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8 Travel Hacks That You’ll Actually Use on Your Next Trip

These days, the internet is chock-full of travel “hacks” that promise to help you book, pack, and fly for a fraction of the effort and expense.

Reading through some of these lists, however, can trigger an eyebrow raise from the savvy traveler. You may find yourself thinking, “There’s no way that really works.” Chances are, there’s merit to that gut feeling—many so-called hacks rarely play out as portrayed on Pinterest.

In an attempt to cut through the noise and offer advice you’ll actually use, below are a few time-tested travel tips gleaned from more than two years of full-time traveling (and more 10-plus-hour flights than I care to reflect upon).

1. Talk to strangers—and get creative.

Whether you’re talking to a local bartender, a tour guide, or a fellow traveler, there’s no more trite question than, “What’s your favorite [restaurant, city, etc.]?” Come up with at least two go-to questions that are a bit more inventive.

Getting more specific with these queries can lead to the discovery of true hidden gems. Try asking, “Where’s the best place for people-watching in this city?” or “What’s been your most memorable meal in the past six months?” instead of leaning on clichés, and you’ll be rewarded with equally thoughtful responses.

RELATED: How to *Actually* Sleep on a Plane

2. A dedicated pouch for cords is a necessity.

One downside of technology: an abundance of accessories. If you’ve ever spent 20 minutes digging through your carry-on for a portable charger, earbuds, or USB cord, you know how frustrating (and elusive) these items can be. A little pouch that’s specifically dedicated to these cords—and kept easily accessible in your carry-on—will save you serious headaches.

Pro tip: Some airlines give out little goodie bags with earplugs, an eye mask, and socks to every passenger. These baggies make perfect travel tech-cessory pouches. (I’ve been using one I picked up from Qatar Airways for the past year; it’s the perfect size.)

3. There’s an optimal number of alcoholic drinks to have while flying.

Downing four glasses of wine to relax sounds like a great idea during a three-hour layover or before a red-eye flight, but think twice before drinking half a bottle of Cab. Being on a plane causes dehydration and naturally messes with your circadian rhythm, and alcohol exacerbates both these things.

Too much booze can disrupt everything from your sleep cycle to your neighbor (who won’t be thrilled when you have to get up from the middle seat to use the lavatory six times). If you want a drink to take the edge off, that’s fine—but stick to one, one-and-a-half max. You’ll thank yourself later for having a little restraint.

RELATED: This Brilliant Trick Will Keep You Calm the Next Time You Hit Turbulence

4. Carry pens.

Sometime after smartphones became prolific, the practice of carrying pens fell into sharp decline. Nobody wants to be the plane neighbor who has to ask the surrounding three rows to borrow a pen to fill out a customs form (or a particularly tantalizing crossword puzzle in an airline magazine).

This one is an easy fix: You probably have an entire drawer filled with pens somewhere in your house. Grab a couple, toss them into your carry-on, and leave them in there as permanent fixtures.

5. Keychains are amazingly useful.

Especially if you frequently stay in apartment-style rooms or Airbnbs, it’s a good idea to carry a keychain so that you don’t lose the keys to your home away from home.

Here are a few of my favorites: surprisingly stylish Gorilla Tape; a sleek corkscrew wine opener (this one will fly with TSA); a tiny, powerful flashlight; and a simple carabiner. These gadgets take up very little space in luggage and come in shockingly handy in a pinch.

RELATED: Take These Steps to Make Sure You Don’t Lose Your Luggage

6. You can use a hotel room kettle to steam your clothes.

Wrinkles are the bane of a frequent traveler’s existence, and unfortunately nobody has yet invented a truly effective wrinkle spray. In addition to using a hair straightener or steam from a hot shower as a quick fix for wrinkled clothes, using a portable kettle as a steamer when you’re boiling drinking water or making tea takes resourcefulness to the next level. (If you’ve got extra room in a suitcase, these travel-sized steamers are a more conventional option.)

7. Make it a practice to take in 20 seconds of tech-free silence every day.

In a world in which little white earbuds have practically become appendages to our bodies (and in which we’re constantly glued to Google Maps), technology can be as much of a distraction as it is a valuable travel aid. And while friends or family can certainly add to travel experiences, being engaged in constant conversation with your travel companions means you may miss out on important solo moments that will later come to define your time in a new city or country.

So, watch a sunset in silence without trying (and, let’s be honest, failing) to capture it on a smartphone; look up from Google and actually take in the street you’re walking down. Find a way to remind yourself to take 10 or 20 seconds of each travel day to truly soak in it all in. (Downloading the 1 Second Everyday app is a fun way to develop this habit.)

