Caravan Sonnet

8/16/18

5 Important Tips for Traveling With a Chronic Illness

One of the most frequently asked questions that I receive is how I travel with a Chronic Illness and how I traveled in the past while I was very sick with Lyme and Cancer (and other health issues). 99% of the travels that I have done while blogging have been for work, and yet I still receive this question quite frequently. Today on the blog I wanted to share with y'all a few different posts that I have written that address this topic and hope that it will be an encouragement to those who are struggling with a chronic illness or chronic pain and long to travel. 
Three years ago I answered the statement that I get (even more frequently than the "but you don't look sick" comment) and my thoughts behind trying to live life despite being seriously ill. One of the things that I have learned is that those that love you and are in your "tribe" are going to support you and cheer you on and others are going to criticize... no matter what you choose to do. So choose to live dear friends - choose to live. (You can read my post from 2015 HERE).
For those who are looking for a way to travel - I have found that cruising is one of the easiest ways to accommodate those with a Chronic Illness. (The picture above is from a 2016 Disney cruise that I took with my sister for work and it was phenomenal!) It truly can be a stress free way to enjoy a vacation and tailor it to meet your individual needs. I have shared a lot about cruising here on the blog, but for those who are looking for specific tips on how to cruise with a Chronic Illness you may find my post, 10 Tips for Cruising with a Chronic Illness helpful. (You can find it HERE).
#3-Speaking of Disney in #2, it is one of the best places to go if you are struggling with an illness. It can be overwhelming in ways and it was a learning experience, but it truly can be a wonderful option to help tailor certain needs and dietary restrictions. I have shared a lot about Disney here on the blog, but for those who are looking for specific tips on how to enjoy Disney with a chronic illness you may find my post, 10 Tips for Enjoying Disney with a Chronic Illness helpful. (You can find it HERE). #4- If you are looking for more specific Disney park posts you can find my post, 4 Tips for Enjoying Animal Kingdom with a Chronic Illness HERE. Stay tuned as a post about Epcot is coming soon on the blog!
As I have continued to heal I have now expanded my work trips to include an overseas trip (the Rhine River Cruise I did in December and January) and two long and wonderful road trips (a trip through New England, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia and my recent trip to Alaska). Both of these trips taught me some important lessons (especially the last one!) and I can't wait to share more, but in the meantime I hope that my post, 10 Tips for Thriving on a Long Road Trip with a Chronic Illness will be helpful. (You can find it HERE).

I hope that you found these 5 tips helpful for traveling with a chronic illness friends! Happy Thursday! I hope you have a wonderful day! 

Travel Talk: How To Explore Any Area On Foot

When it comes to travelling, naturally you want to get as much out of your trip as possible, which is why you most probably always plan your itinerary out before you jet off so that you can fit everything in. An increasingly popular way to see new areas is on foot, rather than via public transport, because many travellers believe not only is it cheaper but also safer.

If you have a trip planned soon and are considering getting behind the ‘travelling on foot’ trend, then you might want to consider having a read of the tips and advice below. Travelling around new areas on foot can be an amazing way to explore, but it’s vital that you are clued up about how to do so safely.
Image credit
Don’t go alone
It’s best that you never explore a new place alone. If you want to walk around an area that you are staying in and see what the area has to offer, it’s a good idea to buddy up with someone and explore together. The fact is that unless you know the area, you have no idea where you should and shouldn’t go, you don’t know where it’s safe to explore and where it isn’t, and for this reason, traveling in twos or larger groups is an excellent way to stay safe when seeing new places.

Take a map
Whether you are only planning on heading off on a short walk or not, always make sure to pack a map and a compass too. That way, should you end up wandering off the beaten track or going further than you expected, you should be able to find your way back to where you are based. If you plan on exploring an area on foot and don’t know how to map read, it’s a good idea to learn beforehand.

Wear comfortable shoes
If you are going to enjoy exploring new places on foot, it’s crucial that you wear the right footwear. What you don’t want is to be walking along in flip-flops, getting sore, blistered feet. That’s why it is essential that you invest in a good quality pair of shoes for walking in, such as Biopods, for instance. Make sure that any shoes you buy, you wear in before you start exploring so that you can ensure that they are comfortable enough for you when walking a long distance.

