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Saturday, October 31, 2020

Exploring Pyramids Around the World + 10 Travel Tips

A few weeks ago, we took a staycation to Egypt to explore the pyramids and take a Nile river cruise. It lit a fire in me to really plan a trip to Cairo and surrounding areas, because it has been on my trip wish list for a long time, but seeing how truly unique and beautiful it is really pulled me in. Egypt isn't the only place with pyramids, but it is the most known. Check out all the other places with pyramids and then learn some tips on traveling within Egypt. 

If you plan to visit Egypt, here are 10 tips for visiting: 
  1. You will need an entry visa - This will cost $25 at the airport, and it will need to be paid in cash (not in local currency).
  2. Agree on  prices ahead of time - You can haggle on pretty much everything, so make sure to agree on prices, especially on things like taxi rides and tours.
  3. Don't hesitate - Walk confidently across the street, because traffic can be crazy and hesitating is not your friend.
  4. Carry tissues or toilet paper with you - Many places don't have toilet paper, including busy places like airports. Make sure you are prepared.
  5. Carry cash/change - Tipping is expected almost everywhere, for everything. 
  6. Don't feel pressured - You'll feel like you're getting the hard sell on a lot of things. First off, learn the phrase "La, shoukran", meaning "no thank you". You can also leave a small tip for demonstrators to show your appreciation.
  7. Get travel insurance - It's highly recommended to have insurance if you're traveling in Egypt.
  8. Dress conservatively - Egypt is primarily Muslim, so cover up more than you normally would in a hot climate. It will also help protect you against the desert conditions. Think Indiana Jones: long pants and long sleeves (at least no tank tops). Columbia Sportswear and other outdoor clothiers sell lightweight clothing that's moisture-wicking and embedded UPF to keep you from burning in the blazing sun.
  9. Use Uber - Uber is a great mode of transportation, plus you pay by the app and you have a price set up-front. It relieves you of haggling one place. Just make sure you double-check your car and driver before getting in. 
  10. Smoking is allowed - People can smoke everywhere, pretty much. Don't be surprised by this. If it greatly bothers you, this might not be a destination for you. If you can tolerate it, expect to do laundry, or carry a spray bottle with plain vodka in it to spritz clothing. As it evaporates, it removes odors like smoke. Since it doesn't have it's own smell, you won't go around reeking of booze.

Is Egypt on your wish list? If so, what do you most look forward to seeing?

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Exploring Egypt from Home

Hey, hey! I'm back with another Destination Date Night. This time we visited the pyramids in Egypt. If you can't travel, you might as well make the best of it. We had a great "view" of the Great Pyramid and the Sphynx.

Things are super stressful right now, so any break from reality is nice. We've been doing little things, like going to corn mazes, taking virtual tours, and walking our neighborhood to look at Halloween decorations. There are still things to enjoy and be safe. I have a handful of friends who've been fruit-picking a ton this month. You just have to look for different opportunities or ask friends what they're doing. 

I've been thinking a lot about Egypt. This has been on my travel list for a while, and my name is, unintentionally, Middle Eastern (my parents mashed two names together) and it's pretty popular among Egyptians. Eventually, we'll get there, but until then, we've got this.

This date night gave me vibes from The Mummy (circa 1999), so I pulled together a quick little table setting with this cute little aloe plant and vintage-feel hourglass, then finished with this Anubis statue I purchased specifically for this. I meant to use a gold tablecloth for this that I already had, but I had purchased a rust table cover for another thing, so I decided to use it for this for extra color, but still keep with a neutral palette. I also used my gorgeous blue and gold melamine dishes by Opalhouse.

I ordered dinner ahead from a great Middle Eastern restaurant. We tried to choose things we've not tried before. We started with Kashkeh Bademjan - similar to Baba Ganoush -  and "big bread", which is basically giant naan. Then we moved on to Mirza Ghasemi, a roasted eggplant dish with rice, and Kotlet, a ground beef, potato, and onion patty inside a wrap with tzatziki sauce. 

While we ate, we took a tour inside a pyramid and a river tour down the Nile with a couple of vloggers. They took a 3-day cruise that included all their meals and it was highly affordable: 200 Euros. Even if that's for one person, it's one of the cheapest tours you'd be able to do anywhere for everything included. We also took a highlights trip. 

