Caravan Sonnet: November 2018

11/18/18

Making the Most of Your Cruise


Cruising is a vacation like no other. If you have done it before you will probably have learned some of the things you should and shouldn’t do. If you have never been on one before, these few tips might help you to get the most enjoyment from your trip.

One way of making a cruise more affordable is to join a re-positioning cruise. This is where the ship will be at sea for several days, as it moves from one port to another. If you are perfectly happy to spend your cruise at sea, this could be the perfect first time.


Do Not Pack More Than You Need
Of course, you want to make sure you have everything you need, but the storage space in the cabins of ships is limited. Do not over pack lots of things that you might need, because you probably won’t.  Lots of casual wear and swimwear should be included, but unless you are intending to attend some of the formal meals, forget the fancy clothing.

The majority of ships expect smart casual wear for evening meals, and it is only for special events that something more formal is needed.

You also need to take care what things you pack other than clothing. The rules can vary from cruise line to cruise line about how many bottles of wine you can take on board and if you are allowed to take spirits with you. The information you need will all be available in their information pack when you book the cruise.

Do Not Forget Your Medicines
Cruise ships generally have very good medical facilities, but that is not to say they will have a particular medication if you run out.  They are also good at dealing with special diets, such as for diabetics. If you run out of a medicine you need and they do not have it on board, you could find yourself having to buy it in the first port you come to and it could be very expensive. Make sure you have plenty of all your medicines with you before the ship sets sail.

Of course, you could be perfectly healthy and be taken ill or have an accident while on the ship. You should have insurance to cover such things happening. If you are involved in an accident that someone else caused or was the fault of the cruise line, your vacation could be ruined. Then you should be contacting one of Hofmann Law Firm’s maritime accident attorneys, as you may need their help to claim compensation and to try and ensure that the same thing does not happen to someone else.

Explore As Soon As You Board
Cruise ships are all different sizes with some of them as large as a vacation resort, with many thousands of people on board. Even if you are not on one of the enormous ships though you will still need to find your way around. The best way is to explore the ship as soon as you board, and then when you want a certain bar or store you will know exactly where it is.

They are usually very well signposted, but you could waste valuable swimming or drinking time by trying to find places if you have not carried out some exploration to start with.


Leave Your Cabin Lots
When you travel, leave your cabin as much as possible. Really, it should be for sleeping in, having a shower, changing your clothes and not much more than that. There will be so many missed opportunities for fun and meeting new people if you spend most of your time locked away.

If you are in one of the cabins in the center of the ship, without windows or a balcony, set yourself an alarm. The darkness can throw your body clock out of sync, and then you could be getting up when everyone else is in bed.

Don’t Be Late
When the ship docks at a port, if you are not going on one of the organized excursions you may want to have a look around the port on your own. For some people, they much prefer this, but you must ensure that you are not late back. The idea of being stuck on a tropical island might seem quite a romantic notion. However, in reality, the first thing you would feel is panic as you see your cruise ship sailing away. Always leave yourself plenty of time to return on board.

Cruises can be a create vacation and if you make the most of everything yours has to offer, there is every likelihood that you will do more cruises in the future.


*contributed post*

11/17/18

Santa's Rocket Sleigh Junk Journal

Happy Saturday friends! Today I am so excited to share with you one of those fun and cute additions! This adorable Santa's Rocket Sleigh Junk Journal is now available for purchase! (You can find it HERE!) 
Y'all know how much I love creating different and unique journals and altered books. These beautiful and unique journals are the perfect way to grab onto ordinary moments or days and remember special times in life, especially during this holiday season!
I found this adorable and popular vintage (1957!) Santa's Rocket Sleigh Rand McNally Book in an antique book store back in the early part of Spring last year and was so excited as it was in excellent condition and I knew it would make a special Junk Journal for this holiday season. 
I fell in love with the precious pictures, the detailed illustrations, and the vibrant colors of this classic book that has delighted happy Christmas lovers for generations.
ThiVintage Santa's Rocket Sleigh Junk Journal contains approximately 200 pages that includes gorgeous original book pages, vintage paper, pretty ephemera and tags, vintage and sweet modern ribbon, beautiful washi tape, and quality coordinating and pretty scrapbook paper. You can easily add in pictures and quick notes so that you can remember the special days forever. 
This Junk Journal would create a treasured keepsake for a lifetime and can be used throughout the holiday season (for special holiday parties or a special occasion) or as a December Daily album for those who may be participating in that!
What I love about some of these precious vintage books is that the stories are timeless for dreamers to dream and wish in all different ways during the holidays. 
No matter how you would use this junk journal it would be precious. *smiles* 
If you are interested in this Santa's Rocket Sleigh Junk Journal can find it HERE. Or if you are interested in looking at other Christmas items in the shop you can find them HERE!
Or find one of me talking about the junk journal on the shops instagram page by clicking HERE! A video of this junk journal will be going up on my new Youtube page soon so stay tuned for that! 

