When In…Costa Rica (Part 2)

Costa Rica 1

(Click here to read Part 1 of our Costa Rican adventure!)

Tuesday ~ “Mojitos and a Pig named Lolita”

On Tuesday we started exploring other beaches.  Playa Avellanas was our first stop.  This beach is home to the famous Lola’s, a bar/restaurant named one of the Top 10 Beach Bars in the world.

Playa Avellanas

Lola’s provided us some shade to lay out our beach towels and enjoy the day.  Which we did.  Lots of enjoying.  Thanks to the fact that Lola’s makes THE BEST Mojito ever.  When I first saw it, I was skeptical.  It was blended.  I’m no froo-froo girl.  I like my drinks on the rocks.  But I was hot and thirsty, so I drank it.  And then I drank another.  And then I had a couple more, I don’t remember the exact number.  All I remember is my boyfriend “suggesting” I jump in the ocean so the cool water could bring me back to life.

Also, Lola’s had a pig.  Because of course.

The pig’s name was Lolita.

Lolita was large.

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Wednesday ~ “What Happens When you Mingle with the Rich”

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Wednesday brought us to another beach.  Flamingo.  Playa Flamingo is wealthier than most beach cities in Costa Rica. Affluence is among you, or more specifically, sitting on mansions on hills that overlook the ocean.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s beautiful.  But I’ve seen it before.  In California.

We had a family set up fancy tents, umbrellas, and chairs in their expensive bathing suits.  Then they played Dave Matthews from their wireless speaker system.  It was like sitting on Laguna Beach.  It all just felt a little out of our league.  We like towels and cheap flip flops – and the cheapest drinks known to man.  We still had a blast.  In fact, we swam in some of the best waves this day.

Thursday ~ “Shots. And Not the Fun Kind”

No trip is ever complete without a trip to the doctor.  That’s why at 6am on Thursday we decided to pay a Costa Rican clinic a visit.  I was concerned, developing country and all.  I had no need to be!  The 24 hour clinic was better than any doctor’s office I’ve ever been to in the States.  Nicely decorated, spotlessly clean, warm and friendly.  The doctor apologized profusely for the time I spent in the waiting room – which was 5 minutes.  5 minutes!

I had strep throat. The boyfriend had his own issue, but you know how it goes – I only provide TMI for my own life, not his.  The doctor called me back first.  After diagnosing the problem and promising two shots would make me feel brand new (and they did!), she called The Boyfriend in.  Right as he walked in, the nurse was pulling out two HUGE shots.  My naked butt was out on the table.  Needless to say, he was concerned and confused.  It was exceedingly comical.  The poor guy leaves his girlfriend alone in a Costa Rican doctor’s office for a few minutes and then walks in just as LARGE needles are about to go in each butt cheek.

The doctor spent so much time with each of us, ensuring we were okay to leave.  We were shocked to find out that we each owed only $70 and all follow-up visits would be free.  Um – America – you could learn a thing or two.

We spent the rest of the relaxing in Tamarindo.  Napping on a beautiful beach was not a bad way to recover.  For sunset, we went back to Casa Monacita and watched the beauty from the pool.  With snacks.  It was perfect.

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Friday ~”All Good Things…Should be Dragged Out as Long as Possible”

Our last day.  We spent it in Tamarindo.  We figured that we had seen the beach, so we wanted to explore the town.  We did a lot of walking.  Have I mentioned that Costa Rica is a little warm?  To a Vegas native, such as myself, it just feels like summer, to anybody else it may feel a little blazin’!  We sweat our way through the streets of Tamarindo and fell in love with this little beach city.  I love the color everywhere.

Later that night we visited one of the coolest spots in town, Black Stallion.  It’s hard to describe just how awesome it is.  But picture this: a divine backyard covered in twinkly lights and community tables, a bar with delightful sangria, the best BBQ you have ever tasted, and fun staff members.  It was such a joy to end our vacation here, and I would tell everyone to do the same!

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We made sure to go to bed late, just to soak up our last night.

