{WELL ON THE ROAD} Sarah Dandashy

IMAGE via Sarah Dandashy

IMAGE via Sarah Dandashy

Sarah Dandashy
Les Clefs d’Or Concierge and Host/Producer of Ask A Concierge

Most recently in: Berlin, Prague, Paris, Chattanooga, Huntsville, Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon, and San Diego (it’s been a busy 4 months)

The one snack you can always find in my carry on is: Almonds! They are a lifesaver when I’m hungry. Plus they go through TSA easily.

Tell us your in-flight ritual: I always get a window seat, don’t put anything under the seat in front of me, keep out my phone and earphones, travel with a scarf, and wear sneakers. As soon as I sit down I buckle up, wrap up, stretch out my legs, and put on some fun music. Very often I end up falling asleep before the plane even takes off.

How do you conquer jet lag once you've arrived? I sleep with the window shades open so I can rise naturally in the morning. Then the first thing I do is get a work out in! Getting in a good sweat immediately settles me into the current time zone.

Describe your workout on the road style: I always pack running shoes, because no matter what, you can always go for a run! I usually work out a little less than when I am at home, but I do try to stay as consistent as possible. I aim to work out for about 30 minutes, and I combine weights and cardio. But I also factor in my daily activities, and if it’s going to be an active day, I might not force a workout. After all, sometimes you have to take full advantage of being in a location that is other than your home… why spend 30 minutes in a gym when you can get active outside or get on with your day!

How do you keep sickness at bay? I eat lots of fruits and veggies! Recently I discovered a Ginger Extract and a Wellness Shot Spray. Both of these are little one-ounce bottles of goodness. I drink some of the ginger extract in a little glass of water and I’ll spray the back of my throat with the Wellness Shot. I let it coat the back of my throat before drinking more water, but those two gems are amazing!

What's your 'go-to' restaurant item when traveling? I love leafy salads, but I’m also a huge fan of burrata. I’m vegetarian, so that normally narrows down the menu a bit. But I can always find something to eat!

What do you do to stay grounded? Funny enough, I try to stay off my phone. Of course much of my job is capturing so many moments on camera, but I’ll often stop and take note. Where I can, I’ll just enjoy the moment, the scenery, the culture, without trying to document it… but take a moment to actually experience it.

What is your preferred method of staying connected with loved ones? I stay in touch with loved ones by texting and sharing photos/ videos of my day. Since I share so much content online, many times they can follow along on my adventures. But I’ll send different or personal messages to my family as we have inside jokes and stories constantly running between us.


Based in Los Angeles when she's not traveling the world, you can follow Sarah's adventures across social media at @AskAConcierge and view her web series at www.askaconcierge.tv

Pro Tips: Staying Healthy While Traveling



Before launching Pravassa, I had a booming fashion career that required constant business travel. It was during these long stretches of time on the road that I decided to explore during her off-hours. Usually, that meant hitting up a local fitness class, sprinting through  the city streets for an early morning running tour, and patronizing local cafes and restaurants for a great, healthy meal. Eventually left I left the fashion world to create Pravassa and I just shared some of my top travel trips with Sporteluxe.

Sit down for a full meal at the airport.
Approach food options mindfully by sitting to have a proper meal. Choose high-value vegetarian options, where it’s easier to stay away from high-sodium, added sugar ingredients, both of which will leave you dehydrated and more bloated on the plane. 

Food allergies or intolerances? Research before you hit the road.
If you have a serious allergy or illness, get a Food Allergy Card, which translates your needs into the local language. If your dietary needs are purely a lifestyle choice, then relaxing your guidelines a little while traveling will make for a much more enjoyable experience. If your diet is non-negotiable, use websites like Happy Cow or Gluten Free Travel or book your trip with an experienced travel provider, like Pravassa.

Don’t eat on the plane!
The best wellness travel food hack I’ve learned is to fast on the airplane. The food airlines serve is not healthy. Instead, opt to give your body the opportunity to rest and reset. A Harvard University study concluded that fasting resets your stomach and helps to overcome the effects of jet lag faster. 

Workout outdoors.
As an expert traveler, you have to learn to be flexible and exploring a new location helps your body settle into a new routine. There is no better way to see a place than on a morning jog, a hike up a mountain, or on a bicycle. 

