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8 Ways to Spend The Perfect Summer Night

 

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Summer is  finally here leaving everyone with plenty of nights to spend doing insanely fun activities. Despite the fact that it may feel tempting to stay in your house and binge watch Netflix shows alone, that can be done at any time. Summer nights should be cherished! If you’re worried that the first month of summer vacation will be boring or bland for you with nothing to do, think again. Here are eight ideas to inspire you to spend the perfect summer night.


See a musical

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Although you can see an afternoon musical, there’s nothing quite as spectacular as seeing one at night. Evenings are the epitome of romance, and with melodious singing and an entertaining storyline, you’re bound to chuckle and have a grin on your face. After seeing such a striking performance, waltzing your way out of the theatre and walking on the paved streets at night in a city full of pretty lights will give you a euphoric sense of freedom. Besides, wouldn’t you want to dance and prance to the story of your life like how Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling did in La La Land?


Go to the movies at a drive-in

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Drive-in theatres are trendy, classic, cool and very different compared to the theatres we have today. Why go to an indoor movie theatre when you can bring some snuggly blankets and portable chairs along with a few friends or family members to a drive-in theatre? If you want, you could just sit inside of your car for a comforting seat and high-quality sound system. There’s no need for air conditioning indoors when you can watch a film or two outdoors with the summer breeze and beneath the starry night sky!


Have an evening stroll along the beach

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Isn’t the beach’s atmosphere much more serene and picturesque in the evening? Sit on the beach and watch the hues of oranges, purples and yellows in the sky as the sun sets and becomes pitch black — perfect for Instagram-worthy pictures. Walk barefoot in the sand and feel the cold water touch your toes as the ocean waves come crashing on the shores. Calm nights like these tend to help people appreciate the little things in life more.


Have a bonfire

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Gather your friends and have a bonfire to keep warm during chilly summer nights. Instead of being engrossed with your phone and social media, have interesting and spontaneous conversations while you snuggle by the fire and wear blanket capes! You can also play music using portable speakers or even have live music with you and a few other friends singing and strumming guitars. There’s nothing that screams summer like roasting marshmallows and having a blast with music, singing, laughter and heartfelt talks at a bonfire gathering.


Go to a music festival

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Yes, Coachella may be the most well-known music festival for artsy pictures and bohemian fashion, but there are much more kinds of music festivals of various music genres during the summer besides that. Some examples include Vans Warped Tour, The Governors Ball Music Festival and Hangout Music Festival. What’s more fun than going to a music festival with some your friends, jamming out to your favorite tunes? It’s definitely better than bopping up and down by yourself in your room! Get ready to jump, sing, scream your lungs out and most of all, have a good time


Stargaze

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Do you ever take the night sky for granted? Well, here’s your chance to appreciate the beauty of the night. Lay down in a hammock, sit on a bench or lay down on a picnic mat on the grass and just stare at the starlit sky. It’s the perfect opportunity to pause everything you’re doing to try to spot some constellations and admire the sky. This could also be a cute summer date idea or fun hang out with your best friends. Who knew that the beautiful stars could help people bond?


Build a blanket fort

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Here’s a way to relive your childhood again if you’ve built one before or even a completely new and exciting experience if you haven’t! Once you’ve finished your masterpiece, you can spend the night watching movies and shows on Netflix, play card games like Uno and Cards Against Humanity and board games such as Monopoly and Reversi! Let the waves of nostalgia hit you while you play your old childhood games with others in your comfortable blanket fort.


Have a barbeque

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Forget cooking in the kitchen; an alternative way you can cook your food is to just have a barbecue outside on a nice summer night! Grill some steak, chicken, eggplants, vegetables and whatever food entices you, your family and friends. Having a barbecue is a great way to enjoy the weather and delicious food compared to traditional dinners at the dining table! It’s also better to enjoy the warm weather while it lasts and create laid-back yet entertaining summer memories.


Hopefully, these ideas have inspired you to create an unforgettable summer with dozens of memories that you’ll look back on and cherish. Remember, don’t just spend your summer Netflix-ing away because potentially amazing summer nights would cease to exist. Cherish your summer nights because summer night vibes are often the most magical, fun and breathtaking.

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Featured

What I Love About Summer

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I was walking my dog earlier this week and heard the cicadas, which I have to say, I love the sound of cicadas. It reminds me of growing up playing capture the flag in my neighborhood. It just makes me think of summer. So for the rest of my walk, I was thinking about all the things I love about summer. Here’s what came to mind:

 

1. Hanging out with friends

2. SUN, SUN AND MORE SUN!!!

3. Swimming

4. The heat

5. Shorts

6. Flip flops

7. Pool parties!

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8. Jamming out to music

9. Laying out

10. Sun-kissed skin

11. NO SCHOOL WORK

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12. Laughing with friends

13. Fresh Fruit

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14. Cookouts

15. Free time

16. Getting to spend time with your family

17. Going to the lake

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18. ICECREAM!!!

19. Sun glasses

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20. Fireworks.

21.Travel

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Featured

10 Things To Pack in Your Picnic Basket

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You’ve got the food, the location, and some good company. All that stands between you and a lovely outdoor meal is a well-packed picnic basket. Whether you have a proper wicker hamper or a canvas tote bag, fill it up with these picnic essentials and you’ll be prepared for anything.

These portable dishes are not only easy to take outdoors, but the prep work and make-ahead tips allow for a stress-free and delicious summer afternoon.

