Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Travel 201

My series of posts on traveling are drawing to a close--for now. But of course I wouldn't leave you high and dry without the skills to pack a suitcase, the best resources for what to do and where to go, and a little something to wet your appetite for the voyage of a lifetime!

Packing

The Art of Packing, an interactive guide by Louis Vuitton
image from Polyvore

Louis Vuitton's claim to fame is the suitcase, even though the current-day association when someone hears "Louis Vuitton" is luxury handbags. Anyone can pack a suitcase, but to pack a suitcase in a way that best utilizes the available space while protecting the contents is no easy feat. Leave it to the masters at Louis Vuitton to give the inside scoop on The Art of Packing, one of the most fundamental skills for any trip. "The Art of Packing" is an online interactive guide that instructs how to pack a suitcase. I just visited NYC, and, after packing according to LV, I can attest first hand to the utility of their advice. When you go to "The Art of Packing," be sure to select the type of suitcase you'll be using (horizontal suitcase, upright trolley, or weekender) on the left side of the screen.


What to do & where to go



The Cities Book by Lonely Planet, at Urban Outfitters $25
image from Urban Outfitters

Knowing the hot spots where you are going is key for taking full advantage of your time someplace. Some of the best places and experiences are hidden and not meant for tourists. I suggest utilizing a variety of resources to capitalize on what your destination has to offer. First, create files for travel (one in your "favorites" on your computer and a concrete file in your file drawer). When you find an article in a magazine or online, add it to your file. 

Second, consult travel magazines and guidebooks; common ones include Frommer's, Conde Nast Traveler, and Travel & Leisure. Urban Outfitters sells The Cities Book, 432 pages of the best architecture, food, and nightlife for cities all over the world, and it makes a great coffee table book as well. Kate Spade has complimentary City Guides online that include 24 hour itineraries for New YorkLALondonTokyo, and Tahiti. JustLuxe also has online Luxury City Guides for dozens of domestic and international cities. Black Book Magazine's collection of extensive city guides, as well as an iPhone app, are other valuable resources. On my personal must-have list are Louis Vuitton City Guide: European Cities 2013 collection ($145), which includes 9 booklets in a boxed set that covers 31 cities in Europe (including Moscow). Hard back Louis Vuitton City Guides are also available for individual cities, including New York, LA, Paris, London, Rome, Berlin, Hong Kong/Macau, Tokyo, and Kyoto/Nara. Take a look at the LUXE city guides at L-attitude for 411 on destinations in the United States and all around the world. Also, do a search online with the name of your destination + "office of tourism" for information about things to do, the weather, and other worthwhile details (tipping, if most people speak English, etc). 

Third, when you get to your destination, talk to the concierge, and, if it seems safe (ask the concierge!), chat up the locals to find out their favorite spots. Locals are more likely to suggest places that will provide you with an experience that's more cultural than most places recommend for tourists. 

Fourth, do a search on The Cool Hunter and Trend Hunter for your destination to see if anything pops up that's a must-visit. 


Fantasy travels

Cultures & Cuisines by Private Jet
Image from Columbia University

Lastly, I'd like to leave you dreaming and inspired. Culture and Cuisines by Private Jet is sure to leave you wanting; the sky isn't even the limit. Columbia University offers annual excursions to exotic lands that are nothing short of out of this world. For 2012, they have an itinerary, experts, and accommodations to create an experience that is not only once-in-a-lifetime, but once-in-a-lifetime for only a handful of very fortunate individuals. For 3 weeks, they will traverse the half the globe: Iceland, France, Greece, Hungary, Vietnam, China, India, and Oman--by private jet. Their travels will be infused with the knowledge and richness that only the most accomplished in their fields could provide: world-class scholars from Columbia University, art historian Charles Doherty, and "Gastronomica's" editor-in-chief Darra Goldstien. Aside from the phenomenal opportunity this adventure presents, it also models a better way to live; the University gives back to the people and places they visit, contributing funds, supporting craftsmen, and donating materials to hospitals and schools.


In conclusion

I'll leave you with this: to visit someplace is not enough. You must acquire the knowledge, actively participate in your surroundings, and be open to truly appreciate your travels and all they offer. Traveling can be a window to the world--and to yourself; it can be a life-changing experience.

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