Follow us on Instagram

Where is the best place to see photos of our travels? It’s Instagram hands down.

I combine these Instagram shots with journal notes to give you a better sense of place and time. The Instagram photos are also frequently geo-tagged for location.

You can think of my feed as a travel based stream of consciousness. There is a chronological order but the posts may keep appearing even after the trip has concluded.

There are a couple of reasons for this…

1. I want to give you an overall look at what a city, town or location has to offer. It may take more than a couple of days to show that even with this blog and associated YouTube footage.

2. It can get creepy. Right now I have a combined aggregate of around 16,000 followers on all my social media accounts. I am grateful for each and every one of you. But, do you really want to know my tracked every move?

No, I didn’t think so either. ๐Ÿ™‚

There are a couple of different ways that you can follow me. The first is to follow my url of http://www.instagram.com/gaylevlogs The other way is to go to Instagram and follow the hashtag #BeBodacious Each of my posts have this tag. As people join our community and use the hashtag, you’ll be able to follow some of their posts as well.

Whatever method you choose there is something to keep in mind. Always, #BeBodacious. Don’t let life get in the way of living.

See you on the road! ๐Ÿ™‚

Musings from Turnigan Arm on the Gulf of Alaska

It’s a disability, not a roadblock.

I was feeling philosophical after leaving the Alpine Bakery. We drove up to check out Alyeska Resort. It was snowy and our rental car had problems making it so we turned around. This sign greeted us at the bottom of the hill. We could either go right or left. Pushing forward wasn’t an option.

Having a disability is like that too. Although not true, being disabled is often seen as a dead end by other people. We may do things differently but that’s okay.

Winter trip to Alaska onย  last minute travel

I’m taking a winter trip to Alaska in February. A last minute travel deal lowers the prices to a fraction of the cost of a summer trip. Despite the cold weather, Alaska can be just as exciting in winter as summer.

Alaska Airlines offered a last minute trip that was too good to pass up. Adding to the excitement is that the Alaska Airlines fare sale was timed to coincide with peak chances of seeing the Northern Lights.

With the fare sale I snagged discounted airfare for $350 round trip. This is main cabin fare instead of saver tickets with insurance from Raleigh-Durham airport to Anchorage (one of the closest airports to me now).

In contrast, my church mission team paid $600 for round trip tickets from Atlanta to Anchorage in summer 2019. This was economy / saver fare and without insurance.

What are things to do in Alaska in winter? Assuming you are flying into Anchorage you have the opportunity to…

Turnigan Arm

See the Northern Lights

Go to Turnigan Arm on the Gulf of Alaska

Visit the museums

See Earthquake Park. This free city park tells the story of damage incurred during Good Friday Earthquake.

It is important to buy good winter gear before going to Alaska. Generally, temperatures are milder in Anchorage than at Denali than in Fairbanks but can still hover around zero. There is also more daylight in the southern parts of the state than farther north.

Winter gear is often on sale this time of year. Stores are starting to stock for spring. I was able to get ski bibs from Amazon for $38 and change. A much lower price than just a couple of weeks ago. https://amzn.to/2uzI9Jc

Another thing about Alaska is that everything is weather dependant. Always. No matter what the season. The weather can be unpredictable. Keep an eye on the forecast in summer or winter in Alaska.

The budget is adding up. With the discounted airfare sale on American Airlines, I’m confident that this may be a cheap trip to Alaska. Maybe even the cheapest trip I’ve ever made.

Matanuska Glacier

Check back in late February for the final total and (hopefully) some really cool pictures of the northern lights.

Travel Tuesday Trivia and Tips

Good news! We are starting a new series on our YouTube channel! The series is going to be called Travel Tuesday Trivia. Each week at 10:00 am Eastern (9:00 am Central) we’ll be discussing places that I’ve been. There will be questions and shoutouts but a lot of information that will help make your trip planning more successful. Plus, since most of the shows are live, you’ll be able to ask your travel – related questions.

What types of subjects will the new series cover? Our first show is one example.

The fascinating state of Alabama was our topic. Did you know that the state has no national parks? They do have a series of national monuments, trails and historic sites. You’ve probably heard the saying “Damn the torpedoes. Full speed ahead“, but did you know that it came about because of the Civil War era Battle of Mobile Bay?

