T+L 2006 Women's Travel Special
Who Michele Paquette, 41.
Home Base Hoboken, New Jersey.
Destination Paris, for 10 days, to visit friends.
Proud Of Renting an apartment in advance on the Île St.-Louis through VilleetVillage.com. "It'll be like when I was studying French there years ago."
First Stop Rodin Museum. (Second stop: a patisserie.)
Side Trip Deauville, in Normandy—a friend is a furniture maker there.
Big Question "I'm hoping my ATM card will work."
Who Kristen Michaud, 18; Elise McManemin, "edging 80"; and Denise Michaud, 51 (three generations of one family).
Home Base Bergen County, New Jersey.
Destination St. John's, Newfoundland, where Elise grew up.
On the Agenda Looking for icebergs carried along the Labrador Current from Baffin Bay. "We are going to Signal Hill," Elise says. "You can see the whole town and the narrows going out to sea."
First Meal on Arrival Freshly caught lobster and deep-fried cod tongues, a local delicacy.
Looking Forward To "Going out on sailboats in the bay," Kristen says.
Who Marianne O'Brien, age 81.
Home Base New York City.
Length of Stay Five weeks.
Reason for Trip Every year since her husband died in 1994, Marianne visits her brother-in-law there.
Her Other Annual Tradition Taking a side trip. "My favorite was Venice—I loved wandering the canals." This year, she's going to Brittany.
Priority Number One Sending postcards. "I'll mail the first one to my two-year-old great-granddaughter."
Travel Weakness "I want to look stylish, so I usually pack too much."
Who Sarla Tandon, 63.
Home Base Brooklyn, New York.
Destination Delhi, India.
Length of Flight Fourteen hours.
How She'll Pass the Time Sleeping and watching Indian films.
Reason for Trip Visiting family. "I have hundreds of relatives who still live in India, and I try to go back to see them regularly."
Looking Forward To "My flight arrives at 8 p.m., so I'll be ready for dinner. We'll probably have homemade roti [traditional Indian flatbread cooked on a griddle and brushed with ghee] and lots of vegetables."
Who Fatima Jonsson, 34.
Home Base Stockholm.
Destination San Francisco Bay Area, for a two-week trip to see a friend she met while working as an au pair in Cambridge, Massachusetts, 15 years ago.
Looking Forward To Visiting the wineries in Napa Valley, going to the beach, and checking out Berkeley.
What's in Her Carry-On Passport, return ticket, Wrigley's Extra spearmint chewing gum, wallet, and peanuts from her last flight.
Reading Material No Man Is an Island by Thomas Merton (in Swedish).
Who Angela Ficarrotta, 34; Jacqueline Ficarrotta, 23; Pamela Zapf, 23; Suzanne DiPasquale, 23; Meghan Mahoney, 23; Lee Cozzolino, 23.
Home Base Franklin Square, New York.
On the Agenda Ten days staying in bed-and-breakfasts throughout London and Ireland (Cliffs of Moher, Galway, Dublin).
Looking Forward To "Diana, Princess of Wales," a photography exhibition by Mario Testino at Kensington Palace.
Who Packed the Most "I would say Suzanne, but Jacque is a close second," Angela says.
Who Katie Anderson, 22.
Home Base Birmingham, England.
Destination Panama, where her boyfriend, Nicholas Nickson, runs an eco-lodge, Eco Venao, set in a reforestation project in Playa Venado, on Panama's Pacific Coast.
Her Companion The teddy bear is a gift for a young girl in need.
Funniest Event En Route A customs agent in England asked that the bear be named after him (Richard).
Most Recent Purchase The beaded gold bag that she got at the Cours Saleya market in old town, Nice, France.
NIKI LEONDAKIS COO, KIMPTON GROUP
Leondakis is in the business of providing good hotel service. Here, she shares what matters most when she's a guest:
SEND ADVANCE WORD I like to call or e-mail the hotel a week in advance with my requests. If you give the concierge enough notice, you're not competing with five other guests for same-day dinner reservations or theater tickets.
THINK SMALL With smaller, independent hotels, I look for a word-of-mouth referral or affiliation with an organization that ensures a set of standards.
ASK AND YOU SHALL RECEIVE If you treat hotel professionals with respect, they'll often go the extra mile. One time I arrived at my hotel and realized I had left my laptop on the plane. Someone there was actually willing to go to the airport in person and track it down for me. That was definitely not on the menu of services.
KNOW YOURSELF I treasure my friends and travel companions, but I also treasure my alone-time. So I generally don't book side-by-side rooms or connecting suites.
VISHAKHA DESAI PRESIDENT, ASIA SOCIETY
Crisscrossing Asia to do research on exhibitions and to work at the Asia Society's new India Centre in Mumbai, Desai stays self-aware when traveling alone on business. Here are her tips:
NEVER SKIMP ON HOTELS Even if it feels extravagant, a luxury hotel has a certain level of service, and as a single woman, it's better to know that you'll be taken care of.
PLAN AHEAD I firmly believe you have to do your research really well. I always arrange for a car service to meet me at the airport. You want a certain level of confidence that you'll get there, so you don't have to worry.
MAKE ADVANCE CONTACTS I was recently in Kashmir working on an art exhibit. I asked colleagues and acquaintances for their friends' names—poets, intellectuals—who gave me inside access to local culture.
STAY IN TOUCH No matter where I am, I absolutely insist on talking to my husband every day.
ANNABELLE BOND MOUNTAINEER
Bond is the only woman to have climbed the Seven Summits in one year—the highest peak on each continent—and recently competed in a 155-mile race across the Atacama Desert, in Chile. Here, three items she takes to ensure she hits the ground running:
MY IPOD A great way to explore a new city is to jog through a park or along a waterfront. Eighties music gets me moving. One minute, I'm groggy; the next, I turn on the music and go for it. I started off as someone who took 30-minute jogs every day. I'm not saying everyone wants to climb Everest, but I think a lot of women have the capability to push themselves; it's just a matter of forcing yourself to be mentally disciplined.
BOTTLED WATER When I'm traveling, staying hydrated can make all the difference. I also avoid eating heavy meals on plane rides, and I take short naps.
ASPIRIN Altitude affects me as much as anyone else. We all need to acclimate. To adjust, I try to arrive at my destination a couple of days before a climb, and I take aspirin.
GUCCI WESTMAN ARTISTIC DIRECTOR, LANCÔME
On the road for up to three weeks a month, Westman has a few well-honed strategies for looking and feeling good:
IN HER BAG When I'm traveling, I'm plagued by dehydration. I always pack electrolyte tablets to take with water. I also like to bring along a water mist for my face. You can see what happens to water bottles on a flight; you can only imagine what happens to your insides.
ON ARRIVAL It's great if you can sleep on a night flight, but the next-best thing is to rest when you arrive. As soon as I get off the plane, I'll soak in bath salts to pull out toxins. I learned about how important bathing is in Japan. It kick-starts your circulation and your metabolism.
FAVORITE AMENITIES I love the ginger-infused warm towels on All Nippon Airways. The best bathroom products ever are at Hotel Splendido, in Portofino, Italy. I also pick things up wherever I am, like a skin cream called St. Barth that you can only get on St. Bart's.