8. Stop stressing about “hacking” travel.

Sometimes travel hacks are quirky shortcuts, and sometimes they’re fabulous failures. Regardless, focusing too hard on having a seamless travel experience misses the point. Sometimes, the best travel memories come out of sheer happenstance—or even in the aftermath of a mishap. Learning to roll with the punches is one of the most valuable lessons that travel can teach, so channel your inner spontaneity and embrace the unfamiliar.

This article originally appeared on Travel and Leisure. For more stories like this, visit travelandleisure.com.

By TRAVELANDLEISURE.COM/Stephanie Walden

Source: 8 Travel Hacks That You’ll Actually Use on Your Next Trip

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11 Ways To Spend A Perfect Weekend On The Italian Riviera

While Portofino and Cinque Terre are the best-known spots on the Italian Riviera today, Rapallo is a destination that can provide all you want for a perfect weekend (or longer) getaway. As one of Italy’s first modern seaside resorts, a place the beau monde flocked to in the early 20th century, it has glamour and history, along with incredible seascapes. Rapallo’s prime location makes it easy to visit most anywhere on the Riviera di Levante, the halcyon strip of coast that runs from Genoa to Portovenere.

Here are 11 ways to have a perfect (preferably extended) weekend here.

1.See the Riviera from on high. The views from the beautiful Santuario di Nostra Signora di Montallegro, a shrine dating from the 16th century 600 meters above the town, are among the most extraordinary in a region filled with exceptional vistas. Take the cable car from Piazza Solari for the seven-minute ride to this dreamy perch. Occasionally the service is available at night, when you’ll be able to see the coast at its glittery best.

2. Sail the exquisite Gulf of Tigullio, the beautiful coastal area that stretches from Portofino to Sestri Levante, or to Cinque Terre. Rapallo is well situated to get you to some of the Riviera’s best-known destinations without having to deal with departures from crowded harbors. Portofino is about a half-hour’s sail away, ideal for a sunset excursion; for a wonderful day outing, cruise to the Cinque Terre. (You can choose from a variety of boating companies in the area, for example, Portofino Taxi Boat, run for several generations by the Viacava family, offers a number of area tours. For a trip to the Cinque Terre, Luxury Charter Portofino could either pick you up near the Villa Porticciolo in town, or send a car to take you to Santa Margherita Ligure for departure there. If you’re staying at the Excelsior Palace Hotel, the concierge will arrange boating excursions. See below.) Should you not be traveling by sea, note that train connections are easy and fast—only three minutes to go from Rapallo to Santa Margherita Ligure; nine minutes to Camogli; and between 35 minutes to an hour to Monterosso al Mare (the closest Cinque Terre village). The fastest trains to Vernazza run between 36 and 56 minutes.

3. Pamper yourself in sumptuous style. One of the Riviera’s grand retreats, the Excelsior Palace Hotel will pamper you with its refined blending of modern and old-world luxury. At this property you’ll feel as if you’ve been invited into the (very large) home of a Genovese aristocrat—there are period paintings and decorative objects, silk-covered furnishings and antiques, along with plush modern bedrooms and bathrooms. Spectacular views from seaside rooms and dining areas are sure to keep you in a permanent swoon. The Excelsior is not only a palatial site, but a historic one, where the Rapallo Conference was held by the Allied nations after Germany’s defeat in the first World War. Prominent names have been coming here for decades—the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, King Hussein of Jordan, Marilyn Monroe and Ernest Hemingway were all guests; in more recent times, George Clooney and Bruce Springsteen as well.

Start your day with the lavish breakfast buffet (with prosecco if you’d like) served in the Lord Byron restaurant overlooking the sea (there’s a spacious outdoor terrace too). In summer the Lord Byron also serves dinner, with a menu offering dishes like an asparagus flan appetizer with zabaione; risotto with roasted lobster and peas; and fresh grilled fish. (The seaside Eden Roc restaurant is the hotel’s summer lunch spot; in winter the Lord Byron serves lunch.) You can work off calories at the sleek modern spa and fitness area, which has an indoor pool to use in cool-weather months. The Excelsior offers another special amenity—a private dock at the beach club where you can depart on boating excursions (booked in advance) to such destinations as Portofino, Cinque Terre and Portovenere.

