If you saw my poncho sweater outfit last fall, you’ll know that Backcountry is one of my go-to’s for comfy outdoor styles, activewear, and yoga gear.
Backcountry has activewear apparel and accessories for all the adventures you’ll have this summer — from yoga, hiking, running, camping, and more! As an avid yogi, occasional hiker, and leggings lover, I love the brands that they carry like PrAna, Beyond Yoga, ALO Yoga, Patagonia and more.
Right now, they’re having a HUGE Memorial Day Sale where you can shop tons of great discounts on best yoga & activewear brands.
So, here are some of my favorite activewear styles from Backcountry!
Backcountry also has a dedicated customer service team of “Gearheads”. They have extensive experience in the outdoors, so whether you are a backpacking expert or buying your first pair of hiking boots or yoga pants, they can help you with any questions you may have!
Airbnb is one of my favorite online resources to use when booking accommodations. The digital marketplace has an incredible array of lodging options in 191 countries around the world.
The choices are seemingly endless — from exotic treehouses to cozy home-stays, Airbnb offers travelers unique, tailored ways to experience new destinations. Being an Airbnb host also serves as a great way to earn extra cash for traveling.
Becoming an Airbnb host is simple and it can seriously pay off. Just check out this calculator to figure out how much you can earn.
Sharing your home is a fun way to meet travelers from around the world and build up your travel fund. When you’re away, you can rent your entire place to cover the cost of your own travel accommodation, and sometimes even more!
Serving as an Airbnb host is quite flexible; you can offer a couch, room or your entire place if you wish.
I understand that it can be worrying to have strangers in your home when you’re away, but Airbnb strives to mitigate any worries. All of the guests are vetted and they have liability claims of up to $1 million USD available.
Hosting might not be for everyone — before you take the plunge, consider how much you’re looking to earn, and how much time you would like to invest.
Hosting is a grand commitment, especially if you are going to do all of the cleaning and managing of guests yourself. Handling communication, handing over keys and other last-minute surprises can take more time than you might estimate.
If you rent your own space, working with your landlord is another thing to think about. Subletting, including short-term Airbnb arrangements, could be against the terms of your lease.
It’s essential for both you and your guests to make sure that your landlord is okay with you serving as an Airbnb host. You don’t want your guests booted out mid-stay or even get yourself kicked out!
Hosting Best Practices
Create a Good Profile: If you think you are ready to host, then it’s time to create a profile. Having well-lit photos and a clear description is crucial here.
While you want your place to look enticing, you still want to represent it accurately. A quick way to disappoint your guests is to let them down by overselling your place.
Add Perks: Once you’ve got a solid profile, it’s time to think about adding value to your home stay experience. Do you want to offer breakfast? A free tour around town? Tickets to popular tourist attractions? Think of hosting as a business and find incentives to put a smile on your guests’ faces.
Stock Up: One of the first things you’ll realize is that you need to have plenty of towels and bed linens. Every guest needs new a set, and there isn’t always time to have things laundered between guests. So, having extra sets on hand is a must!
Having little toiletries around for guests to use is a great bonus and be sure to have lots of toilet paper in stock. Put out little snacks and drinks for that extra little touch!
Get Help: Even if you plan to do the cleaning on your own, you’ll still want to have a reliable cleaner that you can call on. Sometimes you’ll have more than one set of guests while you’re away, and the place will need to be cleaned in between so it’s necessary to have someone you can count on.
Go Low Tech: Another major timesaver is using a lock box or keypad to facilitate an easy check-in. You never know when guests might be arriving in town, so it’s convenient for everyone involved if you have a passcode to use to get inside.
As one of Southeast Asia’s most fascinating destinations, Singapore is a diverse island country that has something of interest for every traveler. Whether you have just 24 hours or 3 days in Singapore now is the time to pack your bags and visit this high-tech city.
Located off the southern coast of Malaysia, Singapore is a futuristic urban center rich with experiences around every corner. Ready to fall in love with this one-of-a-kind destination?
Here are 10 tips for your first trip to Singapore!
1. Use Public Transportation or Grab App
Singapore’s Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) is a traveler’s dream! The country has an impressive public transportation network that will take you anywhere you wish to go.
To save cash and time, I’d recommend checking out the Singapore Tourist Pass. It gives you unlimited travel for as long as you wish. A one-day pass is $10 SGD ($7.50 USD), a two-day pass is $16 SGD ($12 USD) or you can get a three-day pass for $20 SGD ($15 USD).
While the MRT is great, sometimes it can also be more convenient to just hop in a car. However, taxis are pricey in Singapore, and Uber is no longer a thing.
So, download the app, Grab, before you go. It works just like Uber, and it’s a local must-have app!
