“Vacation, all I ever wanted…”

Good Morning and Happy Wednesday, everyone!

By the time you read this, I’ll be up in the air and en route to fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada for a week away with my West Coast Wife, Kelsey! We’re grabbing lunch at our favorite spot on the strip before we make our way even further West to San Diego for a couple of days to catch a White Lies show and relax by the beach.

It’s a few days of sunshine, rest and relaxation that are long overdue for me given how busy I’ve been lately with my job(s) and my upcoming move to the Valley within the next week. I just need a little bit of time to unwind and not worry about things at the office, packing my things, replacing furniture, etc. I’m so excited!

I’m always packed early, and people have asked me how I’m able to prepare for a trip so efficiently given how busy I am most of the time- and I always say it’s because of a three-day, pre-travel packing/preparation plan I developed after years and years of waiting until the last minute and frantically throwing whatever I could grab into a suitcase the morning of a cross-country trip.

I just couldn’t keep doing it like that anymore- especially since I would almost always forget something important- so the system I developed (with plenty of practice) has been a life-saver! I thought I’d share it here, as well- in case anyone else has ever found themselves in the procrastination boat.

72 Hours Before Your Trip:
  1. Check the forecast where you’re going to keep track of any last minute changes in the temperatures, impending storms, weather advisories, etc.
  2. Begin planning your wardrobe/accessories (if possible, on a day-by-day basis) with consideration to the weather and start doing laundry to make sure everything is clean, dry, ironed or folded by the time it comes to pack!
  3. Make a checklist of toiletries, makeup or skin/hair care that you might be running low on and make an effort to replenish those items within the next 48 hours!
48 Hours Before Your Trip:
  1. Begin packing your shoes, clothes and accessories so you’ll be aware of how much space you have in your suitcase- as well as how much it weights- since some airlines will charge extra for oversize/heavier luggage.
  2. Prepare a travel itinerary to forward to a family member/loved one- just in case of an emergency or if you find yourself stranded during a layover or at your destination for whatever reason. It’s always a good idea to let someone know where you’ll be/where you’re supposed to be in case you need help!
  3. Notify your bank/credit card companies that you’re traveling so you’ll be able to access your funds without issue. The sooner, the better- since it may take a bank/financial institution 24-48 hours to place a notice on your account(s.)
24 Hours Before Your Trip:
  1. If possible, check into your flight to save yourself wait time at the airport/gate. It may also help you secure priority boarding, or in some instances- a better seat!
  2. Pack up your toiletries, skin/hair care in a waterproof bag (just in case!) to put into your suitcase with your previously packed clothes, shoes and accessories. By the way- don’t forget any chargers for your devices!
  3. Lay out the COMFORTABLE outfit you intend to wear to the airport the day of travel- that way you’re not stuck tearing apart your suitcase filled with freshly folded clothing!
  4. Be sure to take a little cash to carry with you while you’re en route to your destination. It doesn’t have to be an obscene, extravagant amount- but enough to cover a cup of coffee or some chap stick so you don’t have to use your credit/debit card at layovers. These sorts of purchases can trigger a security alert on your account and cause issues moving forward.
  5. Pack your carry-on with the essentials- moisturizer, earbuds, sunglasses, a phone charger, a good book/magazine and some gum. All TSA-approved!
  6. Get some sleep! There’s nothing worse than having to go to the airport when you’ve pulled an all-nighter and the exhaustion is creeping up on you while you’re waiting to have your shoes screened by security.

And that’s my guide for a relatively stress-free pre-travel prep! I hope it helps any of you the way it’s helped me over these past couple of years!

I’ll be sure to check in a little later on this week during some downtime from my, well- other downtime- and I’ll have plenty of photos to share here and on my social media (like my Instagram!) so be sure to check back!

Enjoy the rest of your “Hump Day”, everyone! See you all soon!

xx

– Ashley –

Summer Wind Down…

Good Morning and Happy Friday, everyone! Today couldn’t have come fast enough for me!