A stay at the hotel can run less than at other five-star properties along the French and Italian Rivieras, where room rates in summer are often well over €1000 a night. This year doubles with sea views and a balcony in peak season range from €770 to €965; the rate for a non-sea-view room, double occupancy, during the second half of August and September is €386.

4. Enjoy a posh beach scene. Although Rapallo has limited beach areas, there are lidos in town where you can while away the day. But if you want to experience Riviera beach style in a way that reminds you of a Slim Aarons photograph, go to the Excelsior Palace’s Beach Club. (You can pay a fee to use it if you’re not staying at the hotel.) Two striking infinity pools and their lounge areas overlook that gorgeous Riviera coastline and beach terraces on the levels below provide access to the vividly colored sea. You probably won’t want to budge from this spot all day (or ever), unless you decide to swim to the floats (materassini prendisole) positioned offshore, so it’s good there’s both a snack bar and the chic Eden Roc restaurant close at hand.

5. Golf at a historic club. Il Circolo Golf e Tennis Rapallo, dating from the early 1930s, has hosted everyone from screen legend Rita Hayworth to Bill Gates. The 18-hole (par 70) course can be played year-round thanks to the Gulf of Tigullio’s balmy climate. (Contact the club for booking information.) As the club’s name indicates, tennis is available here—there are four clay and two synthetic-grass courts. The club is about two kilometers from the Rapallo train station.

6. Learn how to cook Ligurian dishes. At the Vecchia Rapallo, a noted restaurant with a prime location in the historic center, there are classes to help you master the art of making such Ligurian specialties as pesto, lasagne with pesto, and stuffed vegetables the way the pros and locals do. After lessons are complete, you get to enjoy your culinary efforts at lunch. If you want to savor a range of Ligurian flavors, come back for dinner and try one of the restaurant’s tasting menus. On the Menù Contadino, for example, there’s pear ravioli served with cheese; on the Menù Marinaio the octopus salad with pistachios, tomatoes, oranges and olives, is followed by sea-bream ravioli in scampi sauce.

7. Indulge your sweet tooth at one of Italy’s iconic pastry shops. Since the 19th century the Caffé Pasticceria Canepa 1862 has been tempting Riviera residents and visitors with irresistible pastries and cakes. Try their signature cubeletti, quince jam-filled treats that have been produced here for more than 150 years. There are many other sweets to savor including pandolce, the Genoa fruit bread/cake; colomba, the Easter specialty; solluccheri cookies and sugar-flecked airy brioches. This atmospheric shop, owned today by Giovanni Garbarini and pastry chef Andrea Zino, can ship their delicious products anywhere.

8.Explore lesser-known nearby spots like San Michele di Pagana. Relax at this beautiful seaside hamlet between Rapallo and Santa Margarita Ligure, which has a small harbor, several coves (Pomaro, Trelo and Prelo) and beach areas. Despite its small size this haven has a major piece of art, The Crucifixion by Anthony Van Dyck, in the church of San Michele Arcangelo.

9. Head to Zoagli, another under-the-radar retreat, and the neighboring towns of Chiavari and Lavagna. Zoagli, a favored spot of wealthy Genovese for centuries, was long known for its production of fine velvets, coveted by Europe’s elites. Stroll the lovely seaside promenade, then head to Seterie di Zoagli Cordani, where beautiful silk velvets and silks have been made since 1849, and Tessitura Artigiana Giuseppe Gaggioli, for exquisite hand-woven velvets and damasks, along with fine silks. When in Chiavari, a bustling sea town, stroll the medieval quarter and the various arcades, and if you’re in the area the second weekend of the month, check out its well-known antiques and flea market. In Lavagna, you’ll find a long (4 kilometer) beach, along with six medieval sestieri, or districts.

10. You can even visit castles. A series of waterside castles in Liguria serves as reminder that for centuries many Riviera coastal villages lived under threat of invasions from the sea. Rapallo’s 16th-century castle, built after a fearsome raid by Turkish pirates when locals were captured and made slaves, sits on the Lungomare and is one of the town’s famous markers. The space is often used for exhibitions. (Reconstruction work from last fall’s storm is expected to be completed shortly.) In nearby Portofino visit Castello Brown, perched high on the promontory and dating from the 1400s. You can also stop by the Castello di Dragonara in Camogli and take in the remarkable sea views from its exterior. There are number of other castles to see as you work your way down the Riviera di Levante coast to Portovenere.

11. If you’re doing a three- or four-day weekend, find time to head north to Genoa, a fascinating city with great art, where you’ll find palazzi housing masterpieces by Caravaggio, Rubens, Dürer and Veronese; a large historic center; fascinating shops; and the cool Porto Antico, the old port, which was revitalized by the Genoa-born superstar architect Renzo Piano.

