diy-toothpaste

DIY: 4 Ingredient Natural Toothpaste

Before any travel, it’s necessary to go through everything I own and make sure I love it enough to bring it with me in my 65L backpack.  With this thinking comes creativity. I need to carefully consider everything I can leave behind, and in turn, my “needs” have become strong “wants”. My once full make-up bag(s) and products began to dwindle, and I’ve also started thinking more about what I really need, and what is good for me mentally, physically and in terms of my overall health. Quality over quantity, everyone.

 

After doing my research, I found that, as we all likely know, the products stocking our shelves contain a lot of **** I would rather not have on or in my body. This is where toothpaste comes in. I just kept buying these massive plastic tubes of chemical, not really knowing what it contained but knowing it was the norm. Once I heard about the benefits of oil pulling and the possibility to make your own toothpaste, I had to try. So, a friend and I got together, pooled our ingredients and it turned out well! It can take some getting used to, but I got accustomed to it rather quickly. Now if only I could find a bamboo toothbrush in Chile somewhere (any leads?).

 

Here is how to make your own DIY toothpaste and say goodbye to unwanted, unnecessary chemicals in your daily routine.

 

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons of coconut oil

1 tablespoon on baking soda

3-5 drops of mint essential oil – to preference

3-5 drops of stevia – if tastes to bitter, to preference

 

Directions:

  1. Pick your vessel. I chose a glass jar with a lid to seal.
  2. Spoon coconut oil into the jar. If the oil is fully solid, pop it it over a flame or in the microwave for a couple of seconds to soften. 
  3. Spoon the baking soda into the jar and mix well, this should be very evenly distributed.
  4. Add Mint essential oil (edible) and Stevia drops to your liking. After trying the mixture without stevia, I added a few drops which really helps the toothpaste taste more like the product you’re used to.
  5. Scoop out a small amount using a spoon – avoid using your toothbrush directly in the mixture – and brush away as usual!

 

 

Have you tried making your own DIY toothpaste or other DIY products? How did it go? 

 

 

x – Jenn, The Redhead Abroad

The Ultimate 3 Day Guide to San Pedro de Atacama

Hello everyone! I’ve been offline for a short while. Sometimes it’s important to take a break from being online, and actually getting out to explore. So that’s exactly what I’ve done, and I now have new, exciting experiences to share with you all!

A couple of weeks ago, my parents visited Chile (miss you guys already!) and we headed up to San Pedro de Atacama, the driest desert in the world, and famous worldwide for its moon-like appearance. I was almost at a point of worry before travelling here, because I had heard so many great things that I didn’t want to be disappointed. But once I arrived, I didn’t want to leave. Here’s how to explore San Pedro de Atacama and hit all the main spots in just a long weekend.

 

 

Saturday: Getting our bearings and astronomy tour 

 

We booked a flight from Santiago through LATAM Airlines and hopped on a two hour flight to Calama. Arriving in Calama, we booked a round trip bus to San Pedro, the main town of the Atacama desert, around one hour away. On arrival, we checked in to our apartment that a local woman was subletting around the back of her home, and began the search around town for the best tour company and itinerary for the weekend.

Note: Entering San Pedro may be a shock of your senses and you will likely get side tracked with all of the cute dogs, ancient architecture,  delicious and fancy looking restaurants, and above all – the natural alpaca wool sweaters that are the trademark souvenir of visiting here.

 

 

saturn-photo-atacama
Saturn through a telescope at SPACE

We had pre-booked a tour with SPACE: San Pedro de Atacama Celestial Explorations (I advise this as it fills up quickly), and in the evening we met in town to hop on a bus for the tour. This was one of my favourite parts of the trip and definitely set us up for a good weekend. We learned all about the night sky, I took a photo of Saturn through one of the amazingly powerful telescopes (one of the most powerful telescopes with public access in the world – see photo below) and ended the night asking all of our nerdy questions over hot chocolate. Definitely recommend.

 

 

Sunday: Half day tour to Valle de la Luna with Flamingo Tours

What to bring: water, sunscreen, warm clothing layer, a hat and good walking shoes (some small crevices and caves to explore).

