The 8 Trips in 12 Months Plan

If you followed along in 2017, you saw me plan four trips in five months. It was intense, overwhelming, and took a lot of time. I was concerned that I would have fewer vacation days (than I'm used to) in 2018, so I felt the need to get all of my wanderlust out of me – the idea was to travel until I exploded with happiness and confetti, neither of which happened. (Probably to my benefit, to be fair.) But then 2018 came and I received my new calendar along with a request from my employer: she wanted to give me an extra week of vacation. So, now, instead of having three weeks total for vacation (which is nothing to sneeze at), I now have four. Plus a few extra random days.

Here's why the extra vacation days keep me from blogging:

In 2017 and before, my work days were typically 2-6pm with an hour commute each way. An easy day, really. I loved the area I worked in, the families I worked for, and the hours made it super easy to blog. But this year, my work days consist of waking up at 4:30AM, driving my husband 45 minutes to the metro system, returning home, sleeping a bit extra, then driving an hour to work two hours before my scheduled work time of noon (so I leave home at 10am) to work until 5:30pm. Then, an hour and a half drive home in traffic putting my arrival time at 7pm, dinner at 8pm, and in bed by 10pm.

In the past six months, I've learned how to make my schedule work, but that doesn't prevent it from being a tad bit overwhelming and exhausting at times. As of recently, I've been taking my laptop to work and using it when the kids I watch have screen time. It gives me a few minutes to catch up on comments, emails, and life. (Or work on travel planning, picture editing, and blogging.)

Given that weekends are my main source of free time and that both a vacation and April A-Z are coming up, I've been participating in blog challenges less, joining twitter parties less, scaling back on … well, everything I can scale back on.

But, here's what I've been doing more of:

I've been cleaning my home more. Last week, we threw away cell phone charging cables (among other things) that weren't working, donated books and CDs to Goodwill, and I posted a few clothing items for sale on Poshmark. We need a new mop and vacuum, so we are in the process of getting those things. We also sprayed for bugs. (We've been having a ladybug problem.)

I've made a point of spending more time with friends. We welcomed the year with friends in DC for New Year's Eve, traveled to Boston to see family, had dinner with family 4 out of 5 weekends in January, went to dinner with friends one time, and planned for a "friend trip" to DC (that will take place in April).

And when I haven't been cleaning, organizing, and family-ing, I've been editing Hawai'i images in preparation of April A-Z. I haven't gotten any writing done and I probably need to figure out a schedule so that I can complete it on time, but … I'll get to that. Maybe. Or maybe you'll just have Hawai'i images for April. 🙂

I downloaded the Photoshop Nik collection software which I've been using to edit my HDR images. In some cases, it has taken upwards of an hour to edit one image, but I've been mostly happy with the results. I've got some issues with noise and ghosting (and sharpening, maybe?), but overall I would say the addition of the Nik software to my workflow has been an improvement. I hope you all agree when you see the images.

Now, for the travel bit:

As I mentioned above, I have four weeks vacation in 2018. Two weeks are at my employer's discretion (she's already given me those dates), one week is at mine, and one week is between Christmas and New Year's. Only, I'm not getting paid for three out of my four vacation weeks, so money is definitely a factor. But I have more time to plan (in advance, as opposed to being notified the day before that I would have time off), so I am trying to use it to my advantage, booking as far in advance as possible.

In January, I honed in on the "easy" vacation planning. I researched and booked for my 3-day long holidays, Memorial Day and Labor Day including cars and hotels, planning well in advance where it is we would be going. And, in the next few months, I will be keeping an eye on those hotels and watching to see if the prices go up or down, price adjusting as necessary.

The thing I put off in January? the vacation I have coming up the soonest – the one in April. 😧 We are considering a trip to California, but the more I put off the planning, the higher plane tickets get and then I question my choices. But I have limits on when I can take my vacation time so… complications.

Anyway, I'll go into the planning a bit more next week. If I have my way, we will be gone for 9 days driving up the Pacific Coast Highway with stops all over California along the way. It's really an intense trip that I'm planning so I will need to save that for its own post.

So, recap. The plan for this year is:

April – California & the Pacific Coast Highway. We're driving from San Diego to San Francisco. (Unless I change my mind again.)
April Pt. 2 – Washington DC for the Cherry Blossom Festival with friends (a weekend trip)
May – Clearwater Beach, FL
June – NYC, NY (to see Billy Joel at Madison Square Gardens maybe?, a weekend trip)
July – ? (I have a week off.)
August – Jekyll Island and Savannah, GA
September/October/November – ? (I have another week off.)
December – ? (Christmas break)

I'll go into greater detail about what I've already booked next week, but in the meantime, you can follow along with my Travel Planning here.

What's going on with you?

Do you enjoy when I live-blog my planning? Does it help in any way?

And if you aren't into travel (or even if you are), are you a planner by nature? Do you prefer to have all of your "ducks" in a row? Or are you a fly by the seat of your pants kind of person? Do you have any suggestions or advice for better planning? Or life strategies for getting more done when you feel like you are short on time?

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