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

 

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

7 FREE must-see Spots: Santiago, Chile

Travelling to Chile? Have a week or a day for some touring? Here are my favourite 7 FREE must-see spots in Santiago de Chile to choose from. Get ready to be cultured in all things Santiago. For free!

1. The view from the top of San Cristóbal Hill (Cerro San Cristóbal)

You know that statue of Jesus in Rio de Janiero, Brazil everyone has photos of? Did you know Chile has it’s very own massive Virgin Mary statue? Yep! And it’s right in downtown Santiago.
This statue and the general top area of Cerro San Cristóbal can be reached by a 45 minute walk/hike up the hill from 3 different entry points. The easiest to find is just to the left of the funicular starting point. Another option is to take the funicular (cable car) to the top, which costs less than $4 USD per person.

Virgin Mary statue on Cerro San Cristóbal

Once you’re at the top, prepare yourself for beautiful views! I suggest reaching the top early in the morning before the crowds arrive, however if you don’t mind the people, at sunset it is stunning, and you have almost a 360 degree view of Santiago below. Definitely a must-see!

 

2. Santa Lucía Hill (Cerro Santa Lucía)

Santa Lucía Hill is right in the heart of the city. You can enter at multiple points around the hill. This is a great spot to do a bit of walking, or even to have a picnic and watch the passersby. Walking towards the tip of the hill you will find long, narrow steps which curve up to a look-out of Santiago and the Andes mountains.

This is an important hill because it is where Santiago was officially founded by Pedro de Valdivia, and Charles Darwin actually has a signed plaque just before the last set of stairs up to the very top look-out, stating it was one of his favourite views ever – I am a biology nerd and Charles Darwin is my hero so this was quite exciting!

Cerro Santa Lucía

Right across the street (across the Alameda), is a large artesanal crafts market where you can browse and find anything from handmade leather boots to classic souvenirs like the Indio Picaro (if you don’t know what that is, you’ll find out!).

 

3. Chilean National Museum of Fine Arts (Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes)

This museum is gorgeous. Right when you walk in, the entire building opens up into extremely high ceilings and light beams shining through to the floor. Here you can find replicas of famous statues from around the world and quirky exhibits which seem to be on constant rotation. If you’re into fine arts from around the world, this is your go-to. As a separate note, you must place your larger bags in the lockers provided to the left of the front entrance. No entry fee is required. No photos allowed in certain exhibits.

 

4. Museum of Memory and Human Rights (Museo de la Memoria y los Derechos Humanos)

Entrance is free, you must check in any larger bags at the front desk. This is an absolute must-see to educate yourself about the deep history engraved in Chile. This museum highlights Chile throughout the dictatorship between 1973 and 1990. It is powerful and packed with amazing, many sad, artefacts and details of what occurred during this time period. The building and layout itself is beautiful, and overall it is extremely well done. If you are interested in learning more about Chile and it’s history, do not miss this.

 

5. La Moneda Palace

This is the government palace of Chile. You are usually not able to get very close to the moneda due to guards and barriers, but it is a must to walk by and check out the statues of historical figures among the grass areas in front. Here is the location of the beginning of the dictatorship which rocked Chile from 1973 to 1990. Interesting fact: When the flag at the top of La Moneda also has the coat of arms on it, this means the president is currently inside the Palace.

La Moneda Palace

 

6. Parque Forestal

This beautiful park runs through the centre of Santiago city along the Mapocho River. Strolling through the trees and stopping to see various views is a pleasant, free activity for anyone. It runs alongside the Mapocho River which is a popular reference point. Whenever I am in the city I always try to walk through Parque Forestal instead of through the busy streets, hopefully with a fresh empanada in hand, and immerse myself in the greenery within the busy city of Santiago.

 

7. Santiago Metropolitan Cathedral & Plaza de Armas

Coming from a country that is very young (Canada), seeing places like these leave me in awe. Santiago is saturated with beautiful heritage buildings and cathedrals, and one of my favourite cathedrals has to be the Metropolitan in Plaza de Armas. The outside is breathtaking in itself, but once you enter it’s like you’re in a whole new world. Take your time looking at the statues, the ceiling, take a seat and absorb it! It’s breathtaking.

Metropolitan Cathedral, Plaza de Armas

**BONUS free must-see: My second favourite cathedral is the Cathedral de los Sacramentinos. Not many know about this cathedral as it is slightly out of the exact center of the city, but when it is open, it is absolutely amazing. Check out a photo I took inside on my instagram .

