How To Stay Healthy On Spring Break

mezcalWhether you’re a beach-bound college student or a middle-aged couple headed to the Rockies for some end-of-season snow, spring break presents the same health risks every year. Fortunately, they’re all easily preventable by using common sense and following a few basic rules.

This year, here’s hoping your only souvenirs are great photos and even better memories.

Hangover helpers
You could just watch your alcohol consumption, or try drinking a glass of water in between drinks, but I hear you laughing. Try to maintain, especially if you’re in a foreign country, traveling alone or at altitude. If I wake up with a hangover that not even a truckload of Tylenol can cure (it’s also not good for your liver when taken in combination with booze), I swear by coconut water, which is loaded with electrolytes. Don’t forget to consume regular water, as well, and get something in your stomach that’s full of complex carbs and protein, not grease (sorry).

Adjust for altitude
Regardless of your physical condition, altitude sickness can strike anyone. Give yourself a couple of days to acclimate, hydrate frequently and take ibuprofen, aspirin or even Diamox if you’re really feeling bad. Watch your alcohol consumption! One drink has the effect of two (see above if you ignore this advice).

Prevent food- or waterborne illness
Far be it from me to tell anyone to avoid street food, unless they have a compromised immune system, or are very old or young. You can safely enjoy street eats in foreign countries, as long as you know what to look for. If a stall or vendor doesn’t have a line, or their sanitation practices are poor, give it a miss; the same rule applies to restaurants (just because gringos flock there doesn’t mean it’s safe). As for water, I avoid ice cubes in rural areas and from street vendors, and always check bottled water in developing nations to make sure the seal isn’t broken. Don’t forget to travel with Imodium, because nothing is ever foolproof.

Save your skin
Yes, you need to wear sunscreen, even if it’s cloudy, rainy or snowing, and you need to reapply it thoroughly every two hours. Wear a minimum SPF 30 broad spectrum product. Ask your dermatologist for referrals; not all brands are created equal.

Be self-aware
Being drunk n’ sloppy is never attractive, but it can also be downright dangerous. Know your limit, stick with you friends if you’re not traveling solo, and if you (ahem) get separated, maintain phone contact, let them know where you are and who you’re with, and when they can expect you back. We’ve all had a spring fling, but safety should always come first.

[Photo credit: Flickr user dbrekke]@

Gunnison’s Wanderlust Hostel Offers $35 Crested Butte Lift Tickets

skiingWhile I was enjoying a few days of Nordic (read: free) activities in Crested Butte last week, a local let me in on a secret. “You can get deals on lift tickets everywhere. You just need to know where to look.” And then she passed on some intel to me.

In that spirit, I’d like to present to you what is perhaps the most insane ski deal I’ve ever come across. Gunnison’s groovy Wanderlust Hostel is offering up $35 lift tickets with a one-night stay.

Located just 30 miles down-valley from Crested Butte, Gunnison is still very much the old-school ranching community it’s always been. Sure, they have a coffee house and some good restaurants now, but it’s still rural Colorado, albeit just outside one of the state’s most enchanting and authentic ski towns.

Wanderlust, which is owned by outdoor guide Amy Stevens and her cat Porkchop (don’t laugh; he’s kind of a badass, and even has his own blog), is the anti-hosteler’s hostel. It’s spotless, homey, peaceful, full of funky style, and caters to outdoorsy folks of all ages (for photos, click here). If the pursuit of powder (or, in summer, slab climbing, fly-fishing, trail-riding, or mountain biking) is more important to you than thread-count, you’ll appreciate Wanderlust.

There are private and shared rooms starting at just $23/night, and a family room that sleeps up to six. You can spend your time off the slopes curled up next to the fireplace, or cooking in the spacious hostel kitchen. No car? There’s a free shuttle to Crested Butte running eight times a day, just a half-block away.

[Photo credit: Tom Stillo]

Gadling Gear Review: Solid Moisturizer From SkinFare

Can I get a show of hands from people who are still irritated by the need to game their packing to deal with the TSA’s three-ounce requirements? I thought so. There are still a lot of us out there. I’m both aggravated and pleased that there are new brands making solid cosmetics that I can get past the screeners. There’s a new-to-me brand out there called SkinFare; they’re making solid moisturizer sticks that give you more room for shampoo and sunscreen in your carry-on luggage.

There are a bunch of things I like about this product line. The moisturizers smell delicious – there are five different scents and one is sure to work for you. They come in recyclable cardboard packaging so there’s no plastic to throw away (take that, tiny hotel bottles of shampoo!). The moisturizer itself is made from organic stuff so you’re not putting toxic chemistry on your skin. It’s all good stuff. And yes, travel friendly, so you can carry a stick on the plane and use it as an all purpose moisturizer in the dry zone at 20,000 feet.

