Travel, Uncategorized

Breakfast In Paris

Around mid-morning, French cookbook author Anne met us at a classic French boulangerie- a place that only uses sourdough, she explained, so their bread has less gluten and is healthier. “Us” meaning myself and three other lovely American tourists, who had each paid about $70 through Airbnb’s new experience feature for Anne to show us how a French breakfast is done.

Anne ordered piles of pastry and a baguette for the group, and we headed off to her place to start cooking!

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Her table was beautifully set for our little group, and we sat down to get acquainted over croissants, pain au chocolats, and pain au raisins. We sipped her homemade blood orange juice and fresh coffee, savoring each different flavor. Anne also poured us some delicious hot chocolate, which I loved dipping pieces of my croissant into.

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After the first part of our meal, Anne showed us how to make little pastry cakes- I’ve completely forgotten what they were called, but they were delicious! They remind me of making “fairy cakes” as a kid. We also learned how to make butter in France, which is actually super easy- it’s harder to find the proper ingredients in the US, though, sadly.

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On the savory side of things, we soft-boiled a few eggs, seasoned them a bit and then dipped freshly-buttered slices of brioche in them. What can I say? Delicious.

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We spend a while chatting about France and fresh produce and the different lives all of us attending lived, as we stuffed ourselves on some of the best and freshest delicacies France could offer. All in all, it was an absolutely glorious morning. Anne made sure to point out that this was not a typical French morning- but we loved it all the same.

At the end of our little adventure we climbed up to her rooftop, took a look around and posed for a quick photo.

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I’m usually not one for spending close to $100 on anything while travelling, but if you’re going to splurge, splurge on an Airbnb experience. These are local people that really know their stuff, and it’s such a cool way to get to know a city from the other side.

Thanks again to Anne for her wonderful hosting and an amazing morning.

Travel, Uncategorized

Travel Diaries: Paris in January (part 2)

Paris is gritty.

I think as tourists, as travelers, we have this idea of Paris as a light, romantic, colorful city. And it many ways it is, with its pastel shopfronts, wrought iron balconies and beautiful architecture. However, it’s still a big city, and an international hub- in other words, there’s a less-rosy side to Paris that isn’t often discussed.

Paris is a lot like New York. Lots of travelers, lots of tourists, lots of busy locals. I doubt many New Yorkers would stop at three in the afternoon for an espresso and a cigarette, as just about everyone seems to here, but basic similarities exist. If you are walking around slowly with a map during rush hour, you will get trampled. Scam artists will try to get you to stop and give them money for something. You know- same old, same old.

It’s been interesting to visit in January and see this darker, grungier side of Paris emerge. Especially with the Seine flooding, it’s a weird week to be a tourist. It seems like everything is pretty grey, the buildings dark and somber. It’s still beautiful, but much different than that fairy-tale version of Paris we all dream of.

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Despite all that, though, Paris is Paris. Watching well-dressed women stroll confidently down cobblestone streets in sensible heels, accidentally stumbling into a photographer’s way in front of the Chanel Haute Couture show (I didn’t know why there were so many photographers and well dressed people outside this one building until I Googled it later), and learning that you can sit an a cafe for an hour and just order an espresso (here, un cafe). 

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All of this is why wandering around Paris can take up so many hours. In sunlight and shadow, with all of its filth and splendor, Paris is mesmerizing. Plus, it’s easy to stumble upon ancient landmarks without even realizing it.

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I knew I was close to Sacre-Couer when I booked my hostel, but I didn’t realize how close until I had breakfast at a Parisian woman’s home nearby and we could see it from her rooftop (more on that in another post). I walked to the base of the church and admired the view for a moment, a little disappointed. I thought there’d be more than just this…

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As beautiful as that was, it didn’t seem like “the highest viewpoint in Paris”, which I’d been told Sacre-Couer was. Hm.

I ventured into the church and realized there was some kind of prayer service going on (religious folks, sorry if that’s the wrong phrase, I’m not familiar!). I stayed and walked around the church, listening to the sermon (is that the right word??) going on in French and gaping up at the impressive ceilings. The church was beautiful, and the singing and music I heard was extraordinary. I stayed and listened for some time. There were signs that instructed visitors to refrain from photography, so I don’t have pictures to show you (even though lots of dumb tourists were snapping loud selfies and recording videos. GUYS. Don’t be this kind of tourist. Who takes selfies in an active place of religious worship??), but I encourage you to look on Youtube and Google for videos and photos of the church. Just search “sacre-couer prayer service”.

