As a travel expert, TV host, and writer, Brandon Presser is no stranger to life on the go. Presser, who has visited more than 100 countries, has penned over 50 travel books, and is a regular contributor for such publications as Afar, Travel + Leisure, The Daily Beast, and National Geographic Traveler. And while he may be well known in the travel industry, he's about to experience a whole new level of recognition: Presser is the lead host of Bravo TV's new travel-based reality show, “Tour Group“, which tags along as 11 travelers search for the ultimate vacation. (10 p.m. EST/PST on Bravo.) We got Presser to stay in one place long enough to give us his best travel advice, his favorite places to go, and the items he can't leave home without.

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Hipmunk: So, tell us. What's in your carry-on?

Brandon Presser: A dopp kit with some small essentials like eye drops, moisturizer, a travel toothbrush, Advil, and Ursa Major face towelettes; a small pouch with some lucky charms (a few pebbles I've collected from different beaches around the world–I'm a little superstitious!); a good book (that I never finish); an iPad fully loaded with some of my favorite movies; Bose headphones; and Trader Joe's Peanut Butter Granola Bars.

H: Carry on bag of choice?

BP: If I'm hauling some serious carry-on luggage and want the flexibility of bringing more things home, I go for the Dakine Over Under bag, which can grow and shrink in size. For quick trips I'm obsessed with Fjallraven's safari duffle.

H: How often do you travel?

BP: I'll travel through roughly 15 countries a year, which has me on one or two large trips a month. Last year's highlights included everything from Tahiti to Portugal, and leading 11 strangers on a world tour through Africa and Asia while making “Tour Group.”

H: First, business class or coach?

BP: Each travel project I work on has different travel parameters–sometimes I'm in coach, other times I'm in first. I can tell you that it's super hard to do a long-haul flight at the back of the plane after being treated to the flat beds up front.

H: Ok, now that we're warmed up, let's play a game of favorites. Favorite city to visit for work? Why?

BP: Tokyo is the best canvas for my work–whether it's researching and writing articles and guidebooks or leading travelers through the incredible neighborhoods. The city is an endless well of oddities and curious fads. (Read Brendon's articles on Tokyo's oddities and fads here and here, respectively).

H: Favorite city for play? Why?

BP: Luckily, my work life and play life are closely intertwined. And Tokyo never stops inspiring me to get out there and explore with its thousands of cool restaurants, bars, shops and public spaces.

H: Favorite hotels?

BP: I've stayed in more than 2,500 hotels worldwide, so this is definitely a tricky one to answer. In the last 12 months some of my hotel highlights have included: Four Seasons Bora Bora, Twin Farms in Vermont, and Roch Castle in Wales.

H: Favorite airline? Airport? Airport Terminal?

BP: I'm really loving JetBlue's newest aircrafts right now–the entertainment system is bigger and better than ever, the coach seats really aren't bad, and there's an endless supply of snacks. Portland's PDX wins domestically for making a promise to its traveler to not price gauge on snacks and supplies. And Hong Kong wins internationally for Cathay Pacific's awesome business class lounge with delicious food and state-of-the-art shower facilities.

H: Any travel tips before you take off?

BP: Change your place; change your luck.

Follow Brandon:

Website: brandonpresser.com

Twitter: @bpnomad

Instagram: brandpress

  This post was originally published on Hipmunk's Tailwind blog by Kelly Soderlund on March 4th, 2016.

Some time ago, we posted a list of 16 must-see places before you die—or, in other words, an ideal travel bucket list. But while it can take a lot of time, money and effort to check these places off, it's also never a bad idea to add a few more destinations to the list. You might live to be 100, but you're not going to see too much of the world. That's just not really possible!

So here are five more must-see places to include in your plans.

1. Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat, Cambodia, a destination that should be on everyone's travel bucket list

Often mysteriously ignored as one of the world's most incredible sights, Cambodia's Angkor Wat is an ancient temple of the Khmer Empire that at one point lorded over a vast portion of Asia. Although, as Nomadic Matt points out, it's not a lone tourism destination. That site offers detailed travel tips for a huge range of places all over the world, and notes that there are several temples in the area worth visiting. But the chance to tour Angkor Wat in particular is breathtaking. It's a massive, ornate temple built into a jungle landscape, and you can actually take a tour through it, rather than simply look at it from afar. The article from Nomadic Matt also mentions that a nicer hotel room in Siem Reap, the closest major city, will only cost about 50,000 KHR, or roughly $12 per night.

2. Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe, one of the most beautiful places in the USA

As far as travel destinations go, the U.S. is known largely for its big cities and fun beaches. Too often the beauty of the country, particularly in the western and northwestern regions, is ignored. And nothing exemplifies that beauty quite like Lake Tahoe. Known for some of the best skiing in the U.S. and as a pristine natural getaway during the rest of the year, it truly is a stunning place to visit. Accommodations are expensive pretty much across the board, but no matter when you go it's a trip you won't forget.

3. Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal in Agra, India, a destination that should be on every travel bucket list

The Taj Mahal is frequently mentioned as a bucket list destination, though it didn't make our last write-up. It's recognized all over the world as a stunning feat of architecture—but it's more than a fancy building. Lottoland's hub for the EuroMillions lottery recently wrote up its own bucket list travel article, and pointed out that the Taj Mahal is actually a tomb (whereas many might assume it's a palace). The construction was completed by Shah Jahan in the 1630s to honor his wife. Now, it stands as one of the true wonders of the world, and a must-see stop on any trip to India.

4. African Safari

An African safari should be on every travel bucket list!

Simply put, an African safari is one of the most incredible experiences you can have while traveling. You'll encounter gorgeous landscapes and fascinating wild animals, and ultimately feel a sense of both peace and adventure that's difficult to find anywhere else. Different countries and national parks throughout Africa provide different sights, but with a little bit of research into the country's best safari destinations, you can likely find something that appeals to you. Sometimes that might mean a traditional safari with a chance at seeing all kinds of animals; sometimes it means a trek to observe a specific type of primate; and sometimes it may even mean a river cruise where you'll spot crocodiles, hippos, and elephants cooling off.

5. Faroe Islands

Faroe Islands, Denmark, a top-rated destination for your bucket list

Iceland has been mentioned so often as an up-and-coming travel destination in recent years that it's hard to imagine it being underrated any longer. The word is out about Iceland. So if you like the idea of a northern Atlantic island getaway, but you prefer someplace off the beaten path, you should probably check out the Faroe Islands. Located almost exactly at the midpoint between the UK, Iceland, and Norway, these beautiful little islands are more accessible than they might sound. Rugged coastal areas, winding roads, and gorgeous seaside (and lakeside) views pretty much set the tone for a vacation focused on hiking and sightseeing, though the islands are also known for their own cuisines, as well as occasional events like music festivals.

Arkansas and Alabama are two of the most naturally beautiful States in America, so it comes as no surprise that outdoor adventurers flock here from every corner of the globe.

With plenty of adventure on offer in the sky, on the water, and on land, you'll never be bored with a trip to one of the following southern destinations. This is a list of epic adventures in Alabama and Arkansas: the Gulf Shores, Mobile, Huntsville, and more.

Gulf Shores, Alabama

There are plenty of options for adventure in Alabama's Gulf Shores, and those who love spending time on the water are in for a treat. Adventure here ranges from dolphin cruises to chartered fishing trips, and there are boat rentals available for those excited about exploring the Gulf of Mexico and the back bays.

Prefer a land-based adventure? Try the Historic Fort Morgan or the zipline course at Gulf State Park. Gulf Shores is a resort community, so hotels here are very close to each of the above attractions.

Surfing in the Gulf of Mexico
Photo by The Pug Father

Mobile, Alabama

Mobile was selected by National Geographic as one of America's 100 best adventure towns, and the options here won't disappoint. This is a historic port city that serious fishers and shipwreck explorers will absolutely love. Kayakers and hikers revel in old Native American shell mounts, and many travel here to charter sailboats in the Gulf of Mexico for deep-sea fishing.

The best part about an adventure holiday in Mobile is the cheap lodging. Book at the Hampton Inn Mobile/Bellingrath Gardens for rooms starting at $100 per night.

Huntsville, Alabama

Hunstville is a fantastic destination for outdoor adventure, offering Alabama's very best trails for hiking, cycling, trail running, climbing, mountain biking, paddling, and more. Whether you're aiming for a quick excursion or a multi-day adventure, Huntsville has a lot to offer.

