Sunday, October 30, 2011

7 Retail Trends for 2011 Holiday Shopping

Forget credit cards; layaway plans are the hot trend for Christmas shopping this year.
These perky payment plans began to re-appear several years ago, but Wal-Mart is giving it a big kick in the pants this year. After a five-year layoff, Wal-Mart announced Thursday it was bringing back the payment method that gained initial traction in the Great Depression.

Speaking of trends, merchants plan on using a variety of methods this holiday season to part consumers and their cash. Here are seven retail trends you'll see unveiled in October...or earlier.
1. Allow me to recommend...Personalized product recommendations are everywhere this year, as improved technology allows merchants to base purchase suggestions on a shopper's previous search behavior. It's a proven system for presenting consumers with products they might otherwise miss, while promoting a one-to-one experience that personalizes an e-retailers website.

2. Look at your marketing campaign, then look at me.Old Spice got it right in 2010 when they expanded their marketing campaign across all platforms. Starting with the phenomenally popular commercial featuring a handsome man on a horse, the scent manufacturer upped the ante by turning the towel-clad stud into an Internet meme.

Pepsi Refresh soon followed suit with an integrated marketing campaign that hit social media, mobile devices, e-readers and offline marketing. Other manufacturers and merchants are already ramping up their integrated attacks. L'Occitane en Provence, for example, recently calculated its revenue from an email registration campaign as increasing sales from .11 cents for random emails to $2.84 per targeted email.

3. Have yourself a very mobile Christmas.Mobile marketing will really hit its stride, starting as early as October. Fueled by increased smartphone use and mobile-only households, Forrester predicts over 75 percent of marketers will include mobile in their marketing mix, using a variety of techniques that blend in-store and online experiences. Shoppers can readily compare prices, scan for coupons, and even order a product, if a brick-and-mortar store doesn't meet their preferred price.

The trend represents a rapid response to statistics from IBM Coremetrics, revealing sales via mobile devices made up 6.5 percent of all site purchases, as of April 2011.

4. Pay for shipping? No way! started a mass movement towards free shipping in 2005 that consumers rapidly took to heart. As more merchants jumped on the bandwagon, shoppers began expecting free shipping and even refused to buy when no such deals were offered.

The mobile and free delivery trends dovetail nicely this year, with such sites as providing readily accessible codes.

5. Procrastinators have a reason to rejoice.This is the year Free Shipping Day is expected to overwhelm Cyber Monday. The one-day shopping holiday, scheduled this year for Friday, Dec. 16, will allow consumers to shop more than 2,000 online merchants with free shipping and delivery by Christmas Eve.

In 2010, Free Shipping Day blew past its 35-year-old sibling Black Friday by nearly $300 million in online sales and proved the third-heaviest day of online shopping in history. The event is further fueled by statistics from IBM Coremetrics indicating 83 percent of consumers prefer to shop online than in crowded stores, and 21 percent expect to spend more online in 2011 than 2010.

6. Expect color coordination across the board.We're going to be sick of silver and green by New Years, as merchants push the official 2011 color pallet for Christmas decorations. According to The Trend Curve, an international authority on designs and color trends for the home, silver and a soft green are the pair to beat this year.

7. Please hold. As mentioned at the beginning of this article, layaway plans are making a rapid comeback, as consumers increasingly refuse to pile on more credit card debt.

Sears and Kmart led the charge for Christmas 2010, introducing reasonable layaway programs. This year, the Sears program allows customers to pay as little as $20 or 20 percent down (whichever is greater) and make online or in-store payments every two weeks before claiming their purchases.

Sears charges $5 to initiate a layaway contract and $15 for cancellation. The Kmart layaway program is identical, except shoppers make a down payment of $20 or 10 percent.

Wal-Mart's campaign begins this year on Oct. 17 and is available only for purchases of $50 or more on electronics and toys. Each item must be worth at least $15 and shoppers will pay a $5 initiation fee, place 10 percent down, and pay off the debt by Dec. 16 or face a $10 cancellation fee.