Frozen Bottles of Water

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The main rule for outdoor eating is to keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. Ice packs will get the job done, but frozen bottles of water do double duty. After they melt (and the food’s been eaten), you’ll have cold drinks on hand for everyone.

Corkscrew/Bottle Opener

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If you’re packing wine, beer, or bottles of soda, be sure to toss a corkscrew with a bottle opener in your bag. (Bonus points for packing plastic cups with sturdy, flat bottoms too.)

Wet Wipes
Pre-moistened wipes will keep hands clean and help clean up sticky spills, even if there’s no running water nearby.

Salt and Pepper

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Seasoning is a small thing, but goes a long way in making your picnic feel more thoughtful—especially if you happen to be eating fried chicken.

Paper Towels
You never know when you might have a big spill on your hands. And a roll of paper towels won’t blow away like a stack of napkins will.

A Tray

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If you’re eating on the ground, a lightweight plastic or enamel tray will provide a smooth surface to prevent drinks from toppling over.

Serving Spoons

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Cutlery is essential, of course, but don’t forget a large spoon or two for serving food.

Folding Knife

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A small folding knife will come in handy for a variety of jobs, and is essential if you’re serving meats and cheeses.

Cutting Board

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A lightweight cutting board is also a good idea if cheese is on the menu, or if you’re slicing sandwiches or fruit.

Trash Bags
Always throw a trash bag or two in your bag for easy clean up when the picnic’s over. Even if there are plenty of trash cans nearby, your own bag will save you from having to walk back and forth to throw everything away.

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Featured

7 WAYS TO STAY HEALTHY WHILE TRAVELING

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Summer is here, which means it’s time for you to take a vacation! 😉 No matter where you’re headed or what you have planned, if you’re not prepared, a potential amazing vacation can take a turn for the worst. Here are our summer travel tips to help you learn from our mistakes. We hope you have an amazing summer!

1. STAY HYDRATED

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This always seems obvious, but when we’re out and about, it’s so easy for us to forget to drink enough water. PRO-TIP: If you carry a collapsible soft bottle, it makes carrying around water easier, since it can pack away into a pocket. Also, keep in mind that if you’re in a dryer climate than you’re used to, you’ll need to drink more water!

2. KEEP SNACKS ON HAND

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You never know what situation you’ll get into that will cause you delays. If you’re anything like us, we don’t function well when we’re hangry! If we know we’ll be out all day, we always try to pack snacks. It’s always a relief to find them in our packs especially when we get lost on hikes. Lately, we also love drinking Soylents, which is basically a meal in a bottle. It packs in all the nutrients you need in 400 kcal without the excess unhealthy parts of meals, and it tastes like cheerios and soy milk. 

3. ALWAYS APPLY AND REAPPLY SUNBLOCK

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One of the most common injuries with any outdoor activity is getting sunburnt! We’re usually great about applying beforehand, but we’ll admit that we sometimes get lazy about stopping mid-activity to reapply. We’ve learned the hard way one too many times that a bad burn can really ruin the rest of your trip if you’re having to hide from the sun. Most sunblocks tell you to reapply every couple hours, but if you’re swimming or sweating, you have to reapply even more frequently. While you’re at it, it’s also great to use coral safe sunscreen so that you’re not damaging the environment or the marine life when swimming. 

4. ALWAYS DRESS IN LAYERS TO BE PREPARED FOR ANY WEATHER.

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Even if you’re traveling in the summer, the temperatures can drop at night. Even if the outside temperature stays consistent, there are a lot of indoor spots you might visit that pump their AC. Usually, if we run into these situations, Jacob ends up giving me his jacket and he ends up being cold (great husband, right?). Now we both try our best to take at least one extra layer. 

5. TAKE VITAMIN C

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For our day to day, we love taking our gummy multi-vitamins almost as much as we love our candy! 😀 But when we know we’ll be in a crowded place or trapped on an airplane with sick passengers, we take Vitamin C to give our immune systems an extra boost. No more getting sick after every trip!

6. CARRY HAND SANITIZER OR BABY WIPES

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I may be a bit OCD, but carrying hand sanitizer and baby wipes have come in handy for us on so many occasions. Sometimes we’re in camping bathrooms that have no soap. Or sometimes you’re out and need to quickly clean something off.

7. PREVENT UNWANTED HITCHHIKERS

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Whether you are staying at a hotel, hostel, or temporarily renting an apartment, don’t get caught with unwanted hitchhikers! The Raid® Bed Bug Detector & Trap is a way to detect the presence of bed bugs early on. Esther and I have talked about bed bugs multiple times because we get paranoid whenever we feel itchy. Neither of us know much about what bed bugs look like or what to do if we were to find them. We were really curious to see how this worked!

Featured

The Everygirl’s 2019 Summer Bucket List

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Well, this year really is going to be your year — the year you take full advantage of your summer. We’ve rounded up all of our favorite summer activities for our 2019 bucket list to make sure you’re getting the best of the best of what the season has to offer. By the time September rolls around, you’ll be thinking “that was the best summer ever.”

Support your local Farmer’s Market

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Even if going to the Farmer’s Market does not sound like your ideal summer activity, challenge yourself to spend a day exploring the booths and perusing the aisles of your local market. Find the freshest ingredients and make a meal using only what you picked up that day. If you love the Farmer’s Market as much as the pool come summertime, ditch your grocery store for the season and stock up on produce each week at the market. Either way, commit to spending the summer supporting local businesses and eating organic, fresh produce instead of sticking to your usual supermarket.

