A Look Back at 2018!

This year has been long.  And filled with stuff…Can you believe that Black Panther came out in 2018?  It seems like T’Challa has been part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe for a long time, but in reality, he joined in February.  Mid-February at that.  Shuri may just be my new favorite “Disney Princess”.

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And….spoiler alert…he’s now gone–more than likely just temporarily–from the MCU thanks to that finger-snap from Thanos at the end of Infinity War.  Thanos performed the “Snapocolypse” at the end of April.  We found out how Han met Chewie in May.  (if you didn’t see Solo, what are you waiting for?  It was good!).  We found out that Jack-Jack can fight a raccoon this past June in the sequel to The Incredibles.  (my favorite scene!) And, just this past month, we saw Mary Poppins return to theaters, fighting the box office with Aquaman.  Those are just some of the movies I saw in 2018.  Which were your favorites?

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It has been a full year for me.  I’ve traveled a lot this past year.  Understandably, travel is my work, so in order to be good at what I do, I have to travel, do site inspections, training, meetings, etc.  Some trips are a lot of fun.  Some trips look like a lot of fun.  And some (most) are exhausting!  Thankfully, when I do travel for work, I travel with some great people, so my pictures on social media look like I’m having a blast, when in reality we’ve been in a power-point meeting for four hours.  I’m so fortunate to have business associates that I get along with, like, respect, and genuinely enjoy being around!  It truly makes those power point presentations survivable.

Here are a few of my travel highlights for 2018:
January–

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A Four night cruise on the Disney Dream to Nassau & Castaway Cay with my parents and WONDERFUL friends was the highlight of the month!

February–

I drove to Virginia Beach in the dead of winter (I was assured that Virginia Beach really doesn’t get that cold in winter…hahahaha!!) It was frigid when I arrived, and the first time I EVER saw it snow on the beach!  This was my very first trip to Virginia.  The company I work for “Modern Travel Professionals” is based in Virginia Beach, and I, along with some of my agent friends met up for meetings at the Hyatt House.  We also had a photoshoot…we received professional headshots to use for social media!

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I learned a lot, was introduced to our Disney BDM (Business Development Manager), our Princess BDM, & our Sandals/Beaches BDM.  We also heard presentations from them, along with other vendors…if any of my agent friends who were there are reading this…wasn’t the Hard Rock presentation amazing?!?  LOL   zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

27540429_10210886171012010_7607395429241937574_nOn the way back from Virginia Beach, I stopped off at Disney’s Hilton Head Island resort for a couple of nights of rest.  This resort is amazing, and I got to check something off of my Travel Bucket List…I met the resort’s mascot, Shadow!  I also had my favorite character interaction ever!

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March–

One of the highlights of the month was meeting up with some out of town friends in the Magic Kingdom for a very fun day of Disney!

April–

On a beautiful day in April, I met up with business associates for a fun day at Universal Orlando.  We had one of our cousins visit from “up north”…we went to Kennedy Space Center to watch the launch of TESS.

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Of course, with my luck, the launch was scrubbed, but I did get to see the trail of smoke from my office window in Vero Beach a few days later when the launch conditions were better.  I also attended an orchid show right here in Vero Beach.

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May–

May was exciting!  I flew to Virginia Beach to meet up with Christine (she’s the owner of Modern Travel Professionals) and we drove up to New York City.  We were invited by Norwegian Cruise Lines for an inaugural cruise on the Norwegian Bliss.  NCL built this ship specifically to sail Alaska…I’ll be cruising with a group of amazing people in September 2019 on this very ship.  Before our “cruise”, Christine gave me a walking tour of NYC, we had some amazing food, and saw “Kinky Boots” at the The Al Hirschfeld Theatre.  David Cook, from American Idol (one of the seasons I actually watched!) was starring.  Kinky Boots wasn’t my choice…Christine chose it.  I wanted to see Frozen, but we both agreed that neither of us wanted to spend $600 for tickets.  I loved Kinky Boots, (weirdly, one of the themes of the show is “Niche Marketing” which Christine talks about all the time).  KB was my first Broadway show!  I now listen to the soundtrack regularly.

