Starting the new year in Sri Lanka

By Caroline Picken

I started the new year airbound somewhere over the Arabian Sea, with my plane landing in Colombo, Sri Lanka, bright and early on January 1. Whenever I take a long holiday, I like to revert back to my “backpacking days” and really hop around a country. I enjoy this type of travel philosophy and truly believe its the best way to see a country and all it has to offer.

Having thoroughly researched all of the top spots to see—and discovering some gems along the way—my friend and I decided to head straight to Sri Lanka’s tea country, where we were to spend two nights in a tree house. This particular accommodation was the first of its kind in Sri Lanka, and it is built in a live pine tree that is suspended 30 feet above the ground...glamping in its purest form! While laying in bed, the structure moved and creaked, so it definitely is not for the faint of heart, but stepping out onto the balcony, the view of the surrounding valley was spectacular, making it all more than worth it.

On our first evening, we ate from a local roadside spot, and three curries and some fried Asian delights later, the bill came to approximately $2.80. (It was going to be a great two weeks.) We then headed further inland towards Kandy, a highly polluted but bustling city. After a quick pit stop, we headed north to the Knuckles Mountain Range and the Madulkelle Tea and Eco Lodge, where our luxury safari tents were.

In between the tree house and these tents, I can easily say they are the top two most unique accommodations I've ever stayed at in my life. Each safari tent had every five-star amenity you could ask for—topped off with a mesmerizing view of the aforementioned mountains—all while being nestled amid a working tea plantation. It was the perfect place for some relaxation.

Hailed as one of the most beautiful train rides in the world, we headed south from Kandy to Ella on the famous blue train. Getting tickets was slightly tricky; they sell out months in advance, but thanks to a local tout, we managed to secure our seats. The train snacks were delectable! The locals would dangle out of the window or run along the tracks with fried goodies, and they would hand them to you in someone's old math homework papers.

Ella is a unique city; it reminded me of the yogi vibe that Ubud, Bali, has. Everyone is trying to be very zen, but it just doesn't quite fit. We did a beautiful hike at dawn up Little Adam's Peak, but we quickly decided it was time to move one.

Our next destination was Yala National Park, where you can do a half-day safari for less than 30 euros, where you get to see elephants and leopards, the lords of the jungle. A driver's commitment is key when going on safari, and our guy was definitely the MVP. He found an elephant 25 minutes after picking us up—all before dawn! I absolutely love animals, so seeing a herd of wild elephants playing in the dust was a real highlight.


Finally, it was time for the beach. For our last week, we decided to hop between beach towns on the southwest coast. We found three boutique hotels that offered eco-chic rooms with easy access to the beach, which was important to us for viewing the mesmerizing sunsets in this part of the world.

We stayed in a Swedish-owned boutique hotel that was like nowhere I've ever stayed before. If it were on Glamping Hub, I'd categorize it as a “room in the wild.” The concrete, three-story structure is just off the main road, but it overlooks the beach and Taprobane Island. Every last detail has been considered here, from the design of the rooms and the hipster magazines scattered about to the local products left for guests to enjoy. Meanwhile, at night, you could sip on a local cocktail while looking out over the beach of Weligama. This place officially confirmed for me that Swedish people have the best taste in home decor!

Sri Lanka has many nicknames: Ceylon, the Pearl of the Orient, and the Teardrop of India. For me, the exquisite nature, vast wildlife, and the people make it one of the most enchanting and unique places in southeast Asia. From tea plantations, 100-foot waterfalls, and temples in the north to magical sunsets, secret beaches, and the colonial city of Galle in the south, the diversity of Sri Lanka's landscape and its myriad of cultures made every day a new adventure, and I would highly recommend adding this pearl of an island to your bucket list.


To see everything we have to offer in Sri Lanka, keep exploring on Glamping Hub! For more on Caroline's adventures, be sure to check out her blog on Costa Rica, too.

Where to take your wellness in 2019

By Jackie Dreyer

Every year, we get more and more conscious of just how important it is to take care of ourselves—both physically and mentally—and the planet we inhabit, as well as how to continually improve at doing so. For 2019, we've got a couple of superb product suggestions that will help you carry on bettering your health and wellness in the new year.

Eco-friendly products

2018 was the year we saw the world start to take a hard stance on not using plastic products, be it bags in the grocery store or straws in our drinks at restaurants, coffee shops, and bars. To start the new year out on the right foot, make way for reusable items in your house, starting easy with cloth grocery bags and stainless steel straws.

Reusable straws

The benefits of reusable straws include everything from preventing the innocent deaths of marine animals, as garbage is often thrown in the ocean and straws are often mistaken for food, to safer for human use, due to the fact that stainless steel doesn't let off harmful chemicals.

There are even specialized reusable straws available now, like the Koffie Straw, which helps keep your pearly whites glistening and stain-free while still allowing you to get your caffeine on.

Reusable water bottles

If you haven't jumped on the reusable water bottle train yet, this is another eco-friendly product that will come in handy 24/7—no matter whether you're at work, at the gym, in the car, or on a hike. There are many options on the market these day, but one of the latest is the Astrea bottle, which has a built-in filter.

What's more? It's the only bottle certified to NSF53 standards to reduce lead. The importance of not only drinking water, but drinking quality water, is entirely underestimated. Just listen to these digestion facts from MindBodyGreen!

"City water is chlorinated to remove pathogens and disinfect the water. Chlorine is a skin irritant (consider mounting a shower filter if you suffer from eczema or dry skin), pro-oxidant, and destroyer of friendly microflora and stomach acid. When our friendly microflora are wiped out, we can suffer from bloating and slower digestion, and when our stomach isn't able to produce as much stomach acid and enzymes as it should, digestion can become downright uncomfortable."

