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Grow Your Blog Social Media Giveaway

February 26, 2016
Grow Your Blog Social Media Giveaway

Social media is an integral part of any blog's growth. Without social media, it is very unlikely that you will grow at all, because who will even know about your blog? My friends and I have decided to help you out with your social media success. We are going to provide you with the tools that you need to succeed on every social media platform! That's why we've come together to offer you some great prizes.
  Grow Your Blog Social Media Giveaway Hostesses
First, an Apple iPad Mini 4 (in GOLD, of course), so that you can work and post on social media from anywhere you are. While sitting on your couch watching TV, while waiting in line at the post office, even while sitting by the pool! Having it all in one handy place will help you manage everything. Second, access to Helene in Between's Instagram for Success e-course! For those of you unfamiliar with Helene, suffice it to say that she is the social media master you've always wanted to learn from. And now is your chance! Thirdly (and lastly), a one-year subscription to Board Booster, which is basically the best tool ever for growing your Pinterest account.

Can you imagine the butt-kicking you'll do on social media with these prizes? So enter now and good luck!

Giveaway details:
  1. Although we're saving you time by not requiring you to give us your username at each entry, your entries will be verified before you can qualify to win! So be sure to give us your info in the "free entry".
  2. Board Booster subscription will come in the form of $60 cash, which will pay for 500 pin level for one year.
  3. Open to all entrants, including international. International winner will be given cash instead of iPad due to shipping.
  4. Total value of prize approximately $600.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Being Grateful in Unawatuna, Sri Lanka

February 24, 2016
I ABSOLUTELY loved Sri Lanka and my only regret about visiting was that I did not stay longer. Scott and I both would go back in a heartbeat and explore the North. Rachael also said that her time there was too short. While I wish I was that perfect traveler who embraces everything with open arms 100% of the time, I have to admit that on our first night in Sri Lanka, I was a bit tired from a long day of traveling and I experienced some minor annoyances. Ironically, most of what was a bit of a bother to me initially ended up being blessings in disguise. You can make anything negative if you let it get the best of you, so here's how we changed our thinking!

1) In the majority of the restaurants we tried, the service was extremely slow.

Like I said, on our first night in Sri Lanka, the three of us were sleepy after traveling all day. We just wanted to have a quick dinner, relax for a bit, and go to sleep. We placed our orders and about 45 minutes later, I was starting to get antsy and irritated. It took over an hour to get all that we had ordered. After another experience like that the following day, we soon realized that this was the norm in Unawatuna. Instead letting that get to us, we became prepared for it and quickly started to enjoy sitting at restaurants, relaxing, and chatting before we were served. Sometimes even at non-fast food restaurants I get that rushed feeling like the waiters want me to leave so that they can seat others in their section. I never felt like that in Sri Lanka and quite liked that we were able to lounge around for as long as we wanted. Plus, what's the hurry? Since we were on vacation, we didn't have a strict schedule to follow. Sometimes good food takes time to make. I'd rather have a cook do it right and end up with a delicious meal. Looking back, I miss those lazy meals in pleasant atmospheres with good company.

2) Many options were not available on the menu.

Our group often got told,"We don't have that. Or that. Or anything in this section." Being told we couldn't order what we wanted even though it was on the menu was something I had to adapt to because it ended up being a frequent occurrence. I am a pretty relaxed person about this kind of stuff, but after trying to order four times and being told no, I was frustrated that I had to have my fifth choice. On our second day in Sri Lanka, when I thought about it some more, I ended up being completely okay with it because I'd rather have a meal prepared with fresh ingredients. Most of the time when we were told a dish or drink wasn't available, it was because what we had ordered required certain ingredients that were not in season. We had to change our ordering tactic and would instead ask the waiter for his recommendations. It ended up paying off because the flavors were incredible...If you ever make it to Unawatuna and want to have a good Sri Lankan meal, please go to Pink Elephant and order the spicy chicken or spicy prawn curry. I learned to appreciate being told no because what I got served instead tasted divine. Rachael, Scott, and I all say that we did not have a single bad meal in Unawatuna, and I think that is directly related to the fact that we were not able to order anything we wanted on the menu.

3) Several locals did not arrive on time.

