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Africa

My Cheetah Conservation Fund Adventure

January 19, 2012
Cheetah Conservation Fund

I had the most amazing adventure in 2011 on a trip to the the Cheetah Conservation Fund, aka, CCF. This is the most amazing place and a wonderful organization. I volunteered there for two weeks, and wish it could have been longer. I will be back, hopefully this year, as this is something that changes your life and affects your soul.

I was in awe of the cheetah and what the organization does. I was also totally surprized, in a wonderful way, at the things I got to do and be a part of.

As a volunteer, I was not sure if I would be working in the office and would get a tiny bit of cheetah expose or what. Instead, I got daily cheetah exposure, hands on experience working with wild cheetah, as well as other animals on the farm Each day was better than the next.

I wrote in a journal because of the lack of internet availability, so I will transcribe my daily journals here and post them daily as if the trip were in progress again. My photos will also be up soon on my travel photo blog page. Links to follow.

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Packing for a trip and my one bag rule.

December 13, 2011

As you may know I travel often and over time have learned some pretty good tips for packing.

I have a one bag rule, plus my backpack which gets carried on.  Many trips I only take a carry on rolling bag.  I just got back from a 17 day trip to England and Africa with just the 19 inch carry on bag and my back pack and in the end, I did not use everthing in that bag!

Here are some tips. Keep in mind you are on a trip, not a fashion show, so keep things minimal. Even if I am checking bags, its just one bag,  and its not a bag the size of a Smart car.

I have two pieces of luggage, a 19 inch rolling carry on from the Hideo Tarpaulin collection, available at Flight 001, my favorite travel store. www.flight001.com. This bag is amazing, super light weight, it has a soft exterior and has straps on the outside to tighten it and keep it compact.

My other bag is a Kipling 26 inch rolling bag.  Both are the rectangular type of bag with wheels.  This is key actually, the rolling duffles are hard to handle, the shape makes then top heavy and they constantly topple over.  Also, they can’t stand up when filled so you have to keep picking them up to get to the handle, and you cant stack anything on top of it when you are rolling it.  So get the regular rectangular type bag.

I also have the Spacepak interior bags from Flight 001, these are great when using the larger bag to keep items organized and separted.  

A day or two before you trip, lay out everything you “want” to bring.  Try on clothes to make sure they fit well and are comfortable.  Put together outfits with items that can be used several times, and mixed with other items, keep colors simple so you can mix and match.  Dresses are also great for women as they are an easy pick.   Start to narrow down what you actually need.  

Remember you can do laundry at the hotel if needed, but I have yet to need to do that.  I do rinse my workout clothes with some hotel shampoo to freshen them since they dry so easily.  

Be realistic with what you will be doing and what you need.  Everyone typically overpacks for the “what if” scenarios.  On my recent trip, my main destination was Western Africa with 90 degree heat.  I stopped in London where it was 50 degrees, so I had to have clothes for a wide range of climates.  You can always layer and worst case, buy something there if needed. 

Same goes for shoes, ladies you do not need 5 pairs of shoes for a trip.  One pair of heals, black of course, one pair of flat sandals or flip flops, if you are on a adventure trip, then a pair of sport sandals are always good, like Teva or Keen’s and a pair of regular tennis shoes or hiking boots depening on  your trip. I wear the bulkiest shoes on the plan and pack the others.  

I always bring gym clothes and usually a few pairs of yoga pants, these do double duty for working out, comfortable day pants or plane pants.  When I do bring workout clothing I usually bring one pair of shorts and one or two workout tops. Reminder you can wash these easily.

One of the best items women can get are the tank tops at Lululemon . www.lululemon.com.  They have great tank tops that look great for daily wear, and are very stylish.  Many have built in bra’s or pads so they have good coverage and I wear them all the time as regular clothing and for working out as well. 

