Caravan Sonnet: July 2018


Leaving on an Adventure

I can't believe it... TODAY I leave (and tomorrow I fly out) on a beautiful adventure and an amazing week with seeing dear friends and a once-in-a-lifetime road trip Alaska. I am so grateful for each of the companies that I will be working and collaborating with on this trip who have made this possible!!

I will be taking a break from the blog until August 6th but will be updating my instagram page frequently and would love to connect with y'all more over there! You can following along by clicking HERE

I hope y'all have had a wonderful week and hope and pray that this next week is lovely! Happy Sunday friends! 


10 Things to Do Before you Leave on a Trip Outside your State

Last year I shared 10 Things to Do Before You Leave on Your Caribbean Cruise and it remains one of my most popular posts of all times. As I have been preparing for my upcoming trip to Alaska I have been making a ton of lists (with lots of colors because y'all know me *smiles*) and so today I wanted to share 10 things to do before you leave on a trip outside your state that I hope y'all will find helpful! 
1. Make a List, Check it Twice
I know that not everyone is a "list-maker" like I am (color-coded and everything for y'all that know me well! *smiles*) but creating lists when you are leaving to travel to another state are extremely helpful. If you are like me and over-the-moon excited for your trip, it can be easy to forget something important so I definitely recommend making a list and then checking it several times. Also- consider making a second list of items that you can't pack until the morning that you leave.

If you are heading out for a long road trip to your destination (or one once you arrive like we will be in Alaska) check out my post, 10 Tips & Tricks for Long Road Trips, by clicking HERE. (If you are struggling with a chronic illness and about to embark on a long road trip you may find my post, 10 Tips for Thriving on Long Road Trips with a Chronic Illness helpful! You can find it by clicking HERE!)
2. Pack Medicines, Over-The-Counter Meds, Vitamins, Supplements, Etc.
I have shared this in the past, but make sure that you pick up any medicines and over-the-counter meds you need a few days before your trip. If you are living with a serious or chronic illness this can take a lot of time to plan and prepare your medications and supplements. Honestly, it can take a bit of maneuvering (and even a lot of patience) to make sure that you have all of our meds before a trip. As much as it is possible try to let your doctors know in advance you will be going on a cruise and that you will need meds (and extra meds depending on your situation) for the duration of your trip. 

While you may only be traveling to a different state and it is not like traveling to another country, certain insurance regulations do not allow prescriptions to transfer from state to state so you will want to make sure you plan this well. 
3. Purchase Any Specific Items You Need In Advance
Depending on where you are traveling to you may need to purchase some items specifically for the region you are traveling to. In the past I have shared some ideas for 13 Must Pack Items for Your Caribbean Cruise and also 10 Must Pack items for a New England & Canada Cruise and I look forward to sharing with y'all items for Alaska that I have specifically purchased in a future post!

