Changed By Travel: Katie Jehenson

 Photo: Katie Jehenson in India

Photo: Katie Jehenson in India

I am used to city living. I grew up in Chicago and currently reside in New York—both large metropolises that consist of similar elements, yet are undeniably different. Search online and you’ll find endless lists proclaiming why one is better than the other, ranging from the quality of museums, access to public beaches and the age-old question of preferred pizza type (thin crust vs. deep-dish). Rather than adding to that debate, I’ll say that spending time in each city has made me appreciate the other.

Some people consider it silly to visit other cities if you live in one—seen one, seen them all. I suppose there is some truth to that idea, but for a moment, put aside the far reaching effects of globalization and consider the unique sights and traditions to be observed; urban life around the world isn’t the same everywhere.

Wander the streets of Rome and you’ll stumble across the Coliseum; stand on a Barcelona rooftop and you’ll discover Antoni Gaudí chimneys. Behold the site of Mumbai’s dabbawalas delivering home-cooked meals to office workers since it’s expensive and considered unhealthy to eat out. These are just a few of the noticeable differences that cities show you. Of course, there are less appealing aspects like you find in any urban environment, but it’s all part of life.

In Tokyo, my husband and I stayed in the Shibuya District at a hotel near the famous Shibuya Crossing. We parked ourselves on a corner to observe the nightly ritual where hundreds of people surge into five crosswalks on a green light. The people move en mass, but at a seemingly similar pace, in concert, so there is no pushing or shoving to be witnessed. No one scurries past with a harsh word or eye roll, as I have grown accustomed to when making my way through Times Square or Rockefeller Center.

Once the procession of people subsided, we were left to focus on the crossing itself lit up with a variety of billboards and television screens advertising the latest pop music, fashion and electronics. The bright lights, flashing screens and flood of people reminded us of being in Times Square or Piccadilly Circus, but there was something different—there was a sound ringing from an unidentifiable source. It took a few minutes for us to realize that sound was coming from the screens. Rather than a silent advertisement, a pop song was actually playing for all to hear. It was an incredibly stark contrast to the subdued nature of the crossing!

Shortly after returning to New York, I wound up walking through Times Square and noticed the silence. It may sound ridiculous, but I appreciated that the bright billboards weren’t speaking to me. Most people think I am slightly crazy when I tell them my newfound appreciation for Times Square, but it just goes to show you never know what might make you #changedbytravel. - Katie Jehenson

Ask Katie to plan a wellness travel experience for you now. 

26 Amazing Temples Around the World



Whenever we hit Asia on our must do list is visit temples, temples and more temples. The history and cultural significance of each beautiful place has provided many #changedbytravel moments over the years. AFAR Magazine did a round up of 26 Amazing Temples Around the World, which has us reminiscing about our jaunts through India, Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia, and Japan. 

Want to experience these beauties yourself? Start planning your customWELL vacation now!




We've said good-bye to another year and have gotten the stress of the holiday season behind us. January is the perfect month to settle in for some serious downtime. Take your cue from the early sunset and focus on getting a great night's sleep. Not sure where to start? Try adding these tips to your day and see if they help create a new sleep routine.

1) Eat a light dinner.

2) Shut off the TV and computer 1 hour before your ready to sleep.

3) JOURNAL BEFORE BED to get out of your head.



4) Leave your phone in the living room.

5) Take a bath TO RELAX YOUR MUSCLES and nervous system.



7) Reserve your bed for sleep and sex—no other activities.

8) Invest in a foam mattress so you don’t feel your partner move.

9) Do a 10-minute yoga for sleep sequence.



10) Play soothing music or mantras.

- Linden Schaffer



4 Reasons to Stay Active in Winter

 photo via  Shutterstock

photo via Shutterstock

It's not even March and we're already sick of the cold winter weather. We admit it happens every year. As the sunlight dwindles so does the appeal of the outdoors. Yet continuing to stay active in the cold months is vital for your wellbeing. Here are four reasons you should make movement a priority:

1. Boost Immunity. Research continues to show that consistent exercise, including a simple daily walk, strengthens the body's immune system. By increasing circulation, your white blood cells are more able to keep viruses, bacteria, and the flu at bay. Work a walk into your every day routine by going out to pick up lunch or taking the stairs in your office building.

