Coachella Camping Checklist

Hey party people!!!

It is officially Coachella week and I hope you are ready to make it your best Coachella ever!! If this is your first time attending, get ready to have an epic time! I am going weekend 2 and getting super pumped for it! My favorite part about camping is the fact that you are already at the festival. You can spend your time at your campsite hanging out with your friends, make new friends and have your personal items accessible to you before, during and after the festival. However, there is of course the downside of waiting in line to use the showers, porta-potties and the heat waking you up really early in the morning. Don’t let the downsides discourage you or kill your fun too much because the pluses for sure outweigh the minuses!

My friends and I are meeting this weekend to plan all of the logistics of our campsite because yes, we are hardcore and want to make sure we are prepared! We like to get together to talk about who is bringing what and we also discuss the menu for the weekend so that we can agree and have 1 person shop, then the others just pay them. We used to have everyone bring their own food, but this wasted so much food and money. Costco is for sure the way to go! If you are also camping and want a checklist to ensure that you have all of the things to ensure a successful campsite, here is  a little Coachella camping checklist that will help you keep your campsite fun and functional!

For your campsite

  • Portable Shower – if you prefer to have your own “tent” shower, you can. Just buy the water bags to add into the shower and make sure that you take down the tent before going inside because it can blow over with the heavy winds.
  • Tent
  • Inflatable Mattress + Pump
  • Cooler – At least two. You should have one for your drinks and another for your food
  • Utensils
  • Napkins
  • Solo cups
  • Plates
  • Cooking utensils
  • Cooking Tupperware to put food that you are cooking/raw food
  • Grill/camping stove
  • Propane – If you are taking a little stove, make sure it is propane based, as you cannot take anything that will require fire.
  • Tent locks
  • Canopies
  • Chairs
  • Tables
  • Plastic containers/buckets to store all the food so they aren’t flying everywhere
  • First aid kit
  • Wipeys
  • Lysol wipes
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Lighter
  • Lanterns / a Bulb on an extension cord for light
  • Battery power converter – This is HUGE for us to have light and charge phones throughout the day
  • Flashlights
  • Rope
  • Zipties
  • Scissors / Pocket knife
  • Trash bags
  • Battery powered individual fan
  • Toilet paper
  • Earplugs
  • A unique identifier for your campsite – usually a flag or some type of lawn decor. There are SO many campsites, it is easy to lose yours.

Easy menu ideas:

  • Hot Dogs
  • Ham and cheese Sandwich
  • peanut butter & Jelly Sandwich
  • Egg burritos
  • Chips
  • Granola
  • Pre-cut fruit
  • Salads – Fruit salad, green salad
  • Oranges
  • Nachos
  • Jerkey
  • Trail mix
  • Ice
  • Water – PRO Tip: take a flask that will keep your water cool. Also take some liquid IV so that you can add it into your water.
  • Beer
  • Clamato – If you want a nice little drink to bring you to life the next day, make a michelada! YUM!
  • Tajin
  • Lemons
  • Redbull / your preferred energy drink to keep you going
  • Speaker – take several!
  • Portable charger, preferably a solar-powered one

Games

  • Water guns
  • Glow stick ring toss
  • Bubbles
  • Cards
  • Dice
  • Loteria

Remember that this campsite is your home for 4 days! Make it fun, comfy and somewhere that you will feel happy. Some fun decorations never hurt! 😉

I wish you the best coachella ever!!!

Cheers!

Gina

 

Coachella Essentials

I can’t believe it!

Coachella is right around the corner! ‘’Tis the time for fashion, sun, music, food and so much fun! This is my fourth Coachella and couldn’t be happier with the lineup. They thought about all of us Latinos when they made the lineup and I am HYPED (J Balvin, Bad Bunny, Tucanes de Tijuana)! I am also excited to see others, but these are at the top of my list to see at a huge stage.  

Today I wanted to share a little more of my necessary ‘Chella items that will hopefully help you on your first time(s) at the festival to make it run super smooth and have more fun. Here are the things to pack so that you can have a great experience:

  1. Water bottle/Camelback – It’s about to be HOOOTT! Make sure you prepare and have somewhere to store your cold water. If you can take an electrolyte replenisher and add it to your water, that would be the icing on the cake. There are water refill stations inside, so you can refill your water container.
  2. Sunscreen – Protect your skin! Make sure to not only wear some as soon as you get in the sun, but you continue to re-apply all day.
  3. Cute hats/caps – Ladies and gents, please cover your face! The festival begins around 1pm and you WILL be in the hot sun. Make sure to cover your face with a stylish hat.
  4. Bag flasks – If you have an alcohol preference, I would get a bag flask to more easily carry around your liquor.
  5. Walkie talkies – You will find that there are very few areas where you get full phone service, so if you are going with a group of friends that you won’t be with the entire time, then I would suggest buying walkie talkies. This will save you trying to call them over and over while there.
  6. Bandana – For the most part, the festival grounds are full of dirt. You want to make sure that you keep your allergies controlled and airways clear from as much dust as possible. It is typical to get the Coachella cough after the festival (basically a cough that lasts a week from all the dust), so anything you can do to help it will be best for you in the long run.
  7. Comfy shoes – You will be walking to a lot of different stages and for several hours through the day. Make sure that you are wearing comfy, preferably close-toed, shoes.
  8. Light jacket – Although during the day it’s super hot, it gets pretty chilly at night. The wind also picks up and it is worth carrying a jacket or a change of clothes to stay warm as it gets later.
  9. Portable charger – You want to make sure that you get all the fun times on your phone and Insta! Make sure that you pack a charger for your phone that fits in your bag.
  10. Not cash – This is really up to you, but just in case you were to lose your wallet, you want to make sure that on these multi-day events you don’t have too much cash lying around. This is why I would recommend just taking your card and always carry your wallet in the front of your outfit.
  11. For ladies – small purse/fanny – This will help you carry your lipstick, ID, etc.
  12. For guys – backpack – Carry your water and jacket with you and help out your girl(friends).

