Travel

Travel

10 of the best ways to enjoy Istanbul on a budget

The Hagia Sophia, Galatasary FC, Bosphorus views … there are so many ways of exploring Istanbul’s riches while keeping your lira on a leash

Our complete city guide to Istanbul

Planning some serious sightseeing? The Istanbul Museum Pass allows free entrance to a dozen of the city’s top sites, including the Topkapı Palace and the Hagia Sophia, plus discounts on a selection of other museums, shops, restaurants and activities. It costs a wallet-friendly 85 lira (£20 at current, favourable, rates) for three days or 115 lire (£27) for five days. Even better, passholders can jump the queues, too. Insider tip: although you can purchase your Müzekart from any of the participating museums, save yourself precious time by doing so at one of the quieter venues, such as the Istanbul Archaeological Museums.

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Travel

I would drive 500 miles: Scotland’s new North Coast 500 route

The new North Coast 500 road trip is Scotland’s answer to America’s Route 66. Our writer gets her kicks from wild beaches, high passes and spooky ruins

The term “road trip” has the roar of a Chevrolet, the lure of never-ending Californian freeways, and nuances of the wild freedom of Beat writer Jack Kerouac. But here we were in the Highlands, about to embark on the recently launched North Coast 500, a new coastal route billed as Scotland’s answer to the US Route 66.

It forms a loop around the whole northern tip of Scotland, from Inverness, close to our home, to John O’Groats in the north-east, along the stark sea of the north to Durness, then down the convoluted west coast before turning inland at the Applecross peninsula. The itinerary was designed by the North Highland Initiative, a non-profit organisation established by Prince Charles to spread the love across less-visited parts of the northern Highlands.

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Travel

In hot water: an Iceland swimming holiday

Iceland is awash with naturally heated water, making it a fantastic place for an outdoor swimming tour of its bubbling hot pots and geothermal pools

Bathing outside in naturally heated water is part of Icelandic life. Icelanders are expert at capturing hot water, either in hillside hot pots (little pools sunk into the ground, made from anything – stones, concrete, repurposed agricultural tubs) or in outdoor pool complexes with water slides.

My holiday mission is simple: to travel around the country hunting down volcanically heated water, for me, my husband Tim and our two water-loving boys (Jack, three, and Eddie, two) to immerse ourselves in.

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Travel

Why Girona makes the perfect base for cyclist Dan Craven

Some of the biggest names in cycle racing have flocked to this Catalan town for its Pyrenean training routes, food and beauty

When people hear that you live in Girona they say: “Oh, that’s where Lance Armstrong lived.” Yeah! So what? He wasn’t the first pro-cyclist to move here. You can come here and avoid the herd, if you want, but the herd is here for good reasons: the climate, the routes, the training. And having them here means that when you arrive you can ask: “What do I need to do to settle in?” And they can help.

It’s hard to pick the best ride around Girona – there are so many. But my favourite one heads west out of town towards Sant Gregori and then further out to the Vall de Llémena in the Pyrenees. If you’re up for a long ride, do a loop through Olot and Banyoles and then back to Girona. In the colder months, before tourists flock in, the coast roads are a must. It’s an amazing coastline, with a lovely undulating road. I’d advise checking out my Girona rides on Strava (strava.com), which is a website and app that allows athletes to track their rides and runs. This will help you to find the smaller hidden roads I use; the big roads are beautiful but it’s the small roads that take it to another level.

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Travel

Greek island holiday guide: the Argo-Saronic islands and Kythira

These Greek islands south of Athens make a great holiday on their own, or a relaxing extension to a city break. Andrew Bostock picks the best places to eat and stay, and things to do on and off the beach

• More Greek island guides: north-east Aegean | the Dodecanese | the Cyclades | Crete | the Ionian islands | the Sporades and Evia

The Argo-Saronic islands hug the coast between Piraeus, the port of Athens, and the Peloponnese, the stunning southern mainland of Greece. They could easily fill a holiday on their own but, combined with Athens and the mainland, would make for a trip that summed up the very best of Greece.