A few other stores with similar programs include Toys R Us and Babies R Us, Burlington Coat Factory, TJ Maxx and Marshalls. Big Lots offers a "Price Hold" program on select furniture.

Andrea Woroch is a consumer and money-saving expert for Kinoli Inc. She is available for in-studio, satellite or skype interviews and to write guest posts or articles. As a nationally recognized media source, Andrea has been featured among top news outlets such as Good Morning America, NBC's Today, MSNBC, New York Times, Kiplinger Personal Finance, CNNMoney and many more.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Advertising Indoctrination: Tips for Avoiding Targeted Online Ads

Human beings look at the world and see a complex network of interconnected individuals, each with their own autonomy and free will. This perception is a far cry from what credit card companies see. Instead, they view individuals as big bundles of data from which they can profit.

The Wall Street Journal recently reported both MasterCard and VISA are working on plans targeting online ads to consumers based on previous credit card purchases. The idea is you pick up a bag of dog food from the store and charge it to your credit card. When you get home and go online, you start seeing ads for corresponding products and services, like dog toys and dog grooming.

Despite the massive amount of personal data we transmit every day, there are still ways to protect yourself from targeted online ads. Try a few of these tips to avoid the watchful eye of Big Brother.

1. Don't Over-share
Countless websites and stores ask us to provide phone numbers, email addresses and ZIP codes to help them build a marketing profile. Don't bother sharing your details unless they're essential to your purchase. If the guilt of creating fake information keeps you tossing and turning at night, provides temporary email addresses that last for just 60 minutes.

2. Cut Down on Cookies
"Cookie" is an important keyword here. These small files are stored on your computer every time you visit a website. They're the reason you don't have to log in to Facebook 10 times a day and why you see ads for a pair of shoes viewed yesterday when you're checking your email today. Luckily, the Network Advertising Initiative can help you opt-out of advertising cookies. With just a few simple steps, you're able to block major marketers from access to your browsing habits.

3. Privatize Your Purchases
Don't forget about the main culprits in this personal information panic. All told, VISA and MasterCard process nearly 70 billion transactions each year. All the while, they're collecting and analyzing this massive amount of data. Avoid having your information inspected by opting-out of their analytics programs. MasterCard makes it especially easy; all you have to do is follow this link and opt out of programs in which you don't want to participate. VISA makes it more complicated, but look here for details.

4. Beef Up Your Browser
In response to growing discontent over privacy issues, popular Web browsers like Internet Explorer and Firefox are making it easier to protect personal information. Their latest versions include a private browsing option you can enable to keep your online habits confidential. The browser then won't store such information as cookies, passwords and files you download.
5. Leave No Paper Trail
Paperless statements are good for the environment and also good for your security. Not only does online banking eliminate the amount of personal information you dump in the trash, it also lets you track each purchase instantly. It's a smart security strategy to check your online bank accounts often. This way, you can ensure suspicious items don't slip through the cracks.

6. Get Off the Grid
Credit has practically become our official currency. If you're tired of stressing about credit card security, go old-fashioned. While cash doesn't work online, it doesn't require you share any personal details, either. Gift cards are another good way to avoid using credit. Buying gift cards at less than face value from sites like GiftCardGranny provides instant savings, plus you can use them both in-store and online. Even better, gift cards aren't attached to any of your personal info.

7. Avoid Auto-Fill
Keeping your credit card number, billing address and shipping address on file at Amazon is handy, but it also makes you more vulnerable. Something simple like forgetting to log out at the library can place your personal details in the wrong hands. Though it's tedious and takes extra time, enter your information anew with each order.

8. Ensure You're Secure
It's surprisingly easy to confirm an online merchant has secure checkout. Always look for "https" in the Web address, instead of just "http." That extra "s" shows your connection is encrypted and unauthorized users will have to go to greater measures to get your information. You can learn more about site-specific security by clicking the appropriate box near the address bar in your browser.