Be prepared
It’s essential that you always take a backpack with you when you are exploring and that you are always prepared for anything. In your backpack have a first aid kit, a torch, a jumper, spare socks, water, snacks, and anything else that you think you could possibly need while exploring - the idea is to be prepared for anything.

Travelling on foot can be a great way to look around a new town or city, but it’s essential that you are properly prepared to do so. Hopefully, the guide above has given you all of the information that you need to make exploring any area on foot fun, enjoyable and safe.

This may be a contributed post but all of the thoughts I agree with and match the tone of my blog.

8/15/18

The Cologne Cathedral (Exterior) // Germany

Happy Wednesday Friends! I hope that your week is off to a wonderful start! I am taking a brief break today from sharing about my Alaska trip to share one of a few remaining posts that I have from the Rhine River Cruise that my mom and I took in December and January. Today I am so excited to share a little bit about the beautiful and amazing exterior of the Cologne Cathedral (or Kolner Dom as it is called in German) that we visited on our 5th day of our River Cruise. 

Back in June I shared that on our 5th day of our Rhine River cruise we had the amazing opportunity to spend the morning cruising the Middle Rhine River. (You can read about the first part of our scenic cruising HERE and the second part HERE!) Then we spent the afternoon and early evening exploring the beautiful city of Cologne, Germany before spending the rest of the day at the Cologne Cathedral. (You can read more about a walk through historic cologne HERE.)
As a quick background the Cologne Cathedral is a renowned monument with a ton of amazing history that spans several centuries and was declared a world heritage site in 1996. It is Germany's most visited landmark of all time with the average number of visitors being nearly 20,000 people each day! It is also the tallest twin-spired church (515 feet tall) in the world. 
Construction of the Cologne Cathedral began in 1248, but was stopped in 1473 leaving it unfinished. Nearly four hundred years went by before work was resumed on this beautiful cathedral and it was finally completed (according to the original plan from the 13th century) in 1880. 
The Cologne Cathedral is the largest Gothic church in Northern Europe and has the largest facade of any church in the world. The only word that I can think of when we walked up and approached the cathedral is absolutely stunning. We simply stood there in awe of the building and also the way the cathedral has withstood the test of many things over its existence.
Interestingly when the cathedral was being built, it was found that the site had been the site of many previous churches and from as early as the 4th century it has been occupied by christian buildings. 
One of the most interesting parts of the Cathedral's history for me was the history of its World War II survival. (I am sure this is not a huge surprise with my love of 20th century and the recent start up of Twenty History Lane. *smiles*)
For those who may not be familiar with the history of the cathedral in World War II, the cathedral suffered fourteen direct hits by bombs during the war. While the structure was badly damaged, it amazingly stayed standing and structurally sound, amidst the decimated city it is in. 
During World War II the cathedral and the immediate area of Cologne were the site of intense ariel bombs and also the site of numerous tank combats between the Americans (3rd Armored Division) and Germans (Panther Ausf. A). After the Americans destroyed a Panther it was actually put on display at the base of the Cathedral for the remainder of the War. 

In 1944 the cathedral needed an emergency repair on the Northwest Tower's base so this was carried out at that time. The brick that was used was taken from a nearby ruined building and was quite visible. For decades though this was left on purpose as a reminder of the war. In 2005 the decision was made to restore the section to its original appearance, but a few photographs in the museum still show the repairs done in 1944. 
I hope you enjoyed these pictures and a brief explanation of the exterior architecture of the Cologne Cathedral! In my next post from our Europe trip I can't wait to share more about the inside of the Cologne Cathedral and its unique treasures it holds! If you are interested in reading more about our Basel to Amsterdam cruise on Viking, you can click on the links below: 

Bored of the Beach? Three Different Vacation Ideas to Consider!

The beach is wonderful; there’s nothing wrong with lying on the sand in front of turquoise waters, listening to palm trees rustle with a cold cocktail in your hand. However, it’s not for everyone. Maybe you’re not much of a sun worshipper or perhaps you like to be up and doing things while you’re away. You might just be fed up of the same kind of vacation each year and be looking to do something different. If so, here are three different directions you could go in for a more unique getaway!