Starting at 3pm, we met at the Flamingo office on the main street and hopped into the bus on our way to Valle de la Luna, or Moon Valley. On arrival we explored crevices and caves around the entrance to the park which had beautiful salt formations all around.  From there, we visited the Three Marias, three vertical rocks representing three women (photo below). We also visited the Amphitheatre and completed another mini hike before watching the sunset and heading back to town.

Everyone at the Three Marias
Our hike overlooking the amphitheatre and volcanoes.

 

Stopping for a stretch between mini hikes around the Valle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monday: Full day tour to Piedras Rojas

 

This is the ultimate tour we found. Leaving at 7am and returning at 6pm, this is the ultimate tour to see amazing spots in San Pedro de Atacama. We were picked up by the bus around 7:30am and made our way to our first stop, a small historical town named. This town has a beautiful church and bell tower with a door made from a now protected species of cactus native to the area. We also stopped to meet the town’s resident llama who stole the show.

We then hopped back on the bus and arrived at Los Flamencos National Reserve. I had never seen flamingos in the wild before, and we were told it was nearing the end of the season (start of May, going into winter) and that we may see maximum 10 flamingos. We were very pleasantly surprised by the turnout of over 50!

Following this, we arrived at Piedras Rojas and explored the area, and saw a lot of wildlife including Suri which are related to an ostrich, vicuña, and a desert fox. Following this, we ended our trip at Laguna Miscanti and Miniques at an elevation of 4,300 metres (photos below)! On Tuesday we hopped on a flight back to Santiago and my (current) real world life – and work.

 

Piedras Rojas
On the way to Laguna Miscanti.

 

Laguna Miscanti

 

 

 

Have you ever been to The Atacama Desert or planning to go? Let me know below and I can help with even more suggestions.

 

 

x – Jenn, The Redhead Abroad

My Spotify Playlist: Yoga Groovin’

 

I have a long background of dance and love to incorporate that into my yoga practice, flowing and connecting poses together, some hip sways here and there. This is the music I dance/yoga/boogie to whenever I need to relax, release, or just get my groove on for a few minutes. What are you favourite yoga, meditation or workout tracks? Here is my ultimate spotify playlist for getting your yoga groove on.

Namaste.

Click here & Happy Groovin’ !

yoga asana in melbourne australia
Stretching it out in my tiny Melbourne studio flat.

 

Setlist:

  1.  Daughter – Youth
  2.  Chet Faker – No Diggity
  3.  Flume & Chet Faker – Drop the Game
  4.  Matt Corby – Oh Oh Oh
  5.  Coldplay – Magic
  6.  Doe Paoro – Wind
  7.  Snatam Kaur – Ong Namo

 

-x Jenn, The Redhead Abroad

Coconut Oil: My Budget Travel Secret

Coconut oil is a natural, budget travel lifesaver. Cheap, natural, and multi purpose. When I’m travelling, it’s important to maximise luggage space, and ladies, we all know how our personal products can take up all the space, and empty out our wallet after a trip to Sephora. It’s my solution for natural, sensitive skin approved, cheap (!) product with multiple uses. Here’s why I can’t travel without coconut oil.

coconut oil

Makeup Remover

If you’re spending anything over a couple of dollars on makeup remover (I’m looking at you, Lancome), that’s unnatural, and likely irritates or dries out your skin and eyes, here’s your answer. I always use coconut oil every night to take off my mascara, and it works like a charm- even for the waterproof brands – without irritating my eyes. Simply put some coconut oil in your palm, rub your hands together to melt or apply directly to the eyelid and gently rub around your eyes. In seconds, the makeup’s gone! Swipe with a damp washcloth and you’re fresh faced. Easy.

ocean bali

 

Bright Whites

Ever heard of oil-pulling? I was confused at first. I mean, how could OIL make my teeth and mouth healthier? But once I started, I began to notice a difference in the way my mouth feels, another level of clean and healthy, and I also began to feel more energized. Just take a spoonful of coconut oil (you can mix in peppermint oil to get that minty taste if you like), and swish for 5, building up to 20 minutes. After doing some reading on ayurveda, I became interested in how many toxins tend to build in our mouths overnight (morning breath – yuck!), and by tongue-scraping and oil pulling, we can get all those toxins out of our bodies effectively & easily.