 

Travelling to Chile? Here are my top 5 must-know etiquette tips for Chile.

Have you travelled to Santiago? What’s your favourite spot to visit (free or not)? I’d love to hear ’em!

Did you like this article? Make sure to subscribe (look to the right) & I’ll send you a note when my next post is up.

-Jenn, The Redhead Abroad

 

Stay Grounded while Abroad: 3 Simple & Fast Tips

For all my fellow travellers who have at some point felt disconnected with themselves and their values while travelling or living abroad. It has happened to me, and may have/will happen to you! But no fret. Here are three of my best tips (Fast and Free!) to stay grounded and connect back to ourselves during our crazy adventures.
My first long, solo trip abroad snowballed into a one and a half year working holiday in Australia.  I was in a new country (and continent!), trying to find a job, couchsurfing, making new friends, and caught up in a tornado of new experiences. It felt amazing, liberating, and exciting. But after a couple of months, I realised amongst the amazing new chaos, I lost for a moment a bit of who I really was. I needed something that was easy, quick, and effective, to help me touch back down to home base while continuing with the adventures!

 

Here are 3 super easy practices I do in a couple of minutes, whenever I feel scatter-brained, to check back in with myself while abroad. The best part- you can practice these anywhere! My favourite times are when I’m riding the train home, walking along a long busy road to a destination, or whenever I have a spare moment (literally just a moment!) all to myself. They are short, effective and obviously free!

 

   

 

1. Focus on your breath. 

 

I know, I know. So simple! But trust me, this is what works best for me. Wherever I am, even just for a minute, I start to focus on and count my breaths, and try to get to 10 without losing count. Sound easy? Try it!

 

This is such a simple way to check in with yourself, how you’re feeling, and to calm down. The goal is not to think about nothing, it’s to simply acknowledge a thought and then let it float away, continuing to return to your breath counts. Even after only a minute of counting my breaths, my breath is deeper, slower, and I seem to complete things and speak with more calm and purpose.  With continual practice, you’ll be able to focus in a much shorter time and stay grounded while travelling.

 

2. Write down absolutely everything you can think of that you’re grateful for.

 

I practice this when I have a bit more time and space such as when I’m on the train or at home.
This I love to do when I’ve lost sight of what I really love and what supports me. It’s a wonderful reminder that you have everything you need at any moment, and it also helps you to think about what you hold dear to you as a reminder. By the end of this list I am literally writing things like “Slippers”  and “water fountains” and “smiles”. It helps you to see everything more humbly instead of always searching for the next cool thing to do. Try doing this for the country you’re in as well or where you’re travelling! I promise you’ll slow down and see everything more vividly.

 

3. Remain close to those who you respect and you share similar values with.

 

Whenever I feel a bit out of it or needing a literal anchor to bring me back to myself, I always reach out to my friends at home. Those who have known me the longest, have supported me through my travels abroad and whom I still consider dear friends even after all of this time living abroad. I have found that my closest friends are those who I can forget to speak to for months at a time, and all of sudden I call them on skype and we can talk as if no time has passed. These are also people with whom we share similar values and experiences, and they automatically ground me while travelling.

 

In addition, there are so many opportunities to connect with new friends while abroad who share similar interests and are likely experiencing similar situations as you! For example, I miss having regular yoga classes with my friends back home, so here in Chile I went out of my comfort zone and tried a spanish speaking yoga class (I am just learning spanish), and have made a couple of friends just by going a couple of times- plus, we are getting to know each other in the language I’m learning! A great mix of making new friends with similar ideals and enriching my experience abroad.

 

What’s your secret way to stay grounded while abroad? Share in the comments below or send me a message! If you liked this post, you can subscribe to the right & I’ll send you a note when my next post is up. x

 

Happy travels & stay grounded!

 

– Jenn, The Redhead Abroad

Culture-shocked Gringa: The awkward & awesome culture of Chile

Any new country you travel to is bound to have a few cultural surprises waiting for you to discover. After all, that’s why we travel, isn’t it? To be experience new cultures and learn more about the world? But, as I’m sure you’ve experienced as well, some of these culture shocks are exactly that – a shock!

I have been living and travelling around Chile since this past September, and have definitely encountered a few culture shocks that I would love to share with you! Use this as a prep for your travels to Chile, for a little laugh from an awkward Canadian’s mishaps, or just to take a slightly deeper look into the culture of this beautiful, unique latin country.