Saturday ~ “Celine Dion, Windy Mountains, and Denny’s”

So sad to leave. Because we were in Costa Rica during Semana Santa, their holy week, it was difficult to find transportation back to San Jose for our flight.  We managed to find a van service which was considerably more money than the bus system.  But it was what we had.  When we drove to Tamarindo, it was dark outside so we didn’t get to see many scenic country views. This time, we saw everything and were totally surprised by the landscape.  It was not nearly as “tropical” as we had expected.  But we were on the Pacific side of the country, and we were there during dry season.  Though it wasn’t what we expected, it was equally beautiful in it’s own way.

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The traffic was horrendous due to Semana Santa.  So the driver took us on a “short cut” through a scary mountain road.  The road was extremely narrow, the van never really slowed down, the sides were steep.  I basically kept my head tucked in my boyfriend’s shoulder the entire time.  Nobody in the van spoke English.  But the driver was playing Celine Dion.  Because that makes total sense.  “Baby, Baby, Baby When You Kiss Me Like This” was the theme song to the scariest ride ever.

We made it to San Jose safely.  The only restaurant within walking distance was Denny’s.  So Americana.  We went to bed for a few hours, hopped on a plane – and the rest is history!

“Gluten Free Eating in Costa Rica” coming soon!!

Why Women Should Be Rocking Their Bikinis

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Bikinis are powerful little pieces of fabric aren’t they?  They’re supposed to be tools, a quick-drying outfit to swim in, covering as little skin as possible so the sun and water and summertime can soak into every pore.  But they’re so much more than that.

For women across the board, bikinis are scary reminders that our bodies are not perfect. Clothing helps cover up our fears day-to-day.  Push-up bras and Spanx even enhance them.  But then we take it all off at the end of the day and remember that our bodies don’t match up to the ideal we have in our heads.  When you put on a bikini, suddenly all those insecurities aren’t hidden under fabric; they are exposed for the world to see.

Women so often dread bathing suit shopping.  They stare at the models in magazines and compare belly to belly, thigh to thigh, boobs to boobs.  Then you try to find the bikini that makes you look like them, the airbrushed models, and not one bikini is magical enough to do so.

If that weren’t enough, it goes deeper than that for some.  For some like me.  Those of us who grew up learning that women’s bodies were “stumbling blocks” for boys and men.  The good Christian girls who sacrificed style and comfort for their brothers in Christ by covering up their bodies.   Modesty was a god.  The “worldly” girls wore bikinis and tempted men.  The rest of us either put on a cover up, a one-piece or simply didn’t go swimming.  Apparently, boys were unable to look at a woman’s body any way other than sexually.  And apparently, that was the girl’s problem.

Bikinis are radioactive little shame-reminders for so many women.

It’s funny that these problem bikinis are made to go in the water, one of the most enjoyable life experiences humans have.  Life offers us this simple pleasure of cool water on a hot day – whether that be in a pool, on a beach, washing a car, or running through sprinklers.  Humans love water.  We love lounging by it, we love floating on it – we just love it. And that love coincides with shame for so many women, because it coincides with bikinis.

I say enough.  No more.  Not happening.

Let’s begin with body image issues.  The media shoves images of highly photoshopped women in our faces daily.  We cannot ever live up to those standards, because not even those women live up to those standards.  Look around at the women you know.  Ask them what they are insecure about.  They will all have an answer, I promise.  Want mine?  I’m insecure about belly fat, acne scarring, knocked knees, uneven skin pigment that leads to uneven tanning, and my lack of thigh gap.  What are you insecure about?  List it, face it head on.  And then move on.  Get over it.  Life is way way way too short to spend it hiding from your insecurities.  You can hide because you hate a part of your body.  Or you can say: screw it!  I have one life and it’s going to be fabulous.  Because I am fabulous.

To those women struggling with body image issues, wear that freaking bikini with pride.  The people who judge you are idiots and not worth your time. Enjoy your life.  Let your skin enjoy the water and the sunshine.

Now to the modesty issues.  Your body is not a problem.  Your body is not sinful.  Your body is not responsible for anybody else.  Your body is your body.  If a man looks at you and thinks sexual things, welcome to humanity!  We are sexual creatures; that’s how we are wired.  Your job is not to hide for a man.  We do not live in a man’s world where women are the pawns in the game.  Not anymore.  We live in a shared world.  If men cannot control themselves, they can look away.  They are not weak, they are strong.  Just like us, ladies.  Skin is not shameful.  Bodies are more than sexual, they are used for swimming and running and laying down to relax.  P.S. a man can look at a fully clothed woman and think lustful thoughts too.