 

Leave-in-conditioner

I’m currently living in South America, and the weather is the exact opposite of my home in Canada. Dry, no humidity, and always hot! My hair isn’t too happy. Once a week, before bed I massage a big dollop of coconut oil into my hair, focusing on the ends, and wrap it up in a bun on the top of my head. When I awake, I unravel my hair and shampoo and condition as normal, and my hair is back to it’s shiny, bouncy self. Sometimes I like to mix in a couple drops of essential oils into the coconut oil before massaging, such as frankincense for added benefits or even just grapefruit oil so my hair also smells delicious.

Goodbye Sunburn 

I’m a redhead (the blog name says it all), which means I’ve also inherited very sensitive skin – especially to the sun. Although I put all my effort into applying SPF 50 and more constantly, sometimes the sun is too much for me, and I end up with a nasty sunburn. My secret (I’ve had lots of practice to perfect this), is to rub apple cider vinegar on my sunburn (feels amazing), rinse it off with cold water on a wash cloth, and apply coconut oil generously. It sounds strange, I may smell a bit funky, but when I wake up the next day, my skin feels moisturised and looks way better than it did the day before.

 

Pedicure Au-Natural

I’m one of those girls who has a pedicure as a treat maybe once a year (every 6 months when I’m feeling extra fancy), which means my feet need some at home TLC. Coconut oil is so light but moisturising that I sometimes massage my feet with oil in the morning and it keeps my feet moisturised during the day. Sometimes, in dire situations, I’ll lather on some and put cotton socks over my moisturised feet for a lazy morning or overnight, and the next day they’re ready for the beach.

 

These are just a few reasons why I can’t travel without coconut oil. What are yours?

 

x Jenn, The Redhead Abroad

24 Thoughts of a Canadian in Santiago, Chile

 

These thoughts go through my head at least once every few days as a Canadian expat living in Santiago de Chile. Can you relate?

 

  1. So. Much. Salt.
  2. I need to stop eating all the delicious bread. OK just one more.
  3. Remind me why I can’t pet OR bring home a stray dog again?
  4. I HEARD ENGLISH. Who said that?!
  5. Cheapest best wine EVER. 3$ for a bottle of carmenere? I feel like I’m stealing.
  6. How can I bring back the most alfajores and capri bars back into Canada?
  7. Am I a gringa or not? Do I want to be a gringa or not?
  8. English is so lame.
  9. I can finally full-out dance to reggaeton songs without (as much) judgement
  10. EARTHQUAKE!!! Oh right, a 6.4 is just a “temblor”…
  11. Manjar is a delicious, dangerous thing.
  12. Pisco means trouble. And a massive “caña” tomorrow.
  13. No, I am NOT from the U.S. and yes, Canada is very different.
  14. Quick, think of the few traditional Canadian songs and foods before someone compares my culture to Chile.
  15. Wait. You guys eat horse?
  16. This is way too late for me. I value my sleep.
  17. Fresh squeeze $2 orange juice in el centro is HEAVEN.
  18. I thought I was just learning Spanish but apparently I speak Chilena now too.
  19. The Mapocho River is not a river.
  20. So many allergies. This is my life now.
  21. Avocados are SO CHEAP. I eat them daily. I love my life.
  22. Bilz and Pap is un-drinkable.
  23. I want to wear wedges like all the Chilenas but I’m already a giant here. Dilemma.
  24. If I hear one more thing about Justin Bieber…

What other thoughts have you had while in Santiago or throughout Chile? I hope you had a laugh at some of these, fellow expats! 

 

Want to know more about Chile? Here are some Chilean Etiquette Tips

Here is my experience with Culture Shock in Chile

Check out some of my photos throughout Chile on my Instagram Page and Twitter

 

x Jenn, The Redhead Abroad

 

how-travel-changed-me-woman

How Travel Changed Me as a Woman

how-travel-changed-me-woman

 

We’ve all heard the inspirational quotes about travel that keep us yearning for overseas experiences. “Travel is the only thing you can buy that makes you richer”, right? For those of us who have had travel experiences, from a week or two to living abroad, I’m sure we can all agree that it opens your mind to new experiences and to the world around us. Along with experiencing new places, for an extended period of travelling, we may start to notice that this exposure to new experiences can change how we conduct ourselves, our mentality, and much more. In this post I share how travel has started to change me as a woman since leaving Canada in February, 2015.