After leaving the church, I felt relaxed and glad to have been inside, but… I THOUGHT YOU COULD GO UP???

I really wanted to climb to the top, but I couldn’t figure out how to get there. I started circling the church and eventually found some stairs leading into a basement with an arrow saying something like “to the top” but pointing down. Um… kay?

It had started to rain, so I carefully climbed down some damp stairs and rounded a corner, where a cranky old lady was asleep in a quiet ticket booth.

“Uh, bonjour,” I tried.

“Bonjour, mumblemumble French words.” I don’t know what she said.

“Un billet, s’il vous plait? The.. stairs? Pour… le top?” I never said I was good at French.

“Oui, oui, 6 euros.”

“Merci.” I start putting my debit card in the machine-

“NON.” The little old lady slams her hand down on the counter. “NONON MORE LOUD FRENCH.”

Pause. “Ok oui.”

I put my card in again. She shakes her head at me and hands me the ticket.

“Thank- Merci beaucoup.”

“Errghrgh.”

Alright, then. So I turn away from cranky old lady and push through a metal turnstile to begin my ascent. I’ve found it!

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Well this looks promising. I’m glad I’m small- I can’t even extend my elbows out all the way to the sides in this thing. And it’s… 300 stairs, I think? Well ok.

Up we go.

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After a dizzying walk up, I thought I was done when I saw this door. The light! I’m free!

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But actually, this only began the part of the climb that had me clambering over wet rooftops and slippery stairs. Was I supposed to be out here?

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Evidently, yes. When I made it to the top, bells started ringing. Really! The church bells chimed just as I reached the top of Sacre-Couer. HERE was the view I was looking for!

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Standing there in the rain and the cold, listening to the bells chime, surrounded by ancient stone and admiring the city was absolutely breathtaking. My legs were shaking the whole time from the height, but the experience was so, so worth it.

I hope you enjoyed this glimpse of Paris in January. I know I did. Thanks as always for reading!

Travel, Uncategorized

Travel Diaries: Versailles

If you are ever near Paris, the one tourist-y thing you MUST do is spend a day in Versailles.

I’ll be the first to say that the tourist-y things are usually best avoided, and I will always advocate for the hole-in-the-wall spots where you can find the locals hanging out.

HOWEVER.

Versailles. I still can’t even believe it. Maybe it was so impressive because I expected it to be so overdone, so marketed to tourists, and it wasn’t too bad. Maybe it was because I underestimated the enormity of the palace. Maybe because I had no idea of how large the surrounding park was, or how good it would feel to spend a day among old trees and clear skies, far out of the filth of the city.

Versailles is incredible.

Let me show you.

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When you arrive, you will be amazed at how mammoth the chateau itself is. Go in the winter, like I did, otherwise you’ll be surrounded by millions of tourists. In the winter, there’s hardly any line, especially if you buy your tickets online. I think there was only one person in front of me.

You’ll go through a quick security check, then you’ll be let in through the golden gate…

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The exterior of the palace is so ornate you can hardly believe it. Knowing how old it all is just amazes me. It’s all so massive, so intricately carved and put together, and it has lasted all these years…. It’s simply incredible.

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Once you can tear your eyes away from the palace’s exterior for two seconds, you’ll realize you can actually go inside. You can tour the rooms of the royals who used to live there, but you’ll probably too distracted by the ceilings to pay attention to their old bedding (though that’s pretty cool, too).

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Throughout the palace there are so many beautiful pieces of artwork. The design of the whole building, from the doorknobs to the archways, is utterly stunning.

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Wow. After seeing all that beauty, I wasn’t sure how the gardens would compare. From the window you could only see bits of them, and I didn’t have a good grasp on how far they extended. I took a moment and had some macarons from Laduree (I’ve seen Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette a few too many times) before continuing on to see what I could find.

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I got so lucky and ended up picking the most beautiful day to be there. The grounds were absolutely beautiful, and seemingly endless. I walked for several hours enjoying the fresh air and the silence. For most of my walk I was entirely alone, and it was so relaxing to be away from Paris for a while. I’m sitting in my hostel as I write this with a group of Spanish-speaking boys singing along with a guitar in the corner and the hostel employees chatting in French as they clean out the fridge, listening to the music playing over the speakers mix with the sirens wailing past every so often outside.

Versailles was a lot more peaceful and serene.