 

I hope that these tips help make your trip better and you enjoyed today’s post. Do you have any other essentials you ensure to take? Tell me in the comments below!

XO,

Gina

 

How to get promoted

Hey, friend!

Did you know that, according to Pew Research, Millennials are the largest population in the workforce right now? This is why I decided to write this article because I know that we are all trying to get ahead in the game, but sometimes get stuck on HOW to go about it. I want to start off by saying that the career success and growth I have experienced was not created alone. I have been fortunate enough to have various mentors and advocates that allowed me to grow and learn through them. I am the first person in my family to work in corporate America, so learning how to navigate the job market alone was a huge learning curve for me in and of itself.  It’s tough enough to explain to my parents what I do on a daily basis, imagine explaining office politics.. NOPE!

I have worked in Human Resources for 11 years at various size companies, industries and cultures and been promoted consistently across my career. I have been fortunate enough to work for companies that place high importance on their company culture, are employee-centric and revolutionary in their operating approaches. Throughout my various experiences, I have worked with all levels of the company, from entry-level employees to executives and have the opportunity to both coach and learn from them. I tend to be a partner in my role, therefore work alongside people to be their advocate, advisor and sometimes therapist (I really need a couch in my office). Hearing the various perspectives, I have come to understand why and how those that are at the top of the organization get there. I hope that some of the things I have learned along the way will help you on your journey to success.

Real talk .. What does it take?

  1. Learn what that company cares about – AKA, how do they make money and how do you contribute to that larger picture? You are working for a BUSINESS that needs to make money. However, the business’ largest (for the most part) line item on their P&L is their people! SO it ends up being a two-way street. In order to grow in your company you must learn how they make money and how you add value to the bottom line. For example, if you are a sales rep, it is pretty clear. Your sales add up to the net gains of the company. Another example is, if you are a receptionist – what are the duties that you are doing on a daily basis to make the office run smoother? The core of your job is to create efficiencies and organization to save money. Therefore the better you get at that, the more likely you are to get promoted. You slowly make yourself a more valuable player in your field and they want to keep you happy and want you to stay, therefore they promote you.
  2. Learn what your boss cares about – Your boss hired YOU. Why? That is your challenge. What unique talent, skill, ability, characteristic, behavior(s) makes you unique in your role? There is something about the way you do your job that makes their life easier and you need to hone in on that. Maybe it’s your overarching positive attitude, maybe it is how much of an aggressive sales person you are, maybe it is organizing their lives so that they have to think less, or maybe it’s because you are a problem solver and come to them with more options to solve their problems rather than asking them to solve them for you. Whatever your niche is, find it and capitalize on it. Don’t think this is a guessing game. You can ask them how and why you are valuable to them and the company. A few examples of questions are:
    • What would you consider to be my biggest strengths?
    • In what area do I add value to the team that others may not?
    • Why did you hire me over others in the interview process? What did you see in me?
    • What is keeping you up at night about work? How can I help?
  3. Learn the culture – I learned this one the hard way. What it takes to be successful at one company doesn’t always meet cultural standards at your next company. You may be doing the same job, but the acceptable norms are not the same. You need to take time to learn the culture. What are your peers doing? What are they not doing? Why? What is the next level above you doing and how did they get there? Being able to understand the cultural differences between companies is crucial to your growth because if you cross the boundaries, that will put you in a very negative light which is hard to come back from. However, understanding the culture and staying within the boundaries and adding your talent into it will only make you shine brighter and allow you to thrive.
  4. Perfect your execution – In other words, after you have figured out why you are there, how the company makes money, how you play into the bigger picture, what is accepted and what isn’t – GRIND! How do you become the BEST at what you do? If you don’t know, look around you and find someone you admire. Why do you admire them? How are they the best? What are the behaviors/actions/habits you should adopt to make you the best? What are their flaws and things you should avoid? We are all human and make mistakes, but learning from other’s as much as possible is to our benefit. Maybe you can ask that person to mentor you. Maybe the best person in your field is outside your company and you need to follow them on social media or read their books. Whatever it may be, work on perfecting your craft every day.
  5. Work hard – This is a given, but hard work and consistency go a long way. If you are consistently a hard worker, who has all the points above aligned and are in the right job that meets your strengths, you will go places.. Very far places!
  6. Realize you are still in corporate America – Hate to break it to you, but there are these things called “politics” and “time”. Why do you care? There are certain boundaries you cannot break within a company structure because that just is what it is. These will require you to go through certain hoops, and you will have to be patient. There are also certain things that you can’t accomplish until you are in your field, or in your company long enough because the scenarios just haven’t happened. Remember that good things take time and you need to embrace the journey.