Dedicate 5-minutes a day to self-care.
My number one, non-negotiable wellness practice? Meditation. You only need 5-minutes and no props. This self-care practice prepares you to handle airport chaos, lost taxi drivers, and language barriers. 

Read the full article with more great tips here.

Improve Your Cultural Intelligence



How would you like to be able to meet anyone, from any culture, and without any previous knowledge of their culture, without even knowing what country they are from, to be able to identify their cultural orientations? A kind of “universal culture translator”, that works with everyone you meet? 
Fact is, our modern world is one with an incredible cultural diversity. We no longer need to travel to another country to meet people from other cultures. Today, we work with them side-by-side in the office. We go to school with them. We meet them on the street, and at our clubs. Odds are quite good that someone you know has dated or married someone from another culture.

Cultural Intelligence is a new paradigm, that gives us the tools to be better able to integrate and Thrive in this new world. It does away with cultural stereotypes (“Chinese are like this” and “Germans are like this”), and instead teaches you to regard every person as an individual. And then, simply from observing their behavior, language, and reactions, you can begin to put together a picture of who this other person actually is.

Want to put your cultural intelligence into practice? Join Pravassa on one of our upcoming Small Group Trips or plan a private customWELL experience today.

This article originally appeared on Thrive Global

{WELL ON THE ROAD} Dr. Andréa Paige



Dr. Andréa Paige

Most recently in: Amsterdam and Bali

The one snack you can always find in my carry on is: WATER!

Tell us your in-flight ritual: 1 liter of water per hour for long haul flights, making sure to get up every hour to urinate or else I consider myself dehydrated + my lymphatic system sluggish! Also inflight you'll find me doing squats in the back of the plane, which pumps the lymphatic system. Sitting for extended hours on a plane paired with dehydration creates massive jet lag. 

How do you conquer jet lag once you've arrived? I've mastered preventing jet-lag after a dozen years of cross-continental flights. As I water-fast inflight and move every hour, my body acclimates so much faster.

Describe your workout on the road style: Ohhh Yeaaa.. Well, if I'm not feeling motivated, I'll always pop on some HOT dance tracks and groove to the beat for a song or two. By the time my blood is flowing freely, I'll hop on my mat and do my morning Ashtanga Yoga Primary & Intermediate Series practice. It's really an honor to be with myself in this way, daily!

How do you keep sickness at bay? I regularly BOOST my immune system (clinically proven!) by fasting! Yes - you heard me... fasting! I go for certain periods of time without eating solid, fibrous matter. (The human body and THRIVE & SURVIVE 40-50 days on water alone!) I do regular juice cleanses. I also make sure to always stay hydrated, get enough sleep at proper hours and infuse my diet with mostly all fruits & vegetables!

What's your 'go-to' restaurant item when traveling? Does the grocery store produce section count?

What do you do to stay grounded? Imagine a nail through the top of my foot into K1 - Kidney one point on the bottom of my foot between the big toe mounds. My Chinese Medicine Reflexology practice is one of the fastest ways to change my energetics.

What is your preferred method of staying connected with loved ones? FaceTime! Really - I talk to my mother at least once every 24 hours. It just creates connection + thus freedom for everyone! We are always near... no matter how far.

Splitting her time between Amsterdam and the world, Dr. Andrea Paige can be found teaching workshops and trainings in the fields of yoga, energy work, and nutrition and fasting. Follow her adventures online via video on Facebook and Instagram.

Join Dr. Paige this fall as she leads Pravassa's upcoming Bali wellness vacation

Tips For Tranquility On The Road



My career as a Performance Enhancement Coach and Speaker requires traveling on a weekly basis. For those of you who travel, it can take a toll on our physical, mental and emotional well-being at times. I need to be on my game when I arrive to meet my clients, so taking care of myself is an important part of my self-care. Not only it is physical as I’m frequently changing time zones, but it’s mental. And, my mental state plays a large role in my body’s ability to be resilient.

Throughout my years of traveling, I’ve seen it all . . . delays and cancellations, the long security lines, the crying baby, sprinting to make your connection and my all-time favorite: being told by the security checkpoint that I had to go back and get a printed boarding pass because the App for that airline wasn’t accepted in that airport.

