How To Stay Safe While Traveling: A Woman’s Guide To Not Getting Mugged, Attacked, Or Murdered While On The Go

If you like your summer reading with a side of rage, may I recommend my new thriller, We Were Never Here, out August 3. It’s about two globe-trotting best friends who kill a backpacker in self-defense and then flee the country, and I wrote it fueled by fury at how every woman who has the audacity to explore the world gets pelted, The Lottery-style, with variations of, “you in danger, girl.” Young men have always had the ability to strap on a backpack and travel the world (my dad did so in the ’70s; didn’t yours?). But for women, the messaging is: Watch your back. Avoid entire swaths of the globe. 

And hey, at long last, international travel isn’t just something you can read and daydream about—it’s back on the horizon! However, much like smiling, not smiling, being friendly, being a bitch, wearing tight clothes, looking dumpy, and existing with a female form, travel is an activity that’s not without risks. To avoid the pesky assaults, robberies, druggings, and homicides that inevitably come along with having the nerve to step on a plane, heed the following tips. Happy travels! 

First, it’s your job to avoid being assaulted on the plane. However, self-defense tools such as tasers and mace are not allowed in the cabin. Therefore, experts recommend investing in an iron-clad chastity belt for the duration of the flight. We hear Spanx is working on one that will—bonus!—shrink your thighs. 

Don’t tell anyone you’re going on vacation, or else they’ll invade your home while you’re away. Also: Don’t not tell anyone you’re going on vacation, lest a well-intentioned friend think you’ve been murdered and call for a welfare check, draining valuable police resources. (Karens are the reason police departments don’t have the funds for deescalation training, that’s a fact.) Don’t tell anyone where you’re going once you get to your destination, either, or they may be tempted to follow you there and stalk you on the property. If a border patrol agent asks for your destination, just get really moony-eyed and say, “Hot Girl Summer 2021!” They love that.  

After you check into a hotel, assess the room for security risks. Pack a small rubber door-stop to cram beneath your hotel room door, and be on the lookout for a long metal hook-shaped wire masquerading as the Babadook’s finger protruding under the door to open your doorknob. Rewatch the final third of Home Alone for tips on how to both booby trap the entrance and give the false impression your room is filled with people (men) who could pound any intruder to a pulp—it’s generally accepted that male companions can decide whether or not their female friend gets harassed, and when men say no, no means no. Ensure all booby trap materials are TSA-compliant. If you don’t have time to build and install booby traps, try shouting, “I have a boyfriend!”

Observe how male travelers navigate your destination. Do they let their phones and wallets hang temptingly from their hands? Do they speak to strangers? Do they hail cabs on the street? Doesn’t matter. Go back to your room.

Wear a T-shirt with a slogan such as, “Bill Gates Can’t Shoot Me Up!” with a cartoon vaccine on it. If a possible attacker gets within six feet, cough in his general direction. Do not cover your mouth. 

(Remember, anyone you encounter, much like the post-transformation Hulk or that boy at the desk behind you in seventh grade who couldn’t stop snapping your bra, is a possible attacker who’ll be powerless to control himself if he enters your bubble. ACT ACCORDINGLY.) 

Don’t drink anything you haven’t seen made. Don’t eat anything you haven’t seen prepared. Your best bet is staying in the hotel and ordering room service.

Oh my God, don’t order room service, you idiot! Inviting a complete stranger into your room just because he’s holding a tray of food covered in silver domes? What are you, asking for it? 

In fact, don’t eat or drink anything until you get home. (Honestly, you could use the break, Ms. Post-Pandemic Pants. But don’t dwell on it—that’s vain.)

Speaking of sweatpants: Tight or revealing clothing will inevitably invite unwanted attention. But also, don’t wear loose or long clothing that’s easier for would-be kidnappers to grab. Of course, floppy, shapeless clothes also invites unsuspecting, helpless, hapless local men to imagine what’s underneath. Maybe you can explore the destination and see the sites without your body? They’re doing some amazing things on Zoom these days.

Assume that something will happen to you during your vacation, and really, it’s better for everyone if you just stay home and watch Bravo.

Image: BONNINSTUDIO / Stocksy.com

7 Ways To Make Your Labor Day Getaway As Safe As Possible

Summer is slipping away before our very eyes, and we’re left wondering if it was ever here at all. It’s safe to say summer 2020 has not gone as planned considering Americans basically can’t leave the country, masks have replaced bikinis as the season’s must-have item, and the most exciting thing to happen in August was Michelle Obama giving us this year’s mantra: “It is what it is.”

Luckily, there’s still one last opportunity for a blowout this season: Labor Day weekend. And by blowout, we mean maybe drinking too much alcohol and getting too much sun with a couple of friends from your bubble. LDW is the perfect time to enjoy the beach or the mountains and celebrate that we’ve made it through eight months of this dumpster fire that is 2020. There are plenty of viable options from road trips to staycations, or even your regular park hangs. If your European vacation was canceled this summer, don’t worry, you can still find overpriced hotels and cheap wine in America.

Here’s how you can plan a Labor Day weekend vacation that isn’t lame, but also keeps your stress levels at bay, and is as safe as possible—because no one needs a repeat of Memorial Day weekend and its resulting COVID hot spots.

People Suck, Just Avoid Them

 

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raise your hand if you’ve spent your entire summer in your backyard // credit/permission @emgrebs

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Honestly, being antisocial is my preferred vibe even without a pandemic, so I’m here to tell you to avoid crowded vacation spots that are sure to be packed with people. Nothing spoils a good tequila buzz like screaming children or a million people in your vicinity germing it up, anyway. On the upside, Labor Day tends to be the less busy long weekend of the summer compared to Memorial Day. Still, that doesn’t mean you should flock to a packed vacation spot or high-risk social gathering (*side eyes those huge parties in the Hamptons where nobody is distancing*). Instead, opt for lesser-known destinations with a small group, and be sure to plan outdoor activities. Think wine tastings, picnics, or just drinking bottomless rosé by a private pool.

