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Travel

You Need to Visit Malta

June 29, 2016

Ever heard of Malta? Neither had we until a few months ago.  Our Barcelona buddies suggested we meet there this May.  Being that we had some reward points to burn, we booked it no questions asked.   After booking, we finally did some Google searching to discover that this tiny Mediterranean island looked amazing!  From beaches to cliff diving to ancient temples and cities; we’re going to show, and tell you a shit load of reasons for why you need to visit Malta.

If you are like we were, then you have no idea where Malta is or how to get there.  Picture the map of Italy.  You know how it looks like boot? Picture the island that “the boot” is kicking.  That’s not Malta, it’s Sicily. Right below Sicily, you’ll find Malta.  You can fly to Malta from many of the major European airports on Air Malta or AlItalia.  From many locations, a ticket on these airlines will be less than $100.  Lacey and I traveled to Malta from Rome for $70 a ticket.

What’s so cool about Malta? Literally everything, and I don’t use the word “literally” as loosely as some.  Malta and it’s neighboring islands Comino and Gozo, are responsible for some of the most amazing geographical features in the world.  Places like the Blue Lagoon, Azure Window, and St. Peter’s Pool are just a couple featured spots off the top of my head.  As if the beauty of the island weren’t enough, the history of Malta is even more incredible.  Ancient cities, megalithic temples (older than the Pyramids), and the roots of Christianity can all be found and explored here.  For all of you Game of Thrones nerds out there, Malta is also responsible for numerous breathtaking backdrops in the earlier seasons of this show.

We felt pretty overwhelmed at first while planning this trip.  There was so much to explore and there were only 4 days to do it.  We couldn’t afford to lose time relying on public transportation to trek us around.  We decided to reserve a rental car.  Renting a car was trickier in Malta because I needed an international driver’s permit and oh yeah, they drive on the other side of the street.  Yikes!

Our first day was spent cruzing around St. Julian’s Bay which was a block from our hotel, the Hilton Malta.  We would definitely recommend staying in this area as it is very close to a ton of restaurants and night life while also being a central take off point to all of the sites you’ll want to visit.

Day 2 got off to a quick start as we were touring the capital city of Valletta before noon.  We popped into St. Paul’s Shipwreck Church, took some pics of Ft. St. Elmo, and grabbed some lunch before taking off toward the city of Marsaxlokk.  Yeah, try to pronounce that…Marsaxlokk.  Just outside of this city, Lacey found St. Peter’s Pool, which ended up being a major highlight of the trip.  After a few hours of cliff jumping and swimming, we made our way back to St. Julian’s for a lot of pizza and wine. This day was so much fun!

The next day was, to this point, the best vacation day of my life.  We caught an early morning ferry to the Blue Lagoon on the island of Comino.  Words can’t describe the beauty of this place.  It’s probably easier to just check out our pics below.  The Blue Lagoon is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been.

After the Blue Lagoon, we loaded up our rental car on a giant ferry and headed for the island of Gozo where the Azure Window is located.  This landmark is so grand and spectacular.  Unfortunately it’s rapidly eroding away so you better get over there and see it soon!  After a couple hours of hiking around and eating a late lunch, we headed out.  On the way back to the ferry we realized that there were some megalithic temples along the way, so we stopped to check ’em out.  I would recommend anyone interested in Aliens and the Ancient Astronaut Theory, to read up on these temples.  There were a bunch of elongated skulls found there as well as other locations in Malta.

Our final day was relatively mellow as we spent the day at the ancient city of M’dina and then at the Golden Sands Beach.  I think we were all still a bit tired from the action packed day before.  It was nice to finish up the trip with a relaxing beach day with friends.

Malta is incredible!  I would recommend it to anyone.

Let us know if you have any questions!

Click here to see our video edit from this trip.

