Canadian Living's favourite latke recipe: Golden Latkes Makes 36 servings Ingredients 10 large potatoes, peeled (about 5 lb/2.2 kg) 2 onions, halved 2 eggs 1/2 cup (125 mL) matzo meal or finely crushed unsalted crackers (such as Saltine) 1-1/2 tsp (7 mL) salt 1/2 tsp (2 mL) pepper vegetable oil for frying Preparation By hand or in food processor with shredder blade, grate potatoes alternating with onions. In large bowl, whisk together eggs, matzo meal, salt and pepper. Add potatoes and onions; toss to mix.
Pour enough oil into each of 2 large heavy skillets to come 1/4 inch (5 mm) up side; heat over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Using 1/4 cup (50 mL) lightly packed potato mixture per latke, add to pan, leaving 1 inch (2.5 cm) between each; flatten slightly. Fry, turning once, until edges are golden and crisp, 6 minutes. Drain on paper towel-lined racks.
With small sieve, remove any potato pieces from oil and discard. Repeat with remaining latke mixture, heating more oil as necessary. (Make-ahead: Let cool. Cover and refrigerate on paper towel-lined rimmed baking sheet for up to 8 hours. Recrisp on unlined baking sheets in 450°F/230°C oven for about 5 minutes.)
Three homemade latke toppings your guests will love (seen in image above): • Roasted Red Pepper Relish - Makes 2 cups 1 jar (500 mL) roasted red peppers 1 green onion, sliced 2 tbsp (25 mL) chopped fresh parsley 1 small clove garlic, minced 1 tbsp (15 mL) white balsamic or wine vinegar 1 tbsp (15 mL) extra-virgin olive oil 1/2 tsp (2 mL) granulated sugar Pinch pepper
Preparation: Drain red peppers and pat dry; finely chop. In bowl, combine red peppers, onion, parsley, garlic, vinegar, oil, sugar and pepper. (Make-ahead: Refrigerate in airtight container for up to 24 hours.)
• Chunky Maple Pear Sauce - Makes 2 cups 3 pears 2 tbsp (25 mL) lemon juice 1/4 tsp (1 mL) grated nutmeg 2 tbsp (25 mL) maple syrup, liquid honey or granulated sugar
Preparation: Peel, core and chop pears into bite-size chunks. In saucepan, bring pears, lemon juice, 2 tbsp (25 mL) water and nutmeg to boil; cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, over medium-low heat until tender, about 20 minutes. Mash until chunky. Stir in maple syrup. Let cool. (Make-ahead: Refrigerate in airtight container for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 2 weeks.)
• Pink Applesauce - Makes 2 cups 6 McIntosh or empire apples (2 lb/1 kg) 1/4 cup (50 mL ) apple cider or juice or water 3 tbsp (50 mL ) granulated sugar 2 tbsp (25 mL ) lemon juice 1/4 tsp (1 mL ) ground cinnamon
Preparation: Core and slice apples. In large saucepan, bring apples, cider, sugar, lemon juice and cinnamon to boil; cover and simmer over medium-low heat until tender, about 30 minutes.
Press through food mill or sieve to remove skins. Let cool. (Make-ahead: Refrigerate in airtight container for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 1 month.)
"I've seen more changes this year than in the past three years," says Lisa Gittens, a tax expert at H&R Block.
Here are eight things families will want to be aware of when filling out their 2016 return.
1. Last chance on certain tax credits
The government is phasing out a handful of tax credits and focusing on larger benefits. The children's arts and fitness tax credits will be halved for the 2016 tax year, and cut completely next year, meaning families will no longer be able to defray costs for things like swimming lessons, ballet and tutoring. For post-secondary students, the education and textbook credits are being eliminated in 2017, although education amounts carried forward from previous years will still be claimable.
2. No more income splitting
Also gone is the Family Tax Cut, which lets the higher-earning spouse transfer up to $50,000 of income to the lower-earner. During the 2015 election, the Liberals promised to cut it, calling it a "tax break for the wealthy."
With the benefit gone, Gittens recommends a spousal RRSP, which allows the higher-earner to contribute to the lower-earning spouse's RRSP and claim the tax benefit. "You may have an RRSP set up, but you haven't thought about setting it up for your spouse. This is an ideal time to use that strategy," she says.
