Expert Tips for an All-American Road Trip, According to a 'Midwest Living' Editor

Travel and Leisure - Sun, 05/13/2018 - 15:31
<p>Now in its second year, the <a href="" target="_blank"><em>Midwest Living</em> Road Rally</a> is on a mission to uncover new and exciting destinations in a Midwestern state.</p><p>This past week, the editors at <em>Midwest Living</em> took a five-day road trip across South Dakota, navigating through the dramatic landscape of the Badlands, the towering peaks of the Black Hills, and every picturesque national park in between. They partnered with <a href="" target="_blank">South Dakota Tourism</a> to ensure that they hit every aspect of South Dakota’s landscapes, while learning the history of what makes the land so sacred to its people.</p><img alt="Bison "src=""><p>Trevor Meers, the head of editorial content for <em>Midwest Living</em>, shared his top picks when visiting South Dakota, as well as some pertinent travel tips to assure making the most of your road trip with friends and family, wherever you choose to roam.</p><p><strong>Travel + Leisure: Tell me about the <em>Midwest Living</em> Road Rally.</strong></p><p><strong>Trevor Meers:</strong> “We partner with a state tourism office and we do a road trip through their state for five days. We get branded vehicles and create a unique logo for each road rally state that we’re going to be in. So for South Dakota, we’ve integrated Mount Rushmore imagery into that logo. We work with the state to put together an itinerary that we think showcases either the best of that place — or maybe a hidden side of that place — and the result will be the live tour. With South Dakota, the theme is “Chasing Legends,” so for this particular trip, we’re going to the Black Hills area of South Dakota — an area that is one of the all-American road trips.”</p><p><strong>What makes South Dakota ideal spot to road trip?</strong></p><p>“It’s the diversity ... You’ve got prairie, you've got Badlands, you’ve got pine forest and mountains — all within an hour, you can hit all of those landscapes. And the history, that’s what I love most about it. The Black Hills were a sacred place for Native Americans. So, to go there, you know you’re in a place that meant so much to them. It’s a conflicted history, obviously, but it meant so much to them and now it’s kind of a tourism destination ... One of the places we’re going to go is Bear Butte, which is a sacred place, and a Native American gentlemen is going to meet us out there, and give us a tour of Bear Butte and tell us what the landscape meant for people who lived there for millenia.”</p><img alt="Mount Rushmore at sunrise "src=""><p>“There’s all kinds of classic family, kitschy road-trip stuff, too. It’s just got such a diverse mix. You’ve got all these landscapes, you’ve got all this history, and you’ve got this kind of kitschy family road trip, and you can pick and choose.”</p><p><strong>What would you say are your best tips for taking a road trip?</strong></p><p>“Always start with who’s going on the trip. What are the ages of the people who are going? Do these people want to do active things, or more scenic things? How important are the arts to you? The outdoors? The food? And if the answer is all of it, then you can build an itinerary, so I certainly look at that.</p><p>“I’m also a big believer in managing how much time you spend in the car. We’ve all been on trips where we felt like we were in the car 90% of the time we were on the vacation, and you never want to do that. So I try to figure out how to build an itinerary so that maybe it will take some time to get to our destination, but once we’re there, we’re never in the car more than 30 or 40 minutes at a time ... I also tend not to stay in the same lodging the entire time, either, because if it’s a big area, you don’t want to stay in one area and drive several hours to get somewhere, then drive back to your hotel.”</p><p><strong>What are some ways to de-stress and decompress when you’re on a road trip with other people?</strong></p><p>“Not spending too much time in the car is probably a good start! I think music goes so far, and you can’t underestimate a good road trip playlist. I’m doing the <em>Midwest Living</em> Road Rally with a group of people who are business colleagues. It’s a mix of people who all get along but we’re not a group of people who ‘hang out’ together often. I think music goes a long way toward lightening the mood and making it feel like you’re on vacation. You’re not on this road trip to talk about health insurance! Try to keep it light, and get that mood flowing in the right direction.”</p><p><strong>What should you always pack for a road trip?</strong></p><p>“A few healthy snacks — not because you necessarily want to stay healthy, but because you want to make sure you feel good. We all know how hard it is to eat at a gas station, and when you’re on the road, junk food is, of course, part of the deal. But just having enough decent food to eat helps.</p><p>“I’m also a big fan of keeping folding lawn chairs in your car, because you never know when you’re going to pull off and find a place and think to yourself, ‘That would be a great spot to sit and read a book for an hour.’ So being kind of portable — that’s the way I like to travel. It’s about being spontaneous. If we see something that looks like it could be fun, we have enough stuff with us so we can make that happen. So, when you think about leaving in the morning from the hotel or wherever you’re staying, take as much stuff to prepare for contingencies. If we decide to go to the beach, we’ve got the towels and the swimsuits. If we decide to hike, we threw in the hiking shoes.”</p><p><strong>What are some things that should be taken care of before hitting the road?</strong></p><p>“Some of it depends on how many vehicles you’re going to have. If you’re going to have more than one vehicle, then that should go into the planning aspect. Are we going to stick together the whole time, or are we going to split up and do our own thing during the day? And if so, where do we meet up? Will we have lunch together, are we going to be on our own until we all get back to the house we’re renting? That kind of communication is important.</p><img alt="Hiking "src=""><p>“I really like to plan meals in advance, too, because that can be really tiring. If you’re going to be cooking, you don’t want to spend the first four hours going to the grocery store, trying to decide what to cook for everybody. That’s a buzzkill. Cooking on vacation can be fun, but it depends on how much time you want to spend on it. If that’s a big part of your experience and you want to have big meals every night, you can definitely have fun with it. But if you want to minimize the amount of time you’re spending on cooking, plan in advance and plan meals that are quick and easy.”</p><p><strong>What do you think people should know about visiting national parks?</strong></p><p>“Do a bit of homework before you go visit a national park. So many of our parks have gotten really busy in the last couple of years, which, for the most part, is a great thing, but it can become a challenge when you want to visit. Plan ahead to try and figure out the certain times of day that are better.</p><p>“There are also great ranger programs at most parks, and they typically have calendars on their websites, which can totally elevate your trip. A lot of people go to the park and can see that it’s beautiful but not fully understand what they're looking at. If you go with a ranger, they can explain the wildlife, the trees, the grasses. They’ll take you out at night to see stars and constellations. They’ll help you look for fossils in the rock faces, those kinds of things. The park rangers are there for a reason, and they’re in this field because they love the place. They love nature and they love exposing people to it, so ask them questions.</p><p>“It’s nice to know the backstory of the place you’re going to as well. How did this place become a park? Who are the people who first recognized why this should be a national park? It helps you plug into the heritage of the place. And whether you’re a kid or an adult, we need to understand that it takes work to preserve these places.”</p><p><strong>What's the benefit of a road trip vs. flying somewhere?</strong></p><p>“I think there’s certainly a unique spirit to driving to a destination. I’m not anti-flying — I fly all the time — but there is a certain disconnect from it, in that you walk into an airport, you walk into a metal tube, and then you walk out of an airport somewhere else. There’s something about the mindset of setting out, driving, and spending a few hours getting to a destination that helps you really get in the spirit of that road trip. And it could be a really important time with the people you take along, depending on who you’re with. You’re going to have a few hours to chat with each other, and you can chat on the way home about the experiences you just had together. I think that’s something that’s a little bit harder to get with air travel.</p><p>“I look back to the early 1920s when cars were finally something the average person can have. How liberating that people could take trips in a car now, when that used to be something that only the wealthy could do. All of a sudden, the average American can go out and have an adventure in their car, and I think there’s still some romance to that.”</p><p><em>Editor's note: This interview has been edited for length.</em> Midwest Living's <em> parent company, Meredith, is also</em> Travel + Leisure's.</p>
Categories: Travel