Rent a convertible for the afternoon

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Because while a sunny drive with music turned up and the windows rolled down is pretty great, a sunny drive with the music turned up in a convertible is even better. And surprisingly, it’s actually affordable! (The experience, that is, not the car.) Grab your crew and rent a convertible for a day from affordable car-sharing sites like Turo, Getaround, or RentalCars. Head to the beach, a drive-in theater, or just through your favorite street in town for a summer experience that feels as luxurious and fun and is it easy.

Make s’mores (the grown-up way!)

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What feels more like summer than a bonfire under the stars and some good ol’ fashioned s’mores? The answer: absolutely nothing. Take your bonfire from sleep-away camp to grown-up with gourmet versions of your favorite summer treat, like adding crushed blackberries and white chocolate or almond butter and banana. It’ll be all the same fun (and gooeyness) as the s’mores you knew as a child, but with a little sophisticated twist (aka a metaphor for your life, right?).

Perfect a boozy lemonade

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So maybe this isn’t the kind of lemonade you sold at your stand when you were a kid, but it’s certainly the kind of lemonade you’re going to want to have over and over again this summer. Forget your typical vodka soda or pinot noir and experiment with the refreshing flavors of the season like an adult take on your childhood favorite, or adding produce like watermelon, berries, and mint to your go-to cocktails. Vodka soda, who!?

Have a picnic while watching an outdoor movie

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Got a date night coming up? Forego your typical dinner and a movie and pack up a meal, a blanket, and a bottle of wine and head to your local park for an outdoor movie instead (if your town doesn’t have movies in the park, a charged up laptop and downloaded movie does the trick). If GNOs are more your thing, grab your friends, have everyone bring a dish (pot luck style) and meet up for a meal and a movie outdoors. Bonus tip: make the food themed, like cheese and wine pairings or Mexican food (queso and margs, anyone?).

Take a road trip you’ve never been on before

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Picture this: you and your best friend, a wide open road, the convertible top down, and iconic sunglasses — all Thelma & Louise style. OK so maybe the convertible is a stretch, and the sunglasses are too specific, but you get the idea. Why bother booking expensive plane tickets when you can make the travel a part of the vacation? 

Read at least 3 non-fiction books you wouldn’t normally choose

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Need a good beach read or looking to put together your comprehensive summer reading list? Instead of the usual romance novels or psychological thrillers, pick up a non-fiction book that you know nothing about. Choose an autobiography by someone you don’t normally agree with or a book covering a topic you don’t know much about. Also think about the self-help books available that cover subjects you may need help in (whether it’s about mindfulness, relationships, or is work-related). Spray on your sunscreen, spread out your beach towel, and get ready to learn a lot.

Pretend you’re a kid again at a county fair or amusement park

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It’s time to let your hair down — channel your inner “XO” and become a kid again at your local county fair or a nearby amusement park. Dress comfy and colorful, play games to win stuffed animals, scream at the top of your lungs on the rides, and eat whatever cotton-candy, fried, greasy garbage you want — absolutely guilt-free.

DIY your own (healthy) popsicles

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When it’s hot outside, does anyone else just crave popsicles? I mean, your first popsicle of the season is a summer rite of passage! Empower yourself with healthier options, using the freshest ingredients for the same satisfying and refreshing taste. Purée your favorite fresh fruit, combine berries with greek yogurt and honey, or make your own green juice popsicle by blending leafy greens, cucumber, ginger, and celery. Add mixtures in popsicle molds (with wooden sticks), and freeze for six hours. (Bonus: if you stuck one of these in a glass of Prosecco, we’d call you genius).

Go to an outdoor concert

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Pause your Spotify, take out your headphones, and listen to your music live this season. Whether it’s a three-day music festival or your favorite band on tour (Jonas Brothers, anyone?), buy your tickets ahead of time because an outdoor concert might just be the highlight of your summer.

Grow your own produce

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You may not think you have a green thumb, but growing your produce is healthier for you, better for the earth, easier on your wallet, and feels soempowering. If you have a yard and the space, start with basic tomatoes and lettuce (easy-to-grow summer produce), or if you’re in an apartment or just don’t have the space outdoors, grow fresh herbs indoors.

Spend a weekend learning a new skill

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Is there something you’ve always wanted to know how to do but just never have gotten around to learning how to do it? Maybe it’s a skill that will advance your career like photoshop, or a hobby you’ve always been interested in like playing the guitar. Spend a weekend perfecting and practicing your skill. By the time Monday rolls around, you’ll already feel accomplished, proud, and eager to learn more.

Take a detox from technology

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You’re #woke enough to know that a tech detox should be a part of your wellness routine year round, but what better time to get serious about your screen time than during summer? Turn your phone on silent and keep it at the bottom of your beach bag for days at the pool, or challenge yourself to a three-day detox on your next road trip or summer vacay (Instagram can wait!). I get that Instagram and Snapchat feel like necessities at this point, but delete any time-wasting apps (like games) for the entire season, unfollow or mute Instagram accounts that don’t make you feel inspired, and turn iMessage notifications off on the days you need to be more present. Get outdoors, live in the moment, and keep off Candy Crush already!

Make a summer playlist

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What songs remind you of summer? The songs that when you hear them it brings you back to spring break in college or childhood days at the beach? Is it classic Island in the Sun that transports you to a tropical vacation even when you’re sitting in traffic, or are you more of a California Girls type of girl? Make a playlist of all your favorite summer songs to listen to while you soak up the sun. 

