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A Travel Blog from the Editors of T+L

RSS Feed Posts by Nikki Ekstein

How to Rent Camera Lenses Before Your Next Trip

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A new travel tech discovery we are digging? Borrowlenses.com. The site, which is owned by Shutterfly, offers cameras, lenses, and a broad range of photography accessories for week-long rentals. The idea solves an age-old travelers’ dilemma without the typically-requisite financial commitment—if we had a nickel for every time a T+L editor has canvassed the office for pro-grade photo gear before heading off on a safari or transatlantic adventure, we’d be made.  Here, lenses that retail for well over a thousand bucks can be rented for as little as $20. For instance, a $1,395 Carl Zeiss wide angle lens (great for landscapes) runs $65 for a week, while a $6,749 Nikon 200-400mm f/4G lens (for sports and wildlife shots) costs $271 to rent. Travel packages bundle a few essentials and a tripod for $131, and most camera brands are supported. Time to sharpen those photo skills.

ne_headshotjpgNikki Ekstein is an Assistant Editor at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her on Twitter at @nikkiekstein.

Photo courtesy of BorrowLenses

New TSA Regulations Target Dead Electronics

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Traveling abroad? Be sure to keep your gadgets fully charged. A new mandate by the Transportation Security Administration is asking airport security to pay special attention to travelers’ electronics, following reports of terrorist threats involving explosives concealed in phone look-alikes. While Apple and Samsung phones were specifically called out on the TSA’s memo, any electronics that can hold a charge—laptops, tablets, smartphones, etc.—are being screened. Those that don’t turn on will be confiscated, and their owners will be subject to further investigation.

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Why Google's Acquisition of Songza Is Great News for Travelers

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There’s been an overwhelming amount of news following the Google I/O conference last week, but one of the things we’re most excited about is the search giant’s big acquisition of music service Songza. Why? Unlike Pandora or Spotify, Songza ditches the algorithm-based method of suggesting tunes that riff on your existing preferences. Instead, it learns about your circumstantial preferences—where you are, what the weather is like, and so on—to offer up beats that fit for the time and place. And if that sounds interesting for travelers, you’d be right: Songza has a music conciergethat helps you explore the world through regional music. (Ireland? Italy? Brazil? They’re all there.)

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Jeni's Ice Cream Pops Up Tonight at Manhattan's Gotham West

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Which city has the best artisan food markets in America? That’s up for debate in our America’s Favorite Places survey right now. But my vote—at least for this summer—is with New York City, thanks to a new pop-up store debuting today at Gotham West Market. Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream, the cultishly beloved small-batch producer from Columbus, Ohio, will be peddling their signature sweets from the Midtown West marketplace for the next two months. If you haven’t tried Jeni’s signature ice creams yet, run there tonight (when scoops will be free!) and order the Salty Caramel or Milk Chocolate Bombay (a NYC exclusive). Take it from this Jeni’s aficionada—you’ll never want any other ice cream again.

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Nikki Ekstein is an Assistant Editor at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her on Twitter at @nikkiekstein.

Photo courtesy of Andie Diemer

A New Spin on the Pedicab at The Mark

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Hotel-branded bikes? Been there, done that. But on New York City’s Upper East Side, The Mark Hotel is putting a new twist on the now-classic amenity. Launching in July, the hotel’s black-and-white striped pedicabs will be whisking guests to nearby attractions—Central Park, Bergford Goodman, or the Guggenheim Museum—on a complimentary basis. To add to the sweet nostalgia factor, guests can also request a seasonal picnic basket to be brought on board, courtesy of Jean-Georges’ on-site restaurant—perfect for a throwback-style afternoon on the Great Lawn.

ne_headshotjpgNikki Ekstein is an Assistant Editor at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her on Twitter at @nikkiekstein.

Photo courtesy of Jon Nissenbaum for The Mark

OpenTable Acquired By Priceline for $2.6 Billion

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In a deal that closed on Friday, OpenTable was purchased by Priceline for a hefty $2.6 billion—46 percent more than its previous closing share price would have suggested—marking a sea change in the way that online travel companies are thinking about business. Gone are the days of providing services just for planning and booking; these days, the mightiest of OTAs are thinking about how they can also capitalize on travelers once they’re on the ground. See TripAdvisor, long known as the site you check for reviews before booking (or to pen your own upon return): it has also gotten into the restaurant reservations game with the recent acquisition of Lafourquette, a European site much like OpenTable. It all makes tons of sense. If you’re as selective about where you eat as you are about where you stay, you need to book your restaurants well before traveling. And for Priceline, that will come to the tune of 15 million total diners a month. As for what’s next? We’d put money on local excursion booking tools, which have fast gained traction in the digital travel booking space over the last year.  

ne_headshotjpgNikki Ekstein is an Assistant Editor at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her on Twitter at @nikkiekstein.

JetBlue's New Mint Class: A Behind-The-Scenes Tour

Curious about JetBlue's new premium Mint experience? The carrier's first foray into business class-style service debuts on June 15, serving cross-country routes between New York City, San Francisco, and Los Angeles for as little as $599 one way. Watch this video for a behind-the-scenes look at what to expect.

ne_headshotjpgNikki Ekstein is an Assistant Editor at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her on Twitter at @nikkiekstein.

How To Get a Free Camera (Or Running Shoes) Tomorrow

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If you own a DSLR and are in New York City, you may be eligible for a free camera upgrade. Tomorrow, Samsung is hosting #DITCHtheDSLR Day, a pop-up event dedicated to their lineup of mirrorless models--and why they're just as powerful as their bulkier counterparts. Head to Times Square between noon and 6pm to take their top-of-the-line NX30 SMART Camera for a spin (with the help of professional photographers, there to take you on photo walks and offer their best shooting tips). If you like what you see, you can trade in your old DSLR and get an NX30--for free. (That's a $999 camera, for those of you keeping track.) But get there early and bring any kit lenses or batteries that came with your dinosaur, as only a limited quantity will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.

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Foursquare Launches New App Swarm For Global Networking

foursquare_appjpgYesterday Foursquare pushed its new app, Swarm, to the iTunes and Google Play stores, revealing to the world what it had been teasing for weeks: a tool to help you connect with friends globally, in a way that’s more socially-driven than the Foursquare we’ve long known and loved. Swarm differs from Foursquare by focusing on interactions, and not solitary check-ins or points, which were hardly being used in the competitive, socially-charged way that had once been intended.

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Marriott's New PlusPoints Will Turn Your Tweets into Loyalty Points

201405-hd-marriott-pluspoints-socialjpgSocial media engagement has become increasingly valuable to hotel brands and travel companies—look no further than our own SMITTY Award winners—but today, Marriott is becoming the first company to place a real dollar value on customers’ tweets, check-ins, and likes. With PlusPoints, a new feature of the brand’s much loved rewards program, visitors who download the Marriott Rewards app and synch their social media accounts will now see their points balances increase with every digital interaction—up to 2,000 points each month. Says Rich Toohey, VP of Marriott Rewards, “It’s a way to provide immediate gratification for our members, who happy to be very active on social media channels.” Immediate is right: most interactions (geo-tagged Instagram pics; Facebook comments; check-ins and tweets) will yield an automatic deposited of 25 points to your Marriott Rewards account, while one-time activities, such as liking a property page on Facebook, will boost your balance by 250 points.

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