For the rest of your clothes, keep it simple and plan on wearing items more than just once. A few pairs of shorts or pants, some t-shirts, tank tops, all depending on weather of course.  Bring one set of sleep wear, one or two nicer evening outfits and you are set! A swimsuit, a hat, and a jacket are key as well.  Wear the jacket on the plane so it does not take up bag space, you can always just stow it overhead and it does not count as your carry on items. 

Packing is important as well.  Make sure all your clothes can be easily packed, no hangers or garment bags for the seasoned traveler.  You can hang any wrinkled items in the bathroom when you shower if needed, but buy items that fold and roll easily for great packing.  

Fold you clothes, this actually matters, use every bit of space in your bag, don’t just throw things in there. This is where the Spacepak bags really help, you put different items in the bags and they have compession as well to make the best use of space. Another cool feature of these is they all have a clean side an a laundry side, so as you travel you move the dirty clothes to the other side of the bag. 

Toiletries should also be minimal, you don’t need your entire makeup collection, just the few items that you actually use daily. Leave the hairdryer at home, or get a travel dryer.  Almost every hotel has them. 

I always go to the makeup counters before a trip and get lots of samples for facial products.  Don’t bring large containers, they are bulky and heavy.  Bring the samples and  you can have weeks of all your needed facial products in a tiny bag. I always bring my own shampoo so that is where I splurge on space.

For my carry on back bag I have a Flight001 Seat Pak and have it filled with a blow up pillow, lotions, chapstick, ipod, aspirin etc.  Watch the video on their site about how to pack the Seat Pak.  I pack my hat in the back pack, my computer or tablet, an magazines or whatever else I will want for the flight.  

Travel Tips

Travel Tip: How to use and airplane bathroom!

December 9, 2011

Since this blog is mostly dedicated to my travels I thought I would do an article on some pet peeves and easy ways to fix them!

Pet Peeve #1—Missing the target!

The bathroom on the plane…why is it that people on planes have so much trouble actually peeing in the toilet????  How many times have you gone into the bathroom to find the floor a disgusitng mess.  And the worst part is that many times you don’t have your shoes on when you go in there!  I have covered the floor in paper towels before because of the mess.  So here is an easy solution.  SIT DOWN!!!  Yes men, that means you too.  It’s simple physics, if you are trying to either strattle or hover over a possibly moving object, chances are you are gonna miss.  So be kind and thoughtful of others and just sit.

Pet Peeve #2—10 Minutes in the loo after on a long haul flight, not ok!

Similar to #1 this a basically just being rude and not thoughtful of others.  You know what I mean, you have been on the plane for say 8 hours, you have slept for hours and now everyone is getting up for breakfast or landing and the made rush to the bathroom takes place.

Remember, there are most likely 300+ people on this plane and only about 6 bathrooms.  On a recent flight I actually timed how long it took people to get themselves together in the morning.  Keep in mind on Virgin they give you pajamas in upper class so that ads to the time in the bathroom.

Its still simple.  I can change my clothes, wash my face, brush my teeth and brush my hair all in under 2-3 minutes, so here is the secret that it seems most can’t figure out!

Step 1-cover floor with paper towels because of Pet Peeve #1!  Then as you SIT on the toilet and pee, take off you pajamas and put on  your regular clothes, shoes and all. Yes this is quite easy to do and actually makes the best use of the space of the tiny airplane bathroom.  So by the time you are have peed you have also changed.

Step 2-splash your face with water and a bit of soap.  Then apply lotion.  Brush teeth and hair.

DONE.  Anything else, like more facial products, makeup etc can be done at your seat.  Think of all the other people lining up outside the stall and get the heck out.

Hotels

I am a hotel junkie

November 1, 2011

I love hotels. Ever since I was a child I had this love affair with hotels. When I was small we would go on vacations and the first thing I would do is unpack all my clothes into the drawers, then I would hit the mini bar and take an inventory of it’s contents. Often times by the time we left I would have drank every juice and eaten all the snacks.

