London: insider finds in my most visited city

The London Eye slightly exceeded our (low) expectations but for a visitor, I would recommend either the Emirates Line or the Top of the Shard over this pricey tourist attraction.

I spend at least one weekend each month in/around London so this post will offer both things to see if it’s your first time in the city and more local spots as well as some weekend/day trips & getaways.

First things first,

Sightseeing

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Start at Buckingham Palace (home of the queen) then start walking towards the Thames river through St. James’s Park until you reach Big Ben and Palace of Westminster (where Parliament meets). Next walk hop on a Thames Clipper River Bus (RB1, you can pay by scanning a contactless credit card or using apple/google pay directly from the queue – no need to buy a ticket) from Westminster Pier and pass the London Eye on your right, journey under Tower Bridge, all the way to Canary Wharf (the financial district/a brand new city).

Another fun activity in the area is renting a kayak from Docklands Sailing and Watersports Centre (15 pounds per hour, book online in advance) which is a favorite warm weather activity on those few sunny days in the city.

I recommend visiting Crossrail Place Roof Garden before heading back to the center via the DLR light rail connecting you to the tube at Bank (again you can pay for all of these transport services via contactless, you no longer need to go through the trouble of getting an Oyster Card).

For an epic city view head to the cocktail bar at the Top of the Shard (be prepared for $$$$ drinks but in my opinion seeing the nighttime skyline from here is worth it)

Eat

The Barbary – North African, tapas-style for sharing and very vegetarian-friendly 

Tandoor Chophouse – Tandoori paneer tikka to die for + every single thing is amazing

Padella – Italian but beyond 90% of the other pastas you’ll ever try – we always order one per person + an extra then go family style

Kiln – Thai street food, but fancy. I had this the day I returned from a trip to Singapore and can tell you it’s authentic and just brings me right back to the food courts of SE Asia. 

Gunpowder – Indian and oh so trendy, this is a treat and they have a few locations but I can’t pick a favorite, try any they are all lovely.

Bao Soho – decadent Taiwanese buns in a small space. Actually, I think I like the tiny bathrooms as much as the tasty foods (that sounds so weird, I know, but you’ll have to see to believe it)

Hoppers– Sri Lankan date spot in Soho, keep it trendy and order a hopper for goodness sake!

Gordon’s wine bar – smelly, cheesy, worth the wait (bring along some body spray for after?)

Flat iron square – variety of hipster eats near Tate Modern museum, I’m not complaining

Next on my list: Science afternoon tea at the Ampersand Hotel – my dream date

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Indulge in afternoon tea (check Groupon for deals)

Activities

Swingers mini golf/bar/food hall for a rainy night when you aren’t feeling the pub thing

Globe theater £5 summer Shakespeare shows – right now it needs saving please donate

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Sky garden (free, book ahead/visit the cafe…although…overpriced coffee? I’ll bring my own, thanks). Pictured above.

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Barbican Centre – maybe the coolest place in town

Air line cable car – oh so fun! I’ve never been on the Eye but this seems better

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On my to do list:  extreme tourism: the O2 climb

Art

Tate Modern/The British Museum – FREE and epic collections, these are NOT to be missed. I’ll head to the Brit any rainy day (or the Museums near Hyde Park: V&A, Natural History, etc.) – note that all of these are free AND excellent rainy day activities

Saatchi Gallery £10 may seem avoidable but I think that the exhibits are relevant and worth paying to see. This one is for modern art lovers (at least in my experience).

Parks

Hyde Park

Greenwich Park

Mudchute Farm – cows and pigs in the city?!

To be continued…

Events

London has many great jazz & comedy clubs (notably in the Soho area)

Globe theater £5 summer Shakespeare shows – right now it needs saving please donate 

Check Timeout for what’s on these days

50 Things to do when Lockdown goes Long-term (Part 10) LIVE

I’m trying something new: this is a LIVE blog post – that means I’ll publish five parts per day for 10 days.  If you haven’t already, start by checking out my original COVID-19 post then follow along with me on Instagram for daily updates!  Comments are SO welcome, what are you all doing these days?  Let’s brain pool. 

1. Commit to something

Sudden restriction is far from easy! To keep yourself moving, hold yourself accountable. Set a goal and make a timeline. Really break it down into small steps so you can see yourself progressing daily or weekly. Don’t be afraid of committing to something time consuming because you’ll take it piece by piece. In the end you’ll have some work done, hopefully something you’re passionate about.

This blog is my fuel to keep doing something even when it’s much easier to do nothing… day.. after day… after day… what will be yours? 

2. Ask yourself: “where do I want to be and who do I want to be with?”

If you’re lucky enough to have some mobility and there’s a place which would be more comfortable for a long stay consider relocating. If there is someone you’d like to be with (and the feeling is mutual) get to each other ASAP. If your area is in a “phase” of lockdown where some visits are allowed with people outside of your household form a “germ pod” — that is, a group of close friend/family from another household you can trust to see exclusively and periodically perhaps for Friday movie nights or Sunday brunches, weekend walks in the wild.

If physical presence isn’t possible, who are two people you can call to check in with every day? Also consider checking in on your neighbors; no-one should be all alone in times like these. Be the helper.

3. Take a look at what’s inside your toiletries

What are those lotions and potions really made of? What you put on your skin can seriously impact long-term health. I try to avoid the following:

  • Benzylparaben
  • Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA)
  • Butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT)
  • Butylparaben
  • Diethylphthalate
  • Ethylparaben
  • Formaldehyde
  • Formalin
  • Hyptylparaben
  • Isobutyparaben
  • Isopropylparaben
  • Methylchloroisothiazolinone
  • Methylene glycol
  • Methylparaben
  • P-phenylenediamine
  • Paraformaldehyde
  • Polyethylene glycol
  • Propylparaben
  • Quaternium 15
  • Triclosan
  • Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS)
  • Benzophenone-3

When in doubt, search by ingredient with the Environmental Working Group’s database, here’s a link.

Find some of these in your toothpaste, body wash or makeup? Make a note and next time consider buying one without such potentially harmful components!