Host a barbecue

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If you don’t host a lot of parties, now’s the time to break out of your comfort zone and become the hostess with the mostest. Whether your vibe is more low-key hamburgers and denim cut-offs or high-end, high-key (if you will) with vodka lavender lemonades and all-white attire (à la Gossip Girl), summer is the perfect time to put your hosting skills to good use with a summer soirée. The season calls for a carefree vibe, and buying a stack of burgers or preparing side dishes can be especially affordable (especially if you do BYOB). If you don’t have a backyard or a grill, your local park should have grills you can rent or use for free. Worst case scenario, forget the grill and make a taco bar. Just don’t forget the string lights and rosé!

Plan to save $1,000 by the end of the summer

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While summer is all about fun and games, it’s also about getting your life together and achieving your goals. Budgeting yourself to put away $1,000 in a few months is actually easier in the summer — try walking instead of taking Uber (it’s so nice out!), making your own iced coffee instead of picking up Starbucks, pausing your gym membership for outdoor workouts, or heading to the park with a bottle of wine and a picnic blanket instead of going to happy hour. Remember: little things add up, and summer is full of free activities like heading to the beach or going on a hike.

Participate in a themed 5k

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Alright, alright, hear me out — if you’re like me, running on the treadmill for 10 minutes is intimidating enough, much less running anything that ends in “k.” To all you marathon runners out there, I highly commend you for your amazing endurance and physical agility; however, marathons are not my idea of fun. But from one non-runner to you other non-runners, it’s time for us to get out of our comfort zones — in a fun way. There are hundreds of themed runs in your city that you might not even know about, and that (despite the name) you can actually walk. 

Summer-clean your home

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Sure, you’ve heard of spring cleaning, but now it’s time to summer-clean your home. DIY your own cleaner (for a natural, healthier alternative), clean off your patio/balcony/window sills (or any outdoor part of your home), and go through your pantry to clean out any unhealthy or processed foods (since summer is all about fresh ingredients!). Add fresh flowers and house plants; trade darker accents with more colorful pillows, throws, and home accessories; and switch out your bedding for lighter or linen sheets. Don’t forget to fill your home with a signature scent — try diffusing a mixture of lemon and eucalyptus essential oils for a summer smell that’s as intoxicating as it is refreshing 

Take your fitness routine outdoors

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Remember how this is the season for trying new things? It goes for your fitness routine, too. If you’re stuck in a rut because you do the same yoga class everyday, or you spend your entire fitness routine lifting weights in the gym, add in some time outside — bring your mat and your sun salutations to the park, or go for a walk during your lunch break. Also try something you’ve never done before — go for a run, try an outdoor class, or ask a friend to join your workout. Switching up your routine will keep you from plateauing, and the extra sunlight ensures you’ll have more energy to push yourself harder than other times of year.

Cut one plastic consumption from your life

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Whether it’s swapping plastic straws for stainless steel straws, trading in paper towels for reusable wipes, or using a cotton bag to carry your produce instead of grocery bags, make an effort to make at least one reusable swap you can stick to all summer long. To live even more sustainably this summer, bring reusable cups or mason jars to Starbucks to fill up your iced coffee, air dry small loads of laundry instead of machine drying, carry around a refillable water with you everywhere, and walk or bike instead of driving. Whatever way you want to challenge yourself to live more sustainably, stick to it through the entire summer, and feel empowered knowing how a little goes a long way.

Host a grown-up slumber party with your girls

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Take a little trip down memory lane with me: school is out, summer break is here, and you have a good few weeks before camp starts to do nothing but go to the pool every day – most importantly, you get to have slumber parties with your friends every day of the week (that is, if your mom said yes, of course). While you definitely have way more responsibilities (and likely don’t have a summer break at all — major bummer), bring back the fun of slumber parties with your best friends this summer. Watch a movie outdoors, order lots of pizza, put on some face masks, and drink lots of wine (see, grown-up slumber parties can be more fun!).

Volunteer your time to a charity

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If you want to get outside more (and don’t we all during summertime?), why not get outside while you’re doing a good deed? Commit to volunteering for a charity you’re passionate about after work or on weekends — take shelter dogs for a walk, attend beach clean-ups, or help out at your local nature center or forest preserve. Because nothing feels better than doing a good deed, except maybe doing a good deed on a warm, sunny day.

 

 

 

 

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Featured

Your Ultimate Summer Workout Plan

 

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Summer is right around the corner. It’ll be time to shed your clothes, put on your swim trunks, and hit the beach. Ahhh, such a liberating experience; unless of course you’ve sat around and accumulated a hefty amount of junk in your trunk. If so, you may find yourself looking at your reflection hoping it’s actually a circus mirror.

 

Monday

Start out with five to 10 minutes of walking or jogging to get warmed up. It’s time for some bodyweight calisthenics. There are a few ranges you can work with. Beginners may want to start with less and the more advanced fitness folks can use the upper range. We’re going to do two sets of 10 (beginners) to 50 (advanced) of each exercise. Go through the list and do each exercise one time with 10 jumping jacks in between. Then do the circuit again.

  • Pull-ups (regular or modified)
  • Burpees
  • Sit-ups or crunches
  • Starbursts
  • Push-ups
  • Speed skaters
  • Dips
  • Alternating lunges
  •  Leg lifts

Repeat and remember to do the 10 jumping jacks between each exercise. Finish it off with five to 10 minutes jogging or walking and 10 to 15 minutes of stretching.