Happy Saturday friends! I hope that you have a wonderful day with friends and family!!

"12 Things to Do: For Yourself, A Loved One, The Spouse, The Parents, The Children & The Caretakers Dealing with Chronic Health Conditions During the Holiday Season" Ebook Release!

I am so excited to share that my new E-book, "12 Things to Do: For Yourself, A Loved One, The Spouse, The Parents, The Children & The Caretakers Dealing with Chronic Health Conditions During the Holiday Season" Ebook Release! released today!

This book 
is written for those with a heart and desire to practically meet someone struggling through the confusing and difficult road of a chronic health condition this holiday season. Often those who long to walk the journey of a chronic health condition with their loved ones ask from a sincere place, "How can I really help this holiday?" but feel at a loss of where to start. This book is filled with unique and one-of-a-kind ideas for this holiday season that will be a wonderful "jumping off point" for you to be reaching out to those whom you love that struggle with chronic health issues and their loved ones.

This is the second book in the "Chronic Grace Series"; the first released in April entitled, "12 Things to Pray" which you can find HEREYou can purchase "12 Things to Do: For Yourself, A Loved One, The Spouse, The Parents, The Children and The Caretakers Dealing with Chronic Health Conditions During the Holiday Season"  on Amazon by clicking HERE

Thank you so much as always for your sweet and continued support of all of my writing friends. You are a gift!

11/16/18

Alaska Road Trip Celebration Giveaway

I am so excited to share with y'all today an amazing giveaway in celebration of the Alaska Road Trip that I took last summer! I hope that in reading all of the posts throughout this series it has inspired you to dream a little dream of visiting "The Last Frontier" and plan your own trip! 

The 10ish days that I spent in Alaska were a beautiful adventure of falling in love with the small part of Aaska that I saw and seeing tons of beautiful and AMAZING places that are in this world, meeting incredible people, and spending the days adventuring. Many of these adventures I have shared on the blog (you can click HERE to see the list) and some I have chosen to keep private, but it was definitely an amazing adventure of a lifetime! 

I said this a few months ago, but Alaska stole part of my heart. I cried as I left the mountains and had tears as I boarded my flight home. The overwhelming beauty was a treasured gift that I can't wait to go back to. As I said above, I hope that these posts have been an encouragement to plan your own adventure full of special memories. 

As a little gift of encouragement in this regard I am so excited to hold this giveaway for one special winner that includes the following prizes:

*$50 Alaska Airlines Gift Certificate
* $25 Princess Cruise Gift Card
* Copy of Moon Guides Alaska Book
*Copy of Alaska from Scratch Cookbook
* 1 December Caravan Altered State Travel Journal for Alaska
*$5 Starbucks Giftcard

Hurry! The giveaway ends soon so please read the fine print and enter below!

To all of my blog sponsors and writing collaborations who made this trip (and part of this giveaway) possible - I am so incredibly grateful. This place on earth is a "never land" (as I affectionately refer to it- *smiles* ) that I already can't wait to return to. I left so inspired, so encouraged, and peaceful and hopeful about the future. Alaska, I can't wait to see you again soon, I am leaving part of my heart with you.

Thank you friends for your love and joy in sharing this experience and time with me and all of your sweet comments on social media. I hope you have a wonderful weekend! Good Luck in the giveaway!

My European Travel Junk Journal Video

Happy Friday friends! I hope you had a wonderful week! Today I am excited to share another travel video from my YouTube channel that just recently went live! Today I am excited to share a video of my European Travel Junk Journal (which I shared about on the blog back in the summer- you can read about it HERE) with some pictures throughout that I have now added to the journal. 

This one just makes me smile... I loved the trip last year and I love the song that I chose to put with this video! I hope it brings a smile to your face this Friday morning! *smiles* You can find the video HERE (or watch right below) and the new channel by clicking HERE! Thanks for checking it out, commenting, and following along y'all! *smiles*
Happy Friday friends! I hope y'all have a wonderful day and start to the weekend!