Some better options I’ve been able to find:

  • Weleda skincare
  • Acure haircare
  • Burts Bees mascara
  • Ilia/Honest lipstick
  • Goddess Garden/Honest SPF
  • EO/Honest hand sanitizer
  • ? Deodorant –this is tricky / to minimize aluminum risk but stay fresh I go for Crystal 
  • Aura Cacia air fresheners/essential oils
  • Ecover detergent
  • Ecos cleaner
  • Larabar/perfect bar/RX bar
  • Naturelo vitamins (or Rainbow Light)

4. Consider what’s “essential”

In March 2020, as the globe began to shut down in unison– to a scale which was utterly unimaginable until a pandemic was upon us– something important came into clearer view: the work that makes everything possible. Those jobs deemed “essential” weren’t high payroll positions, they weren’t what many spend decades planning and training for. Often, positions involving labor and care are looked down upon. “If you can’t do, then teach” — I hate that saying! 

When our world comes to a stop we rely on our lifelines: that’s agriculture, that’s transportation, that’s trade and commerce, health and education. Lawyers and bankers get a whole lot of credit, an awful lot of the time, but who truly takes care of all of us in a crisis? Grocery store cashiers. Cleaners. Delivery personnel.

Who takes care of the CEO’s children? Who keeps her home tidy? Who services her car and makes sure she has a stable supply of food on the supermarket shelves?

you have the same amount of hours in a day as Beyoncé Mug, beyonce mug, slogan mug, mugs with sayings, personalised gift

Too often these jobs are overlooked, or worse, looked down upon. The truth is, we need each other. I hope this is a lesson which will stay with me long after the COVID-19 crisis sees its ending.

To do my part in thanking those who risked their health and worked extra hard in a time when we all needed them, I’m offering one place in my Summer 2021 Travel + Flow wellness retreat in Italy to an essential worker nominee. If you know somebody who sacrificed their own wellbeing to serve others, maybe by working in a shop, maintaining transport, or keeping public spaces clean and sanitary, I’ll offer them a week of yoga, wine and dining, full accommodations at the retreat for free (they’ll only have to cover the journey & I can help find affordability).

5. Netflix Binge IRL

Take a day of back-to-back episodes one step further and theme your day around it.

My go to quarantine shows include:

Terrace House — best paired with sushi, mochi, Pocky, miso, omurice… and a cup of Sencha green tea or a Kirin Ichiban beer in your comfiest loungewear and slippers 😉

Queer Eye — try out Antoni’s recipes and (online) shop along with Tan or get styling tips from Jonathan — self makeover moment?

Money Heist (Casa de Papel) wear read head to toe + indulge in tapas and Spanish wine to ease the suspense

Easy Tapas

  • toast with olive oil + crushed tomato + salt
  • toast with olive oil + crushed tomato + manchego cheese
  • drunked goat cheese (queso de cabra al vino) topped with olive oil
  • Spanish tortilla: an omelette with potatoes (and onions if you’d like)
  • (black) olives from Aragon
  • Manzanilla (green) olives
  • potato chips with a dash of paprika on top
  • pan fried sardines (in olive oil) with fresh lemon squeezed on top
  • shrimp fried in garlic and olive oil topped with parsley
  • muscles cooked in a tomato, garlic and olive oil broth topped with fresh parsley
  • mushrooms fried in garlic oil and balsamic vinegar, fresh lemon and parsley on top
  • pan fried padrón peppers sprinkled with sea salt
  • sliced baguette (extra dry) for dipping in excess oils/broth from the dishes above

My favorite Spanish (red) wines

  • Bobal from Valencia
  • Monastrall from Jumilla
  • anything from D.O. Ribera del Duero (top choice)
  • or D.O. Priorat
  • can’t go wrong with the classics: a Tempranillo from La Rioja

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Running a blog takes a lot of time, money and effort. Become a Grace in the World patron by buying me a coffee or sponsoring a post! Click this link to donate to my travel fund. Your support is highly appreciated.

50 Things to do when Lockdown goes Long-term (Part 9)

I’m trying something new: this is a LIVE blog post – that means I’ll publish five parts per day for 10 days.  If you haven’t already, start by checking out my original COVID-19 post then follow along with me on Instagram for daily updates!  Comments are SO welcome, what are you all doing these days?  Let’s brain pool. 

6. Note your gratitude

Write down things you are grateful or thankful for, to end every day or all at once (as many as you can) every week.

7. Edit social media

More social, less media. Social comparison distorts self-perception. Unfollow influencers. Unfollow any account which has the explicit goal to sell you something or causes you to feel down. Reset your reference points and surround your online self with better content. Hide your social media apps in a folder where you’ll have to work to access them (keep them off your main home screen). Limit yourself online and avoid falling into a black hole of comparison (set a timer while you scroll).

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8. Practice wishful thinking

Apply the WOOP method: Wish — Outcome — Obstacle — Plan

  1. Find 5 minutes of quiet (uninterrupted) “me time”
  2. Search for your wish, ask yourself: “what do I really want?” You can think in terms of today/near future/long-term or you can use this as a problem-solving technique to determine whether or not something is right for you. 
  3. Think — “What would be the best outcome? How would I feel?” — imagine/experience this in your mind, really feel it out
  4. Switch gears: consider what it is in you which stands in the way (identify the obstacle/s) Again, imagine/experience the obstacle/s — maybe a deep emotion or a bad habit*
  5. Establish an “if/then” plan: an effective action/thought to overcome the imagined obstacle/s. Tell yourself, “if (obstacle) happens, then I will (action)

* note: step 4 often helps reveal new possibilities or narrow down wishes to hep them become more achievable. Could you be open to re-framing your wish in a way which makes obstacles surmountable?

9. Get Hygge

  • do a puzzle
  • listen to a podcast
  • sip hot chocolate
  • sip iced tea
  • spend a weekend in the woods
  • have an at home spa day
  • or a night of self care: face mask + body scrub + oil
  • watch a romantic comedy
  • do some cooking
  • or baking
  • light a candle
  • set up an essential oil diffuser
  • decorate with fresh flowers
  • take a personal day (a day to truly do nothing)
  • get a dog
  • do yoga
  • take a bath
  • plant a garden
  • take a walk outside
  • turn off your phone
  • turn off the TV
  • wine and dine (remotely) with friends or family
  • create clutter-free surroundings
  • select/make yummy-smelling cleaning products
  • put together photo albums
  • display a fireplace video on your TV
  • scatter soft blankets and pillows around seating
  • wear cozy sweaters, silky pjs and slippers
  • turn off overhead lamps and opt for eye-level lamps instead

10. Increase variety

force yourself to make minor changes (sit somewhere different, eat something different) and enjoy your favorites more when you come back to them

interrupt your consumption

  • set an alarm during mindless activities, decide whether to push snooze and continue or switch tasks once the timer goes off
  • take a break during commercial breaks
  • buy one at a time
Running a blog takes a lot of time, money and effort. Become a Grace in the World patron by buying me a coffee or sponsoring a post! Click this link to donate to my travel fund. Your support is highly appreciated.