For the best climbing, head to Jamestown. For the best paddling, head to the Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge. Head to Monte Sano State Park for scenic trail running.

Huntsville is a picturesque place, so be sure to book a hotel with a good view.

Hot Springs Village, Arkansas

While known for its naturally hot springs, Hot Springs Village is a great opportunity to try ziplining in Arkansas, and many different packages are available, from the original canopy zip tour to a full moon zip and even a haunted forest tour.

The full moon tour is particularly adventurous. Once a month, travelers gather for the thrill of zipping through a dark forest! Arriving at dusk, you will harness up and get ready to soar through the night-time sky.

Ziplining in Hot Springs Village, Arkansas
Photo by edwardotis

Little Rock, Arkansas

For those looking for some extreme adventure, Little Rock has you covered. If you enjoy the sensation of free-falling, try skydiving, parachuting, hang gliding, or a range of other aerial sports. There is no better way to take in the breathtaking panoramic view of Arkansas than with a bird's-eye view.

A great place for hang gliding is at Mount Magazine. At 2.753 feet high, this is the state's tallest mountain. You can also hang glide at Mount Nebo or the Ouachita Mountains.

  Featured photo by Pat David

  This article was originally published on Mapping Megan on April 12th.

Another year, another multitude of Comic Cons to attend. Whether you're hitting up the mother of all Cons in San Diego, cosplaying in NYC, or attending a smaller Comic Con in Grand Rapids or Amarillo, the following strategies will help ensure that you have a truly delightful time.

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Buy tickets early.

Whenever possible, buy tickets online before the event. You'll save money and avoid the heartbreak of arriving at Comic Con only to find out that the special event you needed to see has already sold out.

Make a plan in advance.

There is so much to see at Comic Con, and it's physically impossible to see it all. For this reason, it's important to study the schedule and venue maps in advance so that you can plan out each day around your must-see events. If you want to see one of the major presentations (say, Game of Thrones in San Diego's Hall H), keep in mind that you'll need to budget in hours (and hours) of time for waiting in line. And because there are no guarantees that you'll actually make it into the room you're waiting in line to enter (especially because many venues don't empty rooms after panels), it's a good idea to have a backup plan (or several). One last tip: If you're traveling with friends, remember to designate a meeting place before you split up for the day.

Bring cash.

Some vendors don't accept credit cards, and ATM machines are few and far between. (And the ones that do exist are guaranteed to have insanely long lines). Spare yourself headaches and lost time by bringing plenty of cash with you to the venue.

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Avoid parking (if possible).

It will come as no surprise that parking at Comic Con can be a major headache. In the rare cases that you do manage to find a spot near the venue, it's likely it will cost you—some lots have been known to charge upwards of $50 per day. If at all possible, ditch the car and arrive at the venue via public transportation or on foot. If you must drive, be sure to arrive early in the day for the best chance at finding a spot.

Be social.

It's a smart idea to download the venue's app, which is an indispensable resource for navigating any Con. It can also be helpful to create a list on Twitter that includes the official Comic Con Twitter handle, any vendors that you want to see, and people whom you know will be present. Don't underestimate how valuable real-time updates can be when you've been standing in line for three hours.

This tip also extends beyond the digital space. There are tons of great connections to be had at Comic Con, so don't be shy about approaching people. Bonus: Chatting up fellow comics fans is a great way to pass the time while waiting in line. Which brings us to…

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Prepare to wait.

We've mentioned that you'll spend a lot of time waiting in line at Comic Con, right? We're not kidding. Instead of hoping that it won't happen to you, accept that it will—and then plan accordingly. Download podcasts to listen to, bring a book or journal, play games on your phone (just make sure it's fully charged before Con), or simply settle in and enjoy the time to let your mind wander. Just remember to make sure you're actually in the right line—sometimes lines bend and merge together, so check to be sure you aren't wasting your time in the wrong place.

Practice self-care.

As always, you'll be much more likely to enjoy yourself if you do what you can to avoid getting sick or burnt out. Stay hydrated, get enough sleep, wash your hands often, and pack healthy snacks—healthy food can be hard to come by at Cons, especially when you're stuck waiting in line. Having snacks on hand can provide the blood sugar boost you need to continue having a great time.

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Ask permission.