11/15/18

5 Things You Must Know Before Driving in Alaska

Happy Thursday friends! Today I am so excited to share with y'all the final post from the Alaskan Road Trip that I took last summer! It is so bittersweet to come to the end of this time of sharing about this trip because it was truly a once-in-a-lifetime trip that was amazing to write about and share. Tomorrow I am sharing an exciting thing about Alaska so be sure to check back! 
Today I am excited to share 5 things you must know if you are planning a similar road trip throughout Alaska that you must know before you go. These are in no particular order but are very important to note! I hope this helps as you travel throughout this amazing state!

1. Rental Car Limitations
If you are renting a car for your travels in Alaska you will want to know where you are allowed to drive with the car rental agency you are renting from. Some rental car agencies do not allow you to travel on specific highways so make sure you contact them before you arrive so that you know where you can and can't drive. 

In addition to this the price of renting a car (compared to renting an RV for example) can be a bit more cost expensive depending on the time year you travel. The cheapest rental times are in May and September if you have flexibility in your travel. 
2. Rental Car Deposit
An important thing to note is that the rental car deposit for Alaska was higher than other places I have rented from across the country. I was told that this is typical due to the nature of the area, and it might depend on your agency you go with, but you will want to find this out before traveling! 
3. Cell Phone Service
I know that I mentioned this a couple of times throughout my posts on our trip, but as you can imagine when you are going to the "last frontier state", cell phone service is spotty in some areas (and non-existent) in others. You will want to keep this in mind as you plan your trip. I said this several times, but we found the people in Alaska to be incredibly helpful and going out of their way to help if it was needed. 
4. Consider Renting an RV as a Cost-Effective Alternative to a Car
It didn't work for this past road trip, but renting an RV in Alaska is seriously a perfect idea for those who are looking to explore Alaska and are looking to save money on lodging. There are all different rental companies that you could rent from and you can find some suggestions HERE
5. Certain Roads in Alaska are Closed Depending on the Season you Travel
So most of the notes that I have mentioned are based on traveling during the summer in Alaska, but if you choose to travel at a different time of the year you will want to investigate if the road will be open or closed. Certain roads are closed during the winter season so make sure to check this out before your travels!

Thank you so much for taking the time to stop by and read today. I want to say a special "thank you" for excitedly joining in on all of these Alaska posts these past couple of months! It has been such a joy to share them with you and I can't wait to share a special surprise tomorrow so stop back by then! While I am sure that there will be a few additional posts about this time or Alaska in general in the next couple of months, I am so grateful for y'all in following along on this specific series from this past summer. 

Thank you again friends! I hope that this has inspired you to plan your own road trip throughout Alaska in the coming year or years! 

PS- If you are curious about the specific details of the road trip that we took throughout Alaska or if you are planning a similar road trip (or just want to see and dream about visiting the beauty!) I hope the information below is helpful. You can read all of the posts from the trip by clicking on the links below:

Anchorage: // Anchorage Travel Guide//

Chugach Mountains (Alaska 1-South Drive): // Scenic Seward Highway Drive (Turnagain Arm Drive)//

Chugach Mountains: // Eklutna Lake//

Cooper Landing (Kenai Peninsula): // Kenai Princess Wilderness Lodge Nature Trail//



Girdwood: // Winner Creek Trail //

11/12/18

Anchorage Travel Guide // Alaska

Today I am so excited to share with y'all a brief travel guide to Anchorage, Alaska. Visiting Alaska this past summer for our summer road trip was absolutely phenomenal. I am pretty sure that y'all are well aware that I loved my time in Alaska ... hahaha- considering that I labeled every place that we visited "my favorite". I have received a lot of questions about Anchorage specifically and today I wanted to share with y'all a brief travel guide on this city. 
Now I think it goes without saying, but I want to put this disclaimer out in front anyways. Obviously as a travel blogger visiting a place for a short period of time I am not trying to claim I am expert in any way. This type of post isn't for the Alaskan residents but for those who like myself may only be in Alaska for a short period of time wanting to know the best places to stay, eat, and visit in your brief time. 
I also think it is important to note that 99% of the things that I saw on Pinterest and blogs when I was researching for the trip on things to do in Anchorage actually had people leaving Anchorage to go and drive somewhere. Hahaha. SO I definitely would recommend that (there are so many beautiful drives and places that I have shared that I did on the trip that are close to Anchorage *smiles*) but for this post I want to focus on everything in Anchorage.  I hope that these things help!