Do Your Research. What, Like It’s Hard?

Look up the number of cases, quarantine restrictions, and mask requirements for that state, and stay up to date on the CDC’s travel guidelines. Google now has a handy feature that allows you to type in any destination at google.com/travel, and to find key details including the percentage of available hotel rooms and flights operating the route, plus travel advisory info and cases. Don’t take a chance and just show up somewhere like a bunch of uninvited frat bros who heard there was a party with girls and a keg—the information is out there, so use it.

Find Accommodations That Are Actually Accommodating

Choosing an accommodation that has implemented meaningful precautions is key. It’s not March anymore—hotels and resorts have had six months to figure out how to accommodate social distancing, and thankfully, many are doing it well. Do your research to find places that have gone beyond sending out an email regarding these ~unprecedented times~ and are going the extra mile to keep guests safe. From private pantries and grocery delivery to personal plunge pools, an in-room bar, and distanced activities, it’s not difficult to find a hotel that will keep you entertained while isolated.

Another way to stay safe is to book an Airbnb that has contactless check-in and good ratings for cleanliness. With so many options like Airbnb Plus for luxury stays or homes set up for long-term getaways, you can find your perfect escape from the city. Also, a word to the wise: the farther away your accommodation is from other people, the louder you can blast “WAP” and learn the dance for your latest TikTok.

Shut Up And Drive

 

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when you hear somewhere outside the US is actually letting Americans in. JK we’re too scared to leave the country

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We get it, you have a million miles from flying for work and you couldn’t possibly survive without TSA PreCheck. Well, it’s basically useless now because just like those international flights, we’re grounded. The solution? Drive rather than fly this Labor Day weekend, as you have much more control over your environment in a car. If you rent a vehicle, be sure to sanitize the inside and try to make as few stops as possible. Who knew 2020 would be the year of the road trip and that we’d see a serious surge in the RV business? Pre-COVID, we definitely thought RVs were reserved for suburban families in the midwest making their annual trip to Mount Rushmore, but booking an RV can actually be cute and worthy of your Instagram grid, not to mention a safer option than flying.

Pack The New Essentials

 

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Ugh what we wouldn’t give to be last minute packing before a holiday weekend 😭

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You know, the germophobe kit that would make you a weird Howie Mandel wannabe a year ago that is now the standard? Regardless of where you’re heading for the long weekend, be sure to come prepared. Pack a coronavirus safety bag with masks, sanitizer, and wipes so that you can clean your travel area or any surfaces upon arrival. “Wallet. Phone. Keys. Mask. Wipes. Purell.” The leave-the-house-checklist has got a lot longer this year.

Treat Yo’Self With The Money You’ve Saved

Splurge on something you might not usually buy with the money you’ve saved from not leaving your house and keeping travel domestic this summer. This could be something special at home, like a night in with a catered dinner, a massage therapist that comes to your backyard or balcony (if restrictions allow), a private tour, or delivery from a nice restaurant that’s normally only dine-in. These options all work for your staycation at home, too. After dealing with listening to your significant other’s work voice since March, it’s time to treat yourself.

Listen To Michelle: It Is What It Is

Remember when we all thought lockdown would be done by May? Lol, now we’ve nearly hit all four seasons in isolation and collectively binged at least three reality shows. Turns out avoiding touching your face wasn’t the ticket to flattening the curve. Regardless, we’ve found a way to (somewhat) enjoy summer, even if it meant wine tasting locally rather than in Tuscany. The vineyard pics look pretty much the same regardless of the continent, so does it even matter?

Before summer is gone, say a little toast to the fleeting season and its unexpected events. From getting out of quarantining with a boy you had no business moving in with to spending countless hours contacting airlines for credits in lieu of your canceled honeymoon, it has really been a rollercoaster. So plan a Labor Day vacay that’s distanced, has lots of White Claws on ice, avoids everyone but particularly anti-maskers, and maybe even for a few days takes your mind off of all the adult Trump children’s dead eyes that streamed live at you last week. You deserve it!

Images: Taylor Rooney / Unsplash; @betchestravel / Instagram

Shopbop’s Annual Spring Sale Is Here, And These Are The Pieces We Want

Since I am an underpaid peasant, most of my clothes are from Zara. Tbh I have nothing against Zara because I like looking fancy as f*ck in my crisp, cropped blazer over my tea-length flowy skirt, and knowing that I spent less than $100 on the lewk. However, as I enter my 27th year, I want to wean myself off of fast-fashion and invest in higher-quality pieces, AKA shirts that won’t unravel on the gentle cycle of my washing machine. That said, I’m not about to walk into Saks and buy myself a new wardrobe because, like I said, I’m poor. The solution? Shopbop’s bi-annual sale

Now, if you’re not familiar with Shopbop, climb out of the hole you’re living in and join society. Shopbop, which finally has its own storefront on Amazon, carries literally thousands of designers that are perfect for people who want to graduate from Zara but not quite reach Saks. Shopbop is affordable and that is why I love it on any given day; obviously, I love it a little more when everything is up to 25% off (with the code SPRING). If you get overwhelmed easily, allow me to share our favorite things on sale, and make sure to buy before the sale ends on March 8th!

Shoes

Rag & Bone Razor Booties, $495

I am that annoying girl who wears boots in the peak of summer and guess what, idgaf. I have no shame in my game because boots—booties, to be more specific—are stylish all damn year. Rag & Bone sells all sorts of stuff, but the brand is most-loved for its amazing leather boots. My bank account weeps every time I admit that I own three pairs, but there’s a very logical reason for that! The leather is thick af, which makes me feel a little fearless when I wear them because they’re basically indestructible. I will say, though, the white definitely gets dirty, so make sure you get yourself a good leather balm to keep them clean. 

