Why Kindle Paperwhite Is Perfect for Travelers

Posted August 1, 2014 by SmarterTravel.com

What Is it: Amazon's Kindle Paperwhite with 6-inch High Resolution Display, Next-Gen Built-in Light, and Wi-Fi

Price and Where to Buy: Available from Amazon.com and some brick-and-mortar retail outlets like Staples and Best Buy. It's $119 for the Kindle Paperwhite with "special offers" and $139 for the advertisement-free version. (A 3G version is available starting at $189.)


* It reads like a real book. More than any other e-reader I've tried, and way more than any tablet, the newest version (2013 release) of the Kindle Paperwhite excels at delivering a comfortable reading experience. There's no eye strain from reading for hours at a time.
* The adjustable brightness levels allow you to read in any lighting condition, including bright sunlight or complete dark. If you read at bedtime and a traditional book light disturbs your partner's sleep, the Kindle Paperwhite's adjustable brightness control is the solution.
* The battery life is outstanding. I took my Kindle Paperwhite on lengthy trips to Asia and Europe and never had to charge it. In the three months I've owned it, I may have charged it twice, total. And I read a lot of books.
* At just 7.3 ounces, it doesn't weigh much. I can hold it for a long time in one hand without strain. It also fits comfortably in my back pocket, which makes it easy to carry through airports and train terminals and allows me to access it quickly whenever I have a minute to read.
* The Kindle Paperwhite displays a "time left in chapter" indicator based on your reading speed that lets you know how long it will take you to finish a chapter. This is great for trains and buses and airports, where you need to know if you can squeeze in a few more pages before your stop. (You can also turn off this display if you don't like it.)
* The touch-screen technology makes it easy to turn the page with a tap of the finger. It is actually easier than reading a physical book.
* You can borrow e-books from your local library and easily download them to your device. No need to transfer files from a computer. (Pro tip: Load up on library books then turn off your wi-fi—the books will stay on your device even after the loan has ended, until you turn the wi-fi back on.)
* It's easy to switch between devices (Kindle Fire, iPad, your smartphone, etc.) without ever losing your place; the Kindle Paperwhite tracks your progress and allows you to jump to wherever you left off from your last reading session.


* I'm not a fan of the "special offers" version, which is $20 less expensive than the advertisement-free device. The offers are limited to the sleep screen and don't intrude upon the reading experience, but there's something mildly irritating to this voracious reader about having ads on my device. (Your mileage may vary.) If you decide to purchase the cheaper device with "special offers" and later discover you feel like I do about them, you can pay the $20 difference at any time and Amazon will remove them from your device forever.

How it Rates:

* Usefulness: 10/10. This is the best e-reader ever. You can read it in any lighting environment. It's easy to hold with just one hand. And you can load up on an entire library of books for any given trip. (In fact, it can hold about 1,100 books at a time.)
* Portability: 10/10. It fits in your pocket!
* Value: 8/10. At $119 or $139, this is a reasonable price for a great e-reader, but it's still not cheap. You'll save money eventually if you're a rabid reader: The cost of buying new hardcovers (which tend to be expensive) as e-books (which tend to be less expensive) will ultimately make up the difference and then some. But there's still a sizable down payment involved.
* Cool Factor: 10/10. For book purists and late e-book adopters like me, the Kindle Paperwhite is the e-reader we've been waiting for.

Final Verdict: This is the device that finally converted me to e-readers. I may never go back to physical books now. The Kindle Paperwhite is that good.

Editor's Note: Reviews are based on usefulness, portability, durability, value, and "cool factor." Some review products are sent to us free of charge and with no incentive to offer a favorable review. We offer our unbiased opinions, positive and negative, and will never accept compensation to review a product. If you have any questions or comments concerning our reviews, or would like to suggest a product for review, please email editor@smartertravel.com.

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This article was originally published by SmarterTravel under the title Why the Kindle Paperwhite Is the Perfect E-Reader for Travelers.

