If there was any part of my trip to India with my mother that truly felt like I was immersed in a world that was completely different than anything that I’ve ever experienced in my life, it’s Varanasi (also known as Benares, Banaras or Kashi, a city located on the left bank of the Ganges. One of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, it is also one of the seven sacred cities of Hinduism.
Suman Kumari Singh of Suryaa Villa, a heritage home in Jaipur, Rajasthan, teaches me how to make my first Chapathi! I admit, I'm a bit intimidated. She makes Indian cooking look easy!
While traveling in Jaipur, we came across “Ladli” (meaning “loving girl” in Hindi), a vocational training program for abused, orphaned and destitute children in the desert city of Jaipur, India. I learned that this vocational center paid children that were vulnerable to begging (and even prostitution!) and taught them skills in craftmaking, a very valuable skills in the jewelry capital of Jaipur. They were also taught Hindi, English, Art, Math, and Dance, and were provided nutrition, medical check-ups and counseling.
I'm very excited to speak at TravelCon, a travel conference in Austin, TX put together by Matt Kepnes of Nomadic Matt & Lynan Saperstein of Experience Experts about how how my blogging has led me to become an independent travel agent focused on selling sustainable travel. I'm going to share the lessons I've learned and also show you how you can do it too!
I want all human beings to not forget that despite the conflict in the news, there still is much beauty in humanity. Despite our differences, we have a shared humanity that we mustn’t be scared of. While news headlines can divide us, travel can unite us.
Tucked away between Italy, Austria, Croatia and Hungary lies this hidden gem of a country. Greener than green and bluer than blue, it's easy to fall in love with the easy-going and peacefully bucolic yet jaw-dropping country side. And did I mention that the wines and the food are seriously delicious?
Prayers from the mosque’s loudspeakers meld with reggaeton blasting from multiple car windows and techno music that reveals a party taking place on the second floor of a nearby McDonald’s. This is Casablanca. And in this city—immortalized in a film by vintage Hollywood—one is affronted by a cacophonous yet complimentary swath of cultural influences that make up Morocco, a country directly south of Spain in Northern Africa.
A bright neon flamingo marks the elusive entrance of this hip hangout in South Williamsburg. It seems like I could get everything I wanted out of a night out, all in one place – good healthy food, well-crafted cocktails and a great night of dancing.
Who doesn't want that perfect go-to dress that you know looks good on you no matter what? But in reality, finding the perfect dress that makes you shine in every occasion is like finding a needle in a haystack.
What if you could simply design it yourself?
As a pro-active person and a huge fan of DIY projects, when I had the opportunity to try out making my own dress with Piol Dress, a fashion company where you can design your own high end, high-quality dress that reflects your personality, I jumped on it. And the coolest thing about this dress-making experience is you don't even need a degree with design, tailoring or and you don't even need to leave your home... you can do this all online... while in your jammies.
I'm a big fan of the timeless classic look and multi-functionality so I wanted to create one dress that I could wear to work, an after-work function, a cocktail party AND a wedding reception, but I didn't want it to be boring.
The website was really easy to navigate and fun to use. It quickly took me step-by-step through choosing the perfect silhouette for me and the perfect fabrics for my high-end custom made dress.
I browsed through a personal palette of colors - based on the system by renowned costume designer, Edith Head, to complement and brighten my natural coloring.
At first it felt a little weird to design a dress completely online and then to wait for it in the mail because what if I didn't like it? What if the color was all wrong? What if the fabric I picked sucked? What if it didn't fit properly?
My very many questions were assuaged by the guarantee that Piol Dress gave, which was if I didn't like the dress for any reason... They were going to refund all my money (except for the shipping costs) and donate the dress to charity. Basically a WIN-WIN situation.
So I pressed the order button even though I wasn't sure whether my dress would turn out exactly like I had designed it online, but I could only hope right?
When it arrived, I was very pleased.
Not only did it fit me amazingly, it was a really a beautiful color and the fabric was the best quality. I got so many compliments on the dress. It was a dress that was truly made just for me.
