Month: August 2019

Our Alaskan Anniversary (Part 1)

Our Alaskan Anniversary (Part 1)

I wanted to get started on this post while it was still fresh in my mind. This may be a bit of a long one, so I will do a 3-part story. For several years, my husband and I have talked about what big trip we would take for our 20th and 25th wedding anniversary. After many discussions, we ultimately decided that we would visit Alaska on our 20th, and Hawaii on our 25th. On May 29, 2018, we celebrated our 19th anniversary by booking our Alaskan cruise that was set to sail on May 21, 2019. We decided that we wanted our 2 boys to go with us on this vacation as they are part of our celebration. We paid for them to go with us, and they had their very own interior room to share, and we had a nice balcony room. The joke of the cruise was that it was the boys’ last paid vacation by us since they are adults now (19 & 23). We decided on Hawaii for the 25th Anniversary, as it will be just me and my husband on that trip.

Family Pictures that were taken on the Carnival Legend by Dreams Studios. We were in Glacier Bay.

This was the first cruise that we had ever booked a year in advance, and let me tell you the year dragged on FOREVER (I might be exaggerating a bit). I was partly alright with that though, as I knew time would fly once we actually began our trip. As we grew close to vacation day, we started to have many different questions. We have only ever been on warm weather cruises in the Caribbean, where they play a lot of reggae style music. We thought about what type of music they would play on a cold weather cruise? I usually dislike the cold (even though I was born on the east coast). I have never gotten used to it. While I knew it was going to be absolutely gorgeous, I began to wonder if I was going to enjoy being cold on vacation. We checked the weather every day before we left to be sure that we packed the necessary styles needed to be warm. Even though we did our research, we still worried a little about it. We packed the best that we could and knew that there was always an option to buy an overpriced sweatshirt on the cruise ship if it came to it. It never did though, and I was pleased with our clothing selections. You can see my cruise packing lists from another post here: https://tinyurl.com/yxvyjrcb

We got up really early on May 18 and began our journey by plane to Seattle, Washington (which is where we were cruising out of). We have family that lives an hour away, so it was a bonus for us to be able to spend some time with them. We stayed the night at their place, and then headed back to Seattle in the in the afternoon to our hotel.  

May 20 – Day in Seattle: Of course I did some planning on what we would do in Seattle that day. You know I love to get the most out of our time (but in a non-rushed kind of way).

May 21 – Board the Carnival Legend: The day has finally come and we are all so excited! I did our registration as soon as we were allowed (months before the cruise), so that we could board the ship as early as possible. It isn’t necessary to get there early, but we like to begin vacationing a.s.a.p. Plus you are able to have lunch on the ship, so it saved us some money from purchasing from a restaurant in the city.  The Carnival Legend set sail at 4:00pm. It was in the upper 60s that day and cloudy, but it was nice enough to hang out on the deck for a while.

May 22 – Our “Fun Day at Sea”: I have heard cruisers say that they think sea days are boring. On warm cruises you can use it as a pool day. Well technically, the pools were heated on the legend, but I never saw anyone using them. You can also take advantage of the planned activities inside the ship. They usually have bingo and trivia games going on. I don’t recall if the casino was open, as our family doesn’t usually go to it. We are board game hobbyists, so we usually pack a few games to play. We also brought books to read, as well as adult coloring books/sticker books.

This wraps up part 1 of “Our Alaskan Anniversary”. Please click here to read part 2: https://www.getawaysimply.com/2019/09/01/our-alaskan-anniversary-part-2/

If you have any questions or would like to discuss travel itineraries, please email me at getawaysimply@gmail.com

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A Zoo You Can Drive Through

A Zoo You Can Drive Through

I am a huge animal lover and came across some pictures on my phone today that I just knew I had to share. 8 years ago, when our boys were 15 and 11, we decided to do a spring break vacation in Natural Bridge, VA. We heard about a place called Virginia Safari Park, and I instantly knew I wanted to go (but knew everyone else would enjoy it as well). I could barely contain myself while looking at the website. While there is a petting zoo area, and a few enclosed animal exhibits, the main part of it is a drive thru zoo. YES, you heard me right. You can drive through three miles of open area where animals are free to roam. What is unique about this zoo is that the animals are encouraged to come up to your vehicle to be fed.