DSC04282DSC04284DSC04285DSC04288DSC04293DSC04294I walked for hours just letting the breeze and the sun wash over me. I saw TONS of runners (um, can I please have somewhere like this to run through in my backyard??) and made it out to Petite Trianon, basically Marie Antoinette’s personal mini-palace. My camera was dying about this time, and Petite Trianon was pretty similar in style to Chateau Versailles, if a little more rustic. What was really cool, though, was the network of paths, meadows and gardens behind the residence. I could have explored for longer but having been out for so long already, I didn’t make it much further than this little pavilion below.

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The pavilion and little lake, though, were gorgeous and quaint and everything you would expect from the Dauphine’s little hideaway.

Heading back to the palace, I found a beautiful fountain that I’d somehow missed the first time around- obviously a big tourist-y site because of all the people gathered around, but with the sun beginning to dip down in the sky and the light hitting it just right, it seemed magical.

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Versaille’s gardens contained so much more than I had anticipated, and even more than I managed to see despite all the time I spent there. Despite the area’s rocky history, the location itself has become and absolutely stunning place to escape city life and enjoy oneself in an enormous, beautiful park.

I couldn’t capture half the grandiosity of this place in a photograph, so I hope someday you make it out to Versailles. Definitely one of those things worth seeing. Also, for my budget travelers- I spent money to go inside the Chateau and Petite Trianon, but wandering the green spaces is free! Because of recent terrorist attacks you will have to enter the park though a gated checkpoint, where they will ask to look inside any bags you may be carrying. Other than that, though, it’s an easy attraction to make happen.

Thanks for reading, as always, and stay tuned for more Paris stories soon!

Travel, Uncategorized

Travel Diaries: Paris in January (part 1)

Who visits Paris in January?

The thing about Paris in the winter is that it’s preferable to remain indoors. A lot of people aren’t interested in strolling along the Seine when your socks are squelching every time you press them into your shoes.

That said, if you keep an eye on the forecast and pack appropriate footwear, you can have a lot of fun mixing indoor and outdoor activities in this beautiful city. Also, I’ve noticed instead of just suffering through the rain like us Pacific Northwesters, Parisians just duck under an awning and wait out the worst swells before continuing on beneath an umbrella.

Smart.

Anyways, there are dozens of book shops, cafes and museums you can visit when the weather is sub-par. Then, when the rain clears, you can meander through one of the city’s many green spaces and check out the touristy things like the Eiffel Tower and what-not. If you’re comfortable spending a little extra cash to spend time indoors during the winter (think between 10 and 15 euros per museum entry, and 3-5 euros for a coffee), you’ll be able to snag a cheaper flight, shorter lines for everything, and most likely a cheaper place to stay. Summer is the height of tourism in France, so if you can get over the weather, winter is a great time to get a feel for the real Paris.

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Part of that whole “real Paris thing?” Learn to speak a little French. I went to Musee Cluny today, and the security guard asked me something I didn’t quite get, so I said “je ne parle pas francais.” She scolded me like a kid and said (in French): “you’re in Paris, learn to speak French, no?”

The funny thing is, I understood what she was saying quite clearly. For every meal I’ve ordered so far, and for every purchase I’ve made, I’ve spoken entirely in French. I ordered “le petit dejuner et un cafe” this morning at a brasserie and bought “une chocolatine et un pain d’antan bio” while thanking waiters (merci beaucoup!) and wishing them a good evening (bonsoir). I’ve been offered selections of fruits, asked for money by beggars, and hit on by vaguely creepy men on the sidewalk. I can totally understand everything that’s being said to me, through a combination of my knowledge of French and visual context. The part I’m not great at is the speaking, because I have to think and conjugate and translate.

Anyway, the museum itself was phenomenal. I actually went to see the famous Lady and the Unicorn tapestries, which I’ve loved since I was a little kid, but the exhibition was closed for restoration this week. Still, there were many other equally beautiful tapestries, and because of the restoration my ticket was cut to a mere 6 euros.

Even more beautiful than the tapestries were these mesmerizing rooms filled with ancient stained glass windows…

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Just standing in four walls of that was unbelievable. I was in awe, especially because these were created in like the 14th century (or the 16th… I forget). Tomorrow my plan is to head to a few more museums, because after my first one today, the rain let up! I wanted to walk as much as I could while the weather wasn’t too bad, so I did…

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Just endless, endless beauty.

