White Sands, New Mexico

Entrance of the park

Oh this place could be as fun as you want to make it. From Sandboarding, hiking, picnics and even camping.

Believe it or not, the “sand” is actually gypsum crystals, not sand, and they never get hot! NEVER You could walk in it all day long if you wanted and never burn your feet.

Whether you choose to drive through the dunes of actually hike you’ll be able to contemplate 360 beautiful landscape views. Clear your mind as you enter this place andnenjoy the ride.

We arrived as early as we could. Due to COVID-19 restrictions (May 2019) we could not camp the night before our visit. The white sands are a hot spot and I wanted to avoid crowds as much as possible. Not to mention New Mexico’s heat can be extreme. I visited during spring and gosh it was sunny enough to need sunscreen and lip balm. Seriously. My lips got so dry after this roatrip (my favorite one is locally made in the US). However, If you visit during winter there might be snow!!

If you want to camp or get in the park for sunrise/sunset you will need to request for a permit called Early entry – Stay late. I highly suggest checking for availability on their website at the link above. I truly hope you get to experience it.

As I drove to the end I contemplated the road vanishing within the crystals, it game me a feeling of infinite, and once I turned the loop I found a cool picnic area with some shaped benches. There are plenty benches with shade for guests and you can park next to the one you choose. I didn’t know about this so I did not plan for a picnic day. All I got was snacks haha.

Picnic area

What to wear to the White Sands?

So, I have to saaaay this is hands down a place to take a cool aesthetic photo shoot for your Instagram or maybe even wedding pictures. I went with a black dress as the surroundings are white. It was so fun to take the shots and it’s looks so dreamy. So I brought different outfits.

As I’ve mention before heat in New Mexico can be extreme and the White Sands has no shade at all. It will get hot, trust me. On the bright side if you love feeling the sand in your skin you can go barefoot in your shootings. Bring sunglasses that go with your outfits or be prepare to

If you are more the hiking type, well, different outfits are required, not a dress definitely.. Remember hiking in sand is a slow hike.. you’ll be under the sun for as long as you want but at least 30 min for sure. I walked around barefoot through my whole hike.. it was not long and I had my shoulders covered, my legs were exposed but damn, I loved it. You’ll sweat quickly here, just apply lots of sunscreen to avoid any skin damage. Keep the sweating in mind, I don’t think leggings will feel great hear unless you come in the park after 6 PM.

If you stay the night… it will be cold. so make sure you have enough blankets and a good warm pj.

Unfortunately I was NOT allowed to fly my drone, not even with a permit; as the White Sands are surrounded by an active missile range, because of this you can come across “strange objects” do not touch them! and let the ranger know on your way out.

Idk about you but I love travel stamps and at the visitor’s center you can get a stamp in your passport!

Also you can buy sand boards behind the visitor’s center for $10 (they are not amazing quality, it’s plastic, so think about this before you buy it. Keep the park clean and don’t buy things you don’t need. Some people give them away after they use them to other visitors)

Can you believe this is the largest gypsum dune in the world! yep, that’s right. I am so happy I crossed out this one from the US bucket list. It is definitely a place to visit once in your lifetime.

One week road tripping through NM was not enough, there is tons of places I missed and I can’t wait for destiny to send me back to the land of enchantment.

The coolest Airbnb in Madrid, NM

After a long time with all this craziness happening with COVID-19 I was finally able to travel somewhere and the destination this time is New Mexico, USA. If you are a sucker for unique places and stunning views, like me, you’ll love this place I’m about to share with you all.

I was so happy to go on the road to a whole new State I’ve never been to. At the last stop in Albuquerque, I unfortunately did not find a remarkable place to stay and the ones I really wanted to stay were fully booked. However, after some deep looking through Airbnb we found this gem at the edge of a mountain range and let me say, wooow! This place was amazing…and for only $60 we were set for the night!