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Tuesday

It’s time for hill or stair repeats. Always remember to start with a five to 10 minute warm-up and finish with a five to 10 minute cool down and 10 to 15 minutes of stretching. Find a hill or set of stairs—the steeper the better. I always say, “Gravity and fat are bitter enemies and one’s gotta give!” We’re hoping it’s the fat. You can do 20 to 30 minutes of straight repeats up and down or change it up. I like to do forward up, then backward. Do side shuffles. Add a burpee every 10 feet. Change it up and have fun.

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Wednesday

Bring out your dumbbells (or makeshift dumbbells if you don’t have equipment—there’s not excuse not to get moving!). Do your warm up then do two sets of either 10 or 50 reps of each exercise. It’s your choice. This time you’re going to add a 100 meter jog between each exercise. Here we go:

  • Burpees
  • Dumbbell squat/curl/press (all one motion)
  • Dumbbell alternating lunges
  • Sit-ups/crunches with a dumbbell
  • Dumbbell flies
  • Dumbbell squats
  • Dumbbell bent over rows
  • Dumbbell deadlifts
  • Overhead triceps extensions
  • Dumbbell Hammer curls
  • Flutter kicks

Finish off with a cool down and some stretching.

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Thursday

“I feel the need, the need for speed!” is what you should tell yourself today. It’s time to pick it up. You can do this work out on a track, at the park or around your neighborhood. It should be about 20 to 30 minutes. Jog a couple laps to warm up. Run each distance with about a minute break in between. Start with 100 meters. Then go to 200 meters. Or start at 400 meters and go to 800 meters then work your way back down 800 meters to 400 meters or 200 meters to 100 meters. Remember to modify the workout to your fitness level. You can take away or add. I like to add 1200 meters and 1600 meters to this pyramid. Do a couple cool down loops and stretch.

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Friday

The weekend is almost here, so let’s end the week with a bang. This time you’re going to take all the exercises from Monday and Wednesday and put them together on one list. The goal is to go through the list only one time, but to do as many reps of each one as you can. Nothing to it, right? Do an exercise then 10 jumping jacks. Then do another exercise and run 100 meters. Then do another exercise and follow it up with five burpees. Repeat this between each exercise. This is a barn burner that’ll really get your heart rate up, burn calories fast and keep it fun.

That’s all there is to it. Now you can take this format and use the basic outline for the next four to six weeks. Take ownership of it. Make it yours. Add things that you like or remove those you don’t. My motto is, “The worse it is, generally the better it is for me.” The goal of this workout is to shock your body and really get you fired up. The sky is the limit, so remember: you get out of it what you put into it. Have fun and get after it. Can I get a Gut Check?!

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Featured

How to Throw the Perfect Summer Party

 

1. Go with a theme

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Sticking with a theme is an easy way to ensure your party packs a punch. Don’t worry about matching every piece of your flatware, servingware and drinkware — but do keep the look cohesive by choosing an overarching motif. Use sleek and modern elements for a stunning tabletop, or opt for an assortment of shabby-chic pieces for a rustic touch. Another easy way to keep everything looking sharp? Choose a colour palette (like monochrome or primary colours) for a table setting that really pops.

2. Pick the perfect menu

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Whether you’re feeding 20 people or planning a romantic dinner for four, your menu is what your guests will remember. For smaller, intimate affairs, go for cuts of meat that ramp up the swish factor (think Wagyu steaks or filet mignon). Hosting a blockbuster bash? Keep it simple with everyone’s favourite handheld foods — burgers, hotdogs and ribs.

3. Scent your charcoal

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Here’s a clever tip for the grill buff: scent your charcoal with herbs and spices. Simply place sprigs of fresh rosemary, thyme or other fresh herbs on your rocks for a deliciously smoky spin on a traditional marinade.

4. Serve refreshing drinks

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Keep everyone quenched with a bevy of refreshing beverages. Blend your own fruit juices or ices, or whip up a pitcher of homemade lemonade or iced tea. Want a prettier pitcher of water? Dress it up with fresh slices of cucumber, oranges or a handful of fresh berries for H20 your guests will raise a glass to. For cocktail ideas, check out these delicious bevvy recipes to sip under the summer sun.

5. Create conversation pits

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It’s a fact: people tend to flock to areas with food. Set the stage for mingling between guests by creating conversation zones with cosy chairs and tables decked with trays brimming with your favourite nibbles.They’ll be chatting up a storm in no time.

6. Set up games

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Who doesn’t love a backyard game? If your yard space allows for it, set up a net for a lively volleyball or badminton match, or bring back oldies-but-goodies like lawn bowling and croquet to get guests onto the green.

7. Light up the night

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Don’t let dusk put the lights out on your party. Keep the fun going into the evening with a selection of dazzling lights. From the warm glow of lanterns and votive candles to twinkle lights and eco-friendly solar lamps, your fête will sparkle on long after the sun goes down.

8. Set the mood with music

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An amazing playlist is a great way to provide instant ambience to any barbecue. Pair that filet mignon with some cool jazz, or make a mix of everyone’s favourite summer jams to get the party started.

9. Gather ’round the fire pit

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Treat your friends to a taste of cottage life in your own backyard with ghost stories and a marshmallow roast over a fire pit. Don’t forget the graham crackers and chocolate for whipping up a lip-smacking batch of ooey-gooey s’mores!

10. Keep bugs at bay

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No one invited the bugs to the party, so make sure to quell any gate crashing mosquitoes and flies with a selection of bug zappers and strategically placed netting.

Featured

The 21 must-have travel apps for 2019

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With over a million different apps available on both the Apple and Android app stores, sorting the good from the bad isn’t easy. This is as true in travel as any other category—while some apps will genuinely improve your vacation, many others aren’t even worth the time they take to download.

