7 Things That Help Me Recover After a Busy Travel Schedule

 

 

Somewhere over the course of 2018, I evolved from being a sex and relationship writer to also writing about travel. I travelled more than I ever could have imagined over the past year (guys, I was not planning on taking 20+ flights). Over the course of a month and a half, I went to New York City –> Puerto Vallarta –> New York City –> St Lucia –> New York City –> Home –> San Francisco –> Home. As much as I enjoyed all this travel, by the time Christmas rolled around I was exhausted. Travelling that much in such a short time took a toll on my body in unexpected ways —  both internally and externally.

My skin was dehydrated (I looked and felt haggard), my hands were parched (dry, cracking knuckles are not a good look) and my usually rock hard nails were splitting and breaking off at a shocking rate (the product of lugging & pulling suitcases through airports). I was also exhausted and wanted nothing more than to curl up at home with a book.

(THESE ARE THE THINGS INSTAGRAM DOESN’T SHOW YOU)

Luckily, the Universe conspired and hooked me up with some helpful products to help get me back to feeling like myself.

So, if you’re feeling worn out, beaten down or just want to add a little something-something to your daily routine, here are a few things that worked for me (PS. all products are clean, natural and CANADIAN which makes me so, so happy!)

Sproos Collagen

Did you know that our body stops producing collagen after the age of 25? Neither did I. Collagen is the body’s most abundant protein  – it’s found in our skin, muscles, bones, blood vessels, digestive systems and tendons. Sadly, our body’s natural ability to produce collagen wanes with age, which can lead to chronic health issues like joint pain, digestive issues, low mood and dull, dry skin. It was actually another travel writer I met in St Lucia that suggested I add a collagen supplement to my diet.

While the folks at Sproos sent me a bunch of different flavoured collagen supplements to try, it’s actually the grass fed collagen powder that I prefer. Because it’s unflavoured, I can just add it in to my usual morning smoothie. After taking it for awhile, I noticed that my skin seemed healthier and less dry.

Sibu Sea Buckthorn (Omega 7 supplements)

I’m a big fan of treating dry skin from the inside out, so I was excited when the team at Sibu offered to send me a selection of their Sea Berry Therapy products to try. Sea buckthorn is a superfood found abundantly in the Himalayas that has been proven for centuries to aid in general health and anti-aging. The ancient Greeks would actually feed it to their horses, noticing their animals’ hides becoming more glossy and lustrous (thanks to the rich concentration of omega-7). Hey, if it’s good enough for ancient Greek horses, it’s good enough for me!

While I tried the Omega 7 support capsules and Sea-Berry seed skin oil, it was actually the Omega 7 Pure liquid supplement that I enjoyed the most. Omega-7 Pure is 100% pureed Sea Berries (Sea Buckthorn), and nothing else…no water, no preservatives, no artificial anything. It tastes like a super thick, fragrant yet sour juice (think: extra tart cranberry). It’s not the easiest to drink, but I found one shot a day gave me a boost and helped rehabilitate my dehydrated skin. So, maybe those ancient Greeks were onto something?


1’Luxe Hand and Body Lotions

Created by Sina Zere and Brandon O’Neill, the 1Lux Beauty collection is made up of clean, chic  body and lip care products that are all zero-tox and designed for harsh Canadian winters (think: ultra moisturizing). 

I was very generously gifted the entire 1’Luxe line. So far the products I’ve tried and fallen in love with include the Velvet Mitts Hand and Nail Cream and The Velvet Drops Botanical Body Lotion. Super moisturizing without feeling greasy, I’m not sure what else to say about these two except they actually work. They both smell amazing (like almonds and a hint of vanilla) and the hand cream has made my troublesome iguana hands look & feel more human.

Earth Luxe Quiet Night In Kit

As I mentioned above, over the holidays I was all about staying in and having quiet time (TBH, this is kind of my default mode as of late). I’ve made a conscious effort to make my bedroom feel as peaceful and spa-like as possible, and this Earth Luxe Quiet Night In Kit definitely helps.

