Soon spring will come to an end and summer will be here!
There are always signs that the season is changing: the last day of school, rising temperatures, and disappearing spring blooms.
What are you looking forward to this summer?
My answer, without hesitation, is summer travel.
For those of you who are regulars on my website, you know that I am a breast cancer survivor. I celebrated being one year in remission in April. What a wonderful feeling that was! This celebration came with being ready to get back to traveling.
When I was first diagnosed in 2021, one of the best pieces of advice I received from a good friend, who is also a cancer survivor, was to plan for the future. And plan I did! I dreamed of a getaway with my family that combined relaxation and enjoyable activities.
There was one issue: I did not have the extra funds I needed to travel as far as I would have liked to go. That’s the reality of life, especially after a year of medical treatments.
Was I disappointed? Yes.
Did I stop dreaming? Never.
One of the things I told you about myself on my About Me page is that couponing is one of my favorite ways to save money and stay on budget. I learned how to save money and earn cash back when I shop online, which is a way of couponing without having to cut an actual coupon.
RetailMeNot is one of my favorite websites for savings and cash back earnings. The website is built on community and feedback from other members on the website, lets me know if an offer is working, and how much money was saved on a purchase. RetailMeNot also has a blog named The Real Deal™️. I check the blog from time to time because it offers great advice on ways to save on beauty, food, and travel (to name a few).
Back in March, I visited the RetailMeNot website and scrolled to the link for The Real Deal™️. There was an article that immediately caught my attention: New Position Available – Chief Spring Breaker For RetailMeNot. The second paragraph in the post felt like it was written just for me:
Do you find yourself dreaming of booking a trip with no worries about the cost?
Yes. 1000 times yes.
Are you sick of travel plans getting interrupted due to unexpected price hikes and budget pains?
One million times, yes!
Are you an avid traveler with the itch to escape to a dream locale of your choosing? If so, this is the role for you.
Sign. Me. Up.
The opportunity to apply for the position of RetailMeNot’s first-ever Chief Spring Breaker was almost too good to be true. It was late in the evening when I read the blog post, and I wanted to make sure that I was well rested when I filled out the application, which I did the next morning.
Good Things Take Time
After I completed the RetailMeNot application for the position of Chief Spring Breaker, I forgot all about it until I opened my email one morning near the end of April. I let out a scream so loud that my kids thought something was wrong. The subject of the email was in all caps: CONGRATULATIONS, YOU’VE WON! and I could see the beginning of the body of the email. Instantly, I knew what this email meant. I quickly read it to myself and then announced to my son and daughter that I had been selected as the Chief Spring Breaker for RetailMeNot. After I told them, I called my husband to tell him the good news.
It was a dream come true and an answer to my prayers to be selected to travel anywhere I wanted to go with nearly $5,000 in prize money. I knew that I could put my savings skills to work to make this a trip that I could enjoy with my family.
On May 17, RetailMeNot made my new title official by posting an update to their blog, The Real Deal™️. It wasn’t until I read this announcement that I became aware of the fact that over 8,000 people applied for the position of Chief Spring Breaker. It is an honor to have been chosen.
The next day a local news station posted the RetailMeNot announcement on Instagram. I had no idea this was going to happen until I received a notification on my phone that I was tagged in their post.
The Planning Stage
Before the pandemic, it was almost effortless for me to plan my family vacations. I had planning down to an art and often joked that my part-time job was the official travel agent for my family.
It has been almost 4 years since my last vacation that involved total relaxation and enjoyment. Writing that number brings me back to the reality that we can never truly plan the path that life is going to take. The title of #ChiefSpringBreaker comes with flexibility in my travel planning, and I will choose somewhere that my family can enjoy with me. I was the patient during a very difficult year and my husband and kids were my rock and support.
In the meantime, I’m going to review my list of travel essentials, making sure that I’m ready to pack and make the most of this amazing opportunity.
The Decision Phase
After I was selected as RetailMeNot’s #ChiefSpringBreaker, I called a family meeting to discuss the type of vacation I wanted to plan. Even though it would ultimately be my decision where I wanted to travel, my family was my focus group and sounding board for this trip. In this meeting I wanted to hear their thoughts and listen to where they dreamed of going.
Disney World was one of the first places that was mentioned. My family knew how much I talked about visiting the parks during the 50th anniversary celebration. When I missed that event I talked about going during Disney100 (Disney’s 100 year celebration), either at Disney World or Disneyland. A visit to Disneyland would also give us the opportunity to explore places of interest in California.
The more we talked, the more I realized that the proposed agenda for either Disney World or Disneyland was going to keep us on the go for the entire week. This was going to be our first family vacation since cancelling everything during the pandemic. Realistically, heading full blast into a week of activities was not going to give me or my family the rest we desperately needed. I also had to factor in the side effect of fatigue that would triple because of the medications I have to take as a part of my continuing treatment. Just because I’m on vacation doesn’t mean that I stop taking my meds.
There would be a time for us to go to a theme park, but this trip did not need to be a vacation that needed recovery from the vacation after the vacation. Everyone agreed, and there was one place that fit the requirements of relaxation, moderate outdoor activity, and ocean views.
The hints I’ve dropped have probably given you a clue about the type of climate I wanted to visit, and if you guessed that I would be spending my vacation dollars in the tropics, you would be correct. And I already had an island in mind.
Since childhood, the United States Virgin Islands have been near and dear to my heart.
St. Croix, St. Thomas, and St. John are the islands that make up this U.S. territory located about 40 miles east of Puerto Rico. St. Croix is the largest of the 3 islands and it is the place I called home for most of my childhood. I visited St. Croix almost a decade ago, but I did not rent a car and spent most of my time at the resort. There was limited transportation from the resort to Christiansted, the largest town on the island, and I spent a few hours exploring, but didn’t really dive in to what the island had to offer. Since that visit I have wanted to return to the island to go to more of its beaches, enjoy more of its food, and visit its historical sites.
At first, the steps involved in planning felt like getting back onto a bike that had not been ridden for several years. But as I started to organize my thoughts and plan my strategy for booking a place to stay, plane tickets and a rental car, I regained my balance and the wheels started turning. With help from my daughter, I’m working on a list of things to do, places to see, and places to eat. I am vacationing with purpose, and rest days (preferably spent lounging by the ocean) have been built into the itinerary.
This is sure to be an adventure I will always remember!