Fort Morgan fell into Union hands as a result of the battle and siege. It is located on the Gulf Coast of Alabama. We discussed the location, fort’s hours of operation, fee and some of Fort Morgan’s amenities.

We had lot of fun with our Travel Tuesday Trivia. It’s a Bodacious Livestream that you won’t want to miss. Join us at www.youtube.com/gaylecrabtree on Tuesdays at 10:00 am Eastern.

Like this article? Check out these on our Bodacious Broads Travel Blog
How to survive a holiday road trip with your sanity intact

Me, my service dog and a cross-continent road trip to Alaska

Harvest Host offers free overnight camping at unique locations

 

How to survive a holiday road trip with your sanity intact

There is nothing like a holiday road trip to bring out the very best and worst of the season. There is plenty that can make a parent stressed out and overwhelmed. Kids that are on break have stored up energy to release. Lines for gas and lunch can be long. Restaurants can be crowded. There is plenty that can make a parent stressed out and overwhelmed.

I frequently saw parents and children who were stressed out by the travel experience when I worked in the hotel industry. These tips can help you survive a Thanksgiving road trip with your sanity intact.

1. Slow down

Expect an increased police presence on the road on Thanksgiving and major holidays. They know that people will be hurrying to get to Grandma’s. The added pressure can cause people to exceed the speed limit who might not ordinarily do so. Apps like Waze and Google Maps can help you avoid speed traps.

2. Wear comfortable clothing.
Loose-fitting or stretchy clothing are ideal for road trips. Travel is less stressful if you can be comfortable.

3. Bring a blanket

It is good to have a blanket or throw in the car. You can cover up or use it as a pillow as you need. A throw can be easily stored in a 2 or 3 gallon Ziploc bag when not in use.

4. Bring games for the kids for inside the car and outdoors.

Keep the kids occupied with car friendly games for kids. Try finding the a letter of the alphabet on billboards and signs until you find them. Another good idea is to see how many states are represented on license plates.

A Google or Bing search will yield tons of suggestions for car games. Download and print age appropriate mazes, crossword puzzles and coloring sheets. Staple these together to make a book about Thanksgiving or road trips.

Some sites will allow you to create your own puzzles or mazes. This is a great opportunity to work in Grandma and Grandpa’s names oh, the city that you are visiting or even the color of Grandma’s house. Be creative.

5. Bring water and snacks.

It may mean stopping for bathroom breaks a little more frequently than you would like, but snacks and water are an essential part for surviving Thanksgiving travel.

People who are hungry or thirsty can be challenging on a road trip. Stave off the “hangries” some healthy snacks and water. Pouches of fruit, apples or bananas, protein bars or packages of crackers are among my first choices for road trips.

6. Create a playlist

Who doesn’t enjoy singing along to their favorite songs the car stereo? Create a playlist that can provide hours of entertainment. Every one can enjoy the anticipation of hearing their favorite song.

7. Create an audiobook playlist.

Download your favorite classic book or stream from YouTube. This can be a great way encourage kids to read. This is one of the ways that I kept my sanity intact on my last trip to Alaska. If you don’t want to try YouTube, check Amazon.com or or search “free audio books to download” the next time online.

These tips will make Thanksgiving travel easier. Please leave any other suggestions that you may have in the comment section. It is a great way to take advantage of crowd-sourced knowledge. Another great way is to join us on Facebook to share more tips on surviving not just Thanksgiving travel, but any road trip with your sanity intact.

Why products given to Influencers to review aren’t free

There’s a lot in the headlines today about Influencers (often Instagram Influencers) will accept free products to review. As an influencer, I want to shed light on why those items influencers get for free, aren’t.

Here’s a typical scenario…

A representative from Widget Company emails me with an offer of a free product in exchange for a review. Usually this comes with a photo or link to the product.

I look at the email and begin research before responding. This includes reading reviews on the product’s website and comparing those review with sites like Amazon, Walmart and other sites. It also involves perusing silimar items from other companies to get a better comparison of the overall popular features.

I’m not just looking at quality and features. I want to know if the item for review fits the scope of the Bodacious Broads Travel Blog or our YouTube channel. The process is tedious and can be time consuming.

Negotiations begin if the product seems to fit my audience. I will email the representative back with my response. If the product fits, then we hammer out details like which social media platforms the review will be shared on as well as finalizing details on videos or both. Hammering this out can take a week or more.