Go boating
There’s nothing quite like being out on the water. If you’re a fan of boating, sailing or just want to do something relaxing that doesn’t involve lying on the beach then why not rent a boat? If canal boating is your kind of thing, you could hire a barge- Europe especially is home to many so there are plenty of choices. How about an exciting river cruise, some of the world’s biggest rivers from the Danube to the Amazon offer this. You could go to your favorite tropical destination and hire a yacht, you could throw a party or just relax depending on the type of break you’re after! There are all kinds of boats on all different waterways to choose from, decide on where you’d most like to visit and go from there. The scenery, weather and overall vibe of the trip will vary massively depending on where you choose.
pic
Go backpacking
If you’re an active person that loves getting out and doing things, why not go backpacking? It will cost you much less money than staying in fancy hotels- you can go camping and stay in travel hostels and motels. It’s a wonderful opportunity to get to know a destination beyond its tourism, as well as meet like minded people. Backpacking can actually be a great choice if you don't have anyone to travel with too. There are lots of companies that offer tours for backpackers to join, these are ideal if you’re new to backpacking as your route will be planned out and you’ll be with guides who know where they’re going. Otherwise, you could roundup some like minded friends or convince your partner to join you on an epic backpacking adventure where you could create your own routes.

Go on a foodie holiday
One of the best things about going to a new place is trying the food. If you’re open minded and always up for trying the grub when you go to a new place then how about going on a trip that’s dedicated to deliciousness? You could go on a culinary tour or visit a destination that’s all about it’s food and drink. Take Mornington Peninsula an hour from Melbourne in Australia, this is an impressive foodie scene which attracts people from all over the world with its gardens, farmers markets, artisan food producers, winemakers and much more.

Have you ever been on a getaway like this? Are you bored of the beach, and would you consider a different kind of vacation?

This may be a contributed post but all of the thoughts I agree with and match the tone of my blog.

8/14/18

How to 'Do' Southeast Asia on a Budget

Luxury travel can be a dream for many. Who doesn’t like the idea of traveling around the world in style and staying in some of the most luxurious hotels or apartments? The thing is that luxury can vary around the world, and because of the cost of things, you can get much more for your money in different places. So although places like Southeast Asia are often considered a backpacking destination, there is also plenty of luxury to enjoy, as it tends to be so much cheaper than if you found the equivalent accommodation or excursion in the States or in Europe. It definitely is possible to have a low-cost but still comfortable, and perhaps even luxury getaway to places like the southeast of Asia.

So here are some of the ways that you can head to southeast Asia on a budget, and still experience a pretty chic and luxurious trip. It would be great to hear what you think.
image
Choose Destination Wisely
The region of southeast Asia, although quite specific, it is still covering a vast amount of land and cities, with varying terrains and things to do. So for starters, you need to think about the kind of trip or experience that you are looking to have. Do you want to explore and experience to color and vibrancy of one of the cities? Would you rather relax on the beach or enjoy some water sports? Or even have a jungle adventure or experience more of the culture by exploring temples and holy places.

When you know the kind of experience that you want to have, it makes it easier to narrow down the places that will cost you less. If you wanted to experience the culture and temples, then a natural choice is a place like Angkor Wat in Cambodia. But as it is a pretty popular choice, destinations like Bagan in Myanmar or Yogyakarta in Indonesia could be cheaper choices. You can have the same cultural experience but pay less as it isn’t a typical tourist choice. The same goes for a beach destination; Phuket in Thailand is the go-to choice in southeast Asia. So instead, think about quieter Thai island like Koh Samet, as you’ll get much more for your money, and less of a resort feel to it.