If you’ve never been to New Mexico before you’ll quickly learn how underrated this state is. Stunning views await around every corner and Shanti Community sits at the top among some of, if not the, best spots to stay in NM. Located right on the edge of the mountains, overlooking a valley into the west with the perfect scene for sunset gazers. It’s owners are Shelly and her partner Bri (what a coincidence, right?) , an off grid artist and yoga teacher made this amazing creative place a reality where you can go stargazing, hiking, listening to music played at the community or just relaxing in a peaceful environment. The views behind this community are from the Placer Mountain and the closest town is Madrid.

Shanti Community is an experience, more than just a place you find on Airbnb, well worth staying at. The most important thing to know about it is that this is a sustainable community, everything works with solar panels, compostable toilets, primitive kitchen and restored automobiles and yurts. This in mind, be prepared for a truly outdoors submersion if you choose to check this spot out.

In these 10 acres you’ll find different options to stay: from a yurt to the coolest school busses I’ve ever seen. However, I will only share pictures of Kerouac VW as this is the one I chose to stay in but don’t worry I will share links to the other ones you can stay at.

As the darkness arrived all we did was set out seats and dinner ready to enjoy the show we were about to watch. Kerouac has a deck facing straight into the horizon where the sun sets. The view is simply too beautiful not to contemplate. While the sun sat and we enjoyed our food, we could hear music coming from the other side of the camp. That was unexpected to us but very beautiful to hear, I don’t think I’ve ever experienced live music while sunsetting. When I say music I don’t mean someone playing a guitar with a band or a CD playing. It was drums and a flute I believe.. I didn’t get close enough to know who was playing or what exact instrument was used but I bet it was Shelly.

Now, let’s talk stars! STARGAZING was hands down my favorite thing to do out here. I fell asleep all cozy looking at the stars from my window at Kerouac VW. As you can see at the deck you can just set a pair of chairs and enjoy the stars. Isn’t that lovely?

This photo was taken with my iPhone, forgive my bad quality but I hope this shows you how beautiful is up there.

Hiking trails.. You can walk around as much as you want as long as you don’t get in any private property. In the community there are trails you can follow marked with rocks. There is no lights at night, keep this in mind if you decide to wander around.

The bed in the VW is more comfortable than tent camping but not as comfortable as a regular bed. It is well sealed but still i suggest to bring some blankets with you. If you have none don’t worry they have some available at the community for $10. Another awesome thing is that they are pet friendly! Just be mindful and pick up after your dog.

Inside you will find tons of colorful stickers giving you all the peace and love vibe. The roof has some sort rainbow of strings all over. Two solar candles and a solar lamp are in the front of the VW. Outside there is a hammock you can unfold to enjoy sunsets and sunrises. One ice chest is available for you but you need to bring your own ice.

Note: In order to get all the way up to Shanti community from the main road you’ll need a car with clearance/4×4. I am not saying your car won’t make it but only you know what your car is capable of. You will need to drive 2 miles of rocky dirt, possibly mud if it rained. I highly recommend you not to stay here if your car is very very short. The drive is about 20-25 min and you’ll be riding very slowly.

Here’s the list of places they have available:

I truly hope you book at least a night here whenever you travel to this area. I promise you its well worth it. You can see all the love put in this community and don’t make me start on the sustainability. We need more getaways like this that respect out planet. If you stay please follow their recycle rules and don’t litter. You’ll enjoy stunning 360 degree views you can’t easily find on Airbnb. Let’s keep it beautiful forever. If you need some inspiration to swap to zero waste options for you travels check my other post Top Zero Waste essentials for travelers.

Mind blowing places in New Mexico

Thinking about traveling to this beautiful state? I got you. New Mexico is such an underrated state, people just don’t know what they are missing. In this post I will share with you one of the of the most worthy places to visit at least once in your lifetime. And trust me your pictures will also look stunning.

New Mexico is known as “The Land of Enchantment,” and I must say, it lives up to the claim.

Don’t forget your camera!

1. Bisti/De – Na – Zin Wilderness

If you are up for some amazing nature phenomena this is the best place to visit in NM. It’s uniqueness will make you feel out of this world.

2. Lincoln National Forest

NM is not just desert.