2. Get Travel Insurance
I’ve heard so many horror stories from other travelers that detail the dangers of traveling without insurance! From lost wallets to major injury, it’s so comforting to know you’re covered in the event anything goes awry when traveling.
I have always used World Nomads, and they have saved me some serious cash. From helping with my lost and delayed luggage to covering my damaged camper van in Iceland, I’ve found having the insurance to be totally worth it.
3. Eat Like the Locals
I relished the cuisine in Singapore! You don’t have to go to a Michelin star restaurant here to get a scrumptious meal (although Singapore is home to the cheapest Michelin-starred meal).
My top spots are the food centers and hawker stalls around China Town and Marina Bay. Be sure to try Singaporean specialties like Chicken Rice, Chili Crab and Laksa (a spicy noodle soup).
Singaporeans are crazy for Prawn Mee, too. Head there for more tasty noodles!
4. Get to Gardens by the Bay Early
As one of the most popular attractions in the city, Gardens by the Bay gets quite busy. The Flower Dome and Cloud Forest open up at 9 a.m., so I recommend getting there about 15 minutes early so you’re among the first ones to purchase tickets, which run at $28 SGD (about $21 USD) per person.
The Gardens and Supertree Grove are free to enjoy all day, opening at 5 a.m., and you can explore the upper walkway between the trees for $8 SGD ($6 USD) per person.
5. Drink the Tap Water
The water is absolutely safe to drink here. Bring a refillable water bottle, so that you can reduce the amount of plastic you use.
Alcohol is very pricey in Singapore. You’ll find cocktails for $22 SGD ($16.50 USD) at trendy spots downtown and beers in neighborhood bars for as much as $10 SGD ($7.50 USD).
Happy hour is a time to look forward to in Singapore. From around 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. in bars across the city, you can find some great deals on drinks of all kinds.
7. Stay Connected
While you will find many restaurants and cafés in Singapore with Wi-Fi, the cost (in both time and money) of buying a coffee every time you want to connect adds up quickly.
To circumvent this inconvenience, I use the Skyroam Solis when I’m abroad.
It lets me connect my phone and laptop (up to five devices) to WiFi all-day long with unlimited usage. Tt can be tricky to get a SIM card in some countries and roaming charges are crazy high. That is where Skyroam comes in. It is such an easy and affordable solution.
8. Get the Best View in Town
I stayed at the iconic Marina Bay Sands, and got a chance to take in the view from the infinity pool. The city’s skyline was absolutely gorgeous from up there.
More tips for managing diabetes while traveling around the world from Cazzy Magennis, of Dream Big Travel Far!
One of the most important things about traveling with diabetes is planning. Planning is crucial to be able to enjoy a trip with type 1 diabetes, without too much stress.
No matter how prepared you are, there can still be unforeseen issues. When I was at the Full Moon Party in Thailand, someone stole my diabetic blood sugar monitor from the bar, because I assume they thought it was a phone (jokes on them!) But, since I had already planned for that “emergency”, I didn’t freak out.
So, to help with your preparation, I put together some of the most common scenarios that could go wrong, and how to deal with them. Here are my tips for handling Type 1 Diabetes Emergencies Abroad!
What to Do if You Get Sick
This is probably the most common thing that could go wrong, simply because your body is adjusting to a new places and new foods. Diabetic or not, foreign foods can mess with our stomachs!
When those with type 1 diabetes are ill, we are at an increased risk of high blood sugars. This is because your body is working overtime to try and fight off your infection.
Running high can put you at risk of DKA if you are not careful, and no one wants to fall into DKA whilst on holiday! However, the good news is there are some things you can put in place to try and help.
Firstly, you need to know your “sick day rules”. If you don’t know them, or you’ve simply forgotten, then I’ve noted them below.
Never stop taking your insulin.
Drink sugar free fluids, water is always the optimal choice as it helps flush your body. You should aim to take 100-200 mls of water each hour to help prevent dehydration. If you feel too sick to do this, then try and take regular sips instead.
Test your blood sugars more frequently. If you are on a FreeStyle Libre or CGM, still take your blood sugar via a finger prick, just for accuracy.
Always test for ketones (so don’t forget ketone sticks!) If you have ketones it’s a sign you need more insulin to prevent DKA. Someone people find they need double the amount of insulin, or more when they are running high with ketones. Personally I need triple!
Ensure your ketone sticks are in date and test every 2 hours for ketones
Know when to get help! If your bloods are rising and your ketones are rising, then you will need medical help.
Don’t put yourself at risk. You can bring Google Translate with you to explain the situation, or pay for an English doctor.