Andrea Woroch is a nationally recognized consumer and money-saving expert, having been featured among such top news outlets as Good Morning America, NBC's Today, MSNBC, New York Times, Kiplinger Personal Finance, CNNMoney and many more. She is available for in-studio, satellite or skype interviews and to write guest posts or articles.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

I LOVE the Jersey Shore!!!

Hubby and I just got back from a mini vacation down to the Jersey Shore...North Wildwood to be exact! We got down a few times every year and this time we were surprised at how gorgeous the weather was for the middle of October! It was so nice and warm that I even got to walk the beach in my bare feet!

ahhhh...looking forward to spring as I hate winter so that come springtime my butt will be back down on the beach! I just love visiting the Jersey Shore and looking forward to retirement when we will move down there to stay!

~ Shelly ~

Monday, October 17, 2011

Remedies For The Top 11 Consumer Complaints of 2011

Consumer complaints are on the rise, whether it be over poor customer service, billing errors or faulty workmanship. The incredibly popular website is even dedicated to publicizing and solving such problems. While blog posts and comments on the site suggest the biggest areas of friction, a survey released July 27 substantiates this information.

The Consumer Federation of America, the National Association of Consumer Agency Administrators and the North American Consumer Protection Investigators released the results of a study detailing "the most common, fastest growing and worst complaints" received in 2010 by 31 agencies. Most were related to the economic hardships faced by consumers and businesses.

Here's a look at the top 11 consumer complaints, along with a few possible remedies.

1. VehiclesCOMPLAINT: The fast-talking salesman isn't an out-of-date myth. Such tactics still exist, and they're bolstered by misrepresentations in advertising. What's a car buyer to do?

REMEDY: Research any unfamiliar products before you begin shopping. Consumer Reports and Car and Driver rate and review cars on their websites, although you have to buy a subscription to read Consumer Reports online so you might look for print copies at your public library. also allows you to check for recalls by make and year of the vehicle.

2. Credit and DebtCOMPLAINT: A friend had a credit rating about 800, until his bank was purchased and all routing numbers were changed. All his bills were auto-paid so he had to change this information for each account -- a feat that proved to be unbelievably difficult. Six months later, he's still trying to get the situation corrected and his credit rating has dropped below 700.

Correcting credit and debt errors is a nightmare from which it often feels Americans will never wake. To do so requires determination, many phone calls and lots of letters, but you're faced with an even bigger problem if you allow the mistake to stand.

REMEDY: Companies can't legally charge a fee to help you settle or reduce debts, including avoiding foreclosure. Instead, seek out legitimate, licensed sources to deal with such problems. Non-profit credit counseling agencies are available for free or at a reduced cost, depending on your financial situation. To find a service in your area, call 1-800-388-2227 or visit the National Foundation for Credit Counseling website.

3. Home Improvement and Construction (tie)COMPLAINT: After seven years of trying to build his dream home, actor Will Smith was so frustrated he advised others not to even attempt the job. If a multi-zillionaire celebrity was so stressed by the process, what can us little people do about shoddy work and failing to start or finish the job?

REMEDY: Research companies before you engage their services and only hire those who are licensed. Word of mouth is your best ally and getting references is a necessity.
Rutgers University compiled a detailed listing of websites with resources for researching companies of all types. The Better Business Bureau also can often fill you in on complaints lodged against local companies.

4. Retail Sales (tie)COMPLAINT: False advertising, defective merchandise, problems with coupons, gift cards and rebates...the problems abound. The maxim "buyer beware" particularly becomes a necessity when you're dealing with a small budget for high-ticket items, but even smaller purchases can break the bank, if repeated often enough.

REMEDY: To avoid problems with gift cards, use them promptly instead of tossing them into a drawer. Even long-established businesses -- like Borders and Circuit City -- can go broke and you might have trouble cashing in your cards when they do. If its unlikely you'll use the them, sell your gift cards on

A fake coupon likely won't have a bar code and expiration date. Look for qualified, printable and online coupons at such sites as To ensure you receive a rebate, follow the guidelines listed in Consumer Reports' article "Rebate tips: Make sure you get what's coming to you."