I have worked for Italian publications in the US and Italy, including Harper’s Bazaar, Mondadori’s Linea Italiana and RAI’s Moda. For Clarkson Potter/Crown I produced and authored two books on design, ‘Italian Style’ and ‘Italian Country.’ In addition to living in Milan and going to school in Pisa, I have produced and written features from many countries in Europe and throughout Italy. For American publications I have been editor-in-chief of the Forbes Special Interest Publications group and Gotham Magazine. My focus is on travel in Italy and Western Europe

Source: 11 Ways To Spend A Perfect Weekend On The Italian Riviera

7 Spots To Experience The Joy Of Missing Out

Get A Taste Of Bedouin Life

Get A Taste Of Bedouin Life

Four Seasons Hotel Amman

Gorgeous photos and shareable moments are the hallmark of any modern vacation, but when is the last time you actually took a trip just for yourself?

Instead of trying to keep up with wanderlust-inducing Instagram feeds, opt for a more laid-back approach to your next getaway. Treat yourself to a digital detox at these Forbes Travel Guide-approved stays that excel in JOMO (the joy of missing out), the antithesis to FOMO (fear of missing out).

Four Seasons Hotel Amman

You won’t find Wi-Fi in the heart of Wadi Rum, the rose-hued desert four hours south of this spectacular stay in Jordan’s capital.

Head for the dunes for an overnight excursion to Bedouin Lifestyle Camp — a tented complex run by the region’s traditionally nomadic inhabitants — where you can hike through the otherworldly rock formations that surround the sands.

After sundown, gather around the fire for a family-style meal of roasted lamb. Be sure to gaze up at the stars — the celestial bodies shine bright without Amman’s light pollution.

The Westin Palace, Madrid

The Westin Palace, Madrid

Westin Hotels and Resorts

Across the map, Westin properties put self-care first with a host of health-focused offerings to keep you on top of your game during your travels — without the constant stimulation of digital devices.

At hotels like Forbes Travel Guide Recommended The Westin Chosun Seoul, look out for rest-enhancing amenities, such as bedside Sleep Well Lavender Balm or the superfood-packed Sleep Well Menu for late-night room service.

More active pursuits can be found at stays like The Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa, where you can trade in your phone for the day in exchange for bike rentals, kayak tours or spa time, or Forbes Travel Guide Recommended The Westin Palace, Madrid where you can follow the property’s running map for a 2.5-mile route around some of the city’s most popular sights.

In the spirit of dolce far niente (“the sweet art of doing nothing”), this Five-Star Venetian gem recently debuted an early morning experience you need to see to believe.

Scala Del Bovolo Sunrise begins with a shuttle ride to St. Mark’s Square, where you’ll stroll through the deserted city streets before climbing the spiral staircase of the 15th-century Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo.

After conquering the 80-step ascent, you’ll be rewarded with sunrise views over Venice and a continental breakfast. Trust us when we say you’ll want to leave your phone behind — pictures won’t do these vistas justice.

Esperanza, Auberge Resorts Collection

Esperanza, Auberge Resorts Collection

Esperanza, Auberge Resorts Collection

A cliffside locale and VIP-approved amenities (past guests have included Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Aniston) are just a few of the reasons to unplug and soak in all that this Five-Star stunner has to offer.

Ditch your device for a bit of romance with the Cabo San Lucas property’s Sueños Spa Experience. Enjoy a steamy spin in the Five-Star spa’s grotto, where you and your partner will find a sauna-like cave and warm pools to luxuriate in.

An alfresco couple’s massage illuminated by starlight followed by post-indulgence finger foods and bubbles complete the enviable experience. You will want to keep the details of this romantic rendezvous all to yourselves.

Six Senses Spa

Six Senses Spa

The Alpina Gstaad

Find your center among the scenic Swiss Alps with the Tibetan Healing Retreat offer from this Five-Star gem.

Available June 9 through September 22, the rejuvenating four-night escape begins with a personal consultation, pulse reading and questionnaire that will determine the course of your customized experience.

High stress levels? The spa’s Tibetan medicine amchi-naturopath practitioner might recommend a 60-minute singing bowl session. Need a pick-me-up? You’ll likely enjoy a 75-minute Ku Nye Massage.

No matter your treatments, you’ll be sure to enjoy gratis daily breakfast made especially memorable with a side of those breathtaking mountain views.

