5 Great Audiobooks for Your Next Summer Adventure

Your bags are packed. Your passport is ready, and you're headed to the airport for your much-anticipated summer adventure. You can't wait to arrive at your destination, but how do you pass the time while you're up in the clouds? We're big fans of audiobooks to keep you entertained and engrossed in a compelling narrative. Plus, plugging in your headphones in can help drown out the noise of the plane or a toddler crying in the next aisle—a win-win. Check out our top five books of the season to listen to during your next travel adventure. 

To inspire some (more) wanderlust: Alone Time by Stephanie Rosenbloom 

Rosenbloom’s wise, passionate book on the pleasures of solo travel explores topics such as dining alone, finding silent spaces, and discovering interests and passions. Warning: This read may have you calling us to plan your next solo adventure as quickly as you can say “bon voyage"! 


To expand your mind, body and soul: Kintsugi Wellness: The Japanese Art of Nourishing Mind, Body and Spirit by Candice Kumai

In the crowded wellness space, blogger Candice Kumai’s new book stands out as she shares her favorite Japanese traditions for cultivating grace and inner strength, dozens of healthy recipes, and practices to reclaim the art of living well. 


To have a good laugh: Caypso by David Sedaris 

Sedaris's new collection of essays is both deeply personal and laugh-out-loud hilarious; using his legendary keen powers of observation, this book is a must-listen for those who want a good chuckle at the banalities and monotony of everyday life.


To impress your book club: Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent

Looking for a novel as gripping as Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl? Look no further than this psychological thriller about a Dublin family whose dark secrets and twisted relationships are suddenly exposed. 


To feel inspired and uplifted: Clock Dance Anne Tyler

Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Anne Tyler takes us through the narrative of her protagonist's life, culminating in her decision to fly across the country to care for a family she’s never met. This impulse decision takes her to unexpected places—and helps to re-write her own story in the process.
 

Still like the feel of a paperback book in your hands? Pick up a copy of Living Well on the Road by Pravassa founder Linden Schaffer for practical tips and knowledge on how to enhance your own personal wellness journey. 

5 Packing Tips for Your Wellness Weekend Getaway

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Vacation doesn’t have to mean that your usual wellness practices go out the window. In fact, infusing your health and fitness regimens into a weekend getaway can actually enhance your travel experience, helping you ground more quickly into your new surroundings. We've rounded up our top five tips to supercharge your wellness weekend getaway, from on-the-go mindfulness techniques to the perfect packing essentials. 

1. Pack a Multi-Use Yoga Mat: Double duty! Add a yoga mat as a non-negotiable on your packing list. This ensures that you get your sun salutations, plank series or jump squats in no matter where in the world you are or what type of workout calls to you. Bonus: It doubles as a picnic blanket or a comfy mat to lay on beachside.

2. Excuse-Proof Your Workout Regiment: Pack a reusable pouch with all your pre and post workout essentials (deodorant, shower gel, body cleansing wipes) to make it impossible for you to skip a day, even while on the road. Sounds like too much work already? Grab a pre-packed kit with compact, portable items like no-rinse body cleansing foam and muscle recovery gel today.

3. Pack Only What You Love to Wear: Have you ever packed multiple outfits or workout ensembles, only to arrive at your destination and feel uninspired by everything in your suitcase? To prevent this issue, pack only what absolutely you love to wear. Even if you end up wearing the same outfit twice, no one has to know. This tip is a super simple game changer that will give you a daily dose of confidence—and save you precious suitcase space. 

4. Replace Your Supplements With a Travel Tonic: Herbal supplements are a must-have in our wellness routine, but packing all of the individual bottles can take up precious space—especially when we're taking a lighter packing approach. For a weekend getaway, opt for a wellness tincture or tonic packed with supportive herbs to add to your H20 on the go. We love this Travel Tonic, complete with ginger root and lemon peel. 

5. Don’t Forget to Namaste: The easiest way to keep wellness alive in your weekend getaway is to incorporate a mindfulness practice, which helps you ground more quickly into your new surroundings. Sound daunting? Set a timer for 5 minutes, sit in an upright position, close your eyes and focus on your breath. If you need a little more support, our swear-by app Welzen will help get you going.

Changed By Travel: Leah Abrahams

 Photo: Elizabeth Hay Photography

Photo: Elizabeth Hay Photography

The summer I turned 18, I had the life-changing opportunity to go live and work in Costa Rica, on a small sustainable farm located near the surfer hub Dominical. My friend’s sister had traveled to this same farm a few summers prior, and I fell in love with her tales of a simpler life: fresh mangos picked off the trees, daily yoga sessions in the garden, and fresh, organic meals every night. The deal looked like this: Travelers were to perform several hours of work each day in exchange for free room and board. Before departing, I knew there would be plenty of farm work involved, but for some reason I pictured this element as somewhat of an afterthought— a supporting plot line to the scenic trip I would be taking. 