Here are 12 free travel apps absolutely worth their place on your smartphone or tablet computer. All are available for at least iOS and Android.


Google Translate

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If you’re traveling somewhere you don’t speak the language, you’ll find Google’s free translation app very useful. Simply type in the words you need to translate, pick a target language, and away you go.

You’ve also got the option of taking a photo, using handwriting or even speaking a phrase and having the resulting text translated and (in some cases) read aloud.

Most usefully, you can download a language pack ahead of time. This means you don’t even need to be connected to the Internet to translate typed phrases—an important point for international travelers who may not have mobile data.


XE Currency

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There are many different currency conversion apps out there, but XE has long been the best. Choose all the different dollars, pesos, and baht you’d like to convert between, then pick the one you’d like to use right now. Enter an amount, and the equivalent in all other currencies will show on one screen.

It’s quick and easy, and can save you a lot of money when dealing with unfamiliar exchange rates. The app doesn’t require an Internet connection to convert between currencies, but does need one to download rates when you first select a currency.


WiFi Map

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By scanning your surroundings and checking against a database of over 100,000,000 hotspots updated by the app’s seven million users, Wifi Map lets you know the location of the nearest wireless connection.

The app includes any passwords you may need. The free version shows any networks within a little over a mile of your current or a searched location, while the paid version lets you download entire city Wi-fi maps ahead of time to use while offline.


Tripit

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Tripit is one of the most popular travel apps out there, and for good reason. The service makes tracking even complex itineraries a breeze, without having to manually type in the details of every flight, hotel, and car rental.

If the booking was made online, just forward the confirmation email and, in most cases, Tripit will automatically recognize it and update your itinerary.

Once that’s done, start the app and let it download the latest updates. From then on, you can access your itinerary without an Internet connection.

There’s a paid version ($49/year) with extra features, but the free option offers enough for most people.


Triposo

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Taking crowd-sourced information from Wikitravel, Wikipedia, and several other sites, Triposo turns it all into a useful offline guide. As there’s a lot of information for some larger destinations, just remember to download the app and guides before leaving home.

You’ll get recommendations for activities, hotels, restaurants, and more, along with maps and directions.


Google Maps

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Google Maps is easily the best mobile navigation app, and one you’ll likely use every day on the road.

While you’ll need an Internet connection to find new locations, you can save unlimited numbers of maps for later offline use. The GPS in your phone or tablet will still work without a cell signal, and you can even get driving and public transit directions without being connected.


Snapseed

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It takes a bit of getting used to, but after you’ve mastered it, Snapseed is the best mobile photo editing software out there. If your sunset is a bit washed out, the horizon isn’t straight or everything just needs to be made a little more vibrant before you make your friends jealous on Facebook, Snapseed is just the app to do it with.

Sure, it has a bunch of pre-set filters as well—but once you know how to use the app, you probably won’t even need to use them.


Sit or Squat

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It’s not something that’s often talked about, but sometimes when you’re traveling, knowing where to find the nearest public toilet is vitally important. The aptly-named Sit or Squat app does exactly that, scanning a database of over 100,000 restrooms that have been rated “sit” (good) or “squat” (bad) by users to show those close to you.

It’s not something you’ll use every day, but when you need it, you really need it…


TripAdvisor

TripAdvisor

 

There’s no doubt TripAdvisor is the biggest game in town when it comes to user reviews of accommodations and attractions. Its forums, too, provide a wealth of information about destinations all over the world.

The app provides almost all of the information available on the site, including access to the forums, and syncing of bookmarked pages between the web and app versions.

Unfortunately it’s not able to be used offline, although the company does make dozens of free city guides available to download.


Pocket

Pocket

 

There are many different offline reading apps available, and Pocket is one of the best. Save a bunch of articles to read on long journeys, along with any information you need for your destination—attractions, booking details, restaurant recommendations—and access it all without an Internet connection.

Web pages can be saved and accessed from any computer, tablet, or phone that you’re signed in to, and sync automatically on mobile devices.


Lounge Buddy

LoungeBuddy

 

When it comes to miserable parts of the travel experience, it’s hard to go past long layovers and extended delays. Airport lounges are a calm oasis amidst the mayhem—or at least, they’re meant to be.

Realizing not all lounges are created equal, LoungeBuddy stepped in to provide reviews and detailed information about hundreds of lounges around the world. Whether you’ve got access via an airline membership, business class ticket, or independent program, the app is invaluable in deciding where to spend your time.

If you don’t have access by other means, LoungeBuddy also lets you buy day passes for many lounges direct from the app–definitely a better option than sitting on the floor for several hours at LAX!


American Red Cross First Aid

Red Cross first aid app

 

 

Accidents happen, even on vacation, and a little preparedness goes a long way. Install the official Red Cross first aid before you leave, and you’ll be in a much better situation should the worst happen.

With step-by-step instructions for dealing with everything from bites to burns, heart attacks to head injuries, plus instructional videos that help you prepare for problems ahead of time, it’s an easy, free way of being able to deal with health issues and emergencies on the road.