It’s always a good idea to have “the worst scenario” explained in a translated letter that you could hand to a doctor in an emergency. It’s important to know, that most cases of DKA can be prevented if you take extra care and follow the sick day rules.
Ketones don’t mean you are going straight to hospital, so don’t panic!
What to Do if Your Diabetes Supplies Are Stolen
I can feel the panic rising in you as you read this….but don’t worry! I have a solution for this too, since it’s happened to me.
Firstly always split your supplies. Whether you are traveling solo or with friends.
If you are solo, split between your backpack, and day bag, or hand luggage and suitcase. If you are with friends or a partner, then ask them to take some of your supplies too.
This means that if your luggage is stolen, or misplaced (we know what airlines can be like!), then you’ll always have supplies. Always bring twice as much supplies as you need.
Lots of pump companies will “lend” you supplies ahead of time, so that you can bring extra with you. Give them a call!
If, for some reason absolutely everything is taken from you, then it’s time to source some new supplies. If you are on an insulin pump, the best thing to do is ring your supplier and explain the situation.
Ask if any extra supplies can be shipped out to your nearest location (you can send boxes for a post office to hold them). If you have supplies at home ask a family member to ship them out!
This may mean you need to wait in an area for a few extra days, but will save you lots of hassle. Your third option is to post on local diabetic groups of that country, or contact local diabetic charities and ask if they have any spares or were you could source some supplies.
What to Do if Your Insulin Dies
Insulin can die due to extreme temperatures, such as too much heat, or it’s too cold. You will know its died because it will turn cloudy and white- do not use it. You can prevent your insulin from dying by using insulin travel cases.
On my travels my insulin has died a couple of times, one of the most significant was when I was on a city break in Rome. It was super warm and I had my insulin pump in my bra.
I didn’t even consider that my insulin might die, so I didn’t bring any extra insulin with me on my day exploring the city. I ended up getting really sick, really fast.
This resulted in ketones and me lying in a hotel room waiting to get better so I could continue my Rome adventures. It took ages to feel better, and if I had brought insulin out with me in a Frio bag, I could have changed it and prevented the ketones- so learn from my mistake!
When you need insulin, it’s a case of heading to different pharmacies and finding out if they stock insulin, or if you need to get a prescription. Sometimes you may only be able to get pre-filled insulin pens, instead of vials and vice versa, but you can work with what you’ve got.
Please remember that different insulins around the world can have different strengths. So double check your normal strength before you take the same units of a different insulin.
For example, a U-100 insulin requires a U-100 syringes, so if you use this strength in a U-40 or U-80 syrine, you will take too much insulin and increase your risk of hypos.
What to Do if Your Insulin Pump Breaks
Insulin pumps are just technology, and unfortunately, they’re not always reliable. The good news is that most insulin pump companies will allow you to take a “holiday pump” with you on your travels for emergencies.
I know for sure that Medtronic allow this in the USA, so get in touch with your provider for more information. If you can’t bring an extra insulin pump, then you will need to switch to insulin pens.
An urban wonderland, there’s nothing quite like exploring the vibrant streets of Hong Kong. Located beside southeastern China, this place is an intriguing blend of Chinese and British culture with a unique Hongkonger vibe.
When you’re staying in Hong Kong, the Central business district is a prime location. On my recent trip there, I stayed in the heart of it all at The Landmark MO.
One of the prime features of The Landmark Mandarin Oriental is its location. In the heart of the Central neighborhood, it’s easy to hop on the metro from the hotel and get anywhere in Hong Kong.
Rooms at The Landmark Mandarin Oriental
There’s a beautiful range of room options here. The L600 Deluxe offers a separate living room area and a spa-like bathroom. While if you’re looking for a larger space, the L600 Premier and L600 Executive are lovely upgrades.
I actually had the chance to experience two rooms. When I first checked in, I was in the L600 Deluxe, which had a boutique-hotel feel. It was easily one of the most strikingly designed luxury rooms I’ve ever stayed in, and I was obsessed with the macaroon fridge!
During my stay, I was upgraded to the Apartment Suite. Like the L600 Deluxe, the suite featured a deluxe seven-foot round bath with a rainforest shower.
At 1,184 square feet, the Apartment Suite is a major upgrade in terms of size. However, even at 603 square feet, the L600 Deluxe felt cozy rather than cramped thanks to its sleek design.
One thoughtful touch that the hotel provided for in both rooms was the nightly gift. Every evening, you receive a turndown service, and they leave a little surprise on the pillow.
One evening I received a food spray, while on another night I got a facial sheet mask.
I tried their four-course degustation lunch, and it was absolutely delicious. Even if you don’t stay at the hotel, I couldn’t recommend eating at Amber enough!