50 Things to do when Lockdown goes Long-term (Part 8)

I’m trying something new: this is a LIVE blog post – that means I’ll publish five parts per day for 10 days.  If you haven’t already, start by checking out my original COVID-19 post then follow along with me on Instagram for daily updates!  Comments are SO welcome, what are you all doing these days?  Let’s brain pool. 

11. Treat Yourself

Make some fresh brownies or draw a warm bubble bath. Light a candle or gently stretch and massage your body. Whatever your treat of choice, savor it: step outside of the experience to review and appreciate it. Try to focus only on this moment, this experience. Notice any feelings of joy or love and bask in them for as long as you’d like. You deserve this goodness. What if you dedicated one moment to savoring something every day?

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12. Try single tasking

Call it slow living or what you’d like, I learned the art of single tasking when I first moved to Spain. As I adjusted to the lightest workload of my adult life, before I built up a community or friends and plethora of hobbies, there were a few months of what felt like nothing. All that extra time felt daunting. I realized that I needed to slow way down. I was in the habit of multitasking. So I mindfully broke up my days into single actions. Sipping coffee. Folding laundry. Listening to a song. Resting. Reading one chapter of a book. Cooking. People watching. Sipping a glass of wine. Moral of this story:

just eat

just stretch

just read

and you’ll notice those moments are so much fuller, richer, more wholesome than you used to give them credit for. Is it lazy? Maybe, in some circles. But a slower, deeper life is the key to meaning and I’d rather be rich in wellness than striving in the name of productivity.

13. Take pictures

Photograph things that make you happy or things you’d like to remember: notable happenings during COVID-19 — just for you

“for your records”

We’re living through history. Sometimes I get swept into a pattern of only documenting the “pretty” things (social media encourages this), but taking note of the tragedies– of the emptiness and the signage and anything out of the ordinary– is a more well-rounded way to look back on this time. I feel we mustn’t shy away from the suffering and loss which are this moment. It is a time to appreciate and respect others’ grief and a moment to be remembered in a whole way. 

14. Watch for Wildlife

Have a window? Look outside right now. Check the sky, any birds? Listen. Any foxes? Bees? Whether you live in the mountains or a mega city living things surround you. When I was a kid I could watch a grasshopper for an hour. They are still fascinating! I’ve taken to watching a pair of birds out my window. Bird watching may be a new hobby even after quarantine, what’s living with you? You’re far from alone, you see.

Mary Oliver ‘Wild Geese’

15. Invest in experiences

(rather than stuff)

  • travel
  • attending live events
  • sharing meals
  • self-care (and treating your friends to it)

These are both the things that make us happy and most of what top the off limits lists.

But there’s a special joy in anticipating good experiences too. And this is what you can do today.

  • Plan your dream vacation. Greece, Costa Rica, Tulum anyone?
  • Make a savings plan to purchase tickets to see your favorite artist or team next season.
  • Indulge in quality ingredients and make a gourmet meal for yourself and others (watch a youtube tutorial or enroll in a Masterclass).
  • Send your best friend a spa kit (remember this coconut coffee body scrub recipe?) or homemade banana cake.

Easy banana nut muffins/loaf cake

  • Preheat oven to 180C/350F
  • lightly grease a loaf cake pan or muffin tin (makes 12 muffins or one loaf)
  • mix 3 mashed bananas + 1/4 cup melted butter (or oil/mix of the two) + 1/4 cup milk (plant milk OK) + 1 egg (or 1 spoon chia seeds + 3 spoons water)
  • add 1/2 cup sugar + 1/2 cup honey (or 1/2 cup brown sugar) + 1 small spoon baking soda + dash of salt + 2 cups flour (option to sub 1/4 cup with oats and/or ground hemp/other protein powder) + 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • fill muffin tins/cake pan 3/4 full and bake 18-20 minutes, cool for 5 then enjoy!

Banana Muffin Recipe for 2 Bananas | Beat Bake Eat

Running a blog takes a lot of time, money and effort. Become a Grace in the World patron by buying me a coffee or sponsoring a post! Click this link to donate to my travel fund. Your support is highly appreciated.

50 Things to do when Lockdown goes Long-term (Part 7)

I’m trying something new: this is a LIVE blog post – that means I’ll publish five parts per day for 10 days.  If you haven’t already, start by checking out my original COVID-19 post then follow along with me on Instagram for daily updates!  Comments are SO welcome, what are you all doing these days?  Let’s brain pool. 

16. Start a blog

First, take notes (and more photos than you think you need). Whether you’re going for a travel blog or fitness, lifestyle, fashion – whatever – it’s likely something that’s on your mind throughout the day (or in the case of travel it’s a lived experience). I use the “notes” section in my phone to record details + random thoughts which I later look back on as the basis of my blog posts. Sometimes it’s as simple as adding a caption to make each bullet point on your notes list a full sentence or two.

Example: this Paris post

I think the early stages of building content are the most work. You probably don’t have views yet and you’re essentially writing into the void — but this is critical. People aren’t as likely to revisit a blog with less than a few dozen useful articles, but if you work slowly and steadily you’ll have a collection in no time. In my experience, posting takes a lot longer than predicted. Settling for a gradual buildup of imperfect posts helps avoid burnout and the writing practice will likely make your work more efficient over time. Later you can look back and rework any early pieces that need a facelift. 

I’m not going to lie, it’s scary putting your voice on the internet! It should be! There’s all kinds of mayhem online. But you have a unique perspective and chances are you can either help someone by offering them information or understanding or make a connection once you find like-minded bloggers – beyond the anxiety of self-publishing is a feeling of free self-expression, a confidence-building platform which is well worth the brainstorming and the editing.