Kindle

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Maybe it’s a little obvious, but no matter how devoted you are to print, there’s no denying that carrying a Kindle is a lot easier than lugging 10 hardbacks around with you. With the Kindle app you don’t even need the Kindle – just your smartphone. While there’ll be no swapping at hotels and hostels, the ease makes up for everything


SAS Survival Guide

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Know your Morse code? How about how to start a fire? With this app you will. If you’re venturing anywhere remotely off the beaten path, it’s a must have. Written by a former SAS soldier and instructor, the app contains hundreds of survival skills that will help you both at home and away. Sure, you might be staying at a 5-star hotel in NYC’s Greenwich Village, but hey – better safe than sorry, right


FlightAware

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Skip downloading individual airport or airline apps for individual flights – FlightAware lets you track any flight in real-time, receive alerts and see airport delays


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Duolingo

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Full of bite-sized lessons and games that teach you how to read, write, listen and speak a language, Duolingo covers 27 languages – including Klingon. Start with basic verbs, phrases and sentences and learn new words every day


AroundMe

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AroundMe identifies where you are, and lists the nearest bank, bar, gas station, hospital, hotel, movie theater, restaurant, supermarket, theatre and taxi. Useful if you want to catch a movie – crucial if you’re taken ill abroad


Wifispc

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While it’s not necessarily a must-have, free WiFi on holiday is definitely a nice-to-have. Wifispc keeps you online, world over, thanks to an ever-growing list of WiFi networks and passwords continuously updated by users


Yuggler

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A blessing to parents travelling with their children, Yuggler lets you discover all the kid-friendly things to do near you. Find tips, see photos and search via filters so that you’re sure to find things just right for your children’s ages and likes (iOS only! But Android is on the way …)


Prey Anti Theft

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One of the worries that comes with carrying your expensive smartphone with you on your travels is that someone might nab it – or that you’ll just lose it. Prey helps you find your cellphone, lock down your device, trigger an alarm and more. It’s a completely free and extremely useful app


WeatherPRO

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Everyone has their favourite weather app, but we love WeatherPRO. It’s extremely detailed, including ski weather, beach weather (with UV Index and water temperatures), and – most importantly – it’s accurate

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Featured

5 TIPS FOR GETTING BACK INTO ROUTINE AFTER A BREAK

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I’m sure we’ve all come back from a break, fearing our inboxes, washing piles and the vacation blues, the following five steps are ones I aim to take after every break to help ease me back in to day-to-day life in a way I look forward to.

I hope you’ll find this post helpful, and I’d love for you to share any tips or tricks of your own in the comments


GIVE YOURSELF TIME TO RE-SETTLE.

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When you return from a trip that airport transfer/hire car situation/late flight is going to have tired you. Travelling is tiring, no two ways about it. Rather than assuming you will slot right back in to your routine, give yourself some buffer time to re-settle. Cut yourself some slack.

For me my buffer time looks like one quiet ‘settling in day’, followed by a light week. I make no big commitments for the week following any travel as I know I will have work to catch up on, as well as sleep and general life.

This also means that I keep communication light, I don’t want to be pitching to any big clients, or committing to lots of social events. I need a little home time to get my feet back on the ground. Furthermore travelling often spark ideas or thoughts for me, I write these down in a journal whilst away and like to take some time when I am home to process.

Takeaway: Whatever that buffer time looks like for you, rest assured that it is completely normal to take a little time to re-settle. If you mentally allocate this buffer, you can cut yourself come slack if you don’t get right back in to the swing of things on day one.


 UNPACK, CLEAN AND REFRESH YOUR HOME.

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When your home has been left unused for some time it can feel stale. I like to use my ‘quiet settling in day’ (ref. above ^) to unpack, clean and refresh my home.

I open all windows and fold back my bed sheets – or change them if I didn’t do so before going away. I collect things like any glasses we forgot to wash up.  I then have a general freshen up and potter about the house reacquainting myself with it.

I try (and I admit that this is currently on the back burner for me!) to unpack right away, put things in the wash or hang them right up. It is so nice to be able to put away the suitcase and use your wardrobe like normal. I’m seeking solace in that slack I talk about above – I know I’ll properly unpack once I have a bit more time over the weekend.

The final touch for me is always fresh flowers. This week I bought some new stocks and lilies and it feels like there is life back in the house again. When I walk in to my office now I am greeted by a beautiful glass vase of white stocks which helps me feel at home as I settle in to some work.

Takeaway: There is nothing like a clean, organised home to help you feel calm and settled. Aim to get reacquainted with your home as soon as is possible for you. If possible, leave your home when you go on holiday in a way which will feel nice to come back to. Or if that’s not possible (hello last-minute packing explosion!) then allocate some time to sort it when you are back.


TACKLE YOUR INBOX.

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Eek – the post-holiday inbox 🙈!

I recently shared some of my thoughts on how and why to take a proper holiday. I’m happy to report that I took my own advice and had one of the best holiday holidays I’ve ever had. One of the reasons I feel this holiday was more successfully restful than others was the time of year I chose to go away. I have learnt that for me personally, high summer is a quiet time of year. A quiet time means less emails, which naturally means less to follow up on when I get home.

I tackled the emails I did receive systematically whilst I was away, so as not to be bombarded when home. I also put on an out of office which helped me to manage the expectations of people emailing me.

I’d love to say I didn’t check my emails at all whilst I was away, but truth be told I like to be kept in the loop. As a business owner I can’t afford to miss a potential client’s email, or an important communication from my team. In order to avoid getting dragged down by emails whilst on holiday, I dipped in to my inbox every day, flagged any important emails and deleted the rest. I found that on average I only had a few per day which required immediate attention, I got back to these and didn’t give the others a moment’s thought.

This being said, if you do come home to a particularly busy inbox when you get back from your holiday, I advise using the one touch technique. Prioritise the emails you need to get back to and allocate focused time to getting them answered. If you focus, over a few days I am confident you can get your inbox back on track.

