8 Essentials for a Good Morning Routine

For the most part, people can be divided into two categories. The first group of people leap out of bed ready to start the day, sprint into the kitchen, and start preparing breakfast. They shower in a record time, get dressed, and jump out the door ready to start working.

The second group of people barely make it out of bed and sluggishly stumble through the first few hours of the day, but not after snoozing their alarm clock a few times, of course.

Unfortunately, I fall into the second category. Waking up is a pain, and I often struggle to get through the first two to three hours of the day without feeling distracted. While I pick up speed later in the day (and excel after 6 pm), the first few hours of the day are a bit of a blur for me.

Luckily, adopting good morning habits has allowed me to adapt to the normal early riser schedule and make the most of each day, despite my genetically imprinted night owl habits. Here’s how I do it:

  1. I practice getting out of bed every month. Steve Pavlina’s guide to waking up early is crucially important here and definitely worth reading if you’re a late riser.
  2. For the first 10 minutes of the day, I relax and do breathing exercises. Doing so helps me wake up, come to terms with the fact that I can’t waste time in bed, and get on with my day.
  3. I take cold showers, which have a huge number of medical and wellbeing benefits. You get used to it quickly.
  4. I drink coffee within 15 minutes of getting out of bed, normally right after I finish my breathing exercises. This way, I’m fully caffeinated by the time I sit down to to work. To save time, I use a capsule coffee machine (a Nespresso Inissia — you can view a list of the best tasting capsules here) as it requires virtually no clean up.
  5. I eat at least 40 grams of protein with breakfast, which seems to help me feel energized and full. I’m not anti-carb, but I find that carbs in the morning rarely leave me feeling satisfied and normally result in hunger problems later in the day.
  6. I open the curtains as wide as possible and keep two to three windows open for the first few hours of the day. I live in a hot climate, and the fresh air makes a big difference to my ability to focus and think.
  7. I work for an hour at a time, then take a 15 minute break. Doing so seems to keep me more focused than longer blocks of dedicated, endless work.
  8. I take it easy on the weekends. Life is no fun when you have to wake up early everyday. If you’re a night owl, hold yourself accountable with an early riser schedule during the week, but don’t be afraid to kick back and sleep in on Saturday and Sunday morning.


Asia Vacation Destinations for 2016: Our 4 Picks

Note: Reading this in 2017 or 2018? All of the destinations we’ve listed below are still just as good as they were last year. In fact, new hotels, attractions and things to do mean that many are even better than before

It’s almost the end of the year, and vacation season is fast approaching. Here are our five picks for destinations that offer the best mix of convenience, natural beauty and adventure:


An old, reliable favorite, Bali is one of Asia’s most versatile destinations. There’s great surfing, a massive selection of excellent beaches, world class diving, cultural activities, great nightlife… and — well, lots more. If you’re searching for a place that does everything very well, it’s hard to look past one of Asia’s most enchanting islands. Just pick somewhere other than Kuta to stay.

Recommended resource: Bali Guide


Huh? Pattaya, of all places? What was once Thailand’s capital of all things seedy is quickly becoming one of Southeast Asia’s best seaside cities. Pattaya is now home to one of Thailand’s top hotels, the Hilton Pattaya, and boasts a variety of great resorts just outside the city. If you’re popping into Bangkok for a few days, there’s no reason not to make the short trip here.

Recommended resource: Guest Friendly Hotels Pattaya


Japan’s second city, Osaka doesn’t have quite as much to offer in terms of glitz when compared to capital Tokyo, but it makes up for it with a friendly atmosphere and plenty of unique sights of its own. Just be prepared to pack a coat, since the December/January weather can get pretty darn cold.

Recommended resource: Osaka Info


An old favorite, Singapore is one of Asia’s best destinations for people that love a smooth, clean and streamlined experience. From shopping on Orchard Road to enjoying the activities available on Sentosa Island, Singapore has something to offer for every visitor.

Recommended resource: Singapore-Guide


Dubai has grown rapidly over the past two decades, transforming itself from a minor city into a global phenomenon. From Jumeirah Beach to the myriad of shopping malls, supertall buildings and incredible attractions like the spectacular Dubai Fountain, Dubai has a lot to offer as a summer (or all year, really, as it’s never cold) vacation destination.