 

Travel Changed…

My interest in language and culture

Back home in Canada, we are required to learn French in school as it’s our national language along with English, and I have always loved the language, however I felt it was almost useless in a city such as Vancouver where minimal people actually speak the language daily, being so far from our french friends in Quebec. I began to feel as though languages were more of a high school requirement as they diminished from my “passions” list. I could get by every day using english without needing to communicate in any other language. So why did I need other languages?

But once I began travelling, my perception completely changed. I was visiting countries where I wanted to connect with locals, share stories and ideas. Or even just tell them to have a great day or to see how they are. Once again, my love (and seemingly need!) for foreign languages returned. Now, currently living in Chile and planning to travel around Latin America, I am driven to learn new languages to meet new people and become more immersed in wherever I am at the moment. And returning to Canada, I almost felt as if the english language was boring, I now crave the challenges that come with learning a new language!

 

My thinking about the environment and sustainability

I studied environmental conservation in university, but even without that, environmental issues and sustainability is currently on the forefront of many people’s minds. When travelling, however, especially to areas that are more impacted, or don’t cover it up, you start thinking about how you’re impacting the world and become more conscious of your purchases and actions.

One experience which left a mark was off Redang Island, Malaysia during a scuba trip, where I constantly found coral covered in plastic, fishing line, and cans and plastic covering the ocean floor. It takes plastic hundreds of years to fully decompose. This and many other exposures of environmental impact and humans mistreating our home makes me want to think twice about a use-once coffee cup, thinking about how long my waste will be left on earth for generations to come.

 

My relationship with my body

Being in my home country and especially in my teens, I was constantly worried about my body and my weight, and would never be seen without some makeup or fixing my hair. This continued even after university, where I didn’t have as many pressures but was still exposed to a culture and mind-frame where I easily caved to what “society” wanted me to be, or look like.

Now, living abroad for the past couple of years, I realize how focused I used to be on my appearance. While travelling, I unconsciously began to shift my focus more to new cultures, new cities, new friends who couldn’t care less if i straightened my hair or not, and a new way of living. I didn’t care as much about my appearance or what nail polish colour I was wearing because what and who were around me was much more interesting. Now, I am more concerned about my inner well being, a wholesome health. I rarely wear makeup except for a recent job interview or lipstick when I go out dancing, and my latest style goal is how to be comfortable wandering cities to mountains day in and day out, and cutting down my wardrobe so it all fits into my one 65 litre backpack. I’m pale, my hair is usually a jungle, I haven’t had a pedicure in a while, and I’ve never felt more confident.

 

My anxious nature to ease

I am the anxious type at my core, but I hide it well. At home, I constantly worried about the little things. After being abroad and realising how large the world is and how small my worries really are in the long term and worldwide scheme of things, travelling really helped me put my anxieties and worries into perspective. I have become more easygoing. I meet new friends knowing I will have to say goodbye in a few months, I know I may lose my luggage or miss my bus but it will all eventually work out. I’m learning to slow down and appreciate everything I experience around me. I’ve realised that at this moment in life, the most important things in life for me are  my health, my passport, good people, and savouring the moments.

 

My tendency to judge others and myself

Living in my hometown of Vancouver, Canada, I am grateful to have grown up in a very culturally diverse city, which helped me to become more interested in the world around me. However, my city is also one for style, and “outer-appearance approval” (see earlier in this post). Meeting new people when I was younger, I would judge others on who their friends were, where they lived, or if they had the latest clothes from Aritzia (I KNOW, RIGHT?!) . Since I have travelled, I have become much more interested in cultures around the world, and really when it comes down to it, how similar we all are, regardless of what patch of soil we happened to be born on or how much money is in our pockets. I learned no matter where you live or where you come from, we are all so similar and just subject to different circumstances, and this really helps me to see the world as one land, separated by a couple of human-made “borders”.

 

I would love to hear from you if you have anything to add from what you have experienced, how travel may have changed your mentality or emotions toward life, or if you’ve had similar experiences as well!

x Jenn, The Redhead Abroad

 

Travel Yoga: How to Strengthen your Practice Abroad

Exercising abroad is a difficult task. Your routine is bound to change from your schedule at home in all ways, and especially with exercise! Through travel we tend to replace gym memberships with more outdoor activities like hiking mountains or strolling through the city streets, sometimes it’s nice to still keep a small routine exercise to keep us feeling our best, mentally and physically, while abroad. This is how I have continued my practice abroad, and at sometimes re-ignited my practice when I’ve fallen out of routine, through these travel yoga secrets.