When you arrive at the zoo you pay a per person fee and then you can purchase buckets of animal pellets. They tell you to open up your windows and allow the animals to stick their head in to eat out of your bucket. Let me tell you…the animal feed gets all over the place in your vehicle and you will still find it months later regardless of how clean you get your vehicle. In fact, I’m sure the person who bought my Jeep Grand Cherokee is still finding pellets and wondering why I had animals feeding in my car. Regardless of the mess, I would love to go again.

It was amazing to be able to see such huge animals within arm’s reach while on the safari drive. Watusi cattle were among one of them, and the brochure stated that you should not call them to your car. They have large horns and could cause damage. I know I shouldn’t have done this, and I apologize but…I couldn’t resist. My husband was fussing at me in the process, but I was sure to place a barrier between his horn and the car. He was quite the gentle giant. Nevertheless, please follow the guidelines and don’t pursue in my breaking of the rules.

At the end of the drive we came across some camels. You have to be careful though as they will try to steal your buckets. I suppose that is why they were placed at the end of the tour.

When we were done with the driving portion of our visit, we explored the exhibits and still came across a lot of hands on opportunities. This area was a walk-through exhibit of baby kangaroos (Joeys). They were just the cutest little ones.

My favorite animal is the giraffe and I became ecstatic when I found out that there was an area to feed them. They weren’t hungry and didn’t come up to us while we were on the platform, but just being able to take in their beauty was enough for me.

There is something for everyone at this park and I wholeheartedly recommend it. They are open from March – November. Here is the link to their site for more information. http://www.virginiasafaripark.com/Home.aspx

Have you ever been to a drive thru zoo? If so, tell me about your experience in the comments below.

Get away simply offers stress free travel plans for you to get the most out of your vacation. Email getawaysimply@gmail.com for more information.

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3-Day San Diego, CA Travel Itinerary

3-Day San Diego, CA Travel Itinerary

This 3-day travel plan is designed with the entire family in mind. I feel there is something for everyone to enjoy. All food selections were based on proximity to activities and based off of reviews that I found on www.yelp.com. The only restaurant that I have been to on this list is In-N-Out Burger and I highly recommend! Attached is a free downloadable travel plan so that you can get away simply on your next adventure.

Get Away Simply offers additional travel plans tailored strictly to what you and your family enjoys while vacationing. I help take the guess work out of planning, so you can truly be relaxed before and during your trip. These plans are offered for a fee. Please email me at getawaysimply.com for more information.

PARK 'N Fly - Airport Parking Reservations
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Hey! Want to go Camping?

Hey! Want to go Camping?

I was going to wait a while before I wrote this article, but it’s too good to keep to myself (I’ll get to that in a bit). I also feel that it is the perfect time of the year to write about camping. Summer is coming to an end, but there is still time to take advantage of the warmth by swimming in lakes, kayaking, fishing, or anything else that screams summer fun. I also think this is a good time to talk about camping as fall is approaching. It’s the perfect weather to snuggle up in a sleeping bag at night, but still enjoy the comfortable temperatures.

My family went camping many years ago when our sons were young and in the Boy Scouts.  We always enjoyed it and often talked about going in the future. We even kept all of our camping gear. Fast forward to about seven years ago. The spring season came around and either me or my husband would say, “hey, want to go camping”? This has happened every single year since then. The only thing added to the statement is, “but let’s actually go this time”. Guess what? We still haven’t been camping. Funny, right!

I recently learned about some new options of camping. I’m almost certain that they aren’t new ideas, but they are to me. The term is actually called glamping. According to dictionary.com, glamping is the activity of camping with some of the comforts and luxuries of home. While I am still interested in traditional camping in a tent, I wouldn’t mind trying out one of these options as well.

Mini RVs

Imagine riding in a mini-van that is equipped with bedding, a table, and a hatch that opens up to a mini cooking kitchen. Jucy RV Rentals offers just that. They offer several different styles of mini RVs to accommodate your family size.

Hit The Road in Your Dream RV

Jucy RV Rentals have locations in the United States in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Francisco, and Vancouver. Visit their website for additional information on their RVs.  