Soludos Lauren Espadrille Sandals, $85

I never would have bought these because they are obviously a tad loud, but I got them in one of my Trunk Club boxes and they are literally my favorite shoes. They are so f*cking cute and they surprisingly go with everything. I’ve worn them with a pale blue fit-and-flare dress, I’ve worn them with denim cut-offs and an oversized white tee, and I’ve worn them with skinny jeans and a cropped denim jacket. Seriously, they’re more versatile than they seem. The only tiny issue is that they are definitely not made for long strolls. They do have a rubber sole, but it’s very thin, so be careful where you wear them. Other than that, they’re perfect.

Schutz Cloe Sandals, $170

Schutz is the underdog of shoe brands because I always forget about it when I’m on the hunt for a specific style, but they always end up having the exact pair I’m looking for. I have a pair of kitten-heeled boots, silver ballet flats, and sky-high, strappy stilettos from Schutz (can you tell I have a shoe addiction?) and the one thing they all have in common is that they are f*cking comfortable. Like the Soludos, they aren’t meant for a walk along the beach, but if you are going to a dressy event and know you’ll be on your feet for most of the night, these babies are the move. 

Tops

Tiger Mist Toronto Top, $75

Tbh, I can’t really say why this top is speaking to me so much because I haven’t worn a crop top since 2012, but there’s something about this hot pink number that I absolutely love. I would probably wear it with an aggressively high-waisted skirt, but I am also loving the way the model is wearing it. Even though it’s obviously a very specific look, you can pack it for a trip and wear it a few different ways. I would, however, make sure it’s the highlight of the outfit because anything that would compete with a top like this wouldn’t be a good look. 

Stateside Poplin Twist Front Shirt, $162

I have a weakness for white button downs. Whether they’re boyfriend style or super crisp, I don’t even care. I want them all—especially this one. I am absolutely loving the menswear vibe and think it would look chic af French tucked into a pair of tailored bootcut jeans. A classic white shirt is timelessly elegant, but I love that this one has a little bit of a style moment with the subtle twist on the front. Obsessed. 

Birds of Paradis Carla Blouse, $218

For the record, I would not classify my style as preppy, but I appreciate very preppy pieces when they’re paired with something a little grungy. For instance, this top, which screams Blair Waldorf circa season one, would look amazing with a pair of distressed boyfriend jeans and a pair of beat up high-tops. Or, of course, you could go the more neutral route and wear it over a pair of skinny jeans and metallic flats. Either way, this top wins.

Accessories

Gorjana Farrah Huggies, $45

I am a big earrings gal and I am proud to admit that I have about a million pairs. It’s a rough estimate. Anyway, as you can guess, I have multiple piercings and I would probably wear these with a few studs or smaller hoops in my other holes. **Cringes** These are a nice, contemporary shift from the classic gold hoop and I’m definitely into it. They aren’t the kind of earrings someone will stop you on the street to ask about, but they can be the finishing touch on any look. Next!

Botkier Cobble Hill Mini Crossbody Bag, $198

If color scares you, fear not because this very chic bag also comes in white with a tortoise shell handle.  Tbh I love the yellow because it’s attention-grabbing, but not too in-your-face because it’s pretty pale. Another thing I love about this bag, aside from the sharp, structured shape, is the fact that the leather is textured, as opposed to smooth. If you’re wondering what the f*ck difference that makes, let me just say, it makes a huge difference because all you have to do for smooth leather to scuff and scratch is, like, breathe near it. Textured leather, however, is tough af and, in my experience, is incapable of scuffs/scratches. 

Krewe Prytania Sunglasses, $275

I lose every pair of sunglasses I come into contact with, so I never spend too much on them. These are definitely a little bit of a splurge, but they’re so stylish and timeless that I will put extra effort into not losing them. Of course, these will look good or horrible depending on your face, but this oversized rounded square shape is generally pretty flattering. The tri-color detailing on the upper rims make them a serious fashion find.

Dresses

FARM Rio Mini Cashew Mini Dress, $155

Yes, this is a dress with a cashew pattern, but it’s so cute that it’s nuts! I hate me, too. Personally, I think all dresses with a snatched waist like this are flattering regardless of your body type. You obviously have to be pro-color if you’re going to buy this dress, but one thing I love about the palette is that it’s pretty muted. This is something I’d wear to dinner on a beach trip with a pair of straw wedges and a big-ass pair of sunglasses.

LOVESHACKFANCY Edie Dress, $295

I don’t know how they do it, but the designers at LSF make extremely flattering and sexy peasant dresses. This is the kind of dress, though, that would only look good in white. If it were in any other color, it would look like a nightgown my grandma would love, but in white, it looks like something a Grecian goddess would show up to brunch wearing. The eyelet details and the high slit in the front make it young-person friendly, and I am excited to wear it since I fully just purchased it as I am writing this article. I’d wear this with a pair of lace-up flat leather sandals or a pair of cork wedges. I seriously cannot get enough of this dress; it better fit me.

Z Supply The Reverie Dress, $60

As you can tell, I like a good oversized piece of clothing, and this dress is no exception. I love that it’s cotton because that means I can get away with wearing it as a cover-up to the beach and to dinner later that same day! It is my personal opinion that everything looks good with heels, but I actually think this dress would look pretty stupid with anything other than a sensible flat. The dress is so casual that trying to dress it up with any type of heel just wouldn’t work.

Images: Jakob Owens / Unsplash; Shopbop

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The Most Ridiculous 2020 Travel Trends

It seems like yesterday that everyone suddenly realized Iceland exists and flew across the world for a weekend getaway, doesn’t it? I actually think I’m the only one of my friends who didn’t book a flight to what looks like, I’m sorry, a miserable time. I’ll keep my freezing cold and aggressively humid conditions in New York, thanks. Clearly, I’m on a different wavelength than literally every other millennial who simultaneously booked this trip. This actually brings up an important question: how do travel destinations become trendy? It’s not like Pangea just split and we are dying to see what that breakup did to the different parts of the world. These places have been around forever, so who decides which ones will become the new hot spots? 