While I’m not entirely sure if the salt lamp is actually doing anything, it looks cool and I *feel* like the air is fresher in my bedroom after I’ve left it on for a while. Also, the candle and handmade soap smell so incredible that I haven’t had the heart to actually use them. Instead, I keep them tucked away in my lingerie drawer where I periodically remove them (so I can press them up to my nose and inhale deeply because I’m a giant weirdo)

Saje Wellness Pocket Farmacy

This pocket pack of essential oil blends from the folks at Saje wellness is a godsend! As someone with anxiety, I enjoy this collection when I’m on the road and while at home. Gross airplane got you feeling icky, roll on some immune blend. Gluten making you feel gross? The Eater’s Digest (love the name) can help. Feeling restless before a flight or because you ended up in a janky AirBnB situation? I recommend using the Stress Release blend to help you sleep. You get the point! This adorable collection is chock full of useful essential oils and is perfect for people like me who are *just* dipping their toes into using oils.

What products do you use to recover after travelling and/or stressful life moments?

Disclaimer: I received all of the products above free of charge in exchange for my honest review. 

Everything I Regret Spending Money on in 2018 (& My Favorite Purchases)

A few years ago, I wrote a post about all the things I regretted buying in 2016 (& the things I didn’t) and it ended up being one of my most popular posts at the time. I’m always curious about other people’s spending habits, so I thought I’d take this opportunity to be transparent about mine.

Here’s what I regret spending money on last year.

This bathing suit.

I ordered this BCA Romance One-Piece from Nordstrom before my first trip to Mexico. It’s adorable, right? Well, it runs small. Very small. I ordered a size up as per customer reviews, but it still ended up being on the small side. I brought it to Mexico anyways because it was too late to return it & I figured I’d just rock it. I wore it once and have the photo to prove it. While it looks okay in the photo, all the cut-outs and stringy bits made me feel like a tied ham baking under the sun. ALSO, I’ve learned that one-pieces aren’t the most practical when you’re at a resort drinking a lot (water or alcohol) and making regular trips to the facilities — unless you love the feeling of peeling off a wet bathing suit every half hour… which I don’t. Lesson here: don’t order a pricey bathing suit online unless you’ve tried it on first.

(Or you can buy cheap bathing suit online here)

A weird stick on strapless bra that I bought from an Instagram ad.

It was late at night. The ad for the mysterious but alluring adhesive push-up bra had appeared on my Instagram feed at least 100 times that week. I’ll admit, part of me wanted to order it just to see if it was actually real. Spoiler alert: stick on bras are very real and they feel awful on — at least to me. It felt like my lingerie had been attached to my body with one of those sticky hand toys that I remember from the toy cupboard at the dentist (I had a neon yellow one). I’ve since learned that I feel way more comfortable and sexy just going bra-less if the outfit requires it. If I want some extra coverage, I use silicone nipple covers.

Fast-fashion for everyday clothes.

While stores like H&M, Forever 21 and Marshall’s are a godsend when it comes to finding super cute pieces for vacation and press trips to the Caribbean, I didn’t have much luck buying everyday stuff at fast-fashion retailers in 2018. Everything I purchased either didn’t match other things in my closet (red satin bomber jacket with floral pattern, I’m looking at you!) OR had quality issues (I am very hard on my clothes & I can’t explain why). I’ve realized when it comes to my everyday wardrobe, I’m happier when I spend a little bit more and just stick to really simple basics.

Professional memberships that I never use.

Media Bistro is a great resource…if you use it. Last year I forked out the money for a membership and literally used the site twice. I also didn’t renew a few other professional memberships because I’m simply not making use of them at this time.

Struggle tours.

Someday I’ll share the story of that time I went to see Nelly perform in 2018 (yes, you read that correctly), but for now let’s just say that’s money and an hour of my life I’ll never get back.

