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The Best Natural Travel Beauty Products

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I spent a month travelling through Mexico recently (check out my photos on Instagram if you like), and I had the most amazing time. I spent time by the ocean, in Mexico City (one of my favorite cities in the world!) staying in a 400-year-old monastery above Lake Chapala, and in a bright yellow hacienda in San Miguel de Allende. I needed natural products that would do double-duty, travel well, last for the duration of the trip, and smell great (always a priority of mine when it comes to beauty products). Here’s what I took with me:

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Angel Face Botanicals Lavender and Aloe Facial Spray was a true skin-saver, from the dry airplane cabin on my way to and from, as well as several times a day in a dry clime. It smells beyond clean and delicious and was always refreshing (the aloe water kept my skin more hydrated than a typical skin spray would).
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6 Places For: Foggy Picnics in San Francisco

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When visitors in other cities swelter in summer’s heat and picnic plans are abandoned for air conditioned cafes, San Francisco’s typical weather report is an invitation to gather up the picnic basket, blanket and head out. For a new take on the traditional picnic lunch in the sun, visitors can orchestrate their al fresco dining around San Francisco’s fabulous spectacle of summer fog.

Summer fog is common, but not an everyday event, so a bit of spontaneity works in favor of those in pursuit of a fog adventure. Morning and evening fog rolls into San Francisco Bay from June to August, pushing its way through the Golden Gate Bridge towers, drifting and swirling up and over the Marin Headlands, and nestling up against shoreline piers. Then, more often than not, it magically stops before consuming the city itself. Timing is essential, and layers are key. By mid-day the sun has burned off the white wispy stuff so people shed their jackets and sweaters to bask in the sun before the fog rolls in again by late afternoon.

Here are a few suggestions on where to find fog-viewing picnic in San Francisco spots.

Battery East
A grass-covered earthen work fortification built in the 1870s, Battery East offers pristine vistas of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Pacific Ocean. Stake out one of the picnic tables located off parking area from Lincoln Boulevard in the Presidio and watch the curtains part on one of Nature’s most dramatic scenes.

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Crissy Field
This quiet stretch of shoreline is the gateway to San Francisco. Opened to the public in the spring of 2001, the West Bluff and East Beach picnic area offer bayside picnic tables. From Marina Boulevard, drive past Marina Green to the Presidio; bear right on to Mason Street. Not only is Crissy Field famed as a windsurfing site, it also offers some of the most remarkable views of the bridge, bay and city to be had. www.presidio.gov/explore/Pages/crissy-field.aspx

East Fort Baker
Just below the northern end of the Golden Gate Bridge and Vista Point lies East Fort Baker. This secluded recreation area with views of the bay is often sunny when the western park areas are fogged in.

Walk from the nearby Golden Gate Transit bus stop or drive down Bunker Road to East Fort Baker to find this treasure complete with a fishing pier, the innovative Bay Area Discovery Museum, historical brick fortifications of Battery Cavallo and concrete gun emplacements of Battery Yates.

The grassy parade grounds and coastal bluffs of East Fort Baker combine to make a protected picnic spot that is out of the wind, but still offers pristine fog bank views.

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The Best Ethical Travel Instagram Feeds

I’m a huge Instagram fan (follow me here if you like—the aerial shot of the Golden Gate Bridge below is one of mine). Most days, it seems like there’s no better format for travel inspiration.

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Travel is, for me, about really experiencing a place—especially its natural areas and unique plants, animals and insects. So obviously, I LOVE those travel Instagram feeds that reflect the natural beauty of out-of-the-way and well-known destinations.

Forthwith, some of my fave travel Instagrammers that celebrate the planet’s gorgeousness, from urban to wilderness:

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Eric Muhr is a fine-art photographer who takes his shots using natural light. He also runs Idaho Explored and Oregon Explored Instagram feeds and has an incredible eye for nature’s loveliness.

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The Lion and the Lady features photos from a duo dedicated to “roving about South Africa”; you might be surprised at the incredible beauty of this southernmost African country—I was.
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The Un-Cancun: Nizuc Resort and Spa Connects to Yucatan Peninsula’s Roots

Cancun is one of those places that I thought I might never make it to. Though I have an insatiable wanderlust, like Las Vegas, Cancun seemed like it just might not be for me, based on everything I’d heard over the years. And then I got a chance to stay at the Nizuc Resort and Spa (opened in 2013), located in Cancun, but away from the resort towers and well-known all-inclusives (and college-town spring breakathons). As the general manager told me, “We’re miles away from “Cancun” but yet in Cancun.”

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First, I now understand why Cancun has grown in size and popularity since the 1974 when it was designated an Integrally Planned Center by the Mexican government. The formerly tiny fishing village (now worldwide-known mega resort area) is in an absolutely gorgeous spot, with incredible Caribbean blue ocean (see my floating, above….that color!) and soft white sand beaches. But mostly the area is known more for its party-hearty atmosphere and chock-a-block hotel towers lined along the beach—but not at Nizuc Resort and Spa.

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That’s because Nizuc is located several miles away (and what feels like a totally different planet) from the main hotel strip in Cancun: Its private, quiet and altogether stunning location is no accident. It’s the former getaway residence for the Mexican President (like the United States’ Prez has Camp David for schmoozing outside of Washington, D.C.). The view above—over the adults-only infinity pool now—is approximately the same view as presidents of the country and their guests had from the original residence.

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So if you’ve ever wondered what it was like to live like a head of state, welcome to Nizuc Resort and Spa, where they take this idea pretty seriously, making me—and all the guests I spoke with during my four days there—feel very well taken care of. The incredible modern design you see in my images above and below will give you an idea of how the space looks, but it can’t really capture how it feels to walk the grounds and buildings here. (And I love that you feel and know you are in Mexico via innumerable small design touches—there’s nothing worse than being in a pretty-but-soulless resort and forgetting what country you are in.)

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Nizuc is a truly inside-out resort, meaning that all the common areas are open to the cool ocean breezes—and attention has been paid to where both light and air come from, so that almost wherever you stand (even while waiting for the elevator), you can enjoy a glimpse of blue ocean, creamy sand, or green jungle. That’s great design: Location-specific, celebratory of the natural environment, mindful of light—where it comes from and where it goes—and beautiful to look at too. Nizuc’s main building, where I stayed, had the feel of a soulful, intelligent mind behind it, someone who understands how delightful a breeze across your shoulders feels as you walk down the hallway to your room. Turns out its one of Mexico’s premiere architects, Alejandro Escudero.

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