While being punctual is usually something I appreciate during my work week, I must say that I truly loved the stress-free feeling I got in Sri Lanka. We were told, "In Sri Lanka there is no clock." It felt freeing to me because with my day-to-day life I have to follow a strict schedule, so I took pleasure in losing track of time and just doing more or less what I wanted. Typically, if I am even five minutes late meeting someone, I get anxious. The laid back attitude in Sri Lanka worked to our advantage because I knew if we ended up being a few minutes late, it wouldn't even matter. I don't think we were even late to anything, but it was nice not having the worry of the ticking clock looming over us.

4) We were hot, sweaty messes all the time.

I am a priss that doesn't really like to sweat, and yes, I get made fun of for this. While traveling in a tropical climate sweating is just a given, and after awhile I just got used to it. I also felt better knowing that I could say sayonara to some toxins. Also, even though I usually wear makeup on a daily basis, it was a relief to not really bother with it all that much on our trip because there wasn't really much of a point in applying any. But back to sweating...Rachael and I even decided to hop into this contraption that was more or less an oven with a hole for our heads to stick out of at the top. I seriously have no idea what it was called, so if you can shed some light on this for me, please do. We "baked" in there for 25 minutes, and I sweat more than I ever did in my whole entire life. It was kind of disgusting, but I felt great afterwards and am glad I learned to embrace the sweat!

5) Haggling was recommended, which I was dreading.

There are those who love haggling, and then there's me. On past trips, haggling has turned into arguing and the sellers can get aggressive. Plus, I always feel uncomfortable because on one hand, I don't want to pay 10 times the price, but on the other side of the spectrum, I don't want to offer an insultingly low price. Amazingly, in Sri Lanka haggling was so relaxed. (Are we noticing a theme here? Relaxed, chill, laid-back, etc.) It seemed like most of the locals liked to talk about the price, and this sometimes led to other conversations. They almost always came from what they initially offered, too. The starting price was usually pretty reasonable, so it only took a few times going back and forth to get us a price that made us both happy. In the end, both parties involved felt good about the deal because they got business, and we got to save a bit of money.

Sometimes it pays to leave the "first world attitude" behind. It really only took one night of good rest to overcome my slight bout of crankiness, and then I was able to fully appreciate every moment in Sri Lanka, and I am beyond grateful for the time I got to spend there. Scott and I have been saying we missed it for the past two weeks.

What makes you a cranky traveler and how do you get over it? Would you ever want to visit Sri Lanka?

Leaving Thailand and Getting Back Into the Swing of Things

February 22, 2016
For Chinese New Year, I had a little over three weeks off, and it was everything that I hoped for! The Maldives was beyond incredible, Sri Lanka is a place that I know I'll be returning to, and Koh Tao was relaxing. I didn't even realize how much I needed a break until I was on vacation. Sadly, last week our time outside of China came to an end. 

Scott and I left our resort in Koh Tao at five in the morning and took the earliest ferry over to Ko Samui so that we could catch our flight to Pattaya. We had about a 15 hour layover, which we basically had to do to ourselves or else pay hundreds of extra dollars for a different flight. Scott wanted to just stay in the airport the whole time. I wanted to leave and get a hotel room so that we could take a nap and shower, but once we got to Pattaya, we both agreed to do an excursion instead. We hired a driver to take us out to The Sanctuary of Truth in order to kill some time. Even though we were dead tired by the end of the day, it's safe to say that both of us thought The Sanctuary of Truth was a worthwhile attraction to visit even though the admission price is a steep 500 baht. A rich businessman came up with the idea to construct The Sanctuary of Truth as a way to honor and promote Thai culture. It looks like an ancient temple, but construction started in the 1980's and it's still not finished being built. You are even required to wear a hard hat when touring this structure.

The wooden sculptures are intricate and detailed. Most of them are based on Hindu or Buddhist principles. The content reminded me a lot of what I saw in Angkor Wat.

The Sanctuary of Truth is located right by the water, and there are several restaurants on site. We were also encouraged to watch the cultural show at no extra cost. What was the most fun was that we just decided to do this on a whim and neither one of us had even heard of The Sanctuary of Truth before we landed in Pattaya.

