{We're obsessed} 31 Bits

Businesses that give back are the bomb! Businesses that support the health and wellness of women around the world? Those stop us in our tracks. 31 Bits is the brainchild of 5-college friends who founded a jewelry company that works with beneficiaries in Uganda to create fashionable, quality products. These women provide and care for their families by earning an income, but the goodness doesn’t stop there. With a holistic approach to business, 31 Bits also provides counseling, health education, finance training and business mentorships. Everything the company does is funded through the sales of the products, which means every time you buy, you have direct impact on these women’s lives.

What a way to empower women in Uganda…oh and the jewelry is beautiful too. - Alison Kinkade

Changed by Travel: Bita Jenkins

Bita Jenkins in UTAH

Bita Jenkins in UTAH

Many moons ago, I was born in Tehran, Iran to an amazingly wonderful family. Open hearted and open minded; they loved to travel, stay active, read and have a lot of parties! From a young age I was exposed to fantastic people, beautiful cities, different cultures and foreign religions – really all walks of life. Then, my life and my country rich in beauty, mystery and history began to change. A revolution was taking shape. While already accepted to med school in Iran, the turmoil working its way through the country began to threaten the opportunities and potential life had laid out before me.  

1984 changed all that. My brother was already in the US studying and I decided it was the place for me too to continue my education. With no American Embassy in Iran, my mom and I, against all odds, traveled to Turkey where I applied for a student visa and my mom for a tourist visa.

We passed the time we had to wait by traveling, exploring, worrying, praying, meditating and in between sleepless nights we met amazing people and began to fall in love with Turkey, its culture and its people. In that time I grew as a person more than any other time in my life. Traveling became my love, my passion - my gateway to myself.

Two months after this amazingly rich period in my life we were granted our visas. I was ready to travel to US and ready to expand my world again. As author Clifton Fadiman so beautifully says, “When you travel, remember that a foreign country is not designed to make you comfortable. It is designed to make its own people comfortable.”

My life has been full of #changedbytravel experiences exploring the world in search of amazing people, unique places and immersing stories. With each meeting and each new destination, my heart and mind grow. I count on it to enrich my life and the lives of others.  - Bita Jenkins

Changed by Travel: Alison Kinkade

IMAGE ALISON KINKADE©

IMAGE ALISON KINKADE©

It's a rare occurrence when you can point to a moment in your life and say. "That's it. That's when I changed. That's when everything changed." Yet my exact moment was: July 5, 2013 at 3 a.m.

My best friend and I decided to leave our cornfield-surrounded town of 1,500 people and drive to Canada. Fast-forward 12 hours as we found ourselves at a hostel in Toronto swearing the next day were we headed for a hotel! Having never been around so much diversity in such an intimate setting, we were so overwhelmed to the point that we skipped the shared meal space and hunkered down with homemade peanut butter sandwiches outside on a park bench. Clearly we were far from our creature comforts and the familiarity of our small town. 

Three years have passed since that fateful night and I can now look back at my 19-year-old self with pride and smile at all the memories. Turns out we did not leave the hostel - instead we ended up staying for the entire week. What changed? Us! We decided to open up and connect with others, which resulted in friendships that are still going strong today. 

In that one week, I gained more life experience and learned more about the world than school ever taught me. Without cell phone service I finally learned how to read a map and I learned that Europeans never ask for a doggy bag (I think the snickering gave it away). My most cherished moment was when a chef from Switzerland cooked us a meal - this never would have happened back home. Through all this I learned that the simple things are often the most treasured. 

That one-week of travel changed my life, teaching me my biggest lesson: how to interact with people who have differing backgrounds and opinions. In the past three years I cannot count how many hostels I've stayed in during my travels through Spain, Italy, Ireland and much of the U.S. I've made countless friends and memories, gained confidence and said yes to new opportunities, which has allowed me to chase my dreams.  

Every time I think about my past travels, my hearts fills with joy and propels me to always be planning what is next. Now, whenever someone tell me they are thinking about taking a trip I automatically yell, "DO IT!" Then I pause to add, "But only if you're ready to be forever changed by travel." - Alison Kinkade

Exploring DESIGN: Thailand to Tokyo

GRAND PALACE PHOTO® PRAVASSA

GRAND PALACE PHOTO® PRAVASSA

Coolhunting, the experts in all that's stylish in travel, art and culture, explored the design scene from Thailand to Tokyo. They hit so many Pravassa hot spots, you'd think they followed us on our wellness vacations! Take a look at their picks in Thailand and Tokyo to see if you had some of these on your hit list. 

Want to see more for yourself? Pravassa's headed to Tokyo in October and Thailand in November. Snag a spot now! 

Nosara | Costa Rica

PLAYA GUIONES PHOTO® PRAVASSA

PLAYA GUIONES PHOTO® PRAVASSA

Just back from our latest vacation, we find ourselves returning to Nosara time and time again. The chillaxed vibe is a magnet for surfers and yogi's who are seeking delicious organic eats and a place to be at one with nature. The unpaved dirt roads keep the town intimate while it still attracts expats from around the globe. The sustainability mission prohibits building within 200 meters of the beach, which means you can see the spectacular sunsets in all directions. Check out the gallery of our latest wellness travel finds. 