3. Changes to child benefits
The Canada Child Benefit was a signature feature of the 2016 budget, replacing the old Universal Child Care Benefit and the Canada Child Tax Benefit. It's non-taxable, so you don't have to claim it. However, in order to continue to receive the benefit, both parents must file a return, even if one doesn't generate any income, says Gittens.
Also keep in mind that the benefit started in July, so you still have to claim the taxable UCC for the first six months of the year.
4. New tax rates
New tax rates mean you may or may not be pleasantly surprised by the size of your tax bill this year. If you're in the meaty middle that earns between $45,000 and $90,000, your rate will come down to 20.5 percent from 22 percent.
"Most Canadians will be receiving more money at the end of the day than they were under the old system," says Jamie Golombek, managing director of tax and estate planning at CIBC Wealth Strategies Group.
However, high-income earners will be paying more due to a new 33 percent bracket for people earnings more than $200,000.
5. Child care expenses
Childcare costs are usually the biggest deduction available for families, says Golombek. But what many people don't realize is that it goes beyond simply daycare. If you have a nanny, you can claim that expense, but also babysitting, if it's during the day, and summer or day camp.
6. Disability tax credit and family caregiver amount
If you have family members with a disability there are certain credits that may be available to you. The Disability Tax Credit is available to people with disabilities to reduce their taxes. For children under age 18, a parent or caregiver may be able to claim the unused amount.
If you're a caregiver to a family member with physical or mental impairments, you may also be able to claim an additional $2,121, according to the Canada Revenue Agency.
7. Selling your principal residence
Selling your home has typically not been something you've had to report on your taxes, because usually Canadians don't get taxed for capital gains on their principle residence. But starting with the 2016 tax year, individuals who sold their principal residence during the year must report the sale. The government is ostensibly doing this to crack down on people who try to pass off income-generating homes as their principal residence.
8. eFile early, get your refund early
Tax deadline is April 30, but if you want to get ahead of the game, file early, before the government is inundated with last-minute returns. You can still file the old paper return, but Gittens says you'll be looking at a turnaround time of anywhere up to eight weeks, versus 10-14 days for a return filed early and electronically.
Here are some scary truths: 70 percent of new Alzheimer's patients in Canada will be women, and we're diagnosed with depression and dementia at twice the rate of men. But new research says there are three simple lifestyle changes we can make right now to keep our brains healthy as we age.
You brush your teeth to prevent tooth decay and check your blood pressure to monitor for signs of heart problems. But are you doing anything to keep your brain in tip-top shape? Because you should be. Brain health, which experts define as a combination of cognitive (memory, attention, thinking) and mental (emotional well-being) fitness, is a major, albeit under-the- radar, health issue for Canadian women.
It's major because as we age, so do our brains. Vascular changes can decrease blood flow; we can lose volume in key areas, including the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex, the regions responsible for learning and memory. Myelin, a fatty material that makes up the protective coating around nerve fibres, starts to deteriorate, causing the brain to slow down. And nerve cells can develop plaques and tangles— structures caused by the buildup of proteins called beta-amyloids that can disrupt the brain's normal function. In some people, these and other signs of normal aging can cause mental health problems, strokes and brain disorders such as dementia and Alzheimer's, and increase the risk of diseases such as multiple sclerosis.
Brain health is an under-the-radar issue because, though women are more likely to experience cognitive decline (thanks to dementia or Alzheimer's) and to suffer from depression, most of the research on these conditions still focuses on men.
Thankfully, studies are showing that straightforward lifestyle changes—exercising regularly and not smoking are at the top of the list—help shore up what researchers call "cognitive reserve," a buffer that "delays the changes or makes your body better equipped to handle those changes," says Lauren Drogos, a brain researcher at the University of Calgary.