A common phrase heard round Con is that “Cosplay is Not Consent.” What this means is that just because someone is cosplaying (or simply present at Comic Con), that does not give you the right to touch them, harass them, or photograph them without their permission. If you want a picture, just ask—most people are more than happy to indulge. Be polite, keep your hands to yourself, and remember that everyone there is a human just like you.

Consider cybersecurity.

Wi-Fi is often available in most convention centers, but you're likely to find that it's painfully slow (or completely jammed) because of the sheer number of people trying to log on. You may see free networks available, but be cautious—some of these may be malicious. It's a good idea to always practice good cyber-security strategies (even if this means you have to hold off on uploading photos to social media until you get home).

Above all else, remember to enjoy yourself. Though the lines may be long and your plans may change, the sheer number of interesting people and panels to see means that you'll have a great time at Comic Con simply by going with the flow.

  Featured photo by Kevin Dooley via Flickr.

  This article was originally published on Hipmunk's Tailwind blog on April 13th.

When it comes to travel, it's better to be over prepared than not at all prepared. Faced with an empty suitcase, every man has at some point most probably asked himself, "What should I pack and what should I leave?"

Since there are a countless number of options to answer that question, instead here are a few of the most essential items every man should have with him while travelling. These are a mix of emergency items, toiletries, tools, medicines and some very basic items that most people usually forget to pack.

1. A Water Bottle

Hydration must be taken seriously, especially when travelling. This is because in a moisture free environment such as the one found in an airplane, the air tends to seek out moisture from any possible outlet. This means if you have dry skin, air travel will make your skin drier and those with oily skin will become even oilier as their skin will try to compensate for the lack in moisture. For this reason it's important to carry a bottle of water to keep your skin hydrated.

2. Sunscreen

A few decades from today, those around you that wear sunscreen on a daily basis will have skin that is in much better shape than those who don't wear sunscreen at all. Whether you are off to a beach location or up in the mountains, applying sunscreen is essential. Not only does it help fight skin discolorations but it also slows down the signs of premature aging.

3. Reading material

Whether it's your current favorite book, the latest issue of the magazine that you are subscribed to or a convenient travel sized e-reader, it's important to have something to do while passing away time on the way to your destination. Reading is a great alternative to playing a mindless game on your smartphone and can even make you less likely to develop Alzheimer's disease later in life.

4. Snack

Travelling can be tiring. With airports feeling like never ending walkways, it's easy for your sugar levels to drop suddenly and you never want to find yourself in a situation feeling faint with no immediate access to food. So keep a granola bar or some apples handy for a quick nutritious fix. If you are hungry in a hotel in the middle of the night and without a snack, there is nothing worse than having to pay for overpriced snacks that are usually kept in the mini fridge.

5. A change of clothes

Always keep a variety of clothes when packing. This doesn’t means packing every item you own into your suitcase, but instead it means packing smartly. This is especially important if you have a limited amount of space. Try keeping custom made shirts that can be dressed up or down easily. Simple jeans and sneakers can be worn practically anywhere, and lastly, a good fitting suit might be useful in case of a formal evening occasion.

6. Extra Earphones

For some people there is nothing worse than to be without their favorite pair of earphones. So when travelling, pack a cheap pair of earphones in the unlikely chance that your current pair gets misplaced or breaks. Always pack a spare set, even if it's a much less fancy pair than the ones you usually use. They may not be top notch quality wise but it's a better option than having no earphones at all.

7. Photocopy of your passport

To avoid a catastrophe in case you lose your passport, keep a photocopy of not only your passport but also your health insurance and any visa documents if you are in a foreign land. This will make it a lot easier to prove your identity and is also useful if you lose your luggage.

8. Bottle Opener

A bottle opener is a very handy accessory to have on you while travelling. If you decide to eat outdoors, for example a last minute picnic with friends or family, a bottle opener will certainly be handy. An alternative would be to pack a swiss army knife which has an endless number of uses. Just make that sure both of these items are packed in the checked in luggage and not taken onto an airplane.

9. Traveling Slippers

If you want to take off your restrictive lace-up style shoes once the plane takes off, carry a pair of comfortable shoes that you can easily slip on. This is especially important if you are travelling on a long or overnight flight where sleeping may be necessary.