Amber has a classic French menu with options for breakfast, lunch and dinner. For late night cocktails, there’s the PDT (Please Don’t Tell) New York cocktail bar.
For all-day dining and after dinner drinks, there’s also the swanky MO Bar on site.
Sustainability at The Landmark Mandarin Oriental
You don’t often hear much about green living at luxury hotels, so it was a breath of fresh air to hear about The Landmark Mandarin Oriental’s efforts toward sustainability. They’re on a mission to reduce waste and go plastic-free.
They have moved from plastic to bamboo straws. They filter their own water throughout the entire hotel and they serve it in reusable glass bottles available in all guest rooms and suites. To make matters greener, PDT and MO were constructed using reconditioned and recyclable materials.
The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong is well-known for its wellness programs and integrating sustainable efforts as a seamless part of the guest experience. They’re always working with local charity initiatives to make the hotel greener, so expect more changes soon.
Activities at The Landmark Mandarin Oriental
In the middle of the Central district, there’s a whole world at the doorstep here. The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong is located on Queen’s Road Central, which is one of the city’s most historic and happening streets.
When you need a retail fix, The Landmark Mandarin Oriental is actually connected to the best shopping in the city at the Landmark. For culture vultures, there are galleries galore and, if you’re lucky enough to be there in March, don’t miss one of the world’s biggest art fairs at Art Basel.
Ready to get out of town? Hongkongers flock to Peak and Dragon’s Back to get back to nature and hike up to stunning views.
Spa at The Landmark Mandarin Oriental
After a long day out pounding the pavement, head to The Oriental Spa at The Landmark Mandarin Oriental. They offer a full spa menu and a range of signature treatments.
Like the rest of the hotel, The Oriental Spa is committed to sustainability. They use the plant-based WonderBalm products, which feature 100-percent biodegradable packaging.
My Opinion of The Landmark Mandarin Oriental
Love, love, love! The customer service at The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong was beyond five-star. It was truly one of the best luxury-hotel experiences I’ve ever had, and I’d go back in a heartbeat.
Hotel: Landmark Mandarin Oriental
Location: Hong Kong
Price Range: $$$-$$$$
Shop My Style Essentials for Hong Kong!
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I’ve always loved Southeast Asia, and this was a fantastic opportunity to dive and visit so many gorgeous islands throughout Raja Ampat and across the Banda Sea.
I spent 12 magical days onboard the Samambaia Liveaboard that I booked through LiveAboard.com and completed a whopping 28 dives! If you love diving, this is one must-have travel experience.
Ready to dive in? Here’s what to expect on a diving liveaboard trip.
What to Expect on a Liveaboard
My trip on Samambaia required that divers have Open Water certification and recommended a minimum of 30 dives, however the program and the dive sites were accommodating to all levels, so it was really a one-size-fits-all trip.
Whatever your level is, there are liveaboard options out there for you. In my opinion, shorter cruises are perfect for those just getting started.
For a longer trip, you can maximize your experience by having a PADI Advanced Open Water certification, as well as a Nitrox certification.
Most diving liveaboards feature two-to-four dives per day, including one nighttime dive. The schedule will largely depend on the travel time between dive sites, and if you have to do long hauls between islands or ports. To cover the travel time to more far-flung locations, sometimes the ship skips a night dive. But every dive site is a different experience so there’s always something new to look forward to.
As we arrived at each dive site and before diving in, our guides provided an update on the conditions (current, water temperature, etc.), informed us of the type of dive it would be, and what to expect under the surface.
In my experience, the downtime between dives was essential.
Not only did it give me a chance to recuperate, but I also got a chance to log my dives in detail. Like an old-school explorer, I spent my time looking up all of the sea critters I encountered while diving and kept a journal about each dive (because after about 10 dives, they start to blend together!).
Wondering what to expect on a liveaboard trip? Here’s a typical schedule based on my experience:
7am: Wake up call! 8am: Dive #1 Breakfast Break 11am: Dive #2 Lunch 3pm: Dive #3 4:30pm: Snack Time 6:30pm: Night Dive #4 8:30pm: Dinner
Of course, this is just a sample of what your day could look like. Everything is optional, and dive times move around, so it allows you to make the trip your own.
Most days, four dives were a bit too much for me, but other divers did every single dive. It’s a personal preference!
Food on a Diving Liveaboard
Dining options vary depending on the LiveAboard option you choose (and where you are in the world!), so it’s something to consider when you’re booking. The cuisine and alcoholic drinks onboard vary, as well as the costs.
On my liveaboard, we were able to order breakfast before the first dive and then came back to a hot plate waiting for us. There was a good selection of baked goods, eggs, “Mie Goreng” noodles, “Nasi Goreng” fried rice, toast, pancakes, yogurt, cereal and fruit —and, of course, coffee and tea.