3. White Sands

Such a lovely place to walk around and have some fun sand boarding. Needless to say it’s perfect for photo shoots.

4. Tsé Bit ‘A’í

Or shiprock, probably is the most iconic place to no visit in NM.

Would you add any other place to the list? Let me know in the comments.

Top Zero Waste Essentials for travelers

Travel is one of my favorite things to do but, as much as I love it, I always struggle with the amount of packaging it involves on many things like personal hygiene, to go food, coffee cups, etc. Everything comes in plastics, cartons and more plastic within the plastic.

I struggled with this the hardest when I lived in China. The amount of plastic on EVERYTHING is insane and made me realize of some extra zero waste swaps to do when traveling to different countries around the world.

As travelers we can have a huge environmental impact starting just from taking flights to our destinations, plus whatever we end up adding through the trip, for this reason I’ve been thinking for years on how to reduce my impact in the world in my daily life plus traveling.

One thing that I noticed the most whenever I talked to my friends about swaping to zero waste options or ecofriendly ones was that they usually didn’t find the products stylish to use in their daily life or travel pictures, and I agree, some products can be “ugly”. I firmly believe that sustainability can be stylish af! Hence this list includes only products that I have used for my personal life and travels. I’ve even used them for my travel content on Instagram.

Please, as you read this article keep in mind that I didn’t swap to zero waste from one day to another in all my daily or travel habits. It happens over the course of two years, and I keep adding as I learn better options when I decide to buy something. At the end the Zero Waste Movement is about doing your best for the planet not to be perfect. So, no shame here.

Remember that the best thing you can do is use what you have not to just keep buying and buying stuff you may not even need. This is guide is for you so next time you know what zero waste options are out there.

That being said, let’s begin!

Disclaimer: I use affiliate links, meaning that if you purchase anything throughmy affiliate links I receive commission at no additional cost to you! Do not worry, I only recommend products I love and use myself.

Stojo – collapsible cup

The first time I fell in love with these cups I was in Shanghai. Oh my god, I saw a girl using one at Starbucks and I had to ask her where she bought it from! Turns out it was a Stojo ft Starbucks edition but was sold out already. That whole year it never came back to stores and Taobao was not reliable. I didn’t know if it was a fake or not. At that time what I kept using for my to go coffee (or any other drink) was the reusable cup from Starbucks that you can get for $2 dollars. It got the job done. but it definitely was a pain in the ass to bring everywhere.

Anyway, time passed by and I ended up buying it in the US, currently I have 3 different ones! I love them so much and I have to admit, they are much more portable. Idk about you guys, but I don’t carry big purses with me. I am more of a mini backpack or crossbody girl. So a travel mug is a must.

Did you know every person who drinks coffee can use up to 500 disposable cups of coffee in a year? and this is just coffee.. imagine all the other drinks one can buy while traveling.

Why I love it and you will too

  • QUALITY. this is so important for me when I buy something.
  • Compact for easy carry.
  • Leak proof.
  • Easy to wash. (when out I usually just use my hand and soap).
  • Made from safe, recyclable materials, food grade silicon, BPA-BPS- lead free.
  • You can bring it into airports and get water from the fountains or restaurants.
  • Earth conscious product.
  • Stylish af!

One kinda funny story I have with my black cup. So I went camping on the beach and before getting in my tent right before sleep I forgot my cup right outside. That night the wind blew like crazy! When I woke up, I stepped outside the tent and I saw my cup outside the door. OMG I was mad at myself, it could have just blow away but it didn’t! it was super steady. I found it in the same way I left it. Which made notice that it didn’t blew away from the picnic table we had: even when it was completely empty. I loved that.

Here is a link direct to their cups page and they have bundle and save! I promise you will fall in love with these cups

If you liked the one in my picture here is the link to the exact one! Keep in mind they sell out quick but you can also find a full black one.