Click here to see how we used rewards points to book this trip for free!

why you need to visit Malta

why you need to visit Malta

why you need to visit Malta

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

Malta Valletta Goza Comino Blue Lagoon M'dina

 

 

 

 

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Travel

Rome and the Italian Open

June 16, 2016

After a few fun filled days in Florence, Mat and I took the TrenItalia south to Rome, the Eternal City. Mat and I visited Rome on our last trip to Europe two years ago, but this time we were back for a specific reason: the Italian Open! Neither one of us had ever been to an international sporting event, and we both really wanted to experience that.

Since we saved money booking our trip, this allowed us to splurge on an experience we might never have otherwise been able to have. When we bought our tickets we didn’t know who would be playing in the semi-finals, but we lucked out and got to see the number one player in the world, Novak Djokovic play the number six in the world, Kei Nishikori. The cherry on top was that the match went into a tie breaker!

The entire day leading up to the game was pouring rain. That’s didn’t deter us much, we still walked around this gorgeous city and saw the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, and Piazza Venezia. We were so worried that the match would be rained out, especially because it was held outdoors on an uncovered clay court!

We took the (super, extremely) crowded bus to Foro Italico and literally one hour before the semi-finals match, the clouds parted and beautiful blue sky peeked out. It was unbelievable!

The day before the match we checked into our favorite B&B, Gli Scipioni. If you are ever going to visit Rome, we highly suggest staying here! The location is amazing, just steps away from the metro and Vatican City. Plus, they always keep the kitchen stocked, and the freezer full of delicious ice cream! Antonella is such a wonderful human and treats everyone like family.

After we dropped our bags off, we spent the afternoon eating pizza, hanging out by the Trevi Fountain, and visiting St. Peter’s Basilica. I wasn’t able to see St. Peter’s the last time we were in Rome because the line was too long and we didn’t have time. We figured it would be the same situation this time, so we were prepared.

The weirdest thing happened as we were walking toward St. Peter’s; we were in St. Peter’s Square and saw a giant line, as suspected, so we went through security preparing for a lot of standing and waiting once we made it through. However that didn’t happen. Somehow miraculously, or perhaps accidentally, we got in a different line and literally walked directly in without waiting. We are still scratching our heads trying to figure out how it happened. Absolutely zero wait time, even though we could see the line of people wrap around the courtyard.

I wasn’t complaining because I was so excited to see this world renowned church! If the outside seems impressive, the inside is breathtaking. I love thinking about all of the amazing things that have happened in these type of places, and the famous people from history who have walked on the same floors that I was lucky enough to stand on. When we were there the choir came out from some seemingly secret door and serenaded us. They also had a section closed off for church-goers to be able to take Communion. I mean, come on! Take Communion in St. Peter’s Basilica? If I was Catholic I would have to add that to the bucket list for sure.

That evening we had an amazing dinner and easily polished off a bottle of wine. We then walked down the streets of Rome eating gelato, listening to street musicians and then out of nowhere we turned a corner and there was a giant, centuries old building with huge pillars. I’m still not entirely sure what that building was, but that is the just an example of why Rome is so incredible; the mixing of modern buildings with ancient.

We finished the night back at the Trevi Fountain. It doesn’t get much more romantic than the Trevi Fountain at night. As a bonus, it was some of the best people watching of the trip!

There is still so much of Rome we would like to explore, but ever since Mat got me this for our anniversary, it makes it more difficult to not want to put a new pin in for each vacation, so I think we will be visiting the southern portion of the country when we head back to Italy!

What are your favorite sites to see in Rome?