Your Next Favorite European Wine Region Isn’t in France, Italy, or Spain

Travel and Leisure - Sun, 05/13/2018 - 14:32
<p>The <a href="" target="_blank">Beau-Rivage Palace hotel</a><b> </b>in Lausanne, on the shores of Lake Geneva, maintains one of Europe’s great wine cellars. Earlier in the day I’d made my way through it, a maze of 80,000 bottles extending all the way under the tennis courts, with sommelier Thibaut Panas. The cool underground rooms held the usual suspects—<em>grand cru</em> Burgundies, first-growth Bordeaux, Barolos—as well as plenty of fine Swiss wines. It was one of the latter that I was drinking now, as I sat on the terrace at <a href="" target="_blank">Anne-Sophie Pic</a>, the acclaimed French chef’s namesake restaurant at the hotel: a glass of 2007 Les Frères Dubois Dézaley-Marsens Grand Cru de la Tour Vase no. 4. A Chasselas from the terraced vineyards of the Lavaux wine region, just outside the city, the white wine was rich, complex, and subtly spicy all at once. And it was exactly why I’d come to Switzerland, since there was little chance I would ever find it back home in the U.S.</p><p>The Beau-Rivage was built on the Swiss side of the lake in 1861, and it’s what a grand old European hotel should be, which is to say it keeps the feeling that you might at any moment drift into a black-and-white movie set between the wars. Its Belle Époque salons, ballrooms, and suites have played host to the likes of Charlie Chaplin, Coco Chanel, and countless others accustomed to grandeur and privilege. Case in point: the woman in red leather pants at the table next to mine, who was surreptitiously feeding morsels to her miniature dachshund. The dog would poke its snout out of her red leather handbag to receive bites of $85 duck, then disappear. It had manners. I drank my good Swiss wine, pondering the quirkiness of rich Europeans.</p> <img alt="Wine and food in Switzerland" src=""> From left: The barrel room at Domaine Jean-René Germanier, in the heart of the Valais, where visitors can taste Swiss varietal wines like Humagne Rouge and Chasselas; langoustines and beets at Anne-Sophie Pic, the restaurant at the Beau-Rivage Palace hotel, in Lausanne. Simon Bajada <p>The reason you won’t find much Swiss wine in the U.S. is simply this: 98 percent of it stays in Switzerland, where it’s drunk quite contentedly by the Swiss, who are well aware that their wines are extremely good, even if the rest of the world is not. This situation isn’t entirely intentional. The wines are dauntingly expensive outside Swiss borders, and the fact that they’re made from unfamiliar native varieties doesn’t help, either. A $50 bottle of Swiss Chasselas would be a tough sell in your local American wine store.</p><p>That said, once you arrive within their borders, the Swiss are more than happy to share. Visiting wineries in Switzerland is actually easier than in many other European wine regions. Most have shops that double as tasting rooms and keep regular hours. Plus, Switzerland’s wine country, which includes the popular cantons of Vaud and Valais, is <a href="" target="_blank">stare-around-you-in-awe beautiful</a>.</p><p>All that is to say why, the day after my epic dinner, I was standing with Louis-Philippe Bovard on the Chemin des Grands Crus, a narrow road that winds among the ancient Lavaux vineyard terraces east of Lausanne, in the Vaud. Bovard is the 10th generation of his family to make wine here. “I have just a small piece of vineyard, which my father gave me, which the first Louis bought in 1684,” he said with the kind of casual modesty available to you when your family has been farming the same piece of land for almost 350 years. To our left, the green vines climbed in dramatic steps—some of the stone walls are 20 feet high—up to bare rock and, eventually, the Savoy Alps. Below us they dropped equally precipitously down to the ultramarine waters of Lake Geneva.</p> <img alt="Scenes from Switzerland's wine region" src=""> From left: The waterfront walking path in Lausanne offers ample opportunities for people-watching. The city is the capital of the Vaud canton and close to the Lavaux vineyards, a unesco World Heritage site; a view of Lake Geneva over the rooftops of Rivaz, as seen from the vineyards of Domaine Louis Bovard. Simon Bajada <p>The Chemin des Grands Crus sees a lot of foot traffic these days, a consequence of the region’s having been named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2007. Bovard tolerates this with equanimity. “In September there will be a thousand people on the route,” he said. “They get very annoyed when they have to move aside for my car! But harvest is harvest. The work has to be done. And the winemakers are the ones who built the road, after all.” To give perspective, Bovard’s winery is located in the nearby town of Cully, whose population tops out at 1,800 or so. “And the other villages around here aren’t even this big, maybe three hundred inhabitants,” he added. “But of those, ten to twenty will be winegrowers.” The Dézaley Grand Cru area<i>,</i> which we were standing in the midst of and from which Bovard makes one of his best wines, is a tiny 135 acres, but more than 60 different families farm it.</p><p>The principal grape of Lavaux and of the Vaud as a whole is <a href="" target="_blank">Chasselas</a>. At one extreme it makes light, delicate, floral whites; at the other, rich, supple, full-bodied ones. “In its variety of expression, it’s like Burgundy,” Bovard told me later as we sampled wines in his tiny tasting room. “Chasselas from one cru to the next can be as different as Chablis is from Montrachet.” All of Bovard’s wines are impressive, but the standout was a 2007 Domaine Louis Bovard Médinette Dézaley Grand Cru, his top wine, its youthful fruit notes now shifting toward a layered toastiness. “As the wine ages you have less white flowers, more dried apricots, honey—much like a white Hermitage but just a bit lighter.”</p> <p>I was exposed to Chasselas’s chameleonic range of styles again during lunch at <a href="" target="_blank">Auberge de l’Onde</a>, in the tiny town of St.-Saphorin on the old road from Geneva to the Valais. The green-shuttered, 17th-century building has been an inn for most of its existence, but these days it is known mostly for its restaurant. The feel in the downstairs brasserie is homey: wooden chairs, white-painted ceiling beams, white flowers in the window boxes. (The upstairs rotisserie is more formal, and open only for dinner.) As maître d’ and sommelier Jérôme Aké Béda seated us, a young guy carrying a motorcycle helmet poked his head through a window, and he and Aké chatted in French. “He’s a winemaker, a local guy,” Aké explained. “He makes a special cuvée for me, about three hundred bottles.”</p><p>Aké’s magnetic personality and extraordinary wine knowledge are this restaurant’s secret weapons. He’s also quick to note his unlikely path in life: “I’m from the Ivory Coast. I was raised on pineapple juice, not wine! But now I’m in wine because I love it. I swim in wine.”</p><p>If not for a chance meeting, Aké might still be living in Abidjan, the largest city in the Ivory Coast. In 1988, when he was the maître d’ at Wafou, one of the city’s top restaurants, he went to France on vacation and ran into one of his former professors from hospitality school. They chatted for a while, and eventually the man asked if Aké might like to be on the team for a project of his—in Switzerland. By 1989, Aké had a new life in a very different country. But it wasn’t until the mid 90s, working at acclaimed chef Denis Martin’s restaurant in Vevey, on Lake Geneva, that he fell in love with wine. He began training as a sommelier and, in a remarkable ascent, by 2003 had been named the best sommelier in French-speaking Switzerland by the Swiss Association of Professional Sommeliers.</p><p>Now he’s found his home at Auberge de l’Onde. “Chaplin, Stravinsky, Edith Piaf, Audrey Hepburn, they all came here,” he told me. But it was when he started to talk about Chasselas, not famous people, that he became truly passionate: “I have wines from everywhere in my cellar, but I’m going to talk to you about Swiss wine. And Chasselas—it’s one of the great grapes of the world. When you drink it, you feel refreshed. And it’s so subtle, so sensitive, you must read between its lines.”</p><p>Right as I was beginning to wonder if I’d wandered into a novel about the Chasselas whisperer, Aké set down plates of perch from the lake and expertly spit-roasted chicken in tarragon sauce. To go with them he poured us tastes from seven different bottles, all Chasselas. Some were bright, citrusy, and crisp; some were creamy, with flavors more reminiscent of pears. Of the two older vintages we tried, one had honeyed notes, the other a nutty flavor suggesting mushrooms and brown butter. “’s also very earthy,” Aké went on. “It needs salt and pepper to bring out its amplitude.”</p><p>The following day I headed west in the direction of Geneva to La Côte, another of the Vaud’s six wine regions, to meet Raymond Paccot of <a href="" target="_blank">Paccot-Domaine La Colombe</a>. Here the land was less abrupt, the vineyards flowing down toward the lake in gentle slopes. Paccot’s winery was in Féchy, a rural village. Above it, higher on the hillside, was Féchy’s aptly nicknamed sister town, Super-Féchy, “where Phil Collins lives,” Paccot explained. “The rich people.” Even in less celebrity-filled Féchy, the local castle was currently for sale for $36.8 million, Paccot told me. “With a very nice view of the lake, if you’re interested.”</p><p>Rather than buy the castle, I ended up at La Colombe’s little shop and tasting room. Paccot, one of the first vintners in Switzerland to farm biodynamically, makes a broad range of wines, both red and white—Chasselas is not the only grape grown here. He set out an abundance of charcuterie and cheeses, and surrounded by bottles, we chatted about the history of the region.</p><p>As with essentially every European appellation, it was the Romans who cultivated vines here first. Later, in the 10th or 11th century, Cistercian monks established their own vineyards. Lavaux’s spectacular terrace walls were erected in the 1400s by northern Italian masons. By then the Vaud was part of the French-speaking Duchy of Savoy; that was also, Paccot told me, around the time when his family received its coat of arms, which features a dove (<em>la colombe</em>), a symbol of peace, and of course the winery. “It was given to us by Amédée, one of the Savoy counts, because in 1355, my ancestor helped secure peace. Plus, it was easier to give him a coat of arms than to pay him.” Through Europe’s many wars, vignerons grew grapes and made wine here. In French-speaking Switzerland you find local whites like Chasselas, Petite Arvine, Amigne, and Humagne, together with French transplants such as Marsanne (here known as Ermitage) and Pinot Gris (here known as Malvoisie). In the eastern, German-speaking regions, reds are more popular, particularly Pinot Noir (often referred to as Blauburgunder); in Italian-speaking Ticino, Merlot dominates.</p><p>Paccot’s 2014 Amédée, primarily made from the Savagnin grape, was a standout among the wines we tasted—melony and earthy, full-bodied but brightened by fresh acidity. “With Chasselas, it’s the delicacy, the lift, the fruit,” he said after taking a sip. “But with Savagnin it’s more like a mushroom. It smells the way it does when you’re walking in the forest.”