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Life+1 a lifestyle and travel blog. My adventures around the world and the moments of bliss in between.

5 Easy Ways to be a Responsible Tourist

Traveling to 21 countries around the world has taught me so many things. More than I could have ever learned from many sleepless nights with my nose deep inside the pages of a worn atlas.

The importance of responsible tourism became clear to me years ago on a particularly hot, South African day while listening to our butler, Thomas, tell us about his life, his land and his heritage. I wish you could have seen the way his eyes lit up when he talked about all the ways in which our safari lodge was helping to protect the wildlife in their corner of Kruger National Park, but also support the native people, like himself. 

It was then I realized, that if I were to continue to have such good fortune to be able to travel the world, I should most certainly be finding ways to give back along the way. Being a more responsible traveler has never been easier. Here are just a few of the ways we can all make a difference.

5 Ways to Be a More Responsible Tourist

  1. Choosing the right hotel.
    It takes only a few extra minutes of research while you are deciding on a hotel. Find out if they are involved in any local charities. Do they give back to the surrounding communities? Support the people and the environment?

    Try this: Shangri-la, Marriott, and Virgin hotels and resorts are just a few examples of companies who are proactively giving back in various ways around the world. 

  2. Shopping local.
    If you're anything like me, shopping is pretty high on your priority list while traveling. Rather than purchasing mass produced items, look for items made and sold by local artisans.

    Try this: Ask your hotel concierge where to go to find some unique and authentic local goods. Or take a page out of my travelogue and eat your way through the local markets stuffing yourself with fresh produce, breads and cheeses along the way.

  3. Cautious giving.
    Resist the urge to hand out junk food and money to young children. You may be unknowingly contributing to issues that are causing more harm than good.

    Try this: Contact local charities and find out what items are needed, where and how you can donate your time or items.

  4. "Take only memories, leave only footprints."
    It's a really simple thing that makes such a huge difference. Don't take things from the local habitat like sand, rocks, shells...whatever. Leave it there for future tourists to enjoy. I mean, did you really need that baggie of black sand?

    Try this: Find a local artisan who uses area resources to craft unique gifts which you can buy and take home.

  5. Just say no to live animal displays.
    Try to avoid money generating animal displays (think snake, bear, and monkey photo ops) as sometimes these animals are taken from the wild and mistreated.

    Try this: Find a local animal rehabilitation facility that put their resources into saving and rehabbing animals.

"If you think you are too small to make a difference, you have never spent the night with a mosquito." - African Proverb

Next Adventure

Guys, I'm so excited to tell you that our next big adventure is booked. This time we'll be working our way across Morocco. From Rabat, to Marrakech, to the High Atlas Mountains. It's shaping up to be quite the adventure.

I have a million things on my 'to-do' list while we are there but I'd love to hear your suggestions as well. 

I have some very exciting projects in the works which I cannot wait to share with you. Until then, here's a sneak peak of what we'll be getting up to while we are there.

Of all these things, I'm particularly excited to be visiting Sir Richard Branson's Moroccan property, Kasbah Tamadot. Visiting all of the gorgeous Virgin Limited Edition properties has been at the top of my bucket list for years. They are like the 7 (now 8) wonders of the hotel world. :o)

The Virgin properties are not only stunning but they give back to the communities around them. Something any responsible tourist would be keen to know. I can't wait to tell you all about it in upcoming posts and videos.

Let me know if you have any suggestions for our Moroccan adventure in the comments below! x

Photo source Pinterest. Thank you Virgin Limited Edition for use of the Kasbah Tamadot photo.

Show Your Toes #withoutshoes

Imagine for a minute that every single pair of shoes you owned suddenly disappeared. How difficult life would become? How much such a simple thing in life can make such a huge difference every day. 

#withoutshoes Toms lifeplus1 blog

I just heard about this awesome Instagram campaign Toms (the shoe company) is doing right now. It's ridiculously simple.

1) Take a photo of your bare feet

2) Post that photo to your Instagram account

3) Tag @Toms and use the hashtag #withoutshoes (footsie me too @mylifeplus1)

4) Toms will donate a pair of shoes to a child in need FOR FREE

That's right folks. All you have to do is post your little twinkle toes on Instagram and a child gets a new (and quite stylish/comfy) pair of shoes. Has it ever been easier to help someone out?

You can read more about Toms #withoutshoes initiative on their website but here are a few stats which I found shocking.