Have a question? Comment below and let’s talk about your ideas/concerns.

17. Perform Random Acts of Kindness

Doing good feels good.

Start with a sweet: candy or a baked good. Add some yummy smelling lotions/potions, maybe tea and a little note about why this person plays a special role in your life.

Or keep it simple– help your colleague with something, give a few dollars or some time to a cause you believe in, say something kind to a stranger, write a thank you note, give a compliment, or similar. 

18. Get crafty: draw, paint, or color

This is a tip from many of my friends, I’m “not an artist” (more of an enthusiast), but playing with a paintbrush does sound more appealing lately than usual. Why not revisit and see if the skill sticks?

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19. Prep fruits and vegetables for sudden snack needs AND to flavor your water

I pre-cut cucumbers, lemons, and limes then store them in Tupperware in the refrigerator to use in water, teas, or to garnish dishes on the fly. It seems simple but really tends to add a special touch to everyday sips and bites!

Tip: cut the cucumber in rounds so you can use them on tired eyes (cooling, de-puffing magic? whether or not these actually work it’s a much needed “ahh” moment)

20. Introduce Meatless Mondays or Vegan Fridays

It’s good for the planet and for you!

Creamy tomato pasta with cannelloni beans and kale

  1. boil lightly salted water
  2. cut an “x” in the bottom of two tomatoes and blanch them: submerge them in the boiling water for 30 seconds then remove and set aside to cool
  3. add pasta to the boiling water — cook until it’s al dente (firm to the bite)
  4. sauté garlic in butter or olive oil on medium heat in two pans
  5. remove the peels of the tomatoes (this should be easy after blanching) then cut them into cubes
  6. in pan #1: add the tomatoes (and optional: a dash of crushed red chilis)
  7. in pan #2: add massaged kale (tear it off of the stem and squeeze it)
  8. in pan #1: add a half-cup pasta water + a cup of milk/cream (plant-based works too) and stir until it begins to thicken
  9. in pan #2: add a can of cooked cannelloni beans, reduce heat to low
  10. add salt and pepper then pasta (al dente, allow it to finish cooking in the sauce)

Vegan Ceviche

Running a blog takes a lot of time, money and effort. Become a Grace in the World patron by buying me a coffee or sponsoring a post! Click this link to donate to my travel fund. Your support is highly appreciated.

50 Things to do when Lockdown goes Long-term (Part 6)

I’m trying something new: this is a LIVE blog post – that means I’ll publish five parts per day for 10 days.  If you haven’t already, start by checking out my original COVID-19 post then follow along with me on Instagram for daily updates!  Comments are SO welcome, what are you all doing these days?  Let’s brain pool. 

21. Sit outside (in a private yard or balcony) if you can

If you can, GO OUTSIDE. Do you have a yard? A balcony? Can you put on gloves and a face mask and walk once around the block? Around the outside of your house? How about a rural getaway or a walk up and down the driveway?

Adding just a few minutes of fresh air or outdoor footsteps in the safest way possiblechanges everything. In some cases this won’t be possible but if you have the chanceand it’s been deemed safe to do so don’t miss this priceless opportunity.

Alternatively, fresh air and sunlight when and where you can get it. Move your workspace under the window or wake up a bit earlier to take in the days’ first rays. Nap like a cat on the sofa in the sun. Take it all in (and maybe take some vitamin D?)

22. Independent Study

Sign up for a free online course (I’m trying one with Coursera) or watch a TED talk instead of Netflix.

23. Listen to a podcast

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24. Make a Pinterest board for everything

Even better: vision boarding.

I loved doing this as a kids using piles of discarded magazines but if you aren’t a frequent subscriber Pinterest has your back.

25. Listen to music (just listen)

When was the last time you just listened to an album — first song to last without distractions? Maybe in the days of CDs? I love doing this

Running a blog takes a lot of time, money and effort. Become a Grace in the World patron by buying me a coffee or sponsoring a post! Click this link to donate to my travel fund. Your support is highly appreciated.

50 Things to do when Lockdown goes Long-term (Part 5)

I’m trying something new: this is a LIVE blog post – that means I’ll publish five parts per day for 10 days.  If you haven’t already, start by checking out my original COVID-19 post then follow along with me on Instagram for daily updates!  Comments are SO welcome, what are you all doing these days?  Let’s brain pool. 

26. Make your bed

Every morning. This habit starts your day off with a small, simple success. In turn it strengthens self-discipline and encourages further productivity throughout your day.

27. Tidy your house

The KonMari Method (from The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo)

  1. Commit to completing the project, transforming your space.
  2. Imagine your dream lifestyle and visualize your ideal space (picture yourself living in it).
  3. Tidy by category, not location, and follow the right order: clothes, then books, the papers, then miscellaneous items (kitchen, electronics, crafts, sports equipment, “junk” drawer/s, etc.), and lastly, sentimental items.
  4. Make a pile of every item in the category in which  you are working.
  5. Now take items one by one. Closely examine each item, holding the item and taking a moment with it as you ask what its original purpose was/is and whether or not it has served it already or is serving it now. Ask yourself if it sparks joy. Keep only what serves, what sparks joy.
  6. Finish discarding items which are no longer serving you first (you can recycle/donate most things), thank every item before letting it go.
  7. Finally, make a place for ever object you choose to keep. Give it a special spot since it has an important role in your life.

28. Do some Spring Cleaning

  • Dust the tops of your cabinets, doorways, windowsills, ceiling fans, etc.
  • Wash the windows and the floors with vinegar + water
  • Put a bowl of lemon water in the microwave then turn on high for a few minutes, the water will steam and you can simply wipe the inside clean (plus it won’t smell bad).
  • Clean the oven

29. Take Care of your Clothes

  • Bleach/dye whites and blacks in need of a refresh
  • Sew those holes in your socks
  • Shine your shoes

30. Take a Day Off Tech

I dare you. I have a friend who takes weekends off. I’ll get a message letting me know her phone is off for the next couple of days and not to worry, in fact, I have tried this when traveling and it’s amazing!

Some of my favorite memories are the days when we just explored Costa Rica or Greece without knowing the time or stopping to take too many photos or feeling suddenly distracted by a buzz or a beep.