</p><p>That comment came back to me the next day when I was, in fact, walking in a forest. But I was in the Valais, a very different place. If the Vaud is defined by the openness of Lake Geneva, Valais is defined by mountains. It’s essentially a vast gorge carved by the Rhône glacier, which before it began its retreat some 10,000 years ago stretched for nearly 185 miles and was, according to Gilles Besse, the winemaker I was walking with, “more than a mile deep. But what it left behind was this extraordinary mosaic of rocks. The soil in the Valais changes every fifteen yards—it’s not like Bordeaux.”</p> <img alt="Vineyards in Le Perrey, Switzerland" src=""> A vineyard in the village of Le Perrey, in the Valais, where the winemakers at Domaine Gérald Besse source their grapes. Simon Bajada <p>Nor, except for that mosaic-like soil structure, is it much like the Vaud. Here, the Alps towered up on either side of me, jagged and stunning. The previous day I’d had a conversation with Louis-Philippe Bovard and a Swiss wine-collector acquaintance of mine, Toby Barbey, about the difference between the Vaud and the Valais. Bovard had said, “The Valais, well, the soils are very different, the climate is very different, it’s very dry.” At this point Barbey interjected, “And the people are very different! They’re lunatics over there.”</p><p>I told Besse this and he laughed. He is trim, in his forties, with the requisite interesting eyewear and expensive watch that all Swiss men are apparently issued at birth. An accomplished skier, he’d recently completed the Patrouille des Glaciers, a frigid, all-night, cross-country-ski race covering some 70 miles from Zermatt to Verbier. Proof enough of a lunatic streak for me.</p><p>His family’s winery, <a href="" target="_blank">Domaine Jean-René Germanier</a>, opened for business in Vetroz in 1886. But at the moment we were deep in the precipitous Val d’Hérens. The forest we’d walked through gave way to one of his prized vineyards, Clos de la Couta. It is absurdly steep—your average mountain goat would be daunted. But somehow Besse harvests grapes from it, and very good ones at that. His peppery, nectarine-scented 2015 Clos de la Couta Heida (the local name for Savagnin), which we tried later on, was sublime. He also informed me that Val d’Hérens’s true fame comes less from its grapes than its fighting cows.</p><p>“Fighting cows?”</p><p>“Of course! Really angry animals. A top cow might sell for eighty-five thousand dollars, you know.”</p><p>“Not like a bullfight, right?”</p><p>“No, the cows fight each other. It’s to determine the queen—which lady rules the herd. There are many fights, but the finale is in Aproz in June. It’s a very big event. People come from all over Switzerland.”</p><p>Visual confirmation would have helped me wrap my brain around the concept. But for dinner we did indulge in an equally Valaisian tradition, raclette, at the ultimate destination for it, the <a href="" target="_blank">Château de Villa</a>, in Sierre.</p><p>It’s easy to look at raclette and think, “Well, that’s melted cheese on a plate.” And yes, raclette is basically melted cheese on a plate. But sit outside at Château de Villa on a spring night, looking at the turreted tower and white walls of this 16th-century building, and order the dinner tasting of five different cheeses from five different<i> alpages </i>(high mountain pastures) throughout the Valais. You will realize it’s much more than that.</p><p>At Château de Villa, the raclette master slices great wheels of Raclette de Valais AOC cheese in half, mounts them on metal racks, and positions them just close enough to a fire that the edge of the cheese crisps and the center melts without burning. He then scrapes the molten cheese onto a plate with a single stroke. Some cheeses are more earthy, some more oily, some more floral. All are distinct. After you try all five, you can have more of whichever you prefer, along with “light” accompaniments: boiled potatoes, bread, and pickles. And ask for the pepper mill. The correct amount of pepper? That, Besse told me, is a matter of debate.</p><p>The next day<b> </b>I took the <a href="" target="_blank">train to Zurich</a>, because of a new rule I’ve decided to apply to my life: if someone offers to show you vineyards from a speedboat, always say yes.</p><p>The someone in this case was Hermann Schwarzenbach, the debonair owner of Schwarzenbach Weinbau, a few miles south of the official city limits in the town of Meilen. <a href="" target="_blank">Zurich</a>’s not really known as a wine region—the city itself is too dominant, with its focus on international business and the arts—and as the villages on the northern shore of Lake Zurich have been absorbed into its sprawl, the historic line between what’s urban and rural has blurred. But the vineyards are still there, semi-hidden. Schwarzenbach pointed them out from the water—dozens of one-acre parcels up and down the lake, tucked in between stands of old plane trees, riverside parks, and the gabled summer homes of rich Zurichers. “Most of them are on land that’s protected against development,” he noted. “Otherwise they wouldn’t be there anymore.”</p><p>After zooming up and down the lake several times, we parked the boat in Schwarzenbach’s boathouse and repaired to lunch in the garden at a local restaurant, <a href="" target="_blank">Wirtschaft zur Burg</a>, to taste his wines. Though the building dates back to the mid 1600s, chef Turi Thoma is known for his lightly modernized takes on traditional Swiss dishes—pike from the lake simply roasted but served with a poppy, lime, and chile butter, for instance. Thoma, a compact, bald fellow with an impish smile, also buys all the wine for the restaurant. He joined us to taste Schwarzenbach’s 2008 Meilener Pinot Noir Selection. Pinot Noir is a more significant and increasingly popular red grape in German-speaking Switzerland than in the French areas, and the wine was a revelation—full of black tea and spice, intense dried-cherry fruit, juicy acidity. “You can really see the similarities to a great Côte de Nuits,” Thoma said. “You like the food?”</p> <img alt="Food and wine in Switzerland" src=""> From left: Turi Thoma, chef at Wirtschaft zur Burg, a traditional farmhouse serving modern European cuisine on the outskirts of Zurich; bottles from Domaine du Daley, in the Vaud, which produces Chasselas and Pinot Noir. Simon Bajada <p>“Great!” I said. “Brilliant.” He was giving me that intent look that chefs give you when they feel like you might be politely hiding your actual opinion, so I ate another bite of the venison course we were on for emphasis. “And fantastic with the wine, too.”</p><p>“Good,” he said, leaning back.</p><p>I said I was surprised to find Pinot Noir—and very good Pinot Noir at that—by the shores of Lake Zurich. “Yes,” Schwarzenbach said thoughtfully. “But think about it. The tradition of Pinot Noir here is over four hundred years old. Perhaps even longer. It was always our main variety of red wine. Classic cool-climate reds, that’s what we do. Yes, it was brought here by the...oh, the duke of whatever. But it’s our variety. Right?”</p><h2>Exploring Swiss Wine Country</h2><p>The cantons of Vaud, Valais, and Zurich offer all the pleasures of the world’s best-known wine destinations without the crowds. Give yourself a week to experience all three, along with the urban pleasures of Geneva.</p><h3>Getting There and Around</h3><p><a href="" target="_blank">Swiss International Air Lines</a> offers 73 flights per week from Canada and the U.S. to Geneva and Zurich. To get between cities <a href="" target="_blank">by train</a>, invest in a Swiss Travel Pass. Though you can visit most wineries and tasting rooms unannounced, a good option is to work with a tour company like <a href="" target="_blank">CountryBred</a><i>,</i> which plans dinners with winemakers, luxury transportation, tastings, and more.</p><h3>The Vaud</h3><p>To explore the wine regions of the Vaud, stay in the city of Lausanne. The recently renovated <a data-ecommerce="true" href="" target="_blank">Beau-Rivage Palace</a> <em>(doubles from $565)</em><i>,</i> originally built in 1861, has spectacular views over Lake Geneva, both from its exquisitely appointed rooms and from chef Anne-Sophie Pic’s namesake <a href="" target="_blank">Michelin two-starred restaurant</a>. A walk along the Lavaux terraces’ Chemin des Grands Crus, just 15 minutes from Lausanne, is not to be missed. Then visit <a href="" target="_blank">Domaine Bovard</a><i>,</i> in Cully, one of the region’s benchmark Chasselas producers.<a href="" target="_blank"> Domaine du Daley</a>, founded in 1392, is in Lutry. Its terrace has the best view of all the Lavaux wineries. Closer to Geneva in La Côte, Raymond Paccot’s <a href="" target="_blank">Paccot-Domaine La Colombe</a> is another highlight. Make sure to try the three Chasselas bottlings — Bayel, Brez, and Petit Clos — all from different <em>terroirs</em><i>.</i> I loved dining at <a data-ecommerce="true" href="" target="_blank">Auberge de l’Onde</a> <em>(entrées $13–$41)</em><i>, </i>in St.-Saphorin, where sommelier Jérôme Aké Béda preaches the gospel of Swiss wine and the rotisserie-grilled meats are incomparable.</p><h3>The Valais</h3><p><a href="" target="_blank">Hotel-Restaurant Didier de Courten</a> <em>(doubles from $240)</em><i>, </i>in Sierre, is a pleasant, relaxed base for your excursions. Thirty minutes away in Ardon, <a href="" target="_blank">Domaine Jean-René Germanier</a> is known as one of the Valais’s best producers, both of whites such as Fendant (as Chasselas is known in the region) and reds such as Syrah. Twenty minutes southwest brings you to <a href="" target="_blank">Gérald Besse’s brand-new winery</a> outside Martigny. Taste his impressive wines, such as the Ermitage Vielle Vigne Les Serpentines, from a vineyard planted on a dramatic 55-degree slope. Cheese-and-wine fanatics should try <a data-ecommerce="true" href="" target="_blank">Château de Villa</a> <em>(entrées $11–$55)</em><i>, </i>in Sierre, not only for the raclette tasting but also for the attached shop, which stocks some 650 different wines.</p><h3>Zurich and Its Environs</h3><p>Staying in Zurich gives you access to all the attractions of the big city, but just outside lie wineries that produce lovely whites and surprisingly good Pinot Noirs. In Zurich, the <a data-ecommerce="true" href="" target="_blank">Baur au Lac</a> <em>(doubles from $926)</em> is one of the great historic hotels of Europe, built in 1844 — the same year its founder, Johannes Baur, started his wine business, which the hotel still runs. At <a href="" target="_blank">Schwarzenbach Weinbau</a><i>,</i> a wine producer 15 minutes away in the town of Meilen, you can sip subtle Pinot Noirs and citrus-apricoty white Rauschlings, available nowhere else on earth. Dinner at <a data-ecommerce="true" href="" target="_blank">Wirtschaft zur Burg</a> <em>(entrées $15–$30)</em><i>,</i> also in Meilen, is excellent. Chef Turi Thoma relies on ingredients such as pike and hare for his brilliantly executed spins on traditional recipes.</p>
Categories: Travel

