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Travel Guide for Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

When the opportunity to go to Costa Rica came about, my husband and I couldn’t resist!  Known as a great family-friendly destination, we decided to go with our kids and four other families.  

Instead of trying to do a hotel with different rooms, we got a house together in Manuel Antonio. The home was a purchase from a gala that one family had recently attended.  

The Villa Mariana (our home away from home for the week) was a beautiful property located right in the middle of the Costa Rican jungle. While there was enough room for us all to sleep, it didn’t prove to be the most kid-friendly property. As an important note, I would highly recommend this property for adults only!  Keep in mind many of the properties in Costa Rica do not have central air conditioning in the common areas, so make sure to inquire before booking your stay. We only had air-conditioning in our bedrooms, so you can imagine how hot it felt in the main hangout areas when it hit 90 degrees!  Thankfully we had two pools to cool off in, so it didn’t ruin the trip (but something noteworthy to consider when booking your next trip to Costa Rica).  The main home in the Villa Mariana has four bedrooms with a guest house boasting two additional rooms to make for enough space to accommodate 5 families. Aside from the home, I wanted to share my top 5 things to do in and around Manuel Antonio.

Playa Espadilla

This beach was a short 10-minute drive from the Villa Mariana. Make sure to book umbrellas and chairs ahead of time.  The Costa Rican sun gets very hot midday.  Consider bringing a cooler (they allow them!) with cocktails, water, and snacks…. it will make things easier especially with kids. For a proper lunch, we headed to a neighboring hotel which you might want to consider when deciding where to have your umbrellas set up.  Make sure to pack a portable speaker and some beach toys.  This is a great way to experience the Costa Rican beach and dip in the Pacific Ocean!

Catamaran

Since we were traveling with 20 people, we decided to book our own private Catamaran. If you are traveling with a smaller group, they have group charters.  We opted for the sunset cruise.  Aboard the boat, we had two chefs and two helpers.  Our outing included a late afternoon meal with rice, beans, chicken, and veggies as well as snorkel gear, and dolphin watching. This was a great way to dip in the water, bond as a group, and watch to a beautiful sunset on the water!  A must-do activity!

Manuel Antonio National Park

At this park, we saw some extraordinary animals including sloths in their natural habitats.  With some small stops along the way, including some food, it makes for a nice outing with the family.  Midway in the national park, there is a beach with the option to take a dip (pack a swimsuit or wear one under your shorts).  
*Something noteworthy* If you plan to include this in your travel plans make sure to pick a temperate or cloudy day so it can be more enjoyable.  On the day we had planned the national park it was VERY hot!  There was not a lot of solace from the sun along the walking path and doesn’t make for easy transport of infants.  The walkways are rough at the beginning so not ideal for strollers. If you catch a nice day, this is a must-see stop!  

Zip Lining: Canopy Tarzan

We picked Canopy Tarzan for our zip lining.  To be honest, it wasn’t the closest to our house in Manuel Antonio, but we heard it was the best one.  It did NOT disappoint!  With a multitude of LONG runs, it made for a perfect way to experience the jungle from the treetops.  The last jump in this excursion, was a quick dip in a pool and waterfall, make sure you wear your swimwear under your shorts!  *If you have a fear of heights this might not be your best bet.*  Lunch was included.  Make sure to mention any dietary restrictions when booking.  

White Water Rafting: Savegre River

The location for white water rafting was a total of an hour and half away in the middle of the rainforest and mountains of Costa Rica.  It was simply breathtaking!  Kids ages 6 and over are allowed to partake in a class 1 rafting trip.  Equipped with proper gear and a guide, you are taken down the Savegre River’s rapids and taught fun facts along the way! There are safe places for you to take a dip so make sure you are in your swim gear.  I would highly recommend this as a fun-filled family excursion!

I hope this guide helps plan your next trip to Manuel Antonio!  Costa Rica is filled with beautiful customs, food, scenery and most of all beautiful and friendly people!

Happy traveling!

Your Chick,

Sonia

Visit Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica

Make an Impression Anywhere and Anytime: 5 Tips for Making it Happen

Since starting Chicks And Salsa I have found myself in new and unfamiliar situations so many times.  Five years ago if you asked me to walk into a room full of strangers and indulge in ‘small talk’, I would have run for the hills.  Now, the prospect of meeting new people excites me! 

Being forced to step out of my comfort zone has taught me a lot about myself. Here are a few tips I have learned along the way to make uncomfortable situations more… comfortable. Some of these tips you have probably seen before but trust me, repetition is how to make it stick. 

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Make An Impression

Dress The Part

This is first because playing the part means looking the part.  Nothing helps me put my best foot forward like feeling confident in the space I am occupying. Dress for the occasion and feel good in what you wear, it will reflect in your mannerisms.  Our Mom always taught us that it’s better to be overdressed than underdressed — you will never feel out of place.  That has stuck with us throughout our lives (and probably explains a lot about us for those of you who know our family).

Here are a few versatile picks perfect for a multitude of occasions all under $50:

Do Your Research

Nothing makes me feel worse than not knowing about the host of an event or facts about the event itself.  Knowing what you are walking into is so important for nailing a conversation.  Finding a way that connects you to the space and the people within it is a true life hack for making an impression. Even just quickly browsing information on your phone in the Uber or in the bathroom can give you information that could create a real impact on someone later in the event. 