Rome and the Italian Open

Rome and the Italian Open

Rome and the Italian Open

Rome and the Italian Open

Rome and the Italian Open

Rome and the Italian Open

ponte sant'angelo Roman, Italy

piazza venezia Rome, Italy

piazza venezia Rome, Italy

piazza venezia Rome, Italy

roman colosseum Rome, Italy

roman colosseum Rome, Italy

st. peter's basilica Rome, Italy

st. peter's basilica Rome, Italy

st. peter's basilica Rome, Italy

Roman Forum Rome, Italy

Roman Forum Rome, Italy

Rome, Italy

Rome and the Italian Open

st. peter's basilica Rome, Italy

ponte sant'angelo Roman, Italy

roman colosseum Rome, Italy

st. peter's basilica Rome, Italy

castel sant'angelo Rome, Italy

st. peter's basilica Rome, Italy

st. peter's basilica Rome, Italy

st. peter's basilica Rome, Italy

Trevi Fountain Rome, Italy

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Travel

3 Days in Florence, Italy

June 9, 2016

The second stop on our 15 day vacation extravaganza was Florence, Italy.  Still riding the momentum gained from the 2 previous days in New York City, Lacey and I were ready to start the international leg of our trip.  With our pre-purchased museum tickets in one hand and vouchers for a Vespa tour in the other; we were ready for Florence!

The last 2 times I’ve flown to Italy, I didn’t sleep a single minute on either flight.  This results in a hyper-delirious first day as I end up being awake for about 20hrs straight.  Luckily, Italy has the best coffee on the planet (yeah, I said it! Whatchu got Colombia!?), so I’m usually still somewhat functional that first day.

We landed and were settled in our Air BnB in Florence by about 3pm.  We were set up in a beautiful 1 bedroom loft a block away from the Piazza del Duomo.  We’d highly recommend staying there if you’re planning a visit. Tell Frederica we said hello!

After dropping our bags off and doing our best to avoid passing out, we met a few of our friends at a nearby cafe.  We quickly hammered a couple of cafe Americano’s before hopping on some bicycles to check out the Ponte Vecchio, and the Piazza Michelangelo where we had some gelato while enjoying the views of the city.  After a fun downhill bike ride from the piazza we had some delicious pizza and wine from GustaPizza before passing out for the night.  It was a pretty successful first day considering how tired we were.

Day 2 in Florence got off to a quick start, literally, as we hopped on some Vespas and took off for wine country!  The scooter tour was Lacey’s idea and I’ll hand it to her, I originally thought this was a lame idea but it turned out to be one of the highlights of the entire trip.  Well done wifey, well done.  Not only was the simple act of hauling ass on a Vespa in Italy super fun, but we saw so many amazing views of the city and country side.  We made quick stops at a gorgeous church and private vineyard before making our way to a private estate where an authentic Italian meal was prepared for us.  The meal was accompanied by some tasty wine grown from the vineyard we had visited.  This was so much fun, as you can see from our trip video edit.

Later that day, we climbed to the top of the historic Duomo in Florence.  The views from the top are unbelievable!  Be careful though as there is only a waist-high fence in between you and certain death at the top of the dome.  Other than that, it’s a really good time! 😉

Our third and final day was spent touring the amazing art galleries of Florence.  After all, Florence was the heartbeat of the Renaissance and we owed it to the city to acknowledge it’s beautiful art.  We swung by the Galleria dell’Accademia to check out Michelangelo’s statue of David before heading over to the Ufizzi Gallery to take a look at Botticelli’s Birth of Venus.  While we may not know much about art, we still appreciate how important these pieces are to the history of this region.  People treat famous artwork like celebrities nowadays.  Everyone pushes and shoves to get close enough to take their all-so-important selfie with the painting or statue.  Somehow that factor makes seeing pieces like these in-person both better AND worse somehow.

Our final night in Florence was a mellow one spent at our cozy BnB as we watched Netflix (The Office) on my cell phone as we fell asleep.  There couldn’t have been a more perfect ending to a great 3 days in Florence.

Rome was up next!  More details from that trip to come shortly!

For details on how we used reward points to book this 15 day adventure for free, check out our previous post.

