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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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 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
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."
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."
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
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."
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This article was originally published on IHG on May 9th, 2016.
With an official slogan of "Like No Place Else," Palm Springs sets the bar high for itself. Thankfully, this glistening jewel in the desert never disappoints. From hip hotspots to fine dining, with luxurious spas and world-class golfing, Palm Springs has something to cater to everyone. There are hotels in Palm Springs for all types of travelers.
Won't sleep on anything with a thread count of less than 400? Well, then the Movie Colony Hotel is the place to be. This mid-century hotel has a long and rich history, with stars such as Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra having stayed here in the past. Movie Colony Hotel was designed by the renowned Swiss architect Albert Frey, father of the "desert minimalism" style. Opt for either a traditional room or poolside townhouse. Just keep in mind that all guests here must be 21 or over.
Just the two of you looking to go somewhere for the weekend? Check out the Ingleside Inn. This boutique hotel has 30 lavish, sumptuously designed rooms that instantly make guests feel right at home. The hotel's meticulously manicured grounds and stunning interior design will leave you speechless. Weddings happen here on a regular basis, including several celebrity weddings over the years. Even Frank Sinatra and Barbara had their pre-wedding dinner at the Inn's famous restaurant, Melvyn’s Restaurant.
Theatres and museums. Live music and art exhibits. World-class shopping and plenty of nightlife options. This is downtown Palm Springs. And for those who want a hotel just a couple of minutes' walk away from the action so they don't miss a beat, look no further than the Garden Vista Hotel. The 124 rooms and suites are spacious and come with a refrigerator, microwave, and flat screen television. Of course, with so many amazing things to do nearby, don't expect to spend much time in the room.
Downtown Palm Springs. Photo by Prayitno via flickr
Not a fan of massive hotel chains or sprawling, expansive grounds? Like staying places where the employees actually remember your name? Then the place for you is the Avanti Hotel. With only 10 individually designed studios and suites, this hotel makes guests part of an exclusive minority. Although small, the Avanti is one of the nicest hotels in town. Rooms are stocked with modern furniture and appliances, including flat screen televisions and wi-fi. Private patios, kitchenettes (available in most but not all suites), and in-room massage options further make this little star shine.
If all you want out of this vacation is to find a peaceful hotel that will cater to your every whim, head on over to the Andreas Hotel & Spa, a local landmark that is over 80 years old. Its plush and cozy suites come with exquisite marble and stone bathrooms, as well as all the modern amenities one needs to be comfortable. The rooms so quiet you would never imagine that you were located right in the heart of downtown. The hotel also has a spa, pool, jacuzzi, and large courtyard. Definitely a great place to unwind for a day or four!
Featured photo via flickr // Chris Goldberg
The beauty of having a boat is the travel freedom it provides. Not just short cruises and day trips, but also longer, more exciting adventures. And while Sydney is a great place to call home, the Harbour is a bit busy. So the next time you feel like taking your boat our for a spin, head to one of these destinations:
Over millennia the waters of the Hawkesbury River have carved out a deep, intricate and expansive collection of waterways. With so many small nooks and cranies to explore here there is no reason to ever visit the same exact spot twice. Feel the need to go ashore? No worries, there are plenty of small marinas and safe anchor points, as well as several National Parks to explore. For that reason no matter how often I cruise up to Hawkesbury, I am still never bored by it.
Newcastle is for newbies. The real boating fun lies just north, at Port Stevens, one of the most boater-friendly regions on the entire coast. Ramps and moorings are everywhere, as are sights and activities (both water- and land-based). Islands and coves also abound here and are just begging to be explore. However the area's real claim to fame is Myall Lake and the Myall Lakes National Park, located further upriver. Definitely not one to miss out on.
The beauty of the aptly-nicknamed Big River is that your fun doesn't stop a few kilometres upstream....it just keeps on going and going! Even 150km upstream there massive gorges, cliffs and underwater sinkholes. This region is home to some of the best produce and largest prawns in the country. Just make sure you have plenty of time to explore because after one glimpse, you'll be in no rush to return to the chaotic Harbour.
The attraction with Illawarra is not the rivers but the coastline and numerous bays. From Lake Illawarra on down to Jervis Bay (the boaters' jewel of the region) there are tons of water-based activities and sights to explore. Scattered throughout the region are a variety of small towns and villages for you to go ashore and rest a night (or three). Did I mention that since there is no more commercial net fishing here, this has become one of the best recreational fishing areas on the eastern coast of Australia.
Unfortunately, at some point you are going to have to return home to Sydney and return to a land-based lifestyle, at least briefly. Just don't forget to stow your boat properly -- and make sure to have a good custom boat covers to ensure that your baby stays in perfect shape for her next grand adventure. Happy boating!