In fact, Drogos says there's evidence to show that, in some people, even serious symptoms do not necessarily develop into cognitive impairment. She points to the Nun Study, a famous long-running research project on aging and Alzheimer's that has been tracking 678 nuns from convents across the United States since the mid-1980s. One of the nuns, Sister Mary, died at the age of 101 showing no outward signs of cognitive decline—but when researchers examined her brain, they were shocked to find she had "abundant neurofibrillary tangles and senile plaques, the classic lesions of Alzheimer's disease." Scientists don't know exactly why some people can have severe symptoms, such as plaques and tangles, without experiencing cognitive decline, but, happily, cases like Sister Mary do show that dementia isn't an inevitable part of aging.
And since women are more likely than men to be diagnosed with many of these problems, the more we consider brain health when making our day-to-day lifestyle decisions, the better. (Bonus: These changes also benefit your heart and help prevent other diseases, including Type 2 diabetes and cancer.) So here's what you can do to take care of your brain.
This is your brain on exercise If you had to pick just one lifestyle change to make in the name of brain health, experts agree exercise tops the list—especially for women.
We consider neuroplasticity, the brain's capacity to form new neural connections, an exciting part of a child's development, but we now know our brains can continue to grow, repair and improve as adults, too. Physical activity is a well-researched trigger. Not only can working out bolster our day-to-day functioning and alertness but it also appears to help us repair brain damage. Plus, it slows down aging and the onset of age-related brain diseases.
Working up a sweat and pumping up your heart rate can lead to a healthier vascular system in the brain, which decreases blood pressure and oxidative stress (when your body's antioxidants can't fight off free radicals), and increases antioxidant activity, according to Marc Poulin, an Alzheimer's researcher and professor of physiology at the University of Calgary. Vigorous exercise also floods the bloodstream with a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which readies the body for repair and heightens the brain's ability to learn and form new memories. Plus, hitting the gym helps the brain repair myelin; a lack of the nerve fibre–protecting substance is a factor in developing multiple sclerosis.
Exercising can also restore crucial brain volume. Research has shown that the hippocampus— home to memory, learning and emotion—starts shrinking after age 55 by about one to two percent a year, but just one year of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise done three days a week can increase its size by two percent.
And while most of the research is about the benefits of getting in your cardio, Dr. Teresa Liu-Ambrose, an associate professor and Canada research chair at The University of British Columbia and the Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute, says strength training is also effective, as it can enhance brain performance and function by 11 to 17 percent. "Women live longer [than men], and age itself is the greatest risk factor for dementia," she says. "But the good news is when we look at the benefit of aerobic exercise on cognition in older adults, women seem to benefit more."
The takeaway: You can reap the rewards from even a 15-minute walk. Of course, the longer you exercise, the better, especially if you get your sweat on and your heart rate up. If you want to tick a few other brain health tips off your list, consider joining a team sport. It blends physical, social and cognitive skills, and "can also add pleasure and meaning to our lives," says Dr. Nasreen Khatri, a registered clinical psychologist, gerontologist and neuroscientist at the Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest Health Sciences in Toronto.
If you have an office job and find you're sedentary most of the day, take a few minutes every hour or so to get up and move around. Research also suggests switching to a standup desk may improve your brain function.
Did you know? Taking care of a loved one—most often a spouse in your later years—can be a risk factor for developing depression and, eventually, dementia . But research out of the Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest Health Sciences in Toronto found, for the first time, that cognitive behavioural therapy, a form of talk therapy, can improve both mood and cognition.
This is your brain on sleep After a good night's sleep, you feel alert and ready to tackle the day. But that's not just because your brain has been resting. It has also been busy filing away memories and taking out the trash, so to speak, thanks to the glymphatic system, which washes the brain of waste materials. For example, a protein called betaamyloid, which is known to play a role in the development of Alzheimer's, acts as a neurotoxin when it builds up, killing neural cells in the brain. But a good sleep removes excess beta-amyloid and other waste materials, says Dr. Liu-Ambrose.
Because one of the common symptoms of Alzheimer's is disrupted sleep, it's unclear whether a lack of shut-eye should be considered part of the progression of the disease or a risk factor on its own, due to the buildup of beta-amyloids.
Nevertheless, poor sleep hastens your brain's aging process—much like sitting in the sun sans SPF speeds up your skin's aging process. And disturbed sleeping has been linked to all aspects of brain health, including an increased risk of depression and a decline in cognitive functions such as memory and reasoning. In one U.K. study out of University College London Medical School, middle-aged women who reported a drop in the average number of hours they slept had lower scores on cognitive tests involving reasoning and vocabulary.
