Princess Cruising to Alaska

In my ever-exciting quest to visit all 50 state capitols, one of my dear friends and I set off for Southeast Alaska to hit Juneau via a Princess Cruise. We were thrilled to learn that the Golden Princess departed on a summer Saturday from Seattle during Seafair, and we spent the day prior to the cruise exploring the Emerald City. My friend and I hit the high points: Pike’s Market, a duck tour of Lake Union, Smith Tower, and drinks with a local friend. The following day, we headed for the largest US state as we boarded our ship.

Upon immediate exploration, we decided to make the most of our time at sea and filled up our days at sea with activities galore: TRX classes at the gym, treatments at the spa, bingo, shopping classes, card games (literally 15+ hours of Spite and Malice at the boat’s wine bar), and enjoying the ship’s big band music. Some things we learned about Alaskan cruising Princess-style: “all-inclusive” barely covers anything, never do the set dining (dull table mates), pack for warmth with layers, and always buy the full bottle of bubbles/make friends with the bartender. We loved the relaxation that we found away from it all, though, and we achieved Princess’ mantra of “escape completely.”

We hit Juneau on a drizzly Monday morning, and we immediately took off through the downtown area towards the state capitol. Upon arrival, a kind volunteer gave us a wonderful tour–did you know that Alaska has the only state seal with a seal on it?–and shared some wonderful stories about Elizabeth Peratrovich, one of the first civil rights activists. Shopping and a whale watching excursion completed our time in the capitol city.

Next stop was Skagway, which was a little town rich with gold rush history. We opted to go on an close-by adventure to a musher’s camp (picture: Alaskan sled dogs made famous by the Iditarod) to experience nature and cuddle the baby huskies. This was especially well-worth the trip when we came across a bear less than 30 feet away. Rar! We also stopped in the famous Red Onion Saloon–a former brothel!–and enjoyed the scandalous tour. The next day, the cruise ship sailed around Glacier Bay, and we happily shelled out more money to sit in the adults-only Sanctuary and watch the beautiful glaciers calving (breaking apart and falling into the water with a loud clap, which the Tlingits called “white thunder.”)

Our favorite stop was in Ketchikan, where we decided to forgo the tourist stops and do Stray Boots‘ art walk scavenger hunt. We saw wonderful galleries, watched the seals play near Creek Street, and discovered the best bar in town: the Arctic Bar, home of the lovely Paula and the best Bloody Mary in Alaska. My friend and I enjoyed going off the beaten path (read: away from fellow cruisers) before getting back on board and cruising onward to Victoria, BC. Having journeyed to beautiful Victoria before, we spent some time people-watching near the harbor during our quick stop in Canada before heading back to the Golden Princess for one final round of Spite and Malice.

 

Advertisements

The Joys of Flying

My most current business trip started as most do: I called Uber for my lift to the airport while doing some last-second packing. After many years of traveling for work, I have fitting it all in down pat, although this pre-trip rush always gives me adrenaline. At the airport, I head to a different terminal, as I’m flying on US Airways this particular trip. As a long-time American Airlines fan, I was dreading flying this merging airline, especially with some updates announced today that are sending us frequent AA flyers into a tailspin.

Nevertheless, my trip went was fairly non-eventful–except for some small hiccups. So, here are some friendly reminders for all of us on a flying metal tube to have a pleasant flight:

  • Although your ring tone is a loud “Sweet Child of Mine” by the great Guns ‘N Roses, after the plane door is closed, it’s probably a good idea to silence your phone and have it in airplane mode.
  • Come to think of it, phones should always be in quiet mode during a flight, especially when you’re composing emails the entire trip. That means you, 6B.
  • I can’t understand why passengers seated in the rear of the plane place their carry on luggage near the bulkhead. Those spots fill up so fast, then those who are by law required to stow all luggage have nowhere to put their belongings…which can cause delays!
  • What you’re grabbing for balance every time you get out of your seat is actually the back of the passenger’s in front of you. Remember: we’re all in this together!
  • I’ve read multiple times recently in travel forums how few people actually respond to the flight attendants when they greet boarding travelers. I decided to preempt their greetings with one cheerful “good morning!!” of my own. It’s not only the polite thing to do, but they have been very lovely in response.

Hopefully, this week’s post comes across as a positive one. Travel is definitely my passion, even though I have to remind myself during delayed flights and encounters with rude passengers. We road warriors must remember that it’s all worth it–especially the opportunity to experience new cities, meet new people from around the world, and enjoy the rare–but incredible!–personal excursions we get to take.

 

How to Fit It All In (Part II)

Since I began my blog earlier this year, the most popular post has been “How to Fit It All In (Part I).” I recently was on a two and a half week vacation/business trip to Europe, and I used my packing strategy–including using my Ogio backback and my Samsonite Suite-case–to prevent having to check a bag. You can see exactly what I packed in the infographic below.

How to Fit It All In (Part II)

How to Fit It All In (Part II)

Some other tips:

  • Always wear your bulkiest clothes/shoes on the flight; on this trip, I wore my workout clothes and tennis shoes on the plane.
  • Invest in SpaceBags. I use three on each trip, and they are incredible. Usually, I place my clothes in the larger bag, zip it, place on the floor, and use my knees to remove the air from the bag. Fold it in half and repeat.
  • Buy a sturdy liquids bag and keep filled with travel sized containers, ready to go at a moment’s notice.
  • Pick a color of shoes/accessories and stick with it. For example, I only pack black shoes, belts, handbags, etc., and I make sure all of my outfits work with them.
  • Do you really need to pack heels for Europe? I tossed in my wedge sandals at the last minute and did not wear them once.

Hope this entry has been helpful. I’d love to know…how do YOU fit it all in?

Songs for the Journey

As the weekend approaches, I am thinking about songs that make me want to hit the road on a  mini-break. Here are songs that would comprise my perfect vacay playlist:

Melodies for the Journey

Melodies for the Journey

  • Take You Higher – Goodwill & Hook N Sling
  • Atlas Hands – Benjamin Francis Leftwich
  • San Francisco – the Mowgli’s
  • Take a Picture – Filter
  • Go – Jonsi
  • Koop Island Blues – Ane Brun and Koop
  • One Night in Rio – Louie Austen
  • M79 – Vampire Weekend
  • Mountain Sound – Of Monsters and Men
  • I’m Shipping Up to Boston – Dropkick Murphys
  • I Want Her But I Don’t Want Her – Zahed Sultan
  • Beautiful Day – U2
  • One Night in Bangkok – Murray Head
  • Midnight City – M83

And then, the journey ends, and it’s time to return to regular life. These are my packing songs (and I won’t ever admit that sometimes I dance around my hotel room whilst loading up my suite-case!):

  • Lisztomania – Phoenix
  • Comin’ Home Baby – Mel Torme
  • American Girl – Tom Petty
  • Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough – Michael Jackson

Have a shantastic weekend!

How to Fit It All In (Part I)

Image

I often get the question: “how do you carry-on on an international flight?” Here is Part Une: the Ogio backpack (aka carry-on item one). You can view this infographic to see what I fit into my trusty pink carry-one. Stay tuned for more packing tips!

How to Fit It All In (Part I)

How to Fit It All In (Part I)