Consider a Home Rental
It does depend on where you choose as your destination, but hotels can be expensive. Take a place like Bali, for example. The beach resorts that are all-inclusive and pretty luxurious are likely to be quite pricey. Possibly cheaper than their counterparts in somewhere like the Caribbean, but still not exactly a bargain. So it could be worth looking at a home rental rather than a hotel. Again, places like Bali are on sites like Airbnb and Rumah, all with much more affordable prices that you might imagine. You can get villas with pools and even private chefs for less than you might pay in a hotel. So having it as more of a home away from home can be a good way to cut the costs of traveling to Asia.

image
Eat Local Food
If you do choose to steer clear of the whole all-inclusive kind of resort, then you will need to cook for yourself or eat out at every meal. And to be honest, that can be a good way to keep track of your budget. As long as you know what your budget for food is, you can easily stick to it. One of the best ways to do that is by eating what the locals eat. You don’t need to necessarily choose street food for each meal, but doing it once a day perhaps, can really cut down the price of your food. You might be wondering about getting sick, or if you have dietary requirements. But the good news is that as long as you take your time to choose, then you can find somewhere good to eat. And not only that, a typical southeast Asian diet is pretty healthy, with rice, veggies, noodles, tofu, and tempeh. So there should be something to fit all tastes.

Don’t Pre-Book Excursions or Tours
One other stellar way to save money when you travel to southeast Asia is to not pre-book anything like day trips, excursions,or tours. You might think that you’re better off to book in advance to make sure that you get a place on the day you want, but over there, it really isn’t an issue if you book ahead or not. The only thing that you might be missing out on if you book ahead is saving money. Because there are so many tours and excursion companies in southeast Asian countries, there is so much choice. And with choice, comes the ability to haggle. You will be missing out on that if you book ahead (they pretty much expect you to do it too). So save yourself cash and plan your itinerary when you get there and when you see what is on offer. Plus, you could even hire a driver for the day (not as expensive as you might think), who can plan an itinerary for you and take you to see the things that you want to see. Definitely worth looking into as well.

Low-Cost Airlines
Your airfare is likely to be one of your biggest expenses. But the good news is that there are low-cost Asian airlines that you shouldn’t discount just because you’ve never flown with them before. AirAsia is one of the most popular for that region (just be sure to read the fine print about luggage allowance and checking in). It can be a great way to save especially if you plan to do a little internal travel. Other low-cost Asian airlines are Tigerair, SilkAir, Peach Aviation and Vanilla Air. So it is worth looking into how much they charge to see what deals you can get or how much they charge. Then you really can get your Asian adventure on a budget.

This may be a contributed post but all of the thoughts I agree with and match the tone of my blog.

8/13/18

Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge // Denali State Park, Alaska

Happy Monday friends! I hope that y'all had a wonderful weekend! Today I am so excited to share about one of the three Princess Lodges that we stayed at during our road trip in Alaska. For those who may be wanting to have the opportunity to connect with different parts of Alaska, but for various reasons can't rent an RV or camper, or have decided to forgo camping for different reasons, these lodges are a great solution for this type of trip. 

We stayed for one night at the Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge, two nights at the Copper River Princess Wilderness Lodge, and two nights at the Kenai Princess Wilderness Lodge. All three lodges were different and unique and while I enjoyed them all, Kenai Wilderness Lodge (which I will share about in the future on the blog) was my favorite with Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge being my second favorite and Copper River being my third favorite out of the three.
Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge is located at Mile Post 133 in the Denali State Park in Trapper Creek, Alaska. On a clear day you can see Denali from the lodge (as the above picture shows) and it is a lodge that is beautifully surrounded by gorgeous views and wildlife on the property. The Lodge is approximately two hours north of Anchorage (unless you do a detour to Hatchers Pass - which you definitely should!) and then it will take you approximately four hours from Anchorage. 

If you are coming from the north (from Fairbanks) it will take you approximately 4 and 1/2 hours to reach the Lodge. 
We arrived at the lodge around 6pm after spending a beautiful afternoon exploring the Little Susitna River and Hatcher Pass. The check-in process was simple (our reservations had already been paid for and confirmed prior to the trip) and the front desk helped us with several questions that we had regarding food and the property. 