Boutique hotels are my current favorites. I adore the uniqueness and special touches these hotels strive to achieve. You always feel a little special at these hotels as they are small and have fewer rooms. Many times you are greeted by name by most of the staff.

I am a total sucker for all the goodies such as bath amenities, slippers and robes. Boutique hotels seem to have a much higher quality of goodies and a wider selection. Loofah’s and special bed pillows are also fun goodies. I have seen full sized Kiehl’s products or Molton Brown. As I know they are hoping, often times I have continued to purchase and seek out these products based on trying them in the hotel.

Another great treat at any hotel is getting breakfast in the room as a wake-up call. I just love to do this.

These days when I get in, I read though the entire hotel welcome book to see all that is offered. Of course I still unpack and get settled in and check out the goodies! Nice gyms and spas in the hotel are also great.

I’m currently at The Halkin in London. A great hideaway with the most wonderful beds, topped with a feather bed to boot. I’m also a sucker for a nice bathroom with a good tub. This one comes with a deep soaking tub and hand shower, love that. Bath salts are a nice bonus I always look for and they are here.

I was welcomed adt the curb and my bags wisked away. Checked in and was offered tea or coffee to be delivered to my room. Tea with milk of course, I am in London after all.

This is a wonderful hotel so if you are in London do make this a must visit. It’s locations is great, roaming distance to so many things, including Buckingham Palace. They have one of the most sought out restaurants in town as well.

They can arrange a car to fetch you from the airport, I choose this option and it got me here quickly and easily. Free wifi, late check-out, a nice gym, and access to the Shambala spa at the sister hotel a 5 minute walk away or just have an in room treatment.

A wonderful escape in one of my favorite cities in the world.

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Happy Feet Encino-Asian Foot Massage

March 1, 2011

This place is great, but probably the busiest of the Asian foot massage places around.  You almost always need an appointment.  They are open till 10pm or so and busy until close.  You get a tiny bit more privacy here as the room has half walls between every 2 or 4 chairs, its dark and quiet and wonderful.  They will give you a discount price if you buy 5 massages upfront!

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Asian Foot Massage Addiction

January 23, 2011

Ok so not sure if this is the case everywhere but here in Los Angeles there has been a recent flood of Asian Foot Massage stores.  You go in, usually no appointment necessary, they have super comfy chairs that recline flat.  You stay clothed and just roll up your pants.

First they soak your feet in hot water while they massage your head, arms and hands.  You are also snuggled up with a nice warm blanket and the room is usually dark with soft relaxing spa like music playing.  

Then the real treat begins.  For anywhere from 30-90!!! minutes they rub, massage, pressure point, all over your feet and lower legs.  You are in a large open room with other customers but it is so funny because almost everyone is asleep or in a total trance.  

It is pure heaven!  It has become a game to go to the different locations.  The best part is that for an hour it is usually $20-25!!!  

Check out my Favorite Spa page here and I will give my take on the various locations I visit. 

Africa

Amboselli Baby Baboon

December 25, 2010

Amboseli Africa, oh how amazing the trip was.  If you have even the slightest thought of going to East Africa, go, do it, you will never regret it and you will be changed.  It is the most wonderful experiance.  The animals are everywhere.  We all kept saying it felt like we were in a movie like Jurasic Park, you just can’t believe the animals.

They are all around you and do not run away.  We drove up to lions one after another and got 10 feet away and they did not even flinch.  We say cheetas hunting and teaching the babies.  Leopards, oh my god, so beautiful.

I went on an Abercrombie and Kent tour (www.abercrombiekent.com) and it was really great.  It was very deluxe and everything was taken care of.  We staying in “tents’ but they were so comfortable.  You have a regular queen size bed in the tent, many had plumbing and electricity.  A few were truely mobile tents that the tour put up for us as we arrived, but even those were huge and had a bathroom.

Africa is an amazing place and I can not wait to go back. Click the photo to get to my Shutterfly photo site.  Check it out.