Archive for February, 2017

Living “Pura Vida”: Tips for Healthy Travel and Adventure in Costa Rica

Costa Rican Woman Dancing

Pura vida. Meaning “pure life,” pura vida is the ubiquitous greeting, way to say farewell, and catchy phrase that you’ll hear everywhere in Costa Rica. It gets to the heart of what the country is all about – living a high-quality life focused on pursuing your own path, with a little bit of fun and relaxation mixed in.

Costa Rica is located between Nicaragua and Panama in Central America. It has both Caribbean and Pacific coastlines, as well as a diversity of ecosystems unmatched virtually anywhere else in the world. In the same day, you can laze on the beach, hike an active volcano, explore the rainforest, and swim in a pristine lagoon. Fortunately, Costa Ricans – also known locally as “ticos” – recognize the value of their homeland and have set aside more than 25 percent of their country in national parks and conservation areas.

When to Go to Costa Rica

The weather in Costa Rica is nice almost year-round, but there are a few times when the rains fall a little harder and the beaches are packed with tourists. If you skip the high season and plan your trip around the rain, you can save money while avoiding crowds of tourists jostling for the best selfie with that baby sloth in the rainforest.

Best Costa Rican Beaches

If you’re looking for dry beach weather, January through March in Guanacaste – the northwest beach area – can’t be beat. Travel after January 1 to avoid the holiday crowds and you’ll have the beaches almost to yourself at a much lower price. You’ll find the cheapest (and wettest, in terms of rainfall) accommodations from September through December. If you’re planning to visit the rainforest, any time is good – it’s almost always rainy there, so you don’t have to worry about the weather.

Things to Do in Costa Rica

Don’t be overwhelmed by the sheer volume of things to do in Costa Rica. No matter what you choose, it’s hard to be disappointed. The following activities will give you a good sampler of what the country has to offer:

  • Visit Guanacaste: Costa Rica’s “gold coast” has white sandy beaches, remote fishing villages, and a thriving cowboy culture. Include a visit to Rincón de la Vieja National Park, where you’ll find hot springs, waterfalls, and volcanic activity.
  • Explore the wildlife: You’ll find bizarre insects, howler monkeys, creepy spiders – and maybe even a jaguar or two – in the lush rainforests of Corcovado National Park. Go early in the morning to see the animals at the peak of their activity.

Sloth in Costa Rica

  • Absorb the locals’ healthy lifestyle: Don’t just focus on the beaches and rainforests; mix with the friendly locals, too. Costa Rica is known as a “Blue Zone,” one of the areas in the world where people live longer lives than average. Take the opportunity to learn how they live, what they eat, and how they work – you may just pick up some healthy tips.
  • Eat and drink the local specialties: Costa Rica is sandwiched by two oceans, so healthy seafood abounds. Try the sea bass and ceviche, which are local specialties. Wash it down with a refresco, a drink made with local fruit and water or milk.

And that just scratches the surface of the healthy travel and adventure opportunities you’ll find in Costa Rica. If you’re ready for a vacation that’s part tropical paradise, part eco-adventure and 100 percent fun, make sure Costa Rica is on your shortlist this year.


Healthy Travel Blog

Posted by Lustige Bilder - February 22, 2017 at 20:27

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Healthy Recipe: Vietnamese Chicken Noodle Bowls

Vietnamese Noodle Bowl

Vietnamese Noodle BowlThese bright and bracing noodle bowls are the perfect antidote to all the heavy, rich comfort foods that abound this time of year. Vietnamese food traditionally features these clean, acidic, sweet and salty flavors, which feature prominently in this recipe. Rice noodles keep this dish light and gluten free, but if you can’t find them, you can always swap in regular noodles or even spaghetti in a pinch. You can also swap the chicken for shrimp or tofu for a whole new twist. These bowls get more flavorful the longer they sit, so if you’re entertaining, you can make it in advance and chill in the fridge until serving.

Serves: 4

Total Time: 30 minutes


  • ½ package brown rice or quinoa noodles
  • 3 serrano peppers, minced (deseeded to make it less spicy if desired)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 tablespoons brown rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 4-6 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 4 tablespoons avocado or vegetable oil
  • 1 cup shredded Napa cabbage
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 ½ cups shredded chicken
  • Fresh cilantro, mint, and basil, to serve


  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then salt generously. Cook the noodles per package instructions until just tender. Drain, and set aside.
  2. While the noodles cook, make the dressing. In a jar, add the peppers, garlic, vinegar, honey, fish sauce, lime, and oil. Shake until well combined.
  3. When the noodles are still warm, toss them together with ½ the dressing, the cabbage, carrots, chicken, and herbs. Allow to sit for at least ten minutes and up to 30.
  4. Add more dressing if desired, top with more fresh herbs, and enjoy!