 

I had a difficult time at first trying to keep up with my practice. Going from a membership to a studio close to my house and taking a class before work almost every morning, I knew my practice would change once I was abroad. Little did I know just how much it would change. After incorporating each of these tips I have below, my practice became much more steady, and all of the wonderful benefits I had experienced at home came rushing back – from a strong mind to even stronger legs. Here’s what you can do to continue exercising while abroad, because we all know we aren’t just here for the savasana.

 

travel yoga in melbourne outside

 

Remember your Mat

Bring your mat with you! I use “The Mat 5mm” by lululemon which provides the perfect amount of comfort and support for my practice, and “The Reversible Mat 3mm” for travel is a great lightweight option as well for travellers always on the go. I always hop on the plane with my carry on crossbody bag of essentials (see what’s in it here!) and my travel yoga mat bag slung over my shoulder destined for the overhead bin. In any exercise, especially yoga, it is crucial to practice on a good quality mat to avoid injury and enhance your practice. I’ve tried multiple yoga mats and this is the one, guys. I can do a sweaty one hour hot yoga practice and don’t even need a towel with this mat. Absolute Essential.

travel yoga mat
Photo copyright: lululemon athletica. The Mat 5mm.

 

Roll out of bed & into your practice

Even better, leave your mat rolled out beside your bed waiting for you. I love rolling out of bed and before I can think of anything else, I’m on my mat, stretching and breathing out all of my kinks.That way, you have no excuse that you’re tired or have no time. Set your alarm even a few minutes earlier than your usual wake up call, and get your body moving! Even 5 minutes of just sitting and breathing alone is a total game changer for my entire day. Plus, add in a little yoga workout and stretch and you’re done your workout before you even have breakfast. Total travel yoga win.

 

Find your crew

Wherever you are in the world, try to find a group of like-minded or like-exercising people in your local area. Free park yoga is exploding everywhere and it’s amazing! Check local facebook groups, your hostel or hotel, and ask at community centres to find free or by-donation activities. Plus, a group of fellow travelling yogis will help you to stay on track if you make set times and days to practice together.

Beautiful sculpture artwork near Penang, Malaysia.

 

Do yoga with me (THE BOMB) . com  ( doyogawithme.com )

Best yogs website ever – in my opinion. Sign up for free to access multiple classes right from your device. Choose your level and style of class from kundalini to pre-natal yoga, and get practicing. I recommend this class (intermediate level- choose what’s appropriate for you), which I’ve been following to help re-ignite my practice and I promise your muscles will feel this one! I used to take classes with Fiji in Victoria, Canada and learned so much. So imagine how happy I am to be able to continue her classes when I’m all the way over in Chile!

 

Grab those Studio Intro Deals

And if where you are does have a yoga presence- Get those intro deals girl! During my entire time living in Australia (1.5 years), I think I paid in full for a drop in class maybe once. Many studios have intro passes for your first week or two if you’ve never visited the studio before. As yoga is such a trend these days, yoga classes in Melbourne were averaging $25 or more for a one hour class, whereas by hopping between studios in Melbourne city and surrounding suburbs, I would purchase a two-week unlimited pass, taking up to 10 classes in that time, for $19 in some places. Other studios even had a FREE pass for your first week, no obligations following. In addition, keep your eye out for special events like studio openings, studio anniversaries and International Yoga Day – free classes are everywhere just waiting for you – and for cheap. Travel yoga just got way easier. No excuses there!

travel yoga asana in melbourne australia
Stretching it out in my tiny Melbourne studio flat.

 

There are all my travel yoga secrets! So many options to be able to get moving no matter what excuse is holding me back. Of course finding other ways to keep moving such as hiking, exploring a new city or town, or going for a bike ride are also great ways to see the country you’re in and stay active while doing so! I hope these inspire you to roll out your mat or attend that yoga class in a foreign language, and let me know how it goes!

 

How do you get moving when you’re abroad? Have you noticed a change in your fitness routine when you’re travelling vs at home? Let me know below!

-x Jenn, The Redhead Abroad

Budget Travel: 5 Cheap Eats in Melbourne, Australia

I’m going to get straight to the point because if you’re reading this, you’re likely in Melbourne and hungry! Or just hungry.

