Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Points Guy: Preparing for International Travel

Lately, I've been traveling for about six months out of the year, much of it internationally. Friends often ask how I manage it and how I do everything from paying bills while I'm away to figuring out which visas I need and how I choose the best credit cards to bring with me.

So for my next post on The Points Guy, I decided to compile my handy tips and tricks into a single article for others planning everything from a quick trip to Mexico to a months-long journey around the world. While seasoned travelers will find plenty of familiar information, I still have a few tricks up my sleeve, so there's helpful tips for everyone. Have a look at the link below!

How to Prepare for International Travel: Tips, Tricks and Advice

Monday, September 8, 2014

JustLuxe: Three Secret Italian Hotel Hidden Gems

I recently returned from a delightful 10-day trip to Italy where I had the chance to stay in some fantastic hotels in Rome, Florence and Venice.

Though these cities are among the most touristed in the world, there are hidden gem hotels that are close to the heart of the action but that feel like they are a world away from the hordes of travelers.

In Rome, I cover the Gran Melia, housed on the grounds of the villa of Emperor Nero's mother, Agrippina, while in Florence, the boutiquey Hotel Lungarno is a Ferragamo family venture with picture-perfect Ponte Vecchio views. In Venice, I called the Bauer Palladio (designed by the famous Renaissance architect, Andrea Palladio) home and enjoyed its bucolic gardens and postcard-worthy vistas of San Marco and the Doge's Palace.

Find out more and read my full article at the link below.

Three of Italy's Best Hotels For Avoiding Crowds While Staying Close To Top Attractions

Thursday, September 4, 2014

JustLuxe: Farm-to-Table Spa Treatments

Though you might think of the hottest new restaurant in town when you say "farm-to-table," the idea of homegrown or foraged ingredients has been permeating the spa world lately as well.

In fact, on a recent trip to Maui, I got to enjoy a fabulous facial at the Ritz-Carlton Kapalua that included a face and scalp treatment using oils from keffir lime leaves grown in the property's chef garden.

That's just one example, but luxury spas all over the country and the world are looking to their own backyards for therapeutic plants and herbs and incorporating them into their treatments. In my latest JustLuxe article, I take a look at four that are close to home where you can sample the latest trend.

Four Resorts Offering Farm-To-Table Spa Treatments on the West Coast

Friday, August 22, 2014

Los Angeles Confidential Magazine: LA's Best Pizza

My other article for the September issue of LA Confidential is also Italian-themed, though this one focuses on a specific dish: pizza!

Who doesn't love a good pizza? Well, apart from the lactose- and gluten-intolerant? But even they can't seem to resist this delicious dish - hence all the spelt-crust, nut-cheese varieties you'll find around town. For my article, though, we decided to focus on some of the truly gourmet options out there in Los Angeles (including Milo + Olive, South End, Terroni and Stella Barra) and when you read it at the link below.

LA's Top Places For Gourmet Pizza

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Thrillist: 12 LAX Airport Hacks

LAX is like my second home. Over the years, as I've caught flights everywhere from Phoenix to Perth, and San Francisco to Santiago, I've gleaned a few useful hacks that save time, energy and money when traveling through my sprawling home airport.

So for my first Thrillist post, the editor asked me to write up a story with my best LAX travel hacks, and I threw all sorts of stuff in, including how to get lounge access (and free cocktails!), where the best restaurants are, how to get a discount on parking, and how to navigate the fastest security lines in some of the airport's 9 teeming terminals.

Get the benefit of all my wisdom, minus the hours of standing in line and the expense of testing various parking options right here: 12 Game-Changing LAX Hacks

Monday, August 18, 2014

Los Angeles Confidential Magazine: Regional Italian Dishes in LA

For the September issue of LA Confidential Magazine, we decided to cover Italian cuisine as the dining feature, and I personally wrote up a roundup of some of the best regional cuisine to be found in they city.

The interesting thing about Italian food is that, really, it is a made-up idea. There are so many regional variations, that there are, in fact, many different Italian cuisines depending on where you are (and where you eat!).

Included are some of LA's best-known Italian eateries, such as Valentino, Angelini Osteria and Drago Centro, as well as RivaBella, Mr. C Beverly Hills and more. Check out the full article here: Italian Food by the Region in LA

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Points Guy: What to do at Inle Lake, Myanmar

Although I did not originally intend to visit Inle Lake during my visit to Myanmar, after speaking with a few friends who had recently traveled there, I decided to change my plans and spend a few days there instead of in Mandalay. I'm so glad I did.

Inle Lake is in the central part of the country, and feels like stepping back in time to visit a more traditional way of life among the stilt villages and ruined temple complexes that line the lakes reedy waters.

This was truly one of the most interesting places I've been lately, and I spent a couple days out on the water meeting everyone from silk weavers and traditional fisherman, to Buddhist monks, rice cracker cooks, and more. Definitely worth spending some time here if you visit Myanmar yourself.

For all the details on what I did and how I booked it, check out my full post on The Points Guy here: Longboats, Monasteries and A Winery - Inle Lake, Myanmar

Monday, August 11, 2014

The Points Guy: What to do in Bagan

One of the destinations I was most looking forward to visiting on my recent round-the-world trip was the ancient city of Bagan in Myanmar.