It’s been a busy and, admittedly- pretty stressful week at work- with a lot of overtime, late nights, and earlier-than-I-care-to-think-about mornings. I’m excited to have a half day at my office today, and am rather looking forward to getting a proper night’s sleep over the course of this weekend. I really, really need it!

I hate to say it, but Summer is coming to an end- and in a couple of weeks we’re going to be into September, Labor Day, and the beginning of all things Fall. Although it’s my favorite season and I have plenty planned around New England to savor every moment of it- I’m a little sad to be saying farewell to the Summertime. I’m going to miss long days, late nights at the beach, bonfires and BBQs.

Of course, the pressure is on to squeeze as much last-minute Summertime fun into the schedule as possible- which can cause some serious stress and FOMO to those, like me- who work a lot- so I’ve compiled a handy little guide that has benefited me over the past few years when it comes time to put the flip flops away and start shopping for cute boots and sweaters again.

KEEP TRACK OF YOUR VACATION TIME/PTO

If you’re itching to take a few days off from work, plan a trip, etc. and you know you’ve got earned (and owed!) vacation time left to use up at your job- ask for a print-out or a written record of how many hours/days/weeks you have for your personal file and reference- and go from there!

In my case, I have about 3 weeks of unused time at my company that I can take- whenever I want- before the end of the year, and although I’d been saving a good chunk of that time for October and Halloween-related festivities- I plan on using a couple of days within the next 2-3 weeks for some stress-free beach days and pool lounging.

Once you have a better idea of how much time you have at your disposal, making plans is a *lot* easier!

TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THOSE LATE SUMMER FARES

With students heading back to school and classes starting up shortly (if they haven’t done so already!) many popular tourist destinations and vacation hot spots are going to be a lot less crowded than they were throughout June and July. If you’re thinking of taking a day trip, a weekend away- or a full-blown vacation- now is the time!

And when it comes to saving some money for booking flights or hotels- you’re in luck- because September is typically when fares are at the lowest (especially for those trying to book trips around the holidays!) so keep an eye out for weekly sales- they typically go into effect on Tuesdays and run through Thursdays- to compare prices and save some serious cash.

MAKE A LIST- AND CHECK IT TWICE

No, not the type of list where you’re keeping track of nice and naughty kids- I’m talking about a list of the places/things/activities you want to do before the end of the Summer. I use my notepad app on my phone to help me out when I’m planning day trips. I list what I want to do/see- ranked from what I absolutely and 100% have to get done before Fall arrives to what I can wait to do ’til next Summer- and where each of these places/things are located.

Then, when I’m on the road of planning my day off adventures- I can check the list, see what’s left, and go from there! For example, the other night while traveling to Easthampton- I crossed “get a milkshake at Cindy’s Drive-In” off my list. It’s a little roadside 50s style food stand that remains open throughout the Spring and Summertime only- and I had been dying to go since passing by it last month!

I had one of their German Chocolate Milkshakes- and it was awesome.

GET A HEAD START ON THE FALL DE-CLUTTER

I’m not saying you have to pack up your swimsuits and put your shorts in storage right this minute- but now is the perfect time to begin easing your way into your Fall wardrobe and/or makeup as painlessly as possible.

Those wedge sandals you wore to your cousin’s wedding last month but haven’t touched since? Those can be packed up. The Patriotic tee you tossed on for the 4th of July festivities? Into the closet it can go. How about the aqua eyeliner you’ve been wearing every day since Memorial Day that has been worn down to nearly nothing? Yeah, that can get tossed until you buy a new one next Summer.

As you wear your late Summer outfits- ask yourself when you plan to wear them again before the Fall. If there’s no definitive answer- wash them or have them dry-cleaned and pack them away ’til next year!

