Thursday, September 21, 2023

After a seven-month deployment, couple is ‘still on vacation’

Making the most of a place where some people can only vacation.

NC1 Christopher Hogan is a Navy career counselor. Consider his job to be like a human services professional, helping employees take advantage of all the Navy has to offer for their rate and rank.

When deployed, Christopher’s office moves from NAS Oceana to the USS George H.W. Bush supercarrier, a ship the length of more than 3 ½ football fields with close to 6,000 service people on board. With people getting out of the Navy, looking to reenlist or putting in requests of all sorts, Hogan is basically working on a floating city.

Meanwhile, back on shore, Christopher’s wife Megan acts as the official point of contact between the ship and around 300 families while the Bush is at sea. She also runs her own marketing company, helping small, local businesses improve connections with their customers.

“What I do is work with people who basically want to figure out how to get their messaging straight,” she explains, “so I work with a lot of financial advisors, realtors, leadership coaches and similar professions.”

Back in January, Christopher shipped out for a seven-month deployment on the Bush. When he goes for stints like this, Megan likes to set up a vacation for them upon his return.

“Last time we went to Hawaii,” Megan says, “but it can be such a pain trying to plan a vacation when you’re the property of the U.S. Government.” 

Megan goes on to explain that the timing of Christopher’s arrival home is never guaranteed; she doesn’t know if he will have enough time or be allowed to go because of his responsibilities with the Navy. On top of that, with Christopher traveling all over the world, he isn’t always excited to jump on a plane right after he just got home. And that’s when it hit her!

“The only thing a vacation is, is eating drinking and shopping in someone else’s home town,” Megan pointed out, “so why don’t we just go on vacation here?”

Megan and Christopher Hogan on a Save30 date night.

Megan and Christopher had become friends with a couple who regularly vacation in Virginia Beach, and they would always comment about how cool it was that they got to live in a town where the couple could only come to vacation.

“This is our second time living here and I feel like we are getting a do-over,” she explained. “Last time I was a supervisor in the Westin in Town Center and I worked so much.” This time, with a better work/life balance allowing them to take advantage of all their hometown has to offer, Megan put her plan into action.

“I filled a photo album with a ton of Save30 gift certificates to places we love, places we’ve been meaning to go to, and a few new spots I’ve never heard of,” said Megan.

“Now, we just go shopping in our book of prepaid date nights and it’s been great not having to think about where to go. We could literally just close our eyes and point,” she said.

Save30 is a program that supports shopping local by providing gift certificates to area favorites at a 30 percent discount. Unlike other “deal” programs, Save30 is focused on connecting locals with local businesses.

“It’s not like Groupon, where you might show up with a $20 certificate and then have to spend $50 more and all the other gimmicks deal programs use,” explained Megan, “It’s a great combination of places to shop from.”

With its focus on local, Megan saved 30 percent on gift certificates to places like Sonoma Town Center, Baker’s Crust, Commune, Todd Jurich’s Bistro and Rockafeller’s, to name only a few. Locals can also save 30 percent on car washes, local breweries, massages and cool experiences like iFly.

“When [Christopher] is deployed, he doesn’t eat his fair share of the grocery budget,” Megan laughed, “so I was saving, and could do this with half as much money than it would cost to go away on vacation. So instead of going away for like five days, we’re still on vacation.”

Megan says when she and her husband go out, they throw the album full of certificates in the car, or in the basket on her bike and then they are able to make a last-minute decision while still saving money.

Save30 supports local shopping with discounted certificates to area favorites.

“Often, we never know where we are going til we get there, so it makes for fun date nights or weekends that are prepaid. So, we just get out the book and take it from there,” she said. One day they ended up touring both the Back Bay Brewing Company and Chesapeake Bay Distillery before deciding on where to eat.

Her husband’s reaction to the gift? “This is really a cool idea,” smiled Christopher.

“This is our do-over,” Megan says in reference to not enjoying the area enough when she and Christopher lived here before. “We realize how quickly time goes by when you are here – by using Save30 I was making our commitment to explore and enjoy the whole area.”

Christopher recently left on another, shorter deployment on an exercise called Bold Alligator. While he is gone, Megan is looking to replenish their stock of Save30 certificates and extend the vacation.

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