Providing children with school uniforms, which often includes shoes, can increase school attendence by up to 62%. (Source: Evans, 2009)

1.3 billion people lack regular access to health care services, leaving many children susceptible to water and soil-borne illnesses, which can be transmitted through the feet. (Source: WHO, 2012)

This is not a sponsored post. I just think Toms are doing something incredible here and I love sharing simple ways that we can all help.

PLEASE spread the word via the share button below or head over to my Twitter page to retweet my message about the campaign. The project runs until May 21st.

Every little toe helps!

Unusual May Holidays

It seems like nearly every day is an unusual holiday of some sort. Last week alone was International Dance Day, Denim Day, National Honesty Day. I'm not sure why, but it fascinates me.

While it might be easy to laugh at these seemingly pointless and unusual holidays, I actually think they are a really fun way to remind ourselves to stop and appreciate the little things. Or insanely large things...

So for a bit of fun, here are some unusual (and wonderful) May holidays and a few suggestions on how to celebrate them.

National Photography Month : All Month Long

A no brainer for me. I love being behind the lens. With the sun shining, the temperatures warming and fifty shades of green popping up everywhere (and yes, I did watch 50 Shades...did you?), what better time to practice my photography skills?

Celebrate : Try one of the many photography challenges on social media. Instagram and NatGeo always have fun challenges to push your photography skills further.

Save the Rhino Day : 1st May

One of the few remaining animals from the days of the Dinosaur, the Rhino is nearing extinction from hunting and poaching. Sad, but true.

Celebrate : Visit World Wildlife Fund for ways to help or, go on a responsible, sustainable safari to appreciate these beautiful animals in their natural environment. I recommend the &Beyond properties in South Africa.

Star Wars Day : 4th May

May the fourth be with you.... 

Celebrate : Dig out those original Star Wars films and have another look at the genius work of George Lucas. It always amazes me how ahead of the times he was with the technology, almost predictive.

International No Diet Day : 6th May

Founded by Mary Evans Young in 1992, this is a brilliant little holiday focused on reminding us to love ourselves for who we are and appreciate people of all shapes and sizes. And...maybe snarf just one more piece of cheesecake...

Celebrate : Think of your favorite naughty food. Now go buy it, and eat it, and enjoy it. Heck, get two! And if you really want to take it all the way, eat some peanut butter filled cupcakes.

SUNSCREEN PROTECTION DAY : 27TH MAY

The older I get, the more I realize how important that mega SPF is. I wear it daily now, but there was a time when I definitely did not. And it's one of the few regrets I have in life. 

Celebrate : Go buy, and make a commitment to wear, sunscreen daily. Check the expiration on your existing bottles to make sure they are still good for pool season!

NATIONAL MACARON DAY : 31ST MAY

Really? Do I need to explain this one? You should really just go try a few and decide for yourself if they deserve a holiday of their own.

Celebrate : If you can find good ones, buy a box and enjoy every crumb while reading these fun facts about the world famous Ladurée Macarons.


and a few very traditional May holidays to remember...

MOTHER'S DAY (US) : SECOND SUNDAY IN MAY

Not an unusual holiday in the slightest, but a very important one. Where would we all be without our Mothers? A holiday that has a vastly different meaning to me now that I wear the title as well.

Celebrate : Tell your Mom or Mother figure in your life what they mean to you and what you've learned from them. And above all, that you love them.

Memorial Day (US) : Last Monday in May

A truly beautiful tradition of celebrating those who give the ultimate sacrifice for their country and our freedoms. Whether living or lost, it's a day to thank our lucky stars for these brave men and women.

Celebrate : When you see a service man or woman, pay for their meal or drink. Walk up and say thank you. If you're at home, maybe watch this movie.

 

Funny how some random and unusual holidays can bring some perspective back to our daily lives. Like resetting a clock, it reminds us to reset our perspective on life. All that we are so fortunate to have and all that we often take for granted.

What's your favorite unusual holiday?

Around the World in B&W

I don't see the world completely in black and white. Sometimes I do.   - Benicio del Toro

A handful of my favorite black and white photos from our travels.

xx

5 Best Snapchats to Follow

I'm loving Snapchat. I can share bits (I like to call them 'snappits') of my life, adventures, travel and personality with you guys in seconds versus spending hours on a blog post. It's the best kind of marriage between blogging and vlogging without having to sacrifice too much time. 

Of course with the ephemeral nature of Snapchat you can't hide that zit or perfectly choreograph your videos but that's actually the best part about it. It's so real.

Even better? The message self destructs after viewing. Brilliant.

So here are a few of the best Snapchats to follow if you're looking for something to get hooked on.