This doesn’t just apply to clothing/makeup, either. Every year around this time, I go through my e-mail inbox to unsubscribe from mailing lists and advertisements from companies/businesses I haven’t bought anything from/visited in a long time. That restaurant I made an online reservation with back in June but haven’t returned to since? That clothing company I bought a couple of sundresses from for backyard BBQs and who have been e-mailing me 5 times a day ever since? Yeah. No thanks.

As I get the alerts- I’ll go in, so who the e-mail is from- and if it’s not anything I’m interested in, I unsubscribe. If a company/business is persistent, even after I’ve requested they cease e-mailing me promotions- the trusty block feature works wonders!

This sort of de-cluttering is especially helpful leading up to the holidays, when e-mail advertisements go into hyperactive mode. I like to get it done early!

STAY HYDRATED AND WEAR SPF.

I think this one goes without saying. Summer might be ending- but that doesn’t mean the hotter days are going to be over and done with anytime soon. Remember to drink lots of water and wear lots of sunscreen.

And finally-

DON’T BEAT YOURSELF UP IF YOU DON’T ACCOMPLISH ALL YOUR PLANS

So that camping trip in the mountains didn’t pan out as expected and you didn’t get around to signing up for those surfing lessons you swore you’d try way back in the Spring. Relax. Life happens and not everything we want to do or plan to do can go right 100% of the time. We may have the best intentions- but that doesn’t mean work or family or personal matters are going to just go along with those intentions.

If you didn’t accomplish everything on your Summer ’18 “To-Do” list- it’s okay. A lot of outdoor activities are just as much fun in the Fall (maybe even moreso since it won’t be so hot out and there won’t be as many bugs!) and worst case scenario? You add it to the top of your list for Summer 2019! It’s not the end of the world.

Just grab a final scoop of ice cream before it’s gone and enjoy the last of these long, late and lazy days!

_______________________________

Those are just some of my tips/tricks to making the most out of these final days of Summer. As always, if you have tips of your own- feel free to drop me a line or leave a comment and share what you do to wind down for the end of the Summer!

But that does it for me this week. I’m going to wrap up a few things at my office and then head out to hit the town- and the coast!

Enjoy your Friday, everyone- and have a safe and wonderful weekend! I’ll see you all on Monday!

xx

– Ashley –

Car Accident Management 101

Ouch. 4/13/18

Good Morning and Happy Monday, everyone!

And a Happy Patriot’s Day to my fellow Massachusetts folks who have the day off from work/school today. For those of you participating in the Boston marathon- good luck! To those heading to Boylston Street to watch from the sidelines- have fun, stay warm- and be safe!

Heading down to the marathon had actually been on my itinerary for today, but unfortunately I was involved in a car accident this past Friday afternoon (the 13th! Go figure!) on my way home from work when another driver pulled from a stop sign and struck the rear, driver’s side door of my car as I was proceeding in the roadway. The impact was substantial enough to cause some pretty gnarly damages and temporary pain to my shoulder and neck. The damage remains- but my shoulder and neck are thankfully fine as I type this.

Now, I’ve been in a couple of accidents in the past- but it was usually as a passenger in someone else’s car, or the impact was so minimal that there were no damages or injuries. For example, a couple of years ago someone tapped my bumper while they were attempting to straighten their car out in a parking space behind me- and I didn’t even bother calling my insurance company because it was so insignificant.

But Friday’s accident marked the first time I’d ever been involved in a collision where I was driving my own car and there were significant dents/scratches/issues after the fact. I was fortunately able to drive my car home from the scene without issues- but my hubcap snapped. The hatch to my gas tank was pushed in and needed to be pried open with a screwdriver in order for me to fill my tank on Saturday morning. My rear, driver’s side door opens/closes a little funny. Long story short- it needs to be repaired- and claims had to be filed. It’s a lengthy, exhausting process- and one I’m all too familiar with given my job title.