Dreamy places and coffee 😍

Not convinced yet? If you want to know more about the impact your everyday coffee or tea cup to go has on the environment check this article from foodprint.org:

https://foodprint.org/blog/environmental-impact-coffee-cup/#:~:text=The%20next%20time%20you%20order,disposable%20coffee%20cups%20each%20year.

Huemankind Stainless Steel Bobba Straw

I bet you have heard of how bad straws are… not just for turtles but the world! And if you love to eat and drink your way through a city while traveling a reusable straw is a MUST HAVE.

Now, a straw is useful for many different drinks, but in my case, and I am sure yours too. Boba drinks are part of the menu we get when traveling and for them we need special straws to get out those delicious pearls of joy.

These straws were a gift and WOW, when I opened them all I did was smile! They are super cute, mine are a rose gold and it comes with two different cases. One is a bamboo straw holder with cap (only fits one) and the other one is a little fabric pouch and you can fit many straws in this one.

I literally take them everywhere I go even if I am not getting bobba, they are perfect for smoothies too or even drinking juice or iced water. Unfortunately this specific brand is no longer available, unless you are lucky while going through Amazon, but I found other options for you. Just click the link!

Another option is a collapsible one! (also rose gold available)

Yes, I know it’s a cup of plastic. This picture was taken during the pandemic and reusable cups were not allowed 🚫 in any coffee shop.

Shampoo bar

Let’s talk hair!

This is one of my favorite swaps. I hated so much needing to buy small bottles of shampoo every time I traveled as a backpacker. It is just impossible to bring enough for weeks with that 100ml restriction if you are not checking in any luggage. only because of the environment but also it means spending extra money and you need to find the right one for you plus finding a grocery store or pharmacy wherever you travel to.

At the beginning, when I first made a swap I tried a shampoo bar from the grocery store. My hair struggled a bit to get used to to the new product. I felt my hair was getting dry and tangled from it. Eventually I found and started buying from LUSH cosmetics and now my hair feels great! It’s been three years (2019) since I last buy shampoo in a bottle and gosh, it’s perfect to bring in my travel backpack, camping, or if staying at a friend’s house. It takes less space, it won’t leak, allowed in airports, it last up to 3 months, just perfect.

Now, which one is the best for you? I don’t know. Just like our skincare we need to keep in consideration what kind of hair we have. I suggest you go and check the LUSH store and just try different ones. Keep in mind that as mentioned before your hair might not react great to the shampoo bar at the beginning but give it at least a month before you decide it is not for you. Bar conditioners are also available at LUSH. Besides, if lush doesn’t go well with your hair there are different brands out there you can try. Though, amongst the vast variety of shampoos, conditioners, soaps and other skin care products offered by LUSH store, I am certain anyone can find product for every aspect of hygiene for women and men alike.

Why LUSH?

  • 100% Vegetarian
  • They fight animal testing
  • They have charity pot products – sales granted to grassroots organizations working for animal protection, human rights and environmental protection around the world
  • They have an Air travel and Carbon Tax policy
  • Incredible smells
  • Gift Idea
  • Stylish af!
  • Not only shampoo bars but conditioner, bath bombs, body bar soaps, etc.
  • Find stores in 50+ countries

Check them out and let me know you experience and what you think!!

Zomchi Safety Razor

This one is very important! whether you are a girl or a guy, right?

You probably already research if disposable razors are or not recyclable, depending on where you take them they may be: but in reality the vast majority won’t be accepted in the recycling program because it’s very hard to almost impossible to recycle as they are sharp objects with mix materials, resulting in billions just thrown into landfills and/or eventually end up in our oceans.

In my opinion this is a very important swap for our daily life and travels, plus I am sure you agree with me this is a essential when traveling. That being said a safety razor will save you money and time. Why? You get your supplies and they will last. I replace the blade every 3 weeks.

Why Zomchi?

Well, the reason I suggest Zomchi specifically one is because I had a great experience with this razor and the brand itself. I got it 2 years ago and actually it is the only brand I’ve ever gotten, the razor blades I got are Astra but Zomchi sells blades too. I just haven’t try them yet because I literally haven’t need to buy new blades at all since the first time I bought a package.

