My In-flight Skincare Routine

Scholar Ibn Battuta once said, “Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” What he forgot to mention was that traveling can also leave your skin dry and dull. Check out what I’ve developed as my travel skincare routine to help combat some of the tiring effects of long flights.

Pre-Flight Body/Mind Prep:
Before a long flight, I like to take a nice shower to cleanse and just relax before I head off on another adventure. With all the stress and excitement leading up to a trip, it’s nice to clear my mind a bit. I also like to mentally go through my packing list to make sure that I brought any last minute items that I may need.  I also make sure to shave for baby-soft skin before I head out. It’s hard to predict when my next shower may be or what clothes I may want to change into once I get to my destination, so extra smooth legs just makes things a lot easier later on. After drying off, one of the most important steps is to moisturize! Believe me… this is going to be an ongoing theme throughout the travel journey. I like to go with a thicker cream if possible to keep my skin’s moisture locked in longer.

In-flight Skincare Routine:
Since I’m usually spending the day at work or running errands prior to a flight, I can guarantee that I have my normal daily makeup on when I get onto the plane. Once settled into my seat and we’ve taken off, I’ll grab a Kirkland Signature Daily Facial Towlette to remove my makeup. I actually like these better than the popular Neutrogena Makeup Wipes since these have little bumps to better cleanse my face. Plus, the lower price tag helps since I use these everyday!

Now for the next step (face mask), I have two options. I’ll either apply a Sephora Collection Face Sheet Mask for about 15 minutes or so. These are great since they’re disposable. The Lotus Sheet Mask is especially useful for hydrating and soothing your skin. OR if I’m on a daytime flight and I just don’t feel like applying a sheet mask in public (usually me!), I highly recommend the Clinique Moisture Surge Overnight Mask. I know it says ‘overnight’ mask but this product works wonders as creamy, oil-free facial mask that really helps to moisturize my skin throughout a long flight. The best part is that it’s completely clear and discrete, so no one will know that I’m wearing a mask!

If I choose to apply a sheet mask,  I may follow it up by applying a quick spritz of a face mist and then apply another moisturizer. I was serious when I mentioned that moisturizing would be a common theme for this post, but it’s worth it! To be honest, if I have a face mist with me, it’ll be whatever mini or sample size I have available to pack easily. For the moisturizer, I love the Clinique Different Moisturizing Gel since it’s very hydrating but still light on the skin so it won’t clog up my pores.

In-flight Body Routine:
To keep my hands, arms, and legs hydrated it’s nice to carry a small lotion too. However, I try to stay mindful of other passengers around me and the poor ventilation on planes, so I pack lotions with no fragrances or very VERY light scents. I love the Nivea Essentially Enriched Body Lotion or the L’Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream.

However, the biggest game changer is to stay hydrated with good ‘ol H2O! The Aerospace Medical Association recommends to have about 8oz of water each hour if you’re on a longer flight. This is also a great way to force myself to get up, move around, and help get my circulation moving.

Happy travels! 

Useful Apps for Traveling and Taking Pictures

The countdown is officially ON for our upcoming holiday to Switzerland and Italy! Whenever we prepare for a trip, there are a few apps that I like to make sure are loaded and updated on my phone. From interactive maps to photo-editing tools, I have found these to be great ways to help enjoy our time away and capture memories to look back on.

Google Maps (Free) – Okay, this sounds obvious, I know. However, this has made a world of difference on our travels! When outside of the US, we usually don’t have data plans that allow us to use internet on our phones without wifi. Granted, it’s nice to find a Starbucks with free wifi almost anywhere we go, but wifi hot spots are never guaranteed and some of the best destinations are far from free internet connections. By uploading offline maps beforehand, we can use them whenever and wherever we are without any worries. Plus, the maps are still interactive so the map moves as you move. Also, you can star any specific stores, museums, hotels, restaurants, tourist sites, etc. on a map so you can refer back to it to later. This is how we go about planning our days while on holiday in order to find the most efficient routes to get to various points of attraction. On the flip side, this app lets as also just wander freely and explore new places knowing that we can always find our way back using Google maps offline.