Eventually, I did get a little hungry, but couldn’t decide what to eat. I stumbled upon Angelina, the place whose famous chocolat chaud I’d heard was once a favorite of Coco Chanel’s.

So of course I went in, had a deliciously thick mug of chocolat chaud with a pile of rich whipped cream, and watched the rain thunder down through huge glass windows.

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Thus fueled, I continued walking. My legs were starting to ache at this point, but it’s PARIS. There is so much to see! I got a little lost trying to find my way back to the Seine (my guidepost for figuring out where I am in Paris) but meandered through this park for a while.

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I didn’t mind the grey weather so much, but I was elated when the sun came out for a few hours in the afternoon. Still wanting to really make the most of that light in the sky, I did something I didn’t even know you could do.

I climbed the Eiffel tower!

See that second ring around the base?

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Turns out there are stairs leading up to it! The line was super long for the elevator ride up, but while I was standing in it I noticed a couple walking through the tower on the other side of the base. I went over and, walking past the non-existent line right up to the ticket booth, asked for a 10$ walking ticket. When they asked for my age, they told me it was only 5 euros.

Ticket in hand, I began the dizzying climb.

I’m not wonderful with heights, so it was a little frightening…

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But, oh my god, was it worth it.

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It doesn’t get any more beautiful than that.

With that, I’d like to wish you bonsoir, and I will see you in a few days. Maybe tomorrow. It depends on what the day brings! Remember to follow my Instagram @kenaia for more photos and videos.

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I hope you enjoyed this post!

 

Travel, Uncategorized

Airplane food is gross. Here’s what to eat instead!

You know how it goes.

You spend a few hours at the airport making your way through security, dropping off your bags, maybe refilling your water bottle before the long flight ahead. Eventually, you shuffle onto the plane, take a seat, and set your watch to your destination time before nodding off.

When you wake up, your stomach is growling. Luckily, the flight attendants are making their way towards you with a cart of foil-covered trays. For a moment, you’re excited, but… then reality kicks in. You tear the foil off a plastic container of unidentifiable… beans? Meat? It’s all been marinating in some kind of salty, drippy sauce. You slurp your way through it, wishing you’d thought to bring something from home instead.

Why bother with the gurgling stomach and bloated, nauseous post-airplane-meal nastiness when you can easily pack healthy snacks and meals to eat on the plane?

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what to pack from home

The most important things you need to consider when you’re eating in the air are hydration, flavor and immunity. Plane air can be drying, and elevation changes can mess with your digestive system, so water is crucial to keeping your gut happy. It also helps keep your skin hydrated and glowing. Anyways, the more you have to pee, the more you’ll have to get up and stretch your legs on a long flight. You can also up your hydration by eating fruits and veggies with a high water content, like cucumbers or tomato slices. I also always bring some organic teabags (I love Numi‘s Moroccan Mint and Roasted Dandelion teas) and just ask the flight attendants for hot water on board.

As far as flavor, well; I’ve heard your taste buds don’t work as well in the air or something, which is why plane food is so over-salted. Combat this bringing your own salted almonds, or adding sauces like salsa on a salad to brighten up your food. I almost always travel with a bar of dark chocolate for emergencies (and by emergencies I mean about 3 hours into every flight). Chewable ginger candies are another great addition to your travel bag- the spice of ginger is super potent and the chewing will help reduce the pressure in your ears during landing and takeoff- kind of like chewing gum, but healthier!

Finally, airports and planes are filled with germs. You don’t need to be paranoid about this, but give your immune system the support it needs to avoid falling sick and eat foods rich in vitamin C. I love satsuma oranges because they’re so easy to carry around, and bell peppers have both vitamin C and a high water content. I’ve also just starting carrying around this MyKind Organic Vitamin C Spray, an entirely plant-based vitamin c supplement. I really, really hate being sick while traveling, and I also usually have to work 10 days in a row before and after long trips to make up for taking time off work, so building up my immune system is a high priority for me.

If you’re in it for the long haul, grab a reusable container and pack it with quinoa, fresh greens, beans, olives, baked sweet potatoes, beets, sliced carrots… really whatever you want! If you pack a flavorful dressing in a separate small container (usually 3oz is the max in your carry-on), you can easily enjoy a healthy meal on the plane. I like salsa, as I mentioned, but you could combine tahini, garlic, lemon juice and salt for a creamier dressing, or simply shake up some olive oil and apple cider vinegar. Peel some hard-boiled eggs at home and slice those in as well for an added protein boost.