This Tokyo Tour Is Like a Real-life Mario Kart

Travel and Leisure - Sun, 05/13/2018 - 13:30
<p>In what could very well be the most fantastical way to relive your childhood, you can fully immerse yourself in Nintendo 64 nostalgia with a Mario Kart-inspired tour of <a href="" target="_blank">Tokyo</a>.</p><p>In Tokyo's Akihabara district, tour company MariCAR invites gaming enthusiasts to hop in a go-kart and explore the city just like Mario, Donkey Kong, and Yoshi (if Tokyo was a race course in the iconic game).</p><p>There are three different tours to choose from, each taking you to some of the city's best attractions, including Asakusa, Tokyo Skytree and Tokyo Tower. And while you may not be able to take a spin down Rainbow Road, you can drive down the city's real-life Rainbow Bridge, depending on which tour you sign up for.</p><img alt="MariCAR guests in costumes "src=""><p>In true Mario Kart fashion, you'll even have your pick of costumes to wear as you cruise through the streets. You can dress up as your favorite Mario Kart character and pretend you're actually in the game — or you can mix it up and zip around <a href="" target="_blank">Tokyo</a> (at the appropriate speed limit) as a superhero, unicorn, or minion.</p><p>The go-karts are designed to fit one person each, but if you're in a group, you and your friends can rent communication bands to keep in touch. There's also the option to rent an action camera to record the experience.</p><img alt="MariCar street karts "src=""><p>And to cap it all off, each go-kart comes equipped with Bluetooth speakers so the Mario Kart N64 soundtrack — or whatever music you prefer — can serve as the ultimate musical backdrop to your go-kart tour.</p><p>To <a href="" target="_blank">book your MariCAR tour</a>, you must have a valid Japanese driver's license or an International Driving Permit, which you can get from the <a href="" target="_blank">American Automobile Association</a> or the <a href="" target="_blank">American Automobile Touring Alliance</a>. Prices start at 9,000 yen, or about $82 USD.</p>
Categories: Travel

This Instagram-famous 23-year-old's Photos Will Make You Want to Become a Flight Attendant

Travel and Leisure - Sun, 05/13/2018 - 12:30
<p>A flight attendant for Emirates is proving you don’t have to be a celebrity to live the jet-set life.</p><p>23-year-old Brigita Jagelaviciute, originally from Lithuania but living in Dubai, has traveled to 74 countries so far, and her worldly adventures can be seen on her <a href="" target="_blank">gorgeously cultivated Instagram account</a>.</p><p>So far, the young <a href="" target="_blank">flight attendant</a> has racked up over 64,000 followers and it’s easy to see why. Her dreamy photos of some of the most beautiful locations in the world are sure to spark anyone’s wanderlust.</p><p><strong>Related:</strong> <a href="" target="_blank">The 39 Best Travel and Vacation Captions for Instagram</a></p><p>But all that travel comes with a serious workload. According to the <em><a href="" target="_blank">Daily Mail</a></em>, Jagelaviciute has scheduled 80 trips within the last year.</p><p>Luckily, Jagelaviciute doesn’t mind a life that’s constantly on the go. “I don’t like waking up at the same time and doing the same thing five days a week only to wait for the weekend...Meeting new people when you’re young is also lots of fun and this job is a great opportunity to make some long-lasting friendships,” she told the <em>Daily Mail</em>.</p><p>Of course, she also admits that traveling from one time zone or climate to another can be exhausting.</p><p>“The worst part of being a flight attendant is most definitely jet lag...You have to be capable to quickly adjust to different temperatures, time zones and places and it’s not easy. I think even after having worked many years in aviation people still struggle sometimes to fight it,” she said.</p><p>But she doesn’t intend to stop her jet-set life any time soon. Having traveled to 74 countries already, it seems that Jagelaviciute is striving to visit as many destinations as she can in the world.</p><p><strong>Related:</strong> <a href="" target="_blank">Flight Attendants Reveal All The Places You Don’t Want to Touch on a Plane</a></p><p>“[74 countries is] only 30 percent of the world, so I still have a long way to go,” she said.</p><p>To see her horseback riding in Jordan, galavanting over the Brooklyn Bridge and taking on many other worldly adventures, follow her on <a href="" target="_blank">Instagram</a>.</p>
Categories: Travel

The Best Portable Safe to Protect Your Valuables While Traveling

Travel and Leisure - Sun, 05/13/2018 - 10:31
<p>We all know the dangers of pickpockets while traveling, but rarely do we ever think about the theft that can happen in our very own hotel rooms. It’s easy to assume that once we head off to explore the city with our doors locked, our valuables are safe. But unfortunately, sometimes that's not the case (especially if you’re staying in alternative lodging like an <a href="" target="_blank">Airbnb</a> or a hostel).</p><p>Even the safe in your hotel room isn't always a secure option. Apparently, there's <a href="" target="_blank">a secret code anyone can use</a> to break in if the hotel hasn't taken the time to reset the administrator code.</p><p>So what’s a traveler to do? Well, portable safes exist. And they're much easier to pack than you might think.</p><strong>Related: </strong><a href="" target="_blank">These $12 Travel Bags Are Packing Game Changers, According to These 5-star Amazon Reviews</a></p><p>Pacsafe makes <a href=";amp;linkCode=ll1&amp;amp;tag=tlportablesafe-20&amp;amp;linkId=bdd06efaff6886e686efb98229fd7b7c" target="_blank">a convenient option</a> that folds flat for easy packing and features a stainless steel cable for locking to a secure fixture. For example, you can attach it to the leg of the table so you can sit at a sidewalk cafe without constantly checking over your shoulder to make sure your backpack is still slung over your chair. </p><p>The safe itself resembles a bag. It weighs just one pound, but it's constructed with poly canvas fabric with stainless steel wire mesh, making it virtually indestructible. It comes in two different sizes: 5L, which is priced at $70 and can fit a 10-inch tablet and 12L which, at $90, can fit a 15-inch Macbook. On top of that, this travel safe is water-resistant (essential for storing tech) and has a TSA-approved lock so you won’t run into any trouble going through security.</p><p>We’re not the only ones who think the Pacsafe Travelsafe GII Portable Safe is a great option. With a 4.5-star rating on <a href=";linkCode=ll1&amp;tag=tlportablesafe-20&amp;linkId=bdd06efaff6886e686efb98229fd7b7c" target="_blank">Amazon</a>, it’s a certified travel must-have if you're bringing along valuables.</p><h2>Pacsafe Travelsafe GII Portable Safe</h2><img alt="Pacsafe Travelsafe 12L GII Portable Safe "src=""><p>To buy: <a data-ecommerce="true" href=";linkCode=ll1&amp;tag=tlportablesafe-20&amp;linkId=bdd06efaff6886e686efb98229fd7b7c" target="_blank"></a>, from $70</p>
Categories: Travel