Here are some tips that keep will keep you mindful amidst the chaos:

  • 4-Part Breathing When I can feel my mind and body becoming tense, I use this breathing technique, which is a rhythmic counting through each part of the breath; inhaling for 5 counts, holding the breath in for 5 counts, exhaling for 5 counts and hold the breath out for 5 counts. Go through several rounds until you feel grounded and rooted. This exercise gives your mind something to focus on and the body reaps the benefits.
  • Alternate Nostril Breathing For those days when you have to sprint to the gate, incorporate Alternate Nostril Breathing, which changes the pattern of how the breathe enters the brain. Once seated raise your left hand and use your thumb to close off the nostril breathing into the right nostril, then use your left middle finger to close off the right nostril and exhale out the left nostril. Repeat on the left side, alternately breathing. This brings the heart rate down quickly and encourages a serotonin release putting you back at ease.
  • Self-talk Survey Travel often throws up roadblocks both literal and figurative. The airlines, staff, and others traveling aren't necessarily there to purposefully challenge you as we are all in the same boat and doing the best we can under the circumstances. Yet, when challenging situations arise, pay attention to your self-talk. See how you can use the opportunity to see where I’m judging and labeling others.
  • Take A Brain Break Yes, I’m that guy stretching and making noises at the airport gate. Take a few minutes to breathe and move your body in ways that support optimal brain function. This will help to alleviate musculoskeletal issues that arise from all the sitting and standing during your day of travel. 

Taking good care of yourself is an essential part of any travel routine.  It is up to you to maximize your time and use it wisely.  When I hit the road, I can either get caught up in the fray and participate in the chaos OR I can focus on me. I choose ME. GO BE GREAT! – Ed Harrold


Learn more from Ed Harrold when we spend December 2nd – 7th in Costa Rica. You’ll learn ways to improve health, reduce stress, build resilience and exercise healthfully, all while using the breath as a starting point.

Top 5 Wellness Travel Tips for Planning A Summer Vacation



Daylight hours are expanding and summer is just around the corner. The idea of being cooped up indoors for the next few months is not on the agenda. As it is we work too many hours thus far. You are not alone, 42% of Americans did not take a vacation day last year. Many of us feel on the verge of burnout. In order to change direction, boost happiness, strengthen our relationships, increase creativity and up our total life satisfaction, it’s time to hit the buy button on a summer escape. These 5 wellness tips will ensure a less stressful, more interesting experience that will leave you changed by travel.

1. Choose Your Destination via Instagram
Technology can be used for good and Instagram is one of the best wanderlust inspiring options out there. Spend a few hours searching popular travel hashtags #welivetoexplore and #traveldeeper to find new destinations that visually excite you. Make a list of those places and determine which two or three could be ripe for a visit based on your timing and budget. Then head back to Instagram and post questions in the comment section of your favorite images to learn more. You’ll open your eyes to new parts of the world and may end up some place that wasn’t on your radar before.

2. Avoid Traveling on Holiday Weekends
It may sound obvious, but holiday weekend travel, by train, plane or car adds additional cost and stress to a vacation. The simple math of supply and demand means airfare and hotel rooms will cost more, routes and itineraries may be sold out and traffic will be worse. Save yourself the hassle and book the weekend before or after peak travel times to enjoy the benefits of less crowding and more quite. If you cannot avoid travel during summer holiday weekends, then embrace the fact that you’ll most likely pay more, be delayed, and not get your first choice for tour activities or restaurant reservations. Acknowledging this in advance allows your mind to move through these challenges and begin to view them as adventures instead of impediments.

3. Book a Workshop Led by a Local
Sitting on the beach doing nothing as a form of recovery has its appeal, but after a day or two most of us end up on our digital devices to combat boredom. Instead, stimulate your creativity center and book a workshop led by a local. Find a low cost option such as a nature hike led by a naturalist, tap into your inner foodie with a cultural cooking class, get your hands dirty in a printmaking session or discover an unknown area in your destination with a photography workshop. The added bonus: being able to make real life connections with new people, which boosts your confidence and happiness level.

