Trip Details & Tips: Dominican Republic

The boyfriend and I decided we desperately needed a vacation this last November. We chose to take our adventure on the island of Dominican Republic. First off I want to say, we had the time of our lives! Our first major trip together was a success.

Chicago was our take-off destination. We live in Iowa, so a 4 hour drive there wasn’t too bad. We made sure to have a mixed CD made for the roadtrip. Coffee in hand, we were on our way! The cost of parking at this particular airport is $50+ dollars a day to park your car. We found that doing a park & fly was the cheapest way to go. Plus you get a one night hotel stay as well. We decided we wanted to take that one night hotel stay before the departure date. We relaxed, went out to eat, and got prepared to leave bright and early in the morning!

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We took a chance on going on a Apple Vacation 5 Star Square Deal. What this meant was that we paid a much lower rate on going on this vacation. There were 12 different 5 star hotels they could have chose for us. They would let us know where we were staying once we got to the airport before take off. We really didn’t care too much about where we were staying, so thought this would be a great steal for us. We knew that all the 5 star All Inclusive Resorts would be nice anyways. We got selected to stay at RIU Bambu in Punta Cana.

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We fell in love with the resort. We loved the beach, the staff, the room, and of course the drinks! The RIU is a chain of hotels along the Domincan Republic beach line. If you stay at one, you are free to go to others and enjoy their drinks as well. It was nice to go and see the other resorts and see what they had to offer. We went on a couple of excursions while we were there for the week. We went on an outback safari, which included going to a local school, touring a common home in the Domincan community, and having an authentic meal prepared for us.

We heard that taking an excursion over to the other side of the island to see the gigantic star fish was a must – so we did that as well. It definitely didn’t disappoint! Long day for sure, but well worth it.

A couple things we learned on this trip:

*Never underestimate how hot the sun is – it was cloudy, very cloudy one day and thought – “oh well, we don’t need as much sunscreen.” Definitely wrong. I tan pretty easily, but always needed to have some sunscreen on at all times when outside. I burned of course on the day it was cloudy.

* The bartenders know who the tippers are – They take note and pay attention to the ones who tip them. They won’t forget you! We tipped one of the bartenders from the get-go. The drinks were stronger and were made a whole heck of a lot better! It was well worth it to us. I feel like they really skimp on the alcohol otherwise.

* Bartering – we went shopping on a mini strip mall a little ways from our hotel. The Dominicans will come off very forceful trying to sell you anything and everything from their store. There wasn’t one thing we bought that we didn’t end up bartering down. At one point, I had walked away saying no thanks, but they came back and went down on the price even more.

*Make sure you have extra room in your suitcase – taking back souvenirs would be impossible without allowing some extra space in your suitcase. We brought back a couple of handpainted canvases, a couple sculptures, and some odd and ends things. Between some space in my carry on and some room in the suitcase, everything fit!

*Sign up for your meal reservations as soon as possible – Usually at all-inclusives, they will have specialty restaurants to choose from. The only way to eat at those will be to sign up during the day. You will usually have the option to sign up for a couple days in advance (RIU Bambu does it this way). They fill up fast, so getting down there towards the beginning of the day will be best to get the time slot you want.

*Make sure the men in your life bring along long pants – Some of the specialty restaurants at these resorts will have strict rules on dress code. They sometimes require that men wear long pants (no jeans) to dinner.

*50 lb weight limit on checked bags – On the way home, my bag was overweight. I had to rearrange some of my stuff over to my boyfriends bag and some into my carry on. It was quite the hassle, so next time I will make it a point to make sure it is under that 50 lb mark.

I have and will always book through Resort Web Deals. Yes they are my parents! They own a business together and have been doing this for the last 15 years. They have so graciously offered to give Uniquely Women Readers a discount on their vacation. Once on their website, just enter in the promo code – “loyal123” – after you have chosen the destination of your choice!

Would love to discuss our trip with you & would love to hear about your vacation experiences! We are always looking for our next vacation spot! Just comment at the bottom of this page and I will be sure to get back to you!


Spring Essentials Under $30

If you ask me, this winter weather has gone on long enough! While we have a blizzard going on outside right now in Iowa, I’m inside posting about my favorite spring essentials from Forever 21 this season! AND all under $30. If you cant tell I’m a big fan this spring of mint & gold together – and floral prints.

Crafts Thrifty-Thursdays

Decorating With Thrift Store Finds

The thrill of the search – the hunt for decorating treasures that cost little to nothing. Searching flea markets, garage sales, & thrift stores for items to transform to your own style gets me excited!

I am often asked how I find good stuff all the time. They say, “I go into a thrift store and everything is junk, I can’t find anything worth buying.” I have found a lot of goodies lately, and wanted to share my strategy in finding “good” items at a thrift store to decorate with.

Tips/Tricks – Thrifting:

*Keep your mind open to anything & everything – I rarely go into a thrift store looking for something specific, because more than likely you are not going to find it.

*The good stuff goes fast – Knowing when the particular store puts their new stuff out is beneficial to you. When they get new deliveries/items, you will have a better chance of being able to bring that treasure home with you.

*Look for items you can clean up easily – one of my favorite things to go for is a wood item. They are easy to quickly spray paint and look 100 times better. A little spray paint goes a long way. If you can easily paint/clean with soap and water – you are set to go!

*Don’t overlook an item – Just because you don’t like the color it is – that is an easy fix that you can quickly change. As long as it has a good backbone and structure to the piece, that is all that really matters when thrifting.

*Keep at it – Just because you can’t find an item one day, more than likely another store or the same store a month later will have what you are looking for. Patience is a virtue.

I want to do a thrift store find every Thursday. This is week #1! To start this off, I will post some recent finds and how I decorated with them. Would love to hear what you do with your finds!

– $1.50 wood frame spray painted grey. Added some chicken wire ($6 for a roll – could make 8-10 frames with all that material) to the back and voila! The small clothespins were easy for me to hang pictures/postcards/notes, etc. Made great Christmas presents this year!

– $2 mug holder. Could also be used as a bracelet/necklace stand as well. Options are endless. Side note – really lovin this coffee mug, on my TO BUY list!

-$4 The lady at the thrift store told me it was a vase – but I decided it would make a great utensil holder! Even matches my candle warmer. I love how these treasures can be anything. One person might view it one way, but another see a completely different use for the same item!

– $1 wooden rack. We like our wine and hate getting rid of our used bottles. This was a nice place to store them (along with some full ones). Looks nice right on top of our hutch.

Stay tuned for next weeks treasures! Happy thrifting!