top of page
Wooden Frame Window


Welcome to World Escapes, a travel blog
by Elated Escapes, a global travel agency
based in Austin, TX.
We promote slow, experiential travel
for the adventurous, modern-day traveler.
Join us on our adventures as we explore the world
andshare our experiences with you.

I was recently in Thailand with a group of travel agents from all over the United States. When our trip leader asked us to share our favorite destinations, every single one of us said Africa.

These are seasoned travelers who have seen it all. They've been to every continent, and they've experienced some of the most amazing places on earth. So why did we all say Africa?

Because Africa is life-changing. Once you go, you'll never be the same.

On an African safari, you'll have the chance to see some of the most incredible wildlife on the planet, up close and personal. You'll see lions, elephants, giraffes, zebras, and many more animals in their natural habitat.

But it's more than just seeing animals. On an African safari, you'll also get to experience the rich culture of Africa. You'll visit traditional villages and meet the remarkable locals who live there. You'll learn about their customs and sample their delicious cuisine.

There are so many reasons why Africa is the ultimate vacation destination. Here are just a few:

  • Unparalleled wildlife viewing: Africa is home to some of the most incredible wildlife on the planet. On a safari, you'll have the chance to see these animals in their natural habitat, up close and personal.

  • Immerse yourself in nature: Safaris offer a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in nature and experience the beauty of the African continent. You'll get to see stunning landscapes, from the lush rainforests of Uganda to the vast savannas of Kenya.

  • Get a taste of African culture: Safaris also offer the chance to experience African culture firsthand. You'll have the opportunity to meet local people, learn about their customs, and try traditional foods.

  • Luxury accommodations: Safaris don't have to be roughing it. There are many luxurious safari lodges that offer all the amenities you could want, from fine dining to private game drives.

  • Sense of adventure: Safaris are an adventure in every sense of the word. You'll never know what you might see on a safari, and that's part of the excitement. You might spot a rare animal, witness a predator hunting its prey, or even get to see the great migration.

I feel confident about the African trips I put together because I work with the best companies in Africa to provide my clients with stellar itineraries that are safe, fun, full of excitement, and fit their budgets. Whether my clients want to go on game drives in Kruger, go bungee jumping in Victoria Falls, visit the Apartheid museum in Cape Town, or go wine tasting in Stellenbosch, I create trips to Africa that produce guaranteed pinch-me moments of awe and lifelong memories.

If you're looking for an unforgettable vacation that will change your life, an African safari is the perfect choice. 

Contact me today to learn more about planning your African safari!

by Meaghan Clawsie, Elated Escapes (

As a travel advisor, I travel often. Here are my favorite, must-have travel accessories to level up any trip:

1) Noise canceling headphones. One long international flight surrounded by a gaggle of screaming babies is one noisy trip too many. I always wear noise canceling headphones when I fly in order to be blissfully unaware of the chaos, crying and chatter around me.

2) A portable footrest that attaches to the airplane seat in front of me. I'm short, so long flights where my feet don't exactly touch the floor means I frequently experience low back and butt pain. This led me to buy a hammock/sling type of footrest made of fabric that attaches to the seatback in front of me. Using this device means I can comfortably lounge in my chair, and the pressure on my back is lifted. These hammock-like footrests are flexible and easy to adjust, so you can choose the optimal height for you.

3) Toiletry bottles with screw on lids. I've tried every possible toiletry packaging, and the only ones that reliably work for me are bottles with screw tops, which I buy on Amazon. The flip top toiletry bottles always leak on me (even when they claim not to), so these are a godsend.

4) My waterproof Kindle. I always have something to read when I bring my Kindle. Instead of packing four beach reads for a weeklong trip, I can store unlimited books on my little Kindle, which saves a ton of space when packing. The fact that it's completely waterproof means I can lounge in the water at the pool or at the beach, and read without worrying about water damage. (I know; I've dropped mine at the bottom of a pool before). My idea of heaven!

5) Self-test COVID test kits. After testing positive for COVID in Italy earlier this year, I now bring my own COVID self-test kits with me. This means I can always test myself before getting an official test.. This comes in handy if you're stuck in a foreign country waiting on that negative test result; by testing yourself in your hotel room you're saving major bucks by not going to a foreign pharmacy repeatedly to do so. You're also limiting exposure to others if you are symptomatic.