Stylebook (Price: $3.99) – For those who have a tendency to overpack (like me!), this is a fun way to better manage your wardrobe. Essentially, you start by uploading pictures of your individual clothes/accessories or just find photos of the items online. Then use the app to put together different outfits! Sounds simple enough but Stylebook provides so many more capabilities to make the most out of your closet. For example, you can also create packing lists to ensure that you remember to bring everything you need for a trip. For those who prefer to use this app for day-to-day outfits, there is also a calendar that allows you to plan out what to wear on specific days. This could be a useful way to plan out outfits for scheduled wedding/events, corporate meetings, etc. Also, Stylebook takes it a step further and analyzes how much use you are actually getting out of each particular wardrobe piece. When you upload a picture of an item, you can also input how much you paid for it. Then Stylebook calculates “style stats” to evaluate your total closet value, cost per wear for each item, and most packed items. Stylebook can also identify your most and least worn pieces to also keep your wardrobe efficient. Check out the pictures below to see how I utilize the app!

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Yelp (Free) – Once you arrive at your destination, Yelp is an amazing means of discovering local businesses! Be sure to check in to help bookmark these places and leave your reviews.  As a part of the Yelp Elite, I LOVE checking out ratings, reviews, and pictures of food on the app. This also help to decide what sites and restaurants are worth going to and which are ok to pass on.

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Instagram (Free) – Whichever social media platform you prefer, these are great ways to share some of your memories online. I also like to browse through Instagram before my trips to scope out any IG-worthy sceneries. You can also tag your location in each post so you can look back to see where you’ve been!

Facetune ($3.99) – Have you ever taken a great picture, only to go home later and find out that someone totally photobombed your shot? Maybe you’ve traveled to a world famous attraction only to have tons of other tourists all over your picture too? Facetune is a great app to help erase any unwanted people/things out of your pics. Plus. it does a great job of blurring out any undereye bags that you may have developed while traveling!

What apps do you take with you on your travels? Comment below! 

Re-doing Venice, Italy

Proposal

On March 29th a few years ago, my then boyfriend proposed to me in the middle of Piazza San Marco.  At that moment, it was beyond amazing to have the entire square to ourselves! Normally, Piazza San Marcos is bustling with locals and tourists alike, but on that morning, it was just us! Granted it was about 5:30am and drizzling, but this historic landmark became the perfect backdrop to our proposal. We jokingly say that he had rented out the piazza to pop the question.  Life was very different back then. He was just starting off his career in finance, and I was still in pharmacy school on spring break. In reality, we still wouldn’t be able to rent out the entire piazza today, but we’ll always have that memory to keep! Now, we’re happily married, progressing in our careers, and as timing would having it, we’re planning to return to venice for holiday in a couple weeks!

While the “City of Canals” has its many sights and attractions, I’ll be honest – our first visit wasn’t the greatest. Maybe we were still young and naive travelers? I remember being frustrated and lost amongst the countless bridges and canals. Without an interactive map, it felt like such a big maze.  We enjoyed some iconic site such as the Grand Canal, Rialto Bridge, and Doge’s Palace. However, this time, we’re excited to re-do Venice and hopefully discover more beautiful scenes, scout new foods, and try some first-time activities.

Check out my wish list below of things to do or see as we re-do Venice!

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http://www.thelifeofluxury.com/incredible-experience-2015-venice-carnival/

1) Take a romantic gondola ride – When we were in Venice last, this really didn’t seem like something I cared to do. The weather was chilly and it seemed like a huge tourist trap. However, looking back, I feel like I missed out on one of the most iconic activities in the “City of Canals.” They even emulate this at the Venitian Hotel in Las Vegas, so why not try the real thing?! I’m actually really looking forward to crossing this off my bucket list!

 

2) Enjoy local tapas – Food is really one of the best ways to experience a new destination. Plus, it’s not a vacation until you can relax, enjoy delicious bites, and take in the scene with a bellini. We’re hoping to visit Cantinone Già Schiavi, which is known to be a local bar where little to no English is spoken but everyone understands how good the food is. Sounds perfect!

3) T Fondaco Dei Tedeschi – I recently found out about T Fondaco Dei Tedeschi since it is often listed as a tourist shopping mall. While I can’t deny my love to shop, what earns this location a spot on my bucket list is actually its rooftop terrace.  Reservations are highly recommended as the terrace can accommodate 80 guests during each 15-minute time slot. However, within this brief time frame, you can indulge in  panoramic views overlooking the city. 

4) Have an expresso at Florian Caffe –  Sure, this idea seems super #basic (hashtag intended), but Florian Caffe is actually the oldest coffee shop in Italy and arguably, in all of Europe. Since it opened in 1720, its interior boasts grand Venitian charm and neo-baroque decor. Meanwhile, the outside terrace basks in a up and close view of Piazza San Marco. I’m hoping to grab a table outside and so some people-watching, coffee mug in hand.