Just be aware that despite Dubai’s reputation as a place to relax, party and have fun, it’s still quite a conservative country. If you’re travelling with an unmarried partner, double check that your hotel is unmarried guest friendly before you book to avoid a frustrating experience once you arrive.

Recommended resource: The Sophisticated Life’s Dubai Guide for First-Time Visitors

5 Travel Accessories You Can’t Afford to Leave Behind

Planning a vacation soon? Here are the five travel accessories I never leave home without:

  • A good backpack. I’m not talking about a huge “backpacking” backpack, but a backpack that’s small enough to bring on the plane as carry-on luggage. Choose something with enough interior space for a change of clothes, your tablet, a few books and your usual everyday carry — it will help out a lot for day trips and adventures.
  • A reversible belt. Belts don’t take up much space in your suitcase, but packing them can be a major annoyance. They’re soft and take damage easily when your suitcase is bumped or knocked over, and there’s no need to pack two when you only need one. Choose a simple reversible leather belt with brown on one side and black on the other — it will look good with jeans or, if it’s a little smaller, fit in well in a formal setting.
  • A good compact camera. A DSLR might take better quality photos, but there’s nothing more annoying than carrying around a bulky full frame camera with you. Pick a compact camera with a large sensor, like my personal favorite the Ricoh GR.
  • Good headphones, preferably noise cancelling ones. From long flights to bus trips, having a pair of headphones and some good albums makes even the longest haul trips much more tolerable. TechRadar’s list of the best noise cancelling headphones is a good place to start your shopping efforts.
  • A hygiene and toiletries kit. Packing your toothbrush, deodorant, medications and other essentials is much easier with a convenient kit. Amazon has a great selection of toiletry bags, most of which are priced at $20 or less.

Ready to travel? Pack the five essentials listed above and you’ll be better prepared for any trip, whether you’re visiting a nearby city or spending several weeks touring an entire continent.

How to Run a Marathon

  • Start training early. I spent six months training for my first marathon and wish I had spent a year on it. The longer you train before the event, the better you’ll feel on the day (and the better you’ll run).
  • Seriously, make sure you don’t have injuries. If you have any slight injuries from years past, they will all come out during the event. Get everything checked — not just the obvious sports injuries, but things like your blood pressure.
  • Just like you started training early, start dieting early. You can run a marathon while you’re overweight, but it will hurt. Expect sore joints and a much harder time keeping a good pace. Runners World has a great diet guide for newbies interested in getting into shape from a nutritional perspective.
  • Cover your nipples. Seriously! Marathon runners can develop something called a fissure of the nipple caused by friction. The end result is pain, plus nasty stains on your favorite running gear. I recommend wearing a compression vest (LANBAOSI has a good, affordable one) to avoid any chafing. For women, silicone nipple covers (the type you wear with a backless dress) are also a good choice.
  • Take it easy on the carb loading. Yes, you need energy. No, you don’t need to eat like a pig. Change your habits suddenly before the race and you’ll feel awful once you get off the starting line.
  • After you do it, feel proud of yourself. There’s nothing wrong with celebrating your achievement. You did something very few people ever do. Even if you walked, you still made it across the finish line.

My Favorite Camera: The Ricoh GR II

Ricoh cameras have always been a little unique.

That’s probably why I’ve always loved them.

Some of my friends have recently asked me for camera recommendations. I ignore the usual Canon and Nikon DSLRs and give them one recommendation every time: the Ricoh GR II.

It’s an unusual but brilliant camera. DPReview thinks it’s okay, but to me it’s the only camera I will ever need.

It doesn’t zoom or do anything fancy.

It just takes really great photos.

After all, isn’t that the only feature a camera really needs?

How to Pack Your Suitcase the Right Way

Like to travel light?

If yes, good.

If no, why not?

We like to travel light, so this video on how to pack a carry-on suitcase the right way from Travel Noire really grabbed our attention.

Next time you find yourself reaching for your big suitcase for a two-day trip, remember that you can probably squeeze it all into a carry-on bag with the right technique.

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