5. ServicesCOMPLAINT: The term "service" has almost become an oxymoron since the beginning of the recession. I'm not talking about texting sales clerks who ignore customers, however. The complaints were about shoddy work or failure to perform a service.

REMEDY: Don't pay the entire bill upfront. If you're asked for a deposit, give the service provider one-quarter of the total but withhold further payments until the work progresses or is completed as promised.

6. Internet SalesCOMPLAINT: Shopping online can be wonderful. Ease of comparing prices, free shipping offers and a wider range of options are at your fingertips. Sadly, some Internet merchants misrepresent their products and/or fail to deliver.

REMEDY: Use your credit card or a PayPal account for online purchases so you can dispute products that were misrepresented or you didn't receive.

7. Household GoodsCOMPLAINT: Complaints varied a mere mite between online and brick-and-mortar merchants. Consumers were fed up with misrepresented products, delivery failures and faulty repairs. Raise your hand if you've experienced such problems.

REMEDY: As with online sales, you're best off making major purchases with a credit card so you have buyer protection. Don't fall for schemes, however, that try to sell you credit-card payment protection plans. Your provider should already carry this service, so check with the issuer before you buy.

8. UtilitiesCOMPLAINT: If you have phone, satellite, cable, electric, Internet or gas service, you likely know why the survey respondents complained about their utility services. I went through three Internet providers before finding one that actually worked, which left me without service for three months. Naturally, this led to billing problems, a problem almost every American has experienced.

REMEDY: The Consumerist received so many complaints on billing and service issues they created directions on "How to Write a Complaint Letter." Make sure you read the "Comments" on this page as they provide useful advice. Before resorting to a letter, however, start with at least two attempts to solve the problem over the phone. Never resort to threats or swearing as this will only irritate the customer service representative. Remember, they have the power to put you in "hold" purgatory. If there's a local office available, you'll often receive a better response by hiking down there and politely stating your case. A friend recently met a stonewall when trying to get a better deal on his Comcast service, until he made a personal visit. Bingo: Bill reduced from $95 to $30 for the same service.

9. Landlord and Tenant IssuesCOMPLAINT: Problems abound on both sides, but tenants have the least protection against landlord ineptitude and outright injustices. Complaints from survey respondents focused on unsafe living conditions; illegal evictions; rent and deposit disputes; and failure to make necessary repairs or provide promised extras.

REMEDY: Get everything in writing so you have recourse when an issue arises. That means you need a detailed rental agreement, which you should read thoroughly before signing. Do a walk-through with your landlord before moving in to note any stains, scratches, etc., then make copies for both of you and have them signed. Contact your local sheriff for solutions to illegal evictions. When all else fails, check to see if your city, county or local university/community college offers landlord/tenant mediation services.

10. Fraud COMPLAINT: Surely that Nigerian prince must be out of money by now, having given it all away to complete strangers via emails. Sad to say, some people are taken in by bogus emails, work-from-home offers and other schemes that inundate our junk boxes. Fraud complaints didn't even break the top 10 last year but it looks like they're soon destined for a shoot to the top.

REMEDY: Trust me; no stranger is going to wire you money for any reason. The same goes for companies requesting your personal information to "check" on a shipment, payment, etc., as well as offers to help you make money FAST! If you think you've been a victim of fraud, visit the National Consumers League's Fraud Center.

11. Home SolicitationCOMPLAINT: A localized version of the Green River Ordinance is used to prohibit home solicitation in my friend's city. Now this consumer-protection legislation is going by the wayside, thanks to a U.S. District Court ruling. Fortunately, misrepresentation or failing to deliver a door-to-door service or product is illegal, and the same holds true for mail or telemarketing solicitations -- all common complaints.

REMEDY: As the saying goes: When in doubt, check it out. Before you buy, research the company's reputation via your state or local consumer agency. As mentioned above, pay with a credit card so you have buyer protection for products, and get all promises in writing.