If you feel like you are in a position where you think you need to take the next step and haven’t been able to, I suggest you set a meeting with your boss to review the points above. If you have any other questions or want to chat further, leave a comment below or reach out to me in Instagram. I am more than happy to chat!

XO,

Gina

 

Running tips part 2

Hello friend!

I hope you are having a fabulous week! This week has been really exciting for me because we are officially in Spring, which means we are closer to summer! Living in San Diego usually makes me feel like we are always in spring, but this winter brought WAY too much rain and I am still trying to recover from it. I am also really excited because I got new running shoes this week. With all my training lately, I was at the point where I needed and got a new pair of Asics GT-2000’s.

This made me realize that I didn’t talk much about shoes or any next steps after actually getting into running on my last running blog. So, I created this blog for those who are starting to run more often (although it doesn’t have to be long distances), and want to avoid injuries and perfect the craft. I used to run half marathons and hurt my knees, right ankle, IT band and my hip was even affected at one point because of the constant injuries and over-work.  From personal experience, the points below really mattered to me and I hope they can help you on your journey as well. That said, learn from my mistakes and don’t get hurt, increase your pace and feel the runner’s high!**

Tips to avoid injury

  1. Get good shoes – I mentioned above that I just got a new pair of shoes. This was after wearing the WRONG running shoes for a long time. I went to my local Road Runner store so they could “Test” my step and tell me more about the shoe that is recommended for my foot. It was an eye opener to find out that there were other shoes aside from Nike training shoes with a ton of cushion, support and breathing for my feet. Every person is different, but the super cushion-y shoes work for me, while low profile shoes work for others. Ultimately, the personalized assessment taught me so much and I have been buying these Asics ever since! The shoes at the store tend to be slightly more expensive than the shoe from the brand, but it is worth getting them there the first time then get them directly from the brand, or their outlet like I do, and save money on a future pair. On top of learning about the fact that I was wearing the wrong shoes, I also found out I was wearing the wrong size. Yup, I was wearing 2 SIZES too small. Can you believe it?! My poor feet were dying in my shoes. The thing is.. When running, your feet expand because they are swelling from the strain you are adding to them, as well as we retaining water. Of course you need to wear bigger shoes!! Another HUGE eye-opener for me. Lesson learned: when buying shoes make sure that you buy them larger than you normally wear tennis shoes to allow your feet to expand. I buy them 1.5 sizes larger, but the specialist at the running store can advise you best.
  2. Stretch and roll – This sounds basic, but I wasn’t doing it. I would go for a run and feel so good then go about my day. Big no-no! Make sure you spend AT LEAST 3-5 minutes stretching after your run! Part of the cool down process is also walking, so if you have been running really fast, make sure that you are walking and stretching right after. I also try to roll the nights that I run (if not more often). You can get a roller in so many places nowadays, but I love mine because it is a textured one. Believe it or not, rolling is painful. The pain is needed though, because it helps break down any kinks n your muscles and helps circulation. If you have never rolled before, you can learn how to use a roller in this guide. Rolling is essential. PRO TIP: If you are really ramping up the miles, icing your ankles, knees and hips can provide comfort. Make sure to do intervals of time so that your areas don’t get too numb.

Tips to get faster and increase endurance

  1. Track your distance and time – There are SO many ways to do this. I started by using my phone to take a picture of my distance on the treadmill, then used the Nike run app for outdoor runs and now I use my Apple watch. Whatever method you use, it is important to track your progress. Why? You can track you improvements and motivate yourself by seeing how much faster you are getting with your runs. Not only that, you can also see how your runs differ if you start incorporating hills and other new obstacles on your run. Trackers provide an overall big picture on how you are doing over a long period of time and you will be amazed by yourself and how awesome you are.
  2. Run 3 times per week – Consistency is key. You want to ensure that you are giving your body enough runs to continue to improve that one sport. You also want to make sure that you aren’t running too much at the beginning where your body is feeling fatigued. This ties into what I already said with tracking your runs because you will want to see how your runs are improving over time. As you become a stronger runner, you can increase it, but 3 is a good starting point.
  3. Control your breathing – This was the game-changer for me. Once you learn how to control your breathing, you will find that you have so much more control over your runs. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. If you are consistently just breathing through one vs the other, then you will get really tired and/or require more water. By focusing on your breathe and controlling it, you can also lower your heart rate in times of stress and exhaustion. Personally, when I am really tired and/or running really fast, I try to hold my inhale just a tiny bit longer and exhale a little longer, for 3 repetitions, so that I relax my blood pumping and my minid. As I have ventured to other sports, I have found that breathing is different for them and mastering your breathing pattern and technique is key.
  4. Control you water intake – Stay hydrated, but don’t over-hydrate! This is a hard balance to maneuver! When I first started off, I would drink too much water and get stomach aches under my ribs. My body would slow down and I would be in pain. This was a sign of too much water. I found that the nipple of your water bottle really makes a difference. My preferred water bottle has a controlled nipple and is small enough to carry in my hand. It also has a small pocket so I can add my key and phone in there as well. When I first started, I would try to sip water every mile, and try not to drink unless I really needed it. Now, I make sure to drink 8-16 oz of water 15-30 minutes prior to my run. During my run, I wait 30 minutes for my first sip of water, then drink every mile from there. As you get more comfortable with your style you will find what is appropriate and what makes you feel hydrated, but doesn’t hurt you or has you using the bathroom every 5 minutes.