So instead of cheering the marathon runners on this morning- I’ll be getting my car appraised, making arrangements to get it repaired, obtain a rental vehicle, and providing statements to the Adjusters from my own insurance company and the other driver’s carrier in the hopes of getting this resolved as quickly as possible.

Working in insurance/claims has actually been beneficial to me throughout the past few days while I made the necessary calls/contacts and gathered the appropriate evidence to present to the Adjusters- and although I had wanted to share a fun recipe this morning before I headed out for the day- I thought I’d provide some of my tips/tricks to surviving the post-accident process to those of you who may have never had to go through this very same experience (and I truly hope you’ll never have to!) or have gone through it- but may have been flustered throughout everything.

It happens fairly often- believe me!

IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWING THE ACCIDENT:

1. Stay calm and composed: Unless you or a passenger have been seriously injured- in which case getting medical attention takes priority- going from 0 to extremely pissed off is a pretty common reaction following an accident. This is especially true if said accident wasn’t your fault- but you need to remain calm. Take a couple of deep breaths. If you can move your car somewhere safe and out of the way of traffic before you exit your vehicle and speak with the other driver/passengers, do it.

Losing your cool, flipping out on the other driver, or otherwise working yourself into a frenzy can cause you to forget to do crucial steps or gather important information like obtaining names, license plate numbers, contact info, etc. It can also work against you if police are called to the scene and they have to write down in their report/narrative that you were losing your mind at the scene.

Just keep in mind that accidents happen. People make mistakes- and the other driver is probably just as upset as you are. Even if they’re being aggressive, rude, confrontational, or throwing a fit- keep it together. I was fortunate in my accident (a strange sentence to type) in that the other driver was incredibly polite, apologetic, and eager to assist.

2. Get ALL the information. Take ALL the photos- and not just of your own damage: A common mistake I see from insureds at my job is that they don’t get important information or take photos at the scene/of the damages to both vehicles involved- which can assist an Adjuster SO much- especially if liability is being disputed by the other driver or their insurance carrier.

Get photos of everything- their registration, their license plate, their driver’s license, the damages to your own vehicle, the damages to the other vehicle, the street/location where the accident happened from different angles (just be safe!) Anything that will help paint the picture of the events leading up to, during, and following the accident when your claim gets assigned to an Adjuster. They’ll want to see points of impact on both cars, the layout of the street, etc. so they can complete an accurate and thorough analysis of the claim and better assist you.

When speaking to the other driver, be sure to get their phone number (insurance companies will want it in order to make contact with everyone involved- and having it on hand saves them the trouble of having to mail a contact letter.) If there are any witnesses- get their full names, addresses, and phone numbers in case they need to be contacted to provide statements. Get the responding Police Officer’s full name and badge number- even if he/she tells you it will be on their report. Get it anyway.

And if you’re not sure if the information is necessary or not? Write it down anyway. You never know.

3. If you’re not okay- admit it and speak up: Immediately following an accident, adrenaline usually kicks in and any potential injuries might not be noticeable right away until after the fact when you’ve had a chance to decompress and relax a bit- and only then you might notice you’re not feeling so great and want to get checked out by a Doctor. In my case, I didn’t start feeling pain until late Friday night and into Saturday morning when my left shoulder and neck- which had been jerked side to side during the impact- started to feel a little stiff and sore. It has since resolved itself with some light stretches and a couple of doses of ibuprofen.

However, if you’re in noticeable or substantial pain at the scene of the accident- or if you’re feeling too rattled to drive your vehicle to your destination safely- say something. Tell a responding officer, or a witness, or call a friend/loved one to come and help you. Do NOT ignore it and do NOT attempt to drive if you don’t think you can. Getting into a second accident right after the first is not a good look for anyone. There’s no shame in getting help if you need it.

REPORTING THE CLAIM TO INSURANCE COMPANIES:

1. Report the claim as soon as you can, and stay patient while you do: I always recommend calling in a car accident claim as soon as possible- while details are still fresh in your mind- to get them assigned accordingly and processed ASAP to cut down on unnecessary waiting time to get your vehicle repaired, medical bills paid, etc.

