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Sunday, February 14, 2016

#ManicPunday Goes to The Improv!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Winter Travel Tips

We are approaching the dog days of winter. As another snowmageddon looms, it's a fine time to weave in some winter travel tips. Below are some you may already know, along with a few you may never have pondered. 

1. Try to travel on non-stop flights leaving early in the morning. If you do have to connect, try not to do so through hubs that regularly experience nasty winter weather, like Chicago's O'Hare and Denver International. That said, even southern airports like Dallas or Atlanta can be tricky during the winter, given the increasing number of ice storms that seem to be besetting Dixie. 

2. Traveling to high altitudes for skiing or snowboarding? Prepare for the highs. 
  • Don't overdo exercise on the first day.
  • Limit caffeine and alcohol intake, particularly during the first few days of your trip.
  • Your digestive innards work slowly at higher altitudes, so late meals may     interfere with sleep. 
  • Consider taking aspirin with a huge glass of water right before bedtime to preempt  altitude-induced headaches. 
3. Loyal Daily Suitcase readers know of my great concern for proper hydration.  This is because I have ended up in emergency rooms in both Beijing and Phnom Penh with heat-related dehydration. But it is important to note that dehydration can also happen in frigid temperatures. In fact, for some, severe dehydration may be more likely to occur in winter than summer. 

If you are flying somewhere for a ski trip, the flight has already likely dried you out. Add to that extreme exercise, the lower oxygen levels and lower humidity of high altitudes, and the intense sun, and you have the perfect storm of ingredients for dehydration. In order to avoid this fate, start drinking at least 64 ounces of water a day about a week before your trip starts. Then, keep drinking H20 as you go. Again, avoiding dehydrators like caffeine, alcohol, and fatty foods may be wise.

4. Invest in the proper clothing. If you are going to be outside for a good part of a winter's day, layer away and thermalize. Pay special attention to your extremities, including head, hands and feet. I can recommend Heat Holders thermal socks (the company also sells hats, neck warmers, tights, and gloves).  At The Warming Store, you can find a wide selection of battery-heated socks, insoles and gloves that will keep you extra toasty. 

5. Buy travel insurance. If your winter trip gets cancelled or delayed due to unexpected weather events, insurance will cover prepaid costs and extra expenses (additional hotel nights, meals). Plus, some travel insurance companies offer concierge services. If a flight is cancelled or bags are lost, the concierge can provide a much-needed assist. 

Captions: All images photographed in Sun Valley, Idaho.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Time for #TravelToppers on Twitter: Winter Travel Tips

Here are your questions::

Q1: What are your favorite cold weather vacation destinations?
Q2: What are your top tips for traveling during the winter?
Q3: Share how travel insurance has helped you during your travels.
Q4: What are your favorite cold weather vacation activities?
Q5: What are your top tips for staying warm during outdoor activities?
Q6: What are the items you always pack for winter trips?

More on Winter Travel Tips here.

Friday, January 15, 2016

A Few More Gnomes....

Now that everyone and his or her brother claims to be a travel writer, it's high time to improve the craft.  The response to a recent column I re-posted on travel writing taboos makes it clear that there's a demand for more travel writing advice. So, here goes.


 2  [nohm, noh-mee]  Show IPA
a short, pithy expression of a general truth; aphorism  

Let's talk more about the gnomes of bad travel writing. First, however, let me note that during the course of two decades of travel writing, a sharp-eyed reader might discover I have employed a gno-gno (except #1 below) on rare occasion. No one's perfect, but I try to avoid them like the plague (click link for my commentary on cliches). 

1. Can a destination have something for everyone? NO, NO and NO

The Lake Lucerne region has something for everyone (e-mail from Lucerne Tourism)

Spain has something for everyone (a powerpoint presentation shown at Academic Travel Abroad)

There's something for everyone in Santa Barbara's wine country (Destination California supplement in Meetings and Conventions) 

Quintana Roo (Mexico) has something for everyone (Travel Weekly) 

Who knew? However, I beg to differ. Lake Lucerne does not have a nude beach; Spain does not have a desert; Santa Barbara's wine country does not have skiing; nor, for that matter, does Quintana Roo. No  matter how amazing a place is, I defy you, dear reader, to find  a location that actually has something for everyone. If you are an aspiring travel writer, my #1 piece of advice is to NEVER use this lazy phrase.

2. Awkward uses of words

While technically correct, writers often use words that are passé, grammatically questionable, or of questionable connotation. For example, I recently read that "Northern California is fraught with something for everyone, offering meeting planners all they could ever wish for." 

Let's ignore for a minute that my favorite phrase is used, and that the sentence ends in a preposition. As soon as I read the word fraught, my heart starts beating faster. True, it officially is defined as filled or laden, but in common parlance, it is usually used with a negative connotation (the mission was fraught with danger, it was a fraught situation). Therefore, using the word to connote a beneficial thing seems off.  

Similarly, a 20-something travel writer, in discussing his visit to Estonia, talks about the Communistic era. Yes, communistic is a word, officially, but never, in 20 years of writing about Eastern Europe, had I ever seen the word used. Try to redline words that make readers stop in their tracks. 

3. Redundancy

  [ri-duhn-duhn-see]  Show IPA
noun, plural re·dun·dan·cies.
1. Superfluous repetition or overlapping, especially of two words.

How about truly uniqueabsolutely essential, or old adage? I'd go on, but I don't want to be redundant.

4. Of quaint hidden gems nestled in breathtaking mountains populated by friendly locals...

5. And just because it bothers me...

Whether you love ice skating or swimming; whether you are into history or metallurgy; whether you are a man, woman or hermaphrodite, it is absolutely essential (see #3) to see Destination X. 

The whether/or construction is simply overused in travel writing. See whether or not you can avoid it.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

#TravelToppers on Twitter is Back Today 1 PM ET

Do you ever feel like Mr. Bill when traveling?  If so, today's #TravelToppers on Twitter is for you. Top travel pros will be offering advice and answering your questions at 1 PM in New York; 6 PM in London. You can't be there? Mr. Bill says, "Oh, noooo..............."  For more on the chat, feel free to contact me on Twitter @dailysuitcase 

Q1: What’s the best piece of travel advice you gleaned in 2015? Please share.

Q2: What is your top travel tip for saving money?

Q3: What is your top travel tip for flying?

Q4: What is your top travel tip for travel planning?

Q5: What is your top tip for travel bloggers?

Q6: What do you foresee as three of the year’s hottest travel trends?

Q7: What topics would you like #TravelToppers to cover in 2016?