Photos by Nicole Michaelis
My sister and I obviously have very different clothing styles, but now we both have a Piol Dress. She, like me, LOVED the experience of designing her own dress.
In fact, I loved making my own Piol Dress so much that I want to share it with YOU.
For the opportunity to win a FREE Piol Dress (worth over $500) for the holidays for you or a female loved one, please leave a comment below and tell me why you want the dress. Good luck!
Video may have killed the radio star, but the online travel agencies such as Orbitz have definitely NOT killed the travel agent.
I was heartbroken to hear of the devastation that the Mexican beach destination of Los Cabos went through during Hurricane Odile earlier this year, but I was happy to learn that Los Cabos International Film Festival taking place later this month on Nov. 12 to Nov. 16th, 2014 will mark the unofficial opening of Los Cabos as a tourist destination. A great weekend to explore Los Cabos, Aeromexico and partnering hotels are offering discounts to festival goers.
Yet as we marched, I couldn't help thinking about what would happen after today - after this march. Would it really affect any decisions made at the UN General Assembly?
I really hope so... because the truth is, without any real, solid action that affects our everyday lives - a climate march, even one as big as this one, would be nothing but a parade - filled with costumes, signage, glitterati and celebrities.
I had the pleasure of traveling to Asheville, North Carolina with my friend Jia Li, the brains behind the fashion brand, Jia Collection, that features very stylish and reversible and convertible clothing.
Reversible and convertible clothing are pieces that can be worn several different ways - inside out and backwards to achieve different looks.
Let me tell you that Jia's reversible clothing is amazing. It makes packing so much lighter and not having to check in a bag makes things so much easier.
On a Caribbean island that is famous for their all-inclusives, I wanted to get away from all that as much as possible and really get back to nature, and at Natura Cabana Boutique Hotel and Spa, I was able to soak in all the shades of blue of the Caribbean, as well as all the greens of the boutique resort's flora and fauna. I really enjoyed staying at this rustic eco-friendly hideaway tucked in-between the Dominican North Coast town of Cabarete and Sosua, located in a private residential area away from the tourists called Paseo de Sol. I highly recommend it to all who want to really get away from it all and truly rejuvenate.
NYC is buzzing with up-and-coming fashion talent. As far as fashion in the North America is concerned, NYC is Mecca. And as part of New York Fashion Week, I had the privilege of attending The Set NYC's Fashion Benefit to raise money for a charity called Love 146, that fights child trafficking worldwide.
For the first time in almost 3 years, I'm actually in New York City for Fashion Week. I have been very blessed to have been invited to two very different types of fashion previews - the first was an intimate gathering for the newly launched Á Moi Atelier's Ready to Wear Autumn/Winter 2014 Preview at designer Alejandra Alonso's Soho apartment and the second, detailed later in this post, was an invitation by The Mobile Media Lab + Tommy Hilfiger to a New York Fashion Week Instameet.
There have been several articles circling the Internet that have been brought to my attention with various opinions regarding dating girls who travel, read and write. Definitely inspired by the collection of articles (listed below) surrounding why one should/should not/do/do not date these types of free-spirted, free-thinking girls, I think it's time for me to write my own response.
There is nothing quite like the artistic energy that emanates from the heart of Williamsburg in Brooklyn, my favorite borough of New York City.
I spend one night at the Wythe Hotel, a boutique hotel with loft-converted rooms that feature original historic industrial detailing, pine ceilings, and exposed brick walls. My room overlooks the hauntingly peaceful snow-covered Manhattan.
I never knew that you could ski in Spain. I always equated skiing with the Alps and Spain with sunshine, beaches, flamenco and bull-fighting. But apparently, you can ski in Spain - up in the stunning Spanish Pyrenees in the Catalonia region of the country.
Stuck back at home for the holidays, or with the in-laws, and feeling overwhelmed? Here's a quick 26 minute workout my good friend, pilates instructor Michelle Tash shared with me that you can quickly do to center your mind and your body. Take some time for yourself in an empty room, lock your door and set up your yoga mat.