As with all our dates, we ended with dessert. We took a short break so I could whip up a batch of Sahlab, a milk pudding drink that's served warm and topped with cinnamon, coconut, or pistachios or a combo. It was quick and easy. I served it with our dessert sampler, which came with rice pudding, baklava, baklava cake and kanafeh (a really cool cheese and shredded phyllo dish). We learned a bit about hieroglyphs while we indulged. 

This was a surprisingly romantic date, and we got a small heater for our back porch, so now we can continue to have outdoor dinners through winter without freezing to death. With dinner and our backdrops, plus my souvenir Anubis, we spent around $105. Egypt is a great destination if you are looking to try your hand at ethnic foods. And if you're not, and you don't want to order out, you can get many of the staples for a fantastic dinner at Trader Joe's, including dessert. 

If you want to do your own destination Egypt date, here are some things to make it more memorable:

Make this a few hours or  a whole day event with your special person or your family. Learn to write your name in hieroglyphs, play games with your kids, take a an online class about the Egyptian gods. The possibilities are endless. 

Have you ever been to Egypt? If so, what was your favorite thing? If not, what do you look forward to the most?

Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links, and I may be compensated should you choose to make any purchases through them. This allows me to keep this blog running for you. Thanks in advance!

Saturday, October 24, 2020

It's Time to Vote!

I was going to do a regular post today, but instead, I'd like to take this time to tell you two things. First off, I have a new Twitter account and have been slowly changing it places, but if you haven't seen my Facebook posts, my new Twitter handle is @ShereenTravels. Unfortunately, my account was compromised and could not be recovered. It's unfortunate, but what are you gonna do.

My second thing is that I want you to go out and VOTE. This is one of the most important elections in our lifetime, which I don't say lightly. If you can vote early, please do so. There are many places where even now the wait in line to vote is hours and hours. I've seen friends post about only waiting for 90 minutes and then I've seen folx posting on Twitter after waiting an excruciating 11 hours in Atlanta, Georgia. People in other countries are dumbfounded that we have to wait at all.

If you are lucky to be able to vote by mail, make sure you get your ballot back ASAP. As much as I still trust the post office, I didn't want there to be any doubt about my ballot, so I dropped it off at the election office. If you have the option to drop at a ballot box or election office, I would encourage you to do this as well. You can also check to see if you ballot has been received

If you know others who don't trust the post office to get their ballot back on time, and are unable to drive to a ballot box, maybe offer to take their ballots with your own (if that's legal in your state) or give them a lift to the ballot drop box (if you can do it safely). 

If you must vote in person, and you want to help others vote, volunteer to help in any way you can, whether that means you drive them to the polls, or figure out a way to get them there, as there are many places that have few polling places and there are tons of people who can't get to them to vote either.

There have been a lot of cases of voter intimidation this time around. If you show up at the polls and there are people blocking the polling station, this is a crime. If you don't feel safe using the voting machines or they are down, you can request a paper ballot. Know your rights and don't forget your ID or proof of residence.

Oregon only votes by mail, so I have already voted and returned my ballot and checked that it was received. I've also offered my services to pick up and drop off ballots for those that need a bit of help to have their vote count. Do you know that only half of eligible voters actually vote in a normal election? This time seems to have motivated a lot of peeps to have their voices heard. Last I checked, over 50 million people have already early voted. In 2016, 138 million people voted in total, so we're more than 1/3 of the way to that number, with expected record numbers in all to take place. 

Younger voters are slower to turn in their ballots, so please encourage everyone to vote. We still have over a week to go, which is both not that many days, but also more than enough to push people to complete their ballots and get them in, or show up at the polls. If they are intimidated by all the boxes, tell them that they, literally, only have to vote for the president if they want. 

Remember, use your secrecy envelope, regardless of whether or not it's required, as some places do and some don't, but let's be extra safe. Make sure to sign your envelope, or your ballot will be tossed out. If your ballot isn't prepaid and you mail it in, you will need two first class stamps.  I've made no secret as to who I'm voting for in this election. I believe in Democracy, racial and marriage equality, healthcare for all, justice, and for a more tolerant America. If you don't, I'm sure you've stopped reading my blog months ago, but if you haven't, I'm not going to tell you not to vote. I also believe in freedom of speech and diversity. Please make your vote count, whoever you vote for.