I am curious to hear from you! How are these tips working for you? What else are you interested in learning more about, or what tips have worked for you that I can learn from?

XO,

Gina

 

**Please remember that I am not a Certified Personal Trainer, or physician. This is strictly based on my personal experience and preference. You should consult with your physician for expert and personalized advice.

 

February Favorites

Happy Monday, fresh start to a new week and {almost} Spring! Have you seen all the butterflies flying around? San Diego has had them all over the city had me so happy and excited about what this season has to bring – new beginnings, more colors outside, more sunshine and more daylight in the day.

If you are new here, every month I share my favorite products that helped make my life a little better or a little more fun. I did a video on my January favorites here.

I am so excited to share my monthly faves for February and hope that they get you inspired for the season!

  1. Siete Foods Grain-Free Chips – The Mexicana in me dances inside with these! It’s almost impossible to miss these on my Instagram stories lately, but these chips have been life-changing. As I am on my {slow} journey to try and leave all processed flour, it has gotten tougher and tougher when I can’t have my tortillas or chips with guac. These chips have allowed me to still keep some Mexican in me and have my chips and guac. The even better news is that the brand used to only be online, but now it is in Ralph’s and Costco (that I have seen). They taste like normal tortilla chips and are UH-MAZING!IMG_9397.HEIC
  2. Origins Drink Up Intensive Overnight Mask – I have VERY dry skin and this mask has helped me so much because the lotion is so thick, moisturizing and soothing. I also really love the Origins brand itself because it is eco-friendly and they try to use as many naturally-existing ingredients/base for their products as possible.IMG_9399.HEIC
  3. Origins Super Spot Remover – This product has really helped me with active blemishes. When I wash my face at night, I put on my moisturizer {above} then add this on to the pimples that I have either just popped, or I feel are coming up.  The next morning there is a significant reduction in swelling and growth. This product especially becomes relevant as we start sweating more in the spring weather,
  4. Cutwater Lime Margarita – Like I said.. The sun is coming out, and so are the parties! I found this canned margarita which is super delicious and gluten-free! They are sold in 4-packs, and although pricey (typically $15), they are 12.5% alcohol, so you definitely don’t need any more than the 4 in the pack. I do not drink beer, so this is a nice alternative for tailgating, bringing to a party or even just having at home. These are sold at your local grocery store, near the other canned alcoholic beverages like the -Ritas.IMG_9395.HEIC
  5. Liquid IV – You need something to hydrate after the Margs, right? Liquid IV is SO good and so easy to use. They come in packets that you can just add to 16oz of water. Every packet provides 3x the hydration of a normal glass of water and replenishes your electrolytes. We initially bought these for our Grand Canyon camping trip, as they were referred to us, but now we just use them any day that we haven’t been drinking enough water, are hungover, or had a really tough workout. The citrus flavor is the only one I have tried and really like it.IMG_9398.HEIC
  6. Pump up song from February: Say my name – David Guetta, J Balvin and Bebe Rexha

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I hope you go out and try some of these products and I am so curious to hear what you think! Leave your comments below.

XO,

Gina

 

Thailand Itinerary pt. 3

Hi friend!

Thank you for following along this amazing journey with me and sticking through the three part series of my Thailand Itinerary. You can see the first and second parts of this blog prior to reading this blog to learn more pre-planning and what to expect from Bangkok and Chiang Mai.

In this final blog I will focus on our last two cities which were Phuket and Phi Phi Islands. I LOVE island vacations, so I am super excited to share more about my experience here!!

Phuket

  • There are three main beaches in Phuket and we stayed at Patong beach which is the most northern of them. They say this is the “least” nicest because it is the party town. We spent all our time here, and I wish we would have spent one night at Kata beach to explore it, as we heard it is the nicest one. The beaches are close enough to each other to where you can take a boat or rent a moped. The boats were too expensive for two people to rent for a day trip and I was way too terrified for a moped, so we just stayed local. We stayed at the Patong Signature Hotel which was cheap, right across the street from the beach and walking distance from Bangla Road (party street).
  • We decided to buy a tour through “Raya Princess” which was recommended to us by our hotel and it was horrible! Do not use them. Despite what the hotels may say, TripAdvisor is a great resource to use when deciding what company to book your tour with. Although the tour company wasn’t great, Raya beach was absolutely beautiful! The water was the clearest I have ever seen (I have been to the Bahamas, Cancun and Hawaii)! The only negative part about the beach is that it gets really crowded (like most tourist beaches), so I recommend you go early.

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  • The next day we went on the John Grey’s Sea Canoe which was amazing! We took the starlight tour because we wanted the night activity. You start off your day with lunch and then go kayak through different caves. At night you make a Krathong, which is a little floating plant designed for you and you get to put it in the water with a little candle and make a wish. The process of making the Krathong was so awesome because we used leaves and flowers to make a little planter looking thing. We also got to see the glowing plankton at night. This is a much more simplistic version of what we saw, but it was breathtaking to be able to be kayaking through the water with the giant rocks, going through caves and making memories. The only negative on this trip was that I got a stomach ache from it. I am not sure if it was from the food (they have very fresh delicious food) or the water I was drinking. Considering everything is made on the boat, I recommend you take your own water and only eat cooked things if your stomach is delicate.