Note: These are my personal experiences since living in Chile and of course are not displayed by each individual in Chile, nor does any country have a cultural characteristics that every single person in their population displays. These are my findings and maybe you have experienced them too! Happy reading.

Shock #1: Commenting on your looks

I made this number one because this is the culture-shock that my family found funniest.

In North America, we can be quite self-conscious about our bodies and particularly keep subjects like weight and if someone’s getting fatter/thinner out of our casual conversation. We view asking about someone else’s weight as inconsiderate and private information, especially for those we don’t know so well.

But Chileans tend to be very quick to comment on your weight. It’s normal to greet someone you haven’t seen in a while and mention if they’re fatter or skinnier! And many use the words “gordo” or “flaca” to describe others, whereas in Canada we tend to avoid that at all costs, instead saying hair colour, height, or their friends etc.

In one moment I even weighed myself in front of my partner’s entire family at their request! So now my entire boyfriend’s family knows how much I weigh and ask for updates every so often. So beware, fellow North Americans, don’t be self conscious in Chile!

 

Shock #2: You’re 24… how many kids do you have?

In Chile (and most of Latin America), the smallest unit is a family. Whereas in North America and many western countries, the smallest unit is an individual. For potentially this reason, and also a seeming mixture of absence of sex-ed and other circumstances in Chile, many women tend to have children very “young” by North American standards.

When first meeting my partner’s family, many would ask how old I was. When I said I was 24, the natural next question was, “and how many children do you have?”. I was confused, and I replied with “none! I am way too young to have children right now. I’m living in random countries on work visas and haven’t even thought about kids in the very near future to be honest!”.

However, after speaking with the family and discussing my living situations in more depth and the differences in our cultures, they are now much more understanding.

It seems,  at least for those I know in Chile, many tend to have children quite young by western standards and definitely doing so before marriage seems quite common.

 

Shock #3: Speak Spanish? Speak Chilean? Introducing Chilenismos

No matter if you are a fluent castellano speaker or beginner, once you touch down in Chile, your spanish world will be challenged! Chileans have use many phrases and words unique to their country. Here are a few below. Listen out for them and use them as you please, but remember you will likely not be understood in other spanish-speaking countries! You can find full dictionaries of Chilenismos through a google search.

Weon – meaning too many things to write down. Can mean thing, buddy, mate, and more, depending on how you say it and context. other forms: wea, weona, etc. eg. Hola weon!

Po – this is not necessarily a word in itself, but is added at the end of sentences as a sort of emphasis. It’s like the stereotype that Canadians always say “eh”. eg. Si, po!

¿Cachai? – This is a phrase loosely meaning “catch what I’m saying?” or “you know what I mean?”. It doesn’t require a response, but you can still say “yo cacho”.

Check out more Chilenismos on google!

 

Shock #4: Everyone is flirting with you!

In Chile, it seems that everyone loves to gossip. Everywhere in the world there is always much gossip as well, it’s just human nature to an extent. But in Chile, they even have a verb that is uniquely used in the country, “pelar” meaning “to gossip”.

As an example, I was looking at the map of train stops while riding a train with family members to calculate how long it’d take us to get to our stop. A man beside me asked if I needed help, I said no, thank you. As soon as we exited the train, immediately I was asked about the man and was told that he was “flirting” with me because I’m a gringa.

In Canada, it’s simply seen as being friendly, unless it’s clear flirtation. And we are always quick to say “they were just being nice”. I guess it’s all the telenovelas? They can be quite addicting though.

 

So there they are! These culture shocks are always shocking, for lack of a better word, initially, but I like to see them as funny and quirky characteristics and the necessities of getting to know a new and beautiful country such as Chile.

 

What is the biggest culture-shock you have experienced? Let me know below!

x – Jenn, The Redhead Abroad

DIY: Natural, Spa-worthy Facial Oil for Travelling Babes

If you’re anything like me, the more I travel and discover new ( to me ) beautiful environments, the more I realise how much we need to take care of these special places and our world as a whole for the future. A big part of our impact on Earth (especially as women!) is what’s in our cosmetics.

If you have experienced long flights for hours at a time, multiple time zones and random seasons – or constantly chase summertime around the globe- you know that if we aren’t careful, our bodies can get VERY out of whack! All of this travelling is great for our minds, our memories, and our cameras, but not so gentle on the largest organ of our body – our skin.