We arrived back at the airport and waited in there for about 5 more hours before we could board for our flight back to Shanghai. Once we made it back, we were a little bummed out because the pollution was bad, we were exhausted from traveling, and the weather was cold, drab, and a little rainy. Everyone was telling us how nice the weather had been, so it really was a bummer to come back to that.

This past week, we had three days of orientation, which I found a bit strange because we already attended an orientation at the beginning of the year and our primary school did not get any new teachers. What I did like is that we got plenty of office hours and time to plan and prepare for the upcoming semester. I put the time to use and took down the students' old work, decorated both of my doors, and planned my lessons for the next two weeks. The students came back on Thursday, so we had a short week with them. 

Life has started to go back to normal here--on Monday I went out to Liquid Laundry for my dear friend's birthday, a group of us got pedicures/manicures and dinner at a kebab place one evening, I had a Netflix night with Scott, tried a new restaurant and bought a ton of new movies, and I got eat at some of my favorite local spots in the area. Even though my vacation being over was a downer, I have to admit that life in Shanghai is not that bad. :) 

Do you get the back to work blues after a big break? What do you do to pass the time when you have a long layover?

Blogging Goals for the Next 6 Months

February 17, 2016
I didn't think I would be able to blog at all during my break for Chinese New Years. In fact, I wasn't even going to bring my laptop on my trip, but I'm so glad that I did because the wifi at my resorts and guesthouses has been amazing! Keep in mind that I live in China and haven't had decent wifi since August. It feels so freeing to just go to the sites I want without a VPN, too. Anyway, today while Scott goes up to the pool and tans, my sunburn-prone self decided to stay behind and come up with blogging goals.

* Fix post signatures and make them match on each post. If I look back at old posts, I currently have 4 different signatures. I wish I could let it go, but it's really bugging me so I'm trying to go back in to each post and add in the code for my current signature so that everything is uniform. I tried to search easier ways to do this, but didn't have much luck. It's extremely time consuming, but it has to be done! (At least I say so, anyway!)

* Blog more consistently. Since moving to China, I've done better with blogging than I did last year in South Carolina. While I do have more time to blog, I get so furious with the bad internet at our school and in our apartments. It's really frustrating, but I've started to just save everything in Word documents since it's common for a whole post to vanish when I press save. I think I might not take on any after school tutoring jobs this semester so that I can just focus on my blog. The money for tutoring is pretty great, but I want to focus more time on my favorite hobby!

* Get a blog consultation. Rachael found a blogger in Shanghai that does blog consultations in person. I've always wanted a blog consultation and like the fact that I'd be able to meet her face-to-face so that I can just directly ask her all of my questions and get an answer then and there. I'm really looking forward to this and am hoping to set this up soon.

* Update my About Me section.  Ah, the dreaded About Me section. I don't know why it is so hard for me to stay on top of this, but every time I go to update this section I just cringe. Rachael thinks this is funny and offered to write my About Me section for me!! Ha ha! I'm going to have to bite the bullet and whip up something that doesn't make me want to crawl in a hole.

* Fix labels on older posts. I didn't always use labels on my blog, but once I found out how EASY it was to label a post, I've been doing much better with this. My older posts are not labeled at all, and I think it would be beneficial to go back through and add the labels in to beef up some of my categories.

* Work on travel page and link posts. My travel page is a work in progress, and it's getting closer to how I would like for it to look! I love the idea of having one organized space for all of my travel related posts. I tend to click on others' travel pages, so it's about time I keep up with my own.

* Develop a media kit. I feel like this will really help me get more sponsored opportunities. Plus, sometimes companies ask me questions that a media kit would potentially show the answer to. I think this is a good step towards a more professional looking blog!

* Co-host a giveaway. I can't even remember the last time I co-hosted a giveaway. It has been at least a year ago, possibly even two years. Rachael told me of an awesome one that Christine is organizing soon and I signed up. Super excited about this!

* Sponsor other blogs. Sponsoring the right blogs does help my traffic! Plus, it's kind of fun--who doesn't love a good old Twitter shout out? I only sponsored a few blogs last year because I knew I wasn't posting regularly. If I can start posting 2-3 times a week again, then I will look into this.

* Update Twitter and Facebook pages more often. Instagram is my favorite form of social media and I never really have trouble updating that account, but Twitter and Facebook are a bit weak. I've been trying harder, but these pages still aren't up to where I would like them to be.

