Traveling is an adventure, of course, but it should also be a time to give back to the community in which you’re visiting. We’ve got tips and resources from Traverse Journeys to support upping your ethical travel game.Read More
We seek out retreats to escape the hectic nature of our everyday lives, to recharge and reconnect. But retreats also present the opportunity for some learning experiences. Here, I share a couple of self-care rituals I’ve learned to take away and bring back home with me.Read More
by Oui We Contributor Sam Spahr
We have finally passed through the end of January, into month two of the year, however it’s not too late to take advantage of the New Year. In my opinion, it’s always a good time to start a different routine or to jolt “your” new year again (time is arbitrary and man-made my friends!)
Feel like maybe you’ve already hit a rut in 2018 or can’t seem to ditch the stress you wanted to? Then sis, a wellness retreat could be on your next horizon. These rejuvenating getaways have been shapeshifting in recent years - to the point where you can find one to fit almost any aspect of your needs. Whether you’re game for an intense meditative experience or really need some pampering and digital detox, there is a retreat waiting for you. Two nights in the mountains, two weeks in the jungle, even a DIY a worry-free weekend with your ladies, the options are abundant. Dipping your toe into the wellness spring can be a little intimidating but there’s no need to be a yogi or total guru to tap into your self-care.
So what’s right for you?
Who hasn’t uttered “new year, new me” at least once (if even ironically). We instinctively know the best place to start is form the inside out - not just spiritually, but with our food and physical practices.
Sunrise Springs Spa Resort in Santa Fe, New Mexico reads like the most relaxing summer-camp-for-adults to exist. They boast several all-inclusive packages as well as à la carte options to completely customize your time there. Not to mention nearly perfect weather year round means you can be surrounded in the beautiful glow of the southwestern landscape (squeal)!
A unique feature of this Santa Fe paradise is the culinary experience. With so many of us experiencing an enlightenment toward how we nourish our bodies, Sunset Springs boasts there own farm and opportunities to deepen your knowledge about food in every sense - think culinary classes, menu planning, sourcing your food, and social dinners.
Even more, their Sunrise Glow Cleanse package offers a deeply personal detoxifying retreat. With the help of a nutritionist and focused sessions, you’ll be guided toward your total health goals - mind, body, and spirit. You may also find yourself attracted to their art activities, hiking, or meditative spaces, but don’t skip over Puppy Play - yes, it’s what you think it is, excuse me, I’m still swooning…
This is it - me time. I set my space, settle down to meditate, and 45 seconds later I am mentally compiling my next to-do list or wondering if my fan has always been that loud. You too? Stay with me.
Shambhala Mountain Center of Red Feather Lakes, CO was made for people like us. We have the best intentions! I know! Luckily this mountain nestled retreat understands offering weekends workshops like Learn to Mediate or The Art of Being Human and longer immersive experiences for those who so desire. Shambhala seeks to help you look inward and truly supports your internal healing and growth.
They have tapped the healing art of Qi Gong to help their visitors do just this. Qi Gong is gentle movement based meditation (yay! fellow wigglers unite!) It’s rooted in Chinese medicine and allows those who practice to reach a greater sense of self awareness as they connect to the meaning of Qi Gong, “life energy.” A series of coordinated poses, deep breathing, and intentional focus will move you toward true holistic balance.
And sometimes the calendar year shifts and nothing has changed. Be honest, I’ve done it - or more accurately I have done nothing to change my situation. It’s okay. Repeat. It is okay…
Force yourself to slow down. Take yourself out of your environment in every way. Come away to the jungle; you just need some R+R. The Haramara Retreat in Sayulita, Mexico provides the ultimate unplugged experience for anyone looking to completely disconnect from the norm and reconnect with the world. Electricity is found in the restaurant and yoga studios only, and yes cell service is limited, but take one look at the lush jungle around you, and I promise your digital woes will quickly be a thing of the past. Imagine waking up under a thatched roof open-air room with vibrant green views at almost every turn. Once you find the will to leave this dreamy space, you’ll find an spa menu to quench your relaxation needs. The spa is proud to source their products as locally and sustainably as possible using many traditional and botanical techniques from head to toe.
Let’s not forget, Haramara is in Mexico, and what’s Mexico without a gorgeous beach. The resort provides a private beach for its visitors as well as a stunning infinity pool to keep the relaxed vibes a-flowing. And when the time calls for a little adventure, Haramara provides chances to go whale watching, hiking, surfing, and so much more. Just be sure to work in a yoga class at one of their open-air studios before you head on home totally rejuvenated.
Cant getaway at the moment? No need. DIY an amazing Wellness Weekend for you and your gals with out having to check out of town. See my tips here.