Obviously, people in the public eye or anyone with a few thousand Instagram followers can declare something cool and before you can say “tiny sunglasses,” it’s everywhere. Experiences, though, are an entirely different ball game. Are entire countries just doing a rebrand in the hopes of having the next Revolve trip there? The answer is, low-key, yes. It’s all just clever marketing and a little dash of hope. Case in point: I found an article with “top travel trends in 2020” in the title, and I had to click it to get a sense of where all the Bachelor rejects will be Instagramming next year. Some of the predictions only seem viable for the 1%, but dare I say, I hope some actually do find their way down to us mere peasants. *Waves hand in a beckoning motion towards imaginary camera* Let’s go.

Micro-Hotels

After reading that subhead, I assumed this was a “tiny house” situation to which my reaction was “no.” But then I read the subsequent blurb and learned it’s just “Go off grid with just the bare minimum, with the aim of freeing yourself up both mentally and physically and reconnecting with what is around you.” I get taking a little break to enjoy where you are, but the bare minimum? No, thank you. Even though I can barely afford my Spotify Premium account, I’m not about to shell out my hard-earned money to try on minimalism. Isn’t the whole point of staying in a hotel to enjoy luxuries you don’t have in your everyday life? The blurb continues, “Get back to nature and book a stay in a tiny hideout removed from the modern world.” I mean, if the damn PR can’t even dress this up, who can? Is the hotel just Dean Unglert’s van? Asking for a friend.

Nakations

This word is giving me major Naked and Afraid vibes, and I don’t want to pay to be those things—especially on vacation. I would easily dismiss this as a trend that absolutely no one is doing, except for the “perineum sunning” meme that was all over the internet in early December. In case you missed that, people were advocating for tanning (get this) their buttholes and genitals because, as one woman named Megan put it (of course it was a Megan), doing so “strengthens organs, improves libido, regulates circadian rhythm, boosts mental focus, and increases energy.”

The blurb about the travel trends notes, “Prepare to get your kit off because naked retreats and holidays are on the rise,” citing the opening of London’s first naked restaurant and the fact that “naked yoga retreats are on the hotlist next year” as evidence of this burgeoning fad. And I just have a few questions. Whose hotlist are naked yoga retreats on? How exactly would a naked restaurant pass any sort of health inspection? And what, in god’s name, is a kit, and what does it mean to get it off?

Luxpeditions

I can already tell I can’t afford this, but here we go. Contrary to what I imagined, luxpeditions aren’t just really expensive hotels, but rather, really expensive experiences. Authentic PR suggests “Book a five night charter yacht trip island hopping!” Yeah, let me just do that! Sorry, am I booking a vacation or auditioning to be the next Below Deck charter guest? Just to see how realistic this was, I sent the article to my best friend’s very rich parents and asked if they’d be interested in any of these trips and her mom wrote back, “Lol. Very funny joke.” So if people like her, people who wear fur coats to the damn drug store, think this is absurd, who is actually going on luxpeditions? More importantly, can you take me with you? 

Hipster Cruises

Not that I understand the inner workings of a hipster, but I feel like cruises—no matter what kind—are not hipster by definition. Like, if your natural state of being involves wearing wire-rimmed round glasses (that may or may not have a prescription) and going to bars in Bushwick to drink hard kombucha out of paper or metal straws, I can’t see you being marooned on a boat for days at a time. Not to mention, do hipsters even exist anymore? Haven’t we all moved on to like, VSCO girls and soft girls and the other Gen-Z stereotypes?

So what about the cruise makes it hipster? “There will be Tom Dixon-designed interiors, a tattoo parlor, karaoke studios, an open-air gym, a vinyl record shop curated by Mark Ronson, bars serving craft beer, and all-inclusive restaurants serving vegan Impossible Burgers and CBD cocktails.” First of all, no hipsters know who Tom Dixon is, so you probably just lost a few of them with that opening offer. Secondly, did the creator of hipster cruises just Google “What do hipsters like” and design a giant boat to house it all? All of these features are so aggressively mainstream that even I, a basic bitch, am familiar with them. I can’t imagine the amount of sh*t I’d get if my friends were like “Cool tattoo, where’d you get it?” and I’d be forced to say on a cruise. Right? Are these offerings supposed to be ironic? If so, maybe that will work. Hipsters love irony! 

Now, not all of the proposed 2020 travel trends made me raise an eyebrow, and some of them were actually pretty cool. I thought it was only fair that I took a look at the trends I do actually hope become a thing.

Cultural Hubs

Interest piqued! “No longer is it enough just to be a hotel—next year it’s all about experiential stays,” the article says. This means that instead of just having like, a bar and maybe even a rooftop with a couple strategically hung tea lights to take Instagrams at, hotels will lean into providing more well-rounded experiences, like a literary festival, art exhibition, or even an Artist in Residence program. I feel like in theory, this sounds like a good idea, but in practice, I’m still going to feel like an asshole if I spend my entire vacation at my hotel, photo exhibition or no.

Off-Setting Emissions

reusable utensils

Conde Nast Traveler reported, “As the reality of a climate crisis looms, travellers in 2020 and beyond will need to do everything they can to balance the negative impact of their trips with positives.” This can be done by donating money to renewable energy projects; using ethical search engines such as Ecosia Travel, which uses profits to plant trees, to book hotels; and choosing brands that are committed to sustainability. Given that Greta Thunberg was just named TIME‘s Person of the Year, I think naming this a 2020 travel trend is a pretty surefire bet.