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  • Once we got back, we made sure to go check out the nightlife. Bangla Road is the place to be! It is unfortunate that lady boys are so prevalent over there which promotes prostitution, but overall there were many choices in regards to bars and clubs. We walked the road once just to observe, then re-walked it to see where we should stop. Needless to say, the people watching is great! This road also had an upscale club called Illuzion that had celebrity DJ’s. Although “upscale” it was interesting because the night we went it was free cover so we went to check it out.

Phi Phi

  • Our final stop on the trip was Phi Phi Islands. We bought a ferry ticket with transport from the Phuket port to Phi Phi. This also included a shuttle when we got back from the islands to take us to the airport which is approximately 1 hour away. One thing to note about ‘Thai time” is that they generally run 10-15 minutes late, so if you are running a little late, you should be fine.
  • Once in Phi Phi, we took another small boat to our hotel at the Viking Nature Resort and walked into the town which was about 15 minutes away during the day and about 25 minutes away in the dark because of all the uneven pavement and lack of lighting. The resort itself was pretty cool and creepy at the same time! I was insistent on staying in a treehouse and that is what I got – a treehouse. It was pretty cool the way things were put together, but there wasn’t a high level of security with your room so I would recommend to take a lock with your luggage; although we and our things were 100% fine the whole time. There was also a chance you would have bugs in your room, which they warn you about. This was the main reason I took heavy duty bug spray and protected myself. But hey, you’re in the jungle right? We had hammocks in our room patio which was super nice and relaxing until the gecko’s were hanging out on the lamp above us LOL The resort itself also has, what felt like, a village as part of the property which is a little weird. The guys would play soccer around 5pm, and if your room was by them, you would hear their game for about an hour. I would stay here again, but only for 2 nights and spend the rest of my time in the little town/city to be closer to more activities.
  • We found out that you can Padi scuba dive through a company called PP Aquanauts. They give you a short tutorial the morning of your dive, then you get some training in the water the next day and you get let into the water. I recommend you book this tour on the first day you get to the islands because they can get booked up and they start very early. This was such an amazing experience for us because we usually only snorkel, not dive. Being that deep under water changed my perspective of the sea and I was so glad that we did it! We saw some breathtaking coral and other sea life. That night we took at cooking class at Pum’s cooking school which was also really fun to learn how to make traditional Thai dishes. During the class we met a woman who showed us around the nightlife in the town and on the beach. It was wild to see fire shows and partying all along the beach. There were bars and clubs with a variety of different music, so you will for sure find something that fits your taste. The night scene here was very wild; definitely the most wild we have ever seen. However, if you want something chill, you can also find a lounge!

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Overall, this trip was in my top two favorites EVER! It was life-changing and Thailand gave me all the mystical vibes I was hoping for. I learned so much about another culture, got to try new experiences I never had before and got to fully plan our first overseas trip alone for the first time. Throughout the trip we met so many great people, so if you are someone who will travel alone, don’t worry! There are plenty of nice people along the way.

Curious to hear your thoughts about the trip and any of your favorite Thailand memories!

XO,

Gina

 

Thailand Itinerary pt. 2

Hey friend!

I hope that you enjoyed the first part of my Thailand itinerary and are ready for even more adventure from our trip! Today I will be sharing about the next city we visited which was Chiang Mai. I was originally going to share this in two blogs, but after writing it all out, three felt better as Phuket and Phi Phi are all water activities.

I wanted to clarify that, throughout the blog when I mention that we flew between cities, we used Air Asia for all our flights and had no issue with them. I would compare them to a Spirit Airlines in America, except a little more upscale.

Chiang Mai

  • This was where my trip really started to take a turn for the best! We took an early flight from Bangkok to Chiang Mai and stayed at a nearby hotel called Villa de Chiang Mai. It was a villa-home style and very close to the airport and other tourist areas. We very much went the economical route on this hotel, and it was a spacious, clean room so we were happy.
  • On our first day we had a scary adventure, and went to the Wat Phra That Doi Kham temple which is at the top of this mountain. It is gorgeous, but on top of this giant mountain where there was no transportation unless you had a car take you there or you were with a tour. Knowing that, we offered the Uber extra money to wait for us and told him to give us a few minutes and we would be out. He left us stranded! We didn’t really have phone service and it was getting dark, so I started to panic. Despite the fact there were many people there, they were either local or in a tour bus that wouldn’t accept us in their car. Somehow we ended up getting lucky and an Uber decided to pick us up before it got dark. Lesson learned – go with a tour group. This temple was beautiful though, and the different monuments and architecture are impressive.

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  • Once back at our hotel, we went to walk the night bazaar which is overwhelmingly HUGE! It’s blocks and blocks long. We ended up at the bazaar two nights because there was so much to see. There are street vendors, food, performances and it is such a neat way to experience the Thai culture. This is also the best place to buy souvenirs, so make sure to get them all here.