For more protein, you can slice apples and squeeze a nut butter pack over them. For a sweet tooth, pack some berries. I could go on, but you get the idea. Healthy and delicious food is easy when you plan ahead.

Remember, you can grab free plastic forks, napkins, spoons and whatever else at the airport. You can always rinse out a dirty container in a bathroom sink to pack it back into your bag without smelling. There’s no reason you should be forced to eat airplane food when it’s so easy to bring your own!

tetiana-bykovets-422966Photo by Tetiana Bykovets

things you can buy at the airport if you didn’t bring enough food

It happens. We rush out of the house, head to the airport straight from work, or are just too darn tired to be bothered. Luckily, depending on the airport, you can find some pretty good options. I’m writing this post in London’s Heathrow airport, where I’ve just finished a cup of gluten free coconut porridge topped with nut & seed mix and a banana, and a hot cup of organic coffee. It only cost me about 6$ for the lot!

Sadly, not all airports are this awesome. At Sea-Tac, I usually stop at Starbucks for a fruit cup, banana and sweet potato chips in a pinch, and grab some popcorn from the Hudson News stand. I also always haul a huge bottle of SmartWater around on long flights. I don’t care really what brand it is, they just make the biggest bottles (this in addition to the reusable I also have in my carry-on). Water is great for digestion, hydration and everything else, but it also keeps you full, which hopefully helps you spend less money on airport snacks.

At Houston-Bush, however, you can find packets of gluten-free cookies, portable snacks like Lara Bars and sugar-free dried fruit, and lots of little fruit or veggie mixes.

I’ve also been stuck in places like Narita in Japan where all I could eat was a party-size container of little mochi-like candies (though they were delicious), and an airport somewhere in China where the only option in the terminal was a vending machine of $50 dried meat packages.

Then there’s Changi in Singapore, also known as the world’s best airport, where I once bought a whole box of Laduree macarons at 5am and devoured them all without a shred of regret.

At the end of the day, it all depends on the airport. Research your options before you go and plan ahead for your dietary needs and desires.

best choices for long-haul flights when you can pick your meals

 

It’s best to consider airplane food a supplementary snack to the food you’ll be bringing, but there are ways to get the most out of it. I’ve found that in order to get the healthiest meal, choose a strict dietary option when booking your ticket. The stricter, the better, because the more you narrow your restrictions the more likely they are to just throw you a bunch of fruits and vegetables and call it good. Which, if you are like me and trying to stay healthy, is exactly what you want!

For my flight from Seattle to London this morning (yesterday morning? ugh, time changes), I had chosen the “vegan vegetarian” option, figuring if I went with just gluten free, they’d give me a lot of dairy. Telling them you can’t do eggs or dairy narrows the junk they can give you, beacuse it’s hard to make highly processed bread without it. The flight started with a light meal of something foil wrapped, which I didn’t eat, as well as a small salad and a heaping pile of berries. Paired with the granola bars, bell peppers and cucumbers I had prepared, I felt perfectly nourished and not weighed down by whatever was in the foil. I did take one bite of it, but… ugh.

Before landing I was given another fruit cup and a chia seed granola bar. Not bad at all, British Airways! It was so nice to actually consume real food on a plane.

I hope what you take away from today’s post is that healthy eating is possible even on long-haul flights if you are willing to do a little research and be prepared.

jonathan-pielmayer-176664Photo by Jonathan Pielmayer.

How do you stay healthy while flying? Let me know in the comments!

Featured photo by Omar Prestwich.

 

Travel, Uncategorized

4 steps to packing for winter travel

Ah, winter. A beautiful time of year.

Fresh snow crunching beneath your boots, the dance of a candle against a window splattered with grey rain… One of the most delicious sensations of the season is the joy of wrapping yourself in a giant, warm coat, or swirling a scarf around your instantly-warmer neck. Chunky sweaters and waterproof boots grace the covers of the magazines in grocery store checkout aisles, and you spend an entire afternoon sipping coffee, browsing department stores decked out in holiday displays for that perfect pair of gloves.

But… how do you fit all this warm, thick, comfortable clothing into a carry-on suitcase for that trip you’re taking to Europe-

in January?

The highlight reel of cozy winter moments screeches to a halt as you realize that one winter outfit takes the same amount of space in your luggage as two weeks of clothes did for that beach vacation you went on in August.

