’Tis the season to travel. Whether you’re headed home for the holidays or have visions of an exotic getaway, planning the itinerary for your trip can be overwhelming. So, we’ve scoured the Internet to bring you a roundup of our favorite travel resources. From simple money saving tips, to flight search engines and luxury reviews, click through to see our list of go-to resources for your next excursion.
Let’s start with flights. There are tons of flight search engines out there, but this one does a “meta-meta” search. What does that mean? Well, it pulls the best of the best from all of those flight comparison sites (Expedia, Kayak, etc.) so you can see the very cheapest flights in just a few clicks of the mouse. Bonus: Their “Secret Travel Tips” section has some great advice for making your trip easier.
If you’re looking for a romantic getaway, we’ve found your luxury hotel booking specialist. Their tactic is to offer the kind of nitty gritty advice you’d give your best friends. We’re talking packing tips and dress codes from real live couples. So channel your inner Brad and Angelina and take a peek around.
To be a true jetsetter, you have to join the members-only club (it’s free!). Once you’re an exclusive insider, instead of secret handshakes you’ll find incredible deals on destinations worldwide. Bonus: We love their blog – check it out to take a mini vacay from your to-do-lists.
This is a site for the working jet set. If your motto is “work hard play hard,” we’ve found your compass. Become a member and learn how to maximize your rewards points, make the most out of 48-hours in a city, and even plan around a growing family.
Just because a hotel labels itself as luxurious, doesn’t mean it’s always worth the luxurious price tag. The premise behind this site is simple: “Quest to find the best and leave the rest.” Let their experts do the work for you so you can rest assured that your trip will be well worth it. Bonus: The “Experiences” section is perfect for packing your itinerary with thrilling activities or simply adding to your bucket list.
We are living in a world of information overload these days so how do you know which websites and newsletters are worth your time? After scouring the e-world, I put together a list of my favorite online destinations that are perfect for fashion and lifestyle junkies.
Edition01 is the first online luxury experience designed to spotlight and sell limited edition fashion pieces from leading designers in one of a kind capsule collections. Collaborating with Vera Wang, Zac Posen, Narciso Rodriguez and Thakoon (to name a few), founders Estefania Lacayo and Jessica Wilpon Kamel offer you a unique shopping and lifestyle experience which has already been touted by Vogue, WWD and Marie Claire to name a few. Their minimalistic and inviting web site is blog style making it very easy to shop their collections which are grouped by designers and lifestyle categories (“Travel Boutique”). You can also have a personalized shopping experience by using their “My Edition” feature to track what you want, need and bought and get recommendations for building your perfect wardrobe. I love that Edition01 goes beyond just shopping and gives you behind the scenes fashion intel in their Journal, stocked with insider interviews, celebrity essentials and designer inspirations.
Rachel Roy is a dynamic fashion designer whose pieces have been seen on every leading lady from Michelle Obama, Diane Sawyer, Jennifer Garner, Penelope Cruz and Kate Hudson. I met Rachel at a recent event and was blown away by her support of entrepreneurial women and charity. The gorgeous native Californian, whose personal beauty shines through every one of her designs has worked in the fashion industry since her teenage years as a sales girl– which she calls her early market research! Before designing her own line, she styled magazine shoots, music videos and was creative director for Rocawear. Since the launch of her Rachel Roy line in Spring 2005, Rachel has had a whirlwind of success including being inducted into the CFDA, appearing on Oprah, and launching RACHEL Rachel Roy, a diffusion line sold exclusively at Macy’s. Rachel shared with me what she has been up to lately and offered some of her best tips and products picks!
MM: You have a very interesting background. How has that influenced you as a designer?
RR: I’ve always loved fashion and taking risks in both what I wear and what I design as this has been a guiding principle for me. I’ve never let fear paralyze me but rather let my passion drive me. One of my goals is to help other women realize this as well.
MM: We are so excited about your new collection, what was your inspiration for FW 2012?