How to Get To Anchorage
Traveling to Anchorage was really simple. The easiest way was to fly directly into the Ted Stevens Airport which is located less than 5 miles from downtown Anchorage! Since we were flying from different parts of the country to meet up we met up in Seattle and then flew from there directly into Anchorage. We flew on Alaska Airlines (I loved the experience and thought that they were awesome!) and arrived before midnight (Alaska time). When we arrived the first thing that we saw outside of our gate was the moose in the above picture and we giggled a bit knowing we had definitely arrived in Alaska. *smiles*

If you want to look up specific information about the Anchorage airport you can find the website HERE.
As I mentioned above we arrived into Alaska around midnight so it was 4 o'clock in the morning from the east coast and we were both exhausted. We stayed at the Hyatt House (located less than 10 minutes from the airport) and it was quiet and restful. [Due to the time I did not take a picture of the property so this picture above is Hyatt's picture.] Despite being in Alaska in the summer, we arrived in the dark but the next morning our mouths dropped open because...
from the Hyatt parking lot we caught a glimpse of the stunning mountains in the distance and we were already in awe! 
The last couple of days that I stayed in Anchorage alone I stayed at the Marriott (which was across the street from the Hyatt) and it offered a glimpse of the mountains too.
Where to Stay in Anchorage
I debated for a long time on where to stay in Anchorage and went back and forth before making the decision to stay one night at the Hyatt (our first night before our adventure really began) and then I stayed two nights at the Marriott by myself at the end of our road trip adventure. Both hotels were fine and the prices were fair for this area and safe which was a major factor when I was choosing a place to stay. I will admit that both of these properties are not the ones to choose if you are looking for "the most magificent views" or the "most luxury hotels" but honestly for what I wanted (a safe location, a quiet place to sleep, a clean room, and a fair price) they are both great and I would recommend them both.

If you want more information on either property you can click on the links below:
 
What to Do in Anchorage
I am only including places that I actually visited (I have chosen not to write about all of them on the blog as specific posts) and look forward to sharing more from my next trip. *smiles*

Resolution Park/Captain Cook Monument (Seen in Pictures Above)
 The Resolution Park in Anchorage (with the Captain Cook Monument) is a tribute to Captain Cook who was an explorer. Although Captain Cook actually never reached Anchorage, he is still credited with his exploration of this area and this park gives a glimpse of the views that he would have seen looking out to sea. From the park (if you go on a clear day) you can see Denali in the distance) and also see Susitna Mountain which is located across the water. Interesting note, Susitna Mountain is referred to as "Sleeping Lady" by the Anchorage locals I was told so if you hear that name that is what it is in reference to. This area also has the Anchorage dock and affords gorgeous views and sunsets so be sure to see it at that time of the day. 

Flattop Mountain
This is a beautiful trail with amazing views of the city that I definitely recommend. There is a $5 parking fee but it is totally worth it to see the city from this location!
Oscar Anderson House Museum (Left Picture)
The Oscar Anderson House Museum was a building that was constructed in 1915 by an Anchorage resident, Oscar Anderson. He claimed to be the 18th person who set foot on what is now Anchorage. Okay, so y'all know that I love random things in history and this just seemed like one of those random things to me (I mean the 18th person?!?... now I want to know who the 17th person is *smiles*). I didn't actually go inside the house museum but you can see it from the coastal trail if you are interested in going in. 

Tony Knowles Coastal Trail (Right Picture)
The Tony Knowles Coastal Trail is an 11-mile long paved trail along the coast of Anchorage. It is absolutely beautiful and I actually spent two different times on the trail walking different parts of it. If you are in Anchorage you need to check it out- it is gorgeous!

The Park Strip
Located in downtown Anchorage this is the oldest park in the city to visit. It's not large and can be seen in a very short amount of time, but it was fun to see this area. 
Anchorage REI
If you are going on a road trip from Anchorage than this will most likely be one of your stops on your way out of town for supplies (including bear spray if you plan on hiking). I love REI's and there isn't one in close proximity of where I live so it was fun to spend time exploring this store.