The sooner, the better- but be sure that you’re calm and you’ve got the time/patience to talk to the companies at length and provide as much information as possible. It can be daunting- especially knowing that you’ll have to do it more than once (reporting it to your own carrier, and then the other driver’s carrier, and so forth…) but it will ultimately save you a lot of aggravation moving forward.

Also, sidebar- but if the person taking down the information about your accident/damages doesn’t get something right (in my case, it was the location and the actual accident description)– do NOT be afraid to repeat yourself again, and again, and again if necessary- in order to make sure the facts surrounding the accident are being reported and relayed correctly.

2. Write everything down: Much like you did at the scene of the accident- documenting everything you discuss with the insurance companies is crucial, too. Who did you report the claim to? What’s your claim number? Your Adjuster’s name and telephone number? The other driver’s claim number? The other driver’s Adjuster’s information? Appraisal numbers? Contact numbers for the appraiser? Rental confirmation codes? The list goes on.

It’s a lot of information- and you’re going to have to refer to it more than once- so if you take clearly labeled and detailed notes, you’ll be doing yourself a huge favor in the long haul. Keeping the claim information on hand means you don’t have to waste so much time talking to automated answering services of dodging the run around with company operators. You can be connected- and quickly- to representatives and Adjusters who will be able to pull up the claim and assist you moving forward!

AFTER YOU REPORT THE CLAIM:

1. Be patient: From experience, it’s frustrating to have someone report a claim and then call the assigned Adjuster an hour later wondering why nothing has been done for their vehicle damage/injuries. Chances are, your Adjuster is reviewing your policy, confirming your coverage, making the necessary contacts and assigning the correct appraisers/team members to work on a claim with them.

Give them a chance to familiarize themselves with your accident before you start blowing their phone/e-mail up with questions and concerns. If you still haven’t heard anything within two business days after reporting an accident- then absolutely make contact- but other than that? Chill.

2. Read each form you receive in the mail- and cooperate with any investigations: It’s standard procedure for insurance companies to send out forms and seek statements from drivers involved in accidents- especially if there’s disputes in liability or conflicting stories. As frustrating as it is- cooperate fully with all companies investigating the accident and be prompt with returning calls, completed paperwork, etc.

The more efficient and upfront you are, the better the outcome and the quicker the results. A lot of times when claim handling gets held up or delayed- it’s because one of the involved parties is slacking or being unresponsive. Don’t be that person. Be the person who is helpful and on top of things.

3. If it’s too much for you to handle- seek out some help: Your insurance company is there to help you out during stressful times like accidents and injuries- so never be afraid to reach out to your own Adjuster to ask any questions that come to mind or check in/monitor your claim status. Many companies also offer helpful resources on their websites, as well- so utilizing those can make all the difference.

And I say this as an absolute last resort- but obtaining an Attorney/Legal Representative is also an option if you’d rather have someone handle all the paperwork on your behalf (and potentially take a good chunk of any settlements you receive.) It’s entirely up to you, of course- and how much of the work you’re willing to do yourself.

4. Take some time to treat yourself/do something good for your morale: Listen, car accidents are an ordeal in themselves- and dealing with the aftermath can wear you out. Don’t forget to take care of yourself. Eat a nice meal. Watch a funny movie. Get your nails done or buy a video game to keep yourself entertained.

Whatever it takes to get you feeling good, less stressed and like yourself again- go for it!

I hope those help anyone who find themselves in my current predicament down the line. Despite my schedule getting botched up as a result of this accident- I’m surprisingly calm and optimistic about the whole thing right now. Things happen, and sometimes those things aren’t exactly ideal- but thankfully no one was seriously injured and I can still drive my car to/from work right now- so it could always be worse.

I’m off to get these tasks done- but I hope everyone has a great Monday!

xx

– Ashley –