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Carry On with Bravo TV’s Tour Group Host Brandon Presser

This post originally appeared on the Hipmunk Tailwind Blog on March 4th, 2016, was written by Kelly Soderlund, and is reproduced here with the permission of the content owner.

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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

Tips for the Ultimate (and Drama-Free) EDM Vacation

This post originally appeared on the Hipmunk Tailwind Blog on March 30th, 2016, was written by THEHIPMUNK, and is reproduced here with the permission of the content owner.

So you’ve decided to spend your precious vacation time at raves and EDM festivals. You are undoubtedly in for a blast of epic proportions. Still, it’ll be helpful to employ a few strategies in advance of your trip in order to ensure that things go smoothly—i.e. sans epic meltdowns, lost friends, or bodily discomfort. Whether you’re heading to Electric Daisy Carnival in Tokyo or Electric Zoo in NYC, here’s how to prep for the ultimate EDM vacation so that you can enjoy it drama-free.

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1. Read up on the venue in advance.

Once you’ve purchased tickets to a festival or rave, check out the venue’s website to learn if any items are prohibited from the grounds as well as what amenities will be on offer. (For example, some festivals have started going “cashless”—meaning festival goers can load money onto a wristband and leave the credit cards at home.) While you’re at it, print out the show lineup and a map of the festival grounds so you can plan your route in advance.

2. Pack layers.


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The Most Beautiful Hotels in Downtown Hollywood

Winter’s still a while off, but I’m already planning for my escape to warmer places. Since I’m lucky enough to be in a low-residency MFA program just twenty minutes away from Hollywood, that’s where I’ll be spending much of my December. For those like me who need to go from the frigid climate of home to a kinder place, Hollywood is a phenomenal destination. Here are a few of the best places to stay during your Los Angeles getaway.

For the Budget Option: Motel 6

The Motel 6 Hollywood is by no means a classless hotel, but it has one of the lowest nightly rates of any hotel located in central Hollywood. These accommodations put you within easy walking distance of Hollywood Boulevard, which means you can stroll right over to the Walk of Fame, Madame Tussaud’s, The Hollywood Museum, and dozens of other attractions. The rooms at the Motel 6 come with basic amenities, including free Wi-Fi, a flat-screen TV, and a mini-fridge.

Luxurious and Well-Located: The W

Some hotels are designed to be destinations in and of themselves. Take, for instance, the W Hollywood. Beyond comfortable rooms with plasma TVs, pillowtop mattresses, and stunning views, the hotel offers a fitness center, pool, and on-site restaurant. However, like the Motel 6, the greatest appeal is that the accommodations are within walking distance of Hollywood Boulevard, making it easy to explore the city’s most famous landmarks.

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Unbearably Luxurious Hotels in Houston

Texas has been on my travel list for a long time, but as a state that almost deserves to be called a country, Texas can be intimidating. As such, I’ve tried to divide my attention between the major cities that I want to explore: Houston, Austin, Dallas, and Corpus Christi. Today, I’m going to take a look at some of the best attractions and most luxurious accommodations in Houston.

In Uptown: The Post Oak Hilton

Uptown is perfect for shopping enthusiasts since the Galleria can be found here. In addition to offering various activities such as ice skating, the Galleria has what’s arguably the best shopping and dining center in the entire city. Within Uptown, the Hilton Houston – Post Oak is one of the most luxurious places to stay. This pet-friendly hotel features a pool, on-site gym, and valet parking. Every non-first floor room includes a balcony with stunning city views.

In Downtown: The Houston Hilton


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Packing Hacks Every Traveler Needs to Know

This post originally appeared on the Hipmunk Tailwind Blog on April 8th, 2016, was written by THEHIPMUNK, and is reproduced here with the permission of the content owner.

Gallivanting around Madrid or conducting business in San Francisco? Wherever you’re going—and whatever you’re planning to do there—you’ll need to pack a bag before you leave for the trip.

But even though packing is universal to travelers, packing well isn’t necessarily a skill that we all share. That’s where these packing hacks come in. Each of these smart tips comes recommended by master travelers and promises you an easier trip from start to finish.

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Pack bubble wrap.

It might seem counterintuitive to fill up space in your suitcase with something you don’t actually need, but hear us out: Packing a few sheets of bubble wrap on the way to your destination means you can remove it and have extra space for carrying souvenirs on the way home. And if those souvenirs are breakable, then even better: Simply keep the bubble wrap and use it as protection.

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Tales from a Fork’s Spacious Hotels Near NYC

This post originally appeared on Tales from a Fork and is reproduced here with the permission of the content owner.

This post is part of the Hipmunk Hotels campaign.

If you’re traveling to New York City but want more space and amenities than the average Manhattan hotel, try opting for these accommodations. These spacious hotels are only a quick ride away from the Big Apple.

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Photo of Manhattan from Weehawken by John Cunniff

Weehawken

Weehawken is one of the best destinations if you want to see a panoramic view of New York City, from the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge to the George Washington Bridge. Once you’re done marveling at the expansive skyline from Hamilton Park or Gregory Park, you can head to New York City via bus, ferry, or train.

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How to Avoid Getting Sick on Your Next Flight

This post originally appeared on the Hipmunk Tailwind Blog by THEHIPMUNK on January 22, 2016 and is reproduced here with the permission of the content owner.

Forget snakes on a plane. Worry about the germs. Research shows that air travelers are at a higher risk for infection than people going about their daily lives.

Just how are illnesses spread on a plane? It comes down to two main factors: Airborne germs that are easily inhaled by people sitting in close quarters, or contact with germ-riddled surfaces on the plane. These factors are exacerbated by the dry conditions typical of airplanes, because viruses prefer low-humidity environments.

The good news is that, for the most part, airplanes’ air filtration systems function well enough that you’re unlikely to contract more serious illnesses. Instead, your greatest risk is contracting the common cold or a classic case of the flu.

While that’s all well and good, it may be little comfort to people who don’t particularly want to have a cold or the flu while trying to enjoy their vacation. Luckily, it is possible to decrease your risk of infection from germs on a plane. Here’s how to maximize the chances of disembarking the plane as healthy as you boarded it.

Don’t travel if you’re already sick.

If you know that you’re suffering from a contagious illness, do your immune system (and your fellow passengers) a favor and don’t expose yourself to any more germs by boarding a plane. In particular, the CDC advises that people avoid plane travel if you’re more than 36 weeks pregnant, have recently had surgery, have had a recent (serious) injury, or have a fever. In each of these cases, you’ll be traveling with a compromised immune system, which increases your risk of catching a contagious infection. Some airlines may be lenient with rescheduling fees if you can prove that you’re sick; contact the airline to discuss your options.

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Ask to switch seats.

If you find yourself beside someone who’s hacking or sniffling, it’s okay (really!) to ask a flight attendant if it’s possible to switch seats. Even moving just a few rows away can help protect you from a sick person’s germs. If there are no other seats on the plane, donning a face mask might help.

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