I plan to do an updated post with pictures of what we end up doing this time around. What else should we do or see in Venice? Comment below! 

 

‘Elevating’ Afternoon Tea at The Upper House in HK

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As I’ve mentioned in a previous blog post, I LOVE having afternoon tea in different cities around the world. While afternoon tea has sentimental meaning to me, it’s so neat to see so many different renditions of this long time tradition. Today, I’m sharing my experiences at Café Gray Deluxe in Hong Kong!

Nestled on the 49th floor of one of Hong Kong’s hottest hotels, The Upper House, Café Gray Deluxe boasts some of the city’s best panoramic views of Victoria Harbor. But first, just to touch on the hotel itself for a bit, the Upper House embodies modern luxury. Once you step into the hotel, it’s an immediate escape from the bustling streets of Hong Kong. Interestingly, the sophisticated architecture manages to still feel warm and inviting.  While the ambience is very posh, the cordial staff and complimentary hot cocoa in the seating area help to make it feel more comfortable and less stuffy.

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Now back to the star of the blog post – Café Gray Deluxe!  Complementing the chic theme of the hotel, Café Gray Deluxe provides modern European dining.  Though there are ample seats throughout the dining area, we were lucky to have reserved a corner booth to really witness the gorgeous views of the HK skyline and harbor.  The natural lighting was beautiful, though a bit tricky for photographs.  Needless to say, our fellow diners and we were pretty busy taking photos throughout our time there. Every aspect of the cafe was Instagram-worthy!

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We came here for afternoon tea, which surprisingly is very reasonably priced! You have the option of either $295 (HKD) per person or $535 (HKD) for 2 people.  In US dollars, that’s roughly about $38 or $68, respectively.  Customarily, afternoon tea includes an assortment of savory and sweet bites accompanied by your choice of tea or coffee.  My favorites include the foie gras coupe, golden raisin scones with homemade preserves, and  the mint chocolate yoghurt pavé.  For drinks, we sought a recommendation from our server and opted for their signature Café Gray tea, which has lemongrass, lemon balm, and roselle.  I usually gravitate towards more traditional teas, but this was unique and delicious.  Also, since we were there during the holidays, we had a choice of a small serving of mulled wine or egg nog. We couldn’t resist the egg nog, and it turned out to be one of our favorite takes on this holiday treat.

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The is a bit of a side note, but the modern architecture resonates throughout the cafe… even in the restrooms.  This reminded me of the restrooms at the Standard Hotel in New York City.  You can wash your hands while looking through floor to ceiling windows. Oddly, you can see the sinks in the men’s restroom from the women’s side and vice versa. Toilets were private and out of view though.

Overall, we enjoyed the delicious snacks and never saw our teacups go empty. The staff was very friendly, and most importantly, we really appreciated that we were never rushed to clear the table as is often very customary in many HK establishments.  Our experience here truly elevated my expectations of afternoon tea moving forward (pun intended)! Cheers!

 

 

 

‘RTW Travel Series: Cathay Pacific Business Lounge at HKG

‘RTW Travel Series: Cathay Pacific Business Lounge at HKG

As if it wasn’t hard enough to end our holiday in Hong Kong, the Cathay Pacific Business Lounge at The Pier was phenomenal! I could have easily spent the rest of the day here. Though I just recently noted that the oneworld Lounge was the largest airport lounge that I had encountered, this is easily the new winner by far.

The chic interior and wooden paneling throughout warm up the space as you watch aircrafts take off and land through floor to ceiling windows. The layout compliments the vast size of this lounge while still strategically stationing seating areas into comfortable nooks.

As we first entered the lounge, we were greeted warmly by the staff. In the first large room, there is an expresso cart and bakery station with pastries, breads, and desserts. This is one of the better lit rooms, so this is where families with small children seemed to gather around large welcoming dining tables.

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As you proceed through the lounge, the next large room has an impressive full bar with lots of soft lounge chairs. We decided to post up here with window seats to watch the early flights arriving.

Next is the tea room. This was such a treat! No one was manning this station, but it was so neat to see this, nonetheless. Though no teas were being served at this time, there was a nice selection of fresh juice blends to help promote blood circulation, relaxation, or energy.