Last year, I tossed out my chemical-ridden face lotion and made the switch to using naturally derived oils that moisturise my sensitive face without clogging my pores. I use this as both a morning moisturiser after cleansing and as a nightly face oil. It’s even a miracle-worker as an under-eye oil, not to mention it smells amazing and calming (it’s on my face as I type this!). Here’s my secret recipe just for you:

Ingredients:

110mL or similar bottle of Sweet Almond oil (I use this)

  • Sweet Almond Oil is an all around moisturizing machine and wrinkle zapper. Quick absorbing and containing vitamin E, it has all the moisture you need without interfering with your perfect pore-less complexion (We’re almost there – right, ladies?!)

10 drops of 100% pure lavender essential oil ( I use this )

  • Lavender Oil is a powerhouse of calming properties, anti-redness (I’m definitely subject to this), and anti-inflammation. Hello, skin heaven!

10 drops of 100% pure frankincense essential oil ( I use this )

  • Frankincense Oil is a miracle worker for any inflamed areas or difficult skin areas- it can even help heal minor wounds! Not to mention it’s great for calming mild anxiety and stress just through the smell.

* for the essential oils, try asking a friend for a few drops of theirs before purchasing. These oils have a long shelf life, but it’s much cheaper to ask a friend and offer a couple of dollars!

Directions:

So simple! Grab your bottle of sweet almond oil, open, and add 10 drops of each frankincense and lavender oil. Shake gently, and you’re done!

You may add a bit more of each oil as you desire. Keep in mind that lavender and frankincense are pure essential oils, and you should not put these directly on your skin without mixing with a carrier oil (sweet almond oil in this case!)

And voila! Cheap and so effective. Enjoy!

– x Jenn, The Redhead Abroad

Top 5 Traditional Chilean Foods – that are Vegetarian-friendly!

This is for all of the vegetarians out there who still want to enjoy South American culture – specifically Chile – without the meat!

So here you are, in South America, looking for lunch and are surrounded by meat. After all, it is a continent known for delicious meat dishes worldwide! But for whatever personal reason, you’re vegetarian (so am I!). Here is my guide to enjoying and discovering traditional Chilean cuisine as a vegetarian. There are many options here, you just have to look a little bit harder. Here are my top 5 that I always seek out whenever I’m hungry.

1. Empanadas
Empanadas are a cuisine that is delicious, convenient and traditional. Chilean empanadas are either “el horno” (oven) style, or “frito” (fried). I personally prefer El Horno as the taste of the empanada dough tends to hold more flavour. Most restaurants or empanada stalls will have queso (cheese) empanadas, and my favourites are champignon queso (mushroom & cheese) and espinaca con salsa blanca (spinach and alfredo-style sauce) empanadas.

Fried cheese empanada on Diseciocho (September 18th, 2016 – Chile Independence Day)

2. Guiso
Guiso is a dish that is literally a mix of all good things veggie. A mix of different vegetables depending on who’s serving it, you can find zucchini, swiss chard, carrots, spices, and more. Delicious when served with roasted potatoes and a salad.

3. Vegetarian Completos
Completos are everywhere in Santiago, Chile! You can find them at restaurants, late at night at food stalls, or for almuerzo (lunch) at home. While a completo consists of a hot dog or sausage with many toppings (mainly avocado, tomato, sauerkraut and condiments), sometimes you can find a good completo with a vegetarian sausage or added vegetables! Check out Domino’s restaurants for a good selection of options and veggie-friendly completos.

Vegetarian completo in Domino’s restaurant.

 

4. Ensaladas y frutas (Salads and fruit)
Chile has an amazing assortment of fruits and vegetables for very reasonable (even cheap!) prices, especially if you’re coming from a western-world country- last year living in Australia the avocados were approximately $3.50 US for one! Here in Chile the produce tends to be more fresh and last longer as well. All thoughout Chile you can find delicious salads that many add to their meat meals, but I just ask for a full meal size version! Fresh tomatoes, onion, lettuce, spinach, cilantro, lemon, the list goes on. The fruit here is quite unique too- test out a chirimoya or pepino fruit in La Vega, Santiago’s large food and clothing market en el centro. You won’t regret it.