Most liveaboards will be able to work with dietary restrictions, but be sure to ask before booking, especially if you have a severe allergy or strict diet.
Every day we were served up a different two or three course lunch and dinner. Since it was such an active trip, there was always a selection of hearty dishes. My trip included non-alcoholic drinks and beer in the cost of the booking, but I know there are some liveaboards out there that have an all-inclusive alcohol option as well! Find one that suits your needs.
Equipment on a Diving Liveaboard Trip
Most liveaboards will have all of the scuba equipment that you’ll need available for rent. However, the gear adds up quickly, and I found that if you plan to rent diving gear a few times over the same year, it would actually be same cost as purchasing your very own gear.
Of course, it’s not always possible to pack everything, especially if your liveaboard is part of a bigger trip, but I would recommend bringing at least a few of these basics:
Wetsuit and/or Neoprene Hoodie
Underwater Camera (or GoPro)
Booties or Neoprene Socks
Free Time on a Liveaboard
I saw my trip as a chance to disconnect! We spent most of our time in remote parts of Raja Ampat and were offline nine out of the 12 days.
I loved having an excuse to go off-the-grid, but it’s something you’ll want to consider when you’re booking. Some LiveAboard routes, especially in less remote areas, offer internet, so that’s another option to consider.
Most days, I had a long break after lunch. It was the perfect time to just lie out, read a book and take a siesta under the sun. On some days, I opted to skip the night dive and had all evening to just chill and organize my photos from the day.
To mix things up, my liveaboard also offered the option to skip a dive and take an excursion to some of the islands along the route, and to explore the lagoons and beaches. Be sure to see if your future liveaboard offers excursions as well!
Other Guests on a Diving LiveAboard Trip
The guest list on a liveaboard can be incredibly diverse. I met interesting people from all corners of the world making it quite an eclectic bunch.
On longer liveaboard trips, you’ll find a larger number of die-hard divers, so it’s a good way to connect with others who share your passion. On shorter and mid-length dives, you’ll meet people who love diving, along with those who are there for the sailing experience.
Tipping on a Diving Liveaboard Trip
As you’re Googling each liveaboard company, you’ll most likely see their tipping recommendations. They vary, but I found a ten percent rate of the total cost to be pretty standard.
My specific liveaboard suggested tipping $20-30 a day for the crew onboard, and I added some extra for my dive guide. The boat crew divvies up the tips amongst the workers, and you have the option to give your cruise manager or diving guide an additional personal tip at the end.
Diving Insurance for a Liveaboard Trip
I’d highly recommend getting diving insurance, especially if you are going on a remote diving route. I always travel with World Nomads and their Explorer Plan covers scuba diving to a maximum depth of 50 meters.
Beyond the 50 meters (160 feet), your underwater explorations are considered to be a “deep dive.” For the most comprehensive coverage, including air evacuation (which is a good thing to have if you’re diving in remote locations), the Divers Alert Network (DAN) offers coverage exclusively for divers.
Regardless of your own certification level, all insurance companies will require that your trip is organized by a licensed company with experienced staff and a dive master onboard at all times. Insurance aside, making sure that you are traveling with a reputable company is vital for a good experience!
Insurance offers vary by your country of residence, so I’d highly recommending talking with World Nomads to get a quick quote before you book your liveaboard trip.
Cape Town is, overall, a casual city. On any given day, you’ll find cafes and coffee shops full of people dressed in everything from business suits, to sundresses, to yoga pants, and that’s the norm. To be frank, Cape Town is just like any other modern city by the beach, so please don’t pack safari clothes to wear around town! 😉
With hot, summer months spanning November to February, and winter (rainy) months consisting of June through August, Cape Town has somewhat distinct seasons. The summer months are dry and warm, and perfect for long beach days. The weather during the spring months, September and October, is a mild and comfortable 75° F, but temperatures at night can drop below 50° F, so you’ll want to pack a jacket to stay warm.
This post was written in partnership with P&G as an Herbal Essences brand ambassador. As always, all thoughts and opinions expressed here are entirely my own.
Every girl has her own hair woes. Mine include greasiness and bed head. My fine hair may be tricky to style, but fortunately, through trial and error, I’ve found a few key ways to keep my hair looking its best when traveling non-stop.
While travel can be hard on your hair, it’s all about finding the right products to help keep up a healthy haircare routine. My locks love Herbal Essences bio:renew collection, which is why I’ve partnered with them to share some helpful tips for traveling with fine hair.
Looking to fast track your way to beautiful strands? Here are my top tips for traveling with fine hair.