Also, don't forget to purchase an underwater camera that you can use for any water activities. Don't want to spend a ton of money on an underwater camera? Consider purchasing the Nikon COOLPIX S33 Waterproof Digital Camera to use! I purchased this for our Royal Caribbean Cruise in November and it was wonderful! You can see some pictures that I took with it in my post about our Reef Snorkeling and Sandbar Getaway Shore Excursion HERE!
4. Call Your Bank/Credit Card Companies to let them Know You are Traveling
Make sure to call your bank and credit card companies to let them know that you will be traveling out of state. Some people think that because it is just traveling to a different state that you don't need to do this but it is definitely so much easier to make a phone call from home than to figure out when you are traveling why your card was blocked! 
5. Print off and Make Copies of All Your Documents and Passports
Even though you may not be bringing your passport with you, make sure to have a copy of all important documents, including your license. 
6. Give an Emergency Contact All of Your Information
Make sure to let someone know the important information of the dates you are traveling, your flight numbers, hotel names, and contact information. This is important in case anyone needs to get a hold of you while you are traveling or if you have an emergency.
7. Arrange to Have Your Mail Held or A Neighbor to Pick it Up
Depending on how long your trip will be you will want to make sure that you have your mail held at the post office or that you make arrangements to have your neighbor pick it up. Just a heads up: stopping and holding mail at the post office can take a few days to "kick in" so you will want to give yourself at least 7 days to do this!
8. Organize Your Wallet
Take a few minutes to re-organize your wallet for your trip and remove anything that you won't need for your trip. Put all of these together in an envelope and keep them in a safe and secure place for you to have once you return from your adventure. 
9. Take Care of Your Pets
Make sure to leave time to arrange proper care for your pets if they are not traveling with you. Throughout the year there are certain times (summer, school vacations, etc.) where boarding at your vet may fill up so you will want to make arrangements in advance. 
10. 10 More Things to Do the Day Before You Leave/the Day You Leave
(1) Water house plants
(2) Mail Last-Minute Bills
(3) Clean Out Refrigerator
(4) Set timers for any lights for your Home
(5) Adjust the thermostat in Your Home
(6) Turn off water in your Home if there is a Danger of Frozen Pipes while you are Gone
(7) Double Check the Locks in Your Home
(8) Double Check to Make Sure you Have all Important Documents, Including Passport
(9) Fill out Luggage Tags and attach if you are flying to your destination
(10) Don't forget to pack your chargers for all of your devices
Most of all- get ready to have a blast!! I love traveling to new places and trips are a blast! They are always extremely relaxing, restful, fun, and rejuvenating. What are your last minute things to do before you leave on a trip to a different state? I would love to hear your tips and add them to this list! (If you are looking for more travel tips or recommendations you can find them on my travel page HERE!)

**All pictures in this post are from my friends and my time in Maine on a sunset cruise which you can read about HERE. This was one of my absolute favorite stops on our MaineNew BrunswickPrince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia road trip! **

Bringing '90s Back This Summer

We all know that fashion is cyclical. It is a hungry ouroboros constantly chasing and consuming its own
tail. No look ever really dies in fashion, which is why it’s worth keeping hold of those truly beloved items
in your closet that the tides of fashion have turned against. You never know when they might come
back. Look around in any given decade and you’ll see echoes of what has come before all around you.
They’re in every hem, every neckline, every shade and every embellishment. Designers have an
ingenious talent for taking the design tropes of yesteryear and revivifying them with a contemporary
twist do be devoured by fashion conscious consumers. Some will remember when this stuff was cool
the first time around, while for younger fashionistas it will all seem fresh and new. Everyone wins.
Here we’re going to look at the ‘90s retro chic that has seemed to come and go in fashion circles
for close to a decade now. We’ll take a look at just what it is about the ‘90s that generates so much
goodwill and look at how you can employ some ‘90s retro appeal to your wardrobe this summer…
Image Credit

The ‘90s nostalgia hype is real!
Of course nostalgia is nothing new, especially in the world of fashion and popular culture. Just
what is it about the ‘90s that we keep coming back to in our fashion and our pop culture? Well, there’s
comfort in the familiar and the go-go ‘90s were politically, economically and culturally a very
comfortable time for a lot of us. The recession of the ‘80s and the first gulf war were a distant memory
and the credit crunch of the late ‘00s was still a long way off. In the pre-911 world people felt a little
safer and a little more secure. The economy was strong and many of us had a much more favorable
work / life balance than they do today. The soundtrack to the ‘90s was one of good willed rebellion and
introspective angst. It was the time of Nirvana and Alanis Morissette, of Radiohead and Beck.  And
let’s not forget that we had some of the best TV of the modern age. From The Simspons
(back when it was at the top of its game) to The X Files, from The Rugrats to Xena Warrior Princess
and of course the definitive sitcom of our time, the voice of our generation... Friends. There was a
plethora of great TV which was doled out by the networks in bite sized chunks, before the luxury of
streaming brought us an all you can eat buffet of content so huge that it became an embarrassment
of riches.