* Try to connect with more Shanghai bloggers. I've already been lucky enough to meet Taylor, but wouldn't mind meeting up with other bloggers in the area. I've said before that I would like to make more friends that aren't connected with the school I work at, and this would be the perfect way to do it.

* Have a Blog Staycation with Rachael and pre-write posts. Just setting aside a weekend to work on our blogs could really help us accomplish many of our blogging goals. We are planning on getting a hotel room with good wifi and just writing away! We hope to be able to do this sometime in March.

* Apply to Shanghai Bloggers Network. Rachael is already a part of this and has encouraged me to join. I don't know why, but I feel really nervous to apply. I need to get over it and remind myself that I met so many great people through blogging and that this is another chance to possibly meet even more wonderful people.

* Delete old posts that aren't the best quality. There are some older posts on here that don't need to be up! One of my besties was going through my old posts and laughing hysterically. I did do a post about an alternative for peanut butter and jelly that was particularly bad. The sandwich didn't even look that appetizing from the photos. I was laughing along with my friend, but those types of posts need to vanish!!

* Edit old posts and add in affiliate links/pinnable images. I wish I would have known about making my photos look uniform in posts right away. Looking back, oh my gosh--what was I thinking? There are some large, high quality images mixed with ones that are super small. I need to try to salvage those posts by removing the smaller images and maybe replacing them with product photos/stock photos that are the appropriate size.

* Share posts more in Facebook blogging groups. This has been a good way to get others to see my latest posts, and it has also helped me discover new blogs to follow. It seems like the Facebook groups I used to be a part of are not that active/seeking new admin. Does anyone know of any great Facebook groups for lifestyle/travel bloggers?

What do you hope to change about your blog in the next six months?

What I Spent in a Day in Koh Tao, Thailand

February 15, 2016
"What I Spent in a Day" posts are always interesting to me because I like to see how others typically spend their cash. If I'm traveling to a particular area, posts like these also allow me to gauge how much I might spend when I eventually go. Yesterday, I decided to keep track of everything I spent on Koh Tao. Mind you, this is just a typical day and I didn't try to stick to a certain budget. Since Scott and I are nearing the end of our trip, we have been spending more time relaxing and shopping rather than going out and sightseeing.

One night's stay at Chintakiri Resort per person= $40 (USD) or 1,440 Thai baht

We probably looked at over 50 other places to stay, but Chintakiri was the first place we found that had everything we were looking for. We wanted to be away from Sairee Beach because we thought that area would be too crowded. After visiting Sairee Beach for the first time yesterday, we were both very relieved that we weren't staying there. It's just not our scene, but it seemed to appeal to many backpackers. We also wanted a place with a nice view and pool since we figured that we would be using our place to relax, and Chintakiri fit the bill. Our room has been cleaned every day--not the case with our accommodation in Sri Lanka, breakfast is included and we can order what we want from a variety of choices on the menu, we have a deck with a view of the water, and since it's up on a hill it's more secluded. To me paying a bit more to stay here was totally worth it!

Since breakfast was included with the price of our room, the first time I spent money yesterday was on lunch.

One small bottle of water, 1/2 order of vegetable spring rolls, and 1 tofu and vegetable coconut soup at Maruay Thai Food was  $3.61 or 130 baht

Handmade Anklets 2 for $2.78 or 100 baht While going to pick up our laundry, we passed a stand that had tons of anklets and bracelets for sale. Scott bought me an anklet on one of our previous trips and instead of friendship bracelets, we joked that we had friendship anklets. Since both of our anklets broke, I decided to buy us both new ones.

We did a little shopping after lunch at this cute shop near our resort. (The shop isn't named--at least there's no sign or I would have included it in this post.) I splurged a little and bought two pieces of jewelry, one for me and one for a friend.

One necklace and one bracelet for $34 or 1,220 baht That price was after haggling.

One hour foot massage for 300 baht plus 60 baht for a tip= $10 USD total

Scott and I wanted to get foot massages, so we went to a place called Family Thai Massage which got good reviews on Trip Advisor. I was a little scared to get a massage again because earlier in the week I had an awful Thai massage that severely messed up my back and left me with some major bruising. The women at Family Thai Massage looked horrified when I showed them my bruises and promised to be gentle. They were and even put medicine on all of my bruises for me!

