Linden Schaffer

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

Are You on the Brink of Burnout?

IMAGE  VIA

IMAGE VIA

Take a moment for a quick 5-step self-evaluation.

1. Sleep—Would you generally say that you are not getting enough sleep or hours of quality rest?

2. Eating Habits—Do you lose your appetite when you’re busy or reach for the unhealthiest option to cope in what seems like an unmanageable situation?

3. Exercise—You know movement is the way to counteract the ill-effects of our increasing sedentary lifestyle. Do you find yourself overwhelmed with the thought of adding exercise to your schedule?

4. Coping Mechanisms—Do you lash out at others over minor issues? Do you fire off emails that you later regret?

5. Success—Are there never enough hours in your day to complete everything on your list? Do you forget to stop and celebrate the small victories because you bypass them on your way to the next thing?

If you answered yes to more than half of the above questions, congratulations, your fight-or-flight response is in a constant state of readiness. That means, it's time for a VACATION!

Good news, you came to the right place! Join one of our upcoming group trips or get in touch to plan a custom wellness vacation of your choice.

We look forward to reigniting your spark. - Linden Schaffer

 

Want more tips for how to start or maintain a wellness routine at home or when traveling? Pick up Linden Schaffer's best-selling book
Living Well on the Road 

Solo Travel Tips

IMAGE VIA  SHUTTERSTOCK

IMAGE VIA SHUTTERSTOCK

Out the other night with friends, the topic of solo travel came up during dinner. My husband had just returned from a two-week solo adventure to Hawaii and I have been traveling solo for years. A friend commented that, while she has yet to travel solo, she dreams of the day when a solo getaway will offer her some much needed time to clear her head and think about her future.

Actor and author, Andrew McCarthy describes solo travel in his book, The Longest Way Home, as the time when he feels most at home in himself. I couldn't agree more. Solo travel changes you. Being on the road alone, you are forced to confront your true nature. You depend on the kindness of others and step outside of your comfort zone in search of new, fulfilling experiences. It is liberating!

Now that you're ready to pack your bags and head off on your own adventure, here are some tips and tricks that I've learned throughout my years of travel that not only make myself, but my family, more comfortable saying good-bye.

Prearrange accommodations and transportation - My loved ones and I feel more comfortable when I'm able to leave behind an itinerary of where I'll be on which dates. Hotel phone numbers are handy especially if you're traveling to a foreign country or place where your cell phone may not work. Pre-booking a taxi or shuttle for my arrival saves me the stress of trying to figure out what to do upon exiting the terminal especially if I'm jet-lagged and in unfamiliar territory. That being said, there's nothing like going with the flow or taking recommendations from the people you meet while traveling. Therefore, I always make sure my reservations are refundable in case something better pops up.

Plan arrival during daylight hours - As a woman who only speaks English, with a few key foreign phrases, I prefer to arrive at my destination during the day. If I have to wait for my bus or taxi I can at least get my bearings and feel a bit more comfortable as more people are usually around during the day.

Respect the local culture - When it comes to packing, I do my research in advance about what is acceptable attire where I'm traveling. Typically I pack casual and conservative clothing or layers so I can cover up when needed. Since I'm not in the market for unwanted attention, good jewelry and revealing outfits stay in my closet at home.

Make friends at your hotel - Spend some time talking with the concierge or hotel owners if they are around. Not only will you get some great local advice and perhaps a dinner reservation at a hotspot, but also you will develop a relationship that invests someone on the ground in your comings and goings. Often these people will keep a watchful eye out for anything amiss.

Trust your gut - Often times we are so busy in our daily lives at home, we don't listen to our instinctual side, but on the road this is an important guide to your health and safety. If you find yourself in a situation that makes you uncomfortable in a threatening way, then excuse yourself and move on. If it's late at night and walking back to your hotel seems daunting, then grab a taxi. Your body has ways of warning against bad choices, you just need to tune in and listen.

The more you travel solo, the more comfortable you will become with being on the road alone. Like me, you may even come to crave the time away. Solo travel is like exercising a muscle, the more you do it, the better and stronger traveler you become. - Linden Schaffer

This article was written for and originally published on The Huffington Post.