To those women struggling with modesty shaming issues, wear that freaking bikini with pride.  The people who judge you are idiots and not worth your time.  Enjoy your life.  Let your skin enjoy the water and sunshine.

Now to those women who truly just don’t like bikinis, simply don’t want to wear one, or feel comfortable rocking another type of suit, you most certainly don’t have to wear a bikini!  But for anybody who wants to and feels insecure for one reason or another – embrace it.  Allow yourself room to enjoy every bit of your life, every bit of precious summertime.  Soak up the sun, sisters, ride those waves.   Rock your bikini.

A Few of my Favorites Friday, Vol. 3

1. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

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When I went to Costa Rica for spring break, I knew I wanted to get in as much “fun” reading as I could.  Being an English major is bittersweet – you do so much reading for classes, but it’s at the cost of reading simply for enjoyment.  I chose two novels.  The first was Little Children by Tom Perrotta.  It was okay.  There were a few great aspects about it.  The depiction of modern suburban parenting was very well done.  But I didn’t fall in love with the plot or the ending.

On the other hand, The Girl on the Train had me from beginning to end.  I was mesmerized by the three narrators in this story.  All three are a little ‘cray.’  Definitely unreliable narrators, which kept me guessing until the end.  It made me think of a much better version of Gone Girl: woman vanishes mysteriously.  If you’re looking for an engrossing fun read.  Definitely pick this one up!

2. Sam Hunt

Love Sam.  Sammie boy.  We’re buds.  I have been listening to this guy’s music on country radio for awhile, but I’ve just recently started to really zone in and appreciate it.  His album, Montevallo, is literally the most perfect summer country music.  I didn’t realize he’d written so many big hits on the radio by other male artists including Keith Urban’s “Cop Car.”  His music is not very traditional country.  Yes, it’s pop-y.  Yes, I still love it.

3. Strong is the new pretty.

This photographer has captured her young daughters in all their glory.  Not just perfect princesses, but as interesting, strong young women-to-be.  I love every single photo.  Such a beautiful project.  Please check out her site here.

Image via Kate T. Parker Photography

Image via Kate T. Parker Photography

When In…Costa Rica (Part 1)

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Pura Vida: The phrase of the Ticos and Ticas, locals of the beautiful Costa Rica.  It means Pure Life and embodies their optimism and joy for life, no matter the situation you find yourself in.  Life in Costa Rica is lived at a slower pace, which allows for soaking up sunshine and pleasure.  No stress, just happiness.

Costa Ricans are some of the kindest, happiest, and friendliest people I’ve met.  Pura Vida isn’t just a greeting or wishful thinking, it’s a way of life – one that made it easy for my boyfriend and I to melt right into this little country for nine blissful days.  That doesn’t mean everything went right, because almost everything went wrong.  (Including a good introduction to the Costa Rican medical system).  But the Pura Vida vibes prevailed.  It was a glorious travel experience!

Friday ~ “The Travel Day from Hell”

Traveling to Costa Rica was… how should I put this?… Exciting?  I spent my entire red eye flight throwing up.  Forsaking the public humiliation of using an airsickness bag, I incredibly made it to the bathroom each time – despite a stewardess refusing to let me puke in Business Class when the ‘peasant section’ was blocked by a medical emergency. Because poor little girls need to puke where the poor folk sit.

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I managed to take an air shot of Costa Rica in between bathroom runs.

I always suggest to never over-plan a trip.  The fun is in the adventure, and nothing ever happens the way you think it will anyway.  But after Costa Rica Day 1, may I also suggest you never under-plan!  Because if you bank on having easy access Wi-Fi to get you from the San Jose airport to Tamarindo Beach, you may be disappointed.  Also, Costa Rica doesn’t have addresses.  So it’s: “7 blocks left, 3 blocks up, 10 blocks to your right, and you can’t miss it.”  You’d be surprised just how much I CAN miss it.  We wandered San Jose in the blazing heat for hours.

The person who managed to get us to our bus station was a taxi driver who didn’t speak a syllable of English.  We played charades.  Costa Rica has excellent, cheap public bus transportation.  10 bucks for a 6 1/2 hour, air-conditioned bus ride.  Did I mention the bus ride was 6 1/2 hours?  We didn’t know that either because we never bothered to check.  Life on the edge, folks, life on the edge!