Garden Hotels

I am into this. I imagine a garden hotel to look like the last scene in Moana when she restores the heart of Te Fiti and everything just bursts into bloom. Garden hotels seem like they’d be really popular, since we as a society are now thoroughly unimpressed with flower walls. If your mind just drifted to the ridiculous floral installations in Vegas, think again! These are more lush, natural-looking installations that will make you appreciate nature more than they’ll make you wonder how long it took to make. 

Articles like these make me so happy because they make me realize that there are people out here selling these types of things to other people who will actually buy into it. Do these people actually want to take a hipster cruise or were they just lured in by the promise of Tom Dixon’s ability to choose good sofas? Do they regret shelling out an obscene amount of money for these shenanigans or do they feel like they’ve made the wrong choice? So many questions, yet I feel like I’ll never get the answers I need. 

Images: Maria Ilves / Unsplash (7); Authentic PR

The Betches’ Bachelorette Guide To Tulum

Planning sucks, and bachelorette parties are a ton of work. So we’re taking all the guesswork out of planning a bachelorette party by breaking down top bachelorette destinations. Our guides will tell you where to stay, eat, party, how to get around, and give you a sample itinerary that you can follow. You’re welcome.

If the last time you went to Mexico was spring break senior year, you’re in serious need of a below-the-border refreshment. I mean refresher…whatever. Any bride who loves a white sand beach, relatively affordable accommodations, and truly killer quesadillas needs to take her girls to Tulum, like, yesterday. This dream of a city may be a slight bitch to get to from anywhere that isn’t another Mexican city, but once you’re there, you will likely never want to leave.

Look, Tulum is famous for being Mexico’s chicest beach town where you can chill as hard as you party. The best part? Heels are basically forbidden here, so you can stop worrying about coming home from a weekend of raging with a broken ankle. If you’re already sold on Tulum, read on for specifics on where to get your bachelorette equivalent of GTL on.

How To Get There

Obv, if you live on the West Coast, you’ve basically already made it! The only thing that truly sucks about bach-ing in Tulum (or any other Mexican city) is that you can’t fly directly there because there are only four international airports in the entire country of Mexico. Qué??? The closest one to Tulum is Cancún International Airport, which is still a solid two-hour drive away. Speaking of which, do not attempt to drive in Mexico because you will die. Hire a driver who knows the roads and wants to deliver you and your party safely, soundly, and still breathing to your hotel. There’s also a shuttle you can take from the airport, but like, no. The shuttle drops you off in the center of the city and then you have to figure out your hotel, so, like, hablas español? Unless your only baggage is a Ziploc of snacks from the plane, navigating the streets of Tulum will stress you the f*ck out, so just spring for a driver and call it a day.

If you’re coming from the East Coast, all of the above still applies to you, but give yourself a day of travel on either end since getting to Tulum will take even longer. Four hours on a plane may not be so bad, but when you factor in waiting around in the mosh pit TSA calls “security” in addition to the drive from the Cancún airport, nearly an entire century day has passed. If you are in the mood to save a little cash, plan your bach party during off-season, which will guarantee you the cheapest flights/hotel. The only downside to going during Tulum’s off-season is that you may have to cancel your Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanza plans because October through December is the best time to go. Awkward. Lastly, and this may be the most important sentence of this story, do not drink the tap water.

Where To Stay

If your party is relatively small (I’ll let you decide what small is), staying in a hotel is your safest bet, and we highly recommend La Zebra. It’s technically a boutique hotel, but it has a private beach with chaises that more comfortable than most people’s beds, restaurants, a pool, bars and a spa that will take away all traces of a stressful life in the real world. The only meh thing about this place is that the pool was def for swimming and not for, like, lounging on chaises to tan and take pics. In other words, it’s in the shade, which, like no. Who goes to Mexico for the shade?

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Our winter. Make it yours ??? #AuthenticMexican #LaZebraTulum #LaZebraHotel #Tulum #Mexico #TulumMexico

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Anyway, the pool sitch aside, La Zebra is definitely where you’ll spend most of your time because the food is good and the beach is huge. One more thing about the hotel before moving onto more important things, like where to party, whether you have a beach view or a garden view from your guest room, you can’t lose because all of the rooms have huge windows with breathtaking vistas outside.

How To Get Around

Unless the restaurant/bar/excursion is exceedingly far, you’ll want to walk everywhere, which is great because #steps, but also because the main area of Tulum is one long narrow street that’s lined with charming and Instagrammable shops, hotels, and cafes. If adorable painted ceramic bowls are everything your dreams are made of, you will absolutely die on Tulum Beach Road. And if you want to shop for other things like espadrille wedges and crochet bikinis, be prepared to spend more than $100. But, like it’s worth it because you get to respond to “I love your shoes! Where are they from?” with a casual “This little shop in Tulum. You can’t get them in the States.” Is there anything more satisfying than that?

Where To Eat

As is with any weekend getaway, good food is paramount and can make or break a trip. Full disclosure, La Zebra has delicious food (get the shrimp tacos), but if you don’t want to be a hermit the whole trip, there are so many amazing holes in the wall and fine dining locales in Tulum, but for the sake of space and keeping your attention, I’m only going to talk about our tried-and-true faves in no particular order. Hartwood is famous for its food, and with most famous places, you need to book your reservation way ahead of time, but unless you’re a man, that seems pretty doable. It’s a tiny place that cooks and grills all of the food via open fire inside their hand-made wood-burning oven. I mean, can we get a Hartwood in New York please?

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The #PulpoTostadas started off as a family meal. After boiling the heads from the day’s #pulpo #asado, we tossed them with dressing and piled them on fried tortillas. From our new book, HARTWOOD—on sale October 20. #HartwoodBook Photo: Gentl & Hyers.

