The real deal behind who goes where

The average air travel destination for the U.S.?  Canada, or as Quartz put it, ‘ in the middle of  a Québécois forest.’  And France?  Well, it’s France (…unsurprisingly).

Quartz calculated the average point of origin and destination for every country in the world, using the database OpenFlights.  The results illustrate how countries contribute to the ‘balance of global air travel.’  The average destination reveals a nation’s ‘migratory bias, nearby tourist attractions and the countries with which it does business.’  Cool.

‘Sense of Place’: seeing the world’s inexplicable beauty through travel

Travel is a faithful reminder that natural, unadulterated magnificence exists everywhere.

National Geographic is a master in the art of travel photography.  From every corner of the earth, each shot is taken at the perfect moment.  These untouched, exquisite photographs are here to make you smile.  Click me to see the rest Nat Geo’s gallery Sense of Place.

Kauai, Hawaii

Agra, India

Agra, India

Mount Bromo, Java, Indonesia

Canyon, Arizona

Elean Donan Castle, Scotland

Lake Bogoria, Kenya

Lake Bogoria, Kenya

Puerto Iguazú, Misiones, Argentina

Puerto Iguazú, Misiones, Argentina

Helena, Montana

Helena, Montana

Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania

Milky Way, Arizona

The ethos of rural South Africa

Meet Mama Tofu, a South African legend and Xhosa tribe matriarch. A sagacious leader of Xhosa tradition, Mama Tofu offers lessons of time-honored wisdom and love.

At 93 years of age, the blue-eyed Mama Tofu counsels 20 some-odd girls (many of them are her grandchildren and great-grandchildren) who live with her in a small village called Ngxingxolo, near East London. She advises them on how to find husbands and how to be a good wife, all with a wink and a dash of irreverent humor.

Mama Tofu is a storyteller. Her life as a cultural luminary has been chronicled and celebrated by many famous publications over the years. She survived all of the stark political changes in South Africa; most notably, the beginning and the end of Apartheid.

The Xhosas are known for their special language of “clicks,” a phenomenal and rare form of tongue clicking communication (which is also called Xhosa) found in remote villages in South Africa. It’s an amazing thing to watch and hear, and the language is a dying craft.

In Xhosa tradition, a family’s wealth is measured by how many cows they have. The prospective husband’s family must pay a “lobola” (a lobola is a South African term for a set payment to the future bride’s family, and the method of payment varies per family, per tribe) in the form of 10 or so cows, says Mama Tofu.

She made it very clear that the woman should know his clan, where he’s from and confirm that he “definitely has a job.” Ha. There’s nothing quite like love lessons from Mama.

The girls shown below are performing a dance for us as we leave their village. I was honestly so impressed; they have a completely natural sense of rhythm.

And…this is why I love travel.

Unplug and ‘pause’ in the Moroccan desert

A mere 28km (17m) from the busy city center of Marrakech, Morocco, find La Pause: an off-the-grid starry sanctum in the middle of the desert with 360° views of the rolling Agafay Hills.

This is a hotel with a mission. La Pause, i.e. ‘to pause’ in French, is a place to disconnect, mentally and literally. You won’t have any wi-fi, cell service or any electricity here. It’s desert, mountains, stars, and minimalistic luxury.

lapause-marrakech.com

La Pause is a place to shut off your mind. As part of the effort to maintain a restful environment, guests have hardly any decisions to make during their stay, not even when it comes to dining; there are no menus provided for meals, and every dish brought to the table is a surprise. There’s only one place to eat, one swimming pool, and no spa.

Candelabras and tea lights lit at night provide just the right level of illumination. While the indoors may be a bit dark at certain times during the day, the rooms stay dry and cool. Suites are spacious and romantically styled, and the beds are a heavenly place to fall into at night.Trees and cushy lounge chairs surround the no-frills pool, creating a very natural, woodsy feel and a pleasing environment.

There’s no place like the desert for stargazing.