Thanks for doing your civic duty and helping us work towards a better America. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

How to Plan + Budget for Big Trips

How many years have we been trapped inside now? 23? I mean, I know it's only been 8 months, but it feels so. much. longer. If you're dying for some travel, well, I wouldn't recommend it. Most office buildings are talking about extending their WFH dates through June or July now. Buuuuuuuut, that doesn't mean you have to sit at home do nothing but watch all the streaming services you now subscribe to. You can do staycation or destination dates like we do, and you can totally start planning and budgeting for that big trip you're going to go on when you're allowed.

how to plan for big trips

With the weather turning cooler, we're probably all getting into that wanna-get-away mode and wondering how we're going to get through the winter blahs. First thing's first, let's figure out where and how.

Where do you want to go?

I know not everyone has a 5 or 10 year plan for vacations like I do. This year has kind of hampered that plan. Last year we went to the UK. This year we were supposed to go to Walt Disney World, and next year we were supposed to go to Iceland. This year isn't happening, and next year may not happen either if my suspicions are correct. The only good thing is that we're saving by not traveling, so we might actually get to do more when we can travel again. We've got a plan to hit up Japan by 2030, and we might even move that up, but we'll have to see how we get through 2020 and 2021 first. 

If you have a travel list of places you want to go, this is a great place to start. Choose a place and make it a plan. If you don't, then ask friends about their favorite vacations, ask your family where they want to go, get inspiration online or in travel magazines or shows. 

What do you want to do there?

Now that you know where you want to go, choose the things you absolutely have to do there. I keep a running list of things that are on my must list and what Eric has on his list. These are the things I add, including their prices. Then I look to see if I can get a discount on any of those things online, as a bundle with other things, or with a CityPASS. If so, this enables me to have a little wiggle room. 

Now, choose things that you want to do if you can , but aren't crucial to your trip. These are things that are nice to have in a trip, but you won't be that disappointed if you can't do them.

How much money do you need?

Look at airfare rates for the time you want to travel, as well as hotel or vacation rental rates. I find that Airbnb rates are as affordable as hotels, but include things that would cost me extra, like laundry, a kitchen and WiFi, so I save over a hotel room. If this isn't important to you, then look for hotels with things that help with your bottom line, like free breakfast. 

Now, add those two things to your attractions budget, figure out if you need a car or how much transportation will cost, and then do a bit of research on what restaurants charge to come up with a food budget. 

How can you stretch your budget?

There are lots of ways to stretch your budget when you travel. These are my favorites:
  • Make breakfasts instead of eating out.
  • Make lunch your big meal of the day. If you are dying to eat at a fancy restaurant, lunch is almost always much cheaper. 
  • Look for food carts or local favorites, as these will charge less than places that are trying to attract tourists.
  • Hit up happy hours.
  • Bring snacks, so you don't have to spend money in between meals when you get peckish.
  • Take along a reusable water bottle to stay hydrated and keep from buying beverages wherever you go.
  • Pack light and do laundry, so you aren't paying baggage fees. 
  • Look for free activities, like museums, cool parks, and landmarks. 
  • Use daily deal sites like Groupon to do things at a deep discount. 
  • Walk wherever you can to save money on transportation.