4. Schedule Nap Time
Our bodies crave sleep and start to shut down when we don’t get enough of it. Vacation is the perfect time to get back to a natural rhythm and/or pay back your sleep debt. When you dedicate time to sleep – treating it like an important vacation activity – you feel rested, it improves your mood, immune system, and eating habits. Schedule time in the mid-afternoon to dose off for an hour and wake feeling refreshed and ready for the evening. If for you naptime leads to poor sleep habits at night, then skip the afternoon snooze in favor of turning in an hour earlier at night.

5. Create Digital Rules
Most days we go from our smart phone to the computer to the TV in an endless relationship with our digital devices. The constant connection these devices provide have become the biggest source of stress in adults and children alike. Summer vacation is the perfect time to return to IRL experiences and limit everyone’s screen time. Now sure where to start? Ban devices from the bedroom and wake up with the sun this summer. Insist all meals be sit-down screen-free time where you can lose yourself in conversation. Be bold and leave everything but your phone at home. Involve the whole family when creating these rules and you’ll find that each member is more likely to stick to the plan. - Linden Schaffer

This piece was written for and originally appeared on the Yogalicious Blog.

Healthy Breakfasts from Around the World




In India, food is as synonymous with healing of the mind, body and soul, as it is with health. "Ayurvedic medicine is the oldest form of whole-body healing, which began in India, thousands of years ago. The Ayurvedic system of eating is more than just food. Warm, quality ingredients, served in a calm environment, is a must. In the Ayurvedic tradition, starting your day with breakfast helps rehydrate the body, and sets a nourishing base, from which to approach the day. A balanced morning meal can consist of rice, stewed fruits with warm spices, such as apples or pears, mixed with cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg, plus simple grains, such as boiled oats with tomatoes, ghee, and cumin, topped with shredded coconut," explains Linden Schaffer, wellness travel expert and founder of Pravassa. 


Another of Schaffer's top pick for healthy international breakfast is Vietnam. "Here, breakfast is the most important meal, and the primary energy source for the day. Throughout Vietnam, street food is popular, with certain stalls becoming famous for crafting one, perfect dish. The dish is made very early, the process begins around 2:00 a.m. for a 6:00 a.m. opening and when it's gone, vendors pack up and go home. Pho, a noodle soup, is Vietnam's traditional breakfast. Find the right vendor, and you'll be reward with handmade, gluten-free rice noodles, bone broth, spices such as cinnamon, clove, fennel and star anise, all of which have anti-inflammatory properties, onions and ginger. Pho is served with a side of fresh herbs and greens, such as mint, basil, bean sprouts, cilantro, and some chili. You can add as much or as little as you want, depending on your palate." 

Want to try these breakfasts for yourself? Book a customWELL adventure to India or join Pravassa's upcoming small group trip to Vietnam


Original article appeared in Reader's Digest. Read the full article here.

{WELL ON THE ROAD} Lena Franklin

Photo: Renee Choi for Pravassa©

Photo: Renee Choi for Pravassa©

Mindfulness-Based Psychotherapist & Meditation Instructor

Most recently in: Thailand and Cambodia. I could go on and on about SE Asia, it's an intoxicating mix of spiritual power and natural beauty. 

The one snack you can always find in my carry on is: You’ll always find organic dried fruit and raw almonds in my carry on. First of all, I’m a savory and sweet kind of gal. But this combo also gives me the protein and fiber I need to stay energized and nourished while flying.

Tell us your in-flight ritual:  I use my flight-time for spiritual practice. It’s fun to think about flying as a built-in time for your own inner meditation retreat without iPhone interruptions! After settling into my seat, I begin applying my favorite essential oils. Lemongrass oil refreshes my mind and releases any negative energies and Frankincense keeps my immune system up and spiritual intentions alive. Then, during flight I usually set aside periods of time for mindfulness meditation practice (attending to my breath, thoughts, body sensations and emotional currents) and loving kindness meditation (sending loving kindness to myself, all those traveling beings on the plane and in our world!). And plenty of water!

How do you conquer jet lag once you've arrived?  The best tip I have is to force your sleep schedule to align with whatever time zone you’re in, and asap. Getting your body on schedule allows you to avoid long term jet lag. Your brain’s melatonin will adjust more quickly…allowing for more enjoyment as you’re diving into new experiences. I also make sure to ingest plenty of fresh greens to replenish my mind and body by seeking out salads, smoothies and sautéed greens. I drink plenty of water, avoid large amounts of alcohol and find time for meditation in the mornings.