Andrea Woroch is a consumer and money-saving expert for Kinoli Inc., which operates a group of money-saving brand sites called The Frugals. She is available for in-studio, satelite or skype interviews and to write guest posts or articles. As a nationally recognized media source, Andrea has been featured on NBC Today Show, FOX & Friends, MSNBC, ShopSmart Magazine, Kiplinger Personal Finance, CNNMoney and many more. To view recent interviews or for more savings tips visit

Planning A Month Long Trip Overseas

My husband and I just celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary earlier this year and now we are looking to take a month long vacation overseas to really celebrate our accomplishment of being married for over 25 years. We are thinking about taking this month long trip in April 2012 since that is our anniversary month.

We want to travel around Europe and check a few of the European countries to see what they have to offer. One bed and breakfast place that hubby contacted via the internet sent us some brochures and stuff but they are in Italian so now we need to find a document translation service to translate them to English for us. Yes...we do want to go to all of that trouble as this place looks perfect for us to spend a week there while vacationing.

We plan on doing most of our traveling by air and then renting a few rental cars once we are at the various destinations that we plan on visiting so hopefully that will keep some of our costs down. We are choosing to stay mostly at small bed and breakfast type of places and maybe one or two small hotels/motels. We don't want to stay in any large, over-populated, busy resorts! We want some alone time along with a lot of peace and quiet!

I hope once we do get to our destinations that we won't need to get any type of document translation done but if we do...I am sure we can find a few places to translate for us. We are really looking forward to this "second honeymoon" and seeing some new places and trying out some new activities...maybe even some skydiving if I can work up enough nerve! LOL

Have any of you ever traveled over to any of the European countries? If so, where did you happen to visit?

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post and I was compensated by the advertiser to write this post. We were provided with the subject matter to write about but our thoughts, opinions and words are 100% our own. Please read our Terms of Service & Disclaimer Policy for additional information. All information contained on this blog is copyright 2011, All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Budgeting Beauty: How to Save on Your Favorite Beauty Essentials

When it comes to shaving our budgets, most ladies put beauty products in the "need" category. A study commissioned by Mintel validates this assumption, reporting consumers spent $2.32 billion on shampoo and $1.71 billion on conditioner in 2010 alone.

So what's the best way to save on essentials without resorting to dollar-store cosmetics? Here are nine tips to keep both your beauty and your budget intact.

1. Hair Products
Consider extending the life of your shampoo (and hair color) by using dry shampoo or baby powder in between washes. When using shampoo and conditioner, check out these great tips and best bargain buys from

2. Hand Soap
Foam hand soap is all the rage these days, and one of the easier beauty products to DIY. Refer to's recipe for specific instructions, but ultimately all you need is a lot of water, a bit of soap and a few drops of essential oil.

3. Makeup Brushes
In addition to extending the life on pricey makeup applicators, regularly cleaning your brushes is just the sanitary thing to do. And if you really need replacements, consider a tip given to me by a MAC Cosmetics artist; buy art brushes at craft stores for a fraction of the price!

4. Foundation
Whether you're a liquid, powder or mineral foundation girl, you can use less of this beauty staple by applying a base before application. The Magic Perfecting Base by L'Oreal is a favorite among top fashion magazines, and is available for less than $12 from Walmart and Target.

5. Fragrance
Let's be honest -- designer fragrances are among the most expensive beauty purchases, with $80 buying less than 6 ounces of product. If you can't part with your signature Chanel scent, buy gift cards at a discounted rate for retailers selling your fragrance and enjoy immediate savings.

6. Body Lotion
Moisturizing is a must for anyone who wants to avoid the shar pei-look at 50, but lotion gets pricey when you see the words "illuminating," "firming" or "age-defying" on the label. Unless you have a serious skin issue, consistent use of most drugstore moisturizers is sufficient.

7. Hair Color
Prolong your color-treated hair between salon visits using household ingredients. Brunettes can use a strong pot of cooled coffee and blonds can use a lemon juice-water mixture. Apply the treatment after shampooing, let sit for 15 minutes, then rinse, condition and style as usual.