I lived in Melbourne for 1.5 years and found out very quickly that it is a beautiful – and expensive – city. But even while living and travelling on a budget we have to treat ourselves once in a while, right?! So I’ve put together this list of my top 5 Cheap Eats in Melbourne, Australia that are sure to leave both your belly and wallet satisfied.
Disclaimer: I have personally tried all of the places I am about to recommend and am in no way affiliated with any of them- just love what they offer. I hope you enjoy them too, while saving a bit of cash at the same time.

 

Happy eating!

 

Grab Dumplings in Chinatown

 

In the heart of the City is Melbourne’s Chinatown, literally filled to the brim with delicious restaurants at every turn. Shanghai Dumpling House and Shanghai Village are my favourites. Shanghai Dumpling House is the ultimate cheap, good food experience. The ambience is definitely casual, and its cash only. At $8 including tax for 20 steamed or friend dumplings of many kinds to choose from, you can eat well for super cheap and BYOB for a couple of dollars’ fee if you wish. This is the ultimate go-to as a couple or group- it’s our go-to before going out dancing or after a movie. Shanghai Village is a bit of a more nice environment but still has super cheap options as well.
Check out Shanghai Village Facebook page here .

 

Pay as you Feel at Lentil as Anything

 

Lentil as anything has a pay as you feel philosophy wherecustomers order delicious meals and donate whatever they can afford. The meals are hard to choose between (my favourite has to be the veggie burger or japanese pancake though), and there are guides posted in the restaurant to show you where your donation will go and how it will help the restaurant. All waiters, chefs etc are volunteering their time, and Lentils is run on an honour based system. They are solely run on the generosity of the public and all staff are volunteers so please donate generously if you can! Check them out and their locations here .

 

Sushi in the City

 

Sushi-to-go is the ultimate grab and go snack in Melbourne. The sushi is served still as a full roll and not cut into pieces. I’m not sure if an official name for this exists, but I’ve just started saying “sushi log” (you heard it here first, guys!), and each log is around $2 depending on where you go. My favourites are all along Swanston street between QV mall and Flinders Street Station. Grab a few of these and bring them to a park or eat in for a quick, fresh, super cheap lunch. I love grabbing a few to go for a mini picnic along the Yarra River.

 

Snack your way around Queen Victoria Market

 

I used to live quite close to Queen Victoria Market. This is the ultimate stop for cheaper veggies, fruits, legumes, fish andmore. After doing our bi-weekly vegetable stock-up, we get hungry! Take a wander around the market where you can find juicy, delicious and cheap local Australian fruits, cafes, and restaurants with delicious, affordable homemade snacks of all varieties. During all seasons they also often have events such as food and craft night markets, free outdoor yoga, and specialty food-truck days. Sample your heart out.

 

Try a Yoga and Dinner Combo at Urban Yoga

 

Urban Yoga is the best deal I have come across in Melbourne in any category- hands down. I found Urban Yoga through Classpass, and one evening I wandered over to the studio where we had a relaxing one hour yin yoga class  followed by a delicious, warm, vegetarian dinner on the floor below. How much, you ask? $17! Or $14 if you’re a student. I was SO excited you guys. Hear me out- yoga in Melbourne, like most cities, is crazy expensive. The majority of yoga studios charge upwards of $25 for a single hour yoga class, and definitely no dinner included. So imagine how happy I was to discover this. My go to for a relaxing, healthy evening.

 

**Side note: Classpass (link)  as I previously mentioned is an app where you pay a monthly fee to access multiple fitness studios around Melbourne (it’s in other cities and countries too). It’s great because instead of locking yourself in to one studio, you can try many. They have a great intro pass option too – try it out if you’re into yoga & fitness at a reasonable price.

http://www.urbanyoga.com.au/yoga-sessions/

 

Talk about cheap eats! I hope you found some foodie inspiration from this list. It’s definitely possible to find meals in Melbourne that are affordable and delicious at the same time!

Have you been to Melbourne? What’s your favourite place to eat?

