10 Travel Safety Tips | My top travel advice learned from 20+ years of traveling

My top travel safety advice learned from 20+ years of traveling as a solo traveler, couples, and groups. 10 top tips to stay safe both at home and abroad.


I love traveling to new places and exploring new things.  Over the last 20+ years, I have learned a thing or two about travel safety as a solo female traveler, in groups, and as a couple.

Many of these lessons were learned the hard way, like the time that my passport and all of my money was stolen or the time that a tampered drink that could have been way worse. A little preparation and caution is worth it for your safety!

Travel Safety Tops from JenThereDoneThat. My top travel advice learned from 20+ years of traveling as a solo female traveler, couples, and group travel.
Safe Travels in Dominican Republic 2019

Here are my top 10 tips to stay safe while traveling.

Continue reading “10 Travel Safety Tips | My top travel advice learned from 20+ years of traveling”

Spa Etiquette | Top 10 Guidelines to Know Before you Go to a Day Spa or Spa Resort

I work hard and I play hard, then I relax…at the spa.

The spa is a place to relax and unwind.  Here are 10 guidelines, helpful tips, and basic etiquette to follow for a more enjoyable experience at the day spa resort.

  1. Arrive early – Arrive at least 15 minutes before your service to check in, find your locker, change into your robe, and have a few minutes to wind down before starting your service.  Better still, arrive 30 minutes or more before services and familiarize yourself with the amenities. I usually look at each of the relaxation rooms, use the bathroom, pour myself a drink, and scope out the snacks before I settle in with a book or magazine waiting for my service.
  2. Spa locker area
    Spa locker area

    Use the lockers provided.  Real day spas/resort spas will provide a locker, robe, and usually sandals.  Do not lug a diaper bag sized handbag around with you during your treatments (or class at the gym), you will not need it.

  3. Silence your mobile phone.  Most of the time, my phone is in my locker anyway, but if you carry your phone keep it quiet.  Part of the quiet phone is not talking on it.  If you must make or take a phone call, leave the relaxation areas and head back to the locker area or other appropriate area.  Look around and observe, it will be obvious if you are disturbing everyone around you.
  4. Silence – not just your phone, but keep your voice down.  I have a naturally loud voice, so I make an extra effort to lower my voice and not disturb everyone around me.  The tile floors are great acoustics for sound, just this evening I heard everything several ladies discussed just outside the steam room.  I doubt these women planned for everyone to hear their conversation, but we did, loud and clear.
  5. Enter rooms slowly – many relaxation rooms are dark or dimly lit, enter slowly to let your eyes adjust and avoid startling anyone.  Some of the relaxation rooms are small and you could run into someone if you barge in.
  6. No photos – okay, I admit I do take photos for this blog.  I do not take any photos when people are around.  Most of my photos are towards the end of the day, or a slow period when no one else is around.  I am referring to avoidance of the group photos and selfies with semi-nude guests in the background.  Wearing only a tiny towel, I was recently in a background shot from an idiot teenager taking selfies in the mirror.
  7. There are robe hooks near each sauna, steam room, hot tub, and other areas.  Only take towels into the sauna & steam rooms, leave the robes outside. Remember to take the towels out with you when you leave.
  8. Coordinate where to meet after the service – knowing where you are going to meet up after service will make life easier for you and avoid wandering around lost or disturbing others while you are in search mode.
  9. Keep your possessions contained to your area and avoid spreading out to multiple chairs for each person.  Most spas will have tables for books, magazines, drinks, and snacks.
  10. Leave someone with your stuff, or take it with you doing your service.  Consider staggered start times for private services (such as individual massages) if you want to save a specific area for your group.

There is also a significant amount of cross-over between the spa, gym, and many other places.  I have seen many of these behaviors at the spa, gym, and hair/nail salons.  Share this with folks that could benefit, in the end it will make spa time a happier time.

How I Paid Off My Debt with a Reverse Budget Strategy

We all have enough time and money for something.  We just may not have enough time and money for everything.  So, we prioritize.  I hear people talking about priorities, what is important to them, then I watch spending habits.  Often what people say is important is different than what their money is spent on.  To me, the best way to understand what is truly important is real spending habits – where someone allocates their time and money.Reverse Budget

I have followed a reverse budget for the last 15+ years.  Meaning that for my income I start allocating money at the top tier and work my way down the list.