This Futuristic Pod Hotel Will Pop Up in Remote Locations

Travel and Leisure - Sat, 05/12/2018 - 17:57
<p>The Tetra Hotel may not yet have a location, but that isn't stopping us from wanting to book a stay. Engineering firm WSP has proposed a new concept for a hotel: about 42 free-standing futuristic concrete pods in some of the world’s most magnificent remote locations.</p><p>Instead of hotel rooms, guests at the Tetra Hotel would stay in multi-story, 62-foot-tall, triangular pods. The topmost floor has a skylight with a bed directly underneath it. On the next level is a bathroom with shower. Another platform functions as the living room with a couch and the bottommost level is an office with a full desk.</p><img alt="Tetra Hotel "src=""><p>Guests could congregate in the glass-encased common areas for unobstructed views of whatever landscape the hotel decides to install itself in. The common areas of the hotel (or group of pods) are meant to be extremely versatile and could house bars, restaurants, shops, exhibitions or fairs.</p><p>The firm is considering locations in Cape Verde, Norway, Canada, New Zealand, Spain, Portugal, Andorra, Hungary, and the U.K.. The first location will be <a href="" target="_blank">revealed this summer</a>, and there are plans to create more Tetra Hotels later./p><img alt="Tetra Hotel "src=""><p>The pods are designed to be <a href="" target="_blank">easily built in remote locations</a> using local materials. The structure will be carbon neutral with an emphasis on sustainable agriculture and forest management.</p><p>The pods are based off of the architect David Ajasa-Adekunle’s TetraShed modular office concept, which advertised itself as a <a href="" target="_blank">cost-effective and easily-constructed pyramidal work space</a>.</p>
Categories: Travel

Enjoy 30% Off One-Night Stays at a New Lakeside Hotel in Toronto

Travel and Leisure - Sat, 05/12/2018 - 17:38
<p><em>T+L launched Operation Vacation to inspire workers to use their days off and get away, offering exclusive travel discounts as incentive. For the latest deals on hotels, airfare, cruises, and trip packages, visit <a href="" target="_blank"></a></em></p><p>Toronto: 30 percent off at the new <a href="" target="_blank">Hotel X</a>, a lakefront oasis with a three-story rooftop lounge, an expansive wellness center, and an art gallery. </p><p>Operation Vacation includes:</p>One night in a Signature King room<p>Original Price: From 699 CAD (or $544 per night)</p><p><strong>T + L Price:</strong> From 490 CAD (or $381 per night); valid for travel during the month of August.</p><p>Booking details: Use booking TLAUGUSTDEAL when booking <a href=";controller=landings" target="_blank">online</a>.</p><p>Availability: Based on availability throughout the month of August. Please note that access to Hotel X Toronto on Saturday, August 4 will be restricted due to the Caribbean Festival Celebration. Please speak to Reservations Department for details.</p>
Categories: Travel

A New Jurassic World Ride Will Make Chris Pratt a Theme Park Staple

Travel and Leisure - Sat, 05/12/2018 - 15:32
<p>Hold on to your butts, because Universal Studios Hollywood’s scariest ride is about to undergo one hell of a change. Come next year, Jurassic Park — The Ride will be reborn as Jurassic World Ride, themed to the newest iteration of the film series.</p><p>Fans of the current ride will have to get to <a href="" target="_blank">Universal Studios Hollywood</a> this summer before it closes — or as the park puts it, “goes extinct” — on September 3, proving that even within the life cycle of theme parks, life will find a way.</p><p>The sequel overtaking the original attraction may be newsworthy, but it doesn’t come without reason. “Jurassic World” ranks fourth among top-grossing films of all time, and has spawned a trilogy whose second feature, “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom,” hits theaters this June. The original attraction still provides some roar despite opening nearly 22 years ago, and even if the ride’s audio-animatronics will greatly benefit from its “Jurassic World” upgrade, that 85-foot drop will remain the park’s most frightening moment.</p><img alt="Still from Jurassic World "src=""><p>No specifics of the new attraction have yet been announced, but it shouldn’t go unnoticed that the Jurassic World ride news brings one thing: a sort of legendary status for Chris Pratt. The actor reprised his role as Peter Quill within <a href="" target="_blank">Guardians of the Galaxy — Mission: BREAKOUT!</a>, the frenetic Marvel-themed drop ride that opened at Disney California Adventure last year, and is likely to do the same when the ragtag group of space aggressors land <a href="" target="_blank">at Walt Disney World</a> with an indoor roller coaster in 2021. Upon the addition of Jurassic World at Universal Studios Hollywood, which is bound to utilize his likeness, the comedian-turned-leading man will soon be seen in three theme park attractions across both coasts, solidifying his place among theme park giants like Johnny Depp and Harrison Ford, whose likeness appears in multiple attractions worldwide.</p><p>The cinematic theme park is celebrating the 25th anniversary of the original “Jurassic Park” in a big way this weekend as well, hosting three days of panels, events and festivities in conjunction <a href="" target="_blank">with the classic film</a>. Originally announced as a fan event with a private screening of the movie, themed food and merchandise and in-park entertainment, the party now serves as a kind of unofficial kickoff for the attraction’s goodbye tour.</p><img alt="Existing Jurassic Park ride at Universal Studios Hollywood "src=""><p>Still, the news is just the start of fresh movie experiences that will be coming to the Hollywood theme park and beyond. DreamWorks Theatre Featuring Kung Fu Panda will bring a high-stakes adventure alongside the lovable Po to the West Coast in a <a href="" target="_blank">new tech-savvy attraction</a> this June, and Fast &amp; Furious — Supercharged, featuring the impossible stunts and souped-up muscle behind the blockbuster franchise, just opened at Universal Studios Florida.</p><p>There are more movie-inspired attractions on the way, including a top-level Harry Potter attraction for Universal’s Islands of Adventure in Florida, but some large-scale projects with other brands appear to be in the works as well. Details of the long-awaited Nintendo Land remain under wraps, but with Universal Orlando Resort buying up land <a href="" target="_blank">as recently as last month</a> for what’s assumed to be an additional theme park, the gossip that’s been swirling for the past two years seems more than likely than not to be true.</p>
Categories: Travel

'Murder, She Wrote' Fans Can Stay at J.B. Fletcher's House and Maybe Even Solve a Mystery Over Breakfast

Travel and Leisure - Sat, 05/12/2018 - 12:31
<p>Grab your typewriters, mystery fans, because you’ll definitely be writing home about this bed and breakfast.</p><p>Fans of the 1984-1996 detective show <em>Murder, She Wrote</em>, starring Angela Lansbury, will probably recognize this stately Victorian home as the abode of mystery writer J.B. Fletcher.</p><p>Of course, this beautiful little place is a long way from Cabot Cove. Located in Mendocino Village, a town in Northern California, <a data-ecommerce="true" href="" target="_blank">Blair House</a> was used as the exterior for Fletcher’s home in Maine. The interior was shot elsewhere.</p><p>In reality, Mendocino Village is a lively but small town with lots of art galleries, theatrical productions, and a population of about 1,000. </p><p><strong>Related:</strong> <a href="" target="_blank">There's a 'Golden Girls' Themed Murder Mystery Dinner</a></p><p><strong>Related: </strong><a href="" target="_blank">Escape Your Own Murder at This Serial Killer-inspired London Hotel</a></p><p>Blair House was built in 1888, and features architecture made of Douglas Fir and Redwood, with a picket fence and lots of flowers in the garden such as lavender, daffodils, and daisies. It’s no wonder Jessica loved living here.</p><p>The house includes three different suites, including Angela’s Room (the biggest suite, of course, running between $180-$220 per night), Jennifer’s Room ($120-$140 per night), and Eric’s Room ($120-$140 per night). All rates include the room plus a complimentary bottle of wine. Any murderous hijinks probably costs extra. </p><p>Breakfast, served between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m., includes a drink (coffee, tea, juice, or milk), and a selection of granola, cereals, muffins, bagels, cream cheese, jams, fresh fruit, and yogurt.</p><p>For more information about staying at Blair House, visit the <a href="" target="_blank">bed and breakfast’s website</a>.</p>
Categories: Travel

