The way I travel has changed drastically in the last few years. I used to pack as much as possible into my itineraries – a sign I was living with this sense of urgency – something apparent across all areas of my life.
The Movement Experience and Embodying my design have been my greatest teachers and portals into a life with more presence, pleasure and permission.
This is the thing no one tells you about slowing down… You do less, but everything you do is richer & more memorable.
I consider myself an unintentional expert on slow travel, good food, gorgeous scenery & beautiful cultural experiences and I’d like to share four of my absolute favorites with you.
Absolute shameless plug here – I have every intention of leading small, intimate group escapes to each and every one of these on a regular basis. So, if any of these speak to you, consider getting on my list below so you’re aware of those.
This place stole my heart. All of Istria did. In fact, all of Croatia did. What an incredibly underrated country.
We went in October when wineries, olive oil, truffles, chestnuts and more are mid harvest or in season. Nothing is more disappointing to me than underwhelming meals on vacation so it sounded worth a visit.
Istria is the northwestern peninsula of Croatia – built and ruled by the Venetians. It has the feel and beauty of Tuscany with the added bonus of the sea. It wasn’t in most of the research I did for Croatia (which had been on my list about 15 years before I made it there) but I’m so glad it popped up on our radar.
Rovinj is a beautiful base tucked on the coast, full of seaside cafes where you can perch on a rocky cliff and take in the stunning scenery with a glass of local wine.
There’s a national park right next to the old town where you can hop into the sea for a dip here and there as you wander through forest and coastline in a path paved for the community.
Under an hour away are wineries, countryside, truffle hunting, mountain top villages, medieval towns, olive oil groves and all of them are impressive, approachable and unforgettable.
This was our first stop in our three weeks in Croatia and we wish we’d saved it for last. It was hard to top our time in this region and while I loved Dubrovnik, there was an undiscovered charm to Rovinj that I hope continues on.
SAADIYAT ISLAND, ABU DHABI
Anyone who knows me knows, Abu Dhabi is my first love. And it’s one of my favorite places in the world. Probably because I lived there and got to enjoy beaches like this on Saadiyat Island anytime my heart desired.
I love showing people around Abu Dhabi because people just don’t know all the gems and treasures about this place. Everyone goes to it’s big sister, Dubai, which couldn’t be farther from the experience you’ll have here.
And I always recommend basing yourself in Saadiyat Island. Its natural white sand beaches are a protected turtle nesting site. The hotels are set back from the water enough that when you’re on the beach, it’s actually quiet. There’s tons of beach so it’s never crowded and you feel like you’re in the Caribbean.
From here, you can pop into the city and explore the mangroves, the palaces, the louvre and all the other interesting things Abu Dhabi has to offer while eating exquisite meals of any kind of food you can imagine.
Visit the Qasr Al Hosn fort (the oldest structure in the region restored) and pop into the heritage center for a traditional coffee experience before walking the grounds to Mirzam, a local chocolatiere that has drinking chocolate with unique herbs and spices you’ll be ohhing and ahhing over while overlooking a gorgeous water and architectural space. Despite being in the middle of downtown, it feels serene.
Funny enough, the only reason we went to Georgia was because it was our backup plan when Croatia fell through. My husband needed a visa and they told him it was going to take 3 months to get it – we didn’t have that kind of time so Georgia – which almost no one needs a visa for – was the next best choice.
It’s only a 2-ish hour flight from Dubai and I’d heard good things but had no idea what to expect. We worried 7 days might be too long there and we were so wrong.
Georgia is in my own opinion, the best kept secret. Few westerners talk about it, have been or even know where it is.
It’s a tiny country wedged between Russia, Turkey, the Black Sea, Azerbaijan and Armenia.
It’s capital Tbilisi is one of the coolest and most beautiful cities I’ve visited with a culture of art, heritage, history and some of the friendliest people I’ve ever encountered.
Base yourself in Tbilisi and take a day trip north to the mountains for breathtakingly deep valleys and landscapes or East for wineries, sweeping romantic scenery, lakes and tastings. Head west for rivers and canyons or south for national parks and natural spring waters.
Tbilisi alone has a chill vibe made for wandering and strolling. It’s old town is full of cafe culture ranging from tasty street food to fine dining.
They’ve turned old soviet factories into buzzing art hubs, beer gardens and re-imagined community spaces. There are parks everywhere and the big market is really impressive.
When I think of a place with nature, culture, food and a slow pace, Santa Fe is my pick stateside. The Thousand Waves spa, Ojo Caliente Hot Springs, Kakawa Drinking Chocolate, New Mexican posole, craft cocktails, wandering the markets, listening to buskers in The Plaza, hiking in the Aspens or taking in the vast New Mexican vistas – it’s a dream. It feels deep. It feels soulful. And I love every bit of it.
It’s easy to spend a few days here recharging your batteries and taking in the magic. There is something mystical about the place. But, also quirky, fun and hip. Live music abounds, people are friendly and no one is in a hurry.