Easy ways to save

I hate saving money, but I love going on vacation, so I try hard to do it without complaining. Instead of making excuses for spending money, think about all the awesome things you can do with that money if you spend it on travel. You'll have lifelong memories, enjoy a mental health break, and spend more quality time with your family/significant other/friend(s). Here are some of my favorite ways to save money that are also super easy:
  • Pay yourself first. You know how when you invest in something like a 401-K and it gets taken out of your paycheck before you even see it? And you never miss it? Do this with your vacation fund. You know when you get paid, so set up an automatic deposit, either through work or on your own online, to go to that separate account. Even just $50 per paycheck can quickly add up and it's not so much that you'll notice it's gone. If you can afford more, change the dollar amount that goes, even if this is a one-time occurrence or permanent. A few dollars more is better than no dollars more.
  • Open a high-yield checking or savings account. Just like I say above, make sure it's separate from your everyday account. While your money is just sitting there, you could be earning more each month for doing nothing more but keeping it in the bank. Free money is good! 
  • Use a money-saving app like Qapital. It's free to sign up, you link your bank accounts to it and set up your goals. Next you'll add rules, such as the round-up rule. Rules can include anything you do on and offline and when those rules are employed, your Qapital account grows. It all works on a phone app and can easily be ignored if you don't want to see your money too much (because, like me, you'll want to immediately spend it). And if you sign up with my link right now, you'll get $20 free in your account!
  • Make a list and stick to it. When I go grocery shopping, I make a list. I try to plan my meals around the same ingredients with some variety. Chicken, noodles, potatoes, carrots, beef and beans are all great staples, because you can make a ton of things with them. Buy enough to make twice as much as you plan to eat and freeze so you have dinners for future nights and can save money in the coming weeks, or have easy food to make when you return from vacation. 
  • Keep the change. If you're like everyone, you have a ton of change just sitting in your car or the bottom of your purse. Make a jar or container at home to throw all that change in at the end of each day. You wouldn't know it, but all those cents can add up over the months and you might find you have a spare $100 or so that you can use as spending money!
  • Get cash back. You're going to buy stuff. You just are. Rakuten lets you save money on your online purchases by offering you a set amount of cash back on participating retailers, including a lot of travel sites. If you're going to spend money, you might as well save as much as possible. Rakuten sends you cash back payments four times a year, either by check or deposited to your Paypal account. It's super easy, and those payments can be used as spending money on your trips.
  • Ask for gift cards. When the holidays and your birthday rolls around, ask for gift cards that can be used towards your trip. This could include cards for theme parks, airfare on your chosen airline, restaurants or grocery stores where you can shop for snacks and meal staples (you know how I like to buy breakfast stuff and eat before I head out into the world). Now you've gotten free money you can use on vacation and have to save even less than you thought. 
Now you have a great foundation for planning and budgeting for your next big trip (and your small ones!). Get started saving and get excited about all the places you're going to go in the world. If you need more ideas on where to go and what to do there, sign up for my bi-monthly newsletter for extra tips. 

What are your favoritie ways to save for or on your trips?

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, and I appreciate any purchases made through them.

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Cool Things About Mount Fuji

Last week we took a staycation to Mt. Fuji in Japan, and we've been planning a big trip to Japan in the next 10 years, where we will visit Mt. Fuji, explore Tokyo, and even hit up Tokyo Disney. So, why is Mt. Fuji so attractive to visitors? 

Mount Fuji Infographic

Here are a few more cool facts: The distinctive cone shape of Mt. Fuji is very unusual for a volcano. Not only is it beautiful, but it's actually very climbable for even novice hikers. It can take 4-8 hours to hike to the top, meaning you can totally do it if it's on your travel wish list. It's free to trek the mountain, but donations are very welcome to help with conservation. And my last cool fact is that Samurai warriors used it for a training ground. Awesome! 

Is Japan and/or Mount Fuji on your travel list?

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

How To Take a Japan Staycation

We are on a steady every-other-weekend schedule for our destination date nights. I was excited to visit Japan, and while planning, I couldn't decide between Mt. Fuji and Tokyo, so I we will be doing a second Japan staycation focusing on Tokyo. Since we aren't traveling at all right now, this is a fun way to take a mini vacay without leaving home. 

This last weekend I focused on Mt. Fuji and Japanese culture, as we are looking forward to a future trip and I'll be interested to learn a little more about my heritage (my paternal grandmother was Japanese) and indulge in a ton of delicious food and super cool architecture.

You can't have a Japanese table setting without a cool lantern. I had this great lantern hanging around, so I busted out my Cricut and Japan-ed it up with some fun words. In this case, it says Shushi Date, because that's what we were doing. 