8. Hair Accessories
Today's trendy hair accessories can be homemade for a fraction of salon and department store prices. Channel your inner domestic goddess and create one-of-a-kind hair candy with beads, feathers and artificial flowers found in craft stores.

9. Less is More
There's no need to wear your entire cosmetics collection every day of the week. Consider giving your wallet a break by opting for the basics during mellow workdays or lazy weekends. For tips on how to pull off the "au natural" look, refer to Real Simple's step-by-step instructions.


Andrea Woroch is a nationally recognized consumers-savings expert, and is available for in-studio, satellite or skype interviews and to write guest posts or articles.
For all media inquiries, please contact Andrea at 970-672-6085 or email

Taste the fun of T.G.I. FRiDAY's at home with the new Entrees for One!

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of T.G.I. FRiDAY'S for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

Guest Post By Sam H.

Today my guest post is about the great tasting new frozen entrees by T.G.I. FRiDAY’S “Entrées for One” which are great for us guys who don't like to cook or don't have time to cook. These entrees are delicious meals in a box that only take a few minutes to make. They come in several tasty flavors so there is a flavor for everyone to enjoy. I like these entrees for lunch because I only get a 45 minute lunch break and they totally satisfy me until dinnertime once I am back home. Entrées For One

Right now they are hosting a Fun Freezer contest where you can go over to their Facebook page and vote for your favorite fun freezer, really nifty contest is I say so myself. It ends on the 20th of October so make sure you cast your vote today. You can also leave me a comment on this post on which one you voted for, I would love to see your particular choice!

Entrées For OneLast week I enjoyed the Sizzling Chicken Fajitas, Cajun-Style Chicken Alfredo and the Chicken and Broccoli Alfredo. Out of those 3 particular ones my favorite was the Chicken Fajitas since I love Mexican food and this tasted delicious and was totally satisfying to my taste buds and to my belly. It was a nice fulfilling meal. Next week I will be trying out the Creamy Chicken Pasta Carbonara so I am really looking forward to that. I am sure it is just as tasty as the other 3 that I have already tried.

I love these new T.G.I. FRiDAY'S frozen entrees because they are easy for me to make, super affordable and they taste delicious. They make great workplace lunches for me and I think you would love them toEntrées For Oneo. I hope you give them a try.

Visit Sponsor's Site

Dorm microwave cooking 101

Guest post written by Stephen Winkler

Most of the time, I'm too worried about studying to actually go and sit down at the dining hall. It's just entirely too much trouble and then also I would rather use that extra time standing in line and finding a table asleep if I don't have to be studying then. So is the life of a pre-med student. So you could say that I've become pretty handy at cooking stuff in my dorm room. It's just so much easier and quicker. Then I don't have to worry about not finding food I want or having someone mess up my order.

But I can always find some new recipes to fix in my room, so I used the few days I had before my classes started to look through and find some new ones. While I was searching for them, i saw the site After I looked through it some I decided to send it to my mom, who switched our home internet service over to a package on there.

I did find a few more microwave cooking ideas, like some potato skins. There's surprisingly a lot that you can do with a baked potato.

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post and I was compensated by the advertiser to write this post. We were provided with the subject matter to write about but our thoughts, opinions and words are 100% our own. Please read our Terms of Service & Disclaimer Policy for additional information. All information contained on this blog is copyright 2011, All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Travel Tips | Packing Checklist For Busy Last Minute Vacation Travelers

Are you the type of "packer" that starts your packing for a trip or vacation days in advance or do you start your packing at the last minute? Personally...I start 2 weeks in advance as I like to be organized and I like to make sure I pack everything I think we "might" need.

Often times when I speak to others about their packing habits many people tell me they are last minute packers and usually start the day before! Many of these folks just take things out of their drawers and closets and throw them into a suitcase and out the door they go. The bad thing about this is that when you arrive at your destination your items in your suitcase are a wrinkled mess and/or you realize you forgot to pack some important things that you need. Then you have to scour an unfamiliar area to purchase the items you forgot or you have to pay a laundering or hotel service to wash, dry and iron your clothing.