We decided to make reservations at the North Fork Restaurant for dinner (at the recommendation of the front desk) and then also purchased tickets for the photosymphony performance... after being assured that it was like seeing the Northern Lights live and in person. Due to the time of year we were traveling to Alaska in this seemed like a really neat opportunity and so we were excited about it. 
After check-in we made our way over to our building and to our room where we got settled for the evening before heading back to the main lodge for our dinner. The walk to the lodge from our room was an easy walk and it allowed us to see some more of the beautiful property. For those who may have disabilities and are concerned about staying at this property I would definitely say it was a very disability friendly property. While there wasn't a ton of handicap parking there were constant shuttle buses and offers to help if this was something that was needed. Because of the nature of this blog I do always inquire about this at each property I stay at and I was very impressed with how they have things set up. If you have any specific questions about this please let me know and I am happy to answer them.
We ate dinner and then headed to the photosymphony before heading back to our room for the evening. Our room was quiet, exceptionally clean, and provided us both with a good nights sleep for the evening. I loved that it was cool enough out that we could sleep with our window open and have fresh air blowing in our room. While Ali was very concerned about safety and leaving the window open (because we were on the first floor), I didn't feel any concerns with the property and felt incredibly safe and insisted that the fresh air was lovely. There is no air conditioning, but there really was no need for it. In addition to this each room came with a fan for those who may want to have some noise or help in moving air in the room. 
Overall this lodge is really nice and I have nothing bad to say about it. It is secluded, has some trails that you could hike, provides different opportunities for excursions (which you can read about here), and is a beautiful getaway whether you are an Alaskan resident or coming from out of state to visit Alaska.
If you are looking for a really nice place to stay that provides a lovely atmosphere this is a great choice, but if you are looking for something that is a bit more "rustic" for your stay this would not be the place. I would definitely say that out of the three lodges we stayed at this one would be the one that is a bit more "touristy" slanted for lack of a better description. This lodge had the largest gift shop out of the three lodges and even had a Starbucks in one area of the lodge. 

NONE of this is bad but I definitely walked away hoping that some of the other lodges would be a little bit more rustic. Again, I think it is all in what you are looking for and what you are wanting to experience. For those who are looking to visit Alaska and yet want a great resort without being as rustic, this is definitely a wonderful place. 
I loved my time there and enjoyed hiking around the property in the morning and seeing some wildlife and just seeing the beauty that was all around. I do have two quick notes for those who may visit in the future: 

(1) When we checked in we were told that the North Fork Restaurant would be the best choice and only choice due to the hour we arrived for us to eat at. The prices at the North Fork Restaurant are the highest out of any restaurant. The view and the food was amazing but there was a bit of a sticker shock with the price of the food! To be frank... Ali and I ended up splitting the pork dinner due to cost, but there was SO much food that it was good we did and it was so delicious that it was definitely one of our favorite meals of the trip.

I have since learned that we could have checked out the other restaurants on the property. I am not sure why we were what we were, but I would definitely recommend checking them out... but also consider the pork dinner. Hahaha. It was so yummy! 

(2) The photosymphony is NOTHING like seeing the Northern Lights in person... or at least I hope not since it is a dream of mine to see. I am giggling as I write this because as it was described to us it would be like viewing the Northern Lights exactly and I was imaging a theater with a surround sound and 360 screen and it would be just like we were outside in the winter seeing the beautiful northern lights. Hahahaha... I can't stop laughing. It was anything but how I imagined. *smiles*

 We walked into the theater only to find out that it was a very small screen in the front with one sloooooowwww changing picture from a man who took the picture back in the 70s. It was really impressive to see how he was the first one to capture the Northern Lights... but sadly some of the photos around the property were better pictures of the Northern Lights than what we saw. The music also... look I love classical music and I didn't know half of the obscure songs that were chosen... that sounded incredibly somber. There was nothing like we were told it would be and we laughed about it for the rest of the road trip. Hahaha. I sadly can't recommend this at all and don't recommend seeing this... I feel badly writing that, because I am impressed with what he did in the 70s but I think that this should have a different description told to people who visit the lodge. Hahaha.
Overall it was a lovely place to stay and it was definitely my 2nd favorite of all of the lodges we stayed at. If you have any questions please let me know! 

For those who may be planning a similar road trip throughout Alaska that we did I hope the information below is helpful. If you would like, you can read all of the posts from the trip by clicking on the links below:

Hatcher Pass Area: // Hatcher Pass // Little Susitna River //  

A huge thank you to Princess Cruises Lodges for their collaboration with Caravan Sonnet blog. All opinions are my own.