Without electricity, there’s an overwhelming sense of peace. Detachment from the outside world allows for isolated relaxation. It is impossible to engage in commotion or noise. The beauty of La Pause is in its simplicity: there is no opportunity for distraction.

Hot, bright, dry desert by day and stunningly starry at night. It’s pretty close to perfect.

A gem of the earth, quite literally

I picked this up in Santa Fe, NM, a city that is arguably the jewelry capital of the American southwest.
The ring is silver and holds a rare turquoise stone.  I’ve never seen a turquoise stone so unique in color or formation.  It’s an antique, circa 1920, and it totally looks like earth from above.

‘Style Ethics’ as a lifestyle

Lifestyle.

When I think about style ethics, I think of a lifestyle change.  Ethical fashion is not an ‘eco’ agenda; it’s shift in the mindset of the consumer. 

Rather than perceiving the movement exclusively as a way to feel righteous about your purchases, ethical fashion is really more of a conscious decision to care about the origin of your possessions: who made this, were they fairly compensated, and what was destroyed to create it?  Every small step in the right direction counts and contributes to the beginning of something incredible…

Vogue, JUNE 2013

Vogue, JUNE 2013

Here’s a little ‘Style Ethics’ and inspiration, via Vogue:

“Few things in life rival the tranquil serenity of spending a summer’s day perched on the sun-drenched dunes of an uncrowded (and Wi-Fi free) beach.  But in an age of rising sea levels and diminishing shorelines, it’s time to think twice about leaving carbon footprints in the sand.  Luckily, there’s peace of mind to be found in this season’s new wave of eco-friendly offerings – like a Rosel 100 percent-organic cotton-crochet carryall that’s fair trade – made by Peruvian artisans, and a pair of bamboo sunglasses from Panda, a buy-one/give-one line that provides prescription lenses to people in need.”

“An awning-striped sling chair by Gallant & Jones rests upon a frame that’s culled from responsibly harvested North American white oak and stained with natural UV-resistant oil (and for each chair sold, a tree is planted), while the Japanese Kakishibu-inspired fabric in Faherty Brand‘s string bikini is repurposed from recycled plastic soda bottles.  So grab a straw hat, a good book, and some sunscreen – and relax.” – Lindsay Talbot, via Vogue, JUNE 2013

Embrace all the ways to change for the better.

Walking a path in early spring

This is the path to my room at Azzaden Trekking Lodge in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco, an ecolodge that overlooks the snow-capped peaks of the Toubkal Massif mountain range.  I like that you can see the brown branches just beginning to sprout white flowers.

I will admit that the roosters woke me up earlier than anticipated and that my sleep was interrupted numerous times by the sounds of the outdoors.  But…rustic luxury? Solar powered, heated bathroom floors?  “Solitude in a dramatic location?”…yes please.

Packing tips from style experts

People are usually shocked when I tell them that I always carry-on. I actually can’t even remember the last time I checked a bag; it basically never happens.

My Hartmann Stratum 22′ Expandable Mobile Traveler Suitcase

Being a great packer starts with having a great suitcase. I travel with a navy blue and black Hartmann Stratum 22″ Expandable Mobile Traveler and I contend that my ability to pack a different dress for every day, night and then some is because of the suitcase’s genius design. The top flap opens up into a garment bag, which then folds back into a very spacious, 2″ compartment; I hang up all my dresses and several t-shirts in the expandable garment bag and pack the rest in the bottom part of the suitcase. Not only do I never wear the same thing twice and always have different clothing options, I also have room to buy fun and pretty things while abroad. ;) The 2″ compartment really comes in handy, too – I usually pack gifts and other trinkets in there.

In this month’s issue of Harper’s Bazaar, three stylish travelers share their ‘travel techniques’ along with what to pack and where to go. The best tip? No crazy, last-minute “I may need this” additions! Click each image to expand.

I also love this Givenchy aviation-inspired watch from this month’s issue of Vogue. The weirdest thing about it is that 17 – the name of the model and the designer’s lucky number – is my lucky number, too. Green and 17!? So cool. It’s a great watch to travel with because while it may be expensive, it’s not at all flashy.