Earlier this year, you may have read about NEA Member Benefits’ Dream Vacation Sweepstakes in which members were invited to go online to select the vacation destination of their dreams. Nearly two dozen options were presented, including U.S. cities such as Honolulu and Las Vegas, as well as foreign spots such as Greece’s Mykonos and Sydney, Australia. Member Benefits received close to 7,000 entries to the giveaway. What destination captured the eye of most entrants? Honolulu on Hawaii's island of Oahu.
With the lucky winner selected, NEA Member Benefits reached out to educator Abigail Clockedile, who goes by Abby, to talk about teaching, traveling and where she’ll take her family with her $1,500 prize that will help buy down the cost of a trip purchased through NEA Vacations.
A resident of Mars Hill, Maine, Abby, her husband and two young children will use the prize to plan their ultimate vacation. Abby is in her seventh year of teaching, and is currently a second-grade teacher at Fort Street Elementary in Mars Hill. We spoke to Abby about her dream trip and what travel means to her.
NEA Member Benefits: First of all, congratulations. Pretty exciting!
Abby: I’m still kind of in awe. It’s hard to believe!
NEA Member Benefits: What did you choose as your dream vacation destination?
Abby: Well, we chose a couple. Of course, Hawaii has always been my dream. So Hawaii was one, you know, you always have to check off your dream, right? And then also Florida, because I’m supposed to take my kids to Florida. My son has been begging me to go. So, that might be more of the option that we ultimately choose.
NEA Member Benefits: So, you haven’t fully decided on a destination yet?
Abby: We’ve been looking stuff up ever since we found out. So we’re kind of like, “OK, what stuff is more reasonable with two kids?”
NEA Member Benefits: Yes, going all the way to Hawaii with two little kids can be a major effort! So, if you go to Florida will you bring the whole family?
Abby: I will, yes.
NEA Member Benefits: Where in Florida were you thinking?
Abby: Daytona was an option. Orlando, maybe. Somewhere close to the beach is basically what we want to do. We are tired of Maine’s winter right now. Close to the beach or maybe we’d want to venture out to a park.
NEA Member Benefits: When will you take your trip?
Abby: We were kind of thinking if we go to Florida, we might do an April vacation. We were going to go on vacation for the break in February, and we said, “No, we need to be responsible. We need to pay our bills first.” And then we won the contest!
NEA Member Benefits: What’s the first thing that you’ll do when you arrive to your vacation?
Abby: Oh, definitely hit up the pool or the beach. We, my son and I, love the water so that’s definitely where we’ll be and I’m sure that’s where we’ll be the whole vacation.
NEA Member Benefits: What kind of trips do you usually take?
Abby: Well, we haven’t been on a vacation in eight years, since we’ve been married. We went to Disney down in Florida for our honeymoon. That was our last big trip. Since then, our vacations have consisted of going to Bangor, which is about two hours away, or we might go to New Hampshire which is about six hours away. We did New Hampshire this past summer. We went to a little amusement park called Santa’s Village for my son with all these rides, and Santa Claus was there. I was eight months pregnant.
NEA Member Benefits: What kind of benefits do you think that you get from taking a vacation? How does it help you relax and recharge?
Abby: Teaching is my favorite job. I love teaching. But it is also difficult mentally and physically, it really challenges you in all aspects. It seems like whenever we have our vacations, they come at the right time. Not to have to hurry to get ready, and hurry to be at school on time. I’m constantly trying to keep everybody on track, trying to do this, that, and that… And so, I can just relax. It’s important to recharge and be there fully for your kids once you’re back in school.
NEA Member Benefits: Do you have advice for other teachers and educators about traveling?
Abby: Definitely. Using the NEA Member Benefits website is amazing! You really learn how many perks we are able to get. And as a teacher, where we don’t get these huge salaries and, especially at a small school like mine, it is really important to save all of the money that I can. So, even getting a $50 gift certificate is a big thing for us. Being able to save on hotel or flights through the website is awesome. That would be my biggest thing to take back to my co-workers. Go check out that website. Really use it, because it’s awesome that we have that available to us.
NEA Member Benefits: Being a teacher, how do you feel about traveling? How does travel help kids learn?
Abby: It would be awesome for all of my kids to be able to go travel. We are in Northern Maine, we are very secluded up here. People don’t travel much because we are so far north. You really have to save your money. And there’s a lot of poverty up here because it’s so expensive to live through the winters. A lot of families don’t get a chance to travel. And if they do, they might, like us, just get to go to New Hampshire as a big trip for a family. Just being able to experience other cultures and see the world definitely opens their eyes.
NEA Member Benefits: What do you love most about teaching?
Abby: The kids. I really love kids in general. It’s so much fun getting to interact with them and watching them learn, day in and day out. Like when a kid can’t understand a concept and after three weeks working on that one thing and all of a sudden it’s like the lightbulb goes off. And they’re so excited they got it and we’re so excited and we’re like, “Yay, we totally did it!” and it’s a team effort and it’s awesome when we see that. I love it when they are so excited to come to school and to learn. Knowing it’s their safe place for some of them in the morning.
Inspired by Abby? Start planning your dream vacation
The NEA Travel program offers a suite of benefits, such as NEA Vacations, where members can book hotels and resorts, airfare, cruises and guided vacations at a discount.
Honolulu was the No. 1 destination NEA Members were intrigued by in this sweepstakes. Here’s how to plan a fantastic dream trip to Hawaii.