 

-x Jenn, The Redhead Abroad

How I Survived Christmas Abroad

Have you ever experienced the holiday season away from your family and closest friends? Perhaps in a foreign country as well? The Christmas and New Years holidays are the most important time of year, when family gathers and shares over feasts, gifts, and maybe one too many rum and eggnogs. It’s also a time where we may be halfway across the world, and are just trying to have the best Christmas, knowing we are far from home. I have spent the last two holiday seasons away from my home country and family, and this post is all about how i survived Christmas abroad (and more!), and you can too!

Surround yourself with people in the same situation as you.

If you’re abroad during the holidays, there’s bound to be someone nearby in the exact same situation as you. Find fellow backpackers in your hostel, families of local friends, anyone that you want to share the holiday cheer with! A great idea is organizing an easy and fun Secret Santa gift exchange with a group of people at a small price range, make a get together to share appetizers or desserts or to watch a holiday movie together! This can help everyone have a wonderful morning filled with surprises and treats with those who are sure to soon be close friends.

Embrace new traditions.

The key to surviving the holiday season away from family and in a new environment is to immediately understand that it will be different. You’re in a new country, with a different culture and set of traditions. So let go a little bit of the traditions you have at home (keep a few!) and welcome the new traditions that come your way. It will spark the Christmas excitement again!

For example, I have just spent Christmas 2016 in Chile, where everyone waits on Christmas Eve until midnight and then opens gifts and meets family until the early hours of the morning. In Canada where I’m from, we have dinner, family conversation by the fire and then fall fast asleep only to wake up early the next morning for gifts and a large breakfast.

Viejito Pascuero (Santa Claus) en Chile

Call or Skype your loved ones.

Yes, technology seems to be taking over to a certain degree. And we should leave our cell phones and other devices to the side during the holidays to fully be present and connect with those around us ( really we should do this for the most part always!). One time where your phone will definitely come in handy this year is to call or skype your loved ones at home.

I recently skyped with my family and they showed me around the house, our decorated tree, the snow outside, and them! Although it made me miss my family even more of course, I was able to imagine I was right there with them. Thank gosh for technology with loved ones far away!

You’re doing it!

After experiencing Christmas abroad, the verdict for me is, of course, nothing is better than home. Family is the most important at this time of year, right? But at the same time, what I do enjoy about the holidays abroad with new people I meet in my travels is it opens my mind to other cultures, I learn and practice new traditions, and it makes it that much sweeter when I will finally have Christmas at home again. Travelling at Christmas has also really put into perspective the amount of material items we give and consume during the holiday season. While travelling and keeping in mind those I am usually giving gifts to are travelling as well, it helps you to think much more about what you are purchasing, and how it can be useful to that person, making gift giving that much more satisfying!

Happy holidays to you, wherever you are in the world!

Where is your favourite place to spend the holidays? Do you have any holiday traditions? Let me know in the comments! Please subscribe if you’d like to see more posts like this.

-x Jenn, The Redhead Abroad

The Versatile Blogger Award Nomination

I am very excited to have been nominated for my first award in the blogging world, The Versatile Blogger Award. And by the epic pair of The Travelators no less! Thanks so much Katherine and Tom. Check out these two extensive aussie travellers who are experts at travelling while juggling careers at home through career breaks. Love browsing through your articles and photos, guys!

What is the Versatile Blogger Award about?

The Versatile Blogger Award is given by bloggers to more bloggers who display uniqueness and love for what they do through quality writing on throughout their blog. This helps encourgae to continue delivering great content, and get fellow blogger’s work out there! Since starting my blogging journey recently, I have already connected with many like-minded people out there sharing their travel experiences with the world, and this is another amazing way to do so and be a part of. There are some criteria though such as: The quality of the bloggers writing, photograph quality, uniqueness in the subjects covered and a strong level of love shining through their work for what they do!

Here are the rules once you receive The Versatile Blogger Award:

  • Be kind and publicly thank who who nominated you, linking to their blog so everyone else can see their great work as well.
  • Choose up to 10 nominees you think are deserving of this award and notify them via social media so they can feel good about themselves too.
  • Share 7 random things about yourself, and ask your nominees to do the same. Learning about others is fun and connects us even more!

Before I share my own list of nominees (!) as promised, here are 7 things you probably didn’t know about me:

1. I moved to a country I’d never visited before (or even the continent!)

I am currently living in Chile, and I had never visited before moving here! While I was working and travelling around Australia last year, I met my now partner, who is Chilean. After both of our visas expired in Australia, and due to a scholarship requirement of my partner, we are now living in Chile! I am loving it so far, so it’s all hands on deck learning spanish and getting accustomed to the latin life!