To solve all of those problems I sat down a few years ago and drafted up my own vacation checklist of items that we will always need when we travel. Then approximately 2 weeks before our departure time I get that list out and start our packing. If need be, I head to the store to pick up items that I need to replace or "might" need while we are traveling.

Here is an example of our Travel Packing List:

___ Seasonal Clothing for ___ amount of days.
___ Non-Seasonal Clothing for 1 day. (just incase the weather changes).
___ Outerwear (coats, jackets, sweaters, hats, gloves, scarves...depending on destination).
___ Two Pairs of Shoes Per Person
___ Haircare Items (blow dryers, curling irons, shampoo, conditioner, etc.)
___ Toiletries (soap, shower gels, shaving gel, razors, face wash, deoderant, dental care, etc.)
___ Prescription Medications and Over the Counter Medications
___ Eyecare (glasses, contacts, solutions, sunglasses, etc.)
___ Rainy Day Activities For Adults (hand-held electronic games, puzzle books, reading books, games)
___ Kid's Activity Bag (games, toys, arts & crafts supplies, books, etc.)
___ Linens (if appropriate, pillows, beach towels, bath towels, bed linens, etc.)
___ Snacks and Beverages for the Family.
___ Empty Tote Bags, 1 Empty Duffle Bag, 1 Empty Wet/Dry Bag (these can be used to bring wet clothing/towels home or to carry souvenirs back home).
___ Traveling Essentials (passports, hotel reservations, airline tickets, documents, maps, etc.)
___ Equipment (any equipment needed for activities)
___ Miscellaneous Supplies (mending kit, first-aid kit, extra money, etc.)
___ Other ___________________________________________
___ Other ___________________________________________
___ Other ___________________________________________

You can tailor my above list to suit your own family's needs or according to your vacation/trip destination.

Getting yourself organized and starting your packing 2 weeks in advance saves you a lot of time, stress and money once you arrive at your vacation destination. Prepare your packing ahead of time and enjoy your family's vacation time together.

This article was written by Shelly Hill who is the owner of the popular travel blog called Pennsylvania and Beyond at where you can find travel related articles, travel reviews, travel tips and other travel related information for destinations across the United States. Shelly and her husband Sam have been traveling together for over 27 years and love to share travel stories and travel tips with their blog readers from across the world.

Planning A New Trip For Our Wedding Anniversary to Spain!

My husband and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary earlier this year but since I had been ill for a few months we couldn't travel out of the country to celebrate. Now that I am doing much better we are planning a big trip this coming spring to celebrate our milestone anniversary.

We have spent a few weeks researching different places we want to visit and finally decided that we wanted to travel to Spain! Now that we decided on our destination we are trying to decide if we want to look for Villas in Spain or Apartments in Spain because we plan on staying for 2 1/2 weeks.

I have always wanted to visit Barcelona after seeing the Olympics held there several years ago. From what I read and have looks like a large city with a lot of history for us to explore. In addition, Barcelona Apartments are pretty affordable and within our budget. We found many great apartment choices to choose from and have decided on a small 2-bedroom flat.

There is a lot of Spain Tourist Information out there on the internet so take your time reading it all and exploring all of your possibilities before booking your specific trip. We are really excited about our special vacation and we are looking forward to it.

Have any of you ever been to Barcelona, Spain? If so, got any tips for us?

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post and I was compensated by the advertiser to write this post. We were provided with the subject matter to write about but our thoughts, opinions and words are 100% our own. Please read our Terms of Service & Disclaimer Policy for additional information. All information contained on this blog is copyright 2011, All Rights Reserved.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Scrapbooking ~ ZooTastic Fun At The Cape May Zoo!

A Scrapbook Layout I made featuring a photo of the Zebra at the Cape May, New Jersey Zoo! You can visit my Passionate About Crafting Blog to find tons of free crafting patterns, crafting instructions, scrapbooking layouts, etc. and it's all FREE!