Sam Spahr is an artist-educator who gets her kicks sharing the magic of the arts with kids and adults alike. She has a penchant for ancient artworks and helping others find the connections between now and then. When not inside a studio or bookshop, you can find her paddling out somewhere with her hubs and pup. She loves experimenting in the kitchen, but loves eating even more, especially in new cities and cultures.
Over the last 12 months I've had the tremendous opportunity to travel to 8 National Parks, 5 National Forests and countless other local and state parks. Every time I take off for an off the beaten path outdoor adventure I think of winding dirt roads and buffalo roaming freely juxtaposed against beautiful girls with easels painting wildflowers and ravens circling overhead.
The National Park experience can range from blistering heat in the summers to stark white cold in the winter, sprawling across ecosystems, from the dramatically high peaks, ancient desert badlands, old-growth lush rainforests and wildly rugged coasts. At each of the parks I’ve experienced (the full list is at the end of this post) the visitor centers always offers fantastic itineraries for day visit and overnight stays.
This weekend is weekend #2 of the National Park free weekend, so to celebrate I've got a quick run down of a few need to knows that will help you plan a dynamite experience in preparation for the great outdoors!
Before we get to that, however, a note about the park program, it's current funding situation and a way you can help!
Our National Parks are currently facing extreme budget cuts, there are 84 million acres of National Park land at stake. In honor of National Park Week (through April 24) Free People has created three vintage-inspired tees that represent three of the most traveled National Parks: Yosemite, Yellowstone and Joshua Tree. They're $68 and a portion of each sale will be donated to the National Parks Foundation.
I've always been a fan of the brand and now I'm like 🏞 💕 🙋🏼 seriously high fiving them for taking on this initiative. Get your hands on one of the tees to donate to the Park Foundation (and to represent your park love all year round).
You can shop the tees directly here:
So next up! Here's a few things to keep in consideration before you venture out this weekend:
Hours and Seasons:
The National Parks are open year-round, however, which parts of the parks you can access varies with the season. Depending on where you're traveling to and what the weather conditions have been - all roads aren't always open. Take a read back through my post on making out of the desert alive for a little reminder on how significantly a little bit of rain can impact a seemingly easy off road adventure.
Even if all the roads are opened, not all the trails will be open. When we visited Glacier National Park last May many trails were still snow covered, some were closed for grizzly sightings and others had avalanche conditions - including the Going to the Sun Road (one of the highlights of the park).
Always call or stop into the visitors center to get current information about what's happening out on the park roads. You'll have a beautiful time no matter, but safety is always first!
Camping, Lodging, and Where to Stay:
There's typically so many options for camping, or parking an RV, however, if you haven't planned in advance you'll need to get a game plan before making your way out, don't assume you can just pitch a tent and crash. Often camp sites are first come first serve, and I'll tell you, one late night as I Ben and I drove along the primitive roads of Big Bend we came across campsites wayyyyy out.
There's no way I would have wanted to stay where rattlesnakes and scorpions make their home and I don't watch movies like Texas Chainsaw Massacre for a reason. We typically Airbnb or stay in roadside lodges in nearby towns, however even these can fill up quickly on weekends like this one. If you're braver than me check in early to get dibs on a campsite; and - if you'll be spending your day hiking make sure you remember how to get back to your tent, things can look very different after dark.
What to Pack
I shared this list before in my Glamping Essentials post however, it's a good one I think so here it is again:
Tent, sleeping bag and pillows (or an air mattress and an SUV) - unless you're traveling in an RV, of course or staying in an Airbnb or lodge
Bug Spray, Bear Spray (yep, that's a real thing) and a Traveling First Aid Kit
Jugs of Water (lots of it)
Sunscreen (I can't stress it enough, you need it even when you're not swimming or in direct light!)
Bathing Suits (I like to pack a one piece and a two piece, the one piece can double as a top when worn under skirts or shorts)
Layers of Clothes (hot days transition to cold nights)
Baby or Makeup Wipes (there isn't always water for washing your face at night)
Your Favorite Read (I like to pick up used books on the road too)
A Journal and a Pen
Travel Beauty Products (just the basics!)
Snacks and Organic Canned Foods (things that wont spoil)
Solar Powered Chargers and a Portable Record Player (there's nothing better than old records under the stars!)
I'll close with a few of my favorite photos from our journey across the park system. Over the course of the year we visited Big Bend, White Sands, Zion, The Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Glacier, Rocky Mountain and Joshua Tree. The National Forests we spent time in: Los Padres, Santa Fe, Gallatin, Shadow Mountain and Arapaho. Whew, I'm having such nostalgia just thinking about it! So much of these adventures are covered in my coming book! Be sure to pre-order you guys!
