If you are like me and either travel a lot or are trying to Marie Kondo streamline and minimalize your life, subscriptions can be a great gift both to give and to receive.
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With Cyber Monday just around the corner I am not only making my own list of gifts to order but also am compiling lists to put into a blog post. Along with the season of gift giving basically being on top of us I also have my son at college on the other side of the country and am finding the various subscription services available to be enormously helpful!
Subscriptions and mini subscriptions can make ideal gifts both for business and work gifts, and also as stocking stuffers or gifts for family members.
This year on my Glam Italia tours I noticed so many of my travelers had Kindles with them. They were so sleek and chic and made my iPad look clunky and cumbersome. I do all computing on my smart phone now, so have no need to drag my iPad around anymore. As such it is being replaced with kindle Paperwhite this Christmas!
Regardless of whether you or the person you are gifting reads on a Kindle or on the Kindle App, a Kindle Unlimited subscription is the perfect gift. For the duration of their subscription they can download books for free. If they cancel at the end of the subscription they still get to keep their downloaded books. It’s brilliant! There are several options for subscriptions so you can purchase and gift the one that works best for you. Check out theKindle Unlimited Membership Plans
Before we had books story telling happened by voice. As children we learned stories as they were read to us. Now as adults many of us just don’t have time to sit down with a book anymore, our lives are just too busy.
That’s where Audible comes in. With an Audible subscription you can listen to books everywhere you go. On your phone, your tablet, your kindle – there are multiple ways to listen in. Whether you want to engage your mind while you commute to and from work, or like me while walking the dog, or maybe just while your hands are busy doing chores at home, audio books are just fantastic.
Audiobooks are the fastest growing sector of the book market so a subscription to an audio book service is a brilliant gift! Audible subscriptions come in 1,3,6 and 12 month options. Check out Audible Subscriptions here
I don’t know how I ever got by without Amazon Prime! I don’t use a fraction of the services that come with it, but I love getting free 2 day shipping. I take advantage of Amazon First Reads each month – as a Prime member you get to borrow books for free, and a new list arrives in your inbox at the beginning of each month.
I watch shows on Amazon Prime Video. There are many more service that come with the subscription tho (including ad free streaming of more than a million songs) and I’m sure that those more savvy than me are taking advantage of them!
Not sure if you would like Prime Video? You can get a free trial month of Amazon prime Video with this link
Amazon Prime Student comes with a six month free trial. It has the benefit of a regular Prime membership but also has discounts on everything from books to computers and much more. Use this link to get your 6 month free trial.
I especially appreciate this one with a child at school in the other end of the country!
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If you are planning any air travel this holiday season or
winter you need to have a game plan in place to prevent catching something
Airplanes are hermetically sealed germ incubators. Whatever time of year you are flying you are always at risk of contracting whichever virus or infection the person next to you is carrying or the person before you left behind. Winter just seems to make it worse.
I have spoken before on this blog about getting a vicious
upper respiratory infection on a flight to Australia several years ago. I
thought I was going to die it was so bad. The doctor in Noosa who treated me
told me that several times per week he sees upper respiratory infections like
this, caught on planes. He also gave me advice on how to make sure it doesn’t
happen again, which I will re-share in this post.
I have had multiple friends and acquaintances in the past three years contract the highly contagious Norovirus. Some on cruise ships, some on planes. All of them have had gastrointestinal problems and mad diarrhea for months on end, and have been very, very sick.
This got me to thinking about all the people traveling by air this holiday season and this winter, and what you can do to prevent getting sick, allowing for the fact that no doubt multiple people on your flight will be sending their cold, flu and heaven only knows what other illnesses through the recycled air.
Before You Fly
Wellness begins before you board your flight. Staying on top of a few items can make all the difference in the world.
Try to get a decent night’s sleep the last couple of nights before you fly. A tired body is more susceptible to opportunistic infections.
Avoid Bad Foods
You already know this but it is worth repeating. Foods that are high in sugar and/or salt, and junk foods should all be avoided at least in the 24 hours prior to flying. Airports are notoriously full of eateries selling high sugar, high sodium and essentially junk foods. Eating these means your body has to work overtime to break them down and deal with them instead of using its energy to fight off germs.
