The Ultimate Solo Female Travel Guide to New Orleans

Hey there my fellow solo female travelers, today comes another installment of traveling alone in an amazing place in the world: New Orleans.

Initially I wasn’t sure that New Orleans would be fun alone, but it’s one of the most enjoyable solo trips I’ve had! The friendliness combined with the huge variety of things to do kept me entertained and hardly lonely. For my solo travelers out there, here’s everything you need to know about New Orleans:

Is New Orleans Fun Alone?

As I already hinted, New Orleans is tons of fun solo! While after six years of it, I’m certainly biased towards traveling alone, I’d venture to say New Orleans is one of the best places to travel solo, and I’d recommend it for first timers as well.

Every time I ate alone, it really didn’t feel that way because the wait staff and the others in the restaurants would be so talkative. Pretty much everyone I met had a suggestion for me on where to go, and I was never bored. I never felt like the odd woman out either as I sometimes do in beachy or couples’ destinations.

Being able to decide everything I wanted to do on a moment’s notice and on my own time gave me an opportunity to see the Big Easy my way. So if you’re considering going alone, do it!

Things that are Fun to Do Solo in New Orleans

Taken at Royal and Dumaine Street in the French Quarter

Shopping in the French Quarter:

I don’t know about you, but shopping with friends is one of my least favorite ways to do it (I still love you guys, though!). I feel like I’m always waiting around for someone to try something on or have to go into a store I’m not that interested in. So when it comes to shopping I value going solo for the efficiency!

Some of the best shopping is in the French Quarter. The following are the quirkiest and most interesting places I found:

  • Bambi Deville’s Vintage Clothing: This vintage clothing shop is tucked away in a corner of the French Quarter, which feels like a secret spot. The interior is beautiful, and the selection is impressive. If you are looking for something truly unique, like gowns and pants with styles from the ’20s, this is the place to go.
  • Porter Lyons: I love buying accessories to remember my travels by. They make great souvenirs and take up little space. If you dig that too, check out Porter Lyons. The store stocks some voodoo-inspired earrings that I thought were really cool. Bonus? The store has kombucha on tap!
  • Red Lantern: Shopping at Red Lantern is so much fun! They have a great selection of unique clothing and accessories, perfect if you like to dress quirky. The shop owner is funny and friendly, which is always a plus. Red Lantern is located right next to Hemline, and I suggest visiting it first!
  • Hemline French Quarter: If you are looking for something more on the upscale side, Hemline is great. They stock some nice party dresses that will set you back about $100 – $200. The customer service is great – the staff is helpful and professional.
  • Trashy Diva: This store has a couple of locations in the French Quarter – one devoted to clothing and one for lingerie. They both have gorgeous outfits depending on, ya know, the intended audience.
  • Voodoo Authentica: I can’t speak to how authentica this store really is, but if you’re curious about Voodoo and want to see an array of potions, dolls, and other Voodoo-related items, stop in for a peek.
  • Lost and Found: For that 50s pin-up style that’s so popular around NOLA, I liked this quaint little boutique – especially their fun purses!


solo female travel new orleans
At Oak Alley Plantation

When I’m solo I often like to take day tours because it makes it easy to meet other people and means that at least for a couple hours or maybe a whole day, I don’t have to worry about planning anything. I suggest the following:

Two Chicks Walking tours (due to COVID-19, public tours are on pause until further notice – keep an eye on their website before booking!): I took a two hour walking tour with this company in the French Quarter at 9 AM. It was perfect because it wasn’t busy and crowded yet, and I could get a lay of the land before exploring by myself. I was the only one on my tour so that gave me the chance to structure it the way that I wanted to, which was fun! But if you meet others on your tour than that’s a potential built-in friend group so it’s a win either way.

Double Plantation Tour: To be honest, I wondered if it was strange to tour plantations considering how much pain and misery took place there. But then I thought, isn’t it my duty to understand my own country’s history? In order to do this I had to choose wisely and ended up going on the Gray Line two plantation tour, stopping at Whitney plantation and Oak alley. It was the perfect combination between educational and beautiful.

The Whitney plantation is the first museum ever dedicated to slavery. It was so well done, telling the story of slavery directly from the slaves’ point of view, drawing from historical quotes and records. The whole thing had memorials and monuments purely dedicated to the experience of the slaves. It’s confronting and painful to see, but so important to understand American history and its ties to the present. To visit the plantations without visiting this one would be an incomplete experience, so if you go, definitely go to the Whitney!

Oak Alley is the second plantation I visited and the one that you’re most likely to see photos of when tours are advertised. The long alley of oak trees leading up to the mansion entrance made this plantation famous, and when you see it for yourself it’s easy to see why. It’s absolutely beautiful. That said, the tour did not provide nearly the educational opportunity that Whitney did, which is why I suggest seeing both.

Both are located about 45 minutes outside of New Orleans. So you could rent a car, but the easiest and most economical way is to take a tour which provides transport in an air-conditioned bus and a guided walking tour of both plantations. Bring your own water and snacks!

Saint Louis Cemetery No. 1 (Due to Covid-19, the cemetery is currently closed and all tours are suspended. Check their website for the latest update!): I’m suggesting the cemetery for one big reason: Marie Laveau’s tomb. She was a free mixed-race woman and Voodoo priestess during the time of slavery and from what I learned, a total boss. It was said that she walked like a queen and performed rituals for the elite. You can only see the cemetery on a tour, offered Monday through Saturday at 10am, 11:30am and 1pm, and Sunday at 10am. They cost $20 per person.

There are certainly more tours out there that you could check out, like the New Orleans haunted tours, though I heard they are pretty hokey, or swamp tours which I heard the same about. Depending on how much time you have in New Orleans, it might be worth looking into either of these if you have a keen interest.

Get Your Tarot Cards Read

solo female new orleans hex
Mimi, my tarot card reader at Hex

Getting your tarot cards read is one of the things to do in New Orleans. You’ll see options everywhere, including sidewalk tarot readers, particularly by Jackson Square. However I went to Hex, which was recommended to me by a local. I did a 30-minute reading and thought it was a fun addition to the afternoon. Whether you’ve done one before or not, or whether or not you put stock in such things, it’s a very NOLA activity.

Explore the Bywater

new orleans itinerary studio BE
The Katrina exhibit at Studio BE

While the French Quarter is cool and all, I couldn’t believe how rad the Bywater is! If you like the artistic and the quirky, you will find it there. The cafés are delicious, the Healing Center and Studio BE are must-sees, and Crescent Park is a great place to watch the sunset. I loved it so much I have an entire article devoted just to things to do in the Bywater, so check it out!


international house hotel new orleans
The neat bar at my hotel

I’m sure if you’ve heard much of anything about New Orleans, you would’ve heard of Bourbon Street. I got mixed reviews on this coming from locals, one of whom told me I ‘hadn’t been to New Orleans if I hadn’t been to Bourbon Street’ and another one said, ‘oh yes you have!’ I chose not to go, because rowdy bars are not really my scene. However if you still want to experience some nightlife, I highly recommend checking out some live music on Frenchmen Street. This is more of a local hangout and it gives you something to do other than drinking, which I suggest you limit or avoid altogether if you’re traveling solo. Click here for information on the shows that are on tonight – You can find something on every night of the week!