This gave us a great excuse to try a new Japanese restaurant that is a bit more upscale than our usual sushi-go-rounds. I was excited to find this place that also served butterfish, because it's extremely difficult to find around here. If you haven't had it before, make sure to order it if you ever come across it on a menu. It's delicious and melts in your mouth, which might be why it's called butterfish. 

Look how gorgeous this spread is! I also went to the local Asian market and picked up a trio of Ramune soda flavors and a bottle of sake. As always, our sushi spread was phenomenal, and I made sure to get some veggies in, including a pickled radish roll. 

If you haven't had Ramune before - this was our first time - it's a soda that comes in a ton of different flavors in glass bottles. The top doesn't have a cap, but instead has a plastic cover that you pull off, take apart, and then use it to jab into the top of the bottle to push a glass sphere into the bottle (it has a special compartment). That's actually the best part of the soda, in my opinion. I picked melon, because I thought it would be the most interesting, but it didn't have a flavor at all really. Next I picked watermelon. It was pink, but was also not that big on flavor. Last, I picked peach, because I figured you couldn't go wrong with that one. This one had the best flavor and I would actually go out of my way to drink it again. These are pretty much just fizzy sugar water though, so if you aren't a regular soda drinker (we only drink diet), you might feel like it's a bit much.

Here you see the fun bottle of Aladdin sake. It's shimmery and really pretty. I don't speak or read Japanese, so I 100% bought this based on the bottle, knowing it would also be something I would use after I drank it. I liked it. It's very rum-like. I'd be into trying their other flavors. This was the Aizu Homare Nigori sake.

My second backdrop was this lovely Japanese village. 

I like having a second side that really sells the setting and makes me feel more into the destination.  

As usual, we brought the laptop out and took a tour from home. We did two Mt. Fuji tours - one was a drone tour and the other gave some fun tips - and then 3 different geisha performances while we were eating dinner.

I also got these lovely little sushi plates, with accompanying soy sauce dishes, that really showcased each piece we ate.

None of the our local sushi or Japanese places really have traditional desserts, besides mochi, so I picked up a box of Thai tea mochi from Trader Joe's. They also have more Americanized flavors, like chocolate and strawberry, and if you like an earthy flavor, they also have matcha. 

I always want to try all the cool candy I see at our local Uwajimaya store, so while I was picking up Ramune and sake, I also snagged some fun Pocky flavors and this mystery candy that turned out to be like little jawbreakers that are grape and wine flavored. There's also a third flavor in the middle, but I didn't make it to that and I really don't recommend these unless you're a fan of sour candies. Eric really enjoyed them. 

This was a spendy "night out", compared to our others, but I knew it would be. I want to say that it ran us around $160 with food and decor. Clearly, you can do this more affordably. Because of this date, we have talked about possibly taking an online sushi class. If you already make your own sushi, this can be a great activity to take you into your Japan adventure.

Here are some things that can help you make your Japan staycation awesome:
As always, make this as easy or as involved as you want. Tailor it to how you like to travel and do date night. Maybe get into a documentary (there's one on my playlist that we enjoyed) or learn some cultural traditions or learn to recreate a tea ceremony or learn a Buddhist prayer chant. There's so much you can do with each destination without actually having to be there. Go to your local Asian market and get all the weird foods, plan your dream trip, and start figuring out what you will pack on said trip. 

Have you ever been to Asia? If so, what was your favorite thing? If not, what do you look forward to the most?

Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links, and I may be compensated should you choose to make any purchases through them. This allows me to keep this blog running for you. Thanks in advance!

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Why You Need Vacation Time

I know we're all sick of being in the house, with no foreseeable real vacationing in sight, but that doesn't mean you can't take a vacation. Just working straight through the year, even though you don't have a trip planned, isn't a great idea. You can and should still take time off, because it's good for you. Even if you don't go anywhere, you can still do a rad staycation. We've been doing destination date nights to break up the time spent at home and you can do something similar, while also planning for your next actual trip. 

Going on vacation is good for your body, mind, and soul. It's difficult when you realize you haven't been anywhere in a long time and realize that's why you're so stressed out. Make sure that not everything in you life is work and streaming shows, because you need the break. Get a bit creative right now to enjoy a change of scenery. We took a walk around our neighborhood the other night to look at Halloween decoration. We also drove to a nearby house that had a great Pirates of the Caribbean set-up in their yard. Look at Nextdoor.com or Facebook for some appropriately safe events in your area. I hear there's going to be drive-thru haunted houses this year, but this is also a great time to put on some boots and a mask and go visit a corn maze or a pumpkin patch. Just because we have to be careful, doesn't mean we have to stay in the house all day every day and go stir crazy. 

Where are you hoping to visit when it's finally safe to do so?


Wednesday, October 7, 2020

How To Pack For a Cruise

In my last post, we had a cruise staycation. If you've been thinking about a cruise vacation, now is a great time to get started on a plan. Research your choices of ships and places to cruise and start saving for your amazing travel, since you have probably another year to plan for your next trip. Let's look at how to perfectly pack for a cruise.

Just because there are so many different things to do on the ship, it doesn’t mean you need to bring your whole closet. In fact, you can still pack light and have everything you need for your cruise.
  • Bring multi-purpose items, like a top that you can dress up or down depending on the situation. A plain black tank top can work for a formal night when paired with a statement necklace and a light wrap.
  • If you want to really dress up for those formal nights, invest in a bag like a Skyroll, that incorporates a garment bag in the design. You can pack all your regular stuff and then the garment bag wraps around it. Both are carry-on size, so you don't have to check them and *hope* they make it to your cruise. Another option is this 2-in-1 garment duffel.  I would still opt for a few pieces that can be reworn in different ways, even if it's just a little black dress or great pair of pants.
  • A nice pair of sandals can also be worn for formal nights, so you don’t have to pack a pair of heels that you’ll only wear a few hours the whole time you’re cruising.
  • Men can bring a lightweight sport coat and a few ties to dress up any outfit…and not have the same look twice if there’s more than one formal night on your ship.
  • Aside from these things, bring what you normally do: 5 tops, 3 bottoms, a pair of really good walking/running shoes, a rain jacket, sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses. If you need more help packing light, here’s a post for you.
  • Stage, roll and stuff. To avoid overpacking, set up a staging area where you can lay out everything you are packing. Make two piles: one with essentials and one of things you might need. Roll and pack your essentials first, then see how much room you have left for "maybes". Stuff shoes with socks, belts and other small items. Think of your bag like a game of Tetris and fill in all the available space of each layer. This will eliminate shifting and wrinkles as much as possible. You don't have to stuff your bag to the point of having to sit on it to close it though, because remember that you might want to buy some things at your ports of call. 
  • Don't forget your passport if you aren't going to a closed-loop U.S. port.
  • If you "check" your bag at the port authority, it may be an entire day before you get it delivered to your stateroom, so make sure you either don't check your bags (you can wander the ship with them, which you might find annoying) or have a smaller carry-on or tote bag with necessities like your bathing suit, extra clothing, sunscreen, camera, etc. I always have a packable tote in my bag just in case. This is a great way to use it.
  • Take along a pop-up mesh laundry hamper. Not only does this keep your clean and dirty clothes separate, but it gives you something to carry your dirty clothes tot he laundry room. You aren't going to be doing something 24 hours a day on your cruise, but having to do a bit of laundry will remind you to slow down and take a breather. Plus, you can always start your load and hit the buffet while you wait.

I think you're ready to head out on the open seas now, with an excellent mix and match wardrobe that doesn't weigh you down too much. 

Have you been on a cruise that you adored? Let us know where you went and what cruise line you sailed.

Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links, and I may be compensated should you choose to make any purchases through them. This allows me to keep this blog running for you. 

Saturday, October 3, 2020

Our Polynesian Cruise Staycation

I'm back with another destination date night, though this destination is on the "open seas". As with regular vacations, things don't always go as planned, and so goes staycations as well. I had a great big plan for our last one, but my items weren't going to get here in time, so instead we put it off and did a cruise instead. Summer is quickly ebbing away and I wanted to take advantage of one of the last warm days. 

I've been reflecting back on some of our past vacations and put two of them together to create a fun staycation. Cruising is going to take a while to come back. They will tell you that you can start booking cruises now, but please don't do it, unless you can rebook, because until there's an actual vaccine for COVID, you're not going to want to get on a cruise ship. There can't be any social distancing on a ship, unless you don't plan to do any of the things that make ships fun: shows, games, casino, buffets, etc.

Because of this, I decided we would take a cruise to some tropical locale, have some delicious Polynesian-inspired food, while listening to the sounds of the waves and birds singing and sipping on a tropical drink. 

I went all blue for this set-up and with traditional leis made of shells and nuts that I received at various Hawaiian press meet-ups I've gone to. I had a bag of frozen dragonfruit in the freezer for smoothies that I blended up with bananas and coconut milk to make this gorgeous drink. I'd also suggest either some pineapple to the blender, and you could sub Malibu rum for the coconut milk if you want a cocktail. 

We tried fresh dragonfruit for the first time when we were in Hawaii, and we've never gotten the same experience, even when we've gotten it from the Asian market. They cost 4 times as much and have only a small fraction of the flavor. This was a great substitute though and had a lovely color. I added some smoothie size bamboo straws. 

Eric is always excited when we're on vacation. LOL! To keep the feeling going, I jumped on UberEats to find an authentic Hawaiian restaurant (not the quick-service place that's close that we usually go to). That way we would have a different experience than we usually do. 

I ordered two appetizers: Spam musubu (basically a sushi, but with Spam and egg instead of raw fish or other regular fillings) and this gorgeous pickled cucumber and onion salad. Both were awesome. For our main, I asked if Eric wanted chicken or pork. We aren't huge fans of Kaluha pork, so we got Shoyu chicken instead, with a huge side of macaroni salad. This was my bad, because when it asked what side I wanted, I picked mac salad, thinking that was in addition to rice, and also ordered a side of mac salad. You never get enough. That was definitely not a problem this time. Ha! 

I got these gorgeous gold speckled plates through Target online. The ones from my last staycation post are the same, but pink instead of blue. I wish they had other colors. I totally would have bought more. They are by Opalhouse. 

Here we are on the lido deck, enjoying the salty sea breeze, endless ocean, and this weird bird on the ship for some reason. I know he's there because I put him there. I felt we needed an actual bird to go with the sounds of birds. He gave us some good views and ambiance. 

For dessert - there has to be dessert on vacation - I picked up the closest thing I could find to malasadas. Malasadas are doughnuts with different fillings. When in Hawaii, we walked 8 miles to go to Leonards and got a dozen to take back with us to our timeshare. We got normal custard fillings, but also delicious fruit fillings, too. The closest thing to this locally is a place called Beard Papa at our Uwajimaya Asian grocery store. They are giant cream puffs and sell vanilla custard and chocolate filled and then a rotating flavor. 

When I stopped by, the 3rd mystery flavor was Dulce de Leche. It was pretty much vanilla custard inside with caramel on top. I wouldn't say no to it again, but these are fairly messy to eat with your hands, so I suggest either a lot of napkins or a fork, even if you feel like a nerd. 

While eating dessert, we took a tour of the Polynesian Cultural Center in Hawaii via vloggers Perfect Little Planet. We didn't rent a car when we visited Honolulu, and we were only there for a week, so we had to choose what we wanted to do and what we could skip. We didn't want to spend an entire day at the Center and maybe still not see it all, so we skipped that and went to the Dole Plantation instead. There is quite a lot to see and do...and eat. 

This date night wasn't as involved as our others, but we had much of the decorations already, and it was still a great escape from the world and its worries, and we were able to soak up some of the last warm times in the evening. We even "took" the dog. I think this probably ended up costing around $80, which is less than our others, but will definitely even out in the long run, since our next staycation will be more costly than usual. I can't wait.

If you'd like to recreate a Polynesian cruise, or just a trip to Hawaii, here are some things you can do to make it happen:
Learn some Hawaiian words, practice the hula by watching videos, try out the ukulele, play bingo, watch a luau (there's one on my playlist). Make this a fun night that doesn't have to stop at dinner. Make it a whole day where you cook together, do a ton of activities, plan a trip, and enjoy each other as a family or a couple. 

If you want to follow along or see more pics/vids of my "trips", follow me on Instagram.

Where are you looking forward to traveling when it's safe to do so?

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