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Next on the list is Rosa Negra, which means Black Rose in Spanish. If you don’t love this place already, what is wrong with you? Anyway, the second you sit down at your table here, it becomes immediately clear that Rosa Negra knows what they are doing. The servers and the vibe make it feel like your table is the party. You order apps and drinks first, but the because the apps are exceptionally good, you’ll most likely order, like, all of them and not be hungry by the time the mains arrive.Not to worry, though! They clear the table at the speed of light and then the music starts blasting. They play songs you’ll want to scream to, like “Mama Mia” and “Sweet Caroline.” The only caveat, which isn’t really a caveat, is that you must be drunk. Otherwise you feel kind of weird living out your drunk truth while other people are just trying to enjoy their dinners.

Where To Party

Start the partying at Papaya Playa Project, which is basically the Mexican version of Project X…in a good way, though. Full disclosure about PPP: it’s not fun if you are a group without a table. Tables are def expensive, but completely worth it because PPP is a gigantic rager on the beach, so if you don’t want to repeat your weekend at Oktoberfest, where you lost your friends the moment you arrived, get and stay at a table. Otherwise you’re wandering around alone in a giant crowd of drunken youths, which I can’t think of anything worse, can you?

There’s also a face-painting station, which makes you feel like you’re a kid at the best birthday party in town, but in, like, a fun alcoholic way. The only thing about PPP that I won’t rave about is the aggressively abrupt end to the party, which happens at exactly 3am. You may think the speakers accidentally got unplugged or the DJ f*cked up, but no, the party just ends and then you’re on your own. K.

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Thank you all for an incredible night! Another memorable Full Moon Party – this time with @matthewdekay @yokoo_dj @yosoymommusic & @litos_music #Tulum #Celebration #originalexperiences #papayaplayaproject #fullmoonparty

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Friday, Day 1:

1.Arrive and check into your hotel.
2. Unpack and take obligatory shot of mezcal.
3. Change into your bathing suit and go to the beach or chill in your room (if you’re a bad friend) before dinner.
3. Dinner at Gitano, which turns into a party as the night wears on, but it’s def not a rager.
4. Party a little harder at bars that are close by, including but not limited to Casa Jaguar, Todos Santos, and Batey.

Saturday, Day 2:

1. Wake up! If you’re an early riser (gross), head down to the pool and/or beach for some peace and quiet before the others wake up.
2. Lunch at either Ziggy’s, Taboo, or La Zebra. Prob go to one of the first two options and then come back to Le Zebra (if you’re staying there) for free chaises because #savedatmoney and chaises at other hotels are about $50 per person. No thx!
3. Visit cenotes, or underwater sinkholes, which, if you’ve seen Sisters, is nothing like what you think a sinkhole is. It looks like a beautiful underwater cave, and guess which city is famous for having the most beautiful cenotes? Tulum! Swim, snorkel or ‘Gram the day away here.
4. Head back to the hotel to shower and get ready for the night ahead.
5. Pregame and party Papaya Playa Project, which will most definitely turn into a long and alcohol-infused evening.
6. Sweet sleep

Sunday, Day 3:

1. Buenos días!
2. Chill by the beach or shaded pool if you thought you could outsmart the sun and are now an unsightly shade of pink.
3. Lunch at one of the places you didn’t eat at yesterday, then either fork of $50 or be cheap and head back to the hotel for a relatively chill afternoon because…
4. Dinner and best night of your life at Rosa Negra.
5.Sleep? At this point, it may already be the next day, in which case

Monday, Day 4:

1.For the love of God, sleep in
2. Last day by the pool/beach for a quick tan touch-up before checking out of the hotel and heading back to your lives where dinner is just dinner.

Images: Shutterstock; papayaplayaproject, hartwoodtulum, lazebratulum / Instagram

The Most Instagrammable Vacations Your Basic Friends Haven’t Gone To Yet

One of my favorite hobbies is stalking people’s vacations on Instagram and wondering how the hell they afford that. Like, okay Jenna, I know you have an entry-level job. How are you in Bali rn?? Begrudgingly, I’ll like her photo swimming with pigs or whatever—key word being begrudgingly. I can guarantee you that if you’re a Jenna, almost every single “like” on your vacation photos is a hate-like, a double-tap you just throw out there because technically the photo is aesthetically pleasing, but you kinda hate that they’re living their best life and you haven’t taken a vacation in a year. But whatever, I guess hate-likes are better than no likes, right? Right.

So how do you afford a hate-like-worthy vacation without a million sponsorship deals? The answer: Hotels.com. Whether you’re looking for value in Vegas, treehouses in Thailand, or villas with a view, it’s all just a click away. And with their rewards program, for every 10 nights you spend in the Instagram-worthy locale of your choosing, you get 1 free. If you want to maximize hate-likes, you want to pick a spot that everyone on your IG hasn’t been to already. Which is where we come in. We’ve rounded up some of the best and most underrated travel destinations—but they won’t be underrated for long, so make sure you plan your visit ASAP.

Croatia

You may have seen friends post absurd photos from Hula Hula Beach Bar or more importantly, Dubrovnik, aka Kings Landing from Game of Thrones, but the real takeaway here is that the majority of people you know have not yet traveled to Croatia. But don’t be that asshole who only goes to one city and pretends like you’re a conoisseur of the entire country—your time should be spent between, Hvar, Split, and Dubrovnik exploring sites like Krka National Park, and partying at bars like Carpe Diem and Revelin. But when you are in Dubrovnik, you should definitely stay at the Valamar Collection Dubrovnik President Hotel. You could also just do what every finance bro does and go for Yacht Week.

Valamar Collection Dubrovnik President Hotel

Bali

Bali may take almost 24 hours to get to, which is a pain in the ass, but it will be worth it for the Instagrams. Your first task when choosing where to stay in Bali is finding the most gorgeous resort possible while not spending all your money on accommodations. Bali is known for its surfing, so hellooo, hot muscular guys who can teach you. Even if you don’t surf, there are plenty of natural sites to explore (take pictures at), such as caves and waterfalls, and you can swing through the jungle on the Bali swing. There are also plenty of other sites to pose in front of experience, like the Sacred Monkey Forest, Uluwatu temple, and Pura Tirta Empul water temple.