You can also find festivals year-round in New Orleans, in addition to the famous Mardi Gras. Check the New Orleans official website for more on what’s on now.


Since we just touched on it in the last section, let’s get the subject of safety out of the way.

Safety when traveling solo is a concern not just in New Orleans, but everywhere. There are two main things I do to stay safe when I travel – one is to avoid walking alone in any parts of the city that are quiet and dark, like any alleyways, and to limit my alcohol intake. The last one has been easy since I stopped drinking altogether over a year ago, but for those of you who want to visit New Orleans and still try out a French 75 — and who could blame you? —  just make sure that you don’t overdo it. Almost every unfortunate circumstance for solo travelers of both sexes is borne out of drinking too much and becoming an easy target.

Unfortunately there was lots of catcalling in New Orleans but that’s a worldwide scourge, and unfortunately happens to me in Berlin and other parts of the US, too. Thankfully it wasn’t aggressive in the way that I experienced in South America.

For more safety tips when traveling solo, check out this post with 31 tips from 31 solo female travelers.

Where to Stay

I recommend that you pick accommodation that has security, like a front desk, or if you’re staying in an Airbnb, try to pick one that is in someone’s courtyard, is located upstairs, or isn’t immediately visible from the street.

solo female travel new orleans
My princess bed

I stayed in the International House Hotel, which is just a short walk from the French Quarter. It was the perfect location for me, since I ate and explored in the CBD and the French Quarter. It was nice to be somewhere quiet and out of the madness as well. I really enjoyed my time there, and felt plenty safe!

What to Pack

Crescent Park in the Bywater
I loved my dresses with cutouts – taken in Crescent Park in the Bywater

New Orleans is very hot and humid. The main thing I would prioritize is comfort, but that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice style! I mainly wore rompers and dresses with cut outs to let the air flow. I also wore ankle boots that were comfortable and fashionable at the same time to make walking easier, because chances are you’ll be doing a lot of it.

Eating Solo

vegan new orleans paloma cafe
At Paloma Cafe in the Bywater

Eating my meals on my own really never gets easier, but it actually wasn’t that bad in New Orleans.

Firstly, Uber Eats delivers in New Orleans so if you just can’t be bothered to go out on your own, you can get food delivered to your door.

I also really liked the following options, which were either stands or quick restaurants where I didn’t have to sit and twiddle my thumbs for too long:

  • Killer Poboys: This place on Dauphine St. is quick and conveniently located in the French Quarter. It has both vegetarian and vegan options! I loved the flavorful cauliflower poboy, personally.
  • Meals from the Heart Café: Located in the French Market, this pop up has yummy comfort food including vegan options. I loved that there was so much else to do in the market that I didn’t really feel alone, and wasn’t the only person eating alone, either.
  • Auction House Market: Just a half mile away from The French Quarter in the CBD, the auction house market has a bunch of pop up restaurants with everything from vegan macaroons to Hawaiian-style poke bowls.
  • St. Roch Market: Like Auction House, this building has a bunch of different food options. Though it seems unassuming from the outside, inside is a long hallway with order-at-the-counter restaurants on either side. It’s bustling even on a weekday, with plenty of solo diners.

Getting Around

In a city as small and compact as New Orleans I really appreciated being able to get around mostly by foot, especially once you get to your neighborhood of choice. The French Quarter is pedestrian friendly, as is the Bywater.

When I needed to get farther than I felt like walking, the streetcar and bus system both worked pretty well, and it’s cheap at only three dollars for a whole day pass (pay the driver directly in exact change). I just used Google Maps to navigate bus lines and found it all pretty easy and reliable. If that makes you feel a bit uncomfortable, both Lyft and Uber are available.

In closing, I thoroughly enjoyed New Orleans as a solo traveler and was even looking up short term apartment rentals because I found it so friendly and full of fun things to do! I already know that I will be back to explore more of it, perhaps longer-term.

So ladies, and gents if you’re reading this too, don’t worry about going to New Orleans by yourself, it’s probably one of the best places to travel alone!

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*This post was brought to you in partnership with New Orleans & Company, however this itinerary was designed by me and all recommendations are my own – your trust always comes first!

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Chakras 101: The Sacral Chakra

Welcome to the second chakra in the body – the center of our creativity, sexuality, and inspiration.

Not sure what the chakras are? Check out the first post in this series about the root chakra, the history, and how to bring your energy into balance.

The Sacral Chakra at a Glance

Chakras 101: The Sacral Chakra

The sacral chakra, or swadisthana chakra in Sanskrit, has received the nicknames, “the sex chakra,” “the social chakra,” and “the creation chakra.” Located in the center of the lower belly or, as some believe, in the genital area, it acts as the individual’s center of pleasure and passion — both sensually and creatively. This chakra governs reproductive systems and processes, sexuality, relationships, emotions, and sense of adventure.

Sexuality tends to be the first thing that comes to mind at the thought of the sacral chakra, but creativity is an often overlooked aspect of it as well. It is important to remember that this chakra isn’t only concerned with sex (and the same goes for Tantra). In fact, at its most broad, the sacral chakra simply governs passion and pleasure, phenomena which manifest themselves in our lives via two avenues. On one side is creativity and zeal for life — think of finding enjoyment by creating something like a piece of art, a recipe, or even a business, as well as just having fun in life. On the other side is sensuality, in the sense of embracing one’s own natural human sexuality.

The sacral chakra has a feminine energy and is symbolized by a flower and crescent moon. Elementally, the sacral chakra is associated with water, and its mantra is, “I feel.”

On the Earth

Chakras 101: The Sacral Chakra
Lake Titicaca nestled amongst the Andes Mountains

The chakras of the human body also exist on Earth! The planet’s sacral chakra is believed to be located at Lake Titicaca in Peru and Bolivia. The massive lake ranks in the 20 largest in the world, and it is divided almost perfectly in half by the Peruvian-Bolivian border. As the sacral chakra’s element is water, it makes sense that a large body of freshwater would be the location of the earth’s sacral chakra.

In addition, the lake is the location of an island named Isla del Sol (or, Island of the Sun) which was once home to the Incas, who considered the lake sacred. Even more interesting is the archaeological discovery of a submerged ancient temple! Legend has it that Titicaca possesses both masculine and feminine energies, which makes it a perfect representation of human sexuality as the earth’s sacral chakra.

When Blocked or Out of Balance

When the sacral chakra is out of alignment or blocked, issues with the reproductive system can pop up, including menstrual cramps, urinary tract infections, a significant increase or decrease in sexual interest, and lower back pain. Problems with the bladder, kidneys, or adrenal glands can also arise. Of course, this is not to suggest these symptoms aren’t from something else entirely and nothing in here can replace a doctor’s advice.

