{We're Obsessed} Argan Oil

IMAGE VIA

IMAGE VIA

Grown only in Southwestern Morocco, this oil is extracted by hand from the nut of the argan tree. A good source of vitamin E as well as essential fatty acids, argan oil can be ingested – it’s often used in place of olive oil in Morocco – or used as a beauty remedy, think face moisturizer, leave-in conditioner or bath oil. Since argan oil became the latest beauty trend in the western cosmetic industry, it is offered at various prices with varied effectiveness. When purchasing argan oil as an organic treatment, remember you get what you pay for. - Linden Schaffer

Changed By Travel: Lena Franklin

PHOTO: LENA FRANKLIN IN VIETNAM

PHOTO: LENA FRANKLIN IN VIETNAM

Gazing upon water buffalo in rice fields. The scent and sights of incense wafting through the air. The hypnotizing hum of an open market. Vietnam is a seductive assault on the senses. Growing up with a Vietnamese mother and American father, both of who loved SE Asia, I learned to embrace the organized chaos of my maternal homeland. And somehow, each time I journeyed back to Vietnam, there were always personal transformations to be had.  

My 2008 trip to Vietnam flashes like a vibrant picture movie in my mind. After my mom and I spent a week visiting my family in the Mekong Delta, we jumped in a van along with a handful of adventurous aunts and cousins (in typical Asian fashion!), and headed for a remote beach area on the Gulf of Thailand bordering Cambodia.

Hours (and many Vietnamese pop songs) later, we arrived in a small beach town/fishing village nestled into the side of a limestone mountain. Inside this mountain existed an ancient Buddhist temple, hundreds of years old. As we began wandering around the marketplace, we bought various tropical fruits and trinkets. Then, we spotted a peculiar stand where the vendor was selling rare looking birds and mammals for medicinal purposes. The sadness was palpable.

A light glimmered in my mom’s eye and I knew we had a plan! Using what money we had left, we bought as many of the birds and rare squirrels as we could. Operation freedom began! My inner-PETA-loving self was elated! Carrying cages of squirrels and birds, we began scouting the jungle area around the temple. Unbeknownst to us, two Buddhist monks had witnessed our strategic purchases and ushered us into the jungle at the base of the temple’s entrance.

In noble, focused silence, the monks gathered incense, a gong and a pair of pliers. They began chanting. The chanted vibrations penetrated every cell in my body. Blessing the sentient beings before us, one monk pried the wires open, releasing the animals back into the sanctuary of their natural habitat, their jungle home.

Through presence, these monks witnessed the desire of our hearts. Through action, they displayed the purest of compassion. Beneath words and tears, we sensed the simultaneous beating of our hearts. Through the present moment experience of my senses, my lens of the world was transformed. In that moment, I pledged to share the spiritual beauty of SE Asia with those in the West and, yet again, I was #ChangedByTravel. - Lena Franklin

Want to travel to SEAsia with Lena? There are only 2 spots left in our upcoming Thailand trip. 

Buddhist Custom: Releasing of the Souls

IMAGE VIA

IMAGE VIA

Where you find this wellness ritual: Thailand

Rooted in the spiritual context of Buddhism, this Thai tradition of doing a good deed got its start centuries ago in the rice fields. During the dry season as the wet areas would dry out, fish, turtles, and other aquatic animals would become trapped. To spare the creature’s life and protect the food supply, the animals would be carried to the nearest river and released. Today if you visit a wet market in Thailand, you’ll see people purchase fish or other live animals and release them back into the river or into nature. You are welcome to do the same, just remember you spared their life so tradition dictates you are not allowed to eat this animal for the remainder of your days.- Linden Schaffer

Want to try it yourself? Book a Thailand vacation with us today.

Head to Nicaragua Now!

PHOTO: NICARAGUA

PHOTO: NICARAGUA

We've been sending our adventurous customWELL travelers to Nicaragua for a few years now and every time they have rave reviews. From the culture activities to the surf spots to the chic eco-friendly hotel options, there so much to see and do.

Writer Nikki Vargas summed it up in Savoteur best: Like its neighbor, Costa Rica, Nicaragua is a lush and magical place. Unlike Costa Rica, though, it's not overrun with fanny-pack-toting tourists. If Nicaragua is near the bottom of your travel bucket list, don't blame yourself: Many people don't know just how much it offers. But once you're clued in, you'll definitely want to go. Here's why:

1. Nicaragua Is a Budget-Friendly Destination — for Now
2. It's a Surfing Hotspot
3. You Can Ski Down Volcanoes
4. It's Overrun with Beauty, but Not Tourists

Read Nikki's full article here.