But Pura Vida, right?!  Despite the rocky beginnings, we grabbed a drink and checked into our fabulous hotel… after over 24 hours of stressful travel.

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Saturday ~ “Casa Monacita”

In Tamarindo (beach town on the Pacific side), we stayed at the lovely Casa Monacita.  This beautiful home turned hotel looks out over the Pacific Ocean.  The room had everything we needed and was perfectly clean.  There are plenty of outdoor chairs to lounge in, a pool for a quick dip, and as many beautiful views as you could ever wish for.  I happened to stumble upon Casa Monacita on VBRO.  We booked last minute (the theme of our travel, apparently).  It was fate.

Casa Monacita is a 5/10 minute walk from the beach.  It is on a hill, but we loved that!  Being elevated provided better views and good exercise to keep off extra vacation pounds.  As a bonus, the house’s manager was above-and-beyond fabulous and informed us on all the best things to do and kept our vacation excellent the entire time.  We joked the throughout the trip that she makes “dreams come true.”  Because it’s true.

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The view from the pool at Casa Monacita

We spent our Saturday on Tamarindo Beach at the El Be Club, a wonderful beachside lounge/restaurant with lounge chairs, swings, hammocks and beds for relaxing pleasure. Plenty of sun and shade.  Plus staff is always walking around, which made it a bit safer to leave belongings while we jumped into the waves. The sunset at the El Be Club was breathtaking, and there was live music providing the perfect soundtrack.  Costa Rican sunsets are special.

Costa Rican Sunset

Sunday ~ “Nothing Ever Goes as Planned”

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We were planning on visiting Playa Avallanas on Sunday, but the shuttle was broken.  We decided it was a perfect day to explore Tamarindo Beach.  We walked to the edge of the beach right as the tide was going out.

While there, a Tico (local) decided to head out into an intense tide.  I kept asking my boyfriend “Is he ok?”  Then we heard him scream for help.  My boyfriend threw me his backpack and ran in after him.  I had these horrendous visions of the tide taking him in too, or the drowning man freaking out and using my boyfriend as a floatation device.

Fortunately, my boyfriend had the foresight to turn around and find people with surf boards.  He sprinted back to the beach, gathered a small group of men, and together they brought the man back to the sand.  They said he was probably less than 30 seconds away from drowning as he was already gulping water.  It was terrifying.

We finished up Sunday at Nogui’s, a beautiful beachside restaurant, and watched the sunset.  The sand fleas decided to come out and eat me.  I had sexy bug bites on my feet, ankles and legs the rest of the trip.  But, Pura Vida!

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Monday ~ “On a Boat”

The manager of Casa Monacita recommended we take a Marlin Del Rey sunset catamaran tour that included snorkeling, lunch and an open bar.  Sign us up!  We left the beach at 1:15. The catamaran went out for an hour while we all drank, then docked so we could swim/snorkel for an hour or so.  They provided a bunch of pool noodles, which were so much fun to bring into the ocean.  When we got back on the boat, they had a delicious chicken lunch prepared and more drinks, of course!  Costa Rican sunsets are even more fabulous from a boat.  (Being quite tipsy also made it that much more magical.)

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Sunset from the boat

(Read Part 2 HERE!)

Who Then Will You Make Wedding Cakes For?

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Apparently some people in Indiana don’t want to serve gay people.  They say it goes against their religious freedom to have to service homosexuals who are getting married, because gay marriage is an “abomination.”  Now the law is on their side. In my mind, the biggest problem is that this is still a problem for people, that this mindset of discriminating against gay people still permeates the brains Evangelicals of the US.

I fully support gay people and all of their rights.  I am an ardent supporter of gay marriage and have been for many years despite growing up in conservative Christian circles. In no way do I believe that homosexuality is a sin.  But I also understand that this is a free country (isn’t that awesome?!) and nobody has to share my views.  There is true religious freedom in this country (isn’t that awesome?!).  And with that comes the fact Christians can believe that homosexuality is a sin and that gay marriage should be forbidden.

