napa or Sonoma county and visit wineries and redwood forests.
7.  take a river cruise from Amsterdam to Prague.
8.  experience the 35-Day Voyage of the Vikings cruise.
9.  return to the UK and do a multi-country self-driven tour, including England, Wales,    and Scotland.
10.  visit Bermuda.
11.  cruise from the east coast of the US to the west coast.
12.  Visit Australia and New Zealand.
13.  return to Vancouver and Amsterdam (accomplished by numbers 3 and 7).
14.  spend a week at an all-inclusive resort eating, drinking, and laying in the sun.

So dear–which one seems the most possible?  If you said ‘none of the above’, you win a gold star!

You’ll note that I’m missing a #1.  That’s the problem–my #1 birthday wish is in direct opposition to all of these travel dreams.  My number one travel dream is…

1.  Make travel and writing my career.

At this point, making number one happen might preclude any of the others from happening any time soon.  You see, in order for me to switch careers, I need a great deal of time and even more money, as ‘making it as a writer’ and ‘making the mortgage’ do not typically go together.  So you see, dear husband, your ‘option C’ just might be ‘stay home and tend the garden’.  And tend it well–because that may be the only food we can afford to eat all winter long!

I am a Walking Demographic

I just had to share this–in between my last post (maybe 30 minutes ago) and the posting of my next post (that I’ve been writing in Pages for the past 30 minutes) I received an email from cruises dot com with the following subject:  Special VIP Cruise Rates and Discounts for the Antonioli Family.

Clearly, big brother is watching.

And no, I didn’t open the email.  Just in case you were wondering.

Blowing Out the Candles

There’s something about having a birthday close to the beginning of the new year that elevates the idea of New Year’s resolutions to a new level.  For example, last year at this time, I was planning The Great Europe Trip.  On January 12th of last year–two days before my 30th birthday–I booked the two week stay at the Paris apartment that was to become the beginning of a months long trip-planning extravaganza.  Time carried on, the trip arrived and passed, and I decided that I was never leaving the good ‘ole U S of A ever again.

But it’s January again.  And my birthday was four days ago.  Hello 31–where are we going to go this year?

I don’t know if it is because of the new year, or my birthday, or the fact that we can only ever take big trips in the summer and I need the spring to obsessively plan, but this time of year always results in a lot of money spent on travel guide books.  Thank goodness for those holiday bookstore gift cards!

As I’ve posted on here already, the two places we are kicking around are Hawaii and Iceland.  I’m leaning strongly towards Iceland and I thought my husband was leaning towards Hawaii–until after forcing him to flip through both guide books, he asked ‘is there a third option?’

Silly man.  There is ALWAYS a third option.  And a fourth, and fifth….

You get the idea.

Stay tuned for my next post, wherein I shall list, in order of preference, all of the places I want to go and all of the things I want to see and do in all the world.  That’ll teach the husband to ask for more than two choices!