Lessons learned from traveling

Vacation in Puerto Rico

My Puerto Rico trip involved a simple game introduced to us by my friend Jess, called "Highlight, Lowlight, Lesson learned" – and it was as much of a bonding experience as it was fun. Throughout our dinners, we would reflect on our individual best times, worst times, and the lessons we'd recently acknowledged from our Puerto Rican excursions.

I'm deeply grateful that at this stage in my life I continue to surround myself with intelligent, charismatic and beautiful women – they are my Wikipedia, my vodka, my Dr. Phil and much more. Their wisdom has answered more of my questions than google.com. On our final vacation dinner, we were planning to name our highlight, lowlight and lesson learned from the entire trip. Instead, we opted for hotel robes, beds, room service and some early shut eye.

So here, as a souvenir for myself, I'd like to note mine while it's fresh.

Highlight: Our 6-course dinner at Fern, by Jean-Georges. You can read my review here. Undeniably a lovely and hilarious time. 

Lowlight: We made the mistake of not making any real plans for New Years Eve (oops!) and couldn't get in anywhere!!
We finally ended up getting a table at Meat Market in El San Juan Hotel, but for a while there we thought we'd be bringing in 2015 in a cab. *Phew*

Lesson Learned: The word "bread" is a great way to remember dinner etiquette. If you form a "b" with your left hand (Index and thumb touch to form a circle, other fingers stick straight up) and a "d" with your right hand (Index and thumb form a circle, other fingers stick straight up) – it's easy to remember that "b"read is always on the left and "d"rinks are always on the right.

Puerto Rico Color

My past vacations have almost always resulted in one tragic mistake: not applying enough sunscreen. With an Irish heritage, I have always been on the light-skinned side. Too often, I pushed my limits and came home red as a lobster. Not to mention I've highly increased my chances of getting skin cancer. As I've grown a bit older and wiser, I've become an avid sunscreen re-applier and skin paranoia enthusiast. Instead of making repeat mistakes, I've been looking after my skin like I would a family member. On my recent vacation to Puerto Rico, I partook in vacation activities with my skin's interest in mind. I did get some color, but mostly through the bold visuals on the streets of Old San Juan. Here are some tactics and a favorite product of mine to aid you through those tempting sunny days. Mostly common knowledge, but also a nice reminder.

1. Sunscreen, duh. I love Blue Lizard sunscreen because of how smooth it feels on my skin, and it also acts as a brightener (at least I think so). It contains Zinc Oxide - the stuff that saves your skin from UVA rays (aging rays), and not just from burning. Only look for products that contain Zinc Oxide, Titanium Dioxide, Stabilized avobenzone, or Mexoryl RX – these are the ingredients that will provide UVA protection, according to Jessica Wu's Feed your Face.

2. Black Tea Therapy. If you do get a really bad burn that causes swelling, take an ibuprofen to bring it down. Slather as much aloe vera as you can and stay out of the sun! You can also try a DIY trick that has helped me in the past: Buy black tea bags, soak 3 of them in lukewarm water. Soak a soft towel in the black tea water and pat the towel on your burn. Allow your skin to absorb it. Repeat. It can help reduce redness and minimize pain. You can pick up the tea bags at Walgreens for five dollars, Tazo black tea works as well. And then hey, bonus – tea to drink later.

3. Hats off to Hats. Wear a big hat, like this one!  Or this one! The shade from the hat will cover your face, as well as provide sun protection so that you aren't left with a sunburned scalp, that causes skin to peel in your hair. Who wants to be the girl with the dandruff, anyway? Yikes.

4. Watch your back. If you go snorkeling, be wary of your back getting burned. Just because you are under water doesn't mean you're safe. Water's reflectiveness can boost UV rays. Apply a waterproof, high sunblock liberally all over. If you can, wear a rash guard shirt for serious protection.

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What to wear in Puerto Rico
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What to wear on vacation

Walked into Forever 21 right before my trip to be greeted with a huge sale rack of summer
clothing in the dead of winter. I'm not a crop top/bustier kinda girl – but for 4.99? Sure, why not. 
Don't mind if I do...
Similar skirt / Crop top