Bulgari Resort, Bali

Dublin

What can I say about Dublin, other than Guinness? Truthfully, I went there on a weekend trip while I was studying abroad, and my friends and I consumed more Guinness than we did food. But there are plenty of other, non-stout things to do, like drink Irish whiskey! Kidding. There are tons of beautiful sites in Dublin. We actually went on a free walking tour which gave us a feel for the city with a local tour guide, who took us to all the Instagrammable spots, like Ha’Penny bridge, THE place to take a sunset ‘Gram. You also have to check out the iconic Temple Bar, the Dublin Castle, Trinity College. St. Patrick’s Cathedral—and, yes, visit the Guinness storehouse. Luckily, The Alex is within close walking distance to all these sites.

The Alex Dublin

Lisbon

I recently went to Lisbon, and while there were tons of tourists there, I did not pick up on many Americans. So if you’re reading this from the U.S., there’s a chance that no one you know has ridden the Elevador Santa Justa and snapped a pic from on high. Now that I’ve spent hours rambling about one Gothic elevator, let me fill you in on what else to do in Lisbon. Wander the hilly, winding streets of Alfama, the old Moorish quarter; check out the Praça do Comércio, which has gorgeous yellow buildings that will provide the perfect backdrop to your candids; drink Ginjinha (a customary cherry liqueur) at Pink Street, which is literally a street they painted pink. Also, be sure to drink plenty of Vinho Verde (you can have port wine, but you’re not in Porto so people will say sh*t to you). I stayed in a guest house, but I wish I had stayed at Olissippo Lapa Palace Hotel, which is f*cking gorgeous and even has a pool. Sigh.

Olissippo Lapa Palace Hotel

Cartagena

Colombia probably wasn’t on your list of places to travel, right? Well, you’re behind, because it’s been growing in popularity since 2008. Cartagena, a port city on the Caribbean coast, remains a go-to destination. First off, you literally can’t go to Cartagena without visiting the Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas and walk around it. Another must? The Mercado de Bazurto, a food market where you’ll find fresh produce and cheap food. (You had me at cheap.) And there are plenty of fun nightlife options that aren’t the regular old dive bar sh*t you’re used to doing at home. There’s La Vitrola, a lively restaurant with Cuban music and plenty of dancing; Café Havana, a salsa dancing spot located in Getsemani; and Alquimic, a bar located in the historical walled city, with a 360-degree art deco cocktail bar and a roof terrace. Hotel LM A Luxury Boutique Hotel is also in the walled city, and has a spa and a rooftop terrace, making it a legit luxury boutique hotel.

Hotel LM A Luxury Boutique Hotel, Cartagena

Whichever destination you choose, once you post yourself living your best life, those hate-likes are going to start rolling in. Start planning your trip with Hotels.com, so you don’t just hate-like but are hate-liked.

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3 Instagrammable Winter Getaways To Take With Your Friends

Much to the dismay of single people around the globe, Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. The holiday gives the green light to couples to partake in romantic dinners, excessive PDA, and dry humping in the corner of da’ club (pls don’t). This year, why not escape the chaos with a Galentine’s Day trip with your single friends? We rounded up three great options—perfect to escape Cupid, his stupid arrow, and your annoying friends who are coupled up. Even if you can’t get your sh*t together in time for Galentine’s Day, these destinations make for amazing getaways during any season—but especially during winter. Oh, and by “getaways” we mean “Instagrams”.

Wake Up In the City That Doesn’t Sleep

If you are brave enough to weather the elements, why not take a bite out of The Big Apple for your getaway? NYC is the city that never sleeps and there is always the opportunity to get turnt all the way up with your besties. The Moxy Times Square, nestled right outside of Times Square, is offering a fun and affordable Galentine’s Day package that includes a night in one of their quad bunk rooms, 2 bottles of prosecco, and priority access to a tips and tricks seminar with their resident sex expert. Traipse around NYC, sport your winter wardrobe best, and sip bubbly—what better way to shield yourself from the cold?

Bar Moxy

Namaste, Nah…I’m Gonna Go To Hawaii

There is no better way to find your Zen with your besties than a trip to Hawaii. Consisting of eight islands, Hawaii boasts diverse scenery, tropical climates, oceanic splendor, active volcanoes and plenty of gorgeous, luxurious resorts. And who doesn’t love a good tiki cocktail? Check out The Fairmont Orchid—they have everything you need to find inner peace during your Galentine’s Day trip. And for what they may not have, there is a Mai Tai everywhere you turn in Hawaii. If fitness is your thing, kick off each day with Flo-yo (Floating Yoga) at 7am. The yoga takes stand-up paddle boarding a step beyond just trying your best to be like Jennifer Aniston. It provides a total core workout and definitely earns you a mimosa or five afterwards. Following your workout and a few shots of 151 proof rum, why not indulge in a spa treatment? YOU DESERVE IT!

Jamaican Me Crazy, Winter—Let’s Flip Some Tables in Ocho Rios

Why not escape the winter woes this Valentine’s Day and jet off to Jamaica for some R&R with the besties on a trip inspired by New Jersey’s fave Real Housewife? Iconic reality star and bodybuilder extraordinaire Teresa Giudice recently rung in the New Year in Jamaica and we got ALL the deets on her tropical getaway. We highly recommend mimicking her trip, but please, people—keep the table flipping stateside. The NY Times best-selling author relaxed for several days on the beach with her daughters and father at the Moon Palace Resort located in Ocho Rios, Jamaica. In between her dead lifts, squats, and application of self-tanner, Teresa squeezed in some mother-daughter massages at the spa, which has hot and cold plunge pools (perfect for a hot head like Tre). The Giudice crew also enjoyed some time on kayaking, swimming with dolphins, and a trip to Dunn’s River Falls. Thankfully, sprinkle cookies, Caroline Manzo and Melissa Gorga were not spotted in Jamaica during Teresa’s getaway.