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.

India: A World of Wonder

PHOTO: PRAVASSA

PHOTO: PRAVASSA

Full of colorful saris, fragrant spices, and rich cultural heritage, India is magic and one of my favorite destinations of all time. My first visit to Northern India included being welcomed into a family’s home for an extravagant dinner, a privately guided tour of Mehrangarh Fort in Jodhpur led by a Sanskrit scholar, and sitting in silent meditation in Sarnath, where it is said the Buddha gave his first teachings. But it was in Varanasi on the Ganges, where my hand was grazed by a dead body laid to rest in the holy river, that the cycle of life and how small a role we all play in this world became apparent and provided me with a #changedbytravel experience that will forever be like none other. - Linden Schaffer

Want to plan a custom wellness vacation to India? Tell us more!

 

Article was written for and originally appeared on MindBodyGreen.

Dispatches From the Road: #changedbytravel in Vietnam

PHOTO: MADELEINE PENFOLD FOR PRAVASSA©

PHOTO: MADELEINE PENFOLD FOR PRAVASSA©

Almost one year ago on a scouting trip to Vietnam I ended up in a White Thai village on the outskirts of an area called Mai Hich. Walking around the empty streets it was quiet and peaceful – birds singing, laughter in the distance. I asked my guide a question about one of the houses and not knowing the answer he looked around for a local to ask.

At that moment, coming toward us up the road was Minh Chung, a 19-year-old boy. A chance meeting that would change my life and his life forever. After our brief conversation, which happened on November 9, 2016, I could not get Minh Chung out of my head. With thoughts of the U.S. election on my mind and the crazy divisiveness on display for the world to witness, I was moved to send a very personal email to my close family and friends. It read:

I’m writing to you from the jungle of Vietnam. Today I met Minh Chung, a 19-year-old White Thai Villager who is studying English on his own from a journal where he writes down every new word he learns. His hope is to pass his university entrance exam and win a free scholarship to school to study to be a tour guide. This is just one example of the many #changedbytravel experiences I am lucky enough to have every time I travel. It reminds me there is hope and the desire to better ourselves all around the world no matter your current situation.

What this email did not convey was the depths of my compassion and empathy for Minh Chung. I literally called my husband to discuss the possibility of sponsoring Minh Chung and sending him to University. As thoughts of helping him continued to swirl in my head, I struggled to find a sustainable solution that would further Minh Chung’s education without taking him away from his single mother, who desperately needed him around for her care and to contribute to their household.

Last week, Pravassa and our Vietnam group of travelers were lucky enough to return to this White Thai village and meet Minh Chung. What I had decided to do was ask our wellness travelers to bring university to him, by building a library to help him further his studies. Thirteen people from the U.S. (and Costa Rica) traveled thousands of miles with their favorite English language travel novel and shared how important these books were to them. Sitting in Minh Chung’s house being served tea in borrowed cups from the neighbors and sharing our collective knowledge was an indescribable moment. At a loss for words, Minh Chung wouldn’t stop smiling and saying thank-you, telling us how words were failing him at that moment.

He did mange to tell us that often the tourists he meets give him money. And while “I like money, sure. It is a gift like this that is much more meaningful and will help me in my life.” This is the reason I travel. This is how I’ve chosen to use my place and privilege in this lifetime and pay it forward. It is small moments like these that I strive for. These moments connect our souls to each other and the to the world. Many thanks to the Pravassa group and our guide Lena Franklin that helped make this dream come true and truly offered a #changedbytravel experience to Minh Chung. And a big thank you to Madeleine Penfold for the beautiful image that captured a moment of pure joy. – Linden Schaffer

 

Looking to have a #changedbytravel moment of your own?
Pravassa curates both group and custom wellness travel opportunities around the world. Just tell us where you want to get started.

 

How One Woman Turned Her Love of Wellness Travel Into A Full-Time Job

Thank you to the team at The Lifestyle Edit for coming to chat with our founder about her journey into wellness travel. Want to get the entire story and some tips and tricks that you can start to use today? Get Linden's new #1 bestseller Living Well on the Road. Out now!