So here’s how to pack for your winter travels.

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A caveat: this method focuses on winter travel to large cities. If you are travelling to a more rural area or participating in a winter sport of some kind, you may need extra and more durable clothing. Obviously, though, this method is adjustable- do what you need to make your trip a success!

1. Check the weather forecast.

This sounds so obvious, but I’m sure many of you have made the mistake of skipping this step. I know I have! The first time I visited my family in Houston, I brought a tank top, a pair of shorts, flip flops and a breezy dress. I assumed Texas was hot all the time and didn’t look at the forecast. Had I done so, I would have avoided the freezing-my-butt-off that accompanied Houston’s record-breaking low temps that week…

Once you’ve checked the forecast, you can plan accordingly. For instance, if there’s a lot of rain in store, make sure you bring an adequate amount of waterproof gear. You should bring a raincoat anyway, just in case, but this way you can plan on an extra rain shell, or at least make sure the place you’re staying has a dryer.

2. Make a list.

Using the weather forecast and the activities you’ll be doing as a guide, create a list of what you’ll need. For winter, it’ll probably look something like this:

2 pairs of pants: I have two pairs of these super-comfy “treggings” from H&M in black- they go with everything! But you could also do jeans, trousers, whatever- just stick to a basic color palette.

1-3 long sleeved shirts: the number depends on how long you’re staying and if you can do laundry. I promise you don’t need more than this, though! Pick two basic long-sleeves and one nicer blouse. For me, this is a basic black long sleeve, a white button up and an emerald green blouse.

1 warm sweater (not too thick): again, versatile color. Mine is black with small zippers on the sides, from GAP. It’s super comfy, and really easy to layer, while still looking classy.

1 raincoat: an essential

1 hooded jacket: make sure you can fit this underneath your bigger coats, for layering.

thick coat: your warm, heavy coat that you live in when it’s cold

sneakers/ walking shoes: the more durable, the better.

boots: these should be sturdy, walkable, waterpoof and warm! I have a pair of black Timberland boots that work for this purpose. They’re pricey, I’ll admit, but they last forever.

Accessories: 5 pairs wool socks, 7 pairs underwear, 1 versatile bra, 1 beanie, gloves

a dress: depending on your style and whether or not you are doing anything that requires getting a little more dressed up.

3. Plan your plane outfit.

Extract the weightiest or bulkiest items from your list and designate them as your plane clothes. Usually your boots, sweater and heavy coat are easy to wear to the airport. That way you don’t have to worry about fitting all that into your bag.

4. Roll up the rest.

Roll the rest of your items to fit them into your carry-on suitcase, and use your backpack for small things like your camera, laptop and paperbacks. You will have so much room left you’ll fill the need to fill it with more stuff. Don’t! Leave space for souvenirs, or maybe a handmade sweater you’ll pick up on your travels.

Happy winter travels!

 

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Flat lay photo by Alice Donovan Rouse on Unsplash.
Girl in snow photo by Joseph Pearson on Unsplash
Travel, Uncategorized

how to stay healthy despite holiday travel and stress

Unless you have a perfect immune system, it’s pretty likely that you understand the distress of falling ill during the holidays. If you are travelling, your sleep schedule is often disrupted, you encounter strange foods, and you are exerting a lot more energy participating in holiday events- and I don’t even want to get started on plane germs. Even if you’re staying in your hometown, the stress and pressure of the holiday season can be overwhelming to the point of exhaustion for some.

Lucky for you, I have some tips to help you take care of yourself, so that you can truly enjoy what is supposed to be a wonderful, celebratory season.

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Avoiding illness:

In general, you should aim to consume most vitamins and nutrients through your diet.* Doing so will give you a strong immune system to start with, which means you won’t have to worry so much about avoiding illness when you’re on the road. The trick is to figure out what specific nutrients your body is most in need of, and what imbalances you need to keep in check in order to maintain your health.

For me, too much sugar inevitably makes me sick, especially combined with too much gluten (which I have a sensitivity to). Knowing this, I try to limit my sugar intake throughout the holidays and make sure I’m getting plenty of Vitamin C and D to support my immune system. Now, I’m no nutritionist, but this has worked for me so I am sticking to it! Though I do take these vitamins in capsule form a few times a week, I also try to eat plenty of kiwis and bell peppers, foods that I know are high in vitamin C. I also add supplements to smoothies or coffee for my overall health, like spirulina, chlorella or maca powder. If I’m starting to feel sick, I use my friend’s home remedy- a spoonful of chopped up garlic wrapped in raw honey, taken at last once daily. It doesn’t taste good, but it usually works! I recommend experimenting with your diet to see what works best for you. I eat a lot of cooked greens but not a lot of raw salad- raw salad in the winter makes me feel rough and chilly, whereas cooked greens, preferably with garlic and lemon juice, make me feel nourished and strong.