If going a whole day feels too daunting, try not using your phone for the first hour in the morning. Instead, take a walk or have a big cup of tea, do some yoga, read a poem, whatever you do, feel the peace that comes from disconnecting (especially in hectic times such as these).

Running a blog takes a lot of time, money and effort. Become a Grace in the World patron by buying me a coffee or sponsoring a post! Click this link to donate to my travel fund. Your support is highly appreciated.

50 Things to do when Lockdown goes Long-term (Part 4)

I’m trying something new: this is a LIVE blog post – that means I’ll publish five parts per day for 10 days.  If you haven’t already, start by checking out my original COVID-19 post then follow along with me on Instagram for daily updates!  Comments are SO welcome, what are you all doing these days?  Let’s brain pool. 

31. Meditate

I think if there’s one thing I’d like to stress here it is that you can make meditation work for you. It doesn’t have to be first thing when you wake up or a certain amount of time. There are all kinds of meditation because we have all kinds of needs!

Meditation can be done seated or lying down with nothing but your body and your breath. It can also be assisted by apps (I like Insight Timer) or done in a group setting (I love to attend these and my friend Arta has been leading FREE sessions each week or two on Zoom). But meditation can also be watching the birds or the clouds. It can be a focal practice like cooking or baking and it can be easily incorporated into your daily routine in whatever way is easiest for you.

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32. Call your family

Or take the time to sit down and write a letter or send a holiday card (or very on trend COVID card). There’s a certain joy in receiving something in the mail and a personal aspect in handwriting that just can’t be replicated over the airwaves.

33. Call a friend

Small talk asks about the weather. Deep talk transcends judgements and assumptions: it asks why we feel, act, think, fear, or dream like we do. 

Ask better questions.

  • Who’s someone you really admire?
  • What do you miss about being a kid?
  • What’s your favorite family tradition?
  • What’s your favorite quote?
  • What’s something you want to do in the next year that you’ve never done before?
  • What are the top three things on your bucket list?
  • What was the first thing you bought with your own money?
  • What’s your earliest memory?
  • What would you do on your “perfect” day?
  • When do you feel most creatively inspired?
  • Tell me about a day you had that you’ll never forget.
  • Where was your favorite place to go as a child and why did you love it there?
  • Where are the top three places you want to travel to some day and why?
  • Where are the top three places you’ve ever traveled to and why?
  • Why do you do the work that you do?
  • How do you want to be remembered? (What do you want your legacy to be?)
  • If someone gave you enough money to start a business – no strings attached – what kind of business would you want to start and why?
  • If you could go back in time, what advice would you give to your 16-year-old self?
  • If you could take a year-long paid sabbatical what would you do?

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+ Questions by YOU (thanks to responses on Instagram – I am loving this collaboration)

  • What are you looking forward to the most right now?
  • What motivated you this morning?
  • What are you feeling super grateful for today?
  • Any great recipes to share?
  • What made you smile this week?
  • What has you worried?

34. Read one chapter of a book every day

Start small. Make it easy to succeed. Add more, little by little, over time. Make it manageable, then, make it a habit.

Another option: cheat!

So here’s my story: I went through a Global Humanities and Religions B.A. degree reading every single assigned book from start to finish. I was, no joke, assigned 50 books in one semester! This mean I read in the car when I found five extra minutes in a parking lot or stopped to read during a road trip. It meant I woke up to and fell asleep to extensive non-fiction and sat beside by grandmother in a hospital bed reading Dante’s Inferno. Finally, my last semester, it was revealed to me that most of my peers had been skimming the readings! This felt like an outrage and honestly I went cold turkey on reading after graduation. Problem is, I want to be a reader. But with more and more to read online + a surge of commitments in work/social life, I lost the habit of reading and have struggled in the last years to get it back. Part of owning my struggle and easing back into a reading routine is allowing myself to cheat. I must have 100 previews stored on my Kindle and imagining the hours those would require is daunting. I use Blinkist like a detailed preview and follow up by reading those selections which stand out most to me chapter-by-chapter. It’s like a podcast leading you to a new thought leader, but for books.

35. Read a poem every morningpage-01-120

Poetry is not a luxury. — Audre Lorde

Running a blog takes a lot of time, money and effort. Become a Grace in the World patron by buying me a coffee or sponsoring a post! Click this link to donate to my travel fund. Your support is highly appreciated.

 

50 Things to do when Lockdown goes Long-term (Part 3)

I’m trying something new: this is a LIVE blog post – that means I’ll publish five parts per day for 10 days.  If you haven’t already, start by checking out my original COVID-19 post then follow along with me on Instagram for daily updates!  Comments are SO welcome, what are you all doing these days?  Let’s brain pool. 

36. Coffee/coconut sugar scrub your body

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Add a touch of cinnamon and use neck-to-toe mid-shower. Leave it on for a couple of minutes before rinsing completely. Moisturize right after to hold onto that smooth moisturized skin.

37. Apply a homemade face mask

For skin that needs a detox: purify with whole milk yogurt + turmeric. Apply to clean, dry skin and leave for 10 minutes before rinsing completely (I use a gentle cleanser to make sure it’s all gone) – apply your moisturizer afterwards to replenish the skin and set up everything to be balanced.

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For brightening moisture I turn to honey. Simply apply a thin layer to clean, dry skin and leave on for 15-20 minutes. Wet a washcloth with warm-to-hot water, place it gently over your face (as you look up) and allow the steam from the cloth to absorb the honey (and melt your face) for a few seconds. Wipe away the rest and apply your favorite moisturizer.

38. Take a green tea bath

I treat my tub like a giant cup of tea (and drink an herbal cup while I’m in it) – ahhh

39. Sprinkle some tea tree oil on your shower floor for hot aromatic steam

I always do this when I am feeling congested or just in need of a refresh.

In fact, dive into aromas throughout your day! Adding a little lemon essential oil to the mop bucket or choosing a lavender scented dish soap can seriously brighten everyday task which may take the stage in the absence of outside distraction these days. Now is the time to use your yummiest body soufflés and burn the fancy candles. Making your home a space full of deliciousness will surely brighten your days. 