What's more, our central clocks—a.k.a. our circadian rhythms—can drift from the patterns of our childhood, making it hard to get that much-needed rest. "As we age, our central clock is less sensitive to stimuli like light, food and physical activity," says Dr. Liu-Ambrose; this change makes it harder to fall, and stay, asleep. We can also become more vulnerable to stress and anxiety, which further disrupt those rhythms.
One way to combat these fluctuations is to try what seasoned travellers do for jet-lag recovery: Get exposure to real daylight and eat your meals on time to nudge your brain into a routine. And don't use bright screens at night, especially before bed, because they mimic sunlight and tell our circadian system that it's day, not night—and, therefore, not time to sleep. Those who need more help might consider light therapies that have been developed to treat seasonal affective disorder, says Dr. Liu-Ambrose.
The takeaway: Many researchers consider six to eight hours of sleep a night to be the standard sweet spot, though this can vary by individual. If you're routinely getting less than that and waking often in the night, not feeling refreshed in the morning and experiencing bouts of sleepiness during the day, talk to your doctor about sleep strategies—especially if you're experiencing anxiety or depression. In the short term, napping can reverse some of the effects of poor sleep, including memory loss and increased stress. And you only need a 30-minute catnap to feel the results.
This is your brain on a healthy diet There's no perfect "brain food," but eating a nutritious diet (lots of veggies and fruit, lean meat, fish and healthy fats) is the smartest way to maintain long-term brain function and memory, and to slow the development of brain diseases.
Getting enough of specific nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids is important but not the holy grail. University of Pittsburgh researchers recently found that people who eat broiled or baked fish at least once a week have larger brain volumes in the areas used for memory and cognition, despite varying levels of omega-3 in the fish they ate. Senior researcher James Becker concluded that he and his colleagues were "tapping into a more general set of lifestyle factors that were affecting brain health, of which diet is just one part."
In a 2015 study from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, researchers looked at the broad set of eating habits of more than 900 people over 4 1/2 years and found that those who adhered to a diet high in fish, vegetables, nuts and berries, and low in fat and sugar, slowed down their brains' aging by about 7 1/2 years when compared to those with less-healthy diets. The healthy eaters cut their risk of Alzheimer's by up to 53 percent. And even when those people only adhered to the diet part time, they saw some benefits— an effect that has not been found in other diets, says Drogos.
The researchers dubbed the most promising cluster of these eating habits the MIND (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) diet, which blends the longevity-boosting Mediterranean diet and the heart-healthy low-fat DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet that doctors recommend to patients at risk of high blood pressure and heart disease. More studies need to be done on why it works, but in the meantime, there's no downside to eating healthier and ditching the junk.
The takeaway: Add more veggies to your diet. Research shows that older adults who report eating more of this food group perform better in mentally stimulating activities than those who don't.
Did you know? "Menopause brain" is a real thing. As with "pregnancy brain," its more famous counterpart, women approaching menopause really do experience memory problems and brain fog. Researchers think a drop in estrogen levels might be the cause.
Can you train your brain? Does firing up a brain-training app actually help improve your memory and ward off dementia? Sorry to disappoint, but right now, evidence for the benefits of computer-based brain games is weak, says Dr. Teresa Liu-Ambrose, an associate professor and Canada research chair at The University of British Columbia and the Vancouver Coastal HealthResearch Institute. Brain games appear to help you learn to play them better, but research doesn't show that those tasks transfer to other aspects of brain performance. The same goes for crossword puzzles and sudoku, which help your vocabulary and math skills, but nothing more.
How to maintain your mental edge at any age
In your 30s: This is the time to make sure you establish healthy habits—such as getting plenty of exercise and sleep, and eating a good diet—that will affect your brain health throughout your adult years. "When it comes to maintaining brain health, the best time to start is yesterday," says Dr. Nasreen Khatri, a registered clinical psychologist, gerontologist and neuroscientist at the Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest Health Sciences in Toronto. If you feel you need a boost at work, consider old-fashioned writing instead of typing on your computer. A study in the journal Psychological Science found that university students who made handwritten notes were better equipped to recall conceptual ideas from their professors' lectures than those who had typed notes on their laptops.