From an emotional standpoint, one might feel closed off, opposed to spontaneity, uncomfortable in one’s own body, or shameful about sexuality. Not feeling sensual or having difficulty pursuing creative endeavors are other potential problems resulting from an out-of-alignment sacral chakra. Luckily, there are a wide variety of approaches to combat this and bring the chakra back into balance.

Chakras 101: The Sacral Chakra
The sacral chakra’s element of water seems to go hand-in-hand with its adventurous nature

For one thing, physical movement can be beneficial, especially when targeted at the sacral chakra region through exercises like hip circles. This helps to bring energy and circulation to the chakra, which can help increase the flow of energy through the chakra. Along the same vein, certain yoga asanas can help realign the sacral chakra: Warrior II, goddess pose, low lunge, and pigeon pose are some of the most notable. Try a yoga routine like yoga for creativity, yin yoga for the sacral chakra, or yoga & affirmations for creativity & sensuality.

Meditation can also help align the sacral chakra. I’ve listed some specific meditations that are great for the sacral chakra here. Sound meditation, too, is a fantastic tool: just as one would slowly let out the sound, “lam,” to help align the root chakra, the same would be done here, but with the sound, “vam.” (The a sound in this seed syllable is pronounced like that of the word, “lawn,” not of the word, “van.”) Taking time to let the vibrations of this vocalization ring through the area of the sacral chakra can be a quick and restorative practice for the sacral chakra.

Chakras 101: The Sacral Chakra
sign up for a week of free chakra mediations here!

Affirmations are another powerful tool for balancing the chakras. Some affirmations to target the sacral chakra are:

  • I am grateful for the body which supports and empowers me.
  • I am thankful and joyful to be me.
  • I accept, embrace, and celebrate my body.
  • I honor my natural sexuality.
  • I open myself up for creativity and passion to flow through me.

Other methods for balancing the sacral chakra include aromatherapy, the use of crystals, and the incorporation of certain foods into the diet. Scents like sandalwood, ylang ylang, and orange help to clear the sacral chakra of problematic energy. Crystals like citrine, carnelian, tiger’s eye, orange calcite, orange aventurine, and amber can do the same (but please only buy ethical ones!).

Eating bright orange foods — like tangerines, carrots, and sweet potatoes — can also help to keep the sacral chakra in balance or rebalance it.

raja ampat

Another way to get in touch with the sacral chakra is to spend time in environments that are suited to its element of water. These types of locations often are conducive for those feelings of pleasure and adventure that the sacral chakra is connected to. Think places with big lakes, like Whitefish, Montana and Lake Tahoe, or islands like Hawaii (the Big Island is my favorite), the Philippines (there are countless stunning islands to choose from), Greece (with five island chains), and Indonesia (Raja Ampat is amazing). Even if getting out into a location like these is not a possibility, something as simple as going for a swim or taking a bath can be beneficial! Simply seeking out whatever aquatic setting is available can be a step in the right direction.

Lastly, create! Whether it’s starting a new creative hobby or picking up an old one, pursuing a new idea or project, or even making a gift for a loved one, the act of creating can do wonders for the sacral chakra. It doesn’t have to be crafty or artistic, either. Creating anything, no matter how big, small, or tactile, is powerful.

What is sacral chakra? How can you balance your sacral chakra? What happens when your sacral chakra is blocked or unbalanced? Click to read this post to find out everything you need to know about Sacral Chakra #SacralChakra #Chakra
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When we work to take care of our sacral chakras, we are ensuring that we can approach life with the zeal we all desire. From healthy sexuality and an equally healthy sense of adventure to strong social connections and feelings of connectedness, the sacral chakra plays a powerful role in our overall wellbeing and the balance of our lives.

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How do car rental companies deal with coronavirus?

How do car rental companies deal with coronavirus?

It is true that due to the new circumstances the coronavirus has put us through, it is hard to go back to our normal everyday life. Especially when it comes to travelling and vacation, the pandemic has lead many tourism businesses Santorini car rental to change their tactics. But how do car rental companies deal with coronavirus?

Due to the fact that this is a global pandemic, many people’s plans for vacation and travelling in Santorini and other Greek islands have been postponed until further notice. Even if they did not have any trips scheduled, people are more cautious when it comes to renting a car or booking a hotel room.

Because many people are afraid that they will lose their money in case they will book a car rental, we created a list of the things each company might do to protect you. Let’s see how do car rental companies deal with coronavirus.



At most car rental companies, the final payment is executed by using a credit card. The majority of car rental companies own a POS that can carry out contactless payments so that you will not have any physical content with the employee.

There is the option of paying at the moment you will collect the car or when you drop it off. There is also the choice of booking a car online and paying later at the car rental department just because due to the virus the  lines are a bit blurry.

Have you already booked a car?

If you have already booked a car and you are wondering what will happen to your reservation and money, fear not. Most companies have decided to offer the option of free cancellation or transfer of the dates for later on.

If you are able to reschedule your vacation then we advise you to change your car rental dates too. It is better to keep your reservation, because in case your vacation will be conducted you might not be able to find another car available at these dates.

In case your whole trip gets cancelled, we are sure that the company will be willing to return you your money. This is why it is better to choose a company with no handling fees and free cancellation.

Disinfecting of the Cars

During these difficult times, car rental companies have chose to disinfect every vehicle after its use. Immediately after you drop off your car, the company moves on to its disinfection. They focus primarily on the steering wheel, buttons, gear box, seat belts and seats.

After that, the whole car is getting sprayed with disinfectants or it is being vacuumed with high temperature steam. This way they ensure that the car will be safe to be given to another person. At the end of the day, the cars will get washed on the outside too.

If the company does not provide you with any disinfectants, we advise you to keep a bottle with you or carry a pack of disinfectant wipes.

Pick up and drop of a vehicle

The pick up or a drop off a vehicle will be carried out very carefully. If you wish to have the vehicle delivered then one of our handlers will deliver it to the place of your choice. ,asks and other protective gear will be used of course.

If you want to be 100% sure that the vehicle is disinfected and safe to be used, you can visit the company yourself and get the car from there. We advise you that you will be careful as the transaction and the physical contact with another person will be inevitable either way.

Make sure to bring your own protective gear, masks and gloves and follow the instructions of the Greek Ministry of Health so that you will not face any problems.

Online and phone communication

Every car rental company has tried to limit her physical transactions as much as possible. It is better for everyone not to come to the company and have any physical contact with the staff and employees, let alone use public transport to come to the headquarters.

Feel free to contact the company online by email or calling them as it will be safer to do so.


Safety measures at the company

Except from the contactless handling fees and the online communication rather than a visit at the physical car rental company, the headquarters of each company has taken their own safety measures.

They have installed plexi-glass protective shields in front of the counter tops so that the employees and you will be protected from any germs.

All the employees are equipped with protective face masks and gloves so that they will be protective and they will also not be able to transfer any germs to you.

There is a constant need for sanitation of counter tops, chairs, doors etc and there are designated spots where you can wait at the lines. Of course the social distancing is imposed there too.

