Category Archives: About Me

Thrifty Thursday – Ibotta Ap

As often as possible I like to share ways in which my family saves for Disney.  We have a modest income and utilize as many means as possible to make Disney vacations possible for our family.  This year in particular we are doing quite a few race trips so saving our pennies is important!

 

One tool that I use regularly is Ibotta*.   I’m a huge fan of the Ibotta ap because you receive cash back via PayPal for purchases you’ve made at the grocery store, as well as other clothing and electronics stores and online shopping.

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Ibotta is easy to use.  I simply browse the available rebates prior to a trip to the grocery store and unlock the ones I’m interested in.  Then when I get home from shopping I redeem the rebates by scanning the bar code and a submitting a picture of my receipt.   Bonus points to Ibotta for making the process as easy as possible.  At Wal Mart all I have to do is scan the QR code and the rebates are automatically identified and the receipt submitted.

Before Princess I cashed out about $100 to my PayPal to use on my trip.  Since then I have earned an additional $26!   You guys, this is FREE money!  You earn it buying things you would normally buy.  All you have to do is two simple scan to earn it on items you buy.  I can’t wait to see how much I can save up prior to Wine & Dine.  What would you use the free money you earn on Ibotta for?  What are you waiting for?  Sign up for Ibotta today!

*This post contains a referral link.  When you use my referral link to sign up for Ibotta you’ll get a $10 credit after you redeem your first rebate!  And Ibotta will give me $5 as a thank you for referring you.  Win-win situation!

What’s Next?

This past weekend I checked off a huge bucket list item by completing the Glass Slipper Challenge during Disney’s Princess Half Marathon weekend.  It’s been a goal since I started running and I was pleased to finish 22.4 miles (including the 5K) very successfully.  I am so thankful for a husband who supported me by running, cheering and parenting solo while I prepared for and ran Disney.

While I spend time reflecting on my accomplishments I’m also asking myself what is next?  It’s time for me to reevaluate my goals and look to the future.  I’ve found that I have some race goals, but that I also want to work on bettering myself as a runner and losing that baby weight for good!

I only have one race on my calendar prior to this summer, the Fiesta 10K in Pensacola.  I used this race as my proof of time for both Wine and Dine and Princess so I would like to see myself PR this race.  My current 10K time on training runs is already well below what my time was last year, however I would really like to get my 10K time under 1:20.  Right now my time is about 1:22.  As such, I have been looking at some training plans for improving speed on a 10K.  Most of these involve speed work, which confuses me a little so I need to read up on it, and some hill work.  (Ugh, but will be good prep for future runs too!)  Hopefully having a training plan will keep me on track as last year I slacked in my running between Princess and this 10K.

As I said, my race calendar this spring is sparse.  I am only planning on the Fiesta 10K, however my fall race calendar I am looking at three half marathons: the Harrisburg Half, Diva Half and Hershey Half.  I haven’t registered for any yet, but would like to complete all three.  Doing them would qualify me for Half Fanatics, which would be a pretty awesome accomplishment!  If I do decide to do Dopey in 2018 I could use one of these races as a proof of time for that.  (Although the proof of time window may allow me to run at least Harrisburg again in 2017 for POT.)

Looking to my next Disney races I am currently planning on doing both the Star Wars Light Side and Dark Side races in 2017.  I plan to have the family tag along to the Dark Side so the kids can run their first races.  For Light Side I’m planning on the half only as this race is close to a trip I plan to take to visit family in November, and very close to one child’s birthday, so I figure the less time I am away, the better.  For the Dark Side I will likely choose to do the 5K and half.  With my family with me the older kids might run the 5K, however the challenges are very tiring and I’d want to have the time and energy to enjoy the parks with my kids as well.  We’ll see if I stick to that when registration opens this summer! LOL!

My other goal is to incorporate some weight training/cross training into my workout routine so that hopefully with a combination of cross training, running and Trim Healthy Mama I can feel good in my skin again and fit in the clothes taking up room in my closet!

So, there you have it!  My goals for the rest of the year! What are your goals, or what is on your race calendar, for the rest of 2016?

Fitness Friday – Let’s Get Real!

PHM medals

A while back I decided I was going to run at 5K at Disney.  This seemed like an insurmountable goal for a girl who could barely run a mile in high school, when I weighed a whole lot less.  Finding out I was pregnant pushed that goal back to 2015, as I knew I wouldn’t be ready to tackle this challenge right after having a baby.  Then I had a crazy thought…with all this time to train, why not run a 10K too?  Right?  Why not?  After all, it would be a good way to “lose the baby weight” and get back in shape.

It’s been a long road so far.  I started out with C25K, and have switched to the Jeff Galloway program.  It just fits my running style better.  Tomorrow I am to set out and run FIVE miles.  FIVE.  Just for fun.  I must be crazy!  But I am determined to accomplish this goal!

26f9328981b0a59fa47ba0f780ccee5fThis journey has not always been easy.  I have struggled through some runs.  I have struggled just to get out of bed some mornings.  What I’ve learned about myself though is that I am capable of so much more than I believe.  I honestly wasn’t sure that I could complete a 10K when I signed up, and I still have moments of doubt, but my head is in the game and I firmly believe that I will cross that finish line in February without being swept!