In your 40s and 50s: People in this age group are part of the "sandwich generation," and often face caring for their aging parents on top of dealing with their other work, financial and parenting obligations. So, unsurprisingly, they're super stressed—and this can affect both mental health and day-to-day brain function. Dr. Khatri says it's essential to prioritize and edit out activities and commitments that increase stress without adding value to your productivity or happiness. That's because "maintaining mental health in early and mid life is key to safeguarding cognitive health later on," she says. "Untreated depression in midlife doubles your risk of developing dementia in later life."
In your 60s and beyond: In your senior years, socializing with friends and family, and picking up activities that allow you to connect, such as volunteering, are key to maintaining brain health. And sorry, keeping up with folks on Facebook isn't enough. "Ask yourself: Is social media rounding out my real-life social experiences?" suggests Dr. Khatri. What you need is face-to-face interaction.
"The little fairies I saw were about, I would say, the size of two-year-olds, that height," says 97-year-old Mary Flynn of Otterbury, N.L. "When I came down the way, I saw a red bandana and it blew across the road. When I looked to see where it went, I saw two little fairies by a tree with bright red windbreakers and little peaked caps."
Whether they're fairy stories, tales of the early settlements or other otherworldly yarns, Newfoundland's long-standing oral traditions have always been a powerful force. But it's the fairy stories, in particular, that are rife on the Rock. Full of wonder and magic yet anchored by the
real world experiences of Newfoundlanders, fairy folklore is as culturally important to the province as any historical building or artifact.
Not your everyday fairy The province's rich fairy folklore traditions originate from the Scottish, Irish and English who brought over their stories when they settled on Newfoundland in the 1600s. These fairies (also known as the Good People or the Little People) are not of the Tinker Bell variety; the creatures come in all sizes and have been glimpsed in the shape of children, adults, glowing lights and even animals. They're mischievous and apt to entrance you, cause trouble and lead you astray. And they definitely
don't have wings.
That most of Newfoundland's fairies are described as troublemakers is somewhat surprising. "The majority of fairies are not good fairies," says Barbara Rieti, who did a PhD thesis in folklore, on the subject of fairies, at Memorial University of Newfoundland in St. John's, N.L., and later authored the book
Strange Terrain: The Fairy World in Newfoundland (ISER Books, Memorial University, 1991). "They play tricks and lead you over the edge or a cliff. They'll change people. Or you'll get a fairy blast when they hit you, and then nasty stuff comes out of the wound, like sticks, balls of wool and fish bones."
Wounds dripping with balls of wool and fish bones (and the obvious entertainment factor in these tales) aside, fairy stories often held deeper meaning. "To me, fairy stories had to do with knowing and not knowing, a very important element in Newfoundland culture," says Rieti. "Because communities were small and isolated but interconnected, knowing someone, knowing who they are and where they come from was important." Fairy stories weren't just about fairies; they were about living through challenges and surviving, be it in the woods, on the water or down the trail.
Nature versus civilization "Fairies aren't so much to be feared as they are to be respected and, where possible, avoided," says Dale Jarvis, intangible cultural heritage development officer for the
Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador. Like Rieti, he believes fairy folklore is deeply connected to the natural world. "In a sense, fairies are nature personified," says Jarvis. "They're neither good nor bad; they don't follow human rules. Fairy stories are, in a way, how we talk about our interaction with the unpredictability of nature."
In many cases, the stories are about regular Newfoundlanders who have incredible things happen to them.
Someone picking berries will hear fairy music, become entranced and lose their way in the woods; days later they will return home, not knowing what happened. If feeling mischievous, fairies might swap a baby for a changeling, a sickly being not entirely human. Fairies may join children for tea on the beach, spirit a loved one away on a horse or place a curse, making a family member mute. Fairies could even take people away and drown them in the sea. Much of the province's fairy folklore exists at the point where the civilized world and nature intersect. "The stories take place at the end of the garden, where people go to pick berries, in the meadow, at the beach, or slightly away from the house-in the border zone between the wild and the tame," says Jarvis.