Please do not visit a car rental or any other company if you are not feeling very well. It could cause some pretty awful consequences and a chain reaction of the virus.

Overview of how do car rental companies deal with coronavirus

Remember that if you are going to use public transport means, you should be protected by a face mask. Try to wash your hands as often as possible to avoid the spread of germs to other people and objects.

When in the car, try not to eat and drink as the germs will be spread everywhere and be cautious with take out food. Public health is very important in the summer of 2020.

We hope that our list about how do car rental companies deal with coronavirus will help you understand the measures each company has taken and that you will still be able to go on vacation.

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How Will Travel Be Different?

When I worked in finance, we based our projections of how a company might perform in the future on historical data. A flawed method given nobody can know the future, but it was all we had.

In the world of travel, trends and past data helped us plan for the future, however in this unprecedented time, with freedom and movement restricted in a global way, how can we have any clarity? Few could have predicted how things have gone so far, and since nobody has a crystal ball, anything people share about how travel will change is just an idea.

The future is unknowable. Always has been and always will be. Yet I think on a soul level, there are some changes we will see in the future of travel. I might not know the when or how, but I do want a different why. These are my promises to myself and my hope for the way we will travel in the future:

We’ll Pursue the Adventure

On one of my greatest unplanned solo adventures in Mozambique

When I started this blog in 2012, Instagram was in its infancy, and solo female travel was a new-ish concept. That’s not to say there weren’t plenty of solo female travelers — there were — but it wasn’t as widely publicized as it is now.

I was traveling on a shoestring, sleeping only in dorms, eating street food, often taking only cold showers for a month, and living life on the beach. I’ll never forget taking night swims in the blue, glittery phytoplankton that lit up the calm, quiet South China Sea.

Back then I was on a choose-your-own-adventure. I showed up with no plans, usually taking the advice of those I met along the way and making spur-of-the-moment decisions. I had no itinerary and no specific photo in mind.

I miss that. Don’t you?

Traveling changed along the way to accommodate instantaneous sharing, and while I would not have a career if that weren’t so, I think authenticity will become more valued. I wonder if we will see more people returning to the pursuit of adventure, not the story they’ll tell later or the photo they’ll edit to perfection. At least, I’d like to hold myself more accountable to the adventure.

We’ll Value It More

How Will Travel Be Different?
Thankful for every swim without a camera

I’ll be the first to admit I took my free movement for granted. I knew I had passport privilege, and though I appreciated it, I never expected it would change in the blink of an eye.

I went through my photos the other day feeling so much gratitude for the gift, then a question creeped over me. Did I value all of my experiences fully? I can honestly say that I did – about half of the time. The rest? I was distracted by something irrelevant, allowed much self-comparison, and didn’t thank myself enough for the adventure at hand.

It’s true you don’t know what you got ’til it’s gone.

We’ll Search Out Connections, not Numbers

We have an opportunity to travel more consciously in a post-lockdown world, searching for connections rather than approval through our devices. Maybe it sounds naive or altruistic, but travel was more about the connection in a pre-internet world. That wasn’t so long ago.

We didn’t care if we were dirty and sweaty, had traveled all day in a cargo ferry, hitchhiked in the back of a pickup truck, or ate with our fingers on the beach without a camera in sight. We didn’t have to go looking for incredible stories that we later made seem effortless or spontaneous. We let the journey unfold.

We’ll Do It For Our Own Enjoyment

golden gate highlands national park
This was a spur-of-the-moment find in South Africa

I’m going to be damn selfish again – taking solo trips in pursuit of nothing but freedom, joy, and adventures. It’ll be for me, like it was in the beginning, and I will make no apologies for it.

Maybe if we all did that, there wouldn’t be as many quick trips and so many flights. We wouldn’t care about visiting every country in the world just to say we did it. We’d move slowly and consciously, just wanting to enjoy the moment. As anyone with a busy itinerary knows, you see fewer things and get to enjoy the moment less when moving so quickly.

If we were to enjoy nature more and connect with the people – to immerse ourselves – our enjoyment would actually benefit the world, and each other.

Maybe you came here to see a concrete idea of when the world would go back to ‘normal’, or to get clarity on when to plan again, and the truth is nobody knows. We don’t know when or how, we just know it will be different.

What we can do is commit to being better travelers when we have the opportunity again.

As Eckhart Tolle said, “Life is an adventure, not a package tour.”

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34 Things I Know to Be True on my 34th Birthday

Today is my 34th birthday. Two months ago, my plan was to spend today in Thailand. It would’ve been yet another trip in my already-busy-rather-crazy schedule.

And now that April, May, and early summer are wiped clean of flights and plans, I’ve settled into a much needed, perhaps healthier routine: Reflection.

I’ve spent my life chasing answers, only to realize that life is really about the questions. And though I will spend my whole life learning, these are the things on this special day that I know to be true:

1. It’s a waste of time to worry about getting older. Life just gets better with age, experience, and expression. Turning 31 taught me that.

2. How we experience life is up to us. The best thing we can do is question absolutely everything, especially the systems in place, the governing bodies, and the status quo. Meeting people the world over taught me that.

3. We are truly insignificant, spinning around one star in a vast universe, alive for the blink of an eye. So how big of a mistake can we ever really make? Looking at the stars taught me that.

4. We are all driven by instinct, with a primitive mind that evolved to survive. Every animal on Earth shares this with us. Just because we are human doesn’t mean we are not animals, and just one part of the fabric of the earth. Time spent in the Galapagos taught me that.

5. Most of us judge ourselves much more harshly than anyone else does. A retreat in Mexico taught me that. 

6. Mother Nature does not need us, but we need her. Backpacking in the Alaskan backcountry taught me that.

34 Things I Know to Be True on my 34th Birthday
Nobody and nothing but nature for 8 days

7. Failure is only real when we refuse to see it as a learning experience and opportunity. Eight years of travel bogging taught me that.

8. Terrible things may happen to us, but letting it define our future keeps us in pain. The 12 steps taught me that.

9. People are mostly good. Solo travel taught me that.

10. When we let go of the need to be right, we can stop caring what other people believe, what religion they practice, and how they vote. What a wonderful world we would live in if nobody needed to be right or wrong. Spending time in quite different cultures taught me that.

train in sri lanka
It can change everything

11. We are not just similar, we are the same. On the atomic level, we are one. Meditation taught me that.

12. Being humble, acknowledging that I know almost nothing, and remaining open are the most important things I can do to enrich my life. Being alive taught me that. 

13. We don’t need a lot. When we have everything we need, anything beyond that is just grasping, greed, and societal pressure. Being almost broke taught me that.

14. Caring what other people think and making life choices based on the perception of others is the road to misery. Isolation taught me that.

15. There may be no greater gift you can give to another person than your pure, undivided attention. Being an auntie taught me that. 

16. Curiosity is one of the most beautiful human traits. When we let it drive us, there’s almost no end to the adventures that could unfold. Traveling in South Africa taught me that.