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40. Do 10 burpees

Don’t forget to MOVE – quick 1-5 min bursts a few times each day are great! You’ll be better focused with some tiny breaks increasing blood flow is critical for boosting productivity. I prefer slow motion burpees a la Barre 3: link

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Running a blog takes a lot of time, money and effort. Become a Grace in the World patron by buying me a coffee or sponsoring a post! Click this link to donate to my travel fund. Your support is highly appreciated.

50 Things to do when Lockdown goes Long-term (Part 2)

I’m trying something new: this is a LIVE blog post – that means I’ll publish five parts per day for 10 days.  If you haven’t already, start by checking out my original COVID-19 post then follow along with me on Instagram for daily updates!  Comments are SO welcome, what are you all doing these days?  Let’s brain pool. 

41. Closet clean out

First, watch this video this video — I love how the first acknowledges the emotional reality of clearing clutter and how the second gives a realistic yet inspiring guide to developing personal style. 

Then, get every piece of clothing you own on a big pile on your bed – Marie Kondo style

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Make three piles:

Lovethings which you wear often, which make you feel great and fit your personal style

Like – things which are good quality, practical, you think you should hold on to

Let go – things which are the wrong size or the wrong fit or just uncomfortable/unnatural/bring negative self-talk or memories. 

Start by putting everything you love back in your closet. Now try to imagine just living with that, is this enough?

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Add what you feel you need to compliment the loves with things from the “like” category then add the remaining “likes” to the “let gos.”

note: I make a mental note about any “likes” that could be replaced in the future by “loves” — perhaps a better quality sweater in a similar cut — even better, make a projects stash and get anything that just doesn’t fit quite right altered at your nearest tailor post-quarantine. 

Lastly, divide the “let go” pile – something I love to do with my highest quality pieces is a clothing exchange with friends. Maybe set aside some things for this excuse to host a social event as soon as it’s safe in the future. Next, what can be donated? Bag that up so it’s ready to go also. Finally, anything with holes or stains remains. What can be recycled? Throw away only what you can’t see any other avenue for then basque in the relief which is post-purge clarity.

42. Remote tea time – phone a friend and enjoy a cup together, talk it out.

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43. Remote dinner date

Being in a relationship and unable to see one another is something I know all too well. My boyfriend and I have been long-distance (Spain/London) for a year and a half. We have a few tricks to bring a feeling of togetherness and they come in really handy during quarantine. The first is watching a series together — counting down 3, 2, 1, and pushing play together makes it feel like we are side-by-side. It’s our regular habit a couple nights per week and adds a sense of normalcy to our relationship structure.

Another fun option is cooking and eating a meal together. This requires a little planning/preparation.

Set a date, share a recipe and shop for the ingredients beforehand. On the evening of, get dressed up like you might for a real date and video call as you prepare the same meal together in each’s respective home. Light a candle, sync up your music and enjoy the meal together. Sure it’s a little silly, a little over the top, but the action and effort of coordinating everything perfectly, making this all work together is what it’s all about.

Atreya likes The Food Lab for recipes while I go to Pick up Limes for mine – but this is our top recommendation for a remote dinner date (maybe with a little movie night “together” too?)

44. Cook healthy meals

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During my first weeks in quarantine I went a bit overboard on meals — cooking elaborate feasts three times a day wasn’t sustainable and by now I’ve learned that it’s a lot easier to meal prep than to spend hours cooking (and dish washing) day after day. You do you, but a simple and fruit/vegetable-rich diet works best for me.

 

Some favorites lately:

Red Thai Curry with Rice

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You need: red curry paste, 1-2 cans coconut milk, assorted vegetables, optional protein: meat/fish of choice, boiled eggs, chickpeas or tofu, oil (I use coconut) and rice.

How to: Start by boiling some rice (in an excess of water, just until it’s soft, then drain any remaining water like you would when you cook a pasta). Chop all veg then add to a hot oiled pan and cook halfway. Fry/boil/bake the protein separately and cook meat all the way if you choose to use meat. Meanwhile, warm the coconut milk and add the curry paste little-by-little until you reach the desired taste/spice level for your sauce. Finally, mix the protein + veg + sauce all together, serve over rice. Easy, tasty and great left-over the next day.

Easy Sweet Potato & Chickpea Tikka Masala with Rice/Naan

You need: peeled & cubed sweet potatoes, cooked chickpeas, tikka masala sauce, rice/naan, oil (I use coconut/olive), optional: chili flakes, garlic, onion, ginger (peeled with a spoon) — all finely chopped

How to: Get the sweet potatoes coated in oil (optional: add chili flakes) and bake at medium heat for 15-20 mins. Prep the rice/warm the naan. Fry your chickpeas in garlic/onion/ginger-infused oil (option to add other veg here, sometimes I like thinly sliced red bell pepper) then add the tikka sauce and cooked sweet potatoes (option to add fresh spinach and cook down until it wilts), serve with rice and/or warmed naan.

Black bean and Bell Pepper Tacos with Avocado

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You need: tortillas, canned cooked black beans, coconut oil, cumin, onion, bell peppers, chili flakes, radishes, avocados, lime

+ chips and salsa

How to: Slice the onions and bell pepper into strips then add to hot oiled pan with cumin and chili flakes. Cube the radishes, add oil and broil in the oven for 5 mins. Warm the beans in coconut oil on low heat. Warm the tortillas in a frying pan on low heat. Slice the avocado and squeeze a lime on top. Throw it all inside the tortillas and top with salad and/or cilantro if you’d like. Serve with chips and salsa.

45. Yoga every damn day

I’m a yoga teacher (and a barre teacher), you can read about my YOGA TEACHER TRAINING IN RISHIKESH, INDIA HERE — but this “to do” is really a whole new blog post in itself. I’ll throw in a few go-to daily asanas and refer you to some fellow bloggers with a yoga-focus and content I use frequently.

Here are some postures I practice just about daily.

Morning practice: I use this breath-by-breath flow as a warm up often followed by a few postures in a “hold” (at least five breaths).

