7/3/18

How I Visited Alaska As A Budget Traveler



When an opportunity presents itself to do Alaska on the cheap, how can you say no? (Answer: you don't.)

The beauty of Alaska has captured the imagination of countless writers and adventurers. And after seeing it, I understand perfectly.

Of course, before this year, I didn't really think it was an option for me to visit anytime in the near future.

Flights to Alaska from Chicago are typically in the $500-600 range. This is the price of a ticket to Europe or South America.

It was hard for me to justify this kind of price, especially knowing that once there I would probably have to rent a car or pay exorbitant prices for transportation. Not to mention the higher cost of gas and food.

So when one of my close friends informed me she would be working at Denali National Park this summer, I knew it was my moment.


Alaska Airlines Companion Fare

I am a huge fan of airlines credit cards -- their intro deals have gotten me many round-trip tickets to Europe. So when I read that Alaska Airlines offers a buy one, get one free deal with their credit card, I knew this was too good to pass up.

Of course, there's always a catch. In this case, you had to spend $1000 to get the deal. Luckily for me, I was already in desperate need of a new laptop so I would be spending the money anyways.

One purchase and payment later, I saw the anticipated code sitting in my account. Since I was planning on going with a friend, we each ended up paying around $250.

Plus as a bonus, I got 30,000 miles which I used towards a trip to Calgary -- home of Banff National Park -- for August. 



Transportation + Lodging

I had an advantage most people don't, in that I had a friend with a car who was already in Alaska. She was kind enough to pick us up from the airport at 4 a.m. before heading over to a reasonably priced hotel found on Booking.com. 

We decided to cover all the gas for my friend since she did us a favor by driving four hours to Anchorage from Denali.

Since she worked at the lodge in the national park, she was able to get us a room for $60 a night -- compare that to the full price of $300 a night, and we were getting a pretty sweet deal.

Horseshoe Lake, Denali National Park

Food + Activities

The most difficult area to save money was food. We managed to pack some jumbo bags of snacks in our bags, but I can say that we soon got pretty sick of trail mix and sunflower seeds. We had no way to store or cook any food, so we were forced to eat at restaurants or food trucks most of the time.

As you can imagine this added up fast. Food can be pretty pricey in Alaska, especially since we were in areas dominated by tourists like ourselves. 

Instead of telling you how to save (though hitting the grocery store is a solid option), I'll tell you that some meals are way worth it.

The ones that stick out most in my mind are a $20 spinach and mushroom quiche and fresh salad after days of eating gas station snacks and greasy Thai noodles from a food truck. Sometimes you just have to splurge.

We kept most of our activity costs to a minimum, preferring hiking and exploring the natural beauty of the area on our own.

The most expensive part of the trip was a four-hour boat ride that we took out of Seward into the Kenai Fjords National Park. 



The Resurrection Bay Tour took us first to Fox Island where we were given a delicious lunch of a salmon, beef, or vegetarian meal while a park ranger talked to us about the island.

After a little time to explore, we hopped back on the boat where the whale watching began. We probably saw a grand total of six different whales fluking and coming back up to the surface.

There were also many sitings of puffins, seals, and dolphins. It was all-in-all absolutely worth the $100 we each spent. And the chocolate chip cookie at the end was a nice touch.



This was far from being my most affordable trip, but it's hard to think of a way we could have saved more money while still getting as much enjoyment.

We were some of the few non-retirees at the lodge, to the point that most people just assumed we worked there.

I'm glad that we didn't have to wait until retirement age to have this trip of a lifetime. Thanks to some savvy tricks and some well-connected friends, we pulled off this trip on a budget.


6/4/17

Transitional Style Staples

Summertime is such a tricky season for me outfit-wise. All I ever want to do is wear a light sundress because it is always so hot and sticky outside, but even that doesn't always help.

What I do love though is transitional dressing. That brief period between spring and summer where it's the perfect temperature.

Warm enough to go out in a tank or dress, but cool enough that you can get away with jeans without feeling like you're going to overheat.

I celebrated this time of year by putting together three outfits in collaboration with tobi.com that all reflect different parts of my style (vintage/70s, girly, and boho) to take advantage of the season the best way I know how.


Top: Tobi, Jeans: Target, Mules: Old Navy, Glasses: Urban Outfitters


I love this top so much, and it'll even be amazing for when it gets extra sweaty out (convenient airflow), but for now, I'm gonna pair it with some high-waisted jeans and feel the 70s vibe. 

These jeans are like a holy grail for me to be honest. At 5'11" finding flare jeans that are long enough has been a challenge, so being able to wear them (with heels!) is practically miraculous. 