Having said that, and unless you’re keen to see the site where the Greeks defeated the Persian navy in 480 BC, Salamis is probably not worth the effort. Aegina (an hour by ferry from Athens) is a much better bet. The classical temple of Aphaea is everything you imagine a Greek temple to be and is far less visited than some.

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Travel

Small overseas festivals: send us your tips

Share your recommendations for offbeat, unconventional festivals outside the UK and you could win a £200 hotel voucher

Beats on a beach, high culture at high altitude or street theatre in sultry squares … Tells us all about your favourite small foreign festivals via Guardian Witness.

The best tips will appear in print in next weekend’s Travel section and the winner, chosen by Tom Hall of Lonely Planet, will receive a £200 hotel voucher from Hotels.com, allowing you stay in over 260,000 places worldwide. Submit your tips by clicking on the blue button and using the text tab. Try to include as much detail as possible – location, any website, festival dates, prices etc – and feel free to add a photo if you own the copyright to it, but it will be the text we’re judging! Your tip should be around 100 words long. Terms and conditions.

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Travel

Budget guesthouses, hostels and hotels in Iceland: readers’ travel tips

The force of the elements is all-pervasive in Iceland, so cosiness, comfort and hospitality are high among our readers’ priorities when it comes to affordable places to stay beyond Reykjavík

Hólmur is a farm and guesthouse just off Route 1 in the south-east. It’s been my regular base while doing field work for my PhD on a local glacier. Alongside the guesthouse there is a small restaurant that serves breakfasts (excellent pancakes) and evening meals. There is also a small petting zoo that on my last visit included a baby reindeer rescued during the winter. Hólmur makes an excellent base from which to explore some of the less touristy glaciers and you’ll have no trouble avoiding the hordes that frequent Skaftafell and Sólheimajökull. Particular highlights include the 17km well-maintained gravel road beside Skalafellsjökull and a short walk to spectacular terminus of the Fláajökull glacier. If it’s cloudy at sea level then the Skalafellsjökull road almost always offers a cloud inversion from the top and some welcome (and rare) Icelandic sun.
Doubles from £43 B&B, holmurinn.is
Alex Clayton

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Travel

Car crashing: new budget accommodation in New York

Budget stays are hard to find in New York, but from £23 a night you can have a killer view of Manhattan … if you don’t mind sleeping in the back of a car

New York is a famously expensive city, where finding a hotel for under $200 a night can be a struggle. There are so few options for those on a serious budget, travellers could be forgiven for being tempted to sleep rough in Central Park.

Related: 10 of the best ways to enjoy New York … on a budget

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Travel

My new attitude to travel is to skip the iconic – and I thank my father for that

A lot of travel can be about pretending to like monuments and sights that you don’t really enjoy, but my father, the reluctant traveller, has shown me that what matters is only doing the things you are genuinely interested in

My father, who lives in India, loathes travel. He will tell you this himself. When he hears about other people’s road trips, he shakes his head, wishing they had more common sense. The greatest pleasure, for him, is to be at home, reading the news and eating rice and coconut chammanthi. Ideally, the coconut should be from his own village in southern Kerala.

Alas, all his children live abroad. My siblings live in the United Arab Emirates and I’m in New York. Every few months, my brother will send my parents a non-refundable round-trip ticket and my father’s reluctance to travel will battle with his parsimony. Eventually, he will climb on the flight, bundled up thoroughly against air-conditioning, which he hates almost as much as travel. Once he arrives at my brother’s house in Sharjah, he ventures out as little as possible. He knows what he likes: reading news. Why bother doing anything else?

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Travel

The National Park Service Is Turning 100!

And we're partnering with them for the centennial.

The National Park Service just hit a pretty big birthday: 1-0-0. And Rodale Inc., Women’s Health‘s parent company, is the exclusive active lifestyle media partner for the year-long celebration. 