I find the product itself a little heavy, a little waxy, on application. I really like it as a lip balm or for my chapped and/or sunburned nose. But it doesn’t quite work for me – your mileage may vary – as an overall skin moisturizer. It’s easy enough to apply, you just rub it on your skin., but I want it to melt a little bit more on contact so it gets absorbed.

It’s worth a try, though. Everyone has different skin, so it might work really well for you. And I find that while it doesn’t suit my needs as an overall moisturizer, I’m putting the little container in my coat pocket instead of Carmex, and using it on my face and hands where I don’t have anything else on hand. And it’s perfect for on the plane – not just because of the solid product, but because the refreshing natural scents are nice for clearing that airplane funk out of your head.

SkinFare is $9.99 per stick. Give it a try or get some for your nearest traveler.

[Image by SkinFare]

Five conflicting British skin care tips for winter

Okay, spend less time in the shower … but keep your skin moist. And, stay dry. It’s confusing stuff, right? Well, we’re all used to getting conflicting advice, from employers to religious authorities. So, how do you use it? The best way is to pick and choose what’s most convenient, I’ve found, and just accept the consequences when they (inevitably) come.

Well, winter is around the corner – you’ve probably noticed the air getting a little crisper. It’s always a good idea to think ahead, especially if you want to protect your skin from the cruel cold in the coming weeks and months. I stumbled across the following tips in The Sun, and if you can make sense of them, you’ll be all set when the cold wind starts to blow.

1. Manage your temperature: this shouldn’t be too hard, you know, in winter. Make the inside more like the outside by keeping the heat down. Apparently, this will keep your skin from drying out. If you start to shiver, put on a sweater (or sweatshirt … or smoking jacket).2. Stay stinky: if you smell, you’re doing well. Spend less time in the shower, and don’t allow yourself to enjoy the decadence of hot water. Of course, athletes and laborers can shower as much as they want, along with anyone else who sweats like a pig. The Sun suggests: “shower or bathe every other day and spot-wash trouble-spots such as armpits, hands, feet and face.”

3. But, make sure you stay wet: and this is where the fun begins. Keep the temperature down to stay moist (1), and avoid water by not showering (2). Now, The Sun says, “Keep skin moist.” Check this out:

Try Vaseline Intensive Care’s DermaCare lotion (£2.79 for 200ml). Boots’ skincare adviser Steve Barton says: “Slather it on after a bath or shower, preferably before your skin has dried out entirely, so it can trap moisture in.”

4. Wear protection: if you work with detergents a lot (e.g., dishwasher), you again want to avoid the stuff. Throw on some gloves.

5. Keep the water inside you … and stay dry on the outside: it’s important to stay hydrated. So, even though you want to be moist and dry at the same time, don’t forget to put some fluids inside you. On the outside, particularly your clothing, do your best to keep the water away.

[photo by joshjanssen via Flickr]

Summer travel: how not to sizzle your skin

The good folks at CNN have released a helpful guide and accompanying photo gallery horror show of solar ray-blasted epidermis. In “5 ways to avoid getting deep-fried,” you’ll find dermatologist’s tips to protect your sun from UVA/UVB damage, skin cancer detection links, and entertaining anecdotes of CNN reporters’ worst sunburns/precursors to melanoma.

I love the sun as much as most holiday-makers, but years of basting myself in baby oil, combined with the onset of crow’s feet in my early twenties and my mother’s own ongoing struggle with basal and squamous cell carcinomas have turned me into the Queen of Sunscreen. While my friends still mock me, and a former farmers market employer once remarked, “I can always tell when you’ve been hugging my dog, because he smells like sunscreen!” I feel vindicated because at 41, I look a good ten years younger, and have yet to develop my first pre-cancerous lesion. I get an annual screening at my dermatologist, and religiously apply a minimum of SPF 30 UVA/UVB sunblock over all exposed body parts (please remember the back of your neck, hands, ears, and knees, and tops of your feet).

Gadling has a more detailed explanation of what the heck all this SPF stuff means, and a guide to choosing sunglasses that do more than just look hip. I also wear, and heartily endorse (unpaid, of course) the sun protective clothing by ExOfficio, and sun protective hats by Outdoor Research. Sounds wacky, but these items are constructed with UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) textiles that, while not a substitute for sunblock, provide a great dual-defense system. They’re also attractive, and incredibly versatile and travel-friendly. Don’t hide from the sun this holiday weekend; just take precautions, have fun, and think of all the money you’ll save by not requiring reconstructive surgery and Botox.

(Image credit: Flickr/Saspotato)