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I’ve now seen a show on Broadway, The Lion King in Los Angeles & one on the West End (London)…a couple of years ago we saw “Aladdin” before our Disney British Isles cruise.

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Above, I put the word “cruise” in quotation marks, because we didn’t actually leave the New York port.  Two days on the Bliss was just barely enough time to get a proper tour of this amazingly beautiful ship.  On the drive to New York, I saw a few states that I had never been to before–Delaware, Maryland, & New Jersey can now be added to my list of states that I’ve visited.

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Also, my family went to Hawaii to celebrate my brother’s 50th birthday.  Friends joined us at Disney’s amazing resort on the western shores of Oahu.  I can’t wait to return to Aulani!  (I’ll probably write a few blog posts in 2019 about Disney’s Aulani!)

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June–

On the way to Atlanta to visit with friends and attend a memorial service, I stopped off at the Whistle Stop Cafe in Juliet, Georgia for some of the best fried green tomatoes I’ve ever had.

I also got to see Pinewood Studios (where they make a lot of the Marvel films!).  More cousins visited, and we took them to Animal Kingdom and afterwards had some great pizza at Giordano’s in Orlando.

July–

Another trip to Georgia.  Another memorial service.  My aunt passed away, such a sad reason to see family.

August —

I went on my first Sandals FAM this month.  A FAM is a term travel agents use for a “Familiarization” trip.  I met up with Christine & Shellie and we stayed at Sandals Grande St. Lucian and toured the other two Sandals resorts on the beautiful island of St. Lucia.

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If you’ve never been to a Sandals, you should think about going…they are truly wonderful!  This month was also the first chance that I got to ride the new Slinky Dog Dash in Hollywood Studios’ new Toy Story Land.

September —

Another month, another FAM!  This time, 7 nights in Jamaica; it was my first visit to Jamaica, and I actually really liked the country.  I met up with four of my business associates and we toured 14 all-inclusive resorts in six days.

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If you ever get a chance to tour 14 resorts in 6 days, and you are not a travel agent, I would absolutely NOT recommend this…lol!  I had a very informative week, but it was exhausting and there was little time to see the country…again, I’m very thankful that I work with great people that I enjoy being around.

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I learned so much, and discovered properties that I would love to place clients in, and some that I would recommend you avoid!  Amazing that two properties nearly side by side can be SO different, but that’s exactly what the situation is.  I’m glad I’ve got some first-hand knowledge, and know some great places!

We also had a short trip to Disney’s Old Key West, where I finally found the sun shade for my car that I had been looking for!

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And, was able to meet up with a good friend and attend Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights…an event that I never really was interested in, but since now going twice, has become one of my favorite things to do, and plan to attend annually!  Right before the event started this year, the skies opened up and it poured.  We were completely and thoroughly drenched…to the point that we had to take off our shoes to pour the water out.  We still had a BLAST!

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I also worked my first festival as a Travel Agent.  Shellie & drove up to Virginia Beach to help Christine with the Neptune Festival.

 

October —

I started the month off right by going to Colonial Williamsburg.  It was my first visit, and what I saw, I really liked!

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Unfortunately, I became dehydrated and passed out in the restaurant for lunch, thus ruining our visit.  I’ll be back.  The Peanut Soup was delicious, though!

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The second week of October brought a Carnival cruise on the Carnival Breeze.  Our agency sponsors the website “Taking the Florida Plunge” that gives advice to people moving to Florida–check them out, they are a great resource!  They had a group cruise, and the agency needed two agents on the ship, so Shellie & I cruised to the “Exotic Eastern Caribbean” with Carnival.  I visited The Dominican Republic and The Turks & Caicos for the first time.  We also went to San Juan & St. Thomas.  While Carnival is very popular, it’s not how “I” want to vacation…it’s a great choice for a lot of people, just not me.