Santa Maria del Fiore Florence, Italy

piazzale michelangelo florence

Bicycles Florence, Italy

Bicycles Florence, Italy

Ponte Vecchio Florence, Italy

Ponte Vecchio Florence, Italy

Gusta Pizza Florence, Italy

Gusta Pizza Florence, Italy

Gusta Pizza Florence, Italy

Porcellini Florence, Italy

Tuscany 3 days in Florence Italy The David Florence, Italy

Ufizzi Gallery Florence

Scooter Tour 3 Days in Florence, Italy

Scooter Tour Florence, Italy

Scooter Tour Florence, Italy

Scooter Tour Florence, Italy

Tuscany Florence Italy

Tuscany Florence Italy

Scooter Tour Florence, Italy

Tuscany Florence Italy

Florence Italy downtown

Duomo View Florence, Italy

Tower Florence, Italy

Birth of Venus Ufizzi Gallery

Duomo Florence, Italy

Santa Maria del Fiore Florence, Italy

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Travel

Weekend in New York City

June 2, 2016

To break up the long flight from Boise to Italy, Mat and I decided to enjoy a weekend in New York City. Mat had only been to New York once, and I had only ever experienced Manhattan on previous visits, so we thought it would be a good time to explore other neighborhoods. Plus, one of our friends was going to be there that same weekend and wanted to go to a Yankees game. Done and done!

I was in charge of planning our first evening’s activities, so I made dinner reservations at The Print restaurant only for the mere fact that it let us get into the rooftop bar The Press without waiting in line. If you follow us, you know that we are lovers of rooftop anything….bars, restaurants, gardens, pools, etc. I’m not sure if we were just starving or what, but our meals at The Print were absolutely amazing; I even ate the veggies on my plate! After dinner we took the elevator up to The Press and the views from this rooftop bar were stunning! I really wanted to feel like Carrie Bradshaw and order  a cosmopolitan while in Manhattan, but my outfit wasn’t cute enough so I just settled for the view instead. Next time New York, next time!

After dinner and the views at The Press (and quite possibly the worst Uber ride of our lives) we went to Serendipity for dessert. Surprisingly, this was Mat’s idea, not mine. Luckily our last stop of the night was close to our hotel so we could walk off a few of the billion calories we had just consumed. We stayed at the Waldorf Astoria on Park Avenue which was so grand it reminded me of what the Titanic must have looked like. We could never afford to actually stay there, but luckily it was free because my husband is brilliant with travel points. Everybody there knew we couldn’t afford to stay there, and thus treated us so. Mat totally experienced a Pretty Woman situation (we call it getting “pretty woman’d”) when he approached the concierge to inquire about the brunch that was being offered one morning. The response was basically “We know you can’t afford it so go away.”; capital R rude!

Our second day in the city we spent in Brooklyn, which we absolutely loved! Manhattan is amazing and all, but Brooklyn seemed to be much more our pace and style. We walked across the Brooklyn Bridge and hung out down by the pier. We also had pizza at what is considered the second best pizza joint in the city, Juliana’s. This started our official pizza tour for the trip and it did not disappoint! We had wine and shared a margarita pizza, then had ice cream by the water while gazing at the beautiful view of Manhattan.

That evening we took the subway up to The Bronx where Yankee Stadium is located. It was so fun to be traveling the same direction with all of the rowdy Yankee fans! I especially loved the area right where you get off the subway; there were cute little restaurants with outdoor patios that had music blaring, street vendors selling Yankee gear and so much hustle and bustle! I bought a Yankees beanie (because I was so cold) and then we went in to find our seats. Yankee Stadium is so pretty! I also love that the subway runs directly by the field, so you can see it blurring by between the giant billboards above the stands.

Our last day in New York we started off with breakfast at a legitimate New York diner right off Wall Street, Pearl Diner. After the most delicious chocolate chip pancakes and coffee, we set off to experience Wall Street on a bustling Monday morning. I was slightly disappointed because I only saw a few men in suits-everybody else were just tourists like us. Then we went to check out the Freedom Tower real quick before we had to head to the airport for our flight to Florence.

Our few days in NY were jam packed but so fun! A few places I didn’t mention that we also visited were Grand Central Station, Rockefeller Center, Times Square and Radio City Music Hall.

Let us know if you have any questions on how we booked our hotel and flights for this wonderful weekend in New York City…for free!