2. Restore Energy. Your body already works overtime and the short days of winter can make you feel as if the day has come and gone before you've accomplished anything. Active rest like listening to a soothing guided meditation or visualization can keep your blood pressure, muscular tension, and nervous system in check. 

3. Try New Things. If you spend your time outdoors in the summer weather, use a nice, warm indoor setting as an enticement to explore in a new way. Check out the nearest rock climbing wall, try a spin class or an intenSati workout, walk through an art gallery, or book a fusion cooking class. Bonus points if you bring along a friend for motivation and company!

4. Maintain Weight. Of course we know we should be choosing salads over creamy soups this time of year, but the cold winter elements including lack of vitamin D can wreak havoc on our cravings. Manage your stress and food cravings by keeping your fitness routine in check. This way you can indulge a bit without a second thought. Then when you return to a more balanced diet in the spring, you won't feel like you have excess weight to shed.

Thai Cooking | Chiang Mai

You can always learn about a country and it's culture through the food. We try to participate in a cooking class or market tour in every place we visit to really ground in and begin to understand how people live in other parts of the world. The Thai Cooking 101 class we found at Basil Cookery in Chiang Mai, Thailand was the perfect blend of traditional foods with a healthy spin.

Located in the hip neighborhood of Nimmanhaemin, just outside the old city, class starts with a market tour to shop for all the ingredients in the 7-course cooking class. (Yes - you better be hungry!) Classes are either led by Boom, a beautiful Thai women who speaks very clear English, or her husband Tom, with all recipes passed down from her mother and adapted to make them healthier by cooking with less oils, more spices, and using organic ingredients.

With so many choices, we opted for the the following menu: Tofu Drunken Noodles, Red Curry with Bamboo Shoots, Hot & Sour Prawn, Stir fried vegetables with Holy Basil, Papaya Salad, Red Curry paste and Mango Sticky Rice. Whether you are a gourmet chef or just learning like us, anyone can follow the classes directions and whip up a delicious selection of Thai flavor combinations. Sitting to eat between every course left us wanting to take a long walk back to our hotel. We received a cookbook and graduation certificate at the end of the session and cannot wait to try these dishes back home.

COST: 1,000 Baht per person                                                                                LENGTH: 5 hours


Want to add this cooking class to your customWELL Thailand vacation? Start planning now.

3 Ways to Mindfully Explore Bali

When it comes to travel, the universal thread that connects all our journeys is the desire to get away. Whether that means lying on a beach, heading into the woods surrounded by the quiet force of nature or getting lost in the music of a pulsing nightclub, the goal is to disrupt our daily routine, destress, and feel free. Add Mindfulness to your trip and receive the added bonus of being fully present, multiplying the restorative effects of your vacation. Bali is one of our favorite travel destinations where Mindfulness is effortless. 




We’ve written a lot about how to reduce jet lag when traveling, but watching the sunset does more than just help sync your circadian rhythm. It ties you to the land you are visiting. “In Indonesia the sunsets are magical. Every night you can see a dance of different colors as the sun dips behind the horizon with a view of mountains, palm trees, or beach in front of you,” says our founder and frequent Bali traveler, Linden Schaffer. It can take as few as 5-minutes to watch the sunset, which is a grounding activity and visual meditation of it’s own.  




The beauty of visiting a new location is the exposure to people, traditions and foods, which are different than what you’re used to at home. Bali is a haven for gluten-free, vegan travelers as many traditional healing recipes are plant-based. On our most recent Bali trip, lead by Dr. Andrea Paige, she reminded us “Eating something inflammatory can have an effect in your body for up to 5-days. So eating simply is key.” With gorgeous scenery all around and fresh fruits and vegetables in abundance, sitting for a mindful meal in Bali is easy to do.