RR: My fall 2012 collection is inspired by the documentary Women in the Dirt which highlights the works of seven award- winning women who have made their mark in the field of landscape architecture and are changing our world. From this, the idea of modern landscape architecture and the influence of nature was really interesting to me– balancing the clean lines of landscapes and natural colors and interesting material combinations and details.
MM: What are 3 items you always have on hand during fashion week?
RR: Yoga mat- I practice yoga two to three times a week. The meditation helps me stay centered. Music- it’s one of the quickest routes to dream and always inspires me. Candles- the comforting and continuous glow of a Jo Malone candle while I work is a must.
MM: How do you unwind after such a whirlwind week?
RR: Take a breath, thank my staff and then off for some R & R. First I sleep and then I have a proper meal since I have been living off coffee and sugar for the past two weeks preparing for the show. I’ll spend some quality time with my daughters, visit the Caudalie Vinotherapie Spa at the Plaza Hotel for one of my favorite facial treatments, and lounge at home and watch re-runs of The Office or Modern Family. Then it’s right back into designing the next collection!
Want to know how to safely pack an entire beauty regimen into a suitcase you can carry? What toiletries and gadgets should you not leave home without? How do you stay chic despite long flights and layovers? Worry not jetsetters, in honor of travel season here are some of my favorite go-to items for seamless and stylish globe trotting. Happy travels!
White + Warren Travel Wrap, BUY NOW, $295
To cozy up and stay chic when traveling, I love the look and quality of the White + Warren cashmere travel wrap. It’s a celebrity favorite of Angelina Jolie, and who better to trust than this jet setting mom of six? Also, this super soft wrap is available in over twenty different colors!
Trish McEvoy Beauty Emergency Card, BUY NOW, $75
The Beauty Emergency Card for eyes is a travel essential because of its slim packaging. With six eyeshadows, two eye definers, nude eye base, High Volume mascara, and Eye Lining and Precision Smudge Deluxe brushes, it’s an entire make-up kit that fits in the palm of your hand. Bring this with you for touch-ups on the go too!
Henri Bendel Dopp Kit Toiletry Bag, BUY NOW, $60
The Henri Bendel Centennial Stripe Dopp Kit is a chic and safe way to tote around your toiletries; special hinged flaps keep your belongings intact. The signature striped style was designed by Mr. Bendel over 100 years ago for clients’ ocean-liner voyages. The bags have a waterproof casing so not only do they look great, but they are practical and easy to clean too. I use this one and a variety of the other cosmetic cases when traveling.
PurseN Vacationer Tiara Jewelry Case, BUY NOW, $54
A great way to travel smart is to bring versatile pieces that you dress up with different accessories including your jewelry. The PurseN Tiara jewelry case is perfect—it has an origami inspired design with multiple pockets and four removable pouches for a tangle free travel. Designed to carry medium to large sized jewelry (great for packing statement pieces), you won’t have to decide between chunky necklaces, cocktail rings or bangles. Just bring them all!
If you’re traveling this weekend and struggling with what to pack, here are some tips from Lindsay Brooke Weiss:
If you’re anything like me, you start to mentally make packing lists a couple of weeks ahead of your travels, followed by written lists entailing more concrete outfits. If you’re nothing like me, take my advice on how to pack in an organized and timely manner. You’ll never be stressed out from packing again!
* Start to visualize what types of outfits to pack, depending upon the weather where you’ll staying.
* Keep a list in your planner (I still use my Smythson diary to keep me organized) or Blackberry of thoughts on what to pack. This list will be with you at all times, in the event something jars your memory (camera charger?) or you think of a dress in your closet that’s perfect for the dinner you’ll be attending. Write it down.
* A couple of days before your travels, make definitive outfits out of the articles of clothing on the list, marking which outfits are for night and which are for day.
* Don’t forget to include your accessories that will accompany each look (jewelry, heels, bags, etc.). **Note, because heels take up a lot of room in your bag, try to base your outfits around them so you only have to take one or two pair.
* Keep a separate list of what to bring in your carry-on. For me this will include a book (Kitchen House), Jolly Ranchers, Blackberry chargers, camera, socks and a sweatshirt for the plane.