Listen (Mirror and Label)

I am a sharer and have a tendency to talk more than I listen.  Since ‘small talk’ does not come naturally to me despite practicing for years, I have finally found a technique that works wonders for getting other people to talk.  I recently watched a lecture on Masterclass on a technique called “Mirroring and Labeling” in which you repeat back key words from the conversation to help keep the conversation active and engaging.  It has changed my conversation game tenfold.  If you need some help in this department, check out this lecture: Masterclass with Chris Voss

Know Your Story

We all have heard about an ‘elevator speech’ and even if you are not a business owner or don’t work, it doesn’t mean you don’t have a story.  Almost 100% of the time people will ask, “So, what do you do?”  Are you prepared to answer this question in a way that is concise and coherent? If not, then now is a good time to get your story straight so that you can dig into the next level of the conversation. Preparing a quick FYI can be simple but make it unique. As women in this world, we are all trying to find our place. Take a moment to figure out what space you occupy and how to communicate that with others.

I have only recently gotten comfortable with my own story of discovery from being a stay at home mom, to a blogger, to a self-employed social media content creator and manager. It took me several years to put the pieces together in a coherent way, but I finally have my story down.

Stand Straight
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Stand Straight

Sonia and I have TERRIBLE posture. In the past few years as we have become more confident and practiced sharing our story, dressing the part, and listening, we have started standing straighter.  In the same way a firm handshake is important, so is posture.  We have learned so much from Blush with Parmita, her YouTube tips for standing out have really changed the way we walk into a room and handle a conversation. This did not come naturally for us, but we practiced and reminded each other to do it so many times over the years that now it feels automatic. Without saying a word, how you stand and present yourself to the world can create the strongest and most lasting impression.

Hopefully, you needed to hear some of this, I know we need reminders all the time.  I would love to hear about your life hacks that have made you a better and more productive person.

Thanks for reading.

Your Chick,

Rina

Travel Secrets For Packing a Carry On

Lately I have been traveling a lot. No, I’m not a consultant…no, it’s not work related, and yes, its all just for fun.   I’ve always loved a packing challenge and my husband supports it, in fact he taught me how fun traveling could be if I packed less.  At first I didn’t understand what that even meant, in time I started to realize why.  When you pack less, you worry less, less to lift, less to pack and unpack, and less to lose. 

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For example, our trip to Aspen moved faster simply because we just had carry-on’s. On our way back, flights were canceled and we were able to get re-booked on another flight easily because we didn’t have any checked bags.  Not checking in a bag not only saves money, but also time and space when you travel by plane, train, or car.  So you may wonder why I’m even writing about this, simple, people always ask me “what the heck do you pack? and how?”  So packing less over the years has become a challenge for me, I research different products and keep up with the seasons must haves.  I came up with how I travel smart without sacrificing the fashionista in me. 

One Dress Three Ways

Clothes

Lets face it, do we really end up wearing everything we pack?  No. Do we really need to pack 4 pairs of shoes? No. Do we really need all that makeup?  No.  Once you answered all those questions then the next question is, what are the most realistic things you NEED according to your itinerary?

Beach Vacation- 1 Week

If you are travelling with family, you only need one swim suit, but with friends, pack 2. Throw in 2 cover-ups, 1 pair of shorts, yoga pants for daily wear (and possibly night), 4 dresses (2 semi-formal and 2 maxis).  Maxi’s are elegant and easy to pack.  Add in a few tops, 5 at most, and you are ready to go!

Shoes

Of course we can pack 6 pairs, but are we really going to wear them?  No!  My solution is a pair of flats that could go in a pocket of your bag or tote.  A pair of wedges or heels, I prefer wedges, heels can be tricky in a tropical place or beach.  Last but not least, sneakers if you intend on doing excursions.

Makeup

When you are out in the sun, the last thing you want to do is have a melted makeup look.  Pack foundation, a powder, mascara, eyeliner and a few fun lip colors.  Don’t overcrowd your bag or mind with all of your makeup.  There is plenty of sample size makeup out there.  I subscribe to Sephora’s Play Box and many of those things come in handy, from face primer, lip-gloss, to skin care.  In fact I even take sample size perfume vials with me, no worries of spillages, leaks or taking up room.  DONE AND DONE!

Jewelry

I always pack my jewelry in a travel box and stuff into my large tote or bag.  Lately, I love Tumi bagsThey are not only soft but also durable while travelling. They are also easy to clean and expandable when need be.  Mine has compartments for me to take essentials like medication, lotions, books, and even my IPAD!

Pack less enjoy more, that’s pretty much the motto in my household these days.  Life is too short to clutter your suitcase with nonsense, de-clutter and be free. 

Your Chick,

Avani

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And The Most Affordable Spring Trend is…

Thank you fashion pundits for making this seasons HOTTEST trend, totally affordable!! One little detail was seen from runway to runway, did you catch it? Embellished bobby pins and barrettes!  As a mom of two daughters, I have always had a weakness for cute hair ties and clips, but these accessories made me do a double take.

Embellished Bobby Pins
Embellished Bobby Pins
See Ways To Style on Instagram #BobbyPin

Check out these super affordable affordable sets from $3-$20, how can you go wrong?

Dress them up or dress them down- this easy little touch can elevate your #OOTD!

Gemstone Clips
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Clips

As usual check out all our looks here or visit our Amazon store for more inspo!

Your Chick,

Rina

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