10Kmedal

And the crazy thing is I just might continue running.  I may even have my eyes set on a half the next time.  Funny how one step and one goal can change us!

Running-Inspirational-Quote

So here’s to running.  To earning bling.  To becoming a better me one stride at a time.

Disney Savings Ideas

I hear a lot of comments from guests, friends, and maybe even my husband that Disney vacations can take a while to save for.  Being a military family I know we are on a budget and save for each vacation so we can pay cash for it and enjoy the holiday.  We recently started saving with two clever ideas we heard about.   Here are some easy Disney savings ideas you can jump on straight away to make your dream vacation a reality!

Recently I heard that if you fill a two liter soda bottle with dimes you’ll have saved $700.  I thought this was a great way to save some cash for trips.  Whether we use it for tips and spending money or put it towards our trip balance, how easy is it to stick your spare change in a liter bottle.  I even added a little vinyl to the bottle to spruce it up and identify what we’re using it for.  I’ll be honest we stuck a few pennies and nickels in there as well.  I’m curious to see how much we’ll have saved when it’s full!

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My husband started this weekly savings plan where you put a certain amount away each week of the year.  As an alternative you could easily just do for 52 weeks starting now!  I’ve also had friends who do it in reverse so that the big amounts come out first instead of around the holidays.  You can also double the amounts and same even more!

52 Week Savings Challenge

Of course Disney has now jumped on board with their own savings account you can deposit money into and apply towards your vacation.  You can sign up here for your own account.

What do you do to save for your Disney vacation?

Why Should I Use A Travel Agent?

Here’s a question we frequently here, “So many people travel to Disney.  Why should my family use a travel agent to plan our trip?”   Disney destinations are a great example, but the reasons you should use a travel agent can extend beyond Disney destinations to other vacation spots as well.  We want you to be as well informed as possible so we compiled a list of the top ten reasons you should use a travel agent to plan your next vacation.
1.  Fee Free Why not?  Our services are free to you.

2.   Alleviate Stress.  Planning a vacation can be stressful, however a travel agent takes the stress away by planning a magical vacation perfectly suited to your family’s needs and desires.

3.   Save time. Save time by letting us hunt down the best deal, score reservations at the restaurant you’ve been dying to try or arrange and coordinate all of your travel details.

4.  Save money!  Not only will we find you the best deal available, but we can often, as is the case with Disney, apply discount to your reservation as soon as they come out saving you even more money!  We will watch for discounts that can make your trip even more affordable after you book for you!

5.  Knowledge and expertise.  As a travel agent specializing in Disney and Universal Studios we have traveled to these destinations extensively.  No need to read a guide book or two or hunt down information that pertains to you and your travel party.  Need to know what rides are good for toddlers?  We know!  Want to propose at the most romantic spots in Magic Kingdom?  We can help!

6.  Personal service.   Our goal is to establish a relationship with our guests where we get to know them and anticipate their wants and needs!  When you need something you have the convenience and consistency of talking to the same person who knows your family and how you travel.

7.  Itinerary Planning.  Need a day to day outline of what to do?  We’ll provide you with the best days to visit the parks, restaurant recommendations and reservations, help you avoid lines and many more tips for a successful trip!

8.  Extra Magic – Only with our company can you make those magical moments happen with pictures of Mickey Mouse for your kids, Theme Park Guide Maps, MousePerks, discount Orlando MagicCards, and much more for your vacation.  We offer similar perks for Disney Cruise and Universal Studios packages.

9.  Have an Advocate.  We are here to help you.  While most trips run smoothly, should something go wrong your travel agent is here to help.  We can handle rearranging details of your trip so that, despite a bump in the road, it is as enjoyable as possible for you!

10.  Availability.  Whatever your preferred way to communicate for long discussions or quick questions, we are available via email, phone, Facebook, Twitter and more!  We’ll keep you up to date on deals you don’t want to miss and bring the magic to you leading up to your trip and beyond!
There are so many reasons to book with us, what are you waiting for!  Don’t stress about your trip and agonize over were to stay or eat.  Don’t wait for hours on hold every time you need to modify your reservation.  Instead allow us to take the worry and hassle out of vacations by creating a magical trip perfectly tailored to your needs!

Contact me today!

Email: operationdisneytravel@gmail.com or gretchen@destinationsinflorida.com

Phone: 818-519-0777

Facebook: Destinations to Explore with Gretchen

Twitter: operationdsny

And of course here on the blog!  I look forward to working with you soon!

 

For Your Consideration…

Since my office is virtual I thought I’d post these little goodies I received from Disney here for your viewing pleasure.  After all, there’s no storefront to display them in and I’m very proud of the knowledge and hard work it took to earn them!  I am officially ready to plan your Disney vacation for you!


In addition I got this awesome pin set to display that features all of the destination options you can visit through Disney!  I can’t wait to tell you more about them!

Please take a minute to follow the blog, like me on Facebook and Follow me on Twitter!  Don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions you may have about any of the Disney destinations.  I’d be more than happy to help!