Now for the things I don’t regret! Considering I took over 25+ flights in 2018, it’s no surprise that many of my favorite purchases are travel related.

Here’s what I don’t regret spending money on in 2018:

Sturdy luggage.

Over the course of the year I managed to annihilate three separate suitcases (1 soft duffel bag and two hard-shell suitcases), all of which had to be replaced by the airline. Finally, I bit the bullet and splurged on a Travelpro soft side suitcase. It’s not anywhere as cute as my beloved leopard print hard shell (RIP!) but it’s super sturdy and comes with a lifetime warranty….which, clearly I’ll need.

Rolling Laptop Case/Under seat carry-on bag.

I have shoulder and back issues. I also work at local coffee shops and travel frequently with my laptop. Enter: the rolling lap top case that fits neatly under the seat of an airplane (did I mention I *hate* overhead compartment drama?!) Although I *wish* I could spring for this model by Tumi (I mean, it’s called The Simone and has pink lining), I just can’t justify the purchase at this point. Instead, I chose this anti-theft rolling bag by Travelon, which is similar in design and comes with a 5 year warranty, which I’ll need (because if this post has taught you anything, it’s that I will subconsciously find a way to destroy it).

Automatic withdrawals to my savings account.

This isn’t really a “purchase,” but I’m so glad I set up automatic withdrawals to my savings account in 2018. I used to struggle with saving, but now I don’t even have to think about it. Even if you’re only putting aside $5-$10 a week, you’d be amazed at how quickly it adds up. There’s a couple of different apps that can do this for you, but I use Mylo. I like it because it also gives you the option of rounding up your purchases & depositing the extra change in your savings account. I wish I’d started this YEARS ago, because it’s made me so much more zen about my savings efforts.

PS. If you want to sign up, feel free to use my referral link.

(Full disclosure: I’ll get a small bonus, which I promise I’ll put towards buying tiny things for Joe the Intern and other critical necessities.)

 

Levi 501’s.

After wearing stretch-denim almost exclusively for the past decade, I bought my first pair of non-stretch Levi 501’s this past year and don’t regret it at all. This is the first pair of Levi’s I’ve worn since high school. While the stiffness of the denim takes a while to get used to, they also have a structured, retro feel that I really like. I’ve worn these jeans at least a couple of times a week for a year and they’re yet to show any wear.

TDLR: They seem to be “Simone proof” and I’ve yet to destroy them.

A pair of high-end leggings for travel.

Technically, these were a gift from my Mom….a really, really great gift. Although I buy a lot of my workout wear from Marshall’s, I’m so glad I finally invested in two pairs of plain black leggings from Lululemon for traveling. I’ve always shrugged off Lulu, but 2018 turned me into a true believer. With other athletic leggings, I often experience chafing and sweating if I sit in them for too long (ie. at my desk or on a plane). However, these high-waist leggings hug me in all the right places. Perfect fit + amazingly comfortable fabric + less sweating = great for long days & nights of flying.

Travel and experiences.

Nelly concert aside, I rarely regret spending money on travel and experiences. While most of my travel in 2018 was work related, I did take some trips on my own, took a handful of tours (stay tuned for an upcoming post about NYC), went to a Broadway show and saw as many concerts as I could. Even if these experiences didn’t always go as expected, I still took something away from each of them. I can’t say the same about that adhesive bra (except maybe that I should never, ever order anything from Instagram late at night). The lesson here:

Experiences > Things.

What do you/don’t you regret spending money on in 2018?

Photos by Mirza Babic  & STIL

10 Photos to Inspire a Stay at the SLS Baha Mar

Something I’ve learned over the past year: I’m not a fan of overly curated places and experiences, unless they’re curated exactly to my taste. Go figure, right? This was the overwhelming feeling I had when I set foot in the SLS Baha Mar, a resort in the Bahamas that I visited this past summer. From the tropical cool meets vintage luxury vibe of the lobby to the intimacy of the curated gallery wall of modern Bahamian art work behind the front desk, this hotel made me feel giddy from the moment I checked in.