Image: Frankie Cordoba / Unplash

Essential Travel Beauty Tips So You Don’t Look Gross After Flying

Travel is without a doubt one of the greatest parts of summer. First of all, there’s the crack-like (I assume) rush of turning on an “out of office” email reply. Chase that with a daily routine of margaritas for breakfast, followed by triple-digit likes on a “look at my ass this beautiful view” ‘gram, and I’m decidedly living my best life. Unfortunately, even the highest of vacation highs tend to come crashing down within 24 hours of returning home. Not only did your “out of office” reply deter exactly zero people from emailing you multiple times, but you now have to deal with the ravaging effects of whatever public transit hell you were subjected to on your return home. (I’m primarily discussing air travel here, but let’s not pretend that buses/trains don’t leave you feeling pretty icky as well.) Here are some travel beauty tips for avoiding and even reversing the damaging effects of air travel.

Start With A Clean Face

If you’re one of those people who can’t leave the house without a full face of makeup, I have bad news. No one believes you woke up like that, and you should absolutely never fly in makeup. If you absolutely have to roll up to the airport made-up, at least take it off ASAP once you’re in the air. Makeup wipes like these Philosophy facial cleansing cloths are a must, given the state of airport bathrooms and the fact that your bougie-ass cleanser definitely won’t make it through TSA. Alternately, you can go with a (travel size) no-rinse micellar water—just please God use cotton pads, not airplane toilet paper. Ew.

Purity Made Simple One-Step Facial Cleansing Cloths

Embrace In-Flight Skincare

Ok, so now your face is clean. Sadly, your work is just beginning. One of the biggest damaging factors on airplanes is that they dry you out like crazy. This means you’re looking at red patches, flaky skin, and the overall pallor of a three-day-old corpse (just me?). Luckily, there are ways to avoid this—though they do involve giving exactly zero fucks what the people in your row think. For starters, it seems like every celeb on earth applies a hydrating mask while flying. Luckily, there are “invisible masks” like the Origins Drink Up Intensive,  or Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Overnight Hydrating Masque, both of which you can leave on for hours to absorb maximum moisture, without getting dirty looks from flight attendants. For those a little less shameless, the Summer Fridays Jet Lag Mask goes on like a regular mask (that you’ll have to rinse off with a warm towel, somehow), but it provides hydration and anti-inflammation without any harmful ingredients or artificial fragrances (it’s also vegan). If you’re brave enough for a sheet mask, Chrissy Teigen and J Lo swear by the SK-II Facial Treatment Mask.

Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Overnight Hydrating Masque

Once you’ve removed the mask, it’s recommended you follow up with your preferred serum/moisturizer/eye cream. (Or if you’re prone to puffy under-eyes (hi), consider some cooling pads like these skyn ICELAND firming eye gels.  Emma Stone swears by argan oil for long flights, but your heaviest daily moisturizer should work fine.

skyn ICELAND firming eye gels

skyn ICELAND firming eye gels

As a final, extra-luxe step, invest in a face mist. Celeb stylists love rose-water infused options (try Khloé Kardashian’s preferred Jurlique version), but regular old Evian is fine too. If you’re reallyyyy trying to get extra about this, the Caudalie Beauty Elixir is another celeb fave. (It’s a toning spray, but don’t ask me what toner does). Or,  you can follow up your SK-II celeb-approved face mask with their Facial Treatment Essence. (Seriously, do not ask me what essence does.)

Stock A Full Mom-Purse

You know that one friend whose purse is always fully stocked with Kleenex, lip balm, gum, etc? Yeah, you’ll want to emulate that to an extent. In addition to all the face wipes and hydrating essentials mentioned above, you should never board a flight without hydrating lip balm, hand lotion, and more water than you usually drink in a week. This final point is especially key, because in addition to making your outsides dry AF, your insides are also dying from dryness when you’re on a flight. So drink, drink, DRINK. Even though it’s annoying to get up every half hour and use the bathroom, you’ll thank me when you don’t arrive bloated and constipated (ew), not to mention the fact that the simple act of getting up and moving frequently is proven to help beat in-air bloat, and can help prevent blood clots. Woo!

Be Careful What You Eat & Drink

Oh, and speaking of drinking—I have another bubble to burst here. As you know from waking up at 3am with desert mouth after a night of drinking, alcohol dries you out—which means drinking on flights is a big no-no (same is true for caffeine). Yes, air travel is definitely one of those memories I’d prefer be a little hazy, but the pounding headache and exaggerated dehydrating effects all around are not worth the 25-30 minute buzz. Save the drinking for your final destination.

When it comes to eating, you’re better off the less you ingest while actually on the flight. Sugar-free foods and gum escalate an already gassy situation (sorry—I don’t make the rules), and chewing gum makes you literally swallow air, which, you guessed it, escalates both the gas and the bloat. The same goes for high-sodium foods and any carbonated drinks. So yeah, even your beloved La Croix is a no go. Some experts suggest to avoid eating anything on a flight, since flying may cause your digestive system to slow down, and the restarting process will be all the more unpleasant if there’s new food to digest rolling around in there. Whether or not that’s 100% scientifically proven, many people who avoid eating on planes say they feel more rested and hydrated after, so it’s worth a shot. Were you really that hyped about airplane food anyway?

That’s all from me (though TBH, it’s plenty). I purchased maybe six more products over the course of writing this article, as I’m currently in the throes of post-flight bloat and ogre skin myself. Learn from my mistakes and help slightly soften the blow of going back to work by not having to deal with a pimple the size of a third eyeball taking over your forehead. Really takes away from the glamour of an overseas vacay.

Images: Giphy (2); Sephora (2)

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