Self-care products

Self care comes in many ways, shapes, and forms—for some people, that's a face mask and a bubble bath; for others, it's a nice meal out once a week.

Massage technology

Focusing on how to externally keep our bodies happy, the rising popularity of new technology, such as the Theragun, are sure to gain even more loyal fans in 2019. This unique, hand-held massager, loved by athletes and celebrities alike, is essentially a portable chiropractor—in fact, it was created by one! Thanks to its manageable size, this is a great investment that can be used both at home and on vacation.

Vitamins

Diving inside the body, the vitamin company, Care Of blew up on social media this year, with major celebrities, like Queer Eye's hair and skin guru Jonathan Van Ness, singing the company's praises. What's so special about vitamins, you ask? At Care Of, a lot.

The company creates personalized daily vitamin packs for you based on a quiz you take, where you answer some simple questions about your goals, lifestyle, and values. They then suggest for you the perfect combination of vitamins and supplements, which you can adjust as you please, and voilà! All you have to do is sit and wait for your vitamins to arrive at your front door—perfectly formulated with the only the highest quality of ingredients to kick start your 2019 with.

Herbal medicine

With the number of products, workout classes, lifestyle changes, and more that have and will become available to use, we could write a novel or two, but we'll just leave you with one final option to look into for now, which is herbal medicine.

From blog to business, Organic Olivia rose in popularity in 2018, and we can't wait to see what she has in store for 2019. What started as her providing herbal remedies, backed up with extensive research, on her blog and social media, has turned into a full range of tinctures, probiotics, and more—all of which have an army of happy, and now healthy, clients shouting from the digital rooftops about how wonderful they now feel, thanks to these products.

For those unfamiliar with tinctures, tinctures are essentially extracts, which are made by steeping an herb in alcohol to draw out its medicinal properties. Dating as far back as to when the first alcohol was ever distilled, tinctures were first used by the ancient Egyptians but didn't become common in Europe until the 1400s. Though they waned in popularity with the rise of Western medicine, they've come back on the health and wellness scene in recent years, due to a (continuing) rise in interest in herbal and Eastern medicine.

How else will you be improving your health and wellness in 2019? Let us know on social media!


Looking for a yoga retreat or getaway to practice mindfulness at in 2019? Check out what destinations are trending here!

8 unique ideas for where to spend New Year's Eve

By Eric Wright

With the vast crowds descending on Sydney and New York each New Year's Eve, avoid the stress and crammed city streets and escape to one of these lesser-known destinations.

From incredible fireworks displays and live music to magical sunrises and sandy beaches, this countdown of locations is sure to help you bring in the new year with a bang.

1. Reykjavik, Iceland

New Year's Eve in Iceland sees the whole country go wild as an epic fireworks display takes place half an hour before midnight. Oskjuhlid Hill can be found right the center of Reykjavík and is the perfect spot to sit and watch the whole night's sky light up over the entire city. After the celebrations are over, there's nothing better than enjoying the spectacular Northern Lights on the first day of the new year from this stunning glass cabin.

2. Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

The perfect place to relax and reflect on the past year, Grand Canyon National Park is the ideal spot to swap those crowded New Year's Eve streets for jaw-dropping views and unbeatable hiking trails. The majestic sights from the South Rim are sure to put the year in perspective making this the go-to getaway for those looking for a peaceful and uplifting new year.

3. Homigot Sunrise Festival in South Korea

Homigot Village, located on the easternmost point of the Korean Peninsula, plays host to the one-of-a-kind Sunrise Festival every New Year's Eve. Visitors get to see the sun make it's first new appearance, rising majestically over the fascinating hand sculpture that bursts through the calm ocean. With the festival also holding traditional Korean performances, a fireworks show, and local food, New Year's Eve here will seem like a strange but beautiful dream.

4. Madeira, Portugal

The picturesque island of Madeira offers a New Year's Eve of top-class wine, fine seafood, and, of course, an amazing fireworks show over Funchal Bay. During the day, spend time exploring this charming island, and when night falls, take in the special atmosphere with the locals in the quaint side cafés. When day breaks for the first time in 2019, waking up to to the sight of the serene ocean from your own secluded beach hut will be a moment that stays with you for a lifetime.

5. Niagara Falls, Canada

If it's live music, dancing, and dazzling pyrotechnics you're looking for as the year draws to a close, Niagara Falls is the place to be this New Year's Eve. The festivities begin at 8 p.m. in Queen Victoria Park with plenty of traditional food and drinks on offer from the friendly locals, and the night culminates with some magnificent fireworks launched from Niagara Gorge!

6. Honolulu, Hawaii

Welcome in the new year with a warm aloha by spending the last day of the year surrounded by the volcanic slopes and rugged coast of Honolulu in Hawaii. As the bells end, watch the multicolored rockets burst over Waikiki Beach, and after, head on down to one of the tiki bars for some live music, elaborated cocktails, and late-night hula dancing!

7. Florianopolis, Brazil

Although Rio is seen as the number one spot to celebrate New Year's Eve in Brazil, Florianopolis, or Floripa as the locals call it, is Brazil's biggest secret—and the party destination for some of Brazil's best soccer stars. With more than 42 sandy beaches, hidden coves, and pristine lakes, there is something for everyone here. Take a seat lakeside with a cold caipirinha and enjoy the New Year's Eve fireworks display in style.

8. Zion National Park, Utah

Why not ring in the new year surrounded by the soaring landscape and iconic red rock canyons of Zion National Park this year? Make the last day of the year one to remember by hiking up to the epic Angel's Landing for 360-degree views of the sprawling 147,000-acre park, all before cozying up with loved ones, glass of champagne in hand.


For more New Year's Eve inspiration, keep exploring on Glamping Hub!

New Year, New Glamping Goals

By Jackie Dreyer