We all love the ‘90s and look back on it fondly, now here’s how you can bring some of that sweet ‘90s
style into your summer looks…

Bring back that ‘90s hip hop vibe with your eyewear
The ‘90s were a seminal era for the nascent genre of hip hop. It had pulled itself up by its bootstraps
out of the projects of The Bronx and South Central Los Angeles and impacted on the mainstream in
a big way. But you don’t need a chunky gold chain or a huge baggy basketball shirt to celebrate the
evolution of this artform. The eyewear of the early ‘90s was one of its defining traits and you can
check out this selection of sunglasses by Cazal to rekindle some of those fond memories. If you want
to show your ‘90s nostalgia but don’t want to wear it too heavily on your sleeve, this is the perfect

Everyone loves dungarees
Dungarees and dungarees dresses were a fashion staple of the ‘90s that enjoy particular popularity
today. The beauty of the dungaree and the dungaree dress is that it’s an item everyone can wear and
feel confident and beautiful while wearing it. Whatever your body type there’s a style to suit you.
From oversized and baggy boyfriend style denim dungarees, to sleek skinny legged styles there’s a
dungaree to suit every taste, size and shape.

The flannel shirt
The flannel shirt is an American classic that will never really go out of fashion. This grungy staple was
likely a regular part of your teenage wardrobe rotation and more often than not accompanied by a
Nirvana or Ramones t shirt and a pair of short shorts… Thus, it’s easy to feel like you’re in a time
machine when you see teenagers wearing this exact outfit on the high street in 2018. The flannel shirt
doesn’t discriminate. It looks great on mean and women of all shapes and sizes. Whether you
incorporate it into your normal layering or rock it around the waist (oh yeah, that look is back!), it’s a
great summer staple that will still be cool when it’s time to take it on your fall road trip.

Chokers for all
Chokers were once the cherry on the top of a bohemian style ensemble in the ‘90s and while they
never really went away, they’re more en vogue than ever right now thanks to influential patrons like
Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid. The choker can set off just about any look and can be dressed up or
down depending on your outfit.
Image Credit

Crop tops are for everyone
Crop tops were a fashion staple in the mid to late ‘90s and it’s more than likely that they were a regular
part of your rotation. You may well have seen the cool kids rocking them over the past couple of years
and bemoaned the fact that your midriff isn’t quite as tones as it was in 1998. But if you think that’s a
reason to deprive yourself of this summer essential, think again. The resurgence of the crop top
doesn’t discriminate. Fashion bloggers of all shapes and sizes have shown that they can make it work.
From slender waif types to sexy voluptuous girls to ripped athletic girls, the crop top is for everyone…
Including you!

So reinvigorate your wardrobe (or dig some old favorites out of the closet), throw on some early
Jay Z and celebrate 90s revival in style!

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


Twenty History Lane

Today I am so very excited to share with y'all a project that I have been working on for a very long time. Over the last couple of years as I have healed my heart and passion has been stirred to return to teaching and to helping to change the world of high school students. This never died during my fight for my health but as I have begun the process of healing the dreams of teaching and seeing history (specifically the 20th century) come alive for high schoolers intensified. 

Over the past several months these dreams developed into a conceptual basis to form a new company called Twenty History Lane which I am so excited to share has officially launched TODAY! Below is information from the Twenty History Lane About page so you can see more about the company! Thank you so much for your support and excitement about this project! You can follow along on Twenty History Lane's social media pages here: 

Thank you so much again! 

So what is Twenty History Lane (or TWL as it is affectionately nicknamed)?

TWL is a collective of 20th century history re-imagined for high schoolers + those that teach them. We provide practical + unique 20th century study aids for high schoolers and innovative +creative teaching aids for those that teach them in the following history subject areas:


Through a variety of study aids + resources for the student and an assortment of lesson plans + teaching tools for high school teachers we strive to inspire each person to engage in 20th century history in new ways. Many of our resources are free, while others are kept at a minimum cost so as to encourage students + teachers to meaningfully engage without worrying about associated costs. Both high school students + teachers can find these aids + resources in our shops (Etsy Shop and Teachers Pay Teachers with ourTeachable school opening soon!)