Takeaway: Set an out of office reply before you go away to manage the expectations of people emailing you. Be systematic on your return from holiday and work through your inbox, using whatever email management system works for you – I like flagging my important emails. Delete everything else so as not to clutter your inbox. Focus in on allocated slots for emails, and know that it will likely take a couple of days to get your inbox under control.


GET BACK ON TRACK WITH YOUR HEALTH COMMITMENTS.

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As I have mentioned before, my health and wellbeing has become an important focus for me this year. I tried to stay on track with my fitness whilst on vacation which has made it an easier transition once I got home.

Either way – if you have or haven’t had the healthiest of vacations (I’ve seen either side of that coin my friend!) – getting back in to your health groove will help you to settle back in to your routine.

There is nothing like feeling well in your mind and body to assist with focus, sleep and energy levels. This includes habits, exercise and diet.

For me, I have tried to get back in to my happiness habits, and include some activity in to my routine. I gave myself a few days to recuperate on sleep, and now have workouts in my schedule like normal which I am looking forward to.

Further to exercise, eating in a way which makes you feel good and energised is everything. If you do one thing when you first get home – do a food shop. It will save so much ‘searching time’ when deciding on what to eat, what to take for lunch and what to snack on. If you do a healthy shop, it will most likely encourage you to make healthy choices.

Takeaway: Do a food shop, book your gym classes and ease yourself back in to your health and wellbeing routine. A healthy mind and body supports everything that you do, so getting on top of this as soon as possible is going to make everything else you are coming back to feel easier.


BOOK FUN THINGS IN TO AVOID THE VACATION BLUES.

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I admit that when I was lying on the beach on my penultimate day in Menorca, I started to feel the post-holiday blues creeping in. I am such a homebody that this was actually quite an alien experience for me, but I truly couldn’t imagine being anywhere more beautiful, or with people I loved more (except my Mama wasn’t there as she had to stay home for work – so plus my Mum would have been perfect!).

I had had an inkling before going away that I may get struck by the post-holiday blues so long before we departed I booked a girls weekend in with my favourite girlfriends. I also ordered a couple of items to arrive for when I got back including some photos from one of my best friends’ recent weddings. Knowing that I was going to see some of my favourite people, and receive some exciting deliveries, on returning home made me really excited to be landing in England again.

Takeaway: Decide on something you would look forward to, and make plans for it before you get home. Getting coffee with a friend . . . having a manicure . . . allocating a couple of magazine hours for yourself – be sure to have some fun things to welcome you home.

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Featured

8 Summer Fashion Hacks That’ll Help You Beat the Heat

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Summer is just around the corner and it’s that time again where heat and humidity are super high. And while you love the warmer temperatures perfect for outdoor activities or a quick beach visit, unfortunately, we all hate excessive sweating.

But thankfully, I’ve found down below some awesome summer fashion hacks that’ll help you survive summer while still looking stylish. These are style ideas that will help you feel comfortable and make you look fashionable. They’re the perfect summer outfit ideas that you might want to try. So check them out below and let me know what you think!

Keep Your Clothes Loose

As the temperature goes higher, try getting clothes that are actually loose. A flowy maxi dress will keep you cooler than a pair of shorts and a skintight tank. The less fabric that touches your body, the more comfortable you’ll feel. The loose clothing allows air to pass along the skin and exit, speeding evaporation and carrying off excess heat. So the looser, the better.

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Know the Fabric Rules

One of the easiest and simplest ways to get the right summer clothes is by knowing what fabrics they’re made of. Try cotton, it’s light and breathable which makes it perfect for polos and shirts. Also, linen doesn’t retain moisture so any sweat will dry quickly. And, think about the active wear fabrics, they’re all made of synthetic blends. They can help you combat the heat while effortlessly making you look stylish. Mix and match them and you can look cool and be cool when wearing them.

Wear the Right Shorts

Shorts are a summer staple. They allow ventilation for your exposed legs and they’re great to wear in the hottest times of the year. So try getting comfortable ones made from the kind of summer fabric that works best for you.

Go for Light Colors

Compared to light colored clothes, dark colors absorb more light and that can make you feel hot. So whenever possible, try to stick to light colored clothes that reflect light and will keep you cool.

Wear a Wide-Brimmed Hat

Who say’s you need to be on the beach to wear those wide-brimmed hats when you can wear them evenin the city. They’ll protect you from too much sun and provide shade to the head and face. Not to mention, hats can effortlessly up your fashion game. So consider getting those that are made of lightweight and breathable material to offset the trapped heat.

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Turn Your Flipflops from Boring to Awesome

Flipflops are your feets best friends during the summer season. So why not make them more stylish and fun. All you have to do is simply wrap a ribbon first in the straps of your flips while joining them both. Then stick some beads and bells on them with a strong glue. Let them dry for few minutes and voila, fab and chic flipflops in no time.

Use a Scarf to Keep Your Hair Off Your Neck

If you have a long hair like me, then we both know how annoying it is whenever it sticks to the neck. As a great solution, get a small cotton scarf and use it to tie up your hair. It will help absorb sweat and will make you feel extra cool and fashionable.

Wear Minimal Jewelry

To complete your summer look, try to add some accessories like jewelry. They can add a touch of glam to your look while still keeping it elegant and sophisticated. Just be sure to choose minimal ones since they can easily make feel you irritated once the temperature rises. Earrings are fine because they don’t really touch much of your skin, but necklaces, bracelets, and rings, you should skip them.

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