  1. Inhale, Exhale — Tadasana Namaskar (Standing with Hands in Prayer)
  2. Inhale — Tadasana Urdhva Hastasana (Standing with Arms Overhead)
  3. Exhale — Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)
  4. Inhale — Ardha Uttanasana (Half Standing Forward Bend)
  5. Exhale — Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose)
  6. Inhale — Eka Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana (One-Legged Downward-Facing Dog Pose) — Left Leg Lifted
  7. Exhale — Left Leg Anjaneyasana (Low Lunge) (I often pause to Inhale, Exhale here)
  8. Inhale — Plank
  9. Exhale — Chaturanga Dandasana (Four-Limbed Staff Pose/Tricep Push-up) — sometimes from my knees and skipping step 10, taking Balasana (Child’s Pose) there instead (again, I might pause to take a few breaths here, maybe moving my hands to one side then the other for a side body stretch)
  10. Inhale — Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward-Facing Dog)
  11. Exhale — Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose)
  12. Inhale — Eka Pada Adho Mukha Svanasana (One-Legged Downward-Facing Dog Pose) — Left Leg Lifted
  13. Exhale — Right Leg Low Lunge (I often pause to Inhale, Exhale here)
  14. Inhale — Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)
  15. Exhale — Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)
  16. Inhale (soften knees then roll-up), Exhale — Tadasana (Standing)

A few of my go-to holding postures are

  • Plank hold – to wake up the core and keep those muscles engaged and protecting my pelvis & spine through the next moves
  • Utkatasana (Chair Pose) — try lifting your heels first one at a time then balancing with both heels lifted high
  • Prasarita Padottanasana (Wide-Legged Forward Bend) — I prefer this with a flat back or reaching arms forward (to challenge the abs)
  • Utthita Parsvakonasana(Extended Side Angle) — with my elbow on my knee for support and reaching my top arm alongside my ear to further extent through the side body + engage the abs
  • Trikonasana (Triangle Pose)
  • Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose) — hurts so good!

I love some slow stretching before sleep. I hold each of these for 30 second – 3 minutes – not timing but feeling it out and changing to the next pose when my body tells me it’s necessary. 

  1. Savasana (Corpse Pose)
  2. Ardha Apanasana (Half Knees-to-Chest Pose) — right side then left side with light twist after each then hug both knees to chest
  3. Supta Padangusthasana A-B-C (Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose A-B-C) — right side A-B-C then left side A-B-C, with strap
  4. Sucirandhrasana (Reclined Pigeon/
  5. Ananda Balasana (Happy Baby)
  6. gentle lying twist with bent knees and feet wide
  7. Legs up the wall (stay here 5-10 minutes)

Don’t take my word for it. Here are some other awesome teachers to follow:

esthermarieyoga – on Instagram

Barre3 — offering 6 free workouts on youtube/subscription options — my favorite!

more links my COMING TO PEACE WITH COVID-19 POST

Would you be interested in more fitness content? Let me know in the comments below. 

Running a blog takes a lot of time, money and effort. Become a Grace in the World patron by buying me a coffee or sponsoring a post! Click this link to donate to my travel fund. Your support is highly appreciated.

50 Things to do when Lockdown goes Long-term (Part 1)

I’m trying something new: this is a LIVE blog post – that means I’ll publish five parts per day for 10 days.  If you haven’t already, start by checking out my original COVID-19 post then follow along with me on Instagram for daily updates!  Comments are SO welcome, what are you all doing these days?  Let’s brain pool. 

 

46. Write down your daily routine

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(or somebody)

What we do every day adds up. How do you want to live? What can you do daily to live that way? This could be your ultimate habit hack moment.

Some examples:

  • making time for adequate sleep/rest (maybe bedtime routines, meditation)
  • self-care: from personal hygiene to diet and exercise (upping fruit and veg snacks, skincare, dental hygiene, stretching or walking)
  • positive thinking (I like listing three gratitudes every day and/or sharing a daily high and low with a partner/family member/close friend/s)

There is SO much on the internet regarding routines, it can be overwhelming. I start where I struggle.

I’m used to school bells ringing to mark every hour, to catching a train at 8:10am sharp and to attending yoga on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7:30pm. I thrived on scheduling and followed along like clockwork…until all of this turned to dust mid-March.

I eased into this new abyss of open scheduling by setting alarms to mark the day (when to wake up, read, study, workout, make meals, call friends/family, have tea, go to bed, etc) — there’s a comforting sense of rhythm in a steady routine. I share mine in my COMING TO PEACE WITH BEING AT HOME post.

I’ll be playing around with routines throughout quarantine and promise to share details via gracenotestheworld on Instagram – a new page dedicated to words (graceintheworld offers more travel/personal content).

 

47. Make a daily goal

I love that some people have tons of work that they’re passionate about and able to do at home. Good for you. I don’t have such a high workload (is this good or bad? I don’t know) and temporary loss of my identity as a helper has me feeling a little bit “less than” lately.

To cope, I encourage myself to set one main task each day. Today that is cleaning the balcony. Tomorrow I’ll make granola (a two week supply so it’s a project). Setting myself up to accomplish something on a day-to-day basis is motivating (KEY these days) – usually I accomplish much more than the task alone but it’s a starting point (and a sufficient ending point on the days when the sorrows of the current state of the world get me down and I must allow grieving). Let your task be as big or as small as your best can be each day and please have compassion for and trust in yourself.

“Do your best. Your best is good enough.”

— my mom

 

48. Make a weekly goal

Those daily accomplishments add up. What can you focus on each week? Dividing a larger project into daily bits and getting things done one step at a time gives even more of a sense of completion and might restore some pride you had at work before everything moved online (and feedback is harder to give/receive digitally). I like to consider my weekly goals on Sundays. Then I break them down into parts which can be accomplished day-by-day and get things going. It feels good to meet my own expectations, to succeed in what I set up to accomplish in a week.

What can you focus on this week?

A few ideas to get you started:

  • organizing — your career/education plans, reading lists, daily routines, workout plans, meal plans, decluttering…sky’s the limit
  • movement — workout videos on youtube/by subscription, walks in your neighborhood if it’s safe & allowed, burpee breaks, push up challenges, training for a 10k — whatever motivates you most)
  • prayer — or contemplation — and any associated reading/writing/knowledge gathering
  • cooking — this was my focus last week and I seriously improved daily! Loved watching cooking shows and taking notes then trying new tastes/techniques.
  • communication — reach out first and ask better questions

 

49. Categorize your task list

There are two ways I like to do this. For busier times I lean on my Passion Planner which helps me to manage both personal and work tasks in a really balanced and mindful way – highest recommendation for these from me.