34 Things I Know to Be True on my 34th Birthday
Where my heart opened

17. There are plenty of misfits, people who want the world to be better, people who want to share and who don’t want more than they need. There can be a world without corporate greed, and it would work if we gave it power. It’s not naive, and it’s not unrealistic. Burning Man taught me that. 

18. True power is not about money, controlling others, or having more. It’s about being in full control of your energy, your thoughts, and your actions. Tantra taught me that.

19. Hospitality, beautiful moments shared with strangers, and a good meal are all we really need to be happy. Italy taught me that.

20. Contemplating our own death can help us to fully live. Tomorrow is never guaranteed, so are we happy with the life we are living now? Are we truly at peace at the end of each day? This is a question worth asking often. Getting caught in a flash flood in Tanzania taught me that.

Lushoto, Tanzania guide
I still love Tanzania, though

21. Everything is always changing. Becoming attached to things just the way they are is the recipe for suffering. Looking at even the down times as an opportunity can set us free. Buddhism taught me that.

22. Life is too short to wear clothes that are uncomfortable. Why not be comfortable? Lots of long-haul flights taught me that.

23. Fashion magazines and ads have us chasing perfection, but this body is the only one I will ever have, and it deserves my love and appreciation. Loads of work on self-love taught me that. 

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I almost didn’t post this photo because I felt like I didn’t look good enough. I was sucking it in, bloated from my period coming the next day, you know the drill. For most of my life, even when I weighed 10 pounds less than I do now, I have wasted energy on not feeling thin, beautiful, or ‘enough’. And you know what? Fuck that. This body has taken me on six 8+ day backpacking trips, down past 60 feet in the ocean on one breath, and so much more. I refuse to let anything make me feel inadequate anymore. I commit to this body, the only one I will ever have. I commit to loving it and seeing its uniqueness as beauty. We’re not all meant to look the same. And I cannot, just as everyone cannot, ever be an airbrushed image.

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24. Self-love is a voyage rather than a destination, and it requires constant gentleness and understanding. Self-care practices taught me that.

25. Stranger danger was a damaging thing to learn. Trusting strangers when our intuition tells us it’s alright to leads to the most wonderful adventures. Hitchhiking taught me that.

truck hitchhiking
The crew in the truck

26. It’s really important to get dirty. To remember we are creatures of the earth. We can’t love the earth if we don’t make an effort to know her. Backpacking taught me that.

27. Fear is crippling, and it’s pointless. We can learn to do it anyway. We can learn to do it all afraid. Taking off to the other side of the world alone with a one-way ticket taught me that.

28. It’s pointless to just dip one’s toe in. What’s the point of living if we don’t remind ourselves that we’re alive? The ocean taught me that.

34 Things I Know to Be True on my 34th Birthday
Beautiful Humpbacks, photo by Matthew Reichel

29. It’s not right that some people have so much and most people have nothing. Everyone deserves to be seen and treated like an equal. Confronting my privilege taught me that.

30. If I don’t take action to shape the world in the way I want it to be, then why am I here? Quitting my old job taught me that.

31. Negative things others say are really about them, and even if they seem like it, are rarely personal. It only hurts me if I believe them. Being on the Internet in this day and age taught me that.

32. Everything I experience is up to me. Life is perception. Perception is reality. My first months without alcohol taught me that.

33. Gratitude every damn day helps me see how lucky I am, and let go of what I don’t have. Days spent in hammocks in Mozambique taught me that.

34. I will never have concrete proof as to why I am here, and I will never have answers to most of my questions. That’s OK. I can flow with the not-knowing. It keeps it all interesting. It keeps me hungry and foolish.

Life taught me that.

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9 Exquisite Daily Self-Care Ideas

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Self-care is about taking action to preserve one’s bodily and mental health. Quite simply, we only have one body and one mind, so it’s essential that we put these things first in life, no?

Except it’s rarely that simple. Other things like, well, life get in the way and sometimes self care feels out of reach or oddly selfish.

That’s backwards, though. Can we agree that self-care is not self-indulgent, or at all an irresponsible use of time? We can? Great. We have a responsibility to care for ourselves.

Without caring for ourselves we can hardly care for others, so if you’re finding yourself stressed, burnt out, or just want to keep up a healthy practice, you’ve come to the right place. These are 9 of my favorite self-care routines and ideas to make it enjoyable and easy.

Create Consistency

9 Exquisite Daily Self-Care Ideas
Benefit of waking up early consistently? Glorious sunrises like this one

I find, to take up a new habit, it’s best if I make it part of a consistent daily routine – one with payoff. For example, I can’t take my phone off of airplane mode or start doing work until I’ve done my daily meditation and journaling. That way, I set the tone for my day without letting anything steal my attention away or change the course before I’ve even begun.

We can change our habits by changing the routine. So if you find you have room for improvement with your AM routine, insert something consistent like meditation and journaling before you begin your day.

Commit to 7 Days of Meditation

9 Exquisite Daily Self-Care Ideas
Meditation can be done anytime, anywhere

Committing to a lifetime of meditation might feel excessive, but you can do seven days of meditation, at just 10+ minutes per day, right? Anyone can find ten minutes, and if you don’t have that, then it’s worth taking a hard look at why not.

It might feel pointless at first, and your mind will likely wander, which is normal and part of meditation. It’s the practice that gives you results, and 7 days is a gentle introduction. You can sign up for free here.

Read or Listen to Personal Development Books

9 Exquisite Daily Self-Care Ideas
Food for the brain

The older I get, the less I realize I know, and the more I’ve gotten into self-help/personal development books. They’re often written by successful authors, public speakers, psychologists, and specialists who have spent a lot more time studying human behavior than I have.

If I have one big takeaway from each read (or listen), then I feel it was worth the time and attention. You can find my favorite list of self-help books here.

Immerse Yourself in Learning a New Skill

mandarin rosetta stone
Brushing up on Mandarin!

Novelty releases endorphins in the brain, our body’s natural opiate. You also feel it after dancing, exercising, sex, and many other healthy activities. New projects can put us in a flow state and help us get that pleasurable rush.

The universal experience of flow, when we’re deep into a project and fully immersed into it, often makes up some of the best moments of our lives. Plus, learning a skill you’ve always wanted to learn builds up self-esteem and character.

I have a list in this post of some of the best resources for learning new skills for free or cheap.

Forest Bathing – shinrin-yoku

yosemite winter hikes
We will be back in here again soon

It wasn’t that long ago that we lived fully outside, surviving off of what the land provided, and living in harmony with it as hunter-gatherers. We have spent much more time living in that way – nearly 2 million years – than we do now indoors. It’s estimated that these days we spend 93% of our time indoors, which isn’t all that healthy.

Forest bathing is about spending time immersed in the outdoors, almost becoming your environment. It’s a calming meditation that you can do anywhere natural, from a forest to a desert to your backyard.

A 2016 study found that forest bathing “significantly reduced pulse rate and significantly increased the score for vigor and decreased the scores for depression, fatigue, anxiety, and confusion”. To put it simply: We need time in Mother Nature.