Manhattan Skyline

Weekend in New York City Yankee Redsox Game

Weekend in New York City at Yankee Stadium

Weekend in New York City skyline

Brooklyn Sign

Brooklyn Bridge New York

Brooklyn Bridge New York

Brooklyn Bridge New York

Brooklyn Bridge New York

Brooklyn Bridge New York

Brooklyn Bridge New York

Juliana's Pizza Brooklyn New York

Juliana's Pizza Brooklyn New York

Juliana's Pizza Brooklyn New York

Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory

Brooklyn Pier New York

Manhattan Skyline New York

Brooklyn Bridge New York

Pearl's Diner Wall St. New York City

Lacey Wall Street New York

Wall St. Bull New York City

Grand Central Station New York

Freedom Tower New York City

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Travel

GoPro Vacation Video Edit

May 28, 2016

Lacey and I recently returned from what will be our longest trip of 2016.  We visited 9 locations in 3 different countries over 15 action packed days.  While we fully intend on sharing all of the location specific details with you from our trip, we wanted to start you off with a video edit that summarizes a large portion of what we did during this travel adventure.  Plug in your headphones, turn the volume up, and enjoy our very first GoPro Vacation Video Edit!

Additional Info:

Keep in mind while watching this that Lacey and I booked this trip for next to nothing.  We saved over $10,000 by utilizing credit card rewards points to book this 2+ week adventure.  There is no way we could have afforded flights to these places, stayed in the luxurious hotels that we stayed in, and participated in all of the adventures you see in the video if we hadn’t gotten the majority of it for free.  If you love to travel, there is no reason why you shouldn’t be doing the very same thing.  Check out this post for the details on how we booked this specific trip with points and let us know if you have any questions.

Stay tuned in the coming days for more details and beautiful pics from this trip!

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Travel

Off on our Big Trip!

May 18, 2016

Lacey and I are currently off on our biggest vacation adventure of 2016!  So far we’ve made stops in New York, Florence, and Rome.  We are currently on the beautiful island of Malta.  Tomorrow we head back to Rome for a full day before jumping on a flight headed for Chicago where we’ll spend the weekend.  While we’d love to give you all the details of our trip right now, we’re either out having too much fun or we’re too tired from having too much fun.  Believe us, we’ll give you more than enough of the details when we return next week. This may be forever known as our For now, you can keep up with what we’re getting mixed up in by checking in on our social media profiles. Links to our profiles are at the top of this page.

For those that don’t know, this is the biggest trip Lacey and I have ever booked with credit card rewards points.  We saved over $10,000 on this trip!  It’s super easy for anyone to do the same.  To see the full story on how we made this trip happen (for free-ish) check the link here.

We can’t wait to tell you about what we’ve experienced!

Azure Window Our Big Trip

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Tips Travel

Packing Tips for a Backpack

May 12, 2016

A few days before we left on our big trip, Mat and I each had a test run packing our new backpacks. On previous trips we have borrowed travel backpacks from family (thanks Sarah!) but finally made the investment in our own. I always pack too much and then regret it as I’m lugging around extra shoes and outfits that I “just couldn’t leave”, meanwhile my spine feels like it’s being compressed and my shoulders ache. I decided to buy a smaller backpack to force myself to pack lighter. That is crazy if you know me, because I love having a variety of clothing to choose from. I have been known to change outfits during my lunch break. It’s crazy, I know.

I ended up with the Osprey 36 L women’s backpack and Mat chose a simple REI 40L He chose the simple style on purpose because he hated having to deal with all of the extra fancy zippers, ties, and bells and whistles that come with a typical hiking/camping/travel bag. He also wanted a smaller and more sleek fit so he didn’t feel like he was constantly bumping people with his huge backpack.

We had read online that packing cubes are a must when backpacking, as it helps with efficiency when trying to find an item and saving room. Mat ordered these from Amazon and mine were a gift from the Easter Bunny. 🙂 I have three total: a small, medium and large. Mat’s packing cubes came in a group of five, but he is using only three: small and two mediums. We are working on mastering the art of rolling for maximum space.