We had to go to the Sairee Beach area to go into a dive shop because a girl at our school forgot her flash drive there and asked Scott to pick it up for her.

Taxi to Sairee Beach was 400 baht one way ($11.11 USD) from Chintakiri. Since I was with Scott, I split it, so I paid 200 baht to get there and 400 baht total since we also spent 400 baht to get back. On the way back they wanted us to pay 500 baht initially, but we told them no and started to walk away. We got flagged down 2 minutes later and got to pay 400. On our drive to Sairee Beach, a Thai man randomly fell off of his motorbike, directly in front of our taxi. Our driver swerved a bit and slammed on his brakes, but came really close to running him over--it was scary. The man that fell ended up being okay, thank goodness. Motorbike accidents are one of the top ways foreign tourists die on Koh Tao. (Think of drunk tourists driving home at night.) I can see why because that man fell for no apparent reason when the weather was perfect and when the road was in good condition/not curvy.

Coconut, chocolate, banana crepe=50 baht or $1.39 I needed a little snack while we were down in the Sairee Beach area and couldn't resist a crepe!

After checking out some of the shops in the area, we went for a stroll on the beach and watched the sunset. Then, we went to find some dinner at Hippo Bistro Burger.

1 Snickers shake and 1 classic burger at Hippo Burger Bistro= 300 baht or $8.33

Last but not least, I found a place that removed gel nails. I was so excited because I didn't have time to get a new manicure/get my gels taken off in China before I left. My nails were looking pretty bad. Since I didn't want to have to worry about gross looking nails the rest of the trip, I got them done again. I resisted trying them out in the first place because I didn't want to deal with the upkeep, but now I'm clearly addicted. I keep telling Scott "next time" will be my last set.

One set of gel nails (including removal of old ones) at Silver Sands was 700 baht or $19.44.

In the end, I spent a total of: $130.66 or 4,7034 baht. You can get by in Thailand for way less, but I don't consider myself a budget traveler anymore so I was okay spending this amount.

What kind of traveler are you?

The Maldives: Sun Island Resort

February 12, 2016

The Maldives is a country made up of over of thousands of islands, and it is famous around the world for honeymooners. Just because I'm single, I didn't want to let that stop me from visiting this paradise, so I booked a trip at Sun Island Resort located in the South Ari Atoll on Nalaguraidhoo island with two of my closest friends. I was a bit nervous that every other group at our resort would just be couples, but once I arrived, I didn't feel weird at all. As expected, there were honeymooners, but there were also just regular couples as well as many families.

Since our base was Shanghai, we didn't have to travel as far as we would have had to if we arranged this trip from the States. Even though we were already in Asia, we did still spend a full day traveling to the island. Rachael, Scott, and I joked with each other about how in order to get to our island, we had to take tons of different types of transportation including: a taxi, a tram and a bus in the airport, two regular planes and a sea plane, another bus, and finally a boat. It was an exhausting day of travel, but once we saw Sun Island Resort, it put smiles on our faces.  The welcome drink we got also didn't hurt!

Upon arrival, we were each given a card so that if we wanted to buy anything, we could simply show our cards and pay at the end. It was really handy and also nice not to have fumbled with cash. The prices were all listed in USD, and at the end we were allowed to split up our bill on three separate credit cards so we could all pay the different amounts we owed.

I had never stayed at a resort before, and truthfully I was scared that I would feel trapped with other tourists and wouldn't like it. I was also concerned that maybe the people at the resort would be pretentious, but it wasn't the case at all! Sun Island is the largest resort in the Maldives, but because it is the biggest, everything felt spread out and less crowded. In fact, most of the time there were just a few others on the beach by our water bungalows! When Scott and I went snorkeling, we were usually the only ones in the water. I couldn't believe it because I had traveled to beaches in Asia before and they were packed with other tourists. The water was crystal clear in the Maldives and there were some excellent areas for snorkeling, so I figured that there would be way more people. Luckily, I was wrong and I think going to the Maldives spoiled me for life because I don't know if I'll ever be able to enjoy a beach or swimming in the ocean as much as I did there!