The days before you fly, the days you are away, and the first few days you are back home you should load up on extra Vitamin C. Take much more than the recommended daily dose – Vitamin C is the best fighter vitamin, and can be your best friend when you are exposed to colds and flus.
There are also several important steps to take once you are on the plane. Some might surprise you!
This is the big tip the doctor in Australia drilled into me
when I was so sick. Take disinfectant wipes onboard the plane with you and
Arm rests, seat belt buckle, tray table- front and back, head rest. Everything you will touch during your flight. Assume the person occupying your seat before you had something highly contagious, and clean that thing down!
Airplanes don’t get disinfected in between flights. At best the tray table might get a wipe down overnight, but judging by the early morning flights I’ve been doing, don’t hold your breath!
Trust me, just one savage sickness caught on a plane and you too will be a convert! In all the years since I got sick on that flight I have never, ever boarded a flight and not disinfected everything. I couldn’t care less if it makes me look weird.
If you are on a shorter flight do whatever you can to avoid
using the airplane lavatory. Pee before you fly and then hold on til you land
if at all possible. Airplane toilets are more germy than you think.
On top of all the infections waiting to happen via the bathroom, recent studies have shown the water you wash your hands with is actually quite perilous too. Dangerous levels of Ecoli and Salmonella have been showing up in the water tanks, so dangerous in fact that it was recommended you not wash your hands, instead opt for handwipes and hand sanitizer.
Before, during and after your flight drink loads of water.
Part of the reason we get travel fatigue (that exhausting, headachy, feel like
crap thing that happens after flying) is because we dehydrate so much in
flight. I have read that we lose an additional 8 ounces of water for every hour
we are in the air.
Either buy a bottle of water once you have cleared the TSA
checkpoint or bring an empty bottle with you and fill it at any of the filling
stations inside the terminal
I often add Airborne or EmergenceC to bottled water when I fly, just for the extra boost of the good stuff.
Hose Your Nose
Once you are in flight the pressurized cabin of the plane
makes the air really dry. Dry air makes you more susceptible to colds, so
doctors recommend using a nasal spray to keep the area hydrated.
Nasal sprays are also super helpful to travelers who suffer from allergies, sinus problems and headaches.
One of my makeup artist friends who is constantly flying across the country and around the world for work always puts Neosporin on her nostrils when the plane takes off. Her theory is that she is killing germs on their way in. I don’t know if this works or not but I have started doing it too just in case!
Airplanes are notoriously cold so it is important to plan
ahead and stay warm while you fly. The days of taking bulky sweaters and coats
when you travel are well behind us now, the better option being super fine,
thin merino layers and easy to fold, super warm puffer jackets.
Although I am from New Zealand I am a relatively new convert to the benefits of merino wool. As a rule I can’t wear wool – it’s too itchy scratchy on my skin. Merino is an entirely different experience. It is super thin, incredibly warm, wicks away both moisture and smells, and can be layered. Merino is also good in warm weather as it keeps you cool, making it the perfect travel fabric. It is also super soft and doesn’t itch.
Whether you invest in a base layer long sleeve Like This One from Icebreaker or a merino dress Like This One (there are loads of merino products for men too)
Merino is a great way to help fight off catching cold on the plane. An added benefit of wearing Merino when you travel is that it is cool in warmer climes.
Puffer jackets are still a big deal for travelers. They keep you really warm, even in frigid temps (especially with a super thin Merino base layer underneath!) and they fold down to nothing, so you aren’t trying to haul a heavy coat on and off the plane with you.
I’m in love with this one (pictured) from Michael Kors. It is available on Amazon, but I found it online for much less at Nieman Marcus Last Call here. I also like this one from Calvin Klein, available on Amazon. There is a huge selection of affordable puffer jackets on Amazon, including their most famous one, which you can see here. It costs less than $50!
My Secret Weapon…
This one may be a little much for some, but again I swear by
it. I don’t always get to do it but invariably make it happen before all
Vitamin IV therapy basically takes vitamin protection to an
entirely new level. Whether you choose a Myers Cocktail or a Super Immune
blend, the practitioner adds to saline solution intense quantities of Vitamin
C, B complex, minerals, everything from zinc to magnesium to selenium – all the
fighter vitamins and minerals. These then make their way directly into your bloodstream
via an IV drip.