So let’s follow that train of thought for a minute. Say being gay is actually a sin.  Christian companies pursuing lives that glorify God don’t want to be surrounded by sin, right?  A wedding cake creator doesn’t want to create a cake for a sinful marriage, right?

But if you cannot make a wedding cake for a gay couple because they are sinners, who then is left to make any cake for?  

I’ll tell you who you can’t make a cake for.  Me.  I filed for divorce from a man who didn’t commit adultery.  I am a sinner, and any future marriage would be a sinful marriage.  But I have this strange feeling that if  I walked into a Christian cake shop while holding the hand of a man, I would still get my cake.  Then there are the liars who get married, the cheaters, the addicts.  We all have issues.  Not a one of us is perfect.  Any human being who gets married will have a sinful marriage.  If a company refuses sinners, they will go out of business immediately.

So then it’s not so much that these companies have a problem with sin; they are serving sinners every single day. It’s that they have a problem with a particular sexual orientation.  Gayness.  They’ve cherry-picked homosexually as the King of Sin-dom.  Which basically boils down to “Your sin is worse than my sin.”  How did Christianity get to that point?  Paul, writer of most of the New Testament, wrote this:  “Jesus came into the world to save sinners–of whom I am the worst.”   How did Christianity come from a place of humility where the man chosen to write a huge portion of the Bible knows that he is massively screwed up – to the place where many Christians feel like their issues aren’t as bad as everyone else’s issues?

In this country, Christians are free to believe homosexuality is a sin.  Christians are even free to be douche bags.  But nothing about douchebaggery models the life of Jesus… ya know… the head honcho of Christianity.  Jesus couldn’t stand the haughty religious zealots.  He called them a “brood of vipers.”  When these zealots wanted to condemn a woman caught in adultery, Jesus said only the person without sin could throw the first stone.  Obviously, nobody could.  Nobody was sinless, nobody except Jesus.  And he never picked up a stone.

So you with the sinless marriage, you can refuse the first wedding cake.  Any takers?  I’m guessing that’s about 0.00%.  Everyone else, make the blessed cake.  Show kindness.  Love your neighbor and all that jazz.

And these companies should remember – I’m not the only Millennial Christian who doesn’t think that loving somebody of the same sex is a sin.  And I’m certainly not the only one supporting gay marriage.  74% of us do and that number keeps increasing.  Millennials are growing up, aged 15-35 currently.  Marriage age.  Also baby-rearing age.  Which means we are teaching the next generation to accept all sorts of people.  And someday they’re going to learn in school that American companies in the past refused all sorts of people.  Black people.  Gay people.  These Indiana companies will make history books.  Pictured right next to the companies with signs reading “Whites only.”

We’ve been here before as a country.  The discriminators don’t win out in the end.  Why? Because LOVE WINS.  You know who taught me that? Jesus.

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I’m in Costa Rica!

I’m in Costa Rica!   I’m sure I’m busy catching rays, dragging my toes through the sand, and enjoying howler monkeys right about now.  Because I’m busy living out some major Pura Vida, I won’t be around here with you.  No hustling this week allowed.  So I’ll see you after Easter!

To keep up with my trip as it happens, follow me on: Instagram. Twitter. Facebook.

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When In…Valley of Fire


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My stress level has been high the past few weeks.  Too much going on.   I was definitely in need of some disconnecting time.  No homework, no blog, no internet, no researching.  Luckily for me, Sunday was my boyfriend’s birthday.  And really.  What is a boyfriend’s birthday for other than giving his girlfriend an opportunity to take a little day trip?  (Not really, but totally really) We went to the Valley of Fire, 50 miles northeast of Las Vegas.

I’m a Vegas local and had never been to this state park.  Sacrilegious, I know.  It was beautiful and refreshing.  We drove in the Jeep with the doors removed.  The weather was warm, the sun was shining behind the perfect amount of scattered clouds.  It was the day I had needed.  A little adventure and a lot of fun.  It’s amazing how a little time spent outside can be so inspirational.

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The sand was truly incredible.  It was as fine as flour.  Our socks were orange by the time we got home!  We had such a fun time hiking and exploring.

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Above you can see me falling.  An act that my boyfriend felt compelled to document.  Because he is a true artist.  And one does not sacrifice art to save a girlfriend.  :)

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The above two pictures come from the last stop you can make driving.  We almost didn’t get out of the car, and that would have been a crime.  It ended up being one of our favorite stops.  There was a balance of white/yellow rock with red/orange rock.  Truly beautiful.