 

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  • The next day we took a tour to Chiang Rai. This was an all day tour (7:30am – 8:30pm) with 4 stops. Our first stop was at a hot spring. The hot springs were impressive, as I had never seen boiling natural water before. The odd part though was that it was in the middle of a shopping bazaar – I guess that is a good way to make money LOL. The water was SO hot that they were boiling eggs in it within a couple minutes. The next stop was the White Temple, which is the most famous in Chiang Rai. It was by far the most impressive temple we saw the entire trip. The amount of immaculate detail that was put into it, both inside and outside was so impressive. If you have a day to visit the temple, I would definitely recommend it. The next stop was the Golden Triangle which is the river where Myanmar, Thailand and Laos meet. This was more of a cool thing to see, but not a must-see in my book since we didn’t enter either of the countries, rather took a boat trip and just got off at the border of Laos at the little shops. Our final stop was at the Long Neck Karen Village. This is an absolute must-see! People in this village still live in huts and the women, per their decision (we were told) still choose to expand their necks with rings. The neck extension practice started back when women were the ones out hunting for their families. Their neck extension was intended to protect their necks from vicious animals and to look taller and more intimidating.

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  • The next day we booked a rafting and elephant tour with Siam River Adventure. This was the most EPIC day of the trip. A van picks you up and takes you to the forest – the furthest place in the forest that I was able to see. You are in a very rural area whereas the other tours you see along the way have many people at them and it is more populated. The tour guide spoke limited English so it was intimidating sometimes trying to communicate with a language barrier and have no idea where you are going. However, when we arrived at the elephant camp, it was really nice and surreal to get intimate with the elephants. It took me some time to relax and realize what was going on – I was next to, and playing with a gigantic animal that I am only used to seeing at a zoo several feet away. We got to feed them, bathe them, and walk through the forest wit them. It was pure magic! We had lunch and then went rafting. Our raft was a 3 person raft which had my husband and I and our guide. He controlled the raft for us as we went through the rough spots in the water. It was amazing to be in a raft through the jungle, passing elephants- these gentle giants. It was also very safe, as there were many other guides along the tour.  
  • That night we went to dinner at a fancy restaurant called David’s Kitchen. I strongly recommend this place, as it was recommended to us. However, I didn’t know it was fine dining and you needed a reservation. Make sure you reserve in advance and have a nice outfit to wear. It is worth it! We got lucky and the owner was there, gave us a table and accepted us in flip flops (NOT the appropriate attire). He was generous and all of the dishes were AMAZING! Our favorites were the spicy fish apple salad and tuna + mango salad.
  • Our final day we decided to sleep in and head over to the airport. This airport is BUSY! Make sure you give yourself enough time to get to it and through the many confusing lines to board your plane on time. Also, if you choose to fly Air Asia, check in 24 hours in advance to sit with your partner/group for free.

Chiang Mai is a must-see and do in Thailand! I highly recommend it and it is very affordable.

I will be releasing the third and final part of this series on Thursday.

Cheers!

Gina

 

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Thailand Itinerary pt. 1

Hi friend!

I am SO excited about today’s post because it is ALL about my Thailand trip and what I did over the course of 12 days! We self-planned our trip, so it was an adventure in and of itself that I wanted to share. I will be releasing all the details in two posts so I can share our Thailand 12 day itinerary and all the tips in smaller, digestible pieces.

This is one of the only trips where I kept a travel journal every step of the way and it has been a nice little reminder to ensure I keep that on my next trip. It was also one of my top two favorite trips I have EVER taken – the people were great, the prices were cheap, there was so much culture, nature, a great nightlife and overall a ton of new things we had never seen. Personally, I would have liked to stay in Phuket maybe one more day and got rid of Bangkok, but Bangkok tends to be the cheapest city to fly into, so we took advantage and spent a day there.

12 day Thailand Itinerary

  • Day 0/1 – LAX to Bangkok – red eye, arrive at 2am and get going right after a short nap
  • Day 2-3 – Chiang Mai
  • Day 4-8 – Phuket
  • Day 9-11 – Phi Phi Islands
  • Day 12 – BKK back to LAX

Getting ready to go to Thailand

I started off my journal entry to the trip talking about the things to take with you on a plane which I wrote more about in my other blog entry. A few other things that I want to add in for international flights are:

  • A face mask – You are in circulating air for hours at a time, so it it helps to keep yourself healthy. We took multiple flights within Thailand so it was even more important.
  • Stretch before you go – You will be sitting for many hours. Also make sure you force yourself to get up at least every 2 hours to ensure circulation.
  • Buy water ahead of time – The water bottles you typically get from the airlines are small. If you are a heavy water drinker like I am, getting larger bottles is worth it.