Vitamin IV therapy has all kinds of beauty benefits. Your skin
will glow, the whites of your eyes go super white, your hair gets really glossy
and healthy. You start feeling amazing as soon as the drip gets going. It has
been my saving grace when I travel and also when I am just working an extra
punishing schedule here at home.
The easiest way to find IV Vitamin therapy places is to google Myers Cocktail and your city. You can read more about Vitamin IV therapy here.
If you are planning a trip to Campania chances are you are just thinking about Capri and the Amalfi Coast, and maybe a quick jaunt into Naples. Problem is, these are the places that everyone goes to, which means the crowds can be brain-bendingly overwhelming.
There is much, much more to see and do in Campania than just the big tourist spots. Whether you want to take a half day or day to do something different, or whether you may want to add an extra few days to your Amalfi Coast trip, here are 8 places to consider when planning your trip to the Amalfi Coast.
Be sure to read to the end as you probably haven’t heard of 6 through 8!
If you enjoy visiting European palaces this one is a must see.
Built to rival Versailles, Caserta is the largest palace in all of Europe. Like
Versailles it is a gaudy display of too much gold, over the top frescoes and somewhat
crass excess, all of which make it completely fantastic!
Rent a bike and explore the beauty of the garden and fountains
which extend 3.5 kilometers in front of the palace, have lunch in the café and
explore the royal apartments.
One thing I learned while there was how fascinating Marie Carolina was. Her well known sister Marie Antoinette gets all the attention, but Marie Carolina was a tremendous character, much, much more interesting. This was her palace and her story unfolds throughout the royal apartments.
The palace at Caserta is a quick and easy train ride from either Naples or Salerno.
2. POMPEII, HERULANEUM AND OPLONTIS
While in the area of Naples and the Amalfi Coast take a morning to visit the excavations at Pompeii and Herculaneum and Oplontis
If you are not familiar with these incredible sites these are the ruins of three towns taken out by the eruption of Mt Vesuvius in 79 A.D. The towns vanished from the face of the earth for 1700 years.
Over the centuries when people tried to find the fabled Pompeii they looked along the coast line, as it had been a port city but the eruption of the volcano moved the ocean 2 kilometers out to sea. Pompeii was discovered in the 18th century when a farmer inland had been digging for a new well.
Pompeii is Italy’s most unique archaeological site, its 109
excavated acres giving us a snapshot of 1st century Roman life.
I recommend visiting in the morning at opening time (8:30am)
as for much of the year Pompeii gets overwhelmingly hot. Be sure to wear good
walking shoes and a hat and bring a water bottle to refil at the fountains
staggered around the site.
I suggest doing Pompeii first as this will give you insight into the life of 1st century Romans, their social structure, the absolute genius of their technological innovations, and the devastation caused by the eruption.
Herculaneum/Ercolano is only 3 stops away on the local train (the Circumvesuviana) and makes an incredible second excavation to visit.
After seeing the destruction of Pompeii, much of which was crushed down to one level, Herculaneum lets you experience the multi storied homes replete with their red Pompeii style frescoes. Resplendent in its own right, this site is jarring also because it gives you greater insight into the way Pompeii would have looked up until the day the volcano blew.
Herculaneum is about 1//3 of the size of Pompeii, and rather
than being an important merchant port city was a luxury resort town for wealthy
Romans, so features more elegant villas than commercial buildings.
The caves at the beach level are filed with skeletons. When Vesuvius erupted the people of Herculaneum were certain rescuers would come by sea, so the women and children were waiting in the safety of the caves while the men waited on the beach.
Unfortunately for all of them a pyroclastic current of trapped gases at a heat of more than 500 degrees Fahrenheit (and up to 900 degrees) blew their way, instantly vaporizing their bodies.
Their instant death meant they were in fact luckier than their neighbors in Pompeii who suffocated and in many cases took multiple hours to die.
From the 1st century B.C Oplontis was a super
elegant suburb of Pompeii where the uber-wealthy had their country villas. As
with Pompeii it disappeared for 17 centuries and was only rediscovered in the
18th century. There is just one villa is open to the public, but it
is spectacular and well worth the visit.
Poppea Sabina was Emperor Nero’s second wife. This is thought
to be her villa due to an amphora with the name of her freedman and a vase with
her mark on it being found on the grounds.