Charms for protection With potential fairy-wrought disaster always near, there are many traditional charms Newfoundlanders use for protection. Keeping bread in your pockets can ward off the fairies. Or, if you are in danger of being led astray, you can turn an article of clothing inside out, putting you back on the right path (it confuses the fairies and breaks their spell). Money is also a charm. Some locals pin silver coins to their clothing or place coins inside baby carriages. Religious metals have the same effect. "The tricky part," says Jarvis, "is that, for every story you hear and every rule about the fairies, there's another story that says the opposite." It seems that, above all else, Newfoundland fairies are capricious.
In days past, fairy stories may have been used keep children from wandering too far into the woods or into a forbidden area
—an imaginative safety mechanism, if you will. A parent might say, "Don't go too far because the fairies might get you." Other times, fairy stories may have been used to cover or deny a violent incident, such as a beating or a physical or mental illness. It would be common to hear that a community member was "away with the fairies" or "touched by the fairies." Whether to entertain, teach, keep children safe or manage a difficult circumstance, fairy talk has always mingled with Newfoundland's more tangible cultural traditions.
Fairy central Fairy folklore is particularly strong in the Conception Bay area of the
Avalon Peninsula. In Cupids, the first English settlement in Canada, fairy stories have had centuries to take root.
Cupids Legacy Centre, a museum that includes an archaeology field lab and fairy garden, is committed to keeping fairy folklore alive and thriving in the community. "Newfoundland isn't just about historical artifacts," says Peter Laracy, the centre's general manager. "We're also about music, dance, poetry, language and stories. It's the intangible traditions that reflect who we are and what we are."
Laracy firmly believes that the beginnings of Newfoundland culture are based in oral storytelling, which he considers to be the most fundamental form of communication. It's a different level of connection; there's trust between the storyteller and the audience, one in which those listening suspend their normal concept of the world and just believe. He finds that today's Newfoundlanders are still drawn to the otherworldly and inexplicable. "I think people want to let go of the fact that everything has to be explainable," says Laracy. "Listening to and telling fairy stories frees the mind and allows you to believe that anything is possible
—there's a freedom of human expression."
The captivating quality of fairy stories lives most fully in the actual telling. Laracy says a good fairy story and storyteller can evoke emotions such as fear, wonder, awe, sadness and joy. Every year, Cupids Legacy Centre hosts an evening that celebrates fairy culture.
On the rooftop garden, which is decorated with fairy sculptures, the crowd is entertained by a fairy play. Then, the community's renowned storytellers (Mary Flynn being one who has seen fairies on several occasions) tell dramatic fairy stories in a room full of community members and fairy enthusiasts who hang on every word.
The Fairy Ring in Conception Bay North. Photo by Dennis Flynn
Many of the stories recount fairy sightings, strange happenings or talk of fairy paths and fairy ground (the places Newfoundlanders avoid for fear of disturbing the fairies). In the Conception Bay North area, there's an ancient fairy ring, a circle of 13 massive beech trees surrounding barren ground, where fairies have their meetings, of course. Legend has it that nothing will grow on fairy ground. It's a quiet, spooky place, ripe for otherworldly gatherings.
A future for fairies Like the beech trees anchored on fairy ground, fairy folklore has been around for a while, centuries even. Folklorists are often asked if the stories and traditions will eventually die out. Dale Jarvis is adamant in his response. "No, I think we're seeing a revival in fairy stories. People may not believe in them the same way they once did, but there's a growing understanding here in Newfoundland that this is a part of our culture, part of our traditions." Barbara Rieti is of the same mind. "What has surprised me over time is how persistent fairy stories have been. People will say that the tradition is receding, but fairy stories never really recede."
Through fairy stories, Newfoundlanders connect to their history, to each other and to nature. They all have a fairy story to tell
—and it's one likely passed on from generation to generation. The stories themselves are full of delightful drama, adding a distinct cultural flavour that isn't found anywhere else in Canada. And even though the fairies might be, frankly, terrifying, every local enjoys connecting with an audience (of one or 100, it makes no difference) to share a tale. "What I love about fairy stories," says Jarvis, "is that a real person has had this magical experience. These stories are about survival, change, hope and resiliency. And who doesn't want to believe in magic?"
