Photo: Alina Mendoza

I hear jetlag is brutal traveling west to east. And for my first trip to Asia, like an archaeological dig, I’m excavating all possible remedies to ensure I can hit the ground running once I land in Japan. Before that happens though, I’m packing my carry-on with my favorite moisture-locking skincare products of the moment. I’ve been using the products below months now, and have already repurchased some of them, or plan to:

La Roche-Posay Toleriane Double Repair Facial Moisturizer UV ($20)

After leaning on La Roche-Posay’s sunscreen all summer in Portugal during 2017, I recently picked up its facial moisturizer with UV protection at Ulta on a whim. The lotion is spreads like cream cheese, smooth and substantial, yet absorbs quickly into skin (without making tan skin look ashy, according to this Allure magazine review. But I can attest to that too, as a person with brown skin). And, after editing a number of beauty articles for MyDomaine recently, I’ve learned a lot about the moisturizing and soothing benefits of ceramides and niacinamides; key ingredients in La Roche’s double repair moisturizer. Another thing it’s got going for it is its wide and slim packaging, which slips easily into my makeup bag while also saving on space.

…spreads like cream cheese, smooth and substantial, yet absorbs quickly into skin…

La-Roche Posay Double Repair Moisturizer UV

Laneige Water Sleeping Mask ($20)

Over La Roche-Posay’s double repair moisturizer, I’ll slather this light yet ultra-hydrating (and pleasantly scented) gel from Laneige, a popular Korean skincare brand. My sister gifted me this product for Christmas in 2018, and a little goes a long way. Although I began using Water Sleeping Mask in spring 2019, it is October and I still have product left nearly six months later. The only downside? The product’s round jar isn’t travel-friendly, so I’ll scoop the gel into something more sleek. Sometimes, if I haven’t gotten around to meditating during the day, I’ll close my eyes after applying Water Sleeping mask to my face, and inhale the gel’s scent for a few breaths—a brief moment of aromatherapy.

Laneige Water Sleeping Mask

Peach & Lily Glass Skin Refining Serum ($40)

However, before I pat on the moisturizer and gel mask, my face is getting one squirt of this Peach & Lily serum first. Another K-beauty favorite that, New York magazine writes is “hoarded by [beauty] editors and redditors alike,” is brimming with hydrating and inflammation-fighting niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, and peptides. Like many internet reviews, my skin feels protected from dryness, as if it were vacuum-sealed, and looks dewy, not shiny.

Peach & Lily Glass Skin Refining Serum

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Photo credit: Alexandra Heston Photography

Before the power went out in Café La Haye, I was savoring a tomato and burrata appetizer drizzled in a vinaigrette that exploded with sweet, creamy flavor. You could have served it to me as dessert and I’d have been satisfied. The brief blackout was scheduled, and a typical occurrence in Sonoma at this time. Earlier that afternoon, I was holed up in a wine cave made from blasting into solid volcanic rock at Repris Winery, where I partook in a crash course in all things California cheese.

After tasting, carving cheese, to touring local, multi-generational dairy farms with immigrant roots… and tasting more cheese, I’m back in San Diego for a short while before boarding another plane to Japan, and Hawai’i. And while I’ll kick off fall with travel, I’m happy to reflect on nearly an entire summer (save for a quick trip to Tulsa, and this latest jaunt up north) spent in San Diego.

Brunch spread during a quick trip to Tulsa, Oklahoma

This summer, I’ve filled my free days with friends, charcuterie-stocked beach days, pilates and yoga sculpt classes, dinner parties, and writing about San Diego. In case you missed it, here are some bylines, published over the last several months, all about San Diego:

  • For Here magazine, I wrote about several can’t-miss museums in San Diego, including the Museum of Photographic Arts. I was impressed with the curatorial team’s mission to feature artists and works beyond the Eurocentric lens, as well as to make the museum-going experience less intimidating.
  • For Lonely Planet, I wrote about free things to do in San Diego, how to spend an ideal weekend in San Diego, and three day trips to take, including crossing the border to Baja!
  • And for Modern Luxury, I penned a restaurant review of Fort Oak restaurant in Mission Hills, which has quickly become one of my favorite restaurants in San Diego at the moment

Connect with The Curious Passport

  • Keep up with my real-time travels and eats from San Diego and beyond on Instagram
  • Join me on Facebook
  • Support my immersive, sensorial travel and food journalism: send me a coffee!
Ligaya Malones floating in pool at The Saguaro Hotel in Palm Springs, California
Staycation vibes in Palm Springs, California (photo: Alina Mendoza)

When it comes to vacation planning, there is nothing like the attractive power of a best places to visit list. You know the ones: lists like New York Times’ annual 52 Places to Go, Travel+Leisure’s 50 Best Places to Travel, Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel List and the like. For readers, these lists offers a curated snapshot into the trendiest destinations and a learning opportunity to discover the towns, cities and countries worth traveling for. They can be valuable travel planning tools, even for a travel writer like me, who finds herself in a new destination every month (see: Nashville in January, the Central Coast in April, North Carolina in May.) I enjoy skimming through best-of travel lists; I’ve always discovered several new-to-me destinations every year one of these lists publishes. I’ve also been curious about the process of putting together one of these lists, and more broadly, how does a lesser-known destination jump from obscurity to destination darling? Let’s take a look.

How Does a Destination Make a Best of Travel List?

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