RELATED: 25 Gorgeous Hikes You Have to Do in Your Lifetime

In honor of the anniversary, you’ll see exclusive stories from us (along with Men’s Health, Prevention, Runner’s World, Bicycling, and Rodale’s Organic Life) about fun new ways to get outside and #FindYourPark.

“We are excited to use the centennial to invite every American to get to know their national parks and to understand how our 100 years of conservation experience translates into on-the-ground revitalization projects in their neighborhoods,” says National Park Service director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “Our campaign will encourage Americans to ‘Find Your Park’—to discover a personal connection to a place or a story that provides inspiration or enjoyment and to then join us in our second century of stewardship of America’s most treasured places.”

RELATED: 11 Thrilling Things Every Active Woman Should Try to Do

We’re pretty pumped about the centennial. (Any excuse to get our hearts pumping in nature!) What are your favorite ways to #FindYourPark? Share them in the comments.

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Travel

Your Ultimate Guide to Glamping Across the U.S.

Hiking boots and marshmallows? Check. Running water and flat-screen TVs? Double check!

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Food

30 Things Every Self-Respecting Food Lover MUST Eat in Her Lifetime

Our travel playbook will satisfy both your wanderlust and inner foodie.

Anthony Bourdain had the right idea: When traveling, food shouldn’t be an afterthought. More people (nearly 40 million) have caught on and are planning trips around epic meals, rather than settling for crappy theme-park corn dogs. It’s called food tourism, and it’s blowing up. Prepare to star in your own culinary adventure with our guide to great eats anywhere. Because, hey, you’re on vacation. The best part? We skipped the tourist traps to find the super-buzzy bites in summer’s most visited cities.

NEW YORK CITY

1. Spit-roasted pork tacos at Empellon Al Pastor. This new spot’s version calls for house-made corn tortillas filled with chili-rubbed pork shoulder and caramelized pineapple. empellon.com/al-pastor

2. “Drunken-style” whole wood-oven fish at Mission Chinese Food. Chef Danny Bowien uses Xiaoxing (a Chinese fermented rice wine) as the base for the dish’s spicy sauce. mcfny.com

3. Garlic bread croissants at Dominique Ansel Kitchen. Meet the cronut’s savory counterpart—flaky, golden, and worth every last carb. dominiqueanselkitchen.com

Courtesy of Empellon

BOSTON

4. Margherita pizza at Babbo Pizzeria e Enoteca. The stars at Mario Batali’s latest restaurant are these thincrust 12-inch pies, fired to perfection in a 1,000°F wood-burning oven. babbopizzeria.com

5. Mama Chang’s pork and chive dumplings at Myers + Chang. They’re part of an inexpensive dim sum brunch, and one of the few constants on a menu that changes weekly. myersandchang.com

6. Maine lobster roll at James Hook + Co. Bitesize chunks of meat are so fresh and sweet, they need only the most cursory kiss of mayo. jameshooklobster.com

CHICAGO

7. Tamales at Dove’s Luncheonette. The fillings change seasonally (e.g., calabaza squash, gulf shrimp), but the tamale’s always hot at this southern-inspired Mexican joint. doveschicago.com

8. Tchai-de-Bonzo (Buddhist monk vegetable meal) at Fat Rice. Hearty noodles and seasonal veggies meet cold-smoked shiitakes and crunchy fried tofu puffs. eatfatrice.com

9. Malted custard French toast at Jam. Thick-cut brioche is geniusly griddled and topped with cherries and lime whipped cream. jamrestaurant.com

RELATED: 10 Fast-Food Dishes We Wish Existed in America

SAN FRANCISCO

10. Hot-pressed sandwich with Humboldt Fog Goat Cheese at Tartine Bakery & Cafe. Award-winning local dairy on house-baked walnut bread makes the ultimate melt. tartinebakery.com

11. The CA state bird (that would be quail) at State Bird Provisions. Golden tenders are marinated in buttermilk, then coated in pumpkin seeds and breadcrumbs. statebirdsf.com