5. Porotos Granados
Porotos Granadas is probably the most well-known vegetarian dish in Chile. A soup/chilli consistency made with various lentils, beans and vegetables, it’s perfect for any season, packed with protein, and will keep you satisfied and energized after almuerzo (lunch)! In La Vega market in Santiago, there are many cheap lunch options including Porotos for approximately 3,000 CLP (less than $6 US!).

Happy eating and adventuring!

Arrive Revived: Start your vacation before you arrive

Your bags are packed, you’ve got you’re itinerary, and it’s finally setting in- you’re going travelling! But.. you also realise you have a long flight – or multiple flights and layovers ahead of you – to get there. What do you bring and do to arrive refreshed? Here are some tips from a Canadian girl who is currently obsessed with the southern hemisphere (double digit hour flights!), to help you minimise stress and maximise relaxation and ease before your holiday officially begins!
— Disclaimer: Below you will find a few products as suggestions, that were purchased by me, and I am in no way connected to these brands. —
Step 1. Bring a well organised carry-on bag.
This is essential. What you bring on your carry-on determines how smooth (or stressful!) your airport and flight experience will be. Here is what I bring in my bag without fail:
  • Inflatable neck pillow: My number one necessity. There’s nothing worse than a super sore neck after a plane ride!
  • Noise-cancelling headphones: Many major airlines now have mini screens with movies, tv episodes, music and more free of charge. I always remember to pack my own headphones that are noise cancelling, as they can double as ear plugs if needed and provide a much better experience than those packaged airplane ones.
  • Entertainment: A book, ereader, music player, something easy to pop out and relax with during waits or layovers.
  • Ear plugs: Essential. You never know if you may be sitting next to babies or chatty fellow passengers on a long haul flight!
  • Sleep mask: Perfect to set the environment for a nap. I use this mask from Saje Canada which is SO afforable, filled with lavender AND doesn’t mess up your makeup (if you’re wearing any). Win!
  • Large scarf / shawl: My saviour. A large scarf will keep you cozy during layovers, and on flights it doubles as a blanket. I also drape this partly over my head to be extra cozy and feel warmer when that airplane dry air gets to be too much. In my opinion, these are worth the small splurge.
  • Facial mist (DIY or purchased): The air on airplanes, mixed with our forgetfulness of time in the air and staying hydrated, means dry skin! I usually bring a combination of rose water and my favourite essential oils (less than 100mL of course)! Or a favourite, naturally-derived spritz poured into a travel size bottle for quick rehydration. This also works wonders to perk up your skin after a long haul flight instead of relying on pore-clogging makeup.
  • Essential oils: I love to use essential oils to help me sleep, feel energized or get rid of a pesky headache after a long journey.  When I was back in Canada recently, I stocked up on Saje Natural Wellness oils. Their prices are reasonable, products are quality and long lasting! My go to are their “Rolling Farmacy” oil blend convenience kits, which usually include their most known-for blend Peppermint Halo (instant headache blaster for me), and immunity (a dream to use in closed environments such as airplanes). You can find these Saje products here .
  • Samples: of face cleanser, moisturizer, toothbrush and toothpaste. A part of arriving revived is to literally be refreshed.
  • Thick, cozy socks: Flights can get cold. Grab a pair with cozy wool woven in, slip off your shoes and treat your feet!
Step 2: Wear comfortable, functional clothing.
In general, going through security lines, sometimes being stuck in long lines in stuffy places, and trying to get comfortable on a plane – require functional, layered and well though-out outfits!
What I wear:
  • Slip on shoes: ankle boots, loosely tied converse, comfortable flats- easy to slip on and off and get you through security quickly and with ease.
  • Flowy pants or yoga leggings: The more comfortable the better. Yoga leggings with a slight compression factor also help to combat circulation issues during long flights.
  • Tank top/ T-shirt with comfortable sweater or tunic: layered for the perfect comfortable look and feel.
  • Large Scarf: Game changer. See above step!

Step 3. Move around!

Flights are long, seats are tiny (well, if you’re riding economy like myself!), and there’s little room for stretch- which is very important! One of the main activities I need to practice on long flights, boats, roadtrips, or whatever transportation, moving often is necessary to keep muscles limber and everything in working order.

My favourites are simple and avoid chubby toes at the beach on arrival! long forward folds, holding high lunges or even just wiggling it out while in line for the washroom. Do whatever gets things flowing!

Are you preparing for an upcoming trip or regularly travel? Do you have any tips or suggestions to add? Comment below or send me a message! x – Jenn