Tips for Traveling with Fine Hair - YouTube
Dry Shampoo for Fine Hair
Dry shampoo is a godsend! I absolutely couldn’t live without this stuff. My fine hair gets a greasy look very quickly (we’re talking like one day), but dry shampoo lets me stretch the time between washes by one to two extra days.
As great as it is, you still need to use dry shampoo correctly to reap its benefits. If you try to use it once your hair is already greasy, it’s not going to be very effective.
My top tip is to use dry shampoo before bed so that it can absorb overnight. Just brush it out in the morning, and you’re good to go.
I typically wash my hair every three days to keep it from drying out, but I also need to make sure my hair is camera ready most days! So, I’ve got a few key hair styles in my beauty arsenal.
On the day I wash my hair, I wear it down. My hair naturally dries stick straight, so no hair products or heat tools necessary. Then, that night I’ll apply a dry shampoo before bed.
When I wake up, I brush it out then usually opt for a half-up/half-down style. I repeat my dry-shampoo routine on night two, then go for an up-do, top knot, or braid to stretch my wash to the third day.
Being able to stretch out the time between washes with dry shampoo helps me create volume, and prevents the dryness that comes with washing too often.
Clip-In Extensions for Fine Hair
Clip-in extensions save me a lot of time when it comes to styling my hair. I always travel with a couple of pieces because they are amazing for adding volume. I usually leave my hair down and au naturel when I first wash it. For braids, I clip in one or two extensions because they’re great for adding length and volume to braids.
Plus, they are incredibly easy to use!
I always opt for real rather than artificial hair extensions. I find they last way longer and look more natural. You can wash real hair extensions with normal shampoo to keep them fresh. I cleanse with Herbal Essences’ bio:renew shampoos because they’re made with natural, non-damaging ingredients.
Using Foam Conditioner on Fine Hair
Volume is a priority for me. With fine hair, my strands get too weighed down with thick conditioning formulas. They cause a build-up and make my hair impossible to style. That is why I have been using Herbal Essences’ bio:renew foam conditioners on my wash days for a light zap of hydration.
This is another Herbal Essences product that has been specifically designed for ladies with fine hair, which makes such a huge difference. I love the fresh foam feel, and it gives my hair just the right amount of hydration.
Using a Silk Pillowcase with Fine Hair
Another one of my suitcase essentials: silk pillowcases. They are a dream for your hair and skin. When you sleep on a silk pillowcase, you help keep your skin hydrated and minimize bed head.
Silk’s lack of friction also prevents hair breakage and fine lines in your skin — an all-around win!
As a bonus, silk pillowcases are hypoallergenic, and they’re a good way to avoid the dust mites, fungus, mold and other allergens that you’ll often find on pillows in hotels, airplanes and other shared spaces.
Prevent Tangles in Fine Hair
As much as I love the beach, my hair isn’t a big fan of ocean water (or the sun or chlorine…), so I always have to come prepared.
One of my must-haves is a detangling wet/dry brush. Since my hair is so fine, I always brush from the ends up to the roots to avoid breakage. If you start at the roots and yank downward, it’ll snap fine hair right in half.
As an avid scuba diver, I usually braid my hair before getting it wet to prevent knots. When I get out of the water, I put conditioner in my hair, and then I slowly work through it from end to root with a detangling brush to get through the tangles and knots.
Use a Clarifying/Volumizing Shampoo on Fine Hair
Product build-up is fine hair’s arch nemesis! To keep my hair squeaky clean and manageable, I use clarifying and volumizing shampoo a couple of times each week.
Some days my hair just won’t do I want it to do. And other days, I just can’t be bothered to spend my precious free time messing with my hair. That is why I always travel with a couple of hats and headscarves.
After years of diving, I finally did my first liveaboard! In partnership with LiveAboard.com, I crossed a huge bucket list diving trip and an Indonesian dream route off my list.
In case you’ve never heard of it, a liveaboard “cruise” offers divers the opportunity to stay onboard overnight, unlike a day trip, and allows time to travel to more distant dive sites that may not be otherwise accessible.
Ready to find your sea legs? Here’s what it’s like diving Raja Ampat with the Samambaia Liveaboard.
For the diving excursion of a lifetime, we stayed onboard this beautiful wooden boat, which had six cabins and a master cabin. The vessel can accommodate up to 14 guests at one time.
The rooms are made with beautiful woodwork, and have a built-in AC unit. All bathrooms offer a rain shower/hand shower combo which feels amazing after a dive!
The main deck of the MV Samambaia is comprised of the master cabin, the wheelhouse, the dining room and lounge area and the dive deck, with a sun deck on the upper deck. The boat also offers complimentary Wi-Fi during certain journeys — your connectivity all comes down to how remote the area is.