One amazing thing that I loved and stood out to me was the customer service. Here’s the story. One night I came back home and when I was getting into my shower my razor was on the floor.. broken! I honestly have no idea how it happened. I was sad. A month later I decided to email Zomchi and well, they get back at me and actually sent me a new razor! They were extremely nice and attentive to make sure I got my new razor fast. This is why I believe they are a great option to buy not just because of their product quality but their customer service.

I manage to get you a discount coupon code: G8WAKYCQ6K just use it when you order in their website and Ta Da.

Reusable Bamboo Cotton Pads

Do you like using make up? Well, our make up routine also has an impact in the world.

I typically use makeup in my eyes and for years I used those disposable cotton pads thinking cotton is okay because it’s biodegradable, natural, soft, etc without knowing that it’s actually not that great as it comes with a hidden environmental and ethical cost.

Switching to bamboo pads was the easiest swap I’ve ever done and I did it when I first did a solo backpacking travel. The best thing is that they have become more important for the market that nowadays you can easily find them in grocery stores like Walmart, Target, Sprouts, HEB, etc. I think it will be best if you buy from a little local store if you can.

This pads are mostly useful for eye makeup remover but there are options for reusable whole face make up remover towels. I do not own one but I helped my friend to find some for her makeup removal routine and she loves them.

You might be wonder but.. they get dirty, then what? The answer is simple, you need yo wash them. I personally do it by hand as I don’t need to use them a lot but whenever I did not feel like doing that I wash them with my towels in the washing machine. if you prefer do it this way I suggest that you get a good amount of Bamboo cotton pad as you might need a lot to stash before washing.

I use a brand called true spa that I found at Marshalls, if you live in the US you will know what I am talking about. You might find other brands here too an time of the year. Another option is to just google bamboo reusable pads near me and you will find your best option.

Stasher Bags

First things first… foooood! When you travel you bring food into the airports? you buy fruits in markets? You buy street food at all the amazing places you travel to? You hate all the plastic/stare foam containers? Me too! and that’s why I believe Stasher bag is another essential for your travels!

Made from platinum silicon which does not degrade over time meaning it’s endlessly reusable!

I’ve used it in my travels and will keep doing it till I die! I literally put any kind of food inside from tacos to fruit. I use it at the beach, trail mix for hiking, snacks for my dog, to put my street food like noodles.. haha I’m serious. I’ve made popcorn at home. I’ve steam veggies, etc, etc, etc.

One time, I was really hungry and really poor haha I was in Hong Kong and I decided to buy some noodles from a street vendor and they just fit perfectly and I could just hold the bag in one hand and eat with a reusable fork. I know it might sounds weird or undoable, but trust me just start doing it anywhere you go with any kind of food and it will get easier and you’ll be proud of all the amount of single use plastic you are not sending to landfills

Proof of my noodles 🍝

Why Stasher bag?

  • Different sizes
  • Compact for easy carry
  • Malleable. just fold it and put it in your backpack!
  • Perfect for to go food
  • Perfect for bringing snacks when hiking for example
  • Perfect to store wet swimsuits
  • Allowed in airports
  • You can store, freeze, cook, pick up trash, and thousand more ways to use it.
  • Platinum silicone
  • Free of BPA, BPS, lead, latex, and phthalates.
  • Recyclable in the US with Terracycle
  • Stylish and zero waste.

Laundry sheets

If you have ever backpack you know you’ll need to do laundry at some point in your trips and this will require to buy soap. And what does soap come in? PLASTIC.

I discover laundry sheets last year (2020) before I used to take laundry powder and sometimes it was messy in my backpack and even at home.

This little swap has been amazing! It takes little space, it’s ease to store in a container, you can break it in half or littler pieces. I use it at home abs for travel. When I travel I just put them in a little metal container folded.

The best in my opinion is that it is TSA friendly, you won’t get a mess in your luggage or at home and it is not that expensive.

I’ve only used Sheets Laundry Club and they work amazing. I got a monthly subscription but you can change the subscription to a different variation of delivery for only $13.56 with 50 loads.