Other things to prepare:

  • Check the weather – We thought that because it wasn’t winter we didn’t need to take a jacket, but come to find out it still rains so it was worth it to pack a light rain jacket.
  • Prepare for the temples – You will need to be covered up for many of the temples, so carry socks (sometimes you also have to take off your shoes), a long skirt/pants, something that covers your shoulders and a Hydroflask if you have one to stay hydrated and allow your water to stay cool in the humid weather. This is also why it is is a good idea to carry a bag/backpack large enough to carry these extra things with you. If you get really light clothing, the bag will not need to be too big and you can roll your clothes in there.
  • Shots – Although shots aren’t required, we got ours just to be safe.
  • Food pills – We bought Travelan to take prior to eating several meals to ensure we didn’t get sick. The two times we got sick was because we ate too many consecutive meals without taking the pills.
  • Hand sanitizer – Many times there isn’t soap available, so make sure you have a way to keep your hands clean.
  • Tissue – Some bathrooms we went to didn’t have toilet paper, so take some with you in small tissues.
  • Safety – While I was there, I felt very safe although at times I did panic for my safety in uncomfortable situations (it was all in my head). It was interesting that throughout the entire trip we only saw 2 cops. Police aren’t very prevalent there, but if you have an emergency they have the tour police you can call at: 1155.
  • Phone Service – Ensure your carrier works over there. You can use Uber and make calls as needed if you have service.
  • Quick dry towel – If you are going to any of the islands or beach cities, I recommend you take one of these so that you aren’t carrying around a heavy wet towel with you.

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Bangkok

  • We flew from LAX to BKK airport and arrived at 2am. We almost got mugged and someone tried to say they were a taxi and they were NOT! Be careful and ensure that you double check who you are riding with and if things feel fishy, they likely ARE!
  • We stayed at the Baan Wanglang Riverside hotel because we wanted to be near the Grand Palace. The view was nice and near the river, so it was nice to experience water transportation which is very prevalent there. The downside/upside is that this was in the locals area. It was in the middle of a market and a bunch of little shops. You got to see how families and businesses were ran – they woke up at 4am to start cooking so they can sell fresh food at their restaurants. There is a more touristy area but we didn’t stay there because we were more interested in being close to the Palace since we were there just for one day.
  • Grand Palace – This was our first tourist spot and by far the most intimidating, beautiful and impressive. There were thousands of people there and the lines were separated by locals and tourists. Make sure that you go into the tourist line, as it tends to be shorter. The palace itself was majestic and had so much to see and learn from. It is definitely a must-see in Thailand.
  • The Golden Buddah – This temple was OK in my view, there wasn’t a ton to see and felt more like a tourist trap.
  • Wat Arun – This is the original location of the capital and had ancient temples. It is right by Pier 2, so you can take a water taxi there. The nice thing about these tourist locations is that most of them are right by each other. One thing to keep in mind when in Bangkok is that the traffic is crazy and they have tuk tuks (mopeds), cars, trucks and bikes all sharing one lane so going from one place to another can take a long time depending on the time of day.
  • Massages – You can get a great deal on a massage. We got a full body 60 minute one for $20. Not gonna lie – they take the term “full body” very seriously and at a point I didn’t feel uncomfortable, but as soon as I told them, they stopped.
  • Food – There are so many food options! Many of them which are small restaurants or even street food. They have a lot of fresh fruit everywhere, but be careful as the water that is used to clean the fruit is not the best for you. Just always be aware of how sanitary things look. If you take a pill before eating them, you should be fine.
  • Nightlife – Bangkok’s nightlife was so much more than I expected. Khao San Road is a long boulevard with everything from small dive bars, hostels, clubs, massages, street food, fried bugs (this is very common there) and the BEST people watching. If anything, get a drink and sit down at a bar to watch all of the people walking by. We got the best Pad Thai on our trip from a street vendor here.

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I hope that you enjoyed this post! I look forward to sharing more on my blog part 2 next week! 🙂

READ MORE:

Part 2

Part 3

XO,

Gina

 

How journaling changed my life

Hey friend!

I cannot believe that I am officially 3 months into my blogging journey and that it has came this far. I am SO thankful to you for reading and contributing to the conversation!! My blog stemmed from two things: my desire to help people and my enjoyment of writing. I found my enjoyment through getting into journaling.

When I tried new workout plans, the trainer would always encourage me to write down my intentions for the workout plan in order to better connect to my results. I also got into journaling when I got more into personal development. Part of the journey of improving yourself, is understanding yourself. I’ve found that by writing things down I could better understand the core of what I am feeling, thinking, or even attempting to say but still searching for the words. Writing allows me to dig deep and discover things about myself that I didn’t know.

I am an extrovert. I love hanging out with my friends and documenting every moment (let’s be friends on Instagram to see all the deets), but I also take time for myself on a daily basis to get into my journal and write. If you are trying to find an outlet for stress relief, creativity or even just starting a new gratitude practice, I would strongly recommend you get into journaling.. It is life changing.

So, how do you start? Here are a few prompts you can use over the next week to begin your day writing and getting your thoughts on paper:

  1. What three things am I grateful for today?
  2. What am I most looking forward to this week?
  3. What was the trigger that got me upset this week? Is there any way I could have avoided it? How can I better deal with it next time?
  4. What is something I said recently to someone I love that I should have said in a more caring way? Write down what SHOULD have been said and correct it with the person if possible.
  5. How am I feeling today? Why?
  6. What affirmations do I need to here today to be successful?

You’ll notice that all of these questions are in very real-time, or short-term time spans. That is because you want to get more in-tune with where you are now before you start getting too deep into the past or future. These are all pretty simple prompts, but if you sit down and truly answer the question, you will find great things! You will also find yourself “blabbing” a lot in your writing and that is normal; allow you brain to dump things out and you will get to where you need to be with your journal practice.

