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Digital Detox: Summer Camp For Adults

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Color wars. Village communities demarked by wildlife flags. A reveille bugle to wake us every morning. The 325 of us, ranging in ages from 19 to 67, were warned. We were prepped. But it was only when we stepped deep into the cover of 80 acres of cool redwoods in Anderson Valley (three hours north of San Francisco), into a 1970’s boy scout camp straight out of Wes Anderson’s wildest dream that we realized, finally, where we were.
 
Camp.
 
And not just any camp. A camp for adults. Without electronic devices, computers, phones, lights, heat, or watches. We were not to speak about the “W” word (that would be work), what we did for a job (hereto forth to be called “fun” or “play”), and that revealing our names or ages would result in severe punishment (pulling out one another’s hair, strand by strand for each offense). We were asked to hand over our bags of iPads, Kindles, iPhones, Blackberries, digital cameras and a jumble of cords. Mine alone weighed 15 pounds and was giving me a lopsided walk; just one of the many reasons I had signed up for this experience. The offending devices went into a paper sack and were unceremoniously locked away as the campers (again, mostly me) whimpered softly.

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Tech Thursday: Jack of All Trades Travel Adapter

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The one gadget that makes every hotel a workstation: CB2's ultra-compact Universal Travel Adapter ($23). It's half the size of its competitors and has one simple switch that toggles between built-in plugs for virtually every destination around the world. It comes in four bright colors, making it easy to find in your suitcase.

Nikki Ekstein is an editorial assistant at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter at @nikkiekstein.

Photo courtesy of CB2

How to Guarantee You'll Get In-Flight WiFi

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Despite travelers’ obsessions with being plugged in on the road, only 38% of domestic flights—and less than 1% of international flights—offer WiFi on board. Change is coming, with over 2,400 domestic and international flights rolling out Wi-Fi in the near future, but even then, in-flight web surfing will be far from ubiquitous, says data by flight engine RouteHappy. So here’s what the study suggests you do to make sure you stay connected in the skies:

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Tech Thursday: Google Glass—Half Empty or Half Full?

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Blending in with the locals. For most travelers, that’s the goal. We know that pulling out a guidebook never helps. But what about sporting funky headgear?

That’s what I was trying to figure out as I did a test drive yesterday of Google Glass at the company’s New York offices. Lens-less glasses with wraparound arms and a tiny screen above your right eye: Glass isn’t obstructive (that’s the whole point, after all), but it’s also not unobtrusive. And as my Google handler—who has worn hers in public—told me, you have to be prepared for some stares.

So do the benefits outweigh those stares?

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Bonus Travel + Leisure Content with Amex Sync

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Eight hundred bottles of alcohol, 1,600 pounds of food: this is the typical amount consumed on a weeklong European river cruise. But how does the vessel actually get from the shipyard to the river to the point of serving you dinner? We sent Nilou Motamed behind the scenes with Viking River Cruises in Germany to find out—and produce an exclusive backstage video. 

The video is just one example of bonus T+L content you can get just by sending a tweet. In the magazine’s July issue, Travel + Leisure teamed up with Amex Sync from American Express, our parent company, to give readers special access to additional experiences. When you tweet hashtags found in the July issue, you’ll be able to unlock tips, restaurant lists, videos, and more.

If you’re hungry in the City by the Bay, you’ll be able to unlock our Foursquare guide to San Francisco’s best new restaurants by tweeting #TL4sqListSanFran.

For a good laugh and some holiday cheer, tweet #TLSMITTYsVid to watch Canadian airline WestJet’s video of a Christmas flash mob taking over their airport waiting area. The viral video won a 2013 T+L Social Media in Travel & Tourism Award (SMITTY), announced this month.

Planning a trip abroad? Listen to the Trip Doctor’s simple trick for saving money on international airfare—just tweet #AmexpubTLAirfare.

And of course, if you want to watch a cruise ship being built, tweet #TLVikingCruiseVid and watch our behind-the-scenes video with Viking River Cruises.

Gabrielle Blitz is an Associate Social Media Editor at Travel + Leisure.