Learn to Love Yourself

9 Exquisite Daily Self-Care Ideas
You are a divine goddess and you best believe it!

Self-love, like self-care, is an ongoing practice that takes time and patience. At least, it has for me.

However after 8 years of traveling solo, I’ve spent a lot of time alone, and that has meant learning how to love myself and welcome that solo time. This deserves its own post, which you can read more about here and see practiced in the video below.

Care for Your Body

9 Exquisite Daily Self-Care Ideas

Staying active and eating healthy are two of the most important things to me, and yet when I’m super busy, they often take a back seat.

But I can’t deny I feel my best when I’m feeling fit and healthy, so in isolation, I commit to doubling down on these important aspects of having a long, happy life.

Here’s a list of some of my favorite free workouts and some healthy living ideas in the video below:

Check Out of Social Media and Keep Your Phone on Silent

9 Exquisite Daily Self-Care Ideas
Just hang out!

In times of stress, social media makes it all much, much worse. Over the past year, I’ve deleted the news app from my phone and homepage of Google, kept the Facebook app off my phone, and gone long periods of time without the Instagram app, too.

I also keep my phone on silent, without even vibration, most of the time. This not only helps tremendously with productivity, but also helps me keep my thoughts my own. I don’t want nor need excessive input, which has been shown to increase stress and decrease feelings of personal power and efficacy. This helps us consciously choose when and how we wish to connect with others. It gives us our personal power back.

Be Artistic

Create something with no end goal. Paint, write, or garden just because you want to – because it feels good to make things. It took a forced slowdown for me to realize how important this is. Creating things just because you want to, rather than for any kind of outside approval, is art in its purest form. And it feels damn good.

However you wish to interpret ‘make art’ is perfect. Just do it.

Let Personal Hygiene Be More Exciting

9 Exquisite Daily Self-Care Ideas
Might invest in a bathrobe just because

I lived in Taipei in 2007. Back then, it cost about $3 to get one’s hair washed, massaged, and perfectly cleansed at a salon. I don’t know about you, but I go into a state of bliss when having my head massaged. If I were a cat, I would surely purr.

Then I realized: Hey, I can do this to myself! I can make any shower, lotion application session, tooth brushing moment, or facial mask into a luxurious event just by giving it all of my attention and intention. I take my time with the hair washing, I massage my lotion in, and I let it be enjoyable. This really only adds 10 or so minutes to my routine but makes all the difference in how I experience it.

Yoni Egg

San Juan siquijor
Pay attention to your body’s power center

I’m just going to say it – self-care is incomplete without giving attention to our body’s power center – to the origin of all life. Having a better relationship with our yonis (this is the only acceptable word I can find for ‘vagina’), means more personal power, self-efficacy, and better relationships. It seems like a strong promise, and it is, because this is one of the most important self-care rituals you can have.

Yoni yoga with the yoni egg, a small jade egg that you insert, yes, into your yoni, can be incredibly healing. I find the whole ritual to be empowering beyond almost anything else I’ve tried. You can learn much more here from Layla Martin, whom I trust completely.

9 exquisite self-care ideas to be included in your daily routines, to boost happiness and help you lead a healthy and mindful lifestyle. #SelfCare
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I hope these self care ideas introduced you to something new or helped you find a practice you hadn’t thought of before. Whether we’re on the go or stuck in one place, making time for self care can be life-changing in the best of ways.

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The Best Self-Help Books for Women

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Around 7 years ago I got into self-help, or my preferred nomenclature, personal development. It all started with a book, and then a retreat, and then a lifestyle change that I much prefer. I’m always looking to level up and invite more peace and stability into my life.

Over the years, I’ve realized we’re never really ‘done’ with the personal development work, but with each passing year, I become more aware, gentler, more successful in my endeavors, and happier overall.

These books are great for anyone, but since I only have the direct experience of being a woman, I find that these books touch on the things that we struggle with and most yearn to grow through.

Some are written by women and some by men (and some by both), and many are read by the author on the audio version, which I love. I hope you get as much out of this list of self-help books as much as I have:

The Best Self-Help Books for WomenThe Best Self-Help Books for Women

This was the first self-help book I read, and one I’ve recommended often in my past posts about life-changing books. I love how the author explains non-attachment, the power of presence, and more core Buddhist principles in an easy-to-follow way.

I’d recommend reading this one rather than listening to it on audio. Sometimes the reader doesn’t get the tone quite right, and I think the book was meant to be gentler than he reads it.

The Best Self-Help Books for WomenThe Best Self-Help Books for Women

This book took a bit of time and self-reflection to fully grasp, but it was worth it. It’s a life-changing book about the power and importance of being in the moment, without worrying about the past nor future. That’s hard to do, but he makes a great case for consciously choosing it.

I love listening to this on audio at least once per year, usually around New Year’s. There’s a bit of Q and A, which I find helpful, plus Eckhart Tolle sounds a bit like Father Time and Gandolph combined.

The Best Self-Help Books for Women
The Best Self-Help Books for Women

I listen to all of Gabby Bernstein’s books. You might find it a bit woo-woo at first, but you don’t have to take the entire book to heart to get benefits out of her perspective. To summarize, this book is about learning to trust life, which is a recurring theme of hers.

Gabby reads all of her own books, and I find it best to listen to her since her books are so personal, often drawing on her own experience.

The Best Self-Help Books for WomenThe Best Self-Help Books for Women

Cheryl Strayed, best known as the author of Wild, used to be an anonymous advice columnist under the pen name, Dear Sugar. While not a typical ‘self-help’ book, the advice that Cheryl gives and the beautifully vulnerable way she writes may move you to tears. It sure did for me multiple times, and made me a superfan of hers.

I prefer this one in book form, and love being able to flip back to certain stories and pages to highlight and write in the margins.

The Best Self-Help Books for Women
The Best Self-Help Books for Women

Ryan Holiday’s books are all good. They’re often based on Stoicism and Taoist beliefs, the ancient origins of self-help. He writes by providing specific examples and telling stories, as does Mark Manson in The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck. Both do a good job of illustrating their points with well-researched moments in history.

I love to listen to Ryan’s books, which he narrates himself.

The Best Self-Help Books for WomenThe Best Self-Help Books for Women

Marie Forleo’s book will pep you up like no other, especially if this is a pivotal point in your life. She tells her story of jumping from profession to profession in search of her dream in such a relatable way. It’s encouraging and has tangible practices you can try yourself.

I recommend listening to the audiobook version of this one. Marie is hilarious, and it’s a performance that I think is best experienced from the woman herself.

The Best Self-Help Books for WomenThe Best Self-Help Books for Women

Dr. Nathanial Branden is thought of as the father of self-esteem. For Ayn Rand fans, you might enjoy his references to his association with the author.

This book helped me realize how important it is to be honest with ourselves and to live in integrity, with purpose. You might be surprised to find that your self-esteem wasn’t what you thought! I sure did.

I like to read this book to myself. It is a very personal book that you’ll want to pause on and think over often. I tend to take my time with it and have a journal nearby each time I read.