Healthy Travel Blog

Posted by Lustige Bilder - February 16, 2017 at 22:37

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Slight Turbulence


Slight Turbulence is Healthy Travel Blog’s cartoon series, provided by Terry LaBan, illustrator for the popular strip, Edge City.


Healthy Travel Blog

Posted by Lustige Bilder -  at 21:20

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ADHD: Large imaging study confirms differences in several brain regions

The largest study of its kind provides robust evidence to confirm ADHD is a brain disorder characterized by delayed development of several brain regions.
ADHD / ADD News From Medical News Today

Posted by Lustige Bilder -  at 17:23

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Get in Shape on Vacation: The Best Destination Fitness Boot Camps and Retreats

Fitness Boot Camp in Hawaii

Some people try to whip themselves into shape in the weeks leading up to a beach vacation. Others live a healthy lifestyle year round and look for vacation destinations that offer a chance to work out and put their athleticism to good use. Whether you’re the last-minute crammer, the dedicated athlete or somewhere in between, an exercise-focused holiday may be an interesting change of pace from your typical lazy vacation. Fitness boot camps are popping up around the globe in exotic destinations. They blend fitness and fun, with a chance to explore and immerse yourself in a different culture. Here are some of our favorites.

Yoga for Bad People, Worldwide

Katelin Sisson and Heather Lilleston started Yoga for Bad People. “Bad” meaning “good,” in that the instructors, their approach and the clientele they serve are unconventional and eccentric. They take pride in helping yogis remove one of the most common obstacles to yoga success – adhering too strictly to the rules – by injecting fun into the practice. The retreat locations they select blend opportunities for quiet time and reflection, as well as physical activities, athleticism, and nightlife. Upcoming retreats will have you jetting off to far-flung destinations such as Uruguay, Brazil, Jamaica, Cuba, Ireland, Portugal and Sicily.

Mountain Trek, British Columbia, Canada

The Mountain Trek program in British Columbia, Canada is designed to help you feel like an athlete again. They’ve been helping guests regain functional fitness and health over the past 16 years through a program that blends fitness activities with healthy eating and lifestyle advice. A typical day will have you waking up with a sunrise yoga session, hitting the trails for a full-day hike including a lunchtime picnic, and ending your day with a fitness class and educational lecture about diet and exercise. Mountain Trek also hosts twice-yearly retreats in Baja, Mexico if you prefer to get in shape in the hot Mexican sun.

Camp Biche, Southern France

Get fit while surrounded by the luxury of an 800-year-old medieval mansion in the picturesque village of Lauzerte in southern France. At Camp Biche, you’ll enjoy indulgent-but-healthy locally sourced vegan meals and wine (in moderation, of course) while taking part in a fitness routine designed to melt away the excess pounds. Your program will be customized for you, ensuring that you’ll successfully take the next step in your fitness journey, whether you’re a marathon runner or a couch potato.

Sonki Fitness Vacation, Oahu and Maui, Hawaii

Most people come back from vacation a few pounds heavier. This won’t be the case if you take a Sonki Fitness vacation with West Point graduate and international fitness champ Sonki Hong. These fitness boot camps take place in Hawaii on the islands of Oahu and Maui. Hong will have you running on the beach, snorkeling, kayaking, swimming and surfing your way to fitness, all while enjoying healthy foods and some of the freshest sashimi in the world.

This year, you might want to skip sipping tropical drinks on the beach and take a vacation to a fitness boot camp. Instead of feeling like you need a vacation from your vacation, you’ll return home feeling refreshed, fit and ready to take on the rest of the year.


Healthy Travel Blog

Posted by Lustige Bilder - February 13, 2017 at 20:32

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Four Places to See Before They Disappear from Earth Forever


The world is filled with spectacular sights just waiting for you to discover them. But don’t delay too long before taking that trip, since some of the most impressive natural wonders are in danger of disappearing forever. Global warming, deforestation and the ever-expanding human population are changing the face of the earth. Coastlines are slowly eroding, rainforests are shrinking, and the underwater world is dying off. If you’re a healthy traveler with a passion for the environment, add these destinations to your must-see list.