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If you ever find yourself on a Carnival ship, check out Guy’s Burger Joint.  You are welcome in advance.  My absolute favorite thing on the ship were the hamburgers by Guy Fieri (amazing!) and the people from the Taking the Florida Plunge were very nice…I met some great people!

November —

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I attended my first trade show as a Travel Agent.  We learned a lot in the seminars (More power point presentations!), met some vendors, had an amazing spot for the PitBull concert and toured two cruise ships.  And, I ate at California Pizza Kitchen for the first time.  I liked that so much, we went there again the next day.

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This trip was when I set foot on a Princess Cruises ship for the first time.  I really and truly LOVED the couple of hours that I was on the Caribbean Princess.  Thankfully, in just a few short days (10 to be exact) I was going to be back in Fort Lauderdale for my first Princess Cruise.  The weekend before the cruise, I drove up to Universal Studios so that I could start the Christmas season–I met up with the Grinch, watched his stage show (I love this!), saw the Macy’s Christmas parade, the tree-lighting and then finished the night with a Christmas concert by Mannheim Steamroller.

A couple of days later, we embarked The Island Princess on November 20 for a 15 night cruise through the Panama Canal.  On this cruise, I visited Panama, Nicaragua, & Costa Rica for the first time, and re-visited Colombia & Mexico.  This cruise was my favorite cruise I’ve done.  I wrote a couple of blogs about my Princess experience, and will be writing more in 2019.

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December —

We disembarked the Island Princess in San Francisco, and unfortunately only saw just a tiny portion of this city.  I woke up really early so that I could watch us sail under the Golden Gate Bridge.

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We will be back to tour this city!  Thankfully, our flight took off on time and we actually arrived back in Florida a few minutes early.  (Thanks, United!).  About a week later, I had scheduled three days at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort so that we could see all that Disney had to offer for the Holidays!

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As you have read (if you made it this far!) 2018 was a busy year for me.  And, I just listed the “big” things.  I went to Disney & Universal a lot.  I also worked.  Hard.  I usually don’t post pictures of me sitting at my desk researching trips, training with vendors (do you know that I am constantly training?), talking with clients, on hold with vendors–that’s not exciting (for anyone) but it is how I spend most of my days.  If you want to travel you have to work!  (and if I want to work, I HAVE to travel).   Several of my Facebook friends post snide comments on my posts in the “it must be nice” vein.  I never know how to reply–are they snide & dripping with sarcasm, or is the joke just not translating with the written word?–so I usually just let the comments slide, but it does tend to get a bit old.  Every time I read one it actually angers me.  Yep, my job has perks.  But, you know what?  So does every other job. (mostly).  A lot of jobs come with insurance, paid vacations, sick days, etc.  As a small business owner, I don’t get any of that; but I do get to work a job that I love, and with people that I truly enjoy being around.  I know that I am blessed.  And now, the vent is over.  lol.
What’s coming in 2019?

Well–the BIG thing is that I’m going on an Alaskan cruise on the Norwegian Bliss in September.  If you would like to go with me, let me know…I’ve got some great amenities that we can add on to your experience!  I’m really hoping that I see a bear this time in Alaska.  (from a distance!).  I’m planning on doing at least two FAM trips…both with my company, Modern Travel Professionals.  In June we’ll be going to all of the Sandals & Beaches Resorts in Jamaica and the other one, tentatively scheduled for November…DISNEYLAND!  Yep, I am SO excited to be going back to my FAVORITE Disney theme park.  And, I’ll be seeing the West Coast version of Star Wars Land!  YAY!  I’ve also planned several nights at Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort for my birthday in May.  I want to go to Cuba as well, or maybe Northern Europe–I really want to see St. Petersburg.  Stay tuned…find out where I’ll be taking off to in 2019.  I hope you come along for the journey!

TTFNf

 

PS…I failed to mention one of the highlights of the year…hiking around the caldera of this volcano in the cloud forest.  Something I’ll never forget!  Thanks Princess Cruises, Discovery Channel & Nicaragua!

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