Ko’a Kea Hotel & Resort

Ko’a Kea Hotel & Resort

Ko’a Kea Hotel & Resort

Perched in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, this Forbes Travel Guide Recommended retreat is a JOMO paradise. If the Poipu Beach property’s saltwater pool, white sands and fire-pit-dotted grounds aren’t enough to convince you to unplug, its Kauai Wanderlust offer might just do the trick.

Customize your perfect day with your choice of indulgent Hawaiian dinner for two, an oceanside couple’s massage or an adventurous afternoon (surf lessons and a private luau), before retiring on your room’s cozy lanai — a scenic spot to watch the sun set.

The Ranch at Laguna Beach

The Ranch at Laguna Beach

The Ranch at Laguna Beach

Need a break from L.A.’s constant buzz? Head about an hour south to this rustic-chic Orange County retreat to recharge your batteries.

You’ll want to leave the devices at home at this tranquil spot. Tucked between two canyons on 87 verdant acres, the SoCal resort may as well be a world away from the bustle of Hollywood.

Home to Laguna Beach’s only golf course, the sprawling property begs for you to do absolutely nothing, whether by the gorgeous central pool, at nature-inspired Sycamore Spa or around the fire pit roasting s’mores after nightfall.—Sarah Chanin

Forbes Travel Guide, formerly Mobil, created America’s original hospitality Star Rating system in 1958.

Source: 7 Spots To Experience The Joy Of Missing Out

Why You Should Never Book Your Flight And Hotel At The Same Time

When it comes to booking vacations, have we been doing it wrong all this time? For many of us, planning a vacation typically means choosing a destination, doing some research, comparing prices, and then reaching for a credit card. Once we’ve got our ducks lined up in a row, we go ahead and book our flights and hotel. A significant percentage of travelers always buys a package that bundles the flight and hotel together because conventional wisdom says that packages save you money.

Except that’s not true, says Sam Shank, CEO of HotelTonight, a platform for last-minute hotel booking platform. That’s because the optimal time to book the various different elements of your trip happen at different times – and this is the crux of how to save. “If you don’t book your flights early, you’re going to spend a fortune. With airline tickets, prices shoot up a lot if you wait too long,” says Shank. “But it’s the exact opposite with hotel prices, which decline the longer you wait.”

In other words, it makes zero sense to book your flights and hotel at the same time. To get the best price on both elements of your vacation, you should book flights six to seven weeks ahead and wait until much closer to your travel dates to book your hotel. This is a particularly good strategy if you’ve chosen a destination with a lot of hotels and your heart is not set on a particular property during the peak travel season.

Shank’s advice is founded in stats. The average hotel is only two-thirds full on any given night, so unless there’s a convention or some other major event going on, there is likely to be plenty of inventory available in a destination even on your arrival day.

You can book a hotel up to three months in advance on the HotelTonight website or app (available for iOS and Android), but the longer you wait, the more you save. Booking a week out nabs you a better price than if you book a month out, but the biggest savings of all go to last-minute Charlies who wait until the same day, when hotel rates are, on average, 10% less than the day before, says Shank.

Have you been told that travel packages always save you money? Again, you are booking your flight and hotel at the same time and only one of those elements will be at its optimal price. “Unbundling helps you save because you can get the benefit of booking the flight early and the hotel late,” says Shank.

There’s another benefit to booking your flight and hotel separately. “The selection of hotels included in these packages is often limited, so you’re often not able to choose the perfect hotel for you,” says Shank. “By unbundling, you’re going to get better choice as well.”

READ MORE:

Follow me on LinkedIn. Check out my website.

I’m always looking for new ways to travel better, smarter, deeper and cheaper, so I spend a lot of time watching trends at the intersection of travel and technology.

 

Source: Why You Should Never Book Your Flight And Hotel At The Same Time

Grappling With Mortality In The White Mountains – Joshua Bright

 

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Last year, medical tests revealed that a rare genetic cardiomyopathy is slowly but surely mutating, expanding, and gradually weakening my heart. Though there are no outward symptoms yet, my heart pumps only four-fifths of what it should, and my future health feels less certain. At age 44, the more I thought about my mortality, the more I thought about my desire to live more fully. Recently, I completed a yearlong class called “A Year to Live” at the New York Zen Center for Contemplative Care. We discussed loss and fear, imagined having a terminal diagnosis, created wills and advance directives……….

Read more: https://www.outsideonline.com/2322006/hiking-white-mountains

 

 

 

 

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