The Great Barrier Reef

Last year, Outside Magazine posted an obituary for The Great Barrier Reef in Australia, lamenting the death of this natural wonder after more than 25 million years. And in fact, the reef does seem to be on life support after suffering at the hands of global warming and ocean acidification that has killed off almost half of the corals that make up the reef. Sadly, over 60 percent of the coral deaths have happened in the last 20 years. However, there is still hope for the reef and the Australian and Queensland governments have dedicated $ 2 billion toward the recovery effort. If you visit, choose tour operators who are eco-certified. They’ll help you enjoy the reef responsibly.
Great Barrier Reef

The Maldives

The Maldives in the Indian Ocean are known for their pristine beaches and spectacularly colorful coral reefs. The reefs themselves are suffering from many of the same problems plaguing The Great Barrier Reef. However, the bigger problem is that most of the country’s 200 inhabited islands may soon be underwater due to rising sea levels caused by global warming. It’s gotten so bad that the president of The Maldives has announced plans to buy land in neighboring India, Sri Lanka, and Australia where residents can live if their homes become uninhabitable. Visiting The Maldives helps, since your tourist dollars go into a fund to purchase this new land.

The Maldives

Madagascar Rain Forest

Ring-tailed lemurs, flying foxes, geckos and tomato frogs – the Madagascar rain forest off the coast of Africa are flying, crawling and swimming with species found nowhere else on the planet. In fact, 75 percent of the animals found here are unique to Madagascar. Unfortunately, they are quickly disappearing, many before they’re even discovered. These rainforests have dwindled from 120,000 square miles to about 20,000 square miles due to deforestation, wood burning and logging.

Madagascar Rainforest

Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park is where the Mojave and Colorado desert ecosystems meet. It’s filled with coyotes and jackrabbits, pitch-black night skies perfect for stargazing, and of course the eponymous Joshua tree. This unique tree thrives here – and only here – or at least it used to. The recent California drought, which is finally easing, and decades of higher-than-normal average temperatures have taken their toll on the Joshua tree. Ecologists predict that the area where they are able to grow will be reduced by 90 percent in the coming century. Visiting Joshua Tree National Park is a great way to learn about the area and conservation effort. If you go, follow the Leave No Trace principles to reduce the impact of your visit.

Joshua Tree National Park

If you’re looking to explore a destination that may not be around forever, book your trip now. It may inspire you to join the fight to save these natural resources.


Healthy Travel Blog

Posted by Lustige Bilder - February 7, 2017 at 21:20

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Is licorice intake during pregnancy linked to ADHD in offspring?

Researchers have associated high licorice intake in pregnancy with the development of poorer memory and ADHD-like behaviors in offspring.
ADHD / ADD News From Medical News Today

Posted by Lustige Bilder - February 6, 2017 at 18:18

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Could a Mediterranean diet protect against ADHD?

Researchers from Spain have identified a link between low adherence to the Mediterranean diet and the risk of an ADHD diagnosis in children.
ADHD / ADD News From Medical News Today

Posted by Lustige Bilder - February 2, 2017 at 19:17

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Backpacking Your Way Through South America

Machu Piccu

If you’ve ever wanted to explore South America, backpacking your way from country to country is a great way to see the sights and mix with the locals. It’s a different kind of trip though. Depending on how you do it, you may have to forgo a shower on occasion, be willing to sleep in slightly less than 5-star hotels, and get used to loooong bus rides. But the benefits of backpacking may just be worth the occasional inconvenience or discomfort. These expert tips will give you the advice – and confidence – to try it yourself while staying safe and healthy throughout the journey. 

Backpacking Culture: Who Does It and Why?

Why backpack when you can just as easily book a nice hotel, fly to your destination with multiple suitcases, and enjoy most of the luxuries of home? It depends on the type of experience you want. Backpackers place more emphasis on the travel experience, not just the destination. This involves the fun (or difficulty) of actually getting there and the people you meet along the way. The overarching philosophy is to travel cheap and economize on accommodations so you can spend money on the things that really matter: the food and the experiences that immerse you in the culture of your destination.

Backpackers come in all shapes, sizes and ages. While the majority of them are younger, that’s about where their similarities end. Some travel to learn about a part of the world they’ve never seen before. Others immerse themselves in foreign cultures to learn a new language. And some use travel as a way to volunteer and learn a new skill that will help them find a job.