6) A paper hand-held fan. I can't tell you how many times I've been unbearably hot while traveling. Carrying a small, hand-held paper fan is a lifesaver. It's tiny, so you can pop it in your purse. And when you're uncomfortably hot, you'll be glad you have it.

7) A "sleep sounds" app for my phone. At home, I use white noise to go to sleep in the form of a ceiling fan. Because many hotel rooms don't have fans, I rely on an app on my iphone that lets me fall asleep to white noise in the form of ocean sounds, nature noises, and even fan sounds!

8) Motion sickness/nausea medication: Unfortunately, I've been sick to my stomach while trekking the sand dunes of Sossusvlei in Namibia, driving the bumpy roads of Costa Rica, and languishing on the deck of a catamaran in Croatia. I now know to carry anti-nausea medication with me in the form of a patch or a pill that dissolves under my tongue (no water needed!). This medication has "saved" me more times than I can count.

9) While we're on the subject of medication, I've also started bringing constipation packets with me when I travel. My apologies for TMI, but traveler's constipation is a thing, and having these packets on hand means I'm prepared when it strikes, without the need to go to a foreign pharmacy. Trust me, I've tried to explain this issue before to a pharmacist when there's been a language barrier, and it made for a pretty colorful conversation.

10) Blister band-aids. It doesn't matter how "sensible" the shoes I pack are. Inevitably, I'm going to get a blister from all the walking I do when I travel. I love these bandages because they adhere well and won't fall off, no matter what. They're also very comfortable and can be used on other parts of the body if necessary.

by Meaghan Clawsie, Elated Escapes (

JL Bar Ranch, Resort & Spa in the Texas Hill Country

Looking for a quick, fun and restorative getaway from Austin? JL Bar Ranch, Resort & Spa is only 3 hours from Austin, in Sonora, Texas.

A few months ago, I had the opportunity to stay at the JL Bar Ranch, Resort & Spa in Sonora, Texas for a few days of recreation and relaxation.

JL Bar is located in the majestic Texas Hill Country, a 3-hour drive from Austin. Situated on 13,000 acres, this all-inclusive luxury destination is five star all the way, without being stuffy or pretentious. After all, it’s a ranch!

Whether you want to relax and unwind for a few days at the spa, or whether you want to indulge in nonstop fun with activities like horseback riding, pistol shooting, and ATV exploring, JL Bar truly has something for everyone.

This beautiful, five star property sits on 13,000 acres

JL Bar aims to be a world-class destination, complete with the sorts of amenities you’d expect at a five-star resort, such as fine dining, wine tastings, banquet facilities, and a spa and fitness center. But what JL Bar offers that not many other properties do is a commitment to recreation, music, and natural beauty that allows guests to have a unique experience every time they come to stay at the ranch.

What surprised me most about JL Bar is how much FUN it is. It’s like a playground for adults (and kids). From the moment I checked in and was given a personal golf cart to ride around in during my stay (since the ranch is so big), I knew I was going to have a good time. During my few days there, in addition to getting spa treatments, I rode a horse, I explored the vast property on an ATV, I went shooting, I tried axe throwing, and I spent way too much time in the “living room” of the main lodge, hanging out at its bar, playing pool, and singing karaoke.

Getting ready to explore the grounds on an ATV

The main lodge is gorgeous, extremely well-appointed, and straight out of a rustic chic Pinterest board, but it’s also where all the nighttime fun and shenanigans take place. There are cozy fireplaces, a big central bar, a pool table, and a karaoke machine setup that gets a surprising amount of use. Because of the homey, communal feel of the lodge, you never know who you’ll be rubbing elbows with at the bar, or sharing a mic with at karaoke. On my recent visit, I decided to take a turn at karaoke and cued up “Life is a Highway,” only to be joined at the second mic by an unfamiliar bearded man in jeans and a puffer vest. As I stumbled through the lyrics and fumbled the melody, he put me to shame with his perfect pitch and mastery of the mic. When I left after the song finished to refill my wine glass, he stayed at the mic and chose another song, performing a solo. Everyone’s jaws collectively dropped as his deep, soulful singing filled the room, no longer blended with mine. Were we really hearing this guy? He was amazing. We later found out he’s a successful recording artist with his own band in New Orleans. We had been told by the staff earlier in our visit that “you never know who’s gonna take the mic next at karaoke,” and they were right on!

