Ask T+L: Travel-Friendly Cameras, All-You-Can-Fly Passes, and More
Q: I’m in the market for a camera that can weather the elements. What are my best options? —Jen Wagner, Swansea, Mass.
A: “I love the waterproof Sony Cybershot TX5 (sonystyle.com; $350) for its touch screen and sleek, lightweight design; it slips conveniently into a jacket pocket, while the slide-front cover keeps the lens protected. The stainless-steel-and-rubber Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS2 (panasonic.com; $350) is resistant to water, shock, and dust—plus, it produces sharp images and has intuitive buttons (you can record HD video with just one click). The equally hardy Canon PowerShot D10 (usa.canon.com; $300) is waterproof (up to thirty-three feet deep), takes consistently reliable pictures, and feels comfortable in your hands—even if you’re wearing winter gloves.” —T+L deputy photo editor Jessica Schwartzberg.
Q: We’re staying in Miami’s Design District on an upcoming trip. Any new restaurants we should put at the top of our list? —David Storck, Chicago, Ill.
A: At the just-opened Vino E Olio (dinner for two $120), Andrea Menichetti prepares hearty Tuscan fare (gnocchi with ricotta baked in parmesan olive oil), made with ingredients from his family’s farm in Italy. For authentic Turkish and Greek mezes, spanakopita (spinach and feta) wraps, and grilled octopus, head to the nearby white-and-blue patio garden at Mandolin (dinner for two $60). If you’re willing to venture farther south to the Lincoln Road promenade, the menu at AltaMare (dinner for two $100) changes to reflect the day’s catch, from cobia to scallops.
Q: Are all-you-can-fly airline passes really worth the investment? —Caitlin Hennessy, Brooklyn, N.Y.
A: Airlines tend to offer unlimited passes during slower travel months. These packages typically cover a one-month period, range from $499 to $699, and require booking at least three days in advance. But the reality is that flying during these periods is already less expensive. For example, to recoup the cost of a recent $699 offer from JetBlue (which covered flights in the U.S., Mexico, and the Caribbean), you would have to fly round-trip from New York to Chicago four times. Not to mention that many programs don’t include taxes and charge fees if you miss or cancel your flight. Unlimited passes are the best value if you’re planning at least two trips—just make sure the airline flies where you want to go.
Q: Can you recommend any great wildlife-focused tours of the Galápagos islands? —Larry Jones, Evergreen, Colo.
A: The seven-night Wonders of the Galápagos cruise from Abercrombie & Kent (from $7,160 per person) brings guests to one of the world’s largest marine iguana colonies, on the archipelago’s quiet Fernandina Island. Meanwhile, Explorers’ Corner (from $4,090 per person) offers the 11-day Ecuador: The Galápagos Islands Tour—you’ll swim with sea lions and white-tipped reef sharks off of Pinnacle Rock, on Bartolomé Island. And to observe the area’s 150-year-old giant tortoises, explore the highlands of San Cristóbal on the 11-day Galápagos Aboard La Pinta tour with Geographic Expeditions ($6,675 per person).
This trailblazer explores the remote corners of every continent using guides with extensive on-the-ground networks, such as San Francisco–based Vassi Koutsaftis, who has been leading trips into Burma, Tibet, and Nepal for 25 years. Newly added: a small selection of family trips. In the pursuit of remarkable experiences, clients are willing to endure the very occasional bumpy road or night in a tent. T+L Trip pick Shikoku and the Naoshima Islands of Japan. Take a soba-making class, trace the old Shingon Buddhist pilgrimage route, and sleep at a ryokan.
The tour operator also arranges a 16-day Alaskan Inland Passage excursion with exclusive access into the 3.2 million–acre Glacier Bay National Park via yacht, followed by a stay at the Ultima Thule Lodge, with 12 well-equipped riverfront cabins.
Founder Olaf Malver’s specialty is trailblazing kayak journeys in remote polar settings, but he also runs mellow, warm-water trips. T+L Trip pick Antarctica: The Ultimate Polar Wildlife Adventure. Sail aboard the 54-foot Northanger, disembarking to explore mountains and fjords and to camp atop the ice.
Abercrombie & Kent
The Abercrombie & Kent travel agency began as an African safari company, founded by Geoffrey Kent and his parents in 1962. Today, the company organizes trips to more than 100 nations across all seven continents, with destinations ranging from Antarctica to the Galápagos Islands. Chosen by Travel + Leisure as one of the Best Adventure-Travel Outfitters of 2010, the agency caters to experienced travelers seeking “extreme adventure.” In addition to the signature African safaris, travel options include a Norwegian dog-sledding excursion, a river cruise along the Nile, and a turtle rescue expedition in Australia. T+L Trip Pick: Wings Over the Migration. Follow the Great Migration, view a private Masai dance performance, and camp near the Ngorongoro Crater.
Vino E Olio
Andrea Menichetti prepares hearty Tuscan fare (gnocchi with ricotta baked in parmesan olive oil), made with ingredients from his family's farm in Italy.
Dine on authentic Turkish and Greek mezes, spanakopita (spinach and feta) wraps, and grilled octopus in the restaurant's white-and-blue patio garden.
The menu changes to reflect the day's catch, from cobia to scallops.