Title Wave Books
Located in the same shopping center as REI Title Wave Books was a fun place to wander around in and spend a little bit of time. They have new and used books and a fantastic collection of Alaska books if you are looking for some to take home with you after your trip. 
University of Alaska at Anchorage
This is kind of a random suggestion (I don't think I have ever suggested visiting a local university or college before on my travel guides) but one that is worth noting. I had a meeting with a couple of professors for some research for an upcoming book that I am working on and so I was on campus for a bit of time while I was in Anchorage. It was interesting because leaving I thought about doing this more often when I travel. Professors are a wealth of information about their specific fields and it is interesting to learn from experts around the globe this way. In addition to this often times universities have special art programs, sports events, etc. that could be fun to visit and experience so check them out.

Kincaid Park
I totally admit that I loved seeing the baby and mama moose briefly on our road trip and thought it would be fun to see more. I had read that Kincaid park had a large moose population and went to explore. There are close to 1500 acres of trails in the park and you can hike or bike in this area. While I didn't see a moose, it was still a beautiful place to visit.
Rent a Bike to Explore
There are plenty of places to explore via bike in Anchorage so consider renting a bike to explore this way!

Music in the Park
Every Wednesday and Friday there is local Alaska music and Alaska Native performers that hold concerts for an hour in the Peratrovich Park in Anchorage.
Alaska Jewish Museum
On every trip I take for the blog I like to try to visit one museum and when I heard about the Alaska Jewish Museum I was incredibly interested about visiting. The museum hosts Jewish history in Alaska but also discusses the ties of the holocaust from World War II (a major area of interest for me) to Alaskan heroes and survivors. The museum is very very small and won't take much time to get through, but I found the curator to be fascinating and we discussed our passions for keeping this area of history alive at some length when I visited. I definitely recommend including this in your trip to Anchorage if you are looking to visit a museum. There is a $10 cost to enter and you can find the website HERE.
Where to Eat in Anchorage
I am only including places that I actually ate at while I was in Anchorage so that I can testify to them personally. There were so many different recommendations that were given to me that all look amazing so I can't wait to check out more and share more on my next trip.
Snow City Cafe
Offering both breakfast and lunch this adorable cafe is a true treasure that we loved on the trip. We ate brunch here on our first morning in Alaska and then also stopped here when we were traveling through Anchorage on our way to the Kenai Peninsula and then I ate at it one more time before leaving the city. It was delicious y'all and for those like myself who are gluten free, they have celiac friendly options on the menu! Be a bit warned that it is very busy and you should expect a bit of a wait, but it will be worth it. You can find the website HERE.

Burrito King
I think that y'all who know me are well aware that along with salads, Mexican food is pretty much my favorite thing. So this place was yummy and I definitely recommend it if you are looking for some Mexican food while in Anchorage

Moose's Tooth
Moose's tooth was recommended to me by an Alaskan Air marketing rep who swore by Snow City and Moose's Tooth. Since we loved Snow City, I was curious to check this out. It was yummy and so fun to be able to eat a gluten free pizza which is a treat! You can find their website HERE.
Charlie's Bakery & Chinese Cuisine
Charlie's holds a special place in my heart because of how incredibly kind and amazing they are. I heard about Charlie's sometime early last fall from J, way before the trip to Alaska. I wanted to stop in to thank them because last Christmas they had helped me with a fun Christmas present (shipping food across the country!) and had been so incredibly amazing about the whole thing. I mean seriously y'all. AMAZING. Of course I had to stop in and say "thank you" in person and chat for a bit along with getting some food. Y'all... it was delicious and I would totally recommend this place. A bit of warning: the portions are HUGE so split something! Hahaha! No seriously... it is so yummy and I am craving some of it as I am writing this post.  

Again, I wished there was more time to try more restaurants because the recommendations I received were all amazing (thank you!!) and I can't wait to try different ones the next time I am in Anchorage. I hope that this brief guide helps for your time in Anchorage! Thanks so much for reading and following along y'all! 

PS- If you are curious about the specific details of the road trip that we took throughout Alaska or if you are planning a similar road trip (or just want to see and dream about visiting the beauty!) I hope the information below is helpful. You can read all of the posts from the trip by clicking on the links below:

Anchorage: // Anchorage Travel Guide//

Chugach Mountains (Alaska 1-South Drive): // Scenic Seward Highway Drive (Turnagain Arm Drive)//

Chugach Mountains: // Eklutna Lake//

Cooper Landing (Kenai Peninsula): // Kenai Princess Wilderness Lodge Nature Trail//



Girdwood: // Winner Creek Trail //