In my largest packing cube I fit two pair of pants, two pair of leggings, one maxi dress, one maxi skirt, sleep shorts and workout shorts. A total of seven bottoms and a dress. The middle sized packing cube was for my tops, which fit four tank tops, three short sleeve shirts, one sweater, one cardigan and a swimming suit. The smallest cube is for socks and undergarments, which held a total of 13 items and definitely wasn’t full.

These three cubes plus a pair of sandals and a pair of Converse still only filled about 2/3 of the bag. So awesome! The rest of the empty space will be filled with toiletries, so hopefully it all works! Also, there is a special zipper at the bottom of the bag that holds my raincoat.

Mat was able to fit 11 tops, six bottoms, a rain coat, 12 undergarments and a nice pair of shoes in his bag thanks to his packing cubes. He is using the two medium sized cubes for tops and bottoms, while the smallest is for undergarments. Mat was even able to utilize his outside mesh pockets to hold other miscellaneous items that we will be taking i.e. laundry detergent, first aid kid, and ginger candies (for my nausea).

You better believe our hip belts carry snacks like protein bars, dried fruit, granola, etc. We can’t go anywhere without our snacks!

Do you know any secret packing tips or advice to share with us?

Packing_Cube_Close

Mat_Rolling

Mat_Rolling_Packing

Mat_Packing_Shoes

Mat_Packing_Cubs_Zip

Mat_Packing_Cubes

Mat_Living_Room

Mat_Cubes

Mat_Buckle

Lacey_Rolling

 

Lacey_Raise_Packing

Lacey_Packing_Hair

lacey_Packing_Featured

Lacey_Packing_Feature

Lacey_Packing_Cube

Lacey_Packing_Clothes

Lacey_Packed

 

Lacey_Pack_Shoes

Lacey_BackPack

 

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Lifestyle

Checking in on our 2016 Game Plan

April 13, 2016

We figured since it’s over a quarter of the way through the year, now would be a good time to check in on the 2016 game plan we set at the beginning of the year. How obvious is it that I’m left brained? I blame work for making me think of the year in terms of Q1 , Q2, Q3 and Q4. Anyway, since Q1 is now complete, we are practicing what we preach by holding ourselves accountable and evaluating where we are on our goals. This is good because it gives cause to celebrate and pat yourself on the back, as well as realign the next section of the year to focus more on the goals that haven’t gotten a lot of attention yet.

As a recap, our goals are listed below:

  1. Visit 10 different cities
  2. Continue downsizing
  3. Continue paying more on our mortgage
  4. Spend more time with family and friends
  5. Improve photography skills
  6. Bedroom remodel
  7. More collaborations
  8. Save $15,000 by using rewards points
  9. Learn a second language
  10. Add yoga to the workout routine

To be honest, I’m fairly shocked that we have even started this list. To say I’m proud of our progress is putting it lightly. I’m ready to celebrate how far we are on our game plan! Let’s see how we are doing:

  1. So far we have been to two cities (San Diego and Houston) this year, and in another month we will add five more to total seven. We have more destinations on our list for the remainder of the year, but nothing is officially booked yet. I have been to San Francisco, but since Mat wasn’t with me, I figured it wasn’t fair to count that.

    Gas Lamp San Diego

    San Diego was a blast.