This historic sight is home to over 4,000 Buddhist stupas stretching across a dry plain along the banks of the Ayeyarwaddy. It's surely one of the wonders of the world, and I was looking forward to exploring it in depth over the course of a few days.

I had the chance to wander the ruined temples there, see two glorious sunsets - one from the temples and one from the river - and then head farther afield to explore the mountain villages of Mt. Popa. It was really a highlight of my trip to a fascinating country.

Check out my full article on The Points Guy here: What to do in Bagan, Myanmar - Temples, River Cruises and Hikes

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Points Guy: Things to Do in Yangon, Myanmar

You might not recognize the name Yangon, but it is actually the current name for the city of Rangoon, the largest city and former capital of Myanmar, which you might know better as Burma.

It was my first stop in the country as part of my recent round-the-world trip, and I spent two fascinating days there exploring its sights, meeting locals and getting a feel for Burmese culture.

Read about all there is to see and do in this bustling yet little-visited Southeast Asian city in my Points Guy post here: Things to do in Yangon

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Quest Magazine: Credit Card Tips for International Travel

Though much of what I cover for Ker & Downey's new quarterly magazine, Quest, is about experiential travel and the fabulous destinations I've gotten to visit recently, for their latest issue, they wanted to tap into my knowledge of the credit card industry to give readers a few tips on things they should keep in mind (and the cards they should carry) when traveling internationally.

Included are some obvious ones like using a card that does not levy foreign transaction fees, and finding an ATM card that won't charge you an arm and a leg for making withdrawals abroad. However, there are some less obvious ones as well, like checking into the purchase protections your card provides and getting a card with a smart chip in it to ease transactions.

Find out all my good advice by reading the full article here: 5 Ways To Stay In Charge Of Your Money

Friday, August 1, 2014

The Points Guy: Tips for Traveling to Myanmar

For my next post on The Points Guy, I wrote about one of the other destinations on my round-the-world trip, Myanmar (formerly Burma), and my experience preparing to travel there.

The country is only just opening up to international travelers after nearly two decades of sanctions, and this presents both opportunities and obstacles, so it pays to know a few things before you go, like how and when to get a visa, whether you need to visit a travel doctor, why you have to bring cash in US dollars with you, and more.

Get all my advice and plenty of helpful hints in my full article here: Useful Tips for Traveling to Myanmar

Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Points Guy: What to do in Luang Prabang, Laos

One of my latest posts on The Points Guy is about how I spent my time in Luang Prabang, Laos, during my recent round-the-world trip.

The city is a fascinating blend of Lao royal and religious culture, French colonial relics, and gorgeous scenery along the Mekong River. Also to do? Elephant safaris, longboat rides, and helping young monks improve their English. It was one of the best stops on my trip, and I can't recommend it highly enough.

To read more about what I did, check out my original post on TPG here: What to do on a Visit to Luang Prabang

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

JustLuxe: Four Fabulous New Nordic Cuisine Restaurants

During my recent round-the-world trip, I spent a few weeks roaming the Nordic countries of Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland, and one of the highlights was the cuisine. Even just a decade ago the idea of Scandinavia as a culinary destination would have been something of a joke - the land of smorgasbord and smoked herring. But thanks to a cadre of enterprising and experimental young chefs, including Rene Redzepi of Noma who put "new Nordic" cuisine on the map, the restaurants in these countries are some of the most exciting in the world to eat at these days.

I was lucky enough to eat at nearly a dozen fabulous places, but singled out four in particular for my most recent JustLuxe post on the new Nordic trend. They were Oaxen Krog in Stockholm, Falsled Kro on the island of Funen in Denmark, Spis in Helsinki and Lysverket in Bergen.

Read about what makes each one so special and some of the mouthwatering dishes I sampled in my full article on JustLuxe: Four Fantastic New Nordic Restaurants You Have Not Heard Of...Yet

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Metrosource Magazine: Designer Bill Bensley Profile

I branched out a bit in the most recent issue of Metrosource Magazine, the Design Issue, to write a profile of a man whose work I've admired for a while now, hotel designer and landscape architect Bill Bensley.

I've seen Bensley's work up close at properties like the Four Seasons Chiang Mai and Four Seasons Tented Camp Golden Triangle as well as read about it when researching trips to Asia and considering where to stay in Vietnam, Bali, Thailand and more. The man's fingerprints are all over Southeast Asia and almost overnight it seems like he has become the "starchitect" of the region.

Interested to learn more about him, I talked to him about his aesthetic, how he goes about envisioning each project, some of his hallmarks and what he looks for in a travel experience himself. His answers were both challenging and illuminating.

You can read the full article at Metrosource here: An American Designs Asia

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Points Guy: Booking a Round-The-World Award Using US Airways Miles

For my latest Points Guy post, I wrote about my experience using US Airways miles to book a round-the-world business class award for the same price as a roundtrip ticket just to Asia would have been.

For the grand total of 90,000 miles and $143 in taxes and fees, I flew business class from New York to Hong Kong via Taipei on EVA, then on to Stockholm in Singapore Airlines business class, and finally back to New York on SAS - all for the same amount of miles that a simple roundtrip ticket to Hong Kong would have required.

It required some work, patience and insider knowledge, but you can do it too! Here's how: Flying a Round The World Award Using US Airways Miles