10. Medications

It is wise to pack for travel to any destination and as such, it is important to pack anti-diarrhea medication. There is nothing worse than finding yourself in an unfamiliar land with no idea how of to get access to medicine. Your entire work trip or annual holiday could be ruined because your forgot to pack for such an emergency. Another important medicine to pack is a painkiller for those hangover induced headaches that are common while on holiday.

So the next time you have to take a work trip, a road trip with friends or an international holiday with your family, keep these 10, easy to forget items with you for a more enjoyable holiday.

When you're still new to a career and trying to make a name for yourself on the job, it can be stressful to take vacation time.

Heck, forget traveling for pleasure—even business travel can feel stressful. When you're juggling delayed flights or bad cell service with the desire to make a good impression on your clients and coworkers, travel can feel anything but relaxing.

But take a deep breath, because we've got some good news for you: You can travel the globe and continue to rock out at your job. Here's how four hard-working millennials make it happen.


Jenn Hirsch. Photo credit Brandon Smith

Draw work inspiration from your travels.

As a surf retreat leader and a storyteller through (and founder of) Swell Story, Jenn Hirsch has learned firsthand that her travels can inform her work in big ways.

"My rule has always been to find inspiration from where you travel for whatever venture you have at present," she says. "[My] work is highly creative yet grounded in the present—kind of like traveling to foreign countries and surfing in general."

Communicate with your team before you leave.

Make sure your colleagues and clients have a sense of where you'll be and what your availability will be like before you leave the office.

"Before a trip, I think it is important to meet with your team and third-party partners to make sure all bases are covered," says Nolan Walsh, CEO of Thursday Boot Company.

Let folks know when you'll be out of touch, and also aim to make yourself available at times when they'll be working.

"I usually create a block of 3-5 hours that overlap with my work day back home," says Hirsch. "This is a great tool to find overlapping time when you travel. Share your travel itinerary with your close team members, and let them know when you likely won't be able to take calls. With advance communication, anything is possible."

Use long transit times for work.

Instead of bemoaning the time you spend in transit, put it to productive use.

"You're already stuck in a chair, and you'll feel better getting work done than watching the in-flight movie you never really wanted to see," says Walsh.

  Bonus: Get work done on the plane or train, and you'll have more free time to explore your destination.


Nolan Walsh at home in NYC

Stay charged.

The best hot spots and data plans won't help you get work done if you can't turn your devices on in the first place. Never underestimate the value of keeping your work gadgets fully juiced.

"I'd stress the importance of simply keeping your devices charged," says Charlie Ellis, founder and managing partner of Oxford Consulting Group. "I always travel with two hefty battery packs, a power strip, and a ten-port USB hub."

Embrace free time whenever it arises.

While business travel can take you to all corners of the globe, it can be tough to actually see those places when you're sitting in meetings all day.

The solution? Go exploring whenever down time presents itself, says Hirsch, whether that's during a midday lunch break or at the wee hours of the morning. Especially in major metropolitan areas (think London, Tokyo, or New York), there's something to see no matter when you get a free moment. Don't miss it.


Ricky Joshi (foreground) whitewater rafting in Tennessee

Mix business with pleasure.

I really enjoy visiting places for business where I can add on a couple of extra days to explore an area," says Ricky Joshi, co-founder and CMO of Saatva Mattress. "Los Angeles, Miami, and Chicago are great for this… I [also] really enjoy Central and South America, where I can go on a more adventurous trip. The Caribbean island of St. Kitts and the Portland area of Jamaica are also personal favorites."

It's also smart to plan trips around your personal preferences.

"I've never fully adjusted to New York winters, so in Q1 and Q4 I'll jump at any excuse to take a meeting or contract in Southern California," says Ellis.

You'll improve your mental state and your productivity if you go somewhere that inspires and uplifts you.

Roll with the punches.

It's unavoidable: When you're traveling the world, sometimes things go wrong.

Try discovering that your airline lost your luggage after you've touched down in Bolivia, as Joshi did. "Because I was so "off the grid," it was so difficult finding a place to even try to call them to track it," he says. "I finally gave into my fate and bought essentially a new, very light, wardrobe."

It may not have been ideal, but Joshi made it work. When fate hands you lemons, go find yourself an orange.

  Bonus: Practicing adaptability and efficient problem solving will serve you well on the job.


Charlie Ellis in Montana

Unplug every once in awhile.