This is actually the largest Roman suburban villa ever
discovered and has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, largely due to
the sensational frescoes. This villa is enormous, with large portico opening to gardens lined with
statues, a swimming pool, loads of rooms, passageways and cubicle as well as a
kitchen still recognizeable.
One of the most extraordinary features of the villa is the wealth of frescoes and mosaics all remaining in situ rather than having been carted off to a museum somewhere.
Interestingly there is no sign of life here at the time of the
eruption. Some of the statues were found on a storeroom, suggesting that
perhaps the villa had been closed up for renovations after the earthquake of 62
An alternative to the frequently overcrowded and always
expensive island of Capri is the delicious little island of Procida. Almost
completely off the tourist radar this one is a weekend getaway for the people
of Naples, but with the exception of August the streets are delightfully empty.
So try to come here on a weekday if possible.
Procida is one of the most colorful places on earth. As you
arrive into its little harbor your eyes don’t know where to land – all the
fishermen’s homes lining the seafront are painted in bright pastel hues, the
sunshine sparkles off the sea, which like the sky is a completely impossible
shade of blue. Procida is visually stunning.
This tiny island is part of the Flegrean island chain, off the
coast of Naples. The island is between Capo Miseno and Ischia, and occupies a
mere 4.1 square miles. Its history dates back as far as the 16th
century BC with Mycenaean objects having been discovered there, although the
first known settlers were Greeks in the 8th century BC.
More than 30 movies have been filmed here including Il Postino
and the Talented Mr. Ripley.
If you take a day trip to Procida be sure to wander the waterfront
and the streets of the Marina Grande, then head over to the back side of the
island. Walk along sun-bleached little streets (but watch out for vespas
zipping around) and head to Marina Corricella for lunch. This darling fishing
village was one of the locations in Il Postino.
A variety of eateries line the waterfront, picturesque with
fishing boats bobbing at their moorings, fishing nets lying out to dry and
colorful buildings all around. Lunch here is authentic, inexpensive and
wonderful. I recommend having a long, leisurely lunch with a view, then having
a swim before heading back to the mainland.
Procida is easily accessible by hydrofoil from Naples.
Another absolute treasure lies at the bottom end of the Amalfi
Coast, the lovely medieval town of Salerno. Not only a wonderful place to take
a day trip to, Salerno is also a tremendous place to base your Amalfi Coast
With train access (including the high speed AV trains) you can
move around much more easily than if you are staying in any of the towns along
the coast road, yet still have ferry access to the entire coast and Capri.
The crowds, tour buses and cruise ship travelers don’t come here, (well, maybe a few small cruise ships do, but not the monsters that invade the rest of the coast)so you can wander around freely, enjoying the beauty, the history, the ambience.
If you stay in Salerno the local nightlife is infectious.
Everyone comes out at night to enjoy a glass of wine and see friends in the
cafes and bars dotted around the piazzas and the picturesque little streets.
The restaurants are fabulous – I love evenings in Salerno.
Along with the castle, the Duomo, the medical school (the first in Italy, it dates back centuries) and the medieval town center, another benefit to staying or visiting Salerno is that it is the gateway to the beautiful Cilento region.
Only 30 km or so south of Salerno you will find one of the
coolest and most un-touristed places you have never heard of, the Greek temples
The 8 best preserved Greek temples in the world are in
Southern Italy. Five of them are in Sicily, the other 3 are here in the former
town of Poseidonia, now known as Paestum.
2500 years ago this was part of Magna Grecia. Greece sent its
young men out to discover and conquer new land. Southern Italy and Sicily were
hot favorites, benefitting from amongst other things, incredible Greek
architecture. Be warned that these three temples are breathtaking.
I love arriving by car (you can also get here by train)
because as you drive through the countryside surrounded by open fields and buffalo
mozzarella farms, these 3 giant temples erupt up out of nowhere. And they are truly
Built in 550 B.C, 500 B.C and 480 B.C the temples of Hera, Athena and Hera II are in unbelievably good condition.
Also still in place are a heroon, a pool and various other
structure dating back to the Greeks.
The temples are surrounded by the remnants of a Roman town.
Romans loved Greek architecture so instead of pulling it down opted to build
around it. Roman roads, houses and apartment buildings can still be seen here.