I hope this list is useful and I'd love to see your National Park photos! Share with me where you'll be going in the comments and tag #OuiLoveParks to share your park photos!
All photos were shot by Ben (the landscape shots from the parks are all 35 mm).
I get asked all the time for lists of things to do in New Orleans. It's my home, always will be, a place that embraced me so fully when I was making some serious transitions in my life and I'll be ever grateful to that dream of a town. Many of my best friends and family are there and this past couple of weeks I was able to spend a few weeks back at home.
One of the things that came up often while I was home this time was conversations about the continuous influx of tourists, and their interest in exploring areas that once were seriously off the beaten path.
Immediately downriver of the Quarter, there's the Marigny and the Bywater - like the Quarter both are live music destination—from the jazz club–lined Frenchman Street to the performance art and gypsy street bands peppering the Bywater and the punk-style arts district along St. Claude. These neighborhoods have a subculture that are truly their own, and I'll preface this by saying - tourists are most certainly onto that, and that has infused money into the city and most locals I know are happy for that. However! With that said, it's important (in any city, not just New Orleans) to be respectful of what came before you when visiting. So that's what this post is all about.
These two neighborhoods in particular were, until recently, considered two of the most unique and well-kept secrets of New Orleans. The Faubourg Marigny, which was once the plantation of a Creole born vivant who made the dice game “craps” popular in America and who dazzled New Orleans by his flair and enormous inheritance, and the Bywater, named for it’s postal code, are often likened to the Brooklyn neighborhoods of New York. The neighborhoods combine old-school New Orleans with a bohemian and considerably hip culture. If you want more on the history there's a whole chapter about this in my first book New Orleans Style, btw.
As prices rose in the 1990s in the Quarter, young artists and entrepreneurs began moving into the neighborhoods, and as of recent years, the style and happenings have been documented by Vogue, the NY Times Fashion/Style Magazine, Garden & Gun and Food & Wine, just to name a few.
These neighborhoods are packed with some of the coolest hangs in the city, ranging from hipster dives to trendy design-forward spaces.
Weekends bring shoppers to arts’ markets and junk stores. There’s a funky style and harmony that create a good time if an admittedly weird experience for all. As of recent years, more and more outsiders are moving from all over the country into these two neighborhoods. There seems to be as many Airbnbs as there are locals on some streets and if you happen to be one of these Airbnb'ers here's a few tips (do's and don'ts) on how to hang like a local.
1. Drink Wine.
Or beer, or a vodka and soda. Just do not, I repeat do not go into the French Quarter and order a hand grenade and wander with that massive plastic fire hazard out in the local areas and think you'll be accepted.
I was out with a group of friends on this last visit and literally as we walked along we encountered a group of guys in full on bead regalia, pulling a cooler along behind them (hey... drinking in the streets is legal so go all out right?!) and in each of their hands: a hand grenade. Sure, go to Pat O's and try out a Hurricane (one, btw, ooooonly have one) or hit Lafitte's for a Purple (also, one, btw!) but outside of that, if you're going to sit and have a drink with friends in the local areas, order what you would at home! And truly, try your damnedest to not get too wasted. That old saying it's a marathon, not a sprint applies here.
2. Leave the khakis at home and don't buy the beads.
The hipster cred in these neighborhoods is long term. Recording studios and artist retreats tucked away on quiet side streets means the stars can hide out a bit. Just ask Trent Reznor, Josh Tillman (Father John Misty), the guy from the Flaming Lips, Lenny Kravitz, and as most people know - Angelina Jolie & Brad Pitt for some time. When I'm taking in a new city I too love to explore the neighborhoods. So if you want to fit in, especially if you'll be walking for miles and miles opt for simple sneakers and a monochromatic ensemble - those things pair well with everything and as you pick up little trinkets from the local shops you can layer those gems into your outfit as you go.
While shopping make sure to hit the local stores. There's so many incredible designers based in New Orleans, it would be a shame to stop into the H&M or Urban Outfitters (or even worse the $5 bead shops) when tucked into the neighborhoods you can find gems like Porter Lyons (pictured and where my jewelry is from!), Trashy Diva and Shop Freda up in the Warehouse District.
3. Don't ask for handouts.
Don't ask for stories about Katrina from the girl serving your coffee. Don't ask her which bar she frequents when there's a line of people behind you. And - this one is kind of a joke, but I've actually seen it happen more than once: if you see someone carrying a sack of crawfish, that's their lunch. The only time it would be appropriate to ask for crawfish is if you're invited to a boil... and in that case, there will be a pile of crawfish and you just go all in. You may then, have to ask for help on how to eat the crawfish, and locals are always happy to help in that regard.