9 Ways to Afford Your Dream Trip ASAP, According to Experts

Travel and Leisure - Sat, 05/12/2018 - 12:00
<p>No matter where you go, traveling can take a huge toll on your bank account — which is why <a href="" target="_blank">planning and saving up</a> is a must. While that may seem like a challenge, it can be easier than you think.</p><p>According to the range of experts we spoke to, there are plenty of simple things you can do to get to where you need to be financially for your trip — all it’s going to take is some time and commitment. From making the most of budgeting tools to picking up a side hustle, ahead are some life-changing tips that will get you to that dream destination.</p><p><strong>Related:</strong> <a href="" target="_blank">The Single Best Way to Save on a Hotel Room</a></p><h2>Look for coupons before you purchase.</h2><p>Whether it’s in-store or online, there’s almost always a coupon available for your purchase, and taking the time to find one is totally worth it if it means more money in your pocket. Regardless of how big or small, these savings add up. “Do your research,” <a href="" target="_blank">RetailMeNot</a> shopping and trends expert Sara Skirboll told <em>Travel + Leisure</em>. “Take a couple of minutes to search for deals before checking out. In doing so, you can end up saving $20 in 20 minutes.”</p><p><strong>Related: </strong><a href="" target="_blank">3 Types of Flight Deals That Will Save You a Ton — and How to Spot Them</a></p><img alt="Woman in an infinity pool "src=""><h2>Open a separate savings account.</h2><p>The more you put away, the sooner your vacation will become a reality. “Every time you add to the account, give yourself permission to fantasize about the trip,” Dr. Elizabeth Dunn, scientific advisor for the money-saving app <a href="" target="_blank">Joy</a>, said. “My husband and I are planning a big ski getaway to Japan next winter and even if it’s about a year away, I get a little ripple of anticipatory pleasure from thinking about it. This is what the French call <em>se réjouir,</em> and it’s an underrated form of happiness. Think of it like emotional interest on the deposits you put into the savings account.”</p><p>Additionally, make things easier by setting up automatic deposits. “Automate the process as much as you can so you avoid the temptation to spend,” investing site <a href="" target="_blank">WealthSimple</a>’s chief investment officer, Dave Nugent, said. “It’s best to have some money deposited automatically each week or month from your checking to savings account.”</p><h2>Pick up a side hustle.</h2><p>“Every little bit counts, so <a href="" target="_blank">pick up a side job</a> if you have the time,” group travel company <a href="" target="_blank">EF Ultimate Break</a>’s product development manager, Lexie Carter, suggested. Having an extra income on top of a steady paycheck will allow you to get to your goal amount much quicker. Just make sure you don’t take on too much and overwork yourself.</p><h2>Use your tax return and cash back deals wisely.</h2><p>Spring is here, which means you’ll be cashing in on that tax return check in no time if you haven't already. But you don’t have to wait until then to start receiving major cash back; check to see if your credit cards offer these services or sign up for sites that automatically give you a percentage back on purchases. “At RetailMeNot, we have offers for more than 50,000 retailers, brands, and restaurants,” Skirboll said. “These cash back deals are just another way we can save people money on the things they shop for every day.”</p><h2>Make realistic goals.</h2><p>Create a budget plan that’s comfortable for you and don’t feel pressured to completely deprive yourself of things you enjoy. Breaking habits doesn't happen instantly and there are healthier ways to approach avoiding those daily Starbucks runs. “Saving for long-term goals is tricky,” Carter said. “It’s easier to slowly chip away at parts of your routine. For instance, opt to stay in one weekend, instead of going out.”</p><h2>Surround yourself with like-minded people.</h2><p>Cutting back on eating out, going to the movies, or spending money in general is more doable when you’re not alone. Get a gang together and start saving as a group. Plus, once you make it on the trip, costs tend to go down when you’re <a href="" target="_blank">traveling with more people</a>.</p><img alt="Couple walking past a resort pool, with palm trees "src=""><h2>Start investing.</h2><p>When dealing with long-term plans, investing should be at the top of your list, but don’t get overwhelmed by the idea of it. “A lot of firms have a minimum account size, but <a href="" target="_blank">WealthSimple</a> doesn’t require a minimum investment so anyone can get started — and since it’s digital, you’ll have the option to speak to an advisor anytime,” Nugent said. “Even if you don’t have a lot of money right now, you’ll get into the habit of investing and the earlier you start, the more time you’ll have to benefit from compound interest.”</p><h2>Plan your trip smarter.</h2><p>If all else fails and you can’t come up with the money, perhaps it’s time to reassess your getaway. “My general advice is to look for destinations that are seasonable, but that still have amenities during the off-season,” <a href="" target="_blank">HotelTonight</a> CEO Sam Shank said.</p><p>He also noted that hotel prices work in the opposite way flights do. “The longer you wait, the lower the rates,” he emphasized. “I think travelers should try waiting until the same day and they’ll often find some exceptional deals along with an unexpectedly great hotel."</p><h2>Remember why you're doing all this.</h2><p>“Decades of research have proven that people derive more intense happiness from buying trips over material things,” Dunn said. “When people are asked to look back on their past spending decisions, they’re less likely to regret going on a vacation.”</p><p>Happiness is reason enough to follow through with trip saving, so remember that when you want to blow it all on a new bag or pair of shoes. “In fact, recent studies show you’ll also be liked better if you talk about your experiential purchases rather than what you own,” she added.</p>
Categories: Travel

The Animal Population at This African Safari Destination Has Grown Like Crazy — Here's How to Visit

Travel and Leisure - Sat, 05/12/2018 - 11:32
<p>“Walk out farther,” says Super, my safari guide, throwing his arm in the air like he’s casting a fishing rod. “Then close your eyes and listen to the sound.”</p><p>I walk out a few more feet onto the bone-dry salt pan until I’m far enough that I can only hear the crunch of my footprints. I close my eyes and wait for the sound that comes: a pure and deafening silence. It brings an overwhelming sense of calm eclipsed by a wave of anxiety at the sudden reminder that I’m standing in the middle of a plain, where wild animals are free to roam.</p><p><strong>Related: </strong><a href="" target="_blank">10 Safaris That Offer Unforgettable Experiences for Every Budget</a></p><img alt="Woman standing on a rock while looking over salt desert, Kubu Island, Makgadikgadi Pans National Park, Botswana "src=""><img alt="Salt lake around Kubu island in winter, Makgadikgadi Pans National Park, Botswana "src=""><p>This is <a data-ecommerce="true" href="" target="_blank">Botswana’s Makgadikgadi Pans</a>, a stretch of arid earth in the northeastern part of the country that <a href="" target="_blank">was once a lake</a> that ran 98 feet deep. The lake dried up thousands of years ago, leaving behind a flat plain of parched, cracked land, which in its entirety is the size of Switzerland. “It would have been the largest landlocked lake in Africa — three times the size of Lake Victoria,” Super says, as he settles into the canvas director’s chair that he’s positioned on the pan.</p><p>Along with the canvas chairs, he’s assembled a table with drinks and snacks and lit a camp fire. He rolls a map onto the dry earth. “Water came from the Chobe, Upper Zambezi and Okavango Rivers,” he continues, dragging his finger along the map, circling the land which we are sitting on. Suddenly he stops. He waits. He listens. And he calmly asks us to make our way to the safari vehicle.</p><p>A lion’s roar has pierced the silence. The lions aren’t that close, Super assures us. Just close enough for us to be slightly alarmed.</p><p><strong>Related: </strong><a href="" target="_blank">Get Up Close to Africa’s Wildlife on These Unconventional Safaris</a></p><p>The nearby sound of the lion might come as a surprise to those who have visited the pan before. Yes, the Makgadikgadi is a national park, but up until three years ago, the <a href="" target="_blank">call of a lion</a> was almost unheard of given that the population was a third of the size it is today. It was only when the the park implemented boreholes — two more were added in 2016 — that brought water to the otherwise thirsty terrain that the animal population spiked.“Three years ago, you would have struggled to see a lion. Since then the animal population has tripled,” Super says. </p><p>For the guests staying at <a data-ecommerce="true" href="" target="_blank">Jack’s Camp</a>, a luxury tented camp in the Makgadikgadi, seeing lions is an added bonus. Before expansion of the animal populations, guests at <a href="" target="_blank">Jack’s Camp</a> didn’t check into the lodge to see hoards of game. They would come to engage in activities that take advantage of the flat terrain (like quad biking and horse riding), to see the earth bloom after the rains, the zebras pound across the plain during the annual migration, and to sleep in one of the deeply romantic bedouin-style tents that come straight out of the pages of an Ernest Hemingway novel.</p><p>Many would also come to see the meerkats: squirrel-like creatures that are endemic to certain parts of southern Africa, the Makgadikgadi being one of them. To ensure people have a good chance of seeing these tiny creatures, Jack’s Camp works with nature guides who specialize in meerkats (AKA "the meerkat men"). Guests can spend an entire day (or days) observing meerkats, which look adorable but are actually rather ferocious. For keen safari-goers, the opportunity to have an intimate experience with meerkats is inimitable.</p><p>They would also come to see the otherworldly landscape; the endless stretches of cracked earth. They, just like me, would end their day in a canvas director's chair on the pan drinking a gin and tonic while mulling over Super’s map and observing the never-ending pans. </p><img alt="Salt pans around Kubu Island in Makgadikgadi Pans National Park, Botswana "src=""><p>As we clamber into the car and make our way back to camp following the roar of the lions, I am overwhelmed by a visceral feeling. It remains with me long into the night; long after the kerosene lamps have been turned down and the bugs have fluttered away in search of other light. I have no reception on my phone (there’s no Wi-Fi), no Instagram to scroll through or trending<em> SNL</em> clips to redirect my attention. As I listen out into the dead of night, I'm reminded what most people actually come here for: that sound of silence.</p>
Categories: Travel