The next room is definitely one of the highlights of the lounge. Here you will find a row of self-serve siu mai, braised noodles, and vegetables. More impressively, there is also a made-to-order noodle bar. Today, our options were wonton noodles in soup, Dan Dan noodles, and Shanghai noodles with vegetable dumplings. Once your order comes out, there is a nice selection of toppings and condiments to flavor your dish to your liking. At the noodle bar you could also order dim sum: BBQ pork buns, xiao lung bao, and pan-fried vegetables bean curd roll. The pork buns and bao were excellent!

Finally, the last aspect of airport lounges worth visiting are the more private and more comfortable restrooms. Predictably, the washrooms here were clean. The soaps were from Aesop and smelled delightful.

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Considering how impressive the Cathay Pacific Business Lounge is, I would definitely take up any opportunity to experience the First Class Lounge if I come across it. It is easy to understand how these lounges are some of the top rated globally. Cheers to more safe and comfortable travels!

‘RTW Travel Series: Lantau Island and Big Buddha

‘RTW Travel Series: Lantau Island and Big Buddha

On our first full day in Hong Kong, we made the early trip to Lantau Island, which is the largest of Hong Kong’s islands and prides city highlights and breathtaking views. After taking the Mass Transit Railway (MTR) to Tung Chung, we took a short walk to the Ngong Ping 360 station. Though we arrived before the station’s opening, there was already a decent queue (see right picture above). *Pro-tip: Pre-purchase tickets online via Klook. This expedited our wait for the ticket counter (in fact, this allowed us to be the first people in line).

The 25-minute ride on the Ngong Ping 360 aerial lift provides panoramic views of Tung Chung Bay, lush forestry, and Ngong Ping Village. For an additional fee, there is also an option to take a “Crystal Cabin,” which features a glass floor. However, the standard cabin was worthwhile without being too overwhelming for those with an aversion to heights or motion sickness.

Once at the village, you are free to wander. There are several food options including Starbucks, Subway, a tea house, a noodle cafe, and other quick stands. Everywhere you look is a photo-worthy spot. We were also surprised to see plenty of cattle, buffalo, and dogs freely wandering the grounds. The animals were all very calm and seemed very accustomed to their tourist fans.

While walking through the village, it’s very easy to make your way to the Tian Tan Buddha aka Big Buddha as it sits 34 meters high. It’s a breathtaking sight to see this massive bronze statue looking over the people of China amidst the lush greenery of the mountainside. From the base of the stairs, there are 268 steps to reach the statue and enjoy the scenic views. *Pro-tip: For clearer photo ops, arrive as early as possible to avoid the crowds. We were fortunate to be there right before the crowd grew, so we were lucky to share the views with only a few other visitors (see comparison shots above above).

Across from the Tian Tan Buddha is Po Lin Monastery.  Since this is an active place of worship, photography was understandably prohibited in some areas.  As you approach the first building, you can see small crowds gather to pray and bring their incense offerings. There is a small temple housing statues of deities and guards protecting the entrance. Farther back, you can catch a glimpse of the 10,000 buddhas lining the walls of the Grand Hall. To say the least, there were vibrants colors, ornate paintings,  and buddhas everywhere you looked.

Another popular spot here is the Wisdom Path. We only made it to the beginning of the trail before we decided to head back as the crowd was growing and our stomachs were starting to grumble. However, the Wisdom Path is known for its 38 wooden posts that features verses from the Heart Sutra.

‘RTW Travel Series: Cathay Pacific Arrival Lounge at HKG

 

Upon arriving at the Hong Kong International Airport (HKG), we made a quick stop at the Cathay Pacific Arrival Lounge. This airport is massive, so we luckily found an information kiosk to help route us to the lounge. Upon entering, the staff graciously greeted us and held our baggage at the front desk as the lounge area is rather small and narrow. Since we arrived early in the morning, there were only a handful of other passengers there too. They offered a selection of breakfast breads and pastries, non-alcoholic beverages, expresso drinks, and a few hot items. This included congee (rice porridge), shrimp and pork siu mai, rice wrapped in lotus leaves, and scrambled eggs with onions and bell peppers. I was happy to have my fill of siu mai, but the congee was very bland; the only accompanying side options were green onions, salt, pepper, and peanuts. Unfortunately, I can’t speak much for the showers – just that they are available. When I went to wash up, the staff routed me to the public restrooms just outside of the lounge. The showers may have been occupied. Overall, this was a nice pitstop before we headed off on our HK adventures. I wouldn’t spend much time here or necessarily go out of my way if we were on a more strict schedule.