Traditional healers are a way of life in Bali. Locals visit their village Balian or healer for a variety of reasons ranging from medical to mystical advice. According to the Balinese, each healer has been chosen by an otherworldly power to act as a vessel for healing and transformation. Whether you believe in this linage or not, it promises to be “A truly meaningful experience,” said Nikki Sigal of her recent Balian visit during Pravassa a trip.

Want to mindfully explore Bali with Pravassa? Choose how you spend your vacation with us:

On Demand Itineraries  |  CustomWELL Travel  |  Small Group Trips


Lena Franklin: Mindfulness Guru & Pravassa Guide



We love traveling the world with wellness guru's from all walks of life. Years ago we connected with Lena Franklin via Instagram - proof that technology can be used for good - and we've been following her own transformation ever since. Lena's latest interview in Where Traveler gives you a deeper look into her own journey.

How did you get interested in meditation?

It’s been a journey for sure. I’ve always known I wanted to be a therapist. I’m a psychotherapist by training, and come from a [family of] mental health professionals. My dad is a psychologist, I have two aunts who are social workers, so it was definitely all in the family.

While I was in University my mom suddenly passed away, and she was really the one who taught me meditation and mindfulness. Once I experienced this loss, I really realized there is something more we can utilize for our own healing. Something beyond the traditional therapy hour, and that’s when I really started delving into yoga, finding my meditation practice and then I went on to do different trainings in mindfulness meditation.

It was through my own experience that I felt how powerful it was, because it is really this way to be with all of our emotions, the ebb and flow of life, without breaking. The capacity to be aware, to honor our emotional systems and to be compassionate towards the self, all of those elements fit in, and there’s something really amazing here. I started my psychotherapy practice— a mindfulness-based practice where people come in and I do therapy and meditation instruction. That cascaded into doing retreats and mindfulness trainings and corporate trainings and talking more about mindfulness with companies and different organizations.

For those who haven’t practiced meditation, or perhaps busy travelers on the go, where do recommend they start?

I would say mindful belly breathing. Our belly area is where we feel grounded and where our intuition exists, and the energy there is usually very depleted when we are stressed, anxious or depressed. Most of us are under that category in some way. If we can wake up and do 5-10 minutes of belly breathing using an affirmative mantra—for example, inhaling, ‘I am’ and exhaling ‘at peace’ into the belly—and letting go of the tension there, just a few minutes of that practice can be transformational.


Want to join Lena's next trip with Pravassa?
We head to Bali, Indonesia March 14 - 25, 2018


11 World Class Wellness Resorts

It's no secret that our founder, Linden Schaffer, has one of the coolest jobs around. No matter where she travels around the globe, staying at a hotel that promotes health and wellbeing is paramount. From New Zealand to India to right here at home in the U.S., Linden reveals some of the best options in Singapore's World Travel Magazine.

Read the full article
Book a Pravassa customWELL journey to one of these hotels.



US Wellness Travel Standouts

Our founder, Linden Schaffer, may spend most of her year outside of the country, but she still has a love for wellness when she's home. Check her some of her favorite US spots that allow anyone to add wellness to their routine. 

 via  Instagram

1 Hotel Central Park, New York, NY – New York does not lack in the hotel department, but this stunning new property is committed to bringing touches of wellness into your stay in the form of reclaimed wood decor, farm-to-fork food, Telsa electric vehicles, and eco-friendly cleaning products.

Laughing Lotus Yoga, New York, NY – You’d be hard pressed to find a more New York wellness vibe than that of Laughing Lotus with its pink crystal chandelier and street art homage to Ganesha. A yoga mainstay for the past 18-years, you’ll find plenty of asana to get your rock and roll on here.

 via Instagram

via Instagram

Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs, New Mexico - These sacred hot springs have long been a gathering place for healing and rejuvenation. With transfixing, meditative views and a mud bath, it’s time to bake out the toxins under the desert sun.