The Best Self-Help Books for WomenThe Best Self-Help Books for Women

Elizabeth Gilbert, best known for authoring Eat, Pray, Love, is an amazing writer, full stop. She seems to effortlessly switch from self-help, to fiction, to autobiographical, which I find impressive.

Big Magic falls more into the self-help category, and is directed at anyone who needs motivation to live out their best lives. I tend to like reading this one in pieces on short flights when I need a pick-me-up.

There’s just one point I don’t agree with her on, and that’s putting work out there to be helpful to others. She talks that down, but I think it’s the purest motivation there is.

The Best Self-Help Books for WomenThe Best Self-Help Books for Women

This is a quick listen at under 3 hours, but packs a punch of important-to-remember information about 4 key things. Don Miguel Ruiz reminds us to be impeccable with our words, to take nothing personally, to assume others are doing their best, and to always do our best.

I like listening to this one while running errands. It used to be a really nice listen on the U-bahn (subway) back when I lived in Berlin.

The Best Self-Help Books for WomenThe Best Self-Help Books for Women

Brené Brown is a popular author and public speaker with many great reads, all based on her studies of vulnerability. While Daring Greatly is her most famous book, I connected with Dare to Lead more. Leadership can be scary and difficult at times, and her practices of compassion and radical self-reflection are both helpful and necessary.

I listened to this book on audio and thought it was perfect. Brené Brown reads it herself, which adds to the personal aspects of her own life that she uses as examples.

The Best Self-Help Books for WomenThe Best Self-Help Books for Women

This book was co-written by a psychologist husband-wife duo, Gay and Kathlyn Hendricks. Drawing from their personal experience as well as studies, they provide a blueprint for identifying and working through unconscious patterns that can destroy relationships.

While it might seem odd to recommend a relationship book, I find it’s essential to learn how to be in healthy relationships. I have had to study and learn to understand that, just like I had to study math and science. To have a healthy life, we have to have healthy relationships.

This one is best read as a book. I listened to it on audio and got a bit lost since there are worksheets and assignments that come along with the book.

The Best Self-Help Books for WomenThe Best Self-Help Books for Women

Ram Dass’ talks are great listening, so much so he’s often sampled in songs. His words are reminders of the principles already discussed in this post about being present, a core Buddhist belief. I find I can’t be reminded of its importance enough.

As implied, these are tracks for listening to, and they’re often free or very cheap.

Looking for books that focus on self-help and personal development for women? Here are 12 great books, most of which available on audiobook format, to help you improve yourself, be happier and live a fulfilling life. #Selfhelp
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Whether you’re just starting out on your self-help journey or are looking for new recommendations, I hope this varied list helped you to find a style you want to explore.

There are many more books out there that are great reminders, often of what we already know, or that can lead us to breakthroughs. I’m always listening, making new lists, and trying to grow into the best version of me.

What are some of your favorites?

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20 Powerful Quotes on Self-Care & Personal Resilience

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In a fast-paced world with rare space for introspection and pause, self care seemed out of reach for many, myself included. Now with days on end to pause, breathe, and rest, I’m looking for ways to detach from the craziness around me in order to foster peace within myself.

Self-care is perhaps the best way to do this. Of course, self-care doesn’t always mean putting on a face mask (though social media often makes it seem that way). Self-care can be anything which allows us to slow down and get in touch with ourselves.

Whatever brings us rest, joy, inspiration — that is self-care. And if it happens to be a face mask, fantastic! If not, equally fantastic. Regardless of what method we choose or why, self-care has the power to keep us rooted, to make us the best possible versions of ourselves, and to restore and grow us so that we may be able to intentionally show up for those around us.

Below you’ll find a collection of encouraging and insightful quotes about self-care (as well as some on responding to difficulty in life with the grace and resilience which stems from self-care) to inspire you to embark on this journey of self-love:

torres del paine o circuit

“Self-care is how you take your power back.” -Lalah Delia, spiritual writer & wellness educator

“Rest and self-care are so important. When you take time to replenish your spirit, it allows you to serve others from the overflow. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.” -Eleanor Brown, novelist

“I am my own experiment. I am my own work of art.” -Madonna

“Life should be touched, not strangled. You’ve got to relax. Let it happen at times, and at others move forward with it.” -Ray Bradbury

alabama hills movie road

“If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete.” -Jack Kornfield, author & Buddhist teacher

“It is so important to take time for yourself and find clarity. The most important relationship is the one you have with yourself.” -Diane von Fürstenberg

“Be kinder to yourself. And then let your kindness flood the world.” -Pema Chödrön, Buddhist nun

“To experience peace does not mean that your life is always blissful. It means that you are capable of tapping into a blissful state of mind amidst the normal chaos of a hectic life.” -Jill Bolte Taylor, author & neuroanatomist

20 Powerful Quotes on Self-Care & Personal Resilience

“The most powerful relationship you will ever have is the relationship with yourself.” -Steve Maraboli, author & speaker

“There is enough time for self-care. There is not enough time to make up for the life you’ll miss by not filling yourself up.” -Jennifer Williamson, American politician

“The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself.” -Anna Quindlen, author & journalist

“Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.” -Mahatma Gandhi

20 Powerful Quotes on Self-Care & Personal Resilience

“Caring for your body, mind, and spirit is your greatest and grandest responsibility. It’s about listening to the needs of your soul and then honoring them.” -Kristi Ling, author

“Stepping out of the busyness, stopping our endless pursuit of getting somewhere else, is perhaps the most beautiful offering we can make to our spirit.” -Tara Brach, author, clinical psychologist, & meditation teacher

“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” -Buddha

“As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.” -Maya Angelou

whitefish montana

“Harmony begins within. If we are to influence the world around us, even in minor ways, the real work begins inside and emanates outwards.” -Gudjon Bergmann, author

“Taking care of myself doesn’t mean ‘me first.’ It means ‘me, too’.” -L.R. Knost, author

“Self-care is never a selfish act – it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer to others.” -Parker Palmer, author & activist

“We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails.” -Dolly Parton

20 powerful quotes on self-love, self-care and personal resilience to lift your spirits up and help you focus on your well-being and happiness! #SelfLove #SelfCare
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What are your favorite quotes about self-care and self-love?


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The Low-Down on Carbon Offset Programs

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Alright, folks, it’s time to be frank: the present state of Mother Earth isn’t looking good. The planet needs us more than ever before. We have a pretty serious situation on our hands as a result of climate change, and now I’ve found myself asking — as I’m sure many of you have, too — what do I do now? How can I help?

You may have heard of something called “carbon offsetting.” This term has begun to appear more and more in climate change conversation, and is shrouded in controversy as well. Is it legitimate? Let’s take a look.

What is carbon offsetting?

el nido overlooking

The World Economic Forum provides a graphic (source: produced by GOOD and Deeplocal using data from NRDC, US EPA, Clean Air Cool Planet, and The Discovery Channel) that does a great job of breaking it down: “The concept of a carbon offset is that it negates – or offsets – the same amount of carbon emissions you release into the atmosphere. The offset is created either by supporting a renewable energy source such as wind and solar, or by funding activities like planting a tree.”   