12. Salted caramel ice cream at Bi-Rite Creamery & Bakeshop. Small batches + house-made flavors = as fresh as it gets. biritecreamery.com

LAS VEGAS

13. Charcoal-grilled yellowtail with glazed soy sauce at Aburiya Raku. Umami flavor with a touch of smokiness is the hallmark of this off-the-Strip eatery’s standout order. raku-grill.com

14. Reina pepiada arepa (say that three times fast!) at Viva Las Arepas. The griddled Venezuelan corn patty teems with garlicky avocado and shredded chicken. vivalasarepas.com

15. Lindsay Ranch OR Washugyu steak at Bazaar Meat. Yes, it’s $95, but the perfectly marbled, oh-so-tender beef may be the most luxe way to spend your winnings in Sin City. slslasvegas.com

Scott Suchman (for Astro Doughnuts)

WASHINGTON, D.C.

16. Eden quinoa bowl at Beefsteak Vegetables. At chef Jose Andres’s new healthy grab-and-go spot, $8 gets you this bonanza of produce topped with yogurt sauce and lemon-honey dressing. beefsteakveggies.com

17. Classic ramen at Toki Underground. Hand-pulled noodles and a pork-bone broth spiked with grilled seaweed set this slurp apart. tokiunderground.com

18. Creme brulee doughnut at Astro Doughnuts & Fried Chicken. Filled with pastry cream and topped with vanilla glaze and sugar. Yeah, it’s kinda amazing. astrodoughnuts.com

ORLANDO

19. Spareribs at 4 Rivers Smokehouse. It’s worth the hour-long wait for bites of this falling-off-the-bone smoked meat. 4rsmokehouse.com

20. Line-caught fish at K Restaurant. A local in-season fish, like mahi, is pan-seared and served with a succotash seasoned with herbs from this farm-to-table restaurant’s garden. krestaurant.net

21. French Toastie Cupcake at Erin McKenna’s Bakery NYC. Breakfast masquerading as dessert, this maple-topped treat is also gluten-free. erinmckennasbakery.com

RELATED: 5 Ways to Stay Fit When You’re Traveling

DENVER

22. Grazing Vegetarians tasting menu at Fruition. For $25, nab two meat-free courses like open-faced lasagna made with heirloom tomatoes and squash. fruitionrestaurant.com

23. Rotisserie “Boulder local” chicken at Blackbelly. At Top Chef winner Hosea Rosenberg’s restaurant, the free-range bird is raised on a nearby farm. blackbelly.com

24. Toasted farro carbonara at Mercantile Dining & Provision. Nutrient-packed farro replaces pasta in this riff on the classic dish. mercantiledenver.com

SEATTLE

25. Dungeness crab and avocado dip at Chippy’s Fish & Drink. A heartier take on guacamole with house-made potato chips for scooping. ethanstowellrestaurants.com

26. Braised lamb shoulder at Westward. Served whole with herb and onion salad, tzatziki, and flatbread for a DIY gyro situation. westwardseattle.com

27. Caesar salad sandwich at Damn the Weather. An egg is cooked into the slice of toasted brioche that crowns this totally filling lunch. damntheweather.com

Mary Costa (for Bestia L.A.)

LOS ANGELES

28. Salumi at Bestia. The incredible house-cured meats make a perfect meal or starter before a handmade pasta dish. bestiala.com

29. The Office Burger at Father’s Office. Made with beef that’s dry-aged on-site (a method used by only a handful of U.S. steak houses), it’s topped with caramelized onion and two kinds of cheese. fathersoffice.com

30. The Slut at Eggslut. A coddled egg served on potato puree with a mini baguette: So major, it deserves a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. eggslut.com

RELATED: 6 Things No Ever Tells You About Traveling Solo

For more tips on what to eat when traveling this summer, pick up the July/August issue of Women’s Health, on newsstands now.