This Top-rated Luggage Scale Will Help You Avoid Airline Fees

Travel and Leisure - Sat, 05/12/2018 - 10:31
<p>Good news: Your search for the best luggage weight scale is over. Why’s that? Well, if more 3K top-rated customer reviews and a “#1 Best Seller” tag given by <a data-ecommerce="true" href=";linkCode=ll2&amp;tag=tlluggagescale-20&amp;linkId=9cde5bcf055d06fa3ab48d690259dc9a" target="_blank">Amazon</a> itself doesn’t solidify this product as a top digital luggage scale, then we don’t know what will.</p><p>Even seasoned travelers can admit that <a href="" target="_blank">packing hacks</a> will only get you so far. Sometimes, you just need to bring that extra pair (or two) of shoes. But luggage weight restrictions are getting stricter by the week, and there's no need to battle with the anxiety of not knowing whether you're over or under the weight limit.</p><p>Enter: <a data-ecommerce="true" href=";linkCode=ll1&amp;tag=tlluggagescale-20&amp;linkId=8f0a4a894cf22b0b3934d17aa94f5757" target="_blank">Etekcity’s digital hanging luggage scale</a>, which has everything you’d want in a handheld scale — strength to withstand 110 pounds, speed because ain’t nobody got time for lifting heavy luggage, and accuracy for, well, you know, not getting slapped with a fee at check-in.</p><p>But that’s not all. This luggage scale also comes with a thermometer temperature sensor to check if your luggage is in an ideal climate (something you probably never thought of before). It’s also small and light enough to pack for weighing your luggage on your way back. Oh, and it’s only $12.</p><img alt="Etekcity Digital Hanging Luggage Scale, Rubber Paint, Temperature Sensor, 110 Pounds, Silver "src=""><p>To buy: <a data-ecommerce="true" href=";linkCode=ll1&amp;tag=tlluggagescale-20&amp;linkId=8f0a4a894cf22b0b3934d17aa94f5757" target="_blank"></a>, $12</p><p>Moonstars13 agrees, writing in their customer review, “The option to weigh in metric or standard is great for ensuring that I am within the standards for any carrier or location. The option for temperature was a nice surprise as it was helpful in the room I was staying in ([I] found it to be much warmer than I felt).”</p><p>Frank E. Trinkle can’t get enough of it, writing in his five-star review, “I had a previous luggage scale that was a pain to use. I had to make sure that the strap went in one way in order to read the scale. But not this one! This is a simple design and I have confirmed dead-on accuracy. It is a nice feeling to know that when you show up at the ticket counter, the weight of your bag when they weigh it is exactly what this scale measured, as well. No bad surprises.”</p><p>Head to <a data-ecommerce="true" href=";linkCode=ll1&amp;tag=tlluggagescale-20&amp;linkId=8f0a4a894cf22b0b3934d17aa94f5757" target="_blank"></a> to shop the Etekcity digital hanging luggage scale for $12.</p>
Categories: Travel

Save 30% off a Three-Night Stay at a Villa Resort in Costa Rica

Travel and Leisure - Sat, 05/12/2018 - 09:20
<p><em>T+L launched Operation Vacation to inspire workers to use their days off and get away, offering exclusive travel discounts as incentive. For the latest deals on hotels, airfare, cruises, and trip packages, visit <a href="" target="_blank"></a></em></p><p>Costa Rica: 30 off at the <a href="" target="_blank">Casa Chameleon hotels</a>, a collection of villa resorts with private plunge pools, hammocks, and outdoor terraces. </p><p>Travel + Leisure Special includes:</p>Three or more nights off in a villa with a private plunge pool at <a href="" target="_blank">Las Catalinas</a>, on the Guanacaste peninsula, or <a href="" target="_blank">Mal Pais</a>, on the Nicoya PeninsulaWelcome cocktailsDaily breakfast à la carte A bottle of wine upon arrival<p>Original Price: From $495 per night</p><p><strong>T + L Price:</strong> From $321 per night; valid travel through August 31.</p><p>Booking details: Use code TRAVEL 2018 when booking <a href="" target="_blank">online</a>. </p>
Categories: Travel

Get 35% Off Two-Night Stays at a High-Design Boutique Hotel in Sydney

Travel and Leisure - Sat, 05/12/2018 - 08:54
<p><em>T+L launched Operation Vacation to inspire workers to use their days off and get away, offering exclusive travel discounts as incentive. For the latest deals on hotels, airfare, cruises, and trip packages, visit <a href="" target="_blank"></a></em></p><p>Sydney: 35 percent off <a href="" target="_blank">Ovolo Hotel Woolloomooloo</a>, a heritage building with quirky design elements (think: neon lights and local artwork) and views of the Sydney Harbour. </p><p>Experience Ovolo Woolloomooloo includes:</p>Two nights in a Superoo room A tasting dinner at Alibi for twoComplimentary mini-bar replenished daily Daily breakfastLate check-out based on availability<p>Original Price: From 1,250 AUD or $939 (or $470 per night)</p><p><strong>T + L Price:</strong> From 799 AUD or $600 (or $300 per night); valid until September 30.</p><p>Booking details: Use booking code tlandl2018.</p>
Categories: Travel

America’s Least-favorite Airline Is Adding Wi-Fi

Travel and Leisure - Sat, 05/12/2018 - 08:30
<p>Spirit Airlines has announced that it will introduce high-speed <a href="" target="_blank">Wi-Fi</a> on all of its planes.</p><p>Once the Wi-Fi service is installed, Spirit passengers can browse the web, follow social media, and stream videos at speeds similar to their home connections. The <a href="" target="_blank">budget airline</a> has chosen global technology company Thales to supply FlytLIVE Ka-band HTS (high-throughput satellite) connectivity, and the coverage area will make Wi-Fi connections available on about 97% of the airline’s flights.</p><p>“We’re thrilled to enhance the inflight Guest experience with the addition of new-generation Wi-Fi,” said Ted Christie, Spirit Airlines’ President. “By next summer, every plane in our fleet should be fully equipped to keep our guests connected in the skies.”</p><p>“We are focused on supporting Spirit’s mission and helping to shape new opportunities as we work together to provide an exceptional passenger experience,” said Dominique Giannoni, CEO of Thales InFlyt Experience.</p><p>Spirit wants to turn around its bare bones image and improve passengers' experience onboard.</p><p>“We’ll keep adding exciting <a href="" target="_blank">new destinations</a>, improving our check-in process, frequent flier program, and in-flight experience,” Christie said. “Our promise is to keep going, to keep improving, and to invest in our guests.”</p><p>Fittingly, one of the satellite services supplying Wi-Fi in the sky for Spirit’s new planes belongs to Hughes, a network communications company which was once owned by Hughes Aircraft, and that’s one of the Hughes companies founded by the eccentric genius Howard Hughes. The billionaire tycoon, filmmaker and pilot also founded TWA airlines, and was instrumental in the dawn of the modern jet age and the introduction of in-flight entertainment on planes.</p>
Categories: Travel