Each month TWL will focus on a certain decade or particular subject. Listed below is the 2018-2019 school year curriculum:

July 2018: Launch + Introduction to TWL
August 2018: 1900-1909
September 2018: 1910-1919
October 2018: 1920-1929
November 2018: 1930-1939
December 2018: World War II + Holocaust Studies
January 2019: 1945- 1949
February 2019: 1950-1959
March 2019: 1960-1969
April 2019: 1970-1979
May 2019: 1980-1989
June 2019: 1990-2001

Throughout each week on our blog TWL will provide thought provoking, creative, helpful, and interesting facts through our blog. Our blog schedule for each month for the 2018-2019 school year is as follows:

Mondays: Leaders, Court Cases, or Book of the Month Intro/Recap
Tuesdays: AP USH, US History, or US Government focus
Wednesdays: Middle East History focus
Thursdays: AP EURO, AP WORLD, or World History focus
Fridays: Travel Stories

Throughout the year the TWL blog will also share about unique opportunities for both students + teachers in the 20th century history field. You can stay up to date on these opportunities by finding out updated information for students HERE and for teachers HERE.

TWL is also committed to giving back to the community through The Novel Garden. Each month there will be a book of the month to read that will coincide with the time frame + focus that is being highlighted. If you choose to purchase the book TWL will match book-for-book purchased and donate the books to local children's hospitals, shelters, libraries, + group homes. All you need to do is send us an email with a confirmation of receipt of payment!

about the founder
Rebecca VanDeMark was a high school history teacher for seven years teaching AP EURO, AP USH, AP WORLD, 20th Century World History, 20th Century Middle East History, and US Government (Honors + Regular). Teaching creatively to make History come alive and to inspire students to make a difference in their worlds is a passion of Rebecca's that goes beyond the classroom. 

Rebecca holds a Master of Public Administration, a Bachelor of Arts, and graduated with a Graduate Certificate from the prestigious Summer Academy on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law in Women + International Human Rights Law from American University's Washington College of Law. Rebecca has also completed additional coursework in the Master of Legal Studies program at West Virginia University. She has participated in numerous continuing teaching education programs including the Supreme Court Institute for Teachers, various AP Board workshops and programs, worked as a Match Grant Coordinator helping to resettle asylees, trafficking victims, and refugees in the National Capitol Area, and interned as a graduate student at the National Organization for Women. 

Rebecca has volunteered with Adopt-a-Platoon since 2005 and in her community in a variety of ways and holds professional affiliations or memberships with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the 9/11 Memorial, APSA, Supreme Court Historical Society, Women in Government, and Women in International Security among others.

Rebecca is the author of six books, a freelance writer and blogger, and speaker. She is currently in the process of obtaining her VT teaching certification and plans to pursue her PhD in History with an emphasis on Holocaust Studies. 


What Exactly Does it Mean and Look Like to Work as a Blogger?

Since I started writing on this little space in January 2013 (you can read my very first post HERE which just makes me smile), the world of blogging (or as I affectionately call it), "bloggy world" has changed significantly. When I started in 2013 blogging for me was a way to reach out to the world beyond being stuck in my bed due to illness and to keep friends and loved ones informed of what was going on with my health. 

Ironically I really didn't talk about being ill (except in some general terms) for the first couple of months on the blog. When I finally did share in March of 2013 (in VERY brief details) about my health it was because there was a rumor going around that I had Cancer and I was sharing that I didn't have that diagnosis because former students were concerned (and at the time we were not aware that this was part of my health journey to wellness). 