When I came downstairs for dinner that night, Little Dragon’s Best Friends was playing. The next morning my new journo friends and I brunched while Anthony Hamilton’s Lucille played softly in the background. All I could think was, yes I am home.

The only other property that made me feel this way recently was the Rockhouse Hotel in Jamaica. While I’ve written about both of these hotels for World Bride Magazine, I wanted to share a few details about why I love the SLS Baha Mar that didn’t necessarily make it into the article (like, the fact that this hotel smells really good, and all the monkeys and black stripes make me feel like the space was made just for me. That kind of stuff.)

1. The lobby looks like my dream living room…and it’s full of books.

I love it when hotels go the extra mile to ensure that their lobby doesn’t look cookie cutter. If the property actually gives me design inspiration that I want to apply to my own home — even better. When it comes to unique design touches, the SLS Baha Mar is no exception. The vibe in the lobby is part vintage Palm Springs, part Miami cool with a Bahamian twist.

And there’s books everywhere…annnd they’re not randomly selected books chosen for their spines (like my weird uncle has in his “study” that looks like the gloomy home library backdrop of a Sears portrait) but books I actually want to read — like that copy of Ibiza Bohemia that I was so tempted to swipe right off the table but didn’t because I’m an upstanding citizen.

2. Two separate pool options.

While I love a good pool party moment, I’m old and can’t party all day. I loved that the SLS had two separate pool areas: “Privilege” — an upscale, adults only all day pool party with international DJs that played a lot of Drake (I’m pretty sure I heard the entire Scorpion album one afternoon) and “Bungalow” a more chill, “grown folks” pool atmosphere that (much to my delight) played exclusively old-school 90’s R&B and Hip Hop.

3. Taco trucks on the beach.

El Jefe is a Mexican eatery housed in a pink retro Airstream trailer. When I saw it lining the boardwalk, I almost dropped down to my knees on the sand and praised Jesus. While the tacos didn’t quite live up to my overly high standards, the food was tasty and I appreciated the effort to move away from your typical resort nosh.

4. The food & drinks.

I already covered the food in my piece for WBM, but it needs to be said that this is the best food I’ve ever had at a resort. I was a big fan of Cleo Mediterráneo, which serves a delicious brunch spread and an amazing lamb dish that I’m still thinking about. Between Katsuya, Cleo Mediterráneo, the food trucks and a 24 hour Chinese noodle house which is located inside the adjacent casino, every one of my food cravings is covered under one roof.

PS. The drinks are creative, delicious and strong.

SLS-Baha-Mar-balcony

5. The guest rooms look like an upgraded version of my bedroom.

Actual conversation that I had with my friend:

Me: I’m in love with the guest rooms at SLS Baha Mar.

Him: That’s because they look like a slightly upgraded version of your actual bedroom.

It’s true. The rooms are airy and bright with some quirky touches. I want to move in, or at the very least use this hotel as major home design inspiration.

6. Stripes! Everywhere!

If you know me, you’re probably aware of my undying love for black and white stripes. I get it from my Mom who is rarely seen without one of her signature Breton striped shirts. Needless to say, the striped cabanas at the Bungalow make me very happy. See: the photo at the top of this post.

7. Monkeys! Everywhere!

Another fun fact: I love monkeys. I was born the year of the monkey and have always felt an affinity towards them. The SLS Baha Mar is sprinkled with playful monkey touches (the logo for SLS hotels is a playful crest that includes two monkeys). From the card holders at Cleo to the aptly named Monkey Bar, which features large scale irreverent portraits of monkeys dressed to the nines, there’s no shortage of cheekiness at the SLS Baha Mar.