* The night before departing, leave a Post-It on your door of items you can’t leave without. This should include your purse, carry-on and suitcase.
* Go through your lists the day of traveling to guarantee you’ve packed everything on them.
Lindsay Brooke Weiss (Cohen) is a fashion and accessories editor and on-air style expert. She was previously Haute Living’s editorial director, Niche Media’s fashion and accessories editor and fashion editor for L-Atitude.com. Lindsay has been a frequent contributor at styledon.com and is a regular guest stylist on NBC’s “Gossip Gram.” For more articles from Lindsay, check out her site!
Image Credit: lambdasigmapsiu.com
Ask Melissa: I still have not made vacation plans for the summer but would like to take my family somewhere in Europe. What do you recommend?
One of my favorite places to travel in Europe over the summer is Greece. I had my first taste of Greece and its incredible beauty while backpacking as a college graduate through Athens, Corfu, and Crete. Last summer, my family and I were graciously invited by our Greek friends to explore Athens and a few of the most breathtaking Cyclades islands in the world… Sifnos and Santorini.
We liked the modern Arion Resort & Spa hotel, which is 15 minutes from the airport, located in the Athens Riviera, and about 20 minutes from town. The hotel is one of three gorgeous Starwood Hotels and Resorts properties located in the same area. There are a few nice shops there, including one that sells designer bathing suits for women and men. Our spacious connecting rooms had incredible beach views. Although I did not get a chance to try out the services, the spa and gym also looked incredible.
Sightseeing: Our friends arranged a private tour for us with Helen (Elena in Greek) Soulioti, a member of the License Tourist Guides’ Union, a fantastic organization with over 1,000 multilingual members working throughout Greece.
The van picked us up after lunch and we headed out to the new Acropolis Museum (which cost $200 million to build, headed by NY architect Bernard Tschumi), and sits near the base of the Acropolis with a direct view of the Parthenon. We then walked up to reach the Parthenon, whose views of Athens and the surrounding temples below are magnificent. I recommend going at 6:00 p.m. when the sun is not as strong – it’s perfect after a day at the beach. Also, be sure to pack VERY comfortable walking shoes or flat sandals with straps, like a pair of K.Jacques. You will be walking on rocky ground and lots of stairs! The next day, we went to the Temple of Poseiden’s to watch the sunset. Our tour guide Helen told us so many interesting stories and myths along the way about Greek gods and goddesses. We also visited the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the Parliament House, Olympic Stadium, and the Presidential Mansion.
Dining: At the hotel, we enjoyed lunch right on the beach at Taverna 37, a casual Greek tavern with the best Greek salad and fresh grilled fish. This outdoor restaurant is set into the rocks of the hotel beach area with great views from every table. For a more formal lunch, try ITHAKI, one of the best restaurants in Athens. We indulged in a variety of Greek specialties, as well as grilled calamari, prawns, lobster, branzini, and a variety of salads and dips. For dinner, I recommend trying Matsuhisa Athens, owned by Chef Nobu Matsuhisa and perched on top of a rock in the Astir Palace Resort with amazing views of the Saronic Gulf. The quality of the Japanese food here is beyond delicious. My children loved it so much – except they did have to get used to “Greek time” for dinner at 10:00 p.m.!
After two days in Athens, we took the high-speed hydrofoil to the magical island of Sifnos. The trip from the port of Piraeus took about 2.5 hours – there is a first-class lounge that serves good food and great coffee! This island is a hidden gem, and not well known to American visitors, although I heard that Rita Wilson and Tom Hanks have a place there. We stayed with friends on the beach, but also checked out a nearby hotel that was a hidden paradise, the Elies Resort. The contemporary resort is located on the beach, has a gorgeous infinity pool, and great food. I soon learned that Sifnos is known for some of the best food in the Cyclades, as well as its pottery. An interesting fact… there are over 365 churches on Sifnos and our host, who is an extraordinary photographer, Marina, who plans to photograph every one of them.
