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

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

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

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