  1. Taxes, retirement, and savings (regular savings, plus at least $1,000 emergency fund) are taken out first.
  2. Then I pay mortgage, utilities, car payment, insurance (home and auto), and health insurance (or may be included in paycheck deductions).
  3. Third is where minimal fuel and food expenses are allocated, no splurges, yet.
  4. Next are payments for any debt (Dave Ramsey’s Snowball strategy to eliminate debt is effective and easy to follow). This is debt not attached to a mortgage or primary vehicle, such as student loans, medical bills, credit card debt, and other non-secured loans.
  5. Finally, anything left over is for dinner out, books, movies/tv, electronics, clothes, travel, or whatever else you feel like.

Continue reading “How I Paid Off My Debt with a Reverse Budget Strategy”

Weirdly Frugal Part 2

Weirdly Frugal – Part 1

Cutting back on committed monthly expenses (Mortgage, car payment, monthly cable bill, big ticket electronic, and other “things”) is not a sacrifice, is it liberating!  My frugal ways leave more money for retirement savings and discretionary spending on the fun stuff!

My splurges

Not only do I have a gym membership, but it is one of the most expensive in the area.  After selling our house with a pool and hot tub, I get my water fix with the 3 outdoor pools, 2 indoor pools, 2 indoor hot tubs, sauna, and steam room at the gym.  I use the exercise equipment facilities, as an added bonus.  Membership for 2 people is less expensive than weekly pool service alone, not to mention electricity savings to run the pump and the higher water bill that comes with every pool.  And there is no need to save up for pool resurfacing, kool deck repair/resurface, or any of the unplanned expenses that occur with a pool (I spent over $25,000 in pool repair & maintenance in the 10 years I owed that pool).

Every year we save up for a big lavish vacation, and a few mini getaways.  Travel perks from reward credit cards supplement our vacation which allows us to spend more on sightseeing and activities, food & drink, and any other add-on treats (afternoon couples massage followed by Champagne).  Through careful planning, we get the first class upgrades on flights, hotels, and other travel experiences.

I love to shop!  I have a weakness for designer shoes, handbags, and clothing.  The majority of my wardrobe comes from 3 stores, and two of them have excellent loyalty programs (free shipping, coupons, discount codes, and other perks).  I regularly purge my closet to keep the overflow in check, but it is full of high-quality up-scale items that I adore.

We spend more money on active entertainment.  This includes annual season tickets to the Symphony, Theatre league, concerts, comedy shows, and other live performances.  We support the arts and have a fantastic evening of quality time, above & beyond the typical dinner & a movie date night.

Charity donations are easier when you do not feel like a charity case yourself.  We are able to donate money directly to our favorite charities, and spend more money on fundraisers and purchases (auction items & raffle tickets).  I have won some amazing prizes through silent auction that I never would have gotten otherwise and supported a good cause.  My 30th birthday party was dinner at Disney’s Club 33 that I won at a silent auction to support Education!

Overall, I splurge on activities and experiences.  There is no maintenance fee or on-going cost for a memory.

Weirdly Frugal – 6 Strategies for Frugal Living

I am fascinated by shopping habits, financial spending, and basic consumer behavior.  I discuss this with friends, family, co-workers, and strangers.  And I have learned that I am weird, and my spending habits are a bit of an outlier.  Basically, I am frugal, but in weird ways that separate me from the coupon cutters and other stereotypical groups depicted on TV.6-ways-to-frugal-livingpractical-advice-for-debt-free-living

What I “give up” by being frugal:

We moved out of and sold our larger home with pool, hot tub, large back yard, and “extra” rooms.  We now live in a much smaller home that perfectly fits our household.  Our small home requires less furniture, less electricity to heat & cool, and less time cleaning it.  The smaller back yard has less patio furniture and a smaller water bill due to desert landscaping and less grass, and we do not pay landscaper or pool maintenance.  The smaller house is the most cost saving change and makes the most impact to monthly budget and unplanned expenses. Continue reading “Weirdly Frugal – 6 Strategies for Frugal Living”

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