Sites, dining, and shopping: One day we took a boat trip to another small island called Kimolos, toured the nearby island Milos, and had lunch on the beach. Our lunch consisted of a variety of Greek appetizers and salads, shrimp, mussels, and the best branzini I have ever tasted. A beautiful butterfly landed on my hand during our visit there! At night we went to the town of Apollonia for dinner at Odos Oneiron (Avenue of Dreams). The food was delicious and a must if you are in town. We also walked around and shopped in some great local boutiques. Another night we went to the historic village of Kastro, a beautiful and fascinating medieval-style village that sits on top of a giant rock-hill with panoramic views of the sea. We walked down lots of steps to a local fresh-fish restaurant and had dinner within a magical setting at the edge of the sea. The children had a blast as the water crashed against the rocks with sea spray flying in front of us. Sifnos is not touristy and is truly a best-kept secret!
This unique Cyclades island is what remains of an enormous volcanic explosion that occured around 1660 B.C. and that formed the Caldera, a cauldron-like underwater volcanic structure that was created after the enormous blast. We stayed at the beautiful Mystique Hotel, another Starwood Hotels and Resorts where there are 18 gorgeous suites and villas built within the famous cliffs of Oia. The restaurant serves eclectic food made with local ingredients and overlooks the infinity pool and the sea. The hotel offers a wine tasting with rare and indigenous wines in its secret wine cave. I preferred the fresh-squeezed watermelon juice since I am not much of a drinker. Mystique is a perfect place to celebrate a special occasion or honeymoon. There are a lot of rocky steps here, so it’s good to be in shape and wear comfortable shoes. Also, this property is not ideal if you are travelling with small children.
Sites, dining, and shopping: We were informed by our Greek friends about an amazing catamaran ride in Santorini to its nearby islands, operated by a company called Santorini Sailing. The trips are run by Ted and Dina Stathis, a couple who started these cruises out of their love for sharing the beauty of the island. They offer private, semi-private, and public tours. You can choose whether you want to do a lunch, dinner, full-day, or overnight tour. Meal options include a steak and seafood barbecue (their signature dishes have been featured on the Food Network). The cruise includes sailing past the Red and White beaches, the hot springs where you stop for a swim, and the volcano. They also stop in private bays for snorkeling. The next evening, we enjoyed walking around the quaint town of Oia, filled with cafés, shops, and places of interest. A few of our favorite restaurants are 1800, and Nectar and Ambrosia.
I plan to return to Greece soon and check out some other islands such as Mykonos, Crete, and to visit some other lesser-known towns, such as Kastoria. My grandparents are from this small town located on a lake north of Athens where it is known for its beautiful furs. I highly recommend this trip to Greece and can’t wait to go back!
Although you may look like a tourist holding this guidebook, the Lonely Planet series is your ticket to the best hotspots and hidden gems for cities, countries and regions around the world. Lonely Planet was my bible when traveling in Europe and Barcelona, because for just a few bucks I felt like I had an insider’s guide to an authentic trip or just the perfect vacation. Each guide comes with comprehensive maps, history of the places, and suggestions for accommodations, transportation, and restaurants. For the spend-conscious traveler, the Lonely Planet “…on a Shoestring travel guide” series, covers locations around the globe, but with advice on where to eat cheap, sleep soundly, and uncover your destination comfortably, without breaking the bank. The Lonely Planet guidebook (paired with lonelyplanet.com) can make you feel like a local even if you only plan on staying for a few days. – Courtney Bannerot
My favorite beach weekend get-away, Watch Hill, Rhode Island, may very well be one of the best-kept secrets on the East Coast. A charming seaside town complete with miles of stunning beaches, chic shops too numerous to mention, and delicious restaurants, Watch Hill is the perfect weekend vacation destination. Not to mention it is home to the newly renovated Ocean House, a resort hotel complete with a private beach, spa, championship croquet course and whose restaurants serve only the freshest local ingredients. Here, New England elegance takes on a whole new meaning.—Caitlin O’Malley
Shop: Christina ltd
Restaurant: Olympia Tea Room
Hotel: Ocean House