Pictured above: The Jucy Camp from Jucy USA https://www.jucyusa.com/

Tipi

How about a Tipi stay in Missouri? This rental is so beautiful that I really want to stay there. It is nestled in the woods, and the Airbnb listing states that it is accessible year-round, it’s fully equipped, and offers a hot shower in a temperature controlled bath house. You really have to see this one!

Pictured above: MAGIC Tipi Retreat on VRBO
http://www.anrdoezrs.net/links/9156570/type/dlg/https://www.vrbo.com/4841111ha?arrival=2020-06-11&departure=2020-06-14&childrenCount=2&adultsCount=2

Tree House

This particular treehouse has been on my radar for quite some time, as it is only 2 hours away from me. It is located in Richmond, Virginia and is as cute as can be! You can go back to your childhood staying in this house. The owners offer a private bathroom as well as an indoor option to sleep if the weather gets too hot & humid.

Pictured above: Trailside Treehouse in RVA – Glamp with private bath on Airbnb https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/20724950?source_impression_id=p3_1566331847_h2nEUBk1FkXKaL5s

Tent on Top of Truck/Jeep

If you have a pick-up truck or even a hard-top jeep, this might be an option you’d like to consider. It is basically a tent that sits on top of the vehicle. It comes with a ladder so that you can get up to your sleeping space. These roof top tents are available for rent at Off The Grid.

Pictured above: High Country 3-5 Person Tent by Rent off the Grid
https://www.rentoffthegrid.com/rooftop-tents/

Yurt

Yurts give a great amount of space with lots of coverage from the outside elements. I found this gorgeous yurt located in the Smoky Mountains. It even has a fully updated kitchen. You truly have to see it to believe it!

Panoramic Creek Front Luxury Yurt on VRBO
http://www.anrdoezrs.net/links/9156570/type/dlg/https://www.vrbo.com/1069013?arrival=2020-06-11&departure=2020-06-14&childrenCount=2&adultsCount=2

Let me know if you have ever been glamping before and which option you liked best! Getaway Simply offers specialized trip itineraries to make your vacation stress-free. Email me today at getawaysimply@gmail.com for more information.

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How I Went to California (And Loved It)

How I Went to California (And Loved It)

Visiting California had been a dream of mine since I was a little girl. I grew up in Baltimore, Maryland and my father’s parent’s lived in Eureka, CA. My grandmother and I would talk on the phone once a month and I always lived vicariously through her. I remember always asking different things such as: is it warm there, is the ocean clear, can you see whales, and the list went on. I always thought of California as this glorious place and it didn’t matter which part I went to, I just really wanted to go.

In 2011, my dream became a reality. My husband was going on a business trip and I was fortunate enough to join him. His conference was in Torrey Pines in La Jolla, CA. I didn’t have a travel itinerary specifically written for this trip, as my husband was there for business. We were however able to take a day to ourselves at the end of the trip to explore. It did not disappoint and it was everything I thought it would be. I went on another business trip with my husband in 2013, and we stayed in downtown San Diego that time.

When our oldest son graduated from high school, we decided to celebrate by taking a family trip to San Diego. This time I went all out and made an itinerary so that we could get to see everything (well as much as we could in almost a week). This was the first time that we rented a home for a vacation instead of staying in a hotel. We wanted to truly be able to relax and be given the opportunity to cook our own meals to save some money. We now only stay in hotels on vacation when it is absolutely necessary.

We stayed in Hillcrest in a cute little one floor rental that was above a garage. It was gorgeous inside, and had everything that we needed to feel comfortable for our stay. My favorite parts were the spa-like bathroom and the compact refrigerator and dishwasher in the galley kitchen. The layout was perfectly planned to give the most adequate space.

We don’t mind doing touristy things on vacation, but we strive to do what the locals do to really see the beauty of our destination. Below you will find a few activities and food recommendations. If you have visited San Diego before, what were your favorite places to eat and visit?

Where We Stayed

What to Eat

Things To See/Do

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What to Pack on a Cruise

What to Pack on a Cruise

Disclosure: This post contains some affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.