It's not a good idea to go MIA without letting clients and coworkers know you'll be off the grid. But everyone—everyone—needs to unplug once in awhile, and that includes you. Do it responsibly by setting clear expectations before your digital detox, setting up an out-of-office email reply, and then committing yourself to not checking your email or phone, says Hirsch. Your mind will thank you for it.

Far from being a hassle, traveling as a millennial—for work or pleasure—doesn't have to be a career killer. Communicate with your team, be open to expanding your horizons, and don't forget to enjoy yourself. After all, there's more to life than work.

  This article was originally published on Hipmunk's Tailwind Blog on April 11th, 2016.

Business or leisure? Why not both? For those lucky enough to travel for business, we suggests turning business trips into mini vacations, or what some call "bleisure" trips. The cities below are known for their economic prowess as well as their entertainment dexterity, making them perfect for bleisure. With stunning skylines, rich cultural sites, wilderness centers and upbeat night scenes, these cities are the ideal places to blend business with more than just a dash of pleasure.

Sao Paulo, Brazil

1. Sao Paulo, Brazil

As the financial capital of Brazil, this concrete jungle of skyscrapers knows how to cater to business travelers with luxury hotels and fine restaurants. Sao Paulo also offers great antique markets and cultural institutes making it a great city to extend a business trip into a short vacation. The InterContinental Sao Paulo on Avenida Paulista makes it easy to get to meetings as well as the Sao Paulo Museum of Art, which has a fine collection of national and European art. On Sundays, an antique fair operates underneath the suspended museum's open space. Leave the bustle behind and stay at George V Also De Pinheiros in Villa Magdalena, the bohemian area of Sao Paulo. Benedito Calixo square is sprawling with vendors of art, and handmade and antique treasures on Saturdays.

Search Sau Paulo Hotels

2. London, U.K.

With six international airports and the Eurostar high-speed rail service connecting London to the rest of Europe, the city is a must-stop for international business travelers. Stay a few days longer to partake in London's rich history. It's oldest financial district, often referred to as The City or The Square Mile, conveniently houses many of the must-see sights.St. Paul's Cathedral, the Bank of England, the Museum of London, the Barbican Center, and 30 St. Mary Axe (better known as The Gherkin) are within walking distance. The modern Apex Temple Court Hotel is between the City and Covent Garden in theTheatre District. The Grange Tower Bridge resides near Jack the Ripper's old haunts in the East End, which is now a trendy area filled with markets, bars and restaurants.

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NYC skyline

3. New York City, New York

There's no need to travel the world on business, when the business world congregates in New York. Forget the stereotypical Wall Street bankers, New York draws people for more than just work. The City has something for everyone: museums, on and off-Broadway shows, secret speakeasies, green spaces, fashion, and sports teams galore. The food selection is as diverse as its people with mini communities throughout the five boroughs representing much of the world's cuisine. Stay at the W New York Times Square in the heart of all the action and spectacular views of the city and only a couple of stops from Central Park. Avoid the touristy scene altogether by staying at the Sixty on the border of East Village and the Lower East Side neighborhoods for an eclectic glimpse of New York.

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4. Singapore

Singapore's geographic location, top-tier AAA credit ratings, low taxes, and zero-tolerance for corruption make it a highly desirable place to do business. The 13.6 percent of public green spaces that occupy Singapore's land mass makes it a great place to relax and escape the madness of city life. In 2015 the 202 acres that make up the Singapore Botanic Gardens, were inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Just as impressive are Gardens by the Bay with 250 acres filled 500,000 species of plants, fountains and promenades. For more nature action visit the Singapore Zoo or go on a night safari to see animals in their natural habitat and experience a rainforest ecosystem. Stay at the lovely Sheraton Towers Singapore, which offers rooms with balconies opening directly to the pool.

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urban landscape

5. Tokyo, Japan

Trade and tourism make up Tokyo's largest industry output with 18%, according to the Brooking's Institute 2015 Global Metro Monitor Map. This city was made for business and pleasure. The Grand Hyatt Tokyo is in the center of Roppongi, known its night scene, which attracts both locals and foreigners. Karaoke is a favorite outing for locals and Tokyo knows how to do it right. The Keio Plaza Hotel Tokyo offers four private karaoke rooms with incredible views of the city. Fashion is Tokyo's forte so take time to explore the city's array of eclectic styles. Head to the ward of Shibuya to check out the Harajuku district made famous by singer Gwen Stefani in her hit song Harajuku Girls where youths dress in mixed colorful styles of traditional dress, cosplay, Goth and more. Locals also strut their Harajuku Sunday best at the nearby Yoyogi Park near the Meiji Shrine, a forest spanning 170 acres.