The Best Months to Book a Hotel in Cities Across the U.S. This Summer

Travel and Leisure - Sat, 05/12/2018 - 07:38
<p>It’s the most wonderful time of the year: It's time to start planning summer vacation.</p><p>Travelers looking to explore the U.S. this summer will find a treasure trove of deals — if they know where to look. If you’re trying to keep your vacation budget friendly, consider booking a hotel in August, according to data gathered by <a href="" target="_blank">Google</a>. Across the country, hotel rooms will generally be more expensive in June and July.</p><p>And although you may think that a five-star getaway is out of your budget, the numbers could surprise you. This August, five-star hotel rooms will be available in <a href="" target="_blank">Miami</a> for an average price of $273 per night. In fact, no matter which star rating you choose, Miami is one of the cheapest summer destinations in the country. Three-star hotels are available from $152 per night.</p><p><strong>Related:</strong> <a href="" target="_blank">Ideas for a Great Summer Vacation</a></p><p>The story is different elsewhere across the country. A three-star getaway to <a href="" target="_blank">Los Angeles</a> in July or <a href="" target="_blank">Nashville</a> in June will cost about $250 per night. And, perhaps surprisingly, Seattle is among the most expensive summer getaways. One night in a three-star hotel will set travelers back an average of $337.</p><p>Here is the best month to book your vacation to major cities around the U.S.</p><p><strong>Atlanta:</strong> July. 3-star for $207/night, 4-star for $252/night, 5-star for $410/night</p><p><strong>Chicago:</strong> August. 3-star for $230/night, 4-star for $278/night, 5-star for $431/night</p><p><strong>Denver:</strong> July. 3-star for $219/night, 4-star for $324/night, 5-star for $462/night</p><p><strong>Los Angeles:</strong> June. 3-star for $240/night, 4-star for $315/night, 5-star for $644/night</p><p><strong>Miami:</strong> June. 3-star for $152/night, 4-star for $175/night, 5-star for $273/night</p><p><strong>Minneapolis:</strong> August. 3-star for $204/night, 4-star for $261/night</p><p><strong>Nashville:</strong> July. 3-star for $231/night, 4-star for $309/night, 5-star for $391/night</p><p><strong>New Orleans:</strong> August. 3-star for $155/night, 4-star for $171/night, 5-star for $319/night</p><p><strong>New York City:</strong> August. 3-star for $228/night, 4-star for $299/night, 5-star for $531/night</p><p><strong>San Diego:</strong> June. 3-star for $217/night, 4-star for $280/night, 5-star for $433/night</p><p><strong>San Francisco:</strong> June. 3-star for $257/night, 4-star for $355/night, 5-star for $637/night</p><p><strong>Seattle:</strong> July. 3-star for $337/night, 4-star for $403/night, 5-star for $573/night</p>
Categories: Travel

Madrid Is Basically Banning Airbnb From Its Historic Center

Travel and Leisure - Sat, 05/12/2018 - 06:49
<p><a href="" target="_blank">Madrid</a> is preparing to pass legislation that would effectively ban 95 percent of Airbnb and homeshare listings from the city.</p><p>New regulations, released Wednesday by José Manuel Calvo, secretary for sustainable urban planning, place strict rules on home rentals, specifically in Madrid’s historic center.</p><p>The plan aims to “preserve residential use of buildings, putting a stop to permanent use (by tourists) and replace it with temporary, thus preventing housing from becoming accommodation exclusively for tourists,” <a href="" target="_blank">according to <em>The Local</em> Spain</a>.</p><p>City officials hope to prohibit landlords turning entire buildings into rentals, unless they have a hotel license.</p><p>Apartments in Madrid will not be allowed to be rented to tourists for more than 90 days per year. And those that are rented out to tourists will have to have a separate entrance from permanent residents. In the historic central zone, this will ban all but a few ground floor apartments (about 6 percent) from being rented to tourists. This zone includes the neighborhoods of Malasaña, Chueca, Sol, La Latina, and Lavapiés.</p><p>While the new plan awaits government approval, <a href="" target="_blank">Madrid has suspended issuing tourist licenses</a> for one year.</p><p>This has been a major week for Spanish cities fighting homeshares. Valencia is introducing new rules that would <a href="" target="_blank">prohibit Airbnbs from taking the city’s best views</a>. And Palma, the capital of Mallorca, <a href="" target="_blank">banned all unlicensed homeshare listings</a>, effective this July.</p>
Categories: Travel

Why Flying Is Slower Now Than It Was 20 Years Ago

Travel and Leisure - Sat, 05/12/2018 - 06:42
<p>Flying just ain’t what it used to be.</p><p>If you’ve got the sneaking suspicion that you’re spending more time on your flights than you did “back in the day,” you’re probably right. Flight travel has actually gotten slower over the last few decades for a simple, and entirely not surprising reason: slower speeds saves money.</p><p>Cruising speeds for commercial airliners now range between about 480 and 510 knots, compared to 525 knots for the Boeing 707 during the 1960’s, according to a 2014 article from the <a href="" target="_blank">MIT School Of Engineering</a>.</p><p>“The main issue is fuel economy. Going faster eats more fuel per passenger-mile,” said Aeronautics and Astronautics professor Mark Drela. “This is especially true with the newer ‘high-bypass’ jet engines with their large-diameter front fans.”</p><p>According to Drela, today’s airplane builders actually favor a smaller, lighter, and therefore slower aircraft that peaks its fuel efficiency at slower speeds. (Cars also become more efficient at <a href="" target="_blank">slower speeds on highways</a>.)</p><p>According to a story from <a href="" target="_blank">NBC News</a> in 2008, JetBlue saved about $13.6 million a year in jet fuel by adding just under two minutes to its flights. And one Northwest Airlines flight from Paris to Minneapolis saved 162 gallons of fuel, saving the airline $535 by adding only eight minutes to the flight.</p><p>These days many pilots use flight route planners to map out the most fuel efficient route. So, sadly, your flight from New York to Los Angeles is going to be a bit longer than your parents’ was. We suggest you <a href="" target="_blank">bring a book</a> to fill out those extra minutes.</p>
Categories: Travel

United Tried to Get Rid of Tomato Juice on Flights and People Were Outraged

Travel and Leisure - Sat, 05/12/2018 - 06:19
<p>Airlines can take our <a href="" target="_blank">seat pitch</a>, but they will never take our Bloody Mary.</p><p>Last week, United revised its in-flight drink menu by removing one of the most beloved sky beverages of all time, tomato juice, on domestic flights less than four hours, <a href="" target="_blank"><em>The Telegraph</em> reported</a>. Fliers were not happy.</p><p>Customers were quick to share their outrage, even threatening to take their business elsewhere over the change.</p><p>It may seem strange to some, but the outrage may be justifiable: Tomato juice is popular order on planes, as its one of the few drinks <a href="" target="_blank">proven to actually taste better in-flight</a>.</p><p>The low humidity on airplanes dulls the body’s sense of taste and smell, making sweet and salty flavors hard to detect. It actually makes food taste a bit bland (which is partly why many people dislike in-flight meals). But tomato juice, with its acidic and earthy taste on the ground, tends to taste sweeter and fruitier in the air. Lots of travelers love it plain, or of course in a Bloody Mary.</p><p>United responded to the public outcry and called the whole thing off on Thursday, <a href="" target="_blank"><em>SF Gate</em> reported</a>.</p><p>“We want our customers to know that we value and appreciate them and that we're listening,” the airline said in a statement. “Our customers told us that they were not happy about the removal of tomato juice so we're bringing it back onboard as part of our complimentary beverage offering.”</p><p>United also eliminated Sprite Zero, Courvoisier, and Jim Beam from flights less than four hours, but so far no one has come out of the woodwork to defend those beverages. The airline is also adding a few options, including some popular beers like Lagunitas Sumpin’ Easy Ale, New Belgium Citradelic Tangerine IPA, and Stella Artois, starting June 1.</p>
Categories: Travel

San Diego Shores Light Up With Bright Blue Bioluminescence

Travel and Leisure - Fri, 05/11/2018 - 17:50
<p>Here’s one more reason to take a moonlit walk on the beach in San Diego.</p><p>Over the last few days, an algae bloom off the southern California coast between La Jolla and Encinitas has brought a red tide, creating a reddish haze during the day, and a <a href="" target="_blank">spectacular light show</a> at night.</p><p>The algae is filled with bioluminescent phytoplankton, which create an eerie, blue glow whenever it’s jostled around by the rolling waves. The glow can be seen in full view at night, about two hours after sunset, shining like a liquid version of the Northern Lights.</p><img alt="Bioluminescent tide (red tide) and short star trails at La Jolla Cove glows under a crescent moon. "src=""><p>“The last time we had one was in September 2013, and the last big one was in October 2011,” Michael Latz, a bioluminescence expert at UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography, to <a href="" target="_blank">told the <em>San Diego Union-Tribune</em></a>. “We can’t predict when these things occur, we don’t know how long they will last, when they’ll be here, and we really don’t understand the dynamics.”</p><p>According to <em><a href="" target="_blank">SF Gate</a></em>, the phenomenon usually happens once about every five years and lasts only a few days. Occasionally, they can happen more frequently.</p><p>According to the <a href="" target="_blank">Scripps Institution</a>, the phenomenon in San Diego is not known to be toxic, though very little is known about it.</p><p>Earlier this year, waves in Big Sur also <a href="" target="_blank">lit up the night</a>. Other places around the world where bioluminescence has been seen include <a href="" target="_blank">Tasmania</a> and <a href="" target="_blank">Cape Town</a>.</p>
Categories: Travel