The farm was breathtakingly beautiful: Acres upon acres of lush greenery, cascading waterfalls, and tropical wildlife surrounded me at every turn. But shortly upon arrival, I quickly learned just how much manual labor was required in a given day. On day one at the farm—after being roused at 5:30AM by the sound of roosters—I was tasked with making cinnamon from scratch. Using a machete, I was instructed to shave the bark off several trees, and transport it in wheelbarrows up a steep hill. Although stimulating at first, I found that after merely an hour my arms were burning, my skin was sunburned, and I was ravenously hungry. I couldn’t believe that I had six more hours of work ahead of me — all I could think about was a cold shower, a nap, and clean sheets.

Our tasks on the farm ranged from shoveling manure and transporting up to fifty pounds of supplies to chopping down trees and picking fresh peanut plants. For the first few days, exhaustion overtook me and deeply tested my resolve. But by day four of five, I noticed a subtle but major shift: My energy levels were increasing, even though the work was getting more challenging. I wasn’t hitting my mid-day slump anymore, and I was waking up fully energized and clear. This, I realized, was the product of having developed a daily routine: rising with the sun each day and going to bed as soon as it set was putting me more in sync with nature, and giving me a natural energy boost that I hadn't experienced since I was a child. I quickly became hooked on this new feeling I was experiencing: I thought about the days that I needed coffee just to get out of bed in the morning and vowed never to go back to that state.

It has now been 10 years since the summer on the farm, but the importance of cultivating healthy and mindful habits has stuck with me. I learned that the rituals we followed in Costa Rica were similar to those of Ayurveda, a 5000-year-old traditional medicine system from India: Sleeping from the hours of 10pm to 6am for sustained energy, eliminating caffeine, eating a nourishing, mostly plant-based diet, getting sufficient exercise, and learning to take restful breaks. In Costa Rica, a common saying is "Pura Vida" or "pure life" and this is indeed what we cultivated by following some simple yet profound daily practices. 

We worked hard on the farm, and yet when our bodies grew tired, we rested. This taught me the importance of listening to my body, as opposed to pushing through and drowning out its messages with sugar or false energy boosts. Years later when I entered the corporate world, as my co-workers began to reach for energy drinks or coffee when the 3pm slump hit, I knew that the best re-charge was actually to do less, and I would take a brisk walk around the block or spend 10 minutes meditating. I still to this day wake up around 6am without an alarm, and try employ a "lights out" by 10pm rule in my home. The lessons I learned on the farm not only helped me to become #changedbytravel by shifting my perspective, but also taught me how to attain ultimate productivity and focus thanks to the cultivation of a healthy, regimented lifestyle.

Get Grounded in Your New Hood: 5 Mindful Moving Tips

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I am born and bred New Yorker, but two years ago, I made the decision to pack up my life and move across the country from Brooklyn to San Francisco, motivated by a new job, a rekindling of a romance, and most significantly, by a deep desire for a big adventure. My love for New York City runs deep, but I was longing for a change of scenery, and the glamorized “left coast” felt like the perfect place to make some new memories.

Moving across the country—at least logistically—was far easier than I thought it would be: I packed, sold what couldn’t be transported, booked a one-way ticket, and went. But emotionally, the move tugged on my heart strings as I underestimated how difficult it would be to leave my east coast tribe. Now that it’s been two years I can say confidently that I love my life in California.

Life transitions are never easy, but leaning on my wellness practices helped. These are the top five things I learned, which work not only for a move, but for any major shift we experience in life. 

  • Ditch What You Don’t Love: Only things that you absolutely love should take up space in your life. From the teachings of Marie Kondo: If it doesn't spark joy upon touching it, it isn't worth holding on to. This made my packing extra light (I boarded a plane with two big suitcases!), but unpacking was also a super pleasant experience because I had a true affinity for every single item that I kept.

  • Walking—Do a Lot of It: The best way to see a new city is by strapping on your sneakers and exploring. About a month into my move I challenged myself to take a solo trip to a new part of the city each week. These excursions help me navigate my new home and helped distract me when I would start to feel homesick or overwhelmed.

  • Focus on Present Sensations: I tasked myself to keep my thoughts focused on present sensations. Every time I caught my thoughts spiraling I would encourage my mind to come back to my surroundings and focus on what I was seeing, feeling, smelling, and hearing. This practice kept me focused and mindful while exploring my new 'hood and allowed me to notice all the little details that would have previously eluded me—from the cherry blossoms in Golden Gate Park to the sand dollars on Ocean Beach. This mindfulness practice was extremely beneficial during my move, but it can help you stay grounded no matter the transition.

  • Find Creative Ways to Discover Community: Finding like-minded individuals to spend time with is one of the most effective ways to make a new place start to feel like “home”. I used Meetup to find events related to my passions and met tons of people with similar interests. ConsciousCityGuide is another great resource for events in the health and wellness space—both platforms have enabled me to find my new tribe. 

  • Embrace Free Time: After living a jam-packed life in New York City, I found it jarring and often lonely to have a less than full social calendar. However, once I shifted my mindset to gratitude for all the free time now available, I began to appreciate the freedom to pursue creative passions I had previously been neglecting—from daily journaling to watercolor painting. 