Interested in booking a #customWELL itinerary to Nosara? Click here

We head to Costa Rica a few times a year. Check out our trip page to see when we're there next.

Travel: A portal into presence

PRAVASSA IN BALI PHOTO® DIANA PASCHAL

PRAVASSA IN BALI PHOTO® DIANA PASCHAL

Initially, we travel to escape, but ultimately, travel allows us to re-enter our lives. We travel to widen the lens of our worldview, to gain an embodied experience of how time has impacted the way of life for those outside of the neighborhood in which we live. Time is a curious thing. Moment-to-moment it’s passing, but yet, our hurried lives keep us in constricted mind states outside of the present moment. Personally, travel gets me out of the microcosm of my life – clearing blocked channels clouding my heart and getting beneath the film of stress where compassion flows freely. As I check all of my certainties about life at plane door, what I am sure about is that I’ll return from my journey with a deeper sense of belonging to the world we share. - Lena Franklin

Want more from Lena? Join us in Thailand for our mindful meditation tour. 

Read Lena's full article, which includes tips on how to be more present during travel here.

Eliminate THE Stress of International Travel

IMAGE VIA

IMAGE VIA

You're floating on a cloud. The sound of the ocean crashing to shore is your soundtrack. The sun is warming your face. Then smack - you're elbowed out of the way by a frantic traveler who is panicking at the thought of a missed flight. Come to think of it, if this Customs line doesn't start moving you're going to be running to make your connection too. You start checking your phone while a cold sweat starts to make it's way down your body. Bye bye vacation bliss. Hello airport nightmare.

I've lived this scene and watched it play out many times in airports across the country. That is before I discovered the ultimate wellness hack for the airport: Global Entry. Now, the average time it takes me to make my way off the plane, through Customs to curbside, (I only travel with carry-on luggage) is roughly 8 minutes. 8 MINUTES!! 

So what is Global Entry exactly? A US Customs and Boarder Control program that allows for expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States (plus a handful of airports in Canada, Ireland, the Caribbean and Abu Dhabi). For a $100 fee and an appointment at one of the airport centers, you can get approved for Global Entry for 5-years. Not only does this make entry into the US super easy and hassle-free, but your boarding passes are almost always TSA Pre-Check approved; meaning no wait in the security line when you arrive for departure. No more taking off your shoes, no more taking out your laptop and those travel toiletries can stay put. It's already making you feel less stressed right? 

While Global Entry and TSA Pre-Check is not available at every airport in the US, (see full list here) it is available at all the major hubs for international travel including JFK, EWR, LAX, SFO, MIA, ORD, MSP, DFW, ATL and IAH (all the airports I've had the pleasure of missing a connection at). If you plan on traveling internationally twice in the next 5-years, or even domestically and want to head straight for the TSA Pre-Check line, Global Entry is worth the investment in your wellness. I can tell you from personal experience that it makes retaining your vacation bliss completely doable and softens your re-entry into the real world big time. - Linden Schaffer

In a relationship? Now's the best time to travel.

IMAGE VIA

IMAGE VIA

We travel for a living so we know the benefits it brings to our own relationship. Brit+CO recently published this great article with input from relationship counselor Rebecca Nilson on the benefits of traveling without your partner.

1. You fall back in love with yourself. “It’s important people maintain their identity in a relationship. You come together as one, but for a healthy, long-term relationship, it’s important to have your own hobby. This could mean traveling and being apart.”

2. You learn how to appreciate new experiences and communicate them. “Learning to communicate is a skill… we practice it, we make mistakes, we hopefully learn and then do it better next time. This is critical in long-distance relationships.”

3. Your relationship is tested. “As with any healthy relationship, I think three components must be there: trust, loyalty and commitment. Good things take work, maintenance. Especially relationships. It takes two and both people must be willing to commit.”

4. You go beyond hookups. “Each day, choose that person. Let them know you still choose them, each and every day. If you find yourself in a committed relationship that brings your partner far away for some time, it takes effort, but it is often worth it.”

5. You learn how to keep the romance alive. “In this day and age, it’s easy to stay connected. To send a ‘thinking of you’ message, we have FaceTime and Skype. You can still have dates if one person is traveling overseas for a week, a month or even a year.”

Read the full article on the Brit+CO website.

Get Wet Baby

IMAGE VIA

IMAGE VIA

A soak does a body good. We've been raving about the curative powers of baths ever since we wrote about our first visit to Aire Ancient Baths in 2013. Now our friends at Goop have put together some awesome information on The Bath-Based Detox.

"While it’s not news that baths—particularly when conducted in gorgeous tubs—are relaxing, most of America never takes them. Showers are faster, less drying to skin, and dramatically more water-efficient; the American Institute of Architects reports that bigger showers, not bigger tubs, have become the bathroom renovation of choice; realtors say home buyers request them more often now, too." 

Click to read the full article on the Goop site.