Meet Monica from Planner at Heart

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Thanks for joining this interview with Monica from Planner at Heart.

I’m Monica—truly a planner at heart! That’s why my blog is Planner at Heart. For over a decade I planned high caliber, detail orientated events in New York City and Los Angeles as part of my Corporate PR job and it was a natural match with my personality. I’m a New York Tri-State area transplant (Virginia Native & Rutgers Alumni now living in New Jersey). I’m always amazed at the endless amount of things to do in this region. On my new blog, I bring my planning love for both local adventures around the New York Tri-State region and to fellow timeshare owners wherever you may be! 

You can keep up with Monica’s adventures on Planner at Heart by following along on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter!

How long have you been blogging for?

I launched my blog in May of 2020. So, just a hot second ago! 

Fifteen years ago we bought a timeshare in The Catskills, a mostly undeveloped mountain and forest area rich with hiking,  skiing, and history close to several major cities in the Northeast. If you’ve watched “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” you know what I’m talking about. 

We’ve enjoyed almost 50 trips to The Catskills skiing, hiking, and eating with our friends over the years.

However, once we started a family and added our little kids to the mix, it was surprisingly difficult to locate toddler activities in The Catskills.

The amount of time it took to pull together vacation activity ideas for them from various  ‘family sources’ for our first trip was pretty shocking!

Four years ago, I proclaimed I should write a blog to make this easier for families with little kids, but alas, better late than never, right?

couple smiling by the water

Also about 4 years ago, we rejoined the leading Timeshare Exchange network to exchange weeks from our Catskills timeshare for vacations at other timeshare resorts. Holy moly was there a super steep learning curve!

The information one needs to be successful at this is spaced out ALL over the place –  Facebook groups, forums, YouTube, etc. 

After joining many owners groups to learn how to do timeshare exchanges, I saw many, many others posting ( pretty much daily) looking for help getting started as well. 

With over 9 million timeshare owners in the U.S., there are a lot of people to serve. 

That’s why my blog has a special section devoted to Timeshare Vacations with all its beauty and quirks!

As a timeshare owner of 15 years, I’ve created a section giving owner-to-owner free tutorials on how to use the leading timeshare trading exchange network PLUS my tips and tricks to do this successfully! I’m like your ‘Timeshare Fairy Godmother.’ 

My blog will include modern, theme-specific guides on how to leverage timeshare ownership and membership with the largest timeshare exchange company to go on bucket-list trips. 

The first guide “Timeshare to National Parks” is a unique, exclusive offering that pairs 277 Timeshare Resort options near 44 U.S. National Parks so timeshare owners can easily see 70% of these Parks with Timeshare Exchanging. 

Do you have any new travel bloggers?

As a brand new blogger myself, I keep saying in my head “Keep going – Rome wasn’t built in a day!” 

What’s one thing you wish you knew when you started traveling?

It’s never going to be perfect! Don’t let the travel bumps get to you and enjoy the time you have in a place.  

woman by a bike smiling by rocks

Why do you love to travel?

There is just so much to see out there! Even within a 5-hour driving radius of where I live, there are so many cool places to go from the mountains to the coast! 

What’s your best and worst travel experience?

My best travel experience was probably my first big, epic trip. When I was 16,  I spent 8 weeks traveling all over Europe singing American music with my best friend in the American Music Abroad program. 

I haven’t had any really horrible travel experiences, but perhaps the funniest one was when I was 9, we went on a trip to the Big Island of Hawaii ( we lived in Oahu at the time), and somehow neither of my parents remembered to bring our suitcases!

By the time they figured it out we were already at the airport and didn’t have time to go home to get them. We bought clothes and swimsuits from the little shop in our Hilton hotel when we arrived. 

Do you prefer solo travel or traveling with other people?

I’ve always enjoyed traveling with other people. However, now that I’m a mom to two young kids I can totally see the perks of a solo getaway!

What’s your favorite place you’ve ever been to?

band performing live

Oh geez, I don’t think I could pick one! One of my more recent favorite places is Charleston, North Carolina.

We went on an “adult spring break” trip with two other couples and left all of our kids at home with grandparents. It was an amazing vacation! The food and drink scene is world-class.

We ate ridiculously well at every single meal. One of the highlights of our trip was going to an 80s concert at a local music venue called The Pourhouse. It was outside of the tourist area and introduced us to an 80s cover band called Electric Avenue who I’m now obsessed with. 

What’s your biggest travel tip?

When you’re in a place talk to the people who live there! Ask where you should eat and what you should do. We’ve got some fantastic recommendations this way!

Is there one specific thing you like to do, see, or buy in every place you visit?

ornaments on a blue tree

Christmas tree ornaments or things that can be hung on a tree such as keychains. It’s a tradition in my family that every person has their own tree. As an adult, I started buying travel ornaments for my own tree, and now my kids’ trees are filled with mementos of the places we travel.

Everything from weekend road trips to extended family vacations is marked by ornaments on their tree.  Not every place sells ornaments, but you can always find keychains or bottle openers, and they hang on a tree branch nicely too! 

What’s the best food you’ve tried while traveling?

bowl of soup

When we went to Japan on our Babymoon, we ate at Ippudo Ramen cafes more than once. It was the best ramen of my life! We haven’t been able to score a table at the semi-new one they opened in New York City, but we’ll keep on trying. 


Plane or train? Plane

Hotel or hostel? Hotel

City or nature? City

Popular site or off the beaten path? Off the beaten path

Suitcase or backpack? Suitcase

Fast travel or slow travel? Slow

Professional camera or phone photography? iPhone

Warm or cold weather? Warm all the way!!

All photos used throughout this post are taken by Monica from Planner at Heart.

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