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Travel

4 Ways Race Junkies Can Take Their Addictions to the Next Level

Step off the beaten path with one of these super fun outdoor competitions.

For those who crave something other than gyms and pavement, look no further than the growing breed of off-road competitions. You’ve probably seen a few friends post Facebook shots from a mud run, off-road triathlon, obstacle course, or other adventure race recently—more than 2 million Americans now compete in them each year, according to the Outdoor Industry Association. “These runs are more about the process of making it through the course than finishing a set amount of miles,” says Rich Harshbarger, CEO of the national nonprofit organization Running USA. Many also feature physical tests, from scaling monkey bars to mountain biking, for a true total-body challenge.

Want to get even further off the beaten path? Expedition races have no set trail. In teams or solo, competitors complete two or more disciplines—such as crosscountry running, mountain biking, or rock climbing—while using maps to find their way to set checkpoints. While some expedition events can take 10 days or longer (no, not a typo), others can be done in just a few hours.

Here are four outdoor competitions worth checking out:

1. Down & Dirty Obstacle Race
Presented by Subaru, this three- and six-mile off-road race has lots of mud and more than 20 military-style obstacles throughout.

2. The North Face Endurance Challenge
Tackle rugged terrain no matter how far you’re prepared to go—from a 5- or 10-K all the way up to 50 miles of wilderness. 

3. Men’s Health Urbanathlon
These coed contests, from three to 12 miles in length, feature city hurdles you won’t find in any other outdoor event (like buses and stadium stairs).

4. Revolution3 Adventure Race
Push the limits of your endurance with these races, the lengths of which are determined by the land’s geography and your navigational (and sports) skills. Choose from a combo of biking, canoeing, or stand-up paddleboarding, and trekking or running.

For four other exciting ways to challenge yourself through fitness competitions, check out the March 2015 issue of Women’s Health, on newsstands now.

More from Women’s Health:
7 Winter Workout Looks That’ll Turn Heads
10 Ways to Have Your Best Hike Ever
Dream It, Do It: Women’s Health Fitness Director Jen Ator Conquers Her First Ironman

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Entertainment

5 Ways to Stay on Track for Weight Loss When You’re an Out-of-Town Guest

A.K.A. how not to O.D. on your aunt’s butter-soaked side dishes

You may have your food habits locked down at home, but chances are they go right out the window when you’re a guest in someone else’s house. After all, they’re putting you up and feeding you, so it seems super-rude to push food around your plate like a little kid. Still, there are steps you can take so you stay comfortable with what you’re eating, say Krista Yoder Latortue, M.P.H., R.D., executive director of FamilyFood LLC. Try her tips to eat healthfully and be a gracious house guest.

MORE: The Best (and Worst!) Holiday-Themed Drinks

Accommodate Your Own Dietary Restrictions
It’s a good thing to let your hosts know about food allergies, but it can be hard to explain gluten-free or vegetarian eating to your old-school granny. “You have to adapt based on who you’re staying with,” says Yoder Latortue. “The best thing is to bring your own stuff if possible, or purchase things when you arrive. Accommodate yourself instead of making them accommodate you.”

Assess the Spread Before digging In
It can be easy to grab the first things you glimpse at a buffet, but pause to get the lay of the land first. “See what’s available, then divide into three categories: the foods that you want that aren’t healthy; the foods that are healthy; and the foods you don’t care about,” says Yoder Latortue. Fill your plate with the healthy dishes, but be sure to leave a little space for the richer foods. “Don’t deny yourself completely. Then you wind up binging. Have the indulgences, but in small amounts.”

MORE: 4 Exercises for Looking HOT in Your Holiday Party Dress

Bring Healthy Dishes When Possible
If possible, and polite in the circumstances, offer to bring a dish that you know you’ll be happy to dig into. “If it’s a potluck, bring something healthy,” says Yoder Latortue. “Then at the very least, you know you have your dish.” Here are some ideas!