In a nutshell, “offsets” allow individuals to spend their money in ways which compensate for the negative effects their carbon footprints are having on the planet.

How does it work?

philosopher's way Heidelberg

The concept of quantifying and monetizing climate change might seem crazy, but here’s how it works: a company which works in carbon offsetting creates projects around the world in a number of different categories, from planting trees to building wind-power infrastructure to installing energy-efficient cooking stoves in communities that need them. The only issue is that these companies need funding to complete such projects. Therefore, these companies want you — the individual — to fund their projects with your own money. They created the system of carbon offsets in order to offer consumers the ability to make up for the damage they are having on the planet with their lifestyle choices, while simultaneously acting as financial backers in global environmental efforts.

For example, if you’re taking a round-trip flight from Los Angeles to Bali, the carbon emitted by the airplane there and back is roughly equivalent to 16,991 pounds of carbon dioxide. Since there really isn’t another efficient way to travel between L.A. and Bali — let alone a cleaner, greener way — you might choose to offset the negative environmental impact of your trip by purchasing an equivalent amount of carbon offsets (16,991 pounds’ worth) with a carbon offset company. The money that you spend on carbon offsets — in this case, about $197 — will help fund climate change-fighting projects in order to remove that same amount of carbon from the air in the future. (This example was calculated using the flight emissions calculator from Atmosfair.)

Why is it important?

The Low-Down on Carbon Offset Programs

Carbon offsetting encourages environmental awareness, and that alone is powerful. If the carbon offsetting system gets people thinking about the choices they’re making and the effects those choices have on the planet, the Earth is already one step closer to where it needs to be. Furthermore, thought becomes action! By purchasing carbon offsets, you (at least in theory) are helping the planet in a significant way. You’re given the chance to use your money to do something beneficial for the environment and to donate to something you might not otherwise.

Perhaps most importantly, the carbon offset discussion is reaching a crucial demographic of people: those in countries like the United States who have the financial stability required to enjoy a consumerist lifestyle. These are the individuals whose habits and choices, whether we like to think about it or not, are heavily contributing to environmental issues. Carbon offsets are geared largely at this group of people, as these are the ones most likely to seek out an environmental solution which would allow them to hold onto the parts of their lifestyle that they love. These individuals are able to partner with carbon offset companies in order to at least “break even” with their carbon footprint, which is still a step above not doing anything at all.

What are some potential issues with carbon offsetting?

The Low-Down on Carbon Offset Programs

While they appear promising, carbon offsets must be looked at critically. Perhaps the most important concept in the discussion of carbon offsetting is that of “additionality,” which examines the degree to which carbon offsets are both worthwhile and effective. Additionality — which has been called “the Achilles heel” of offset projects — means that the reduction in carbon emissions “purchased” would not have been brought about any other way, thus rendering your money and the project itself truly effective in the fight against climate change. This ensures that companies are planning projects which are scientifically proven to produce an additional decrease in greenhouse gases with quantifiable results.

Another potential issue with carbon offsets is their “temporary fix” nature, or the idea that “markets can solve problems that markets created,” as Our Changing Climate explains it. The act of theoretically purchasing an environmental pardon significantly reduces guilt; therefore, some argue, carbon offsets act as an excuse for people to refrain from reevaluating their lifestyles and making more responsible choices. For instance, if you’re looking to offset a flight, it might be a better choice to take a train or find an alternative method of transport, rather than just proceed with the flight and the according carbon offset. The most important thing here is to use carbon offsetting as a last resort when you cannot find any other way to make your plans more environmentally friendly. Doing something is still better than doing nothing; however, we need to make sure that the actions we are taking are as beneficial as possible and are not just empty efforts to say that we did.

Furthermore, it can be difficult to know exactly where your money is going when purchasing carbon offsets. The degree of financial transparency varies from company to company, but the sentiment exists that once you type in your credit card information and hit “submit,” you are out of the loop. Of course, there are those companies which care about keeping their patrons informed through every step of the process, and companies like that are the best ones to partner with if you choose to purchase carbon offsets.

How do I know if a carbon offset program is legitimate?

The Low-Down on Carbon Offset Programs

In order to make sure that a certain carbon offset program is legitimate, you’ll want to look into those same topics I just mentioned. First, check to see what a company’s website says about additionality. Does the company address it at all? If so, does it focus merely on financial additionality (the proper use of your money), or does it also place an emphasis on environmental additionality (worthwhile and effective climate change work)?

Then, try to figure out how transparent the company is with your money. Some websites, like Offset Earth, are so up-front that they even share their public finance documents on their sites. Another company, Cool Effect, also emphasizes financial transparency on its website. A third point to check for is the legitimacy of a company’s projects and results — how are their projects verified? Cool Effect, for example, works with two separate scientific committees to verify that their results are effective and additional.

The Best Resources

The Low-Down on Carbon Offset Programs

Two of the best and most legitimate carbon offset services seem to be Gold Standard and Cool Effect. Both companies check the boxes for additionally, financial transparency, and well-verified projects, so if carbon offsetting is something you’re finding yourself interested in, these are two great companies to partner with.

Meanwhile, Atmosfair is a fantastic resource on the topic. The site offers tons of clear, informative material, like tips for climate-friendly travel and graphics on the global climate budget. Their flight emissions calculator alone is immensely helpful, especially because of a cool feature which shows you the difference in emissions based on which airline you could choose to fly with!

Similarly, NativeEnergy offers several carbon calculators: one for travel, one for household, and one for events. These tools can be highly informative and allow you to examine not only your flight-related emissions, but also the impact of your day-to-day life.

Here's what travellers need to know about carbon offsetting to be a greener traveler in 2020. Learn how you can carbon offset, how to pick the right company and get all of the best resources! #CarbonOffset
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Want to do more in the fight against climate change? Watch either of these two TED Talks for some great ideas on where to begin minimizing your carbon footprint: Three Steps to Cut Your Carbon Footprint 60% Today // How to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint by 80%.

While flying still equates to a significant carbon footprint, and changes to the way airlines operate are one of the most important steps towards climate change initiatives (check out the greenest airlines here), picking carbon offset programs that are legitimate can at least help curb the impact.

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Lonely Planet’s Ultimate Travel Quiz – Lonely Planet’s travel blog

How nicely do you know our dwelling world? © Dima Zel / Shutterstock

Do you know the title of the world’s third-best mountain? Or in what yr the euro was released as lawful tender? Pit your wits versus our toughest journey quiz to date – a thirty-question, all-encompassing behemoth of planet trivia, with issues taken from Lonely Planet’s Best Vacation Quiz – our new title containing more than 100 entertaining journey-themed quizzes for all ages.

So strap on your own in and get ready to put your earth understanding to the test. There is no way you will score complete marks, but how shut can you arrive?

Just take ON THE Challenge

Uncover a lot more quiz concerns just like this in our reserve Lonely Planet’s Ultimate Travel Quiz, the best companion for any trip.

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