My brother and I were having crawfish at the park last week, and as he went to grab a gallon of water (also necessary when you're having crawfish) three super obvious tourist girls asked "can we try a few of those?" pointing to his sack of crawfish. Uhh, no - would you ever approach someone and ask to sample their food in any other city. Of course not.
Truly, I intended this to be fun, and I'm always so thrilled to see new friends (and old ones too) visiting my favorite city ever. I've got another little list coming this week of off the beaten path places to visit for Art & History lovers. Come back for that, and if you're ever in town while I'm there and you haven't yet found your way to the crawfish, let me know and I'll share mine with you anytime.
In the post I'm wearing Eileen Fisher, a made in the USA brand with Sustainable and Organic fabrics committed to supporting clean air, clean water and a healthy environment for workers and wildlife. Shop my look here:
This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #BeHeartHealthy #CollectiveBias
As a girl that intends to spend as much of the New Year as possible out adventuring, I’ve been thinking a lot about the things that are important to me when creating that inevitable resolution list. I’m not the type to create a list without a strategy behind it. I also don’t typically introduce new routines or plans into my life that I know I just won’t stick to.
For example: I was a swimmer as a child. Like, the kind of swimmer whose mother drove her to 5 a.m. practice before school every day and had meets every weekend. As much as I know that swimming is incredibly good for my health, as someone whose life involves planes, trains and automobiles on the regular, it’s just not realistic that I’ll go find a pool in each new city I visit.
On the other hand, it’s not an option for me to skip days of wellness. I’m fully committed to self care, so no matter where I am in my travels - there are some absolute musts on my daily routine. Here’s one reason why: about 5 years ago I had a little scare with my heart. I experienced premature ventricular contractions (PVCs), which was incredibly frightening in the moment. I visited a cardiologist, wore a heart monitor for a week and the report back was to get focused on preventative care.
I reduced my caffeine intake (so hard, but necessary!), increased anxiety reducing exercises (swimming would be perfect, but yoga was more realistic), introduced heart healthy smoothies into my morning routine and I added Qunol Ultra CoQ10 into my supplement regime.
Each of these commitments are completely doable for me (ok sometimes not going for the second cup of coffee is hard), so in the New Year, rather than creating resolutions, my focus is to continue on a path of preventative care and introduce more of the things that are working for me, here, for you!
Yoga for Travelers:
As a traveler, hours in the car (or on a plane for that matter) can result in stiffness in your neck and shoulders (especially if you’re the driver) and tightness in your legs and back. My recommendation is to practice yoga before, during, and after your drive, working the energy through your body while traveling.
Before you get in the car consider spinal flexes, on stops along the way practice sun salutations, wide leg stances, and forward bends. After you’ve made it to your final destination bridge pose will release lower back tension.
If you’re a yoga beginner, visit a studio near your home and ask for guidance on basic poses.
Heart Healthy Smoothies:
I make a smoothie every single morning. If you follow along on Instastories you see this recipe and quite a few others makes an appearance fairly regularly. The measurements aren’t exact, and sometimes I’ll sub in fresh veggies or fruits that happen to be available in the moment.
Coconut Milk (unsweetened)
1 peeled Clementine
½ Banana (frozen)
A handful of Spinach
1 scoop Almond Butter
Frozen pineapple chunks
Flaxseeds (just a shake)
Ginger (a few shavings)
Then fill up with filtered water
My smoothie is packed with heart-healthy polyphenols and vitamin C and can be made anywhere (I travel with a small smoothie blender). The spinach contains lutein (so does kale, both are great options), oats act like a magnet to bad cholesterol, flaxseeds are high in omega 3’s and fresh ginger is excellent for digestion! The almond butter and avocado have healthy fats which will keep you full until lunchtime.
Here’s the reasons I like this particular brand:
3 Times Better Absorption than regular* CoQ10
100% Water and Fat Soluble
#1 Cardiologist Recommended form** of CoQ10
I hope these tips are helpful to each of you! I would love to hear from you guys on topics you’d like to hear more of this year. And as a reminder, my wanderlusters newsletter comes out twice a month with all sorts of tips and ideas for new adventures and ways to stay healthy (in mind and body) while doing it!
*Regular CoQ10 refers to unsolubilized Ubiquinone in oil suspensions in softgels and/or powder filled capsules/tablets.
**Form refers to Water and Fat soluble CoQ10. Source: AlphaImpactRx ProVoice Survey 2016