Accept That the Holidays are a Time to Indulge
You know that aunt whose favorite ingredient is butter? One fat-laden meal at her place won’t kill you or your otherwise healthy diet. “Keep in mind that it can’t be the rule for all holiday parties and events,” says Yoder Latortue. “Try to be healthy at most of them.”

Remember That Food Equals Love to Many People
“Keep it in the back of your mind,” says Yoder Latortue. “The person who’s hosting you is really trying to show their love to you through food.” Your family members aren’t trying to sabotage your diet—even your brother who loves to mock your vegetarianism. If you remember that your mom might actually like toiling away in the kitchen for you, it makes it much easier to stomach what she’s serving—in a portion size that you feel comfortable with, of course.

MORE: The Super-Easy Gift You Need to Give to Everyone You Know

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Travel

5 Ways Scuba Diving Works Your Body ALL Over

Trend alert: A girl's most memorable workout ever is under the water.

If you think scuba diving is just for guys like Jacques Cousteau and Scuba Steve, think again. With certified celeb divers such as Jessica Biel, Jessica Alba, Sandra Bullock, Katie Holmes, and Nina Dobrev leading the way, women now make up about 30 percent of all divers, according to the Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI). 

“Diving is becoming more trendy and a popular way to stay active and fit on vacation among women,” says Lauren Schuil, Marketing and Digital Administrator at Aqua Lung, which recently launched Details, a complete dive line designed by women for women.

MORE: 5 Water Sports That Get You Total-Body Toned

But unlike most trends, it’s nearly impossible to tire of diving. And once you’re certified, you’re certified for life. So ditch your sneaks and the hotel gym, and dive in to reap these five body-boosting benefits of scuba:

Head-to-Toe Toning
Quick science lesson: Water is heavier than air. What that means for your muscles: Continuous resistance without the joint-jolting impact of hitting the pavement—or even the beach. “Because diving is a low-impact sport, many divers do not and should not feel the physical exertion under water, but they are in fact using major muscle groups to propel themselves through resistance created by the water,” says Kelly Rockwood, PADI Americas course diver and fitness expert. What’s more, a full air tank weighs about 40 pounds, and the rest of your gear can easily add another 20+ pounds to your frame, making gearing up—and getting to the back of the boat—a strength workout in itself.

Crazy Calorie Burns
Just 30 minutes of mermaiding around can burn about 400 calories, thanks to the water’s constant resistance—and your constant swimming. Most diving excursions last about 30 to 45 minutes, so depending on your weight, fitness level, the current, and the intensity of your dive, zapping 500-plus calories during a single dive is totally possible, says Brad Johnson, Ph.D., fitness and wellness expert and author of Scared Skinny No More. If you are doing multiple dives in a day (depending on your depth and time of each dive, you could do four or more in one outing), remember to eat a small snack and hydrate between dives, he advises.  

MORE: What It’s Like to Go Scuba Diving for the First Time  

Better Breathing
The first rule of Scuba Club: Never hold your breath. Why? Breathing deeply and slowly during a dive reduces the risk of a lung-expansion injury. But this breathing technique also has lung-boosting benefits. It increases lung capacity, strengthens the respiratory system, and can cut your risk of developing diseases of the lungs, according to research published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. The study focused on deep breathing in general, but during scuba you have to practice deep belly breathing—the same as in the study—for an hour at a time for each dive, which is more than people generally do during deep-breathing exercises. Plus, by allowing the body to take in more oxygen and release more carbon dioxide, deep breathing can lower blood pressure and quell depression, anxiety, and stress-related disorders, according to Harvard Medical School.

Slashed Stress
Combine endorphins, deep breathing, and pretty fish, and it’s understandable that a good scuba session could result in a less stressed-out you. While that’s not hard to put together, one study from the Human Performance Laboratory at Karlstad University Sven-Åke Bood shows that scuba’s stress-fighting benefits may also have to do with the peace and quiet of being immersed in the ocean. Scuba diving reduces sensory input (think: sounds are quieter, motions are slower, etc.) to a minimum, which can provide major stress relief, according to the study’s researchers. They found that regular flotation tank sessions relieve chronic stress-related ailments in more than half of patients. 