However, it was the monkey bust that I nicknamed Paco Banane that really won me over. I was so smitten with Paco that the kind folks at the SLS managed to find me my very own monkey statue and shipped it to my home.

8. The people watching is golden.

The vibe at the Monkey Bar on a Saturday night is laid-back, hip and includes lots of local Bahamians. Along with plenty of attractive, stylish folks from around the island (so. many. good. looking. gentleman), expect to see professional sports players and the odd hip hop star thrown in for good measure. While our group was having pre-dinner drinks at The Monkey Bar, we noticed Killer Mike checking in. Later, someone spotted rapper N.O.R.E (Noreaga) hanging out by the pool. That evening, Nas was rumored to be on property having dinner. Hey, if it’s good enough for the locals and hip-hop royalty, it’s good enough for me!

9. The ocean.

I’ve traveled a lot over the past year, but the ocean here was something else. Perfectly calm and turquoise. It was a sight to behold.

10. It’s a balanced experience.

If I’m ever lucky enough to have a Bachelorette party, the SLS Baha Mar would be the kind of place I’d want to go. There’s nightlife but it’s not in your face and all the pastel colors create a vibe that is feminine without being prissy. Like Vegas, there’s a high concentration of world class restaurants and a casino, but without any of the things that make Vegas terrible. Instead, there’s a gorgeous beach. Oh, and the monkeys. We can’t forget the monkeys.

A Cozy Holiday Giveaway From Pure Romance

After writing this post about my impending retirement from sex blogging, I’ve more or less hung up my adult product reviewer hat. So, when Pure Romance contacted me about reviewing their new holiday line, I was hesitant. Would the company that’s known for its at home sex toy parties (I’ve been to a few in my day) have anything suitable for my new blog direction? It turns out that yes, yes, yes they do!

As I’ve mentioned before, I love a great pair of pajamas (so much so, that my family had to stage a pajamavention at one point). Well, as it turns out, Pure Romance carries some of the comfiest ones I’ve ever had the pleasure of working sleeping in (freelancer win!) They also have a bunch of body products that they sent me to try….and, because there are all about spreading the wealth, I also have a Pure Romance holiday gift set to giveaway to a reader. Here’s the skinny…

Behold the most comfiest pajamas known to humankind! The Vega V-neck Chemise and Leto Lounge Pants are both made with bamboo fibers to feel as soft as silk while naturally adapting to your body’s temperature and wicking away moisture. I know I’ll definitely be wearing the Leto Pants to work and write lounge around the house. Also, is it just me or does the Vega V-neck Chemise look cute enough to wear outside of the bedroom? I’m kind of tempted to wear it as a beach dress next time I travel somewhere warm.

The folks at Pure Romance also included some Flirt Conditioning Shave Cream and Coco Glow Sunless Tanner, which to be honest I haven’t had a chance to try yet.

They also included some Euforia Shea Butter, which judging by the first application is something I’m going to be using on my chronically dry legs all winter.

If you’d like to win your very own Pure Romance holiday gift, simply leave a comment on this post.

An extra entry will be given if you also follow me on Instagram. If you follow me on the ‘Gram, make sure you mention your handle in the comment so I know who you are.

I’ll choose a winner Wednesday, December 19th, 2018.

Don’t want to wait to see if you win? Enjoy a 10% discount on all purchases, excluding tax and shipping, when you use the exclusive promotion code SkinnyDip10. To redeem, just enter it in the COUPON CODE box and hit “APPLY” and the discount will be shown.

Good luck & happy holidays! xx

A Few Telling Signs That You’re a Freelance Writer

 

Last week I had the pleasure of spending a few days in Cancun with a handful of awesome writers (you can watch the story highlights here). We’re all freelancers, so once the margaritas start flowing (and boy did they flow…), naturally the conversation turned to all of the highs and lows of freelancing. Most of my friends IRL work regular 9-5 jobs in the public sector and while they think what I do is cool, they don’t always understand or relate to the behind the scenes stuff that goes into writing full time for a living. So, while these press trips  can be a bit logistically crazy (I was literally in Mexico for 3 days), I love that they give me a chance to connect with other awesome women writers and journalists who just get it.