Next, I have to wait for the so-called free product for influencers to arrive. My fingers are always crossed that the package won’t have been damaged in transit. It’s rare, but it does happen. Navigating the minefield of a damaged item can be complicated.

Blogs and my YouTube channel have to be updated. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have to be maintained and comments returned. (Whew!)

The product evaluation period is two weeks. Some of the free items that influencers get don’t make the cut. They are either discarded or returned to the company.

If all went well up to this point, it’s it’s time to create the review.

This part is very time consuming. Photos have to be clear and done in a complementary environment. This can mean props and shooting on location. Ditto for filming YouTube videos which takes longer to create and edit than photographs.

Keywords, a thumbnail and SEO friendly tags are added after upload. Only after all this is the video on the free product ready to be shared on social media.

The time spent on creating the review is what pays for the product and negates the reality of influencers receiving free items in exchange for a review .

The challenge for an influencer is to accept products that are equal in value to the amount of time put into the review, to work out an affiliate program directly with the company or to work out monetary payment in addition to the product.

This is why most influencers including myself have workout a commission agreement through affiliate links like the ones I have on this page or rely YouTube income.

This is nominal. YouTube videos generate around $2-$3 per 1,500 views (although influencers with high follower counts likely earn more).

So why do we do it? We do it to keep you from getting stuck in a situation like this one.

Other posts you may enjoy

Bodacious Broads Travel Blog

What is a Bodacious Broad?

How to get a van ready for a road trip

Preparing the van camper for a road trip is Priority 1 on our to-do list. We have to make sure that the van is road worthy by checking tires and oil. It also entails double checking solar connections and trying to prevent anything that could go wrong.

If you own a vehicle, you’ll want to know about the a alignment surprise that I got at Pep Boys! Getting an alignment and new tires before hitting the road can help with gas mileage and prevent the tire damage that can happen from being out of line.

20190729_152557Pep Boys is one of the few places local to me that can accommodate an alignment on an extended Chevy Express. So, off to Pep Boys it was. Normally the alignment runs $89.99. Plus, the van usually needs to realigned when we get back from our travels. What I found at Pep Boys made my day! I was going to take the regular alignment and think nothing of it. However, the clerk asked me a question that gave me pause.

It turns out that the one year unlimited alignment was on sale for only $30 more than the one time option. This means that I would be able to bring the van in for unlimited checks and alignments for a full year. I signed up for that almost before he had the words out of his mouth!

Next up was to get tires from Sam’s Club. There are two reasons that attract me into tire buying at Sam’s Club. The nationwide warranty and number of clubs in the U.S. increases my chances of getting a tire repaired easily on the road trip. Plus, as part of the Sam’s Club All-in tire installation the tires come with lifetime flat repair, balancing, rotation and emergency roadside tire service!ย 

All I have to do is keep my receipt. If I need to tap into the roadside tire service all I do is call an 800 number and they’ll take it from there. I am an AAA member but the extra protection gives me peace of mind.

c5d70-aaa2Bweb-logoThe next thing I had to do to get the van ready for a road trip was to upgrade my AAA membership. Somehow we had only gotten the AAA Plus Membership when we renewed. It’s a good plan. You get four 100 mile tows, flat tire service and $1,000 in trip interruption service etc. But, I am prepping for a road trip to Alaska and wanted AAA Premier.

The AAA Premier membership comes with one tow of up to 200 miles and three tows of up to 100 miles. It also has $1,500 in trip interruption insurance, free fuel delivery,ย  24 hour travel assistance and more. Definitely extra coverage that might be needed for travel in the U.S. or Canada.

Hubby took care of the oil and filter change himself. He also checked all fluids. We made sure I had high quality “bug juice” windshield window washer fluid in the van and extra for the road.

The joke is that the State Bird of Alaska is the mosquito. If you’re heading that way, always be sure to stock up on the strongest window washing fluid that you can buy. Trust me. You’ll thank yourself for it.

Other articles include:
Me, a service dog and a cross-continent drive to Alaska
Harvest Hosts offers overnight camping at unique locations

 

Please note:
This article is not sponsored by any of the companies mentioned above. Links to those companies that are included here are referral links. If you join AAA South through the link, we both get $20 off the next membership. Join through the Sam’s Club link and we both get a $10 e-gift card. Details are on those respective links. How’s that for cool?