The "living room" in the main lodge

One of the reasons the karaoke sessions at JL Bar get so interesting is that the ranch also houses a professional music recording studio on its premises, and many well known and up-and-coming musicians have recorded songs there. (There’s also an airport on property, so stars can fly in incognito via their private jets). Apparently it’s not uncommon for musicians to come together at the ranch, share some libations (the wine selection at the ranch is AMAZING), and engage in songwriting at the ranch. And once they’ve written a song there, it’s easy to move into the recording phase, since the state-of-the-art recording studio is right there. The owners of the ranch are patrons of the arts, and they actually own the rights to many songs by novice and famous songwriters alike. Ever heard of Kacey Musgraves? Some of her songs are owned by the ranch.

The bar in the main lodge

Besides all the fun to be had on the ranch, it’s also a great place to go to to veg out and reconnect with yourself (or a friend or romantic partner). The setting is beautiful and luxurious and big enough that you can keep to yourself if that’s what you prefer. The manager of the ranch compared the feel of its grounds to South Africa, and I could instantly make the connection. There are incredible views from the ranch, and the landscape and sky are reminiscent of what you might experience there.

The grand staircase in the main lodge

Another high point for me is the quality of the staff at JL Bar. From the gregarious bartender who kept our glasses full every evening (the ranch is all-inclusive, so drink away), to Mike, the group sales manager who floored us at karaoke with his versions of “Sweet Caroline” and “To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before,” everyone who works at the ranch is warm and engaging and the type of person you’d want to spend a few hours getting to know. Which is what we did! The common spaces at the lodge really encourage socializing and interactions, although if privacy and romance is what you’re after, you can certainly find quiet, private spaces as well.

The bartender in the wine cellar. Their wine selection is top notch

Two of my favorite staff members are John and Sydney, a couple who live and work at the ranch. John is the resident horse trainer and wrangler who took me horseback riding, and his wife Sydney is the wine sommelier who has the ability to teach anyone about wine while making it exciting. Having lived close to Napa and Sonoma for many years, I’ve been to my share of wineries, wine tastings and wine events, and I’ve heard lots of winemakers speak about their craft. But Sydney’s knowledge of wine, and her ability talk about it in easy to understand terms, really resonated with me. She offers wine tastings at night before dinner, and selects the perfect wine pairings to go with your meal as well.

John, the horse wrangler

The spa at the ranch is also amazing. The deep tissue massage I had was excellent, and they offer a number of skin treatments (both traditional and cutting edge) that I hear are phenomenal. Just one more reason to go back!

One of the spa's treatment rooms

The food at the ranch is plentiful, hearty, and delicious. Because the ranch is all inclusive, all your meals are covered, and boy are they good. Standout breakfast choices include chicken fried steak, eggs benedict, and breakfast tacos. Lunch one day was pizza made to order in an outdoor brick pizza oven. Dinner is over the top, with everything from huge cowboy steaks and melt-in-your-mouth pork chops to lighter fare like entree salads, salmon and halibut.

dining room
The beautiful dining room at the ranch

My time at JL Bar was restorative, yet packed with fun, and I'd gladly go back. There's so much to do there (or not do, if that's your preference), that every trip has the potential to be unique. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to get away from it all and unplug from life and rediscover themselves. Whether it’s couples who want to play together by day and be wined and dined at night before indulging in some couple time, or families with kids who want to bond over activities like paintball, archery, ATV riding, axe throwing, fishing and horseback riding, or girlfriends who want a getaway that includes a fabulous spa and great meals and wine tastings, this all-inclusive ranch really does offer something for everyone!

Luxe accommodations at the resort

If you’d like to visit JL Bar Ranch, Resort & Spa, please reach out to me at to book a reservation.

JL Bar's values

by Meaghan Clawsie, Elated Escapes (

bottom of page