Photo credit: Emiliano Granado

Announced: T+L's 2013 SMITTY Awards Winners

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From hilarious YouTube videos (WestJet surprised travelers with a fleet of airport elves) to jaw-dropping Instagram photos (see everything from kangaroos to the aurora australis on Tourism Australia’s feed), travel companies are putting major effort into their social media campaigns. In celebration, Travel + Leisure has announced the winners of our second annual SMITTY Awards, recognizing the innovative ways airlines, hotels, cruise lines, bloggers, and more are interacting with their online audience.

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Tech Thursday: New Canon Facebook App Turns Your Vacations Shots into Comic Strips

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Do you have epic plans for this Memorial Day weekend? Whether you do or not, Canon’s new Pixma Comix app—accessible through Facebook—will make your holiday snapshots just a bit more, er, heroic. The easy-to-use app lets you upload photos either from your computer or existing Facebook albums, making four-to-six photo compilations augmented by thought bubbles and call outs (to add pizzazz to your bellyflops and cannonballs). Choose from a variety of comic-inspired layouts and image filters, add your text, and publish straight from the app—it’s a natural way to make the story of your vacation come to life in a playful that’s admittedly more share-able than frame-able.

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

Photo credit: Canon U.S.A

 

New Trip Planning Tool: OneNote

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To help with summer travel planning, Microsoft is releasing a special edition, travel-themed OneNote template. And T+L is excited to be part of it—we wrote the travel tips and packing lists featured in this new, free, release.

You’ll find advice from our editors on the summer’s trendiest destinations, activities for everyone in the family, must-try dishes from around the world, and essential items to pack, whether you’re battling the humidity or enjoying the water (or both).

OneNote is available with Microsoft Office 365 Home PremiumCheck it out and bring it with you on your next summer adventure.

Photo credit: OneNote

Tech Thursday: A Playlist to Cure Your Fear of Flying

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Listen up, airlines—it’s time to start playing Adele’s Someone Like You on the PA as you’re boarding your flights. According to research launched today by music service Spotify, the song is the perfect tune to settle travelers’ jittery nerves, thanks to its ideal tempo (67 bpm) and harmonious tones. About one in four fliers suffer from some sort of travel-related fear, says the study by London-based anxiety psychologist Dr. Becky Spelman, who helped Spotify identify characteristics in songs that are most de-stressing (see the full recommended playlist here). But tuning in is just the first step: breathing in time to the rhythm, listening on headphones, and closing your eyes will all work together to theoretically lower your heart rate and blood pressure, stimulate both sides of your brain, and calm your mind. Fly on, frazzled road warriors, fly on.

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

 


American Airlines Offers New Ways to Show Off Your Klout

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If you're like me, you've often stood at a crowded airport gate, clutching your plastic container of sad, limp salad-to-go and gazing enviously at the door of the business-class lounge just across the concourse. What wonders might lie beyond that forbidding threshold: Cocktails? Delicious nibbles? Spotless bathrooms??

If you're also like me, you probably dabble a bit in social media, tweeting and Facebooking and checking in on Foursquare. As it turns out, enough dabbling can get you through that door. American Airlines just announced a partnership with Klout, the service that measures influence on social media. Klout scores are determined by a mysterious algorithm based on your activity on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other networks; if it's 55 or higher, you'll earn a free day pass to any of American's Admirals Club lounges around the world. They don't even care if you're flying AA or not: The goal is to attract people who are likely to tweet gratefully about the comfortable seats or Instagram their glass of Champagne—using the lounge's complimentary Wi-Fi, of course. (Those with humbler Klout scores get a chance to win a free year's Admiral's Club membership.)

I don't pay much attention to my Klout score, but after reading about the new initiative on Skift.com, I checked it, and—lo and behold—discovered that it's 59! That pales next to Justin Bieber's 93, but it was enough to gain me entry. I immediately signed up and got an email with my day pass attached. I plan to use it during a four-hour layover in Boston this Sunday (and I'm flying on United). Keep an eye on my Instagram feed for pictures of peanuts!

Peter J. Frank is the director, editorial product development at Travel + Leisure.

Photo courtesy of American Airlines

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