Now, there are many other brands out there but I haven’t try them personally.

Let me know if you try any of these swaps or if you have any suggestions! Keep it fun not perfect.

Ultimate Instagram guide to San Marcos, Tx

Spring – Summer 2021

San Marcos is a little town located between San Antonio and Austin, Tx. I have been here several times and it’s amazing to see how it just keeps growing and growing. Now, important to say, this is a College town so fun is expected. 😉

If you love murals as much as I do this post is for you. Get ready for the best mural hunting for your Instagram pics! I’ll provide you with the exact locations on google maps at the end of this post. Although I highly recommend to actually take the time to walk around downtown. it is a great experience and you will be able to try some of my favorite refreshing local drinks suggestions here.

I highly suggest that you start this walk early around 8:30 am. or after 5:00 pm Why? Well, the city’s weather is hoooot, you don’t want to get a burn plus the lightning will be better during these hours. Plus just to accomplish this little list will take about 2.5 hours give or take.

What will you need

First, make sure you bring sunscreen. My suggestion is https://gobareoutside.com/collections/stick/products/mineral-spf-50-baby-sunscreen-face-body-softstick it is what I use for my face and it never fails! Plus it’s a great ecofriendly option and no harmful chemicals on your skin.

If you like it better you can wear a hat too or walk around with an umbrella. You won’t retreat any of these decisions. Skin protection is a must.

Reusable water bottle! As you know, plastic is not my thing so bring your own! It’s better, cheaper and convenient. I usually carry a 500ml bottle.

Now, let´s begin..

1. 9

Do you recognize it? a hint… it’s a movie directed by Tim Burton.

A little bit about the movie.. it is a post apocalyptic film where machines rules the world, a ragdoll-robot must find 8 other robots to solve the mystery behind humanity´s destruction. It’s worth to watch.

The mural didn’t t have the artist signature but I believe to know who painted it. Actually several of the murals in San Marcos have been painted by them. If I am wrong lmk.

This is their Instagram https://www.instagram.com/78666walls/

Photography tip: this is an alley so if you don’t have a tripod or friend you will need to lay your phone on the other wall’s tiny cracks that’s in front of the mural. I don’t recommend doing this if you don’t have a good case.

check the movie trailer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_qApXdc1WPY

2. BLM mural

Often a mural also tells a story. know more here: https://www.universitystar.com/archives/black-lives-matter-protesters-march-on-campus-call-for-local-support/article_b6157fd8-050d-11eb-890e-13a987c49c04.html

This mural belongs to Gelson D. Lemus. Here is his website https://www.w3r3on3.com/

Break time!

Strawberry Honey Matcha

As I said before you will be walking around for quite some time. So I added a refreshing stop for you guys.

One of my favorite local coffee shops is The Coffee Bar. They have seasonal drinks and a regular basis menu.

Their matcha is soooo goood! and trust me you’ll want a good drink for this mural hunting you’ll be doing.

3. Cupid piggy

Oooh the food, the amount of food I fell for after this picture. haha.

I think is is definitely a favorite among people. Who doesn’t love piggies and fun interactive murals. The coolest thing about it that it matches the place it is located at: The kissing alley.. aawwwe. Who thought of this?

Tip: If you are traveling alone you will need a tripod, taking pictures at this location is tricky.

4. Super mini mural

Open big those beautiful eyes! This little one is tricky to find and the city is full of them.

Idk how to call it.. It seems familiar but I can’t remember. Do you know who is that?

5. Flowers

If your thing is flowers there a several murals of them throw downtown. Keep your eyes open. Look around “the bloom bar” shop.

Idk who the artist is. Do you know?

6. Galaxy

I have no idea who’s in this mural. I kinda think I’ve seen it before tho. But I just can’t manage to remember. Do you know?

And so we come to the end of this post. I hope you give it a try and let me know what else you find.

Link to google maps: https://www.google.com/maps/placelists/list/6HKB2y-9GbygboNhlC1e2LP-7AAgrA