One of our favorite ways to vacation is by cruise. We thought that life would slow down once our boys grew up, but it seems quite the opposite. We are a non-stop household. Going on a cruise literally forces you to do nothing but relax. There is no worrying about what you are going to cook or where you’re going to go out to eat for dinner. You don’t need to figure out where to go for entertainment and you can be disconnected from the online world for the extent of your cruise. Although you have options to purchase an internet connection, the majority of our family opts out. I am the one that usually purchases the social media package, so that I can still be in contact with family and the dog boarder in case of an emergency. I know I can’t do anything while I am out at sea, but it just keeps my mind at ease.

Packing for a cruise can be confusing if you have never been on one. You may have questions on what is acceptable to wear to dinner or what the temperature is like inside of the ship. Even though I have been on about 7 cruises (all with Carnival Cruise lines), I recently found myself Googling what to wear on our last cruise to Alaska. We have always cruised to warm destinations, so I was at a complete loss. Our trip was in May so there was a lot of searching on weather averages, as well as checking the weather a few days before our trip. I have created this list to help you to be stress-free while getting ready for a relaxing time on your cruise.

Posted below is a helpful list to use for both warm and cold destination cruises.

The following dress codes are from Carnival Cruise Lines:

Notes: Dress casually during the day to include sneakers and flip flops.

 For dining room attire, the cruise casual dining dress code is as follows:

Gentlemen – Sports slacks, khakis, jeans (no cut-offs), dress shorts (long), collared sports shirts.

Ladies – Casual dresses, casual skirts or pants and blouses, summer dresses; Capri pants, dress shorts, jeans (no cut-offs).

There will always be a cruise elegant night on your cruise. If you are on a 6-day cruise or longer, there will be two cruise elegant nights in the dining room. The buffet is open for those that do not want to partake in elegant night.

For dining room attire, the cruise elegant dress code is as follows:

Gentlemen – Dress slacks, dress shirts. We also suggest a sport coat. If you wish to wear suits and ties or tuxedos, by all means we invite you to do so.

Ladies – Cocktail dresses, pantsuits, elegant skirts and blouses; if you’d like to show off your evening gowns, that’s great too!

Note: Not permitted in the dining room during cruise elegant dinner for ladies and gentlemen: shorts, gym shorts, t-shirts, beach flip flops, bathing suit attire, jeans, cut-off jeans, sleeveless shirts for men, sportswear, and baseball hats.

PARK 'N Fly - Airport Parking Reservations

Warm Weather Cruise

Clothing

  • Shorts/capris
  • Shirts
  • 1-2 pair jeans for dining room and/or evening shows (it can be a bit chilly at night in the lounge while watching shows)
  • Undergarments (underwear, undershirts, bra, socks)
  • Bathing suits (no towels, they are provided on the ship)
  • Sleep wear
  • Workout wear if you want to exercise. They have an excellent gym, as well as a jogging/walking track on the top of the ship
  • Elegant night attire if interested
  • Shoes (sneakers, sandals, flip flops, dress shoes for elegant night)
  • Sweater/light jacket for inside the ship

Additional Items

Many of these items are available on the ship, but the cost is much higher.

  • PASSPORT
  • Backpack for walking around port/excursions https://amzn.to/34svtRZ
  • Surge protector power strip. There aren’t enough outlets in the room for everyone’s electronics. https://amzn.to/2MVMVZv
  • Card games/small board games for sea days (They do have a few scheduled activities during sea days, but nothing beats a good table game.
  • Clips to attach towels to beach chair https://amzn.to/2ZL0twS
  • Sun screen https://amzn.to/2PRhKAK
  • Aloe https://amzn.to/2HLoV7h
  • Lanyard for your room card (Carnival themed lanyards are available on the ship) https://amzn.to/2PPSJpK
  • If you don’t think you will get enough value out of the bottomless bubbles card (soda card), you are allowed to bring a maximum of 12 sealed cans or cartons of other non-alcoholic beverages such as soda, juice or milk (per person). Bottled water is not allowed. Juice, water & tea are available for free on the ships.
  • On the day the cruise embarks, you are allowed to bring on board one standard 750 ml bottle of wine or champagne per person.
  • If you enjoy flavored water drop-ins such as Crystal light, you can bring those on board.
  • This past cruise we learned that we can bring sealed snacks on board as well. We brought our protein bars and beef jerky that we purchased while in the Seattle, Washington Port.
  • Small pop up hamper. We always travel with one. It makes it so much easier to keep dirty clothes out of the way. https://amzn.to/34nXFFD
  • Door decorations if you are celebrating an event. Most doors are metal. Carnival Cruise Lines requires fire retardant decorations.