Lately, with more time on hand, I’ve gotten to try a new system which I also like.

divide tasks into four categories:

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50. Do your taxes

You were allowed to put it off past April 15, but now it’s almost the end of April. Wouldn’t it be nice to know what you have coming mid-Summer? (and do your part to build those roads and schools and support one another with stimulus checks – yay community!)

Running a blog takes a lot of time, money and effort. Become a Grace in the World patron by buying me a coffee or sponsoring a post! Click this link to donate to my travel fund. Your support is highly appreciated.

Capsule Packing

t r a v e l   g o n e   m i n i m a l

I have one packing list which I use for all of my trips all over the world. I developed this for my journey “around the world in 89 days” which involved 16 countries and a variety of climates ranging from Fall in central & southern Europe to early Winter in northern Norway to hot & humid Thai islands. I did that trip with only a carry on and quickly learned to carry only what was essential.

Carry less, go further. 

Seven years later I don’t even travel with a carry on, only a “personal item” (a bag which fits under the seat in front of me). This has saved me many headaches at airport security and during stopovers and now feels second nature. No matter the climate, I bring ONLY the things on this list. Minor adjustments only.

My Master Packing List

Everything goes into my Patagonia “black hole” 25L pack– I highly recommend this bag – I pack all of my clothing into packing cubes and a reusable toiletries bag + product tubes.

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For a simple weekend away reservations and tickets can be accessed via phone, but for more extensive adventures I make an “important stuff” folder: All tickets, reservations, etc. are printed and put in here along with a copy of my passport photo page & visa (if applicable) & any medication prescription forms.

Clothing

I plan to wash the following about once per week:

1 pair skinny jeans

1 pair black leggings

tights (1-2)

1 mini skirt

2-3 short sleeve tees

1 long sleeve bodysuit

1 silk tank top

2 sweaters (wear one)

Long sleeve silk button up shirt

Oversized coat (wear it)

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Compression socks are wonderful for long walks, long flights and keeping toes warm in the Winter. Here’s my link for 15% off (and these are made by a company from my hometown in Missoula, MT) + everyday socks (1-2, go for wool in Winter)

5 underwear (+ wear 1) & 1 extra bra (+ wear 1)

Shoes

I generally travel with two pairs of shoes (wear one, pack one) and try to have both a comfortable daily option and dress-it-up option. I love platforms for long wear and almost always have black booties on hand. Flats are an easy way to squeeze in extra style if you discover some open space this is a good way to fill it 😉

Seasonal Adjustments

Fall

+lined leather jacket

+ blazer

Winter

+ snow-and-ice-friendly flat over-the-knee bootsI like a soft bootleg and go a half size up so I can wear warm wool socks underneath or the durability and grip of a Dr. Marten if you’re sure you’re in for more treacherous conditions. 

+ warm hat and blanket scarf

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Spring

+ rain boots & umbrella?

+ 1-2 pair(s) loose pants   use this link for 10% off your & Other Stories purchase   + 1 pair linen shorts – my favorite are from Oysho, use this link  for 10% off

Summer

Oversized coat

– black skinny jeans

2 sweaters

+ 1 bikini top + 2 bikini bottoms

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+ 1-2 pair(s) loose pants      + 1 pair linen shorts

+ midi skirt (so easy to travel in, cute with a crop top!)

For trips in Nature:

+ cropped leggings

+ hiking shorts athletic tank

+ athletic shoes: sneakers/trainers/hiking boots

+ Compressible rain shell OR down puffer

+ DEET wipes (for zones with hazardous disease such as Malaria, Yellow Fever)

For special events

(optional) LBDif you have an event that calls for it

Accessories

small cross-body bag       (optional) foldable shoulder bag       (optional) wristlet clutch

What’s in my handbag:

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  • Sunglasses
  • Lavender-scented hand sanitizer 
  • Skinfood – for hands and lips or to use as a face mask on long flights, an overnight mask for parched skin in winter
  • Lipstick
  • Strong mints
  • Phone, wallet, keys
  • Passport

(optional) simple gold jewelry to mix and match

Toiletries

I have some favorites from the United States:

and from Europe:

I transfer my regular products into small reusable & travel-sized “goo” tubes:

  • Shampoo & conditioner
  • face/body wash & lotion
  • deodorant & sunscreen
  • toothbrush & paste

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Simple Makeup

BB/CC cream or mineral powder and brush + mascara, maybe concealer, bronzer/highlighterkeep it simple

Then pick a couple of “glam” goods, maybe a tube of red lipstick or a tiny hairdryer —

Don’t forget basic meds: pain/anti inflamitary, antihistamine, antidiarrheal, feminine products, daily multivitamins, dramamine (or gravel), nail clippers & file, tweezers

Tech

Phone (this is my camera) & charger(s)- sometimes nice to have a small power block to recharge phone during long flights, a power adapter if needed, and headphones

Optional Extras

For a journey sure to involve hostel bunks I throw in a silk sleep sheet.

When I know I’ll have yoga time I bring along my travel mat.

For long haul flights I add an eye mask & earplugs (or noise canceling headphones). I also like to bring some backup snacks such as an apple/orange, protein bars, and tea bags.

66C5AFC3-98AB-4C0A-AF2E-EB9CBD790F5DI always bring along my reusable water bottle which slides into the outside pocket of my pack.

Tips

  • baby or feminine wipes make great makeup removers/full body spot “showers” in flight
  • toss dryer sheets into your packing cubes and the dirty laundry pocket of your bag to keep everything smelling a bit fresher
  • tiger balm always comes in handy for aches and pains associated with carrying a backpack or walking 10x your usual amount & helps with itchy bug bites. I also like to put it on my toes before bed to keep them warm in the winter.
  • Coconut oil makes a wonderful cooking oil, makeup remover, insect repellent and light sunscreen/moisturizer. It’s a great purchase once you arrive at your destination due to its versatility but I avoid packing it since it could easily spill and stain my things.

If you piled every single thing you own around you, could you see over your pile? With so much world to see, keep it simple. 

Running a blog takes a lot of time, money and effort. Become a Grace in the World patron by buying me a coffee or sponsoring a post! Click this link to donate to my travel fund. Your support is highly appreciated.