To get to the ocean, all we had to do was walk down the flight of stairs attached to our private bungalow and hop right in! I thought we would have to be taken to specific spots to find good snorkeling areas, but Scott and I were able to see coral, schools of tropical fish, sea urchin, and sea snakes right in our "backyard."

We opted for half-board and got breakfast and dinner every day. It was a short walk from our bungalows, and it was buffet-style. We were glad to have so many options and LOVED the fresh fruit. Rachael and I also indulged on the cheeses since cheese is expensive and harder to come by in China. For breakfast they had two staff members making fresh pancakes, omelets, as well as bacon and sausage. At night, someone prepared pasta or stir fry just the way you wanted it. The staff there was really friendly and always tried to engage in personal conversations with us. They thought it was hilarious that we were living in China and even spoke in Chinese to us. I also got asked if I had a husband and then when I said no, they asked me why not, ha ha.

Since we decided not to include lunch as part of our package, we usually went to the cafe by the beach. One day we went to the organic restaurant called Zero and ate lunch in a tree house!

Besides the beach by our bungalows, we also went to the main beach by the cafe and also spent a few days relaxing and reading by the pool. Rachael and Scott are both big readers, and for the first time in a long time, I was able to concentrate on reading again. I finished Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman and started Pretty Girls, one of Rachael's recommendations.

We rented bikes to help us get around on the island, which saved us a lot of time. In our free time (let's face it though, our whole trip was "free time") we rode our bikes around the island, lounged on our deck, relaxed cafes, went on evening strolls, watched the shark feeding, and enjoyed the sunset.

The staff at Sun Island Resort really took care of us and even arranged transport to and from the island. As with many resorts, excursions can also be arranged upon request. For example, Rachael has her diving certification, so she went diving twice and even saw some sharks!

All three of us were thoroughly pleased with our time on the island and know that we had a memorable trip. Of course, we hope to be able to go back one day in the future, too.

How do you feel about resorts? Is the Maldives on your bucket list?

How I Lost 15 Pounds in China

February 10, 2016
Let me just preface this by saying that I don't weigh anywhere near the amount I would actually like to weigh and that I have struggled with weight pretty much my whole life. I do not have a good metabolism and staying at a "normal" weight has always been a challenge. With that being said, I have been able to lose fifteen pounds since moving to China in August. While I still have a long way to go, fifteen pounds is at least a start. Below is a list/reflection of why I think I lost some weight so far. 

* I live on the 5th floor of my apartment building. By the third floor, I'm always winded, and at that point usually Scott says something along the lines of, "We had better have calves of steel by the end of this year." Walking up and down five flights of stairs multiple times each day really adds up and forces me to get in exercise that I might not normally get. Also, I'm forgetful, so there have been many times in which I'll be outside of our building ready to meet a friend and realize that I don't have my sunglasses and/or camera and then I'll have walk back up to get them.

* Desserts don't tempt me as much. In the States, I would look forward to going out to eat just to get dessert at the end of the meal. In China, throughout the week I just eat at local restaurants by the school I work at. Those restaurants don't even serve any dessert, so I'm not able to order any, which is a good thing!

* I walk more than I did in the States on a day to day basis. Since I don't own a car motorized scooter, walking it is! I seriously don't mind unless it's super polluted that day. 

* Okay, I'm not saying this is a healthy way to lose weight, but the way many foreigners (myself included) have lost weight is through getting food poisoning. Scott and I have discovered that there are certain places we simply cannot eat at because getting sick is a guarantee. For me, I have to avoid this Muslim noodle shop by my school, but we never know when a meal or snack will not sit well with us.

* For lunch, we have to eat with our students and are given a free meal. While I do like that the meal costs me nothing, sometimes the food we are given does not taste the best, so I won't eat everything on my plate. 

* Since I'm on a schedule for my job, I have a routine for when I eat each meal. I'm usually pretty hungry when I finish working at 5, so I'll typically grab dinner at around 5:30. Eating an earlier dinner also seems to help out because I've found that eating later makes me gain.

* Grocery shopping is a bit annoying because we can only buy what we can carry. Even if we take a taxi, we are dropped off at the main gate and still have to carry our groceries across campus and for me, up five flights of stairs. When I go grocery shopping, I tend to just buy breakfast food and for that reason, I don't have a lot of snacks just sitting around in my apartment. The lack of readily available snack foods saves me because I don't mindlessly eat while watching Netflix which I've done in the past from time to time.

