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Snazzy Napper: The World's Silliest Travel Product

Honestly, when you check out this video you will think it is a fake commercial from Saturday Night Live circa 1983. But no, the Snazzy Napper is a real product, an odd cross between a Snuggie and a burkha—and the video is so hilariously bad that it is going viral.

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Haute Hotel Deal: Elysian Partners with Marc Jacobs

This summer, The Elysian hotel in Chicago is celebrating America—and great American designer, Marc Jacobs—with a complimentary limited edition towel and tote:201007-b-usatotejpg

From now through Labor Day, book a room at the Elysian and receive a super-cute USA totebag and American Flag beach towel from Marc Jacobs. They're the perfect accessories to bring to North Avenue Beach.

The bag (just $18) is also available at Marc Jacobs stores (the only one in Chicago is at the Elysian Hotel). Book at ElysianHotels.com. Rates start at $495 and include breakfast in bed.

Courtesy of Elysian Hotels/Marc Jacobs

Time To Reapply Your Sunscreen?

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Growing up in Southern California in the 1960s, my friends and I would start off each summer’s quest for a tan by heading to the beach to lay down a good “base coat”—or what doctors like to call a second-degree burn. I had so many sunburns by the time I graduated high school I can’t even count them. We didn’t use high-factor SPF sun protectants; we used cocoa butter and tanning oil to really soak up those UV rays. Then someone went and discovered that, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation, having even one severe sunburn as a child doubles your risk of developing melanoma as an adult.

Now you tell me.

I travel frequently and like to explore the outdoors wherever I go—swimming in Phuket, scuba in the Great Barrier Reef, early morning walks beside the Huangpu River on the Bund in Shanghai. At home in the States I dig biking and body surfing. I love doing the morning crossword puzzle sitting by my backyard pond. I even enjoy weeding my lawn. The point is, I’m outside a lot, and I can’t afford to get sunburned again. That’s why I was especially glad about a recent unplanned meeting with an acquaintance in the green room at CNN.

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Review: T-Mobile's Travel-centric Garminfone

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Sometimes it's really hard to believe that just a few years ago, in order to get where you had to go—especially on road trips, you needed to bring along one or more large, folding paper maps. Then there came websites like MapQuest, which alleviated people the hassle of having to actually figure out how to get from point A to point B. And now with GPS devices built into cell phones, navigating strange places is a breeze, and there's no need to bring anything you wouldn't have with you anyway.

T-Mobile recently released a new smartphone, the Garminfone (Garmin is one of the leading GPS makers in the world), which was specifically designed for travelers constantly on the go. It looks like any other touch screen smartphone (wait until you see just how smart it is), but as soon as you turn the phone on, you know it's made for travelers: there are three large icons on the homepage; one is labeled "Where To?" and the other, "View Map." (The third is for making phone calls.)

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Charmed By a Locale? CHART It!

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I recently returned from a ten-day sailing trip around the Secret Island of Culebra, off the coast of Puerto Rico. Living aboard a sailboat reminded me of my love for nautical charts—the fluid lines, soft, sea-foamy color palette, and wiry, spare typeface lend an on-trend heritage feel to the handsome utilitarian scrolls. How smart was it, then, that Portland, Maine–based jeweler Charlotte Leavitt dreamed up the idea of custom-crafting various pieces (pendants, earrings, cufflinks, even belt buckles) making use of nautical charts? Childhood summers spent aboard her family’s daysailer in coastal Castine instilled in the formerly desk-bound jewelry hobbyist a similar appreciation for the art of the chart.

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Is the iPad Fit for Travel?

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As part of an early-adaptor household that snagged an iPad the instant it hit shelves this month, I know it’s one thing to play Scrabble while you’re waiting on line for lattes at Starbucks, to burn through a few chapters of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter before bed, or to ogle and caress its sleek form in the privacy of one’s home, but how does this spring’s hottest must-have gadget fare on the road? For starters, at just 1.5 pounds it weighs far less than the average laptop, and airport security is not forcing owners to pull out their iPads for x-raying like they do computers, but there are some caveats (right now) to be sure.

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Review: T-Mobile HTC HD2 Travel Apps

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I recently borrowed the new T-Mobile HTC HD2 smartphone and, after about two weeks of playing around with it, I have to say: I have a big fat crush. The screen—an astounding 4.3"—is insanely sharp. In fact, I happened to receive the phone the day before hopping on a bus for 4 1/2 hours. For 2 1/2 of those hours, I entertained myself by watching Transformers...on the phone. Not only did the crystal clear image blow me away, let me point this out: the phone's battery was still half full by the end of the movie. Crazy!

Aside from the on-the-go entertainment value with the phone—all of the movies are available for renting or purchase through the phone's Blockbuster app—the phone itself is sleek, easy-to-use, and the touch screen über responsive. (Once I turned off that annoying guess-what-word-I'm-trying-to-spell feature that is becoming a staple in many new phones, it rarely, if ever, missed a key stroke.)

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Our Favorite DSLR Camera Right Now

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Question that I get asked all the time: I have a digital point-and-shoot camera that I like, but I want to take my photography to the next level. Can you recommend an easy-to-use DSLR camera that will take great images for years to come?

My new answer:  The Nikon D5000.

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I am really excited about this camera.  It has a lot of the aspects you’d expect from Nikon: wonderful colors and metering, excellent image quality, sharp lens, HD video, but it has a new feature that really gets me—the flip-and-twist LCD screen.

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Alp-n-Rock: Global Apparel that Gives Back

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I recently discovered a designer whose attire I find irresistible—as I suspect it is (or will be) for many an active, trendy, and socially conscious traveler. Alp-n-Rock’s tees are chic, original, and eco-friendly (made in California from organic cotton and recycled materials); more importantly, they directly contribute to a wonderful philanthropic effort.

By purchasing an Alp-n-Rock shirt (which range from $85-$260), you’re helping to send a child to school. The apparel company donates 10% of its profits to Room to Read, an organization that finances education for girls in developing countries (Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Laos, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, and Zambia). Room to Read has already sent 4 million children to school and built 10,000 libraries; Alp-n-Rock founder Susanne Reich’s personal ambition is to give 1,000 girls an education using her brand’s proceeds.

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The Perfect Bag for the Perfect Vacation—Down Under

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Steven Alan, the man responsible for the proliferation of plaid shirts throughout New York and, increasingly, around the country, recently took a break from his day job. He went to Australia, in fact, to soak up Sydney and the Great Barrier Reef. It was the Perfect Vacation—one that you can take, too—with an itinerary crafted by Tourism Australia in collaboration with Virgin Airlines. And from it, he designed the Perfect Bag—a leather and waxed cotton carryon with rope detailing (and, yes, some signature plaid cotton lining the exterior pockets) inspired by his experience Down Under.

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