Do you have a journal practice? What are some prompts you use to get started?

XO,

Gina

 

Disneyland Tips

Hey, friend!

Guess what season it is?! DISNEY SoCal season! I am a huge Disney fan and although I no longer have my passes, I still make it out every year during the Disney SoCal sale because you are getting 2 tickets for the price of 1.5. I usually get the park hopper since we don’t have kids and enjoy the rush of going on as many rides as possible while we are there. However, if you are going with children I highly recommend you save the money on getting a park hopper and get one park per day to thoroughly enjoy all rides and shows at their pace. Afterall, the kid rides and character meet and greets have the longest lines, so you will spend time there.

Here are a few tips and tricks to help you navigate the nuances of Disneyland, save some money and hopefully have a little more fun!

  1. Download the Disney App: It has improved so much over the past few years and is now an essential tool we use on our trip. You can delete it after your visit to conserve the space on your phone, but definitely make sure that you have it with you for the trip. In the app you can see what your dining options are (quick or fancy food), wait times, show times, the park maps and you can even purchase your photo package and MAXPASS. It is one easy go-to place for all the things you need for your trip.
  2. Get a MAXPASS: If you want to maximize your day, get a MAXPASS. Although Disneyland still offers free FastPass with a ticket, a MAXPASS saves you energy by not having to run from one ride to another all around the park. The concept of FastPass is that you put your ticket into a machine for your desired ride. The machine spits out a return time and you can return to that ride at that time and wait a minimal amount in line. This requires you to be running all over the park to get your next pass, and since every pass has a blackout waiting period until your next one, you cannot get all your FastPasses at once. If you are going this route, it is worth getting the FastPass for the latest ride and the two night shows, World of Color** and Fantasmic! first thing in the morning to ensure you get on the ride and get good sets for the shows. The MAXPASS is the FastPass 2.0. It costs $15 per person, per day, but it is WORTH IT! You manage all passes from your phone, without running around and you get access to all the photos you took while at the park, for free! Their photopass alone is pretty pricey, so it is worth the additional investment to get them linked in your app. You can then email them to yourself and download them. With this convenient feature, you also get to enjoy your time while at the park because you aren’t running around for your next pass.
  3. Pack snacks and water bottles: It is going to be a long day. We typically go to Disneyland for 13 hours, and need to stay fueled. You can take food into the park, so we make sure to take enough snacks to hold us over throughout the day. Don’t get me wrong – the funnel cakes are great and you should get one. However, that is just one snack in your entire day. We eat a hearty breakfast before going in so we can start our day immediately, and have snacks for the day. We also take water bottles because they have water fountains all over the park so you can easily refill. If you have a canteen, this is even better, especially in summer, so your drinks stay cool even if you buy water there.
  4. Take warm clothes, regardless of the season: In my experience, it is always cold at night. If you plan to stay past 7pm, take a jacket and/or more clothes as needed. There are lockers, so you can save your clothes there or you can carry them in your backpack. Backpacks are essential to the trip as well, to save snacks, water and your clothes.
  5. Reserve nighttime seating: If you want the ultimate experience, reserve nighttime seating to watch World of Color and Fantasmic! Reservations can typically be made 60 days in advance, and trust me.. You will need the 60 days, as everything Disney gets filled up so quickly. Ariel’s Grotto in California Adventure just got remodeled and is now Lamplight Lounge which will be the alternate, fancier seating choice for World of Color. At Disneyland, Fantasmic! has preferred seating at the Blue Bayou and River Belle Terrace restaurants.
  6. Take the girls to the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique: Yes, it is worth it! I took my sisters here and they had the ultimate princess experience. You can choose to just get their hair done, or go all out and get them a new outfit while you are there. The “fairy godmothers” that style of them are of course in character and make the experience SO fun! Reservations do need to be made in advance, so plan it ahead of time to ensure you get a spot because they fill up quickly.
  7. If you like something, buy it! Especially if it is limited edition: It has happened to my friends and I before – you see the one pin that is limited edition at 8am when you walk in, then it is sold out by noon. If it is something easily found, then you can buy it at the end of the day so that you don’t have to carry it. However, if it is limited edition, snag it while you can!
  8. Magic Morning: The SoCal pass includes one Magic Morning with your ticket, so take advantage! It allows you to enter the park one hour earlier than general admission and you can get your day started with less crowds. Use this time to go on highly-desired rides like the newest ride, or any ride in Disney’s Fantasyland (especially Peter Pan and Dumbo), as those tend to have the longest lines.

My personal must-see shows are:

  • Mickey’s Magical Map – Disneyland
  • Fantasmic! – Disneyland
  • World of Color – CA Adventure
  • Frozen/ Anything at The Hyperon Theater – CA Adventure
  • Disneyland’s parades – These are seasonal and rotate, but they are so impressive and a nice break in your day to sit down and eat.
  • California Adventures parades – These are more geared towards children, so if you are going with kids, make it a priority to watch them.

Disneyland is so magical and has so much to offer, so enjoy and savor every moment. I hope that these tips help make your next trip run smoothly and maximize your time and money.

 

XO,

Gina

** NOTE: World of Color is currently not operating, but once it is back on I would highly recommend it!

PS – here are some of the free photos we got with our MAXPASS.

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