* The drinking culture is big in Shanghai, but I usually am good at limiting what I drink. Yes, sometimes I'll have a long night out, but those nights are pretty rare for me. Calories in my favorite drinks can add up quickly, and I'd rather just have food!

* This also isn't necessarily a positive one, but Chinese people have commented on my weight and appearance by saying I'm fat, and it got to me. Because of this, sometimes I'll reconsider whether or not I need to have the other half of a sandwich, etc. I know this is stupid, but their comments make me feel guilty so I'll eat less. 

While I don't have the perfect eating habits, I think I'm really improving. Chinese food tends to be quite oily, so that is also hard to get around. It's a little discouraging for me sometimes because Scott has lost almost 40 pounds and we do almost everything together/live a very similar lifestyle, but it is A LOT harder for me to lose weight. I've asked him what he thinks I'm doing wrong and he said nothing and that it's just harder for girls in general. Anyway, I have been able to lose some weight, so I'm going to try to focus on the positive and just keep working at it.

How have you struggled to stay healthy? What are some of your best tips?

Traveling I Nevers

February 8, 2016
I thought about writing the standard "Never Have I Ever" post, but once I realized that most of what I'd stated was travel related, I decided to just scrap it and make this whole list revolve around travel. Why not, right? 

* Knock on wood, but I've never gotten pick pocketed while traveling. Hopefully I did not just jinx myself!

* I've never stayed on a resort until this January when I went to the Maldives.

* I have never been on a cruise. I've been on plenty of boats and have even slept in a private room on some overnight ferries, but none of these were actual cruises.

* South America and Antarctica are two continents I've never gone to. I haven't even made it to Central America yet...not even Mexico which shocks most of my friends since that is a popular destination for so many Americans.

* Although I did go parasailing and paragliding while traveling, I have not gone skydiving and bungee jumping and don't think I ever want to! I've also never been zip-lining or white water rafting, but I'd like to do those in Costa Rica one day.

* I've never camped in the USA, my home country. I have camped in Canada and slept in a swag in Australia, but for some reason I just never did in the States.

* I've never driven a car in another country besides in the USA, Canada, and in Italy. Part of this is because my cars have always been automatic, so I never learned how to drive stick shift. One of my goals is to eventually learn how since in some countries automatic cars are harder to come by.

* There are some modes of transportation I've never taken such as a dog sled, a felucca, or a Peruvian reed boat. Also, I have always wanted to do a hot air balloon ride, so maybe one day soon...

* I've never watched a soccer game in Europe. Although I'm not really that into sports, I would like to go for the experience!

* I haven't eaten dog, whale, horse, turtle, live octopus, or any type of insect. I used to be vegetarian and am easily grossed over meat.

* Surfing and diving are two outdoor activities I have not tried. When I was a kid I could swim well, but as a young adult, I quit going to the pool, so now I don't feel as comfortable in the water. I'd like to become a stronger swimmer before attempting either of these.

What are some of your traveling I Nevers?

Instagram Hashtags to Use When You Travel

February 1, 2016
I've been trying harder these days to improve my Instagram feed and to get more engagement from other users, so I started adding extra hashtags after my comments. Since I'm currently exploring Sri Lanka, I wanted to find more hashtags related to travel. After some searching, I discovered some new hashtags to use and have added them to a list of ones I've already been using. I figured it might be useful to share the list with you, so I hope you find it helpful! Some of the hashtags aren't exclusively for travel (#nofilter, #lifeiscolorful,) but I'm sure you can see why they fit in.

#traveler (or #traveller)

Of course, these hashtags are only the tip of the iceberg, and most of them are pretty broad categories. When I travel, I do also like to hashtag the country, city, or region I'm in. Right now, it would be: #srilanka #yalanationalpark.

Another idea would be to hashtag what you're doing or seeing. Examples: #sunset #packing #flying #sightseeing

I thought this would be a good time to mention that Rachael @ The Rachael Way and I started our own travel related hashtag: #theadventurousway. Get it? It's a mix of our blog names, but we would love it if you would use our hashtag anytime you do anything adventurous! Of course that includes traveling, but even if you explore your own city or try a new food, feel free to use it.

What hashtags do you like to use when you travel?