Have you experienced a major transition in life where your wellness practices helped ground you? We'd love to hear about it in the comments below. - Leah Abrahams

Nyepi Balinese New Year: The "Day of Silence"

While many countries ring in the New Year with loud parties, fireworks and celebrations, the island of Bali takes a different approach: 24-hours of complete silence, known as the Nyepi holiday. The holiday starts with the Ogoh-Ogoh parade. For months leading up to Nyepi, young men from each village gather and pull their artistic skills to create monsters, known as Ogoh-Ogoh, from light materials such as wood, bamboo, and paper. As tradition goes, the Ogoh-Ogoh get paraded down the streets after sunset to call out the spirits on the island. After a festive ceremony of music and dancing, the monsters are then burned in an effort to release the ashes of the spirits and to cleanse the island for another year. Once set free, the island falls silent for a day— the airport closes down, Internet is not accessible, and you are not allowed to leave your home or hotel; this is a sacred day of meditation. 

Experiencing Nyepi in 2018 with Pravassa's Journey Into Wellness small group trip.

6 Immunity-Boosting Travel Tips

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We’ve all been there: You’ve been counting down the minutes until your upcoming vacation, only to be knocked out by a cold or virus merely hours after arriving at your destination. Contrary to popular belief, flying won’t make you sick – but a compromised immune system will, and the recycled air in airports and airplanes is a prime place for germs to spread. While hand and seat sanitizers can work wonders while in flight, a healthy immune system is the best way to combat sickness, particularly leading up to long travel day. Scroll down for our top six pre-travel supplements, elixirs and lifestyle hacks to keep you healthy in-transit and beyond.

VITAMIN D:  Vitamin D is crucial to activating our immune defenses, according to research from the Mayo Clinic. Although our bodies produce Vitamin D when exposed to the sun, it can be difficult to get adequate amounts during the long winter months. Supplements are a great way to boost the immune system, just make sure you look for at least 600 international units (IU) per day when choosing one. Prefer to go the whole food route? Fatty fish, cheese and egg yolks are all rich in Vitamin D. Bonus: Vitamin D can also help aid in digestive health and brain health—a win-win. 

CHAGA MUSHROOM ELIXIR We’re huge fans of Four Sigmatic’s superfood mushroom beverages, and when it comes to boosting immunity, and we swear by the Chaga Mushroom Elixir mix. One packet contains extremely high antioxidant properties that support your daily wellness, energy levels, and protect your immune functions. Simply throw a packet in your carry on, ask the stewardess for a cup of hot water and voilà—you’ve got yourself an instant immunity elixir. 

MAINTAIN YOUR ZEN: Your first line of defense against illness is adopting a healthy lifestyle, and this means doing everything you can to reduce chronic stress. Cortisol, the primary stress hormone, can alter the immune system and suppress digestion when consistently activated. Help keep stress at bay by adopting a consistent yoga practice, practicing daily meditation and developing deep breathing techniques. The great news is these practices travel, which means staying zen on the road is doable. 

EZC PACK: When it’s time to bust out the big guns (think: it’s been a long flu season and you’re boarding a red eye flight), we turn to this kit of heavy-duty Echinacea, Zinc and Vitamin C supplements. Starting this tapered pack five days before travel will enhance your body’s normal immune defenses and help you stay healthy amidst a plane of coughing strangers. 

PLENTY OF SHUT-EYE: Lack of sleep can wreak havoc on our immunity and leave us susceptible to colds and other viruses, our founder Linden Schaffer knows all about this and upped her sleep game when starting Pravassa. She details this along with the science behind sleep in her book Living Well on the Road. While all our bodies are different, getting between seven to eight hours of sleep per night is key and a non-negotiable in the days before you travel. Your immune system will thank you! - Leah Abraham

Inspired Conversations: Pravassa's Linden Schaffer

 LINDEN SCHAFFER IN BALI | PRAVASSA

LINDEN SCHAFFER IN BALI | PRAVASSA

Pravassa founder Linden Schaffer sat down with Inspired Conversation's Amy Schuber for a conversation on all things wellness travel. In the podcast episode, Linden discusses how she turned her passion for wellness travel into a career, and explains how she pivoted from a job in the fashion industry to launching her own business. Linden also shares some of her own wellness travel tips, such as a pre-packing her staple items and the benefits of fasting in-flight.

Click here to access the Inspired Conversations podcast, where you can listen to Linden's journey firsthand and learn more about the Pravassa travel experience.

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

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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!

10 GET READY FOR SLEEP TIPS

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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.

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4) Leave your phone in the living room.

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

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6) MAKE A CALENDAR APPOINTMENT TO SLEEP AND KEEP IT.

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.

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10) Play soothing music or mantras.

- Linden Schaffer

 

WANT MORE TIPS FOR HOW TO START OR MAINTAIN A WELLNESS ROUTINE AT HOME OR WHEN TRAVELING? PICK UP a copy of LINDEN SCHAFFER'S NEW BOOK
 LIVING WELL ON THE ROAD OUT MARCH 16TH.