Forget oversize luggage—pack smart with our space-saving tips for your next vacation.
You’ve been there before: You squeeze four pairs of shoes, nine bottoms and nearly every top in your wardrobe into a suitcase. Then, during your week-long beach vacation, you end up wearing only a third of what you packed. And, of course, there’s your beauty arsenal of toners, lotions and special shampoo. Needless to say, after all that heavy packing, lugging around a massive suitcase through the sand isn’t all that relaxing.
So we turned to Allison Fleece and Danielle Thornton, cofounders of WHOA Travel, a boutique travel firm that plans adventures for women (think hiking Kilimanjaro or kayaking in Costa Rica). Read on for their top tips on packing lightly and smartly for your next beach holiday.
Beauty picks: Only the essentials
To pack your beauty must-haves, head to your local drugstore and purchase a traveller’s set of mini squeeze bottles for transporting moisturizer, shampoo, conditioner and cleanser. It’s a much more compact alternative to packing full-size products.
Don’t forget to pack sunscreen and an after-sun treatment. “If your skin is sensitive and you don’t know how it’s going to react to a new sunscreen, bring your own,” says Fleece. “And finding aloe vera is not always the easiest thing.” Another beauty essential for travel is baby powder. It’s perfect for degreasing hair and removing sand that’s stuck to your body. Just sprinkle the baby powder onto your legs and feet, and the sand will come right off.
Pack, then edit
When it comes to clothing and shoes, stick to multipurpose items and eliminate duplicates. You’ll never need two pairs of bright-colour shorts or two wrap dresses. Thornton recommends having a pair of flat sandals that swing two ways: comfortable enough for walking around town and dressy enough for dinner and dancing. Once you make your selections, always reconsider each item that you’ve packed. “I pack everything I think I need, leave it for a few hours, then come back to it, and suddenly I realize what I don’t need,” says Thornton.
Keeping the contents of your luggage organized will help you quickly find what you need. Resealable produce or freezer bags are your best bet for keeping smaller items, such as socks, underwear and bathing suits, at the ready; your clothes are easier to find when they’re kept together, and see-through plastic will allow you to identify them quickly. Or you can invest in a mesh garment bag, Thornton and Fleece’s must-have travel essential. “You can stuff them with scarves, T-shirts and other clothing. And pushing all of the air out saves a lot of space,” explains Thornton. If you decide to bring a few small accessories with you, empty painkiller bottles are a great place to store rings and earrings. Meanwhile, dainty bracelets and necklaces can be slipped into straws and taped at each end to prevent them from knotting.
Keep electronics to a minimum
All-in-one entertainment is another way you can keep your luggage light. Instead of packing books, download them onto your tablet. “It’s all about knowing what I’m going to need,” says Thornton. “I leave my laptop at home and get everything I need on my phone.”
Pick a souvenir you’ll wear while you’re there
Leave a little space in your luggage for souvenirs you pick up upon arrival, and opt to purchase goods that you can wear or use during the course of your trip. Fleece’s go-to souvenir is the sarong. “You can use it to lie on the beach, to wear as a wrap when you grab a cocktail from inside the hotel and in evening when the sun goes down,” she says.
Other souvenirs to consider buying when you arrive at your destination: a wide-brimmed hat, a bathing suit and jewellery. “People always comment on the stuff we buy on vacation,” says Fleece, who has a collection of accessories from the beaches of Rio and the Bahamas.
Sample packing list
Here’s our list of beach-vacation essentials (not including the obvious toiletries, underwear, cellphone and pajamas). Use it as a guide when packing for your next exotic getaway.
-One cotton T-shirt
-Two sleeveless tops (one casual, one dressy)
-One pair of trousers
-One pair of shorts
-One maxi skirt
-Two breezy dresses
-One long-sleeved shirt or blouse
-One cardigan or sweater (for cooler evenings)
-Two bathing suits
-One pair of flip-flops or pool shoes
-One pair of day-to-night sandals
-One pair of hiking boots, water shoes or sneakers, depending on what adventures your vacation entails
-One pair of sunglasses
-One beach bag