Dress: Tobi, Shoes: Zara (similar


Despite what it may look like in this picture, I am not at all tan. However, this dress does add a little sunshine to my life. For someone who can't get enough neutrals in her wardrobe (and has a hard time distinguishing one piece from the other because of that), I decided this dress would be a fun addition for the springtime. 

These shoes are just an all-time staple for me. I literally wear them at least three times a week because they're super comfy and look put together.

Dress: Tobi, Jeans: Old Navy (similar), Bra: Monoprix (similar

Sunglasses: Primark 

Typical tall girl problems... got this dress which in reality is a tunic on me because otherwise, my butt would most definitely be out. But I love the open back. It could even work for a bathing suit cover-up!

The jeans are sold out but apparently, they offer similar ones now which are stain resistant?! Need to get in on that because I am constantly spilling coffee, especially when wearing white...

This bra is technically ~French Lingerie~ but also I got it at a supermarket so I don't think that counts...

Either way, I'm happy with these outfits and hoping this in-between weather lasts a little longer! What do you wear for this kind of weather? And more importantly, if you have tips for what to wear when it gets really hot I'm all ears.

Photography by Amy Shelton.

3/26/17

Unique Watch + Incredible Style (Giveaway!)

I'm extremely picky about jewelry in general. I wear one necklace every day and that's about it.

But one piece that I've come to really appreciate during my time living in Paris has been a beautiful watch.


I've always appreciated the aesthetic appearance of a classic watch, but never understood the French obsession (after all isn't that what smart phones are for nowadays?)

But when Jord Watches asked to team up, I couldn't help but fall in love with the classic shape and unique design.



You see, all of their watches are made from unique wood!

I picked the Frankie in Zebrawood and Champagne which is a gorgeous combination, perfectly marrying the striped wood grain with the champagne color of the face.



I have never received so many compliments on one accessory in my life. It's particular beauty can't help but draw attention.

If you've fallen in love with this watch as much as I have... good news! Thanks to our partnership, I'm giving away $100 towards a watch of your own, but even if you don't win you automatically get $25 off.

Click here to enter the giveaway before March 27!

Watch Gift Ideas

9/30/16

Travel Guide: Santorini

What looked like snow capped mountain tops from afar were actually cliffs dotted with white stucco buildings. As soon as I stepped off the ferry, I knew I was in paradise.




I took the bus from the port into Fira, where I took another bus to Perivolos. I'm so thankful for the welcoming, helpful Greek people helping me figure out where I needed to go because otherwise I would have been totally lost.

The roads are not for those with vertigo. We wound up the cliffs in our big bus in a serpentine fashion. I'm still not sure how we managed those tiny roads.



One of our first stops was Oia. The pretty picture off the post cards. We rented ATV's which you can find all over the island. It was about a 30 minute ride with some of the most stunning views I've ever seen.

The white and blue city is a dream to behold with its quaint, little buildings stacked on top of each other. Blue skies and wide open views of the sea made it obvious why Oia has become known for its breathtaking sunsets.


Between the adorable shops selling traditional garments and pottery, and the men riding up the stairs on donkeys (yes this is a real thing that happens!), the city lived up to and even exceeded all of my expectations.

Next stop, was the Red Sand Beach. It was definitely not what I expected it to be. It was worth seeing, but don't bother bringing your swimsuit (unless it's just to take pictures) because "beach" is a bit of an overstatement. It's more like a patch of sand, and there are way too many tourists to do any actual swimming or tanning. 



This is literally all of it. We ended up taking the ATV's to another nearby beach called Vlychada which was gorgeous and much less crowded than many of the other popular beaches. It was a little hard to find though. Don't trust Google maps! It led us to a dead end where we could see the beach, but couldn't access it. Follow the signs instead. There are some near Agios Giorgios. Just a warning though if you walk too far down the beach there are some nudists (unless that's your thing than go for it!).


We spent a lot of time on the beautiful black sand beach near our hotel. You can rent lounge chairs or cabanas. The sand gets extremely hot during the day, so it's best to do so unless you somehow manage to have your own. Most importantly ENJOY. Greece is such a magical, beautiful country.

3/23/16

Bedroom Inspiration

I am currently in the process of ridding myself of the horrendous orange and pink walls in my childhood bedroom which I decided were a good idea when I was 13. My ideal room would be a white, airy, luxurious space that feels fresh yet warm.

Check out my inspiration pictures. Hope they inspire you too! I'll post an update on how my renovation is going.

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