It's crazy to actually read back those first few months of this blog. I see so clearly that I was yearning to reach out and to grab life, despite being completely bedridden and unable to eat. But at the same time, there was a beauty to it. Not in the fact that things were "hidden", but in the fact that blogging was more about telling your life story and details than what some imagine it is now. At the time bloggers would spend so much time connecting with each other, leaving comments, sharing stories, and really building a community. This makes me smile but there was actually at one point a "big blogger/little blogger" group and my "big" was amazing. I made so many friends during that time of life and it was all through this thing called blogging. 

But as the years have passed (and many of those friends don't currently blog at all or as often or as much as they used to), there was also a shift in what blogging looked like. It went from sharing a lot about your life to sharing more about your purchases, your trips, or your career. I don't think this is a bad thing, but I do think that it is a shift that has left people confused on how you can be a blogger as your job. This conversation actually came up a couple of weeks ago with someone very important to me and I was a little stumped on how to exactly explain what it means to work as a blogger. I struggled with words and tried to explain but walked away thinking- what exactly does it mean and look like to work as a blogger?

Definitely not with this person, but with others I have been told that it must be nice "not to have a real job". I have also been told that I must sit around eating ice cream, look at instagram all day long, while writing about traveling (and probably assuming that I binge watch TV all day long). To set the record straight: ice cream is not part of my diet, anyone who knows me knows that I view my phone as a way to keep in touch with loved ones and the IG part is a section of my job, and while I do write about my travels for work, I really don't like TV at all. hahaha. *smiles*

And honestly, I think that I can speak for 100% of those that view blogging as their job that none of those things are even close to the truth (aside from the ice cream - I am kidding hahaha!) But there are a lot of questions that I receive and today I thought I would share what it is I actually do for the blog as my job.

Besides being an author and an Etsy Shop owner, and (being about to announce a new company that I have been working on for months), running this blog as a job takes an incredible amount of time and discipline. My days start very early as I work with brands and companies that are in different times zones and based out of Europe and then can finish very late due to collaborations with companies on the West Coast. 

Each day I will read through different contracts, write new ones, and negotiate contracts before me. I am in constant communication with a variety of different brands and social media influencers. I write tons of emails, have phone and skype conferences, engage in interviews, and return (on a typical day) up to 200 emails on various topics. I manage 3 specific social media platforms for this blog and starting July 16th will manage a total of 8 with the new company I am starting. 

I have written articles on blogging, contributed to conferences on social media influencing, spoken on the topic of marketing for a conference, and complete all of the marketing for the blog by myself. Some bigger bloggers do have a social media team, but at this point I do not have that so every single responsibility of being an entrepreneur falls squarely on my shoulders. Caravan Sonnet is a for-profit blog, so I deal with all of the budget related to the blog, all of the ins and outs of payments, and file taxes. I photograph and edit thousands of pictures and on average one blog post, after editing several drafts (depending on the content) can take anywhere from 4-6 hours. Some of the more detailed posts of the blog can take sometimes up to 8 hours to complete. I pitch jobs, I deal with the "yes's" and the "no's" and enjoy each moment of it, despite the wild ride it can be. I balance current writing responsibilities while planning future trips, work on brand building, and work to deliver quality content that is unique in a world that has hundreds of thousands of blogs. I am constantly taking classes (online and in person) to help learn new things and improve my writing and photography skills. I also take business classes. I write blog posts weeks and months out and work to build a community with my readers and social media groups, because relationships are important to me.

I don't say any of that to say that my blog is some perfect blog, but instead to share and hopefully give some explanation of what it means and looks like to work as a blogger. I hope that this helps a bit with understanding! When I look back on where this blog has come from 5 and 1/2 years ago and think to the future... I think of all of the things that are to come. Some try to say that blogging may be a dying art or hobby, but I truly believe that blogging as a job is only in its infancy phases. There is so much yet to explore and learn and grow. It's truly exciting to think about! 

I also want to say this space has been a blessing to me. A complete blessing. I have processed and written and grieved through a serious illness, I have dreamed and shared joys of the future, and most of all have grown up here. Thank you to each of you who continue to read this blog and all of your support in this journey. I hope you have a wonderful Friday and weekend friends!