Then get in touch with us to book your wellness vacation to Nicaragua now! 

{We're Obsessed} Fire Cupping Therapy

IMAGE VIA

IMAGE VIA

Wellness History in: China, Egypt, and Vietnam
Prescribed for: Allergies, common cold, inflammation, muscle tension, and respiratory issues.

Cupping, a traditional Eastern medicine form of healing, has shown up in Western spa treatments as of late. Typically applied to the back of the body, the practitioner lights a piece of cotton and places it inside a small glass container removing all the oxygen. The container is then applied to your bare skin where suction is created as the air cools. I was first introduced to cupping after contracting a cough while traveling during the winter season in Vietnam. After one intense treatment my cough started to subside and my lungs began to clear up.

Read about my favorite Vietnamese experience and then book one for yourself. - Linden Schaffer

To Visa or Not to Visa

IMAGE: PASSPORT INDEX

IMAGE: PASSPORT INDEX

Albania? No
Burma? Yes
Turkey? On Arrival

If you've ever played the game "Do I need a visa to travel here?", the brilliant new website Passport Index is here to make sure you're a winner every time. This online database of the world's passports and all boarder regulations makes it easy to figure out the entry rules. Headed for a solo jaunt criss-crossing Southeast Asia? Enter your home country details to prepare before you leave home. Meeting up with friends for a multi-cultural around the world adventure? Use the Compare tool (pictured above) to see which of your group will get a free pass - hello Germany - and whom will have to do a little more planning. Now if only the site would get the visa for you.

Actor Chris Noth on Travel

IMAGE VIA 

IMAGE VIA 

"I find {travel} to be the most educational experience, to meet people all over the world and find out how much we have in common. I feel like the media gives a general wash to things and people start judging people on the way they look, or by the fact that if they’re from a certain country that means something. Then when you meet them and develop a relationship, sometimes you find out that your best friend in the world will be from a country that you thought you had nothing in common with. I think you realize we are all one global family when you make those personal connections from traveling the world." - Chris Noth

excerpted from Mr. Noth's interview with Parade

{We're Obsessed} New Wash

IMAGE VIA HAIRSTORY

IMAGE VIA HAIRSTORY

When you travel as much as we do, stocking up on travel size products is a must. We look for any way to travel with less, but don't want to sacrifice all the goodies we're used to using at home. Enter New Wash, the hair cleanser full of natural fatty acids and essential oils that actually allows you to stop using conditioner and many of the other goops we rely on for styling (think serums, sprays and texturizers).

This inventive product, the brainchild of Bumble & Bumble founder Michael Gordon, cleanses without damaging your hair. He thinks of it as anti-shampoo, which has the added benefit of less money spent on other products to 'fix' our hair. Now when we travel we only bring New Wash, and it's stood up against sunny, sandy and salty travel conditions. 

What Yoga Teachers Eat for Breakfast

PHOTO PRAVASSA©

PHOTO PRAVASSA©

Ever wonder how your yoga teachers start their day? Oprah Magazine interviewed some of Pravassa's collaborators to find out. Here's how they get the energy to do all those chaturangas and headstands. Not to worry, though: There is still some coffee involved.

The Bit-of-Everything Buffet Maker

This meal is a healthy-breakfast lover's dream come true, featuring an impressive array of nutritious foods which, together, provide plenty of fat, protein and carbs to keep this yoga instructor going for hours. It comes courtesy of Jennifer Colletti, a yoga teacher and holistic health coach in Minneapolis. The first part: cereal with calcium-rich amaranth seeds, which she simmers in boiling water for 20 minutes, then combines with coconut milk and a little bit of stevia. Next, a few small apple- or maple-chicken sausages. And last, a smoothie made with coconut milk, protein powder, avocado, spinach, maca powder and a bit of collagen powder, which may help strengthen hair, skin, joints and bones.

The Grab-and-Go Guru

A handful of nuts and a piece of fruit may seem light, at first glance. But this meal, which is in New York City yoga teacher Aarona Ganesan's rotation, contains a surprising amount of healthy fats and protein. A serving of nuts has between five and seven grams of protein, which is about the same amount that's in a hard-boiled egg; while the fruit is easy to digest and eat on the go. And coffee is absolutely on the menu for Ganesan; she doctors it up with almond milk, coconut oil, cinnamon and maca powder for an added boost.

Read Full Article Here

{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