  2. Well, we did it. We sold Mat’s car and are now down to one! Oh my gosh are we crazy or what?! Our plan with this goal was to find out the Kelly Blue Book value of his car and put it up for sale at that price; no budging at all. We planned to leave it up for a couple of weeks and then if nothing had happened we would re-evaluate. The car sold in less than three days! I wasn’t entirely sure I was even on board with the whole one car thing, so I panicked a little. I will admit it does take a little more pre-planning, but so far, totally worth it!
  3. We were paying double on our mortgage, but since we sold Mat’s car, we put that extra money toward our condo each month. We are trying to have a free place to live as soon as possible! Seeing the principle balance on our mortgage go down each month is motivating and slightly addicting. We understand that we might not always be at a place in our lives where we are able to pay extra, which is why we are trying to take advantage now!
  4. We are known to be homebodies, especially in the winter, so we have been making a conscious effort to spend more time with people we love. We have been meeting up with other couples for dinner, drinks, brunch, etc. We spent the last three weekends in a row with family. We also plan on meeting up with five friends on our next big trip! Anybody else want to join in on the fun?
  5. We just purchased a camera and plan on meeting up with a friend (who just so happens to have been our wedding photographer) to learn more about it this weekend! As I type this, Mat is messing around with the different settings. I may or may not have just made him do some karate/ninja moves to test out the action setting. We definitely have a ways to go on this goal, but at least we have started!
  6. We also have a ways to go on our bedroom remodel, but we have completed the most important task-getting a king sized bed! Oh it’s so wonderful. I always feel like I get in it too late and have to leave it too early in the morning. I want to lounge in it all day because it’s so big and inviting. New West Elm bedding doesn’t hurt either. 😉
  7. We sort of fell into a collaboration of sorts with Venture Magazine and are stoked about it! The individuals we have met through this magazine are amazing and we can’t wait to get even more involved in this community! We also did a rad photo shoot collaboration with the ever entertaining Damon of Dynamic Shutter Photography. I also was a part of a photo shoot/event for an amazing cause, Speak Your Silence. More on that when I can give some sneak peeks. I also have another collab coming up next week that I am SO excited about! All I can say at this moment is that it involves some insanely talented individuals, including personal stylist (and my friend!) Laura Tully, amazing photography duo Ben and Joella, and Will from Flowers at Will.

    Couples Workout

    Some fun collabs with Venture Meridian Magazine so far!

  8. So far (thanks my brilliant husband) we have saved roughly $10,000 in travel costs. This includes flights to San Diego, our hotel in Houston, as well as flights and hotels for our big trip coming up to New York, Italy, Malta and Chicago. We have a few more tricks up our sleeves, but will wait until things are finalized before sharing.
  9. To be honest, we have done nothing to further our learning of a second language. Now that we carpool to work, I talk the whole drive (not surprising, I know) so Mat isn’t able to listen to his Rosetta Stone. We need to carve out some time on the weekends for this, as it helps immensely when traveling. Mat picks languages up MUCH faster than I do. I actually think it’s not possible for me to learn another language. This is me. For real.
  10. Guess how many times we have been to a yoga class this year? The answer is zero. We need to work on that. Any suggestions on where to go? Please let us know, we need help in this area!

Now is a great time to check in on the goals you set for yourself at the beginning of the year. Remember, don’t focus on the negatives, but celebrate the positives! That will give you more energy and encouragement to get back on track with your goals. I’m always down to celebrate any accomplishment, no matter how small it might be. Speaking of that, I think it’s time to open some wine to celebrate our progress.

2016 Game Plan

photograph by Ali Smith Photography

2016 Game Plan

photograph by Ali Smith Photography

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Rewards Points Travel

Go to the Final Four for $200

April 7, 2016

For as long as I can remember I’ve dreamed of going to the men’s NCAA basketball Final Four.  Maybe it’s due to the fact that these games are always crazy exciting, or maybe it’s because my dad and I always had such a good time busting each others chops over whose bracket was better.  Whatever the case, this year I was able to finally check ‘attend a Final Four’ off of my bucket list.  I’m going to tell you how you can do the same next year for $200.

I always had the impression that only super rich and famous people could afford to go to events like this.  It wasn’t until this time last year when I discovered how we could fly to the Final Four, stay in a nice hotel, and go to all 3 games for only $200 per person.  You can take the same exact steps we took to get yourself to the 2017 Final Four in Phoenix, Arizona.