If you have been to Pompeii and understand the layout of a Roman home, you will
appreciate being able to walk inside the ruins and identify the front and back
doors, the views from the homes as well as their layouts.
As if that weren’t enough, the cats eyes and mosaic floors are
still intact. Not a cigarette butt, coke can or McDonald’s wrapper inn sight –
it is all just here for you to enjoy.
If at all possible try to be here at sunset – it is just unbelievably beautiful. Also noteworthy are the famous roses that bloom here in the spring, famous since antiquity, bathing the temples in their gorgeous perfume and draping the area in even more beauty.
If you enjoy seeing really ancient sites and are in the area,
not too far south of Paestum there is another treasure, the town of Velia.
Velia (originally named Elea) was founded around 540 B.C by
Phoenicians from Corsica who fled the island after a brutal battle with the
Etruscans ad Carthaginians. The town had a long period of economic prosperity
as well as being an important cultural center. Home to philosophers such as
Parmenides who founded the Philosophical School of Elea in the 6th
century B.C, and Zeno, who was around in the 5th century B.C
The Romans took over in 88 B.C. The citizens of Elea were
recognized as Romans but were allowed to maintain their Greek language and
Things to see here include the monumental Porta Rosa gate.
Dating back to the 4th century B.C it is thought to be one of the
only intact monuments of the ancient world. It is perfectly preserved too, cut
blocks of volcanic tufa perfectly placed together without the use of lime to
hold them in place, reaching a height of 6 meters. Interestingly it is the only
example of a rounded arch in Greek architecture to be found in Italy.
The gate leads to an ancient road and paved steps that take
you down to one of the town’s 2 ports.
In the other direction from Porta Rosa there are 2nd
century Roman baths, and a lovely town square.
The acropolis has a medieval church sitting atop a Greek
temple, and just below it a small theater dating back to the 3rd
Also to be seen here are remains of ancient homes and frescoed buildings.
7. BADIA SANTA MARIA DI PATTANO
Not far from Velia you can find the best preserved
Italo-Albanian monastery in Southern Italy, the Badia Santa Maria di Pattano.
Although the first known mention of this site was in a document dated to 933
A.D it is thought to be much older.
The complex is noteworthy for its church of Santa Maria, an
example of Angevin architecture with polygonal apses and ribbed groin vaults.
The bell tower is one of the most ancient Early Middle Ages bell towers in
Southern Italy. Standing 15 meters tall it may have been built in stages,
because it has 5 different decorations, making it fascinating from an artistic
point of view.
The Church of San Fidelfo was built on top of Roman ruins. (A thermal structure can be seen under a glass floor.)
The interior walls are decorated with some amazing Byzantine frescoes, in my opinion, alone they make the trip worth while.
8. THE CILENTO COAST
If you are not one for stone beaches, the crowds, high prices
and overly manicured visage of the Amalfi Coast, this could be the area for
Stretching 65 miles from Salerno to the Tyrrhenian coast of
Basilicata, the Cilento coast is a beautiful alternative. With sandy beaches;
pristine, clean ocean, affordable accommodation and dining options, this stretch
of coast is authentic, a little erratic and the antithesis of the Amalfi Coast.
Don’t expect glitzy hotels or the lamorous posturing of the uber rich, instead
think of ancient port towns with the local fisherman still taking their boats
out at dawn and fishing with handmade nets.
Break your days up with mornings spent discovering ancient Greek
and Roman ruins, lunches in quaint little piazzas and afternoons on the beach.
Some of the towns to look for:
Agropoli, the largest town in the area can be a great place to base yourself.
Only 15 minutes away is Castellabate. The castle ruins and the views of the ocean are fabulous, as is the main piazza. Although pretty tiny it is buzzing with cafes, a wine bar and restaurants.
Acciaroli is a lovely little seaside village you won’t want to leave.
Interestingly it is known for the longevity of its inhabitants, with around 300 centenarians wandering the streets, 20 percent of whom have reached the ripe old age of 110!
Pioppi is another lovely seaside village. Ancel Keys lived here for 28 years studying and living the Mediterranean diet.
Palinuro is yet another beautiful coastal village with a rugged but spectacular coastline broken up with sandy beaches, the ruins of a medieval castle, a blue grotto – it has a lot to offer.
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