True Food Kitchen, Phoenix, AZCo-founded by famous Integrative Medicine doctor, Andrew Weil, with now 16 locations (and counting) around the US, this southwest original was the first of it’s kind in 2008. Finding delicious organic, anti-inflammatory food at your fingertips has never been so easy.

 via  Instagram

Wanderlust Hollywood, Los Angeles, CA – Yoga studio, event space, café, and all around haven, Wanderlust has become the go-to spot for wellness seekers in it’s short tenure at its permanent home in Hollywood. Hosting guest speakers and teachers from around the globe will inspire you on your road to wellness.

Café Gratitude, Los Angeles, CA – 100% vegan and organic may be the current mantra of L.A., but this popular mini-chain, with 3 locations throughout the city, has been serving up yumminess since 2004. The bright beautiful beachy interiors will make you want to linger for multiple courses.

5 Essential Truths That Unite The World (From Someone Who Travels For A Living)

 Linden in Thailand | photo: @sfreneenyc for Pravassa

Linden in Thailand | photo: @sfreneenyc for Pravassa

From the time I got my first passport at 16, I've had a case of wanderlust.

The need for constant exploration has taken me across six continents and into 40 countries and counting. Traveling opens your eyes to the fact that no matter our race, religion, ethnicity, or circumstance, we are all in this together. As Mark Twain so famously wrote, "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness."

No matter where in the world I find myself, my journey of discovery has led to these universal truths.

1. Simple is better.

During a family vacation I took as a child, my mother accused the maid at our hotel of stealing her engagement ring. After a day of upheaval, my mom found her ring, secreted away in a hidden layer of her suitcase. She had been so afraid of losing the ring that she had actually hidden it from herself. After much embarrassment and profuse apologizing, nothing like this ever happened again—to my mom or me.

The experience taught me once and for all that you need less than you think when you travel. Today, I advocate for using a carry-on whether you're traveling for five days or five weeks. Having less with you at the start of your trip is physically and spiritually freeing, and it shows you can really survive on less than you think.

2. Intuition is your guide.

Fear stops many people from ever taking a step outside their comfort zone, let alone outside their country. Remember that some basic common sense and intuition is all you need to head in the right direction. A motorbike ride up a mountainside, a trek through the woods, dinner with a family of strangers—these are all experiences that have enhanced my travels. I've embarked on these somewhat uncomfortable adventures because they felt right, and I've declined a fair share of offers that did not. You know more than you think, so be open to your intuition and trust what your body tells you.

3. Plans change.

Traveling is a lesson on relinquishing control, as something is always bound to go wrong on the road. Life goes on after canceled flights, lost hotel reservations, sudden changes in local government, and other unexpected hiccups. Sometimes these diversions from the original itinerary can even lead to unexpected lessons or exciting discoveries. Stressing out over the things you cannot change is wasted energy. Early on in my travels, I began leaning on my yoga teachings and quickly noticed that being able to go with the flow can mean the difference between an amazing trip and a terrible one.

4. You have the power to make someone's day.

Energy, both good and bad, is contagious. If you make the decision to start your vacation on a positive note—saying hello to the person next to you before you curl up to sleep on the plane, smiling at the taxi driver who picks you up from the airport, learning how to say "thank you" in a new language—you can set yourself up for a wonderful experience. It may not always be easy, especially when your plans change, but take a breath and tap into the feeling you had when you first booked your trip to give yourself a boost.

5. People are inherently good.

Travel is the best educator, and learning from other cultures is priceless. Everyone in the world is seeking a way to feel more connected and less alone. From the waitress I chatted with in a cafè in Istanbul to the history professor I met in Cairo to the young woman studying to be a nurse in India, I've connected with all types of new people and found it extremely easy to make friends on the road. These complete strangers have enhanced my travel plans by suggesting new things to see and do, inviting me to their dining tables so I wouldn't have to eat alone, and sharing their life stories—all of which have shifted how I relate to my surroundings. To me, these chance connections are what make the world so beautiful. - Linden Schaffer

Article originally appeared on MindBodyGreen