First things first…this year’s championship game…are you kidding me?!?!?!  Unbelievable!  I can’t tell you how lucky we feel to have experienced in-person one of the greatest championship games of all time.  The crowd absolutely exploded when Marcus Paige for North Carolina tied the game with 4 secs left.  Then the roof almost blew off when Kris Jenkins hit the game winning buzzer beater shot to win the National Championship for Villanova.  I caught both shots on video with my cell phone.  Check them out below this post.  Don’t mind all my screaming 🙂

Ok, back to how you and yours are going to go to the 2017 Final Four for $200 a person.

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    • Go apply for the 2017 Final Four ticket lottery on the official NCAA site here.  You only have until May 31st to apply, so hurry up!  You will pay $200 per ticket in advance.  But wait Mat, that still sounds expensive.  Well, it breaks out to be $66 per game since you will get to see all 3 games of the Final Four.  Very good deal considering an average regular season game would cost $40ish per ticket.  Also, your odds of getting selected are better than you’d think.  It’s not guaranteed, but every person I know that has applied for the lottery has been selected.  If you don’t get picked, your $200 will be fully refunded, so you have nothing to lose.
  2. Get points for free flights to Phoenix
    • I’d recommend using Southwest Airlines to get to Phoenix.  They have nonstop flights to Phoenix from numerous cities.  You can use our referral link to apply for the 50k point offer on the Southwest Premium card.  The public offer is only 25k points right now.  Once you get the 50k points from this card, you should be able to book 2 round trip flights for free (depending on where you’re flying out of).  Let us know if you have any questions on how to get and use these points.
  3. Get free nights at a hotel
    • There is currently a 100k point bonus offer for the Hilton Surpass card.  This offer is being referred to as Hilton’s “best offer ever”.  With these points, you could book your free stay at the Hilton Garden Inn in downtown Phoenix which is right down the road from the location of the 2017 Final Four.  (we’re not getting compensated for promoting this card…it’s just a rad offer that we recommend).

So there you have it, by signing up for the ticket lottery and the 2 credit cards mentioned above, you should be well on your way to the 2017 NCAA Final Four.  Lacey and I would definitely recommend attending! Not only are the games themselves awesome, but all of the free festivities outside of the games are tons of fun as well!  Check out the pics and vids below from our trip last weekend to the 2016 NCAA Men’s Final Four.

Let us know if you have any questions!

Rental Car Houston, TX

NRG Stadium Parking lot Final Four 2016

Final Four 2016 Fan Fest BareNaked Ladies

The Barenaked Ladies performed outside the stadium during Fan Fest.

Final Four 2016 Fan Fest

Final Four 2016 Fan Fest

Lacey at Final Four 2016 Fan Fest

Final Four 2016 Fan Fest

Final Four 2016 Fan Fest Ferris Wheel

Ferris wheels are always more fun than we think they’re going to be.

Downtown Houston, TX

Final Four 2016 Fan Fest

Final Four 2016 Fan Fest

Ticket Line Final Four 2016

NRG Stadium Final Four 2016

Lacey watching Final Four 2016 game

Final Four Custom Lanyard

This pic was on our custom lanyards that we wore around our necks.

 

 

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Venture Meridian

Teaming up with Venture Meridian Magazine!

April 1, 2016

Following a recent photo shoot we did with the good folks at Venture Meridian, we were lucky enough to be offered a monthly column in their magazine!  We couldn’t be more excited for the opportunity and are hopeful that we’ll be able to consistently provide helpful tips and stories to their readers.  Spoiler alert! Our columns will focus on downsizing, traveling, and having a fun budget-friendly lifestyle.

The April issue of Venture Meridian magazine was released earlier today.  You can find our first column on page 38!  Check out this magazine and show them your support as they are busting their butts to provide an awesome magazine for Idaho!

(The featured image used on our homepage linking you to this post, along with numerous others in the Venture Meridian Magazine are compliments of Ali Smith Photography)

Venture Meridian Magazine April 2016

Venture Meridian Magazine April 2016

Venture Meridian Magazine April 2016

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