Exploring the Raja Ampat Islands will have you (blissfully) disconnected.
Helpful Tip: Some of the rooms can accommodate a third person if you’re traveling with a child.
Diving in Raja Ampat and the Banda Sea
The local dive guides onboard the MV Samambaia made the experience truly exceptional. They’re experienced divers who are knowledgeable about every dive site, currents and the local marine life, so their pre-dive briefs were super helpful.
The crew was very safety-conscious. They always ensured that procedures were followed to keep us safe on and off the boat. On top of that, the crew is an all-around fun group who make the trip one for the books.
The liveaboard offered diving equipment for rent, so if you haven’t purchased your own gear, or don’t have enough room in your luggage, Samambaia has great rental options. As a bonus, they offered Nitrox for free to all of the Nitrox-certified divers.
I have been diving in some of the most stunning destinations around the world, and I would love to do a full Raja Ampat liveaboard (North and South) in the future, but my time in the Banda Sea was in a class of its own. A few of my favorite dives were Manuk Island or “Bird Island”, where there are hundreds of sea snakes, and in Ambon, where you’ll find world-class muck diving.
Food + Drink
All of the meals, non-alcoholic drinks and beer are complimentary onboard. So, you never have to worry about going hungry during the trip. Every morning, we were able to order our choices for breakfast so they were ready after the morning dive, and we enjoyed a set two-course lunch and a set three-course dinner each day. The meals were varied, and the crew happily catered to dietary needs.
On top of the complimentary offerings, there was also wine available for purchase or one could BYOB with a corkage fee. There are no spirits (hard alcohol) available for purchase onboard, so you’re able to bring your own without a corkage fee.
Activities + Excursions
In between dives, we had the opportunity to explore the beautiful lagoons of Raja Ampat via speedboat and/or kayak. On excursion days, we hopped on a speedboat to snorkel some smaller reefs and admire gorgeous, white sand beaches.
The Banda Islands have a long and fascinating history of spice production, and one of our trips on land gave us the opportunity to explore one of the charming little island towns on Banda Neira island.
Every route has different activities and excursions, so there is always something new to experience!
Other Samambaia Liveaboard Destinations
The MV Samambaia is one of the courses with the best diving. Depending on the season, the boat takes different routes around Indonesia to get the most ideal diving and weather conditions.
Singapore is a place like no other. Just off the southern tip of Malaysia, this vibrant city-state boasts a beautiful blend of Malay, Indian, Chinese, Arab and English cultures — all with a uniquely Singaporean vibe.
You have never seen a city quite like this. Ready to see what all the hype is about?
Language: Most locals are bilingual — proficient in English and either Mandarin, Malay or Tamil.
Currency: The Singapore dollar (SGD) is the currency of choice here. At the minute, $1 U.S. dollar will get you $1.33 in Singapore dollars.
When you’re budgeting for your trip here, keep in mind that Singapore is one of the richest countries in the world. While you can find some bargains in Malaysia and Indonesia, Singapore is expensive so expect to spend the same as you would in a big American or European city.
Cards + Cash: Credit cards are widely accepted, but you should still carry some cash for food stalls, coffee shops and other small purchases.
Climate: Temperatures in Singapore are consistent all year. Typically, on any given day, you will see temperatures between 75 degrees Fahrenheit (24 degrees Celsius) to 89 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius).
The humidity level is high, and the country sees an average of 167 days of rain per year, so bring that umbrella!
While Singapore is a small country, there is still a lot to see. Just 31 miles wide and 17 miles long, Singapore has a remarkable amount of must-see neighborhoods like Little India, Bugis, Chinatown, Marina Bay, the Financial District and Sentosa Island.
Public Transport: The Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) is an easy and affordable way to get around Singapore. The price of tickets depends on where you are going, and generally runs around $4 SGD ($3 USD).
If you are planning to explore as much of the city as possible, the Singapore Tourist Pass can be a great deal. It gives you unlimited travel for a set period of time. A 24-hour pass costs $10 SGD ($7.50 USD), a 48-hour pass costs $16 SGD ($12 USD) or you can spring for a 72-hour pass, which will run you $20 SGD ($15 USD).
Even if you do a mix of MRT rides, taxis and walking, it can be handy to have the Singapore Tourist Pass so that you can just jump on a train whenever you want.
Taxi: An app called Grab is really popular here, and the ride prices are cheaper than what a traditional taxi ride would cost. It works just like Uber, which is being phased out in Singapore.
While there are a ton of taxis all over the city, they charge peak rates after 6 p.m., so it can get expensive quickly.
The Scarlet Singapore: I love the art-deco style of the four-star Scarlet Singapore in Chinatown. It has a captivating old-world charm, plus a handy location.