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  This article was originally published on Hipmunk's Tailwind Blog on April 14th, 2016.

As many of you know, Corey and I have been traveling the world for nearly nine months in Southeast Asia, and our go-to places to stay are always affordable and on-budget. But recently, we got a taste of luxury when my mom gifted Corey and me with an executive room at a 5-star hotel in Singapore for my birthday.

For the entire weekend, we wined and dined without a worry or care in the world. At the end of the weekend, we promised ourselves that we would "treat" ourselves to experiences like this more often during our travels, whether that's in the States or abroad. There's no greater feeling than being pampered while you're visiting a new city.

And since we plan to visit California when we return to the U.S., there's no time like the present to do some research! With that in mind, here are a few recommendations for luxury hotel destinations in cities across California.

Glendale: Loews Hollywood Hotel

Though less expensive options exist in Glendale for luxury, I cannot get enough of the Loews Hotel experience. I'm spoiled by the few staycations I had at the Atlanta hotel, and so I would wholeheartedly recommend this one, too. One of the many treats of a luxury hotel is the ability to take advantage of its amenities. Exhale Spa is one of the many treats that you'll find in Loews Hollywood Hotel, because you can engage in sweat-inducing group fitness classes and indulge in spa treatments all under the same roof.

Marina Del Rey: The Ritz-Carlton

Image by Fuller Travels via Trover.com
Image by Fuller Travels via Trover.com

The Ritz-Carlton has always had the reputation of white-glove service, and it's regal in its own right. What makes this hotel unique is not the access to multiple hotspots and beaches or its prime location on the marina; it's all in the small details that they offer that make The Ritz-Carlton different. Special touches like housekeeping twice a day with a turn down service, on-demand movies, terry cloth robes and private balconies for each room will make you want to stay in the hotel all day long. Alternatively, you can explore other luxury hotels in Marina Del Rey.

Napa Valley: Auberge Du Soleil

The Auberge Du Soleil is on my dream list of places to stay when I visit Napa Valley again. Its proximity to V. Sattui (one of my favorite wineries), its Michelin-star restaurant focusing on Mediterranean cuisine and the 7,000 square-foot spa that focuses on holistic treatments for wellness all draw me to this place. I'm sure if I stay here on my next vacation, I may never leave Napa Valley.

Carlsbad: Park Hyatt Aviara Resort

Park Hyatt Aviara Resort in Carlsbad, California
Image by Katie Dillon via Trover.com

If you're seeking a true vacation destination where you can unwind, look no further than the Park Hyatt Aviara Resort in Carlsbad, California. There are many dining options featuring various cuisines from across the world, but you don't have to venture outside to enjoy your food because there's 24-hour in-room dining. You can stay active by playing tennis and golf on their property or take off to enjoy activities like hot-air ballooning or wine tasting. And, if you're traveling with kids, the resort offers plentiful distractions for them to partake in like their kids' academy, DVD library and babysitting services.

Sacramento: Inn and Spa at Parkside

The Inn and Spa at Parkside offers luxury bed and breakfast accommodations (you can certainly find other options for Sacramento hotels on Hipmunk's website), and it's definitely not a place to miss if you're traveling to Sacramento. There's a concierge service that will offer recommendations on what to see and do in the area, spa services that include massages and facials and a daily social hour in the evenings. With complimentary breakfast in the morning and a charming atmosphere, the Inn and Spa at Parkside will be hard to pass up.

Where do you like to get away and get pampered?

  This article was originally published on A Taste Of Our City on April 13th.

With its contemporary suburbs, ultra-modern skyscrapers, and historic architecture, the Northeastern USA, is among the most eclectic U.S. regions. These period-designed Northeastern B&Bs will show you just how harmoniously the past and the present thrive here.