Describe your workout on the road style: As a former college athlete I've had to shift from a hard-hitting workout regimen to the softer side of movement. I’ve learned how to listen to what my body needs to stay fit and strong. My vinyasa yoga practice keeps me lean and toned while on the road. I’ll either find a corner in my hotel room or practice outdoors. I also find that good old fashioned crunches, push-ups and squats are fabulous portable workout practices that keep me in-shape on the road. And, I LOVE to walk! Walking through a new city without a particular destination or purpose gets my blood flowing while my keeping my inner wanderluster happy.

How do you keep sickness at bay? Sleep! While traveling, I get on the cosmic cycles of sun and moon ~ rising with the sun and winding down when the sun sets. Making sleep a priority is a non-negotiable for me to keep sickness at bay. I also eat plenty of citrus while on the road to ensure I’m getting enough vitamin C.

What's your 'go-to' restaurant item when traveling? There’s something soul nourishing about soup. Each country seems to have a soup specialty that embodies historic contexts and yummy ingredients from that part of the world. I gravitate towards ordering soup whether I’m savoring a bowl of pho in Vietnam, miso in Japan or spicy chicken soup in Mexico.

What do you do to stay grounded? Meditation in nature, wherever I am in the world, keeps me grounded and centered. My practice is a non-negotiable just like brushing my teeth or showering. Meditating in nature allows me to connect more deeply to myself and the culture that surrounds me. I love to practice sensory-based meditations while I travel. For example, I might sit in a park, the woods or on the beach and listen to the soundscape around me ~ birds singing, trees rustling, motorbikes whizzing, families conversing in their native tongue. Awakening our senses to the present moment experience allows us to grow roots of mindful awareness, inviting us feel grounded as a small but integral part of the world.

What is your preferred method of staying connected with loved ones? Text or email keeps me directly connected with loved ones. But my tribe also knows that I document my journey via Instagram so they love to follow me on there for cultural captures along the way!

Based in Atlanta, Georgia, Lena works one-on-one with clients, provides mindfulness corporate trainings, and teaches workshops. She is leading her 3rd Pravassa wellness vacation this year to Vietnam. Follow all of Lena's journeys on Instagram.

Changed by Travel: Katie Cavuto



At ten years old I found myself in Russia. As a young gymnast, I was in Leningrad for several weeks to train. I may have been young, but this, my first international travel experience, left a substantial and lasting mark on my soul. Witnessing the way other people lived humbled me. This trip sparked in me a desired to explore the world. This was my first #changedbytravel experience.

During my freshman year of college, my gymnastics career ended prematurely. This was the catalyst for an intense identity crisis one that to this day reminds me, that with crisis comes clarity. Our struggles all have meaning if we choose to learn the lessons and surrender to journey.

Yearning to find myself, I embarked on a solo adventure through much of Europe which molded who I am today in so many ways. This trip truly solidified my passion for food, cultural cooking techniques, and the deep-rooted history of medicinal foods. Changed by travel, this adventure inspired my career and led me to culinary school, then led to my masters in nutrition.

Finally after years in the classroom, I was longing to explore the world again. I landed in Costa Rica where I led a group of students on a variety of community development and conservation projects. It was here that had a meaningful introduction to what it means to live mindfully. Stationed in rural, impoverished communities, with no more than I few changes of clothes, I found immense peace. A peace that was echoed by those we lived with. During my time here, I was present. I was happy.

One night lying in bed, the sound of the rain approaching and the sweet smell of the humid, tropical air; the rain moved across the tin roof and it sang a calming song that has stayed with my to this day. Now, anytime I get overwhelmed or detached I remind myself to appreciate the beauty of the world around me. I remind myself of the peace that exists in each moment if you quiet you mind so you can bear witness.

Travel has often grounded me during uncertain times in my life. It has gifted me the opportunity to step away from my surroundings, to immerse myself in the unknown, and to connect with my true self. I am thankful for the many opportunities that have followed since that that time in Russia years ago. I now would like you invite you to join me for my next #changedbytravel journey as I lead Pravassa’s upcoming trip to Bali this fall. Together we will reflect, reset, and be humbled by the fact that we are all connected. - Katie Cavuto