If you’re unable to pinpoint a specific area that makes you feel better or worse, simply focus on making sure you are getting enough vegetables and not too much sugar. This is more important than usual during the holidays because you’re likely already consuming a lot of delicious, but not super healthy desserts. Keeping your immune system strong by supporting it with healthy nutrients will ensure that you can enjoy your holidays without compromising your health.

There’s also the travel factor. Are you flying somewhere for the holidays? Bring some turmeric or mint tea with you on the plane (bring the tea bags and ask your flight attendant for hot water). Both are anti-inflammatory, and mint will help calm your stomach. Drink TONS of water. Bring papaya capsules or evening primrose oil to help offset an upset stomach after a large holiday meal.

At the end of the day, listen to your body. That’s the best way to figure out what it needs!

 

Exhaustion:

The first thing you should do if you are feeling fatigued or wiped out is to get some sleep. Seriously. You will feel so much better if you do.

If you really, really can’t sleep, or if you have slept and it isn’t doing anything for you, get yourself some iron. In capsule form, red meat or leafy greens, whichever you prefer. As a female athlete, so much of any fatigue I’ve ever had has been cured almost instantly by supplying my body with more iron.

You can also start adding chia seeds to everything you eat for a little superfood boost. These guys work well in pastas, salads, smoothies, oatmeal… seriously, almost everything.

Finally, take some time out for yourself. Really rest. Turn off your phone. Go for a walk. Take a hot bath. Go to your local market and pick out some fancy chocolate, a great bottle of wine or a selection of fresh pears. You will be amazed at how much taking a little time away from it all can re-energize you. If you can, take some time off an go for an all-out vacation! I’m going to Paris for a week next month and although I’m excited because, well, PARIS, I’m also looking forward to just spending a relaxing week in one of my favorite cities in the world.

 

For skin and hair:

Wake up and splash your face with cold water. Not only will it help wake you up, but it will also tighten your pores and make your skin look fresh and gorgeous. Don’t use soap! In order to keep your skin supple, only wash it with soap at the end of the day. Too much scrubbing or washing will dry out your skin, causing it to produce excess oil and giving you a splotchy complexion. I always use Acure’s Brilliantly Brightening Glowing Serum.  This is probably the priciest product I use but it is SOO worth it. Failing that, I use plain old argan oil.

In order to keep my hair hydrated, I avoid shampoo year-round. As an added boost in the winter, I use a deep root conditioner every other week (Acure Deep Root Conditioner and Giovanni 2Chic Soothing Hair Mask with Cherry Blossom and Rose Petals are my favorites). As my hair dries I massage coconut oil into the ends and spray on some Acure Leave-In Conditioner.

 

One last tip for a winter glow: shower less! It dries out your skin. You aren’t sweating that much in these temperatures, anyway.

The blues:

Depression, SAD, the blues… We know it by many names, but many of us understand that feeling of sadness during the holidays for one reason or another. If you are suffering from depression or are unable to get out of a dark mood, please seek out medical care from a licensed professional.* However, if you just need to get out of a rough patch, here are some things that have worked for me.

Get outside. Take a walk, even if it’s cold- especially if it’s cold.

Meditate! There are so many options on Youtube (so, free!) for guided meditation. I love the Headspace app, though at the moment I can’t afford it. However, you can also just sit in silence and meditate alone for 5 minutes a day. I used to not believe in meditation until I started having stress-related breathing issues last year, and learned that it was mostly in my head. Meditating a few minuets a day, a few times a week got rid of that issue, as well as taught me to approach things in my life with a more balanced mindset.

Read a book. My winter recommendations are here.

Go to a yoga class, stretch out at home, or just move your body in a way that reminds you how good it feels to inhabit it.

How are you staying healthy this holiday season?

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*I am not a certificated nutritionist or medically trained in any way. The contents of this blog are things I have experimented with and have had success with, and might work differently in your life and with your body. Please seek out a medical professional if you have severe issues with illness and/or stress. 

Featured photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash.