Carnival Cruise Hacks for 2018

Carnival cruises can be pretty incredible. You have a literal boatload of food available to you, full days of entertainment, 24 hours of ocean views available to you, and a crew that works their asses off for you. Once you’re on board for your second or third time, you start to realize some tricks and hacks that enhance the experience. Here is #HMPYG’s 2018 list of hacks for your next cruise with Carnival.

1. Packing shampoo flasks

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The security coming onto the boat is fairly tight. Over the years, Carnival has become quite keen on busting people who sneak booze onboard. It happens all the time, and the company can lose thousands on drink sales. One thing that has never failed me are shampoo flasks.

Carnival Cruise Hacks 2018
Click the pic to be linked to this product on Amazon.

 

Now you should never be thinking of bringing liquor onboard, of course. It’s strictly against policies. But, sometimes you need to get some special “shampoo” and “conditioner” that really nourishes the soul. The seals work really well, and as long as you keep the bottle clean, you should have no problem using them in your checked bag.

2. These things? They come out

Most of the time, the shower gel and shampoo are unlocked, allowing easy access for removing the attachment. If you’re like me, you can’t get enough of the gel while in the shower, and it helps to make the dispenser portable so that you can get total coverage. Or maybe you want to bring it with you to the pool if you prefer baths (just kidding).

3. Bypass the no-candle/open flame policy.

2018 Carnival Cruise Hacks

If you want to set the mood, make things romantic, or just make your room smell good, purchase a set of scented flameless LED candles. They run the same price for a good wax candle (about $25), can be re-used over and over, and look just like the real thing.

Never try using real candles or incense on board. They will confiscate them, and it is a huge fire hazard.

4. Bypass the ATM fees.

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With overpriced drinks, taxes, gratuity charges, and other expenses, it’s stupid to pay an ATM fee on the ship. At some of the tourist spots on land, the ATM fees may be even more exorbitant than onboard. But, you need cash.

Here’s what to do: go to a slot machine, charge however much you need to your Sail & Sign card. Resist the temptation to blow it all on the machine. Take your card out, and head to the cashier. Request a payout, and bam, say hello to the cash.

5. Turn one plug into three.

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Many cruisers get to their stateroom surprised to find only one or two power outlets. Electricity is apparently a commodity on the ship (though that casino seems to be very well-powered).

If you need outlets for your phones, cameras, hair dryers, laptops, disco lights, then do yourself a favor and pick up this outlet adaptor.

Also, the TV’s have a USB plugin that may serve as an extra charger.

6. Take plenty of naps!

Enhance your cruising experience with plenty of napping, and then tweet us your vacation photos!

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P.S. If Carnival reads this, please don’t sue us.

Camping in a Spiritual Vortex (Sedona)

Camping gets us in touch with our primitive self, connecting our present being to primordial ancestors of aeons ago. We lie under a vast array of stars, hyper-aware of surrounding energy. The words in our mind become less cluttered, and we are left with more feeling and intuition than we are with complicated thought.

Camp in Sedona, and you add an extra spiritual element to the equation.

Sedona is known for its mystical vortices, locations with a concentration of etheric energy. Psychics, occultists, and artists are all drawn to the Arizona town, and there is no shortage of overpriced crystal shops.

But what makes Sedona especially inspiring are views like these:

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Where to Camp in Sedona (with a tent)

You may either:

  • Select a developed campground such as Manzanita.
  • Go off the beaten path to the dispersed camping sites (Send us a message on Facebook to learn more).
  • Backpack West Fort trail and set up your tent 3+ miles in.

If You’re Looking For a Tent

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Pictured above is our Embark 2-person dome tent (click this link to get it for only $60).  We’ve used this tent over and over and over again. It’s a great one to have for casual camping and for a quick set up. It has 5 stars on Amazon, probably because of its durability and reliability.

Also check out our previous article, It Takes One Tent to Rule Them All for a review of three different tents (including the Embark).

Free Prayer Flags

Into the Mystic

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It doesn’t take much to have a spiritually uplifting time. A few candles, incense, and a meditation bowl may be all you need. The most important factor, of course, is your state of mind. Here are a few techniques to try:

  1. With your eyes closed and while you’re sitting, scan your body. You may actually imagine a light from a computerized scanner passing up and down your body. As the light passes each section of your limbs, abdomen, chest, head, etc., bring your awareness fully to each of those sections. Changing your point of consciousness is incredibly grounding, and take time to do so carefully.
  2. Recite a prayer. One great one is the Peace Prayer of St. Francis. It reads as follows:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace; 

Where there is hatred let me sow love;

Where there is injury, pardon;

Where there is doubt, faith;

Where there is despair, hope;

Where there is darkness, light;

and where there is sadness, joy.

       3. Practice this Loving Kindness Meditation from Sylvia Boorstein.

A Final Note

Be sure to check out Huckaby Trail. This is one of our favorites. It’s a moderate hike, about 2.5 miles in (and then 2.5 miles out). It has a rich diversity that makes Sedona so great; fantastic views of red rock formations, the creekside forest, towering ocotillos, an abundance of prickly pear cacti, snakes, lizards, blue jays, quails.

Here is a shot taken on the trail:

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Dogs are welcome, though be sure to pack lots of extra water! A hydration bladder will help in this endeavor. Click here for one that rocks and is inexpensive.

Many blessings from #HMPYG and from Django, our most handsomest mascot.

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The Future of Tourism

Courtesy of ESA

There are many incredible sights on Earth. I’ve seen the pyramids at Chichen Itza, the Sistine Chapel, la Sagrada Familìa, the Grand Canyon, the bays of Jamaica, the most magnificent sea cliff in Europe, the Parthenon, and many other wonders. I can assure you, you don’t need to leave this Earth to experience sublimeness. Yet tourism is ever-changing and transgressing. Space tourism is entering the lexicon of journalism. Deep sea tourism is becoming “a thing.” People are also ironically seeking out tours to do non-tourist experiences. Some people are seeking out virtual reality experiences to overcome the financial and physical barriers of actual reality.

We are going to look at three phenomena that are increasing in popularity and interest. One is the concept of “Moon Village,” a European Space Agency project that aims to create tourist experiences on the moon. The next is virtual reality tourism. The last is “not-a-tourist” travel experiences.

Holiday on the Moon

Courtesy of ESA
The Moon Village Multi Dome will be designed to protect travelers from radiation and micrometeoroids.

First off, I want to know your thoughts on the advent of space tourism. Tweet us with an answer to one of these questions…

  1. How much money would you spend to have a 10-night vacation on the moon? (Use the hashtag #MoonVacation)
  2. Does the idea of space tourism excite or frighten you? (Use the hashtag #SpaceTourism)
  3. Why travel to space at all? (Use the hashtag #WhySpace)

The European Space Agency’s (ESA) Director General Johann Woerner is seriously committed to building Moon Village, a community of people working and living together on the moon. When asked about the importance of space exploration, Woerner states that it is an agent for international cooperation and collaboration. In other words, Moon Village is a way to promote peace and solidarity between various countries.

Moon Village wouldn’t just be a base or a lab. Woerner directly indicates that the project could extend to tourist-related business ventures. People (with a lot of money presumably) may very well be planning a future family adventure across space towards Moon Village. Bumper stickers will read “I♥MOON.VILLG.” Children will possibly be buying freeze-dried ice cream from a space shuttle vending machine.

Is this something to expect soon? Maybe, maybe not. Moon Village isn’t a specified plan of action. It is rather just a concept that functions to bring people together in building ventures on the moon. There are, however, scholars that are pointing to the 2020s as a likely decade for moon tourism.

VR Tourism

The future of virtual reality tourism.

Meet the Oculus Rift.

Imagine putting on a device and then being able to see into the jungles of Peru. You take a step forward, and hear a wild macaw to the left of you. The macaw is real, and has made a real sound. You, however, are in your living room.

Will you be taking vacations with this thing? No. But it is an optimal way to test out an experience, or build up a voracious excitement for your next adventure. You may access a scene in downtown Tokyo, peruse the streets, and determine if you really want to go there. Or, you can look down Mount St. Helens and be filled with the motivation you need to complete your pre-excursion physical conditioning.

After using VR technology for a consumer case study, researchers found a 190% increase in New York excursion revenue. Not only are these devices boosting people’s interest in visiting particular destinations, they are also being offered as an accessory in some hotels.

#NotATourist Experiences

Courtesy of MYrago

Some people don’t want to see the Eiffel Tower in Paris. The thought of cramming into a building with other sweaty people in the summer months turns them off. People are increasingly turning to alternative experiences that are fulfilling, but go against the grain.

Take, for example, the experience of meditating with a monk in Japan. Or instead of heading straight to the Statue of Liberty, going on a Harlem Jazz Crawl instead. This is exactly what services like MYrago are doing.

There are millions upon millions of unique experiences one can have in a foreign country. There are sights and scenes that the typical tourist will never see, and may regret missing. The Louvre will be there for a long time, but a chance to do a glacier hike in Chile may slip away.

 

Venturing into the Lava River Cave of Flagstaff, Arizona

The lava river cave of Flagstaff, or the “Lava Tubes,” is a remarkable formation. It was created by the will of fiery nature over 675,000 years ago. It stays the same temperature year-round, and has ripples and cracks throughout the pathway. The lava formation spans for 3/4 of a mile, and is the longest cave in all of Arizona.

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Is it a breath-taking beauty that should be seen by all human beings everywhere? Not at all. Though it’s climate-controlled and a wonderful relief for summer heat, the cave isn’t particularly remarkable. Thought bats and porcupines are known to inhabit the cave, you may not see any signs of natural wildlife for the entire journey. There are no stalactites, stalagmites, or prized cavern jewels within its bowels. There are some cool glittery ferrous stone features, however.

Inside the Flagstaff Lava River Cave

 

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 Flagship-X Phoenix Rechargeable Waterproof LED Headlamp →

 

 

 

 

It is fun to venture down into complete darkness like you’re Bruce friggin’ Wayne. And the city of Flagstaff is a terrific place to visit. Check out Charly’s pub, a historical eatery with great beer selections, only 20 miles away and in the heart of downtown.

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Also be sure to visit the Flagstaff soap company, one of our favorite small businesses.

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Visiting the Cave

The lava river cave is an amazing geological site dating back to prehistory. It isn’t anything like the Grand Canyon or the red rocks in Sedona, however. If you do have some time in Flagstaff to explore, and like caves, then go on in there!

Here’s what you must bring:

Headlamp – You may be using your hands to crawl through some tight spaces. Though flashlights help, it will be a lot more manageable with a headlamp.

Warm clothing – The cave is at a perpetual 32-40 degrees Fahrenheit year-round. Though you do get warm moving around and squatting, be sure to wear something substantial

Water – You don’t want to venture down into a vacuous cavern without water. The entire experience may last 1-2 hours.

Additional non-neccesary items:

Whistle – Just in case. There are many opportunities to injure yourself, between hitting your head on low ceilings and a multitude of slippery rocks. It’s a safe bet to bring a whistle to signal others near the entrance.

Boots – You can complete this trip with cross trainer shoes, but it is a lot better with hiking boots/work boots. The thick sole will protect against jutting rock edges, and you want ankle support for the jagged terrain. Also, regular shoes will probably get torn up. I bought these boots just in time for the hike, and am really glad I did.

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DSLR camera – Most of the photos in this article were taken with my own Nikon D3100 (click this link to check it out).

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It’s a great, affordable beginner’s camera that will light up the pitch-black inside the cave. Set it to the aperture setting and lower the ISO. Shoot in RAW file format.

 

 

 

P.S. Beware of creepy monkey doll…

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The Top 10 Sushi Restaurants in Phoenix

#HMPYG Presents the 10 Greatest Phoenix-Area Sushi Restaurants

When I first moved to Arizona, I was full of excitement, eager to explore, and in love with the desert environment. I had become surrounded by amazing mountain views, majestic saguaro cactuses, and perpetual sunshine. One thing I was unsure of, however, was how I was going to get my sushi fix. Sushi is my favorite food in the world, and it wasn’t hard to find good sushi back in New York.

My first experience was with Sushi 101 near the ASU campus. This was pretty underwhelming. They resorted to deep-frying some of their rolls, and the crab they used was artificial “krab” substance. I did not give up, though. My mission became to find the best sushi restaurants in the Phoenix area. I set a lifetime goal of trying every single one. Out of the 30 or so I’ve tried, here are the top 10…

#10: Big Eye Sushi

Courtesy of Groupon.com

This is referring to the North Scottsdale location in particular. The Chandler location was pretty underwhelming. Look out for Groupon deals for this place!

#9: SakeBomber

Courtesy of Foodio54.com

Consider this a happy little “sushi pub” in Tempe. It’s located by ASU and has plenty of seating.

#8: Teharu

Courtesy of Yelp.com

By far the best rotating sushi joint in the Phoenix area. Be sure to make reservations, as it’s wildly popular.

#7: Sushi Brokers

Courtesy of SushiBrokers.com

A great spot in Arcadia (Northeast Phoenix area). They have a reverse happy hour 10p-close every Monday through Saturday (in addition to the standard 3-6:30 p.m. happy hour).

#6: Bei 

Courtesy of Yelp.com

Located just south of Old Town Scottsdale. The ambience isn’t much, but the food makes up for it. This place can get busy on weekend nights.