1. Eva Chen - Snapchat : theevachen212

Why I follow :
There's something wildly intriguing about a woman who can juggle motherhood, fashion and celebrity sightings on a daily basis. One minute baby cuddles, the next minute Kim Kardashian.

2. Mashable - Snapchat : mashable

Why I follow :
Just like their blog, Mashable delivers the most relevant tech news when it happens. Even better? On snapchat, Mashable has some really unique stories and contests that you can interact with.

3. Ryan Seacrest - Snapchat : ryanseacrest

Why I follow :
If you're a fan of American Idol this is your spot. It's fun to see Ryan Seacrest's snaps from backstage and commercial breaks during the show.

4. Kenza Zouiten - Snapchat : zouitenk

Why I follow :
She's a blogger. She's goofy. And she's like to laugh at herself. We have a bit in common.

5. National Geographic - Snapchat : In Discover Section

Why I watch :
I'm in love with NatGeo photography. On Snapchat they have a whole 'mini magazine' published daily which is interactive and includes quiz games, photos and stories. Perfect time killer at the doctor's office.

Wow, clearly my interests are not singular!

If you're on Snapchat you can find me at lifeplus1 or try this Secret Easy Add a Friend on Snapchat (kinda fun).

Still have no idea what Snapchat actually is? This guide answers all your 'What is Snapchat' questions.

What bloggers and accounts do you like to follow on Snapchat?

Happy Earth Day

Earth Day just got real at my house. I had this adorable little visitor on my back deck. I'm guessing he had a blonde moment and flew into one of our windows. Don't worry bud. It happens to me all the time.

After cleaning up the most disgusting little mess you've ever seen (I was worried he had lost his innards!), he was still sitting there looking at me. 

Now that's a face begging for a tickle if I've ever seen one!

So we made friends and he climbed up onto my hand. I made him a little nest from an old towel, tried (and failed) to get him off my arm, and left him with a bit of water and food.

Chewie got a few kisses in before we left him to regain his confidence. We both paced by the door for a little while.

After about and hour and a half the little dude took flight. Yay! All is right again on Earth Day.

If you want to see this cuteness in action head over to my Snapchat account (lifeplus1). I took waaay to many snaps! So cute. 

I hope you get the chance to go outside and enjoy the sunshine wherever you are in the world!

3 (more) Inspirational Quotes

When I'm feeling self doubt I often remind myself that there is no age limit or perfect definition tied to success. I find inspiration in the wise words of others. They inspire me to never give up on my daydreams. Who knows, your dreams could be just around the corner...

Leave your favorite inspirational quote in the comments below and don't forget to share this post if it inspires you (handy lil button below). Most of us could use some Monday motivation... ;o)

I hope you all have an inspired day. 

3 Things My Dog Taught Me

It's taken me long enough to figure out what is more important than anything in this life. Love. A lesson taught no better than by our furry companions. Mine, Chewbacca, just happens to have recently turned 3.

So in honor of her third birthday, listen up...

...because here are 3 things my German Shepherd compadre has taught me.

3 Things My Dog Taught Me


1 - Unconditional Love is the Best Kind of Love -

From the worst moments in life, to the very best and every mundane moment in between. Dogs are masters at loving you for who you are, even in moments when you don't love yourself. But please...love yourself. :o)

2 - Live in the Moment, as Often as You Can -

Never take for granted a minute of the life you are so grateful to have each day when you wake up for you never know when it will be over. Chewie reminds me on a daily basis to find happiness and joy in the smallest of things. From the fresh air of a spring morning to the quiet warmth of the sun on my skin. 

You should see her excitement over a perfectly imperfect stick on the ground.

3 - Forgiveness is a Hug for the Soul -

We all make mistakes. No one is perfect. And that's okay. In fact, it's better than okay. It's life. And life is good. Every moment wasted on bitterness is a moment of unhappiness. And who wants to be unhappy? Not me.

Happy Birthday Chewbacca. I love you every moment, unconditionally, just as you are you big fur bag!

What has your furry compadre taught you?
(don't forget to post a photo on my FB wall so I can coo over all of them!)

Video Postcard : Belgium

I took nearly 900 photos on my recent adventures in Europe! I also took a load of short video clips which I've mashed together in a (very) short video tour of Brussels.

The podcast and the vlogging are totally new things to me. While photography is my medium of choice (call me snap happy) I love sharing my life and adventures in other formats as well. 

It's something that gets better with practice. I really wish I had included some clips of myself in here but hey...hindsight eh? Next time I'll make some cameos I promise!

In the meantime, you can catch a glimpse of my slightly (okay significantly) cheesier side over at Snapchat : @lifeplus1.

Leave me your snapchat details below!