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If you look closely enough, my bronzer is everywhere, my lips are chapped from riding in a Jeep with the doors off, and my hair is a fretful rat’s nest.  It’s all just proof of good living.

Valley of Fire

A Few of my Favorites Friday, Vol. 2

1. The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt

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Of course Tina Fey would make a great new show.  Of course Ellie Kemper and Jane Krakowski would be hysterical.  Of course a woman trapped in a cult for 15 years experiencing life for the first time in NYC would make a great plot line.  Of course these things are true.  You guys, I die.  The laughter is more than I can take.  So funny, so worth your time.  It’s like The Office, Parks and Rec, and 30 Rock smushed together with an added touch of quirky.  Binged it and loved it.

“Females are strong as hell”

2. The RobCast

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Everyone who knows me knows I struggle with church and the Bible and Christian things.  It’s a complicated relationship.  Studies show that most Millennials feel the same way (as do many older folk).  But Rob Bell’s podcast allows me to hear relevant and deep and necessary truths about God, life, spirituality, Jesus, and even the Bible.  All without any amount of hate, judgement, guilt, or lack of using one’s brain. He brings spiritual refreshment to the ears of a church-weary Millennial.  I couldn’t recommend it more highly.  It’s funny and smart.

3. First Aid Kit

A friend suggested I listen to First Aid Kit, and she basically introduced me to my spirit sisters.  I have had my headphones plugged in, listening to their music on Spotify nonstop.  They are lyrically interesting and deep.  I think they are a countrified/bluegrassified version of Lana.  This song “My Silver Lining” is currently my fav.

Four Essential Oils for Travel

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Traveling is supposed to be about experiencing life from a different perspective, trying new things, spending time with people you love, and relaxing.  Getting sick or feeling crappy is never part of the itinerary.  But, of course, life happens.  Trips never go as planned, and that’s part of the package (and make for the best stories later on!).  Still, I like to eliminate any potential health problems as much as possible.  So I always bring these four essential oils with me when I travel.

1. Thieves

Thieves is my top ‘must go with me on every trip’ oil.  Nobody wants to get sick on a vacation.  I normally start using Thieves on my feet the week before a trip to support my immune system and ward off any bug.  Then I bring it along to keep doing the same.  Also, Thieves s a quick healer of canker sores.  When I was in New Hampshire over Thanksgiving, I started developing a canker sore after I bit my lip.  I began putting Thieves directly on the sore, and it was completely gone within 48 hours.

2. Peppermint

Peppermint is a must for any and all digestive problems – and let’s be honest, stomachs like to misbehave when traveling. It’s like they know you don’t have your own bathroom!  When we eat foods we aren’t used to (even when traveling within the US) our digestive tracts can do bizarre things.  I will rub peppermint on my stomach for any ailments.  The scent also calms nausea from motion sickness (or, let’s be honest, hangover!).

3. Lavender

Lavender is the wonder oil – it can do just about everything.  This is why I always have it with me.  I use it to help me sleep (sometimes a difficult thing to do in a new bed), but it’s also a great way to soothe bug bites (as is Thieves!!).  I mix Peppermint with Lavender whenever I’m having allergy problems.  I put the combo on my feet and my chest to combat allergy symptoms.  I have HEARD that Lavender is great for soothing sunburns, but haven’t tried it myself.  However, I’m expecting I might get the chance next week in Costa Rica!

4. Panaway

Being in pain is a sucky way to travel.  But if you’re doing a lot of new fun things, sometimes your body gets sore.   Whether it’s muscle cramps, headache, joint pain, bruises, or stiffness, Panaway can help take edge off.  I was so skeptical of this oil when I first read about it.  But it works for me. Every. Single. Time.  I know if I walk around all day in a new city and have sore feet or cramped calves, Panaway will save the day.

Four seems to be a great number for my travel bag.  These four oils have multiple uses, so I don’t feel the need to take up more space with any extra.  I keep them in a tiny, padded cosmetic pouch and typically pack them within my clothes for extra cushion.

Do you like to bring any other essential oils with you when you travel?  Let me know in the comments below!

Happy, healthy travels!