For backpackers, “tourist” is a 4-letter word. The point of backpacking is not to travel the beaten path and rack up a lot of sightseeing and photos that you can post on your favorite social media account. However, even those who call themselves “backpackers” are falling into the same rut as other backpackers by taking the road more traveled.

Backpacking purists have strong opinions on the backpacking lifestyle, and it’s not about doing the same thing as everyone else. Julio Moreno of Travel World Heritage provides advice on how to do backpacking “right” and what motivates him. He says that he typically decides to visit a place because it looks amazing. His goal is to experience something because he feels like it could make the trip worthwhile, and offer a chance to get to know some locals—he feels human nature is inherently good. And, he says wearing a backpack is simply more convenient than luggage. As the backpacking movement has grown, not every backpacker shares this outlook.

“Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against the growing popularity of backpacking,” he says. “But I think the right way to travel is to do it your way, regardless of what other people think. My main gripe is with people who try to follow what everyone else is doing in the name of ‘backpacking.’”

So it’s not about the backpack and it’s not about having the exact same experience as everyone else visiting the destination you’re traveling to (even other backpackers). Backpacking is about carving out your own unique interaction with the people, places, and culture of your destination.Baby sloth

Staying Safe: Know Where to Go and When

Stories about getting mugged in South America are not uncommon, and the media hyped the dangers – both real and fabricated – before, during, and after the Rio Olympics. It’s understandable that many backpackers worry about their safety before traveling. And being aware of your surroundings when you’re traveling throughout South America – and anywhere for that matter – is a smart move. However, that doesn’t mean you should be paralyzed by fear or cancel your plans to travel.

Yvonne Ivanescu of Under the Yew Tree shared her top tips for traveling safely with Backpacker South America after traveling around the continent (and being mugged in Chile – lesson learned!). The following tips, adopted from her advice, will help to keep you safe while backpacking and traveling in general:

  • Know the neighborhood: Don’t assume you know where it’s safe to go in an unfamiliar city. Walking a few blocks in the wrong direction can increase your risks for encountering dangerous situations.
  • Listen to the locals: If a local says it’s probably not a good idea for you to be in a particular place or neighborhood, heed their advice.
  • Don’t stand out: “Flashpackers” beware. Showing off your electronics, flashy clothing and other valuables is a sure way to make yourself a target for thieves and muggers. Try to blend in with the crowd.
  • Speak English sparingly: Blending in with the crowd includes speaking the local language if you know it. If you don’t, use English only when necessary since it will also make you a target for people who want to take advantage of you.
  • Leave your valuables behind: If you’re leaving your hotel or hostel for a daytrip, leave your valuables behind in a secure area. If you’re not carrying it, it can’t be pickpocketed.
  • Be vigilant: Always be vigilant for potentially dangerous situations. Your body and your brain have a unique way of alerting you to danger. If you feel like something isn’t right, leave quickly.
  • Don’t overindulge: Drinking too much alcohol will lower your defenses and make you more vulnerable. While it’s perfectly fine to enjoy a night out, pick and choose the right times to let loose.
  • Be insured: Make sure you have the appropriate travel insurance for your trip. This will help with everything from stolen credit cards to medical emergencies.

“I was pickpocketed during my first week in Buenos Aires,” said Karen Baldry, who spent nearly eight months traveling and backpacking in South America with her husband Robert. “I hate to say it because I love that city, but it really colors your perspective. It could happen anywhere, it’s just important to be cautious and know your surroundings.”

In comparison, Baldry spent time deep in the Amazon jungle in the city of Iquitos, Peru. It’s inaccessible by road, so they had to paddle there by canoe with a guide. Although there was no running water or electricity – and is essentially situated in the middle of nowhere – she felt safe and comfortable there. “The people there were lovely,” she said.Patagonia

How Much Money Will You Need?

Traveling in South America puts you in touch with a wide range of people and landscapes. The costs you’ll incur in different countries throughout South America will range just as widely. You’ll find rock bottom prices for food and lodging in rural areas, and near-Western prices in the big cities of Brazil.

As a general rule of thumb, you can group the most-popular countries and destinations in South America on the following scale:

  • Cheapest: Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia
  • Mid-range: Colombia
  • Expensive: Brazil, Chile and Argentina

Marek Bron, author of Travel the World Without Worries and Indie Traveler, provides a rough guideline for your budget when backpacking and traveling in common South American countries. While costs typically depend on your travel style, you can work out your lodging costs using the following scale:

  • Research the average cost of a hostel bed in a backpacker dorm room.
  • A bed in a private room at a hostel, guesthouse or small independent hotel will cost about double the price of a bed in a hostel dorm room (you may still have to share a bathroom).
  • A mid-range hotel room will cost about triple or quadruple the price of a bed in a hostel.