Park Regis Singapore: In the heart of the Central Business District, The Park Regis Singapore has everything right outside of the lovely hotel’s doorstep.
Hotel Kai: In the center of the historic Civic District, Hotel Kai is a great value for the money. They also provide guests with a 4G personal Wi-Fi device that works all over Singapore, which is really handy if you don’t want to get a SIM card.
The Port by Quarters Hostel: In the heart of downtown with a free all-day breakfast, The Port by Quarters Hostel is a budget travelers’ top pick in Singapore!
Adler Hostel: Right next to Chinatown and close to the MRT, Adler Hostel, an art-deco townhouse, is a swanky alternative to your average no-frills hostel.
In Singapore, it’s all about fusion cuisine. With flavor influences from Malaysia, China, India and beyond, the city-state has some of the best Asian food on the continent. Singapore also has a great mix of Italian, Greek, Australian and pretty much anything else else you might be in the mood for.
My favorite local dishes are laksa (heaven in a bowl, better known as spicy noodle soup), popiah (a type of spring roll, available fried or raw), chili crab and chicken rice.[/li_item]
Colony at The Ritz-Carlton: The Colony at The Ritz-Carlton serves up the greatest buffet I’ve ever tried, and it’s a great value for all of the food that you get.
Po Restaurant: For a fresh take on Singaporean staples, get to Po Restaurant at The Warehouse Hotel to check out this tasty spot.
Neon Pigeon: In the hipster hood of Tanjong Pagar, you can find Neon Pigeon serving up Japanese food tapas style.
The Curry Culture: Singapore has a lot of delicious Indian food, but nobody can top the flavors at The Curry Culture!
Laksa: This is my favorite soup, and it’s something I’ve always got my eye out for. There are a lot of street vendors dishing it up and the best I found was at 328 Katong Laksa.
Tian Tian: To enjoy another one of Singapore’s must-eat dishes, chicken rice, this is the place to be.
Kok Kee Wanton Mee: Specializing in the slurp-worthy wanton mee soup, this is another one of the country’s best cheap eats.
Chin Chin Eating House: Located on Purvis Street, this is where all of the locals flock for a good meal on the fly.
Chinatown: Not sure what you are in the mood for? Just head down to Chinatown and let your stomach guide you through the food stalls.
Dim Sum: Whatever you do, don’t leave Singapore without going out for dim sum. With small bite-sized portions, this is the best way to try a bit of everything.
Hawker Centers: Food courts, also known as hawker centers in Singapore, are a perfect way to eat your way around the world!
Little India: If you like Indian food, this is one neighborhood you can’t miss!
Eat: Singapore has some of the best food on the planet! Be sure to try the local cuisine at the hawker centers around the city. The local chicken rice, laksa and chili crab are a must!
Joo Chiat: A historic neighborhood, Joo Chiat is a perfect place to bring your camera and just wander around aimlessly. The colorful Peranakan houses are some of the most beautiful sites in Singapore.
Chinatown: Singapore is a melting pot in the truest terms, and you really have to get around to all of the different neighborhoods to understand what it’s all about. Start with Chinatown for its shops, night markets and dim sum!
Singapore Botanic Gardens: A 158-year-old tropical oasis, Singapore Botanic Gardens is much loved by locals and tourists alike.
Gardens by the Bay: Totally unlike any other garden I have ever experienced, Gardens by the Bay is well worth a visit. Have your camera ready for the surreal Supertree Grove and Cloud Forest!
Arab Street: More than just one street, this is a must-see neighborhood that includes Bussorah Street, Haji and Bali Lanes and Muscat Street. Start at the corner of Beach Road and just explore the shops, cafés and restaurants.
Do keep in mind that most places are closed on Sundays. With that said, the stunning Sultan Mosque (Masjid Sultan) is a must-see sight that is also located here!
The Quays: The Quays along the river are famous here! Explore Boat Quay, Robertson Quay, then get down to Clarke Quay for restaurants, bars and other fun spots.
Mid-Autumn Festival: If you are lucky enough to be here in autumn, which is typically from mid-September to mid-October depending on the year, get down to Singapore’s Chinatown for the epic Mid-Autumn Festival.
Marina Bay Sands SkyPark: This sky-high infinity pool has become one of Singapore’s most iconic sites. I stayed here on my trip, which is the only way to get access to the infinity pool.
However, if you just want to see the view, you can buy a ticket to the Observation Deck for the once in a lifetime view of the cityscape.
Day Trip to Sentosa Island: A playground for Singaporeans off the southern coast of Singapore, this massive resort-style island has theme parks, golf courses, spas and a groegous coast line!