Empanadas in Santiago

2. My favourite place to travel

I have so many places I have travelled to and fallen in love with, but I’d have to say my favourite place so far is Nusa Lembongan, near Bali in Indonesia. This island is heaven for me. With dive shops and cheap nature-based boat trips around the island for a small cost compared to Canada, my first sight of a TURTLE while scuba diving, the delicious food and endless back roads and hidden areas to find by bike, it’s my dream destination, and tucked a bit further away from the crowds on Bali island.

Nusa Lembongan, Indonesia

3. My best flight ever.

Air Asia! I know, it’s a budget airline, and especially after some complications a few years back I was honestly nervous to fly with them. BUT. I travelled from Bali to Yogyakarta, Indonesia recently. A relatively short flight, and I had a blast! The flight attendant sang the entire time on our tiny plane to songs by Bruno Mars and others, accompanied with an acoustic guitar and everyone was having a great time. That’s what I like to call in-flight entertainment!

4. My favourite food.

I have three. Avocados, Yams and Cinnamon. Yes they are not complete “meals” within themselves (I beg to differ), but they are my top 3. They haven’t changed in years. And living in Chile is really helping my avocado craving – much cheaper here than in Canada or Oz! #sellingpoint.

5. My favourite childhood memory.

I have so many. But I think the one that pops out most to me is being at our cabin (aka a cozy, handbuilt structure by my dad, uncle and grandpa), with my two brothers. We would always create a homemade theatre between the two bunkbeds in the kids bedroom, and hold plays complete with costumes and a dressing room, sit my parents down, and begin the show! I have always loved to dance, act (sometimes), and sing. This was definitely the lift-off point. Plus, back then my brothers and I had much more time to spend together. Now we are scattered around the world studying, working and whatever else. Good moments.

6. My usual day job.

I am a Marine Biologist working in Conservation Science by day! I hold my degree from UVic in Canada and before my extensive travels I worked in commercial fishery observation and in a laboratory for a mark recapture study of salmon for the Canadian government. In Australia, I continued this but more in the direction of teaching, working with an aquarium and various not for profit organizations. Now in Chile, I am slowly but surely breaking the language barrier to be able to do just the same here – the environment and wildlife here is incredible!

7. How I’ve been travelling for so long.

Working Holiday Visas, people! Unless you’re a digital nomad (jealous a bit), or you’re over 35 (sorry!), Working Holiday Visas are my jam. They are available in multiple countries, for one year or more at a time, and you are able to work in the country while supplementing your travels. If you have any questions on how I obtained mine for Australia, New Zealand,or Chile, send me a message!

 

And finally.. the Nominees. Check them out and give them some love!

  • Little Foot Adventures: Since starting to travel in 2012 after moving to England, Amalia’s list of countries is ever-growing. A self-proclaimed culture and history buff, she loves to accompany her stories with beautiful photos of special moments. She’s currently blogging from Copenhagen and is ready to pass on her travel inspiration to you!
  • A Romanian in Russia: Simona left her small hometown of Zimnicea after feeling a need for independence, a beach lover and a lover of reading! Follow her beautifully laid out blog accompanied with stunning photos as she is now working and travelling from Moscow, Russia.
  • Momentum Travels Blog: Maria’s blog isn’t just a blog- it’s a travel diary! Coupled with stunning photography, and 20 countries checked off her list, you should definitely take a browse! She also loves beer, cats, books, and chocolate. I feel like a lot of us could easily relate!
  • Sliva: Sliva is an acronym for Share and LIVe Adventures. This is a group of people who are passionate about all things adventure. Sliva also means plum in Slovene, so they have a plum as their signature icon! Their clean, well-written blog discusses everything from where to camp in Azores to what pedals are best for mountain biking. Check them out!
  • Traveling Katie Bug: From Colorado, Katie is a photo taking, dessert loving wanderluster who loves to share all things travel! She has experienced 18 countries already and doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon! Awesome stuff Katie.

 

And that’s everything! Thanks so much again to Katherine and Tom for the nomination and for those I have nominated, please continue to share this award with those who’s work you admire.

-Jenn, The Redhead Abroad