Managing your budget is best done be prioritizing what’s important to you. Karen and Robert Baldry developed guiding principles for how they wanted to spend their time in South America, and spent their money accordingly to reach their goals.

“There are so many things that you can do on any given day, and you’ll hear a lot of advice from other travelers,” she said. “We prioritized activities that were either healthy or involved nature, followed by social activities that put us in touch with locals or other backpackers. If we had two options and one was a better fit with our guiding principles, that’s what we chose.”

It’s important to come prepared with a mix of ways to pay along the way, as every country, city and small town may have its own quirks when it comes to paying for food, hotels, and travel. Jessie Festa of Jessie on a Journey learned this the hard way when traveling in Patagonia. As she advised in her blog, bring a mix of U.S. cash, debit and credit cards, and local currency with you.

“It is not uncommon outside of big cities, especially in Patagonia, for ATMs to run out of cash, so it’s good to be prepared. Despite begging and pleading for the travel agencies to let me use my credit card they would only take cash. Luckily, someone I had met on the road trusted me enough to loan me the money.”

Alternative Ways to Stay: WWOOFing, and Couchsurfing

If you’re a backpacker in South America on a budget, which many are, there are a few alternative ways to travel that can help cut down your costs. Two popular options are WWOOFing and Couchsurfing.

WWOOF stands for “world wide opportunities on organic farms” and it’s a great way for travelers and backpackers to explore a new country while learning a skill. The movement links volunteers with organic farmers and growers. In exchange for working four to six hours a day on average – doing things like gardening, planting, tending livestock and other farm duties – the WWOOFer receives room and board. Typical WOOFing arrangements last for one or two weeks, but the length of time spent on the farm ultimately depends on the arrangement made between the volunteer and farmer. The WWOOF website provides a list of current opportunities in South America.

“Couchsurfing” is another popular option that backpackers and travelers are starting to take advantage of. Through the Couchsurfing app, backpackers can meet and chat with home owners who are willing to host them during a portion of their trip. The app facilitates the meeting, helps home owners and travelers vet each other before meeting in person, and is supported by a “Trust and Safety” team to help with potential issues. If you’re budget-conscious and willing to stay with a relative stranger, Couchsurfing may be right for you.

Get Used to Taking the Bus

As a backpacker, you will do a lot of walking. You’ll also be riding the bus. A lot. Traveling by bus is convenient, and sometimes the only way to go, while exploring South America. When Karen Baldry traveled through Costa Rica, Chile, Argentina and Peru, the bus was a staple form of transportation.

“Our longest bus ride was about 24 hours,” she said. “They’re relatively luxurious, and if you have the right entertainment and mindset it’s not bad. The seats folded down into a bed, and we just loaded up our iPads with lots of movies to watch.”

Keep an Eye on the Weather

The seasons in South America are the opposite of North America, so plan your trip accordingly. Also keep in mind that South America is a huge continent, so the weather and seasons you experience in the north will be much different than what’s happening farther south. For this reason, it’s best to plan the timing of your trip by thinking of South America as three distinct regions: north, central, and south.

The northern region of South America encompasses Colombia, French Guiana, Guyana, Suriname, and Far SouthVenezuela. Do the bulk of your traveling here during the dry season, which runs roughly from December through April. In the middle of the continent – which includes Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, and Paraguay – can be sweltering in the summer. Target September to April for your visit. And finally, in the southern part of South America – which includes Chile, Argentina and Uruguay – is harder to judge because beaches here meet soaring mountains. Visit the mountains of Patagonia in the summer, and the beaches from October to December and March to June.

Parting Advice

Karen Baldry says that if she had one piece of advice to provide other backpackers based on her stay in South America, it’s to take advantage of every opportunity to meet your fellow travelers.

“We made some amazing friends after being with them for only five days in one destination or another, since we had this shared experience. I wish we had more of those interactions over our eight months in South America,” she said. “If you’re planning a trip, my advice is to talk to more strangers, ask more people where they were and what they did. Don’t be shy about asking for help – you won’t regret it.”

Images courtesy of Karen Baldry, Far South of South.


Healthy Travel Blog

Posted by Lustige Bilder -  at 18:18

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