Cold Weather Cruise

My family cruised to Alaska in May 2019. The temps were in the 50’s the entire time. We recommend dressing in layers, as you will frequently be going in and out of the ship. It’s easier to remove layers instead of sweating in heavy winter clothes. We didn’t bring a heavy coat, just a medium weight and a light weight jacket.

Clothing

  • Shirts (short sleeves and long sleeves)
  • Jeans
  • Thermal pants to wear under jeans
  • Undergarments (underwear, undershirts, bra, socks)
  • Bathing suits (no towels, they are provided on the ship) The pool on the Carnival legend was heated, but very few people were in it. They do however have a hot tub inside the gym and on the decks.
  • Sleep wear
  • Workout wear if you want to exercise. They have an excellent gym, as well as a jogging/walking track on the top of the ship (weather permitting, it may be cold).
  • Elegant night attire if interested
  • Shoes (sneakers, casual dress shoes for dinner, dress shoes for elegant night, some people wore boots)
  • Sweater for inside the ship
  • Gloves & hat (We didn’t bring these, but some travelers may prefer to bring them)

Additional Items

  • PASSPORT
  • Backpack for walking around port/excursions https://amzn.to/34svtRZ
  • Surge protector power strip. There aren’t enough outlets in the room for everyone’s electronics. https://amzn.to/2MVMVZv
  • Binoculars if you are going to Alaska (Great for whale watching, spotting seals, eagles, and bears on land) https://amzn.to/31biWQZ
  • Card games/small board games for sea days (They do have a few scheduled activities during sea days, but nothing beats a good table game.
  • Sun screen (You can still get sun burn in the cold climate) https://amzn.to/2PRhKAK
  • Lanyard for your room card (Carnival themed lanyards are available on the ship) https://amzn.to/2PPSJpK
  • If you don’t think you will get enough value out of the bottomless bubbles card (soda card), you are allowed to bring a maximum of 12 sealed cans or cartons of other non-alcoholic beverages such as soda, juice or milk (per person). Bottled water is not allowed. Juice, water & tea are available for free on the ships.
  • On the day the cruise embarks, you are allowed to bring on board one standard 750 ml bottle of wine or champagne per person.
  • If you enjoy flavored water drop-ins such as Crystal light, you can bring those on board.
  • This past cruise we learned that we can bring sealed snacks on board as well. We brought our protein bars and beef jerky that we purchased while in the Seattle, Washington Port.
  • Small pop up hamper. We always travel with one. It makes it so much easier to keep dirty clothes out of the way. https://amzn.to/34nXFFD
  • Door decorations if you are celebrating an event. Most doors are metal. Carnival Cruise Lines requires fire retardant decorations.

I hope that my list helps you pack for your upcoming cruise. Remember that this is my experience with Carnival Cruise Lines, as I haven’t cruised yet with other lines (but plan to try them out in the future). I will soon create an article on the ins and outs of cruising. What kind of questions do you have about vacationing on a cruise ship?

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About

About

Hey there! I am Michele and here are a few tidbits about me:

I am a 30 something…cough, cough…. almost 40.

I love to plan a good trip.

I have a wonderful husband of 20 years and 2 amazing sons.

I am a dog lover and have a miniature pinscher and a miniature Australian Shepherd. I would have more dogs if I could, but condo living suggests otherwise.

I LOVE giraffes and visiting Giraffe Manor in Kenya is on my bucket list. If you don’t know about Giraffe Manor, you must take a look.

In my spare time my husband and I play board games (we’re a part of a board game group). We also enjoy the outdoors: kayaking, fishing, hiking, and bike riding. We also love going to the beach and do so regularly as it is close to home.

I went back to school late in life and graduated college at the age of 36. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Human Services.

Thanks for taking the time to get to know a bit about me. I look forward to helping you get away simply by providing informative blog posts, as well as planned vacation itineraries.

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