Inspired by conversations I had in Mexico, here’s a few of things that most freelance writers will be able to relate to. I may just turn this into a regular series.

[Note: I realize some of these points are probably specific to sex and relationship writers/bloggers, so keep that in mind]

1. You don’t go to the dentist as much as you should.

A fellow writer friend posted a selfie that other day with the caption, “went to the dentist for the first time in 3 years! #freelancelife.” It was only once I saw her post that I remembered that I haven’t been to the dentist in far too long. I’m not talking about going to a cosmetic dentist, I mean a straight up cleaning and check-up. I have the best dental clinic — it’s in a gorgeous, easy to access area and my dentist is awesome — and yet, I always leave appointments way too long. Part of this is because of a hectic schedule. It’s also because I have to pay out of pocket for treatments (versus before when I worked at a corporate job and everything was covered by my benefits plan).

2. You have a precarious relationship with health care/insurance.

I’ve met a lot of freelance writers from the States that don’t have health insurance. The struggle is real. The only way I’m able to get away with not having insurance is because I live in Canada and the only thing I pay out of pocket for is dentistry and the occasional massage or chiropractic treatment.  Friends living in the States, I don’t know how you guys do it, but know that you’re not alone.

3. When you’ll actually get paid is even less reliable than your period.

While I have a general idea of when my anchor clients will pay me based on when I invoice them, I can’t always say that I’ll have the money by a specific date. Sometimes there are delays or a payment takes longer to clear through PayPal. It’s tricky and you always have to think ahead to make sure you have your expenses covered.

4. All of your zip drives and pens are branded.

In my case, most of my office supplies come from sex toy companies, sexy resorts and other places I’ve traveled.

Hi. I like sex and hotels and writing about both.

5. You’ve gotten hooked on an unlikely beverage or snack thanks to a press event.

There was a time in 2010 when it seemed like every PR event in Toronto was sponsored by Vitamin Water. The company even dropped off a free crate of it at my former retail job and a week later I found myself at an open bar fashion week party where all the drinks were infused with the beverage. A year later, it was Pop Chips, and after that, Starbucks Refresher energy drinks (which, I still sometimes get a hankering for — another fashion week addiction). Currently, I have a friend who is hooked on the Aperol Spritz. The last thing I became addicted to was ONE Coconut Water, which I’m not mad about because I’m pretty sure it won’t give me diabetes.

6. You re-use free items in creative ways.

While I don’t really enjoy silicone lubricant, Uberlube makes a great hair styling product. I’ve also heard it works wonders on creaky door hinges. Also, 90% of the candles in my home are actually aphrodisiac scented massage candles. I don’t have anyone to massage currently, but I am prepared for the next blackout or apocalypse!

Sex candles for the apocalypse.

7. Your work wardrobe looks less like this…

…..and a lot more like this.

 

If you see a photo of me on Instagram dressed up, that’s literally because it was a rare occasion when I actually wore real clothes and therefore, felt it needed documenting. While I do wear my “uniform” (jeans, a striped shirt & black leather jacket) to go to work at a coffee shop or co-working space, most of the time I’m in workout wear and wrapped in multiple long cardigans and/or a Slanket because my desk area is cold AF.

8. You frequently wonder if you should just pack it in and get a desk job.

This is something I think about at least a couple of times a month. I’ve gone through phases where I’ll apply to a bunch of 9-5 jobs, go to interviews and then something will happen — I’ll get offered a cool opportunity or I’ll secure a new client. When this happens, I interpret as the Universe telling me that I need to stay the course. While there’s definitely some downsides to freelancing, the freedom to create my own schedule is pretty amazing.

If you’re a freelancer, what would you add to this list?

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