Higher Self-Esteem
Scuba diving is physically demanding and seriously takes you out of your comfort zone. “The fact is that scuba requires you to swim, handle conditions on the surface, monitor your equipment, and navigate underwater life,” says Alfred Bove, M.D., Ph.D., professor at the Temple University School of Medicine and a certified diver. “The better you feel you can handle these stressors under the water, the more prepared you feel to face challenges above the surface.”  And that feeling of preparation equals confidence and fulfillment.

MORE: 4 Ways to Stick to Your Fitness Routine This Summer 

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Travel

How Blake Lively Stays Fit Without a Gym

Really, she doesn't go! But she does have another trick…

Hate going to the gym? So does Blake Lively. And she doesn’t make herself go, either.

So how does Blake stay in such amazing shape? Before you turn totally green with envy, consider what she recently told Extra: “I’ve said before, ‘Oh I hate the gym, and I eat chocolate,’ but the part that they don’t print—they make me look like a jerk!—is that I hate the gym so I find other ways to be active. I dance, I ride bicycles, I hike. I go out and exercise in nature. I find ways to be physical where you’re also having an experience because I’m very experience-oriented.”

If that sounds seriously fun to you, know it’s seriously healthy, too: Research shows that spending time in the great outdoors is a guaranteed health-booster—and that exercising outside burns more calories and is more satisfying than working out behind closed doors. So whether you enjoy regular gym trips or not, take a tip from Blake and treat yourself to some vitamin N with these pointers and ideas: 

25 Gorgeous Hikes You Have to Do in Your Lifetime

5 Things You Need for Outdoor Workouts

Steal Lea Michele’s Hiking Playlist

4 Fabulous Outdoor Workouts to Fall in Love With ASAP

6 Ways to Work Out Safely in the Heat

3 Tips for Buying Your First Bike

MORE: Blake Lively’s Secret Ingredient For Luscious Locks 

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Travel

6 Nature-Themed Clothes and Accessories You’re Gonna LOVE

Wear nature on your sleeve (or feet, or legs)

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25 Gorgeous Hikes You Have to Do in Your Lifetime

Allow us to introduce you to your hiking bucket list

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3 Tips for Decorating with Indoor Plants

Living décor can lift your mood and productivity—here's how to bring the plant life inside

Go ahead, track some dirt inside. Indoor foliage, including crazy-cool plant walls, can purify air, reduce anxiety, and hike up happiness. Follow these three uber-smart pointers to decorate your home with green things (and reap the benefits)!

Start Small
Newbies should first practice just keeping a houseplant or two alive for a few months, says Eliza Blank, founder of plant delivery site TheSill.com. Try hardy, water-once-a-week varietals such as philodendrons, snake plants, or ZZ plants.

Get Vertical
Graduate to a plant (or “living”) wall. These vertical gardens can double as artsy installations and aren’t that tough to set up, says Blank. Buy three or more wall-mountable planters with built-in mini water tanks (try Woolly Pocket Living Wall Planter, $27, woollypocket.com). Pot your flora in planters, then mount them—one on top of the other, in a row, however you like!—on a wall directly opposite or close to a window. Blank suggests starting with full, flourishing pothos; their leaves will camouflage the planters and make it look as if the greenery is floating.

Add Oomph
For an even bigger setup, large wall-pocket frames can hold dozens of plants in individual cells; the overall trompe l’oeil effect makes it appear as if an entire garden is growing directly out of a wall (try Williams-Sonoma Free Standing Vertical Garden, $400, williams-sonoma.com). Fill the various plant cells with different types of vegetation or edible herbs. Or create a mini forest out of ferns or succulents. Research from NASA suggests that indoor plants remove significant amounts of harmful contaminants from the air.

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