Image via Trover.com by Michael Kercsmar

Beautiful Old Mansions in Ithaca, NY

Tourists visiting Ithaca will not only enjoy the scenic Cayuga Lake, but will also find sophisticated old B&Bs for luxuriating. Among those most noteworthy boutique mansions in Ithaca is Rogues’ Harbor Inn. Built with fieldstone in the early 1800s, this Greek Revival country inn is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. It offers period-styled rooms with European duvets and luxe toiletries. Stay here to enjoy its acclaimed microbrewery and its walking-distance access to downtown attractions.

Neoclassical architecture lovers will find the 19th-century Argos Inn a fitting option. Argos Inn's rooms come with floor-to-ceiling windows, local artwork, antiques, smart TVs, and rainfall showerheads. Be sure to head to the sunroom in the morning for a sumptuous complimentary breakfast.

Homey Stays in Stamford, NY

Family-run bed and breakfast outlets dominate the historic Stamford village. There is The Colonial B&B at Stamford NY, which features elegant wood-floored rooms reflecting Caribbean and European design. Hot breakfast here can be enjoyed in-room, in the dining hall, or by the pond. Guests who are hiking nearby trails can request for packed breakfast.

Sumptuous homemade breakfasts are also among the highlights of a stay in Stamford Gables, a homey countryhouse in Northwest Catskills. A previously abandoned property, it was refurbished to create three light-filled rooms, each showcasing elaborate woodwork, private baths, and cable TV. Hattie's Room comes with a large walk-in shower; the West Room, with a garden tub.

New England Charm in Newport, RI

If you crave New England's olden charm, go to Newport. Its scenic harbor houses boutique inns fashioned in New England architecture, such as Hotel Viking, which was built in the 1920s. Rooms here are furnished with period furniture and bedding. Upgrade to a suite if you fancy elegant fireplaces and pull-out sofas. For leisure, dip in the indoor pool, drink cocktails at the rooftop bar, or indulge in rejuvenating treatments at the on-site spa.

Wyndham Bay Voyage Inn is another noteworthy hotel along the harbor. Its tan brick walls and shingle architecture seamlessly blend in with Newport's colonial landscape while offering condo-style rooms with pull-out beds and whirlpool tubs. Indoor and outdoor pools are available for use, along with BBQ grills, a theatre, and a game room.

Modern Convenience and Olden Charm Mix at Roanoke, VA

Roanoke accommodations, are a mix of the old and the modern, with contemporary hotel chains like Holiday Inn coexisting with quaint lodges like the Colony House Motor Lodge. This 1950s family-run lodge off Route 220 feature modest and relaxing rooms with microwaves, mini fridges and cable TV. Suites with separate living rooms and kitchens are also available for bigger groups. Complimentary privileges include access to a seasonal outdoor pool and Continental breakfast.

18th-19th Century Accommodations in Lancaster, PA

Lancaster in Pennsylvania has its own share of historic accommodations. Built in 1882, Lovelace Manor Bed and Breakfast boasts an elegant Victorian design, with its etched doors, ornate porches, and floor-to-ceiling windows. Apart from in-room DVDs, guests can use an extensive video library and a game room, as well as a 24-hour pantry filled with soda, tea, coffee, and snacks.

If you prefer a personal home than a bed and breakfast, check out this 1927 one-bedroom brick home in historic Strasburg via Airbnb.

  This post was originally published on Filipina Explorer on April 14th.

Planning a visit to London? After booking your flight and picking the perfect London hotel, the next item on the list is figuring out where to dine in this British metropolis. London is packed with everything from expensive, swanky restaurants to ultra-affordable, no-frills street vendors. The great thing about this city is that whether you dine in luxury or while just lounging on a park bench, you can enjoy some truly delicious food.

But what should you eat while you're there? You'll be bombarded with international cuisine options and hearty English dishes everywhere you turn. Tantalizing smells will waft from street carts, cafes and restaurants alike, all of which make it more difficult to decide what to eat. But on a limited jaunt in this city, you'll want to make your menu selections carefully. It's important to enjoy the traditional flavors this city serves up without missing out on some of the more exotic offerings.

To help travelers make the most of every meal in London, we've put together this hassle-free guide to the city's best dishes. Use this menu to make sure you don't miss out on the incredible flavors that London has to offer during your visit.

Top foods to try in London infographic

  This article was originally published on IHG on May 9th, 2016.

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