Follow Josh Roberts on Google+ or email her at editor@smartertravel.com.

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Where to Find the Fastest Wi-Fi on the Road

Posted July 30, 2014 by SmarterTravel.com


If you've got a need for (Internet) speed, a new report from Wefi can tell you which airports, hotel chains, and even beaches are best when it comes to connectivity.

The company, which collects and measures mobile data, tracked 45 million hot spots from April 1 to June 15, 2014. What they found was that the biggest and most popular destinations often don't crack the top 10.

Leading the pack of airports, Detroit wins for fastest Wi-Fi, with an average speed of 4.63 mbps. (This writer can attest to the decent Internet speeds at Detroit Metro, for she once spent an entire eight-hour delay there successfully streaming Friday Night Lights.) The Red Roof Inns chain tops the hotel category, with an average speed of 4.34 mbps. And, for beach seekers who like to pack a laptop (who are you?), Clearwater Beach, Florida, is your hot spot in the sun (although beachside Wi-Fi speeds are low across the board).

Here is the complete list of airports, hotels, and beaches with the fastest Wi-Fi. Click to see an infographic with more stats.

Top Airports with the Fastest Wi-Fi:

1. Detroit Metropolitan Airport, Michigan (4.63 mbps)
2. Denver International Airport, Colorado (4.33 mbps)
3. Ft. Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, Florida (3.74 mbps)
4. Los Angeles International Airport, California (3.29 mbps)
5. Washington Dulles International Airport, Virginia (3.09 mbps)
6. Dallas-Ft. Worth International Airport, Arizona (2.88 mbps)
7. LaGuardia Airport, New York (2.67 mbps)
8. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Georgia (2.66 mbps)
9. Logan International Airport, Massachusetts (2.51 mbps)
10. Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport, Minnesota (2.45 mbps)
11. McCarran International Airport, Nevada (2.41 mbps)
12. San Francisco International Airport, California (2.29 mbps)

Top Hotels with the Fastest Wi-Fi:

1. Red Roof Inns (4.34 mbps)
2. Sleep Inn (4.14 mbps)
3. Ramada (3.69 mbps)
4. Holiday Inn (3.68 mbps)
5. Best Western (3.66 mbps)
6. Aloft Hotels (3.42 mbps)
7. Studio 6 (3.22 mbps)
8. Hilton (3.17 mbps)
9. Quality Inns (3.15 mbps)
10. Four Points by Sheraton (3.04 mbps)
11. Comfort Inn (2.99 mbps)
12. Candlewood Suites (2.69 mbps)
13. Radisson (2.43 mbps)
14. Clarion (2.42 mbps)
15. Doubletree Hotel (2.32 mbps)

Top Beaches with the Fastest Wi-Fi:

1. Clearwater Beach, Florida (2.9 mbps)
2. Atlantic City, New Jersey (2.8 mbps)
3. Mission Beach, California (2.1 mbps)
4. South Beach Miami, Florida (1.9 mbps)
5. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina (1.8 mbps)
6. Santa Monica, California (1.8 mbps)
7. Waikiki Beach, Hawaii (1.6 mbps)
8. Newport Beach, California (1.2 mbps)
9. Hermosa Beach, California (1.1 mbps)

Readers, do you choose destinations based on Wi-Fi connectivity?

(Photo: Gwyneth Anne Bronwynne Jones via flickr/CC Attribution/Share Alike)

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This article was originally published by SmarterTravel under the title Where to Find the Fastest Wi-Fi on the Road.

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Hotels with the Best Views in America

Posted July 30, 2014 by SmarterTravel.com


Post Ranch Inn, Big Sur, California (Photo: Preferred Hotel Group)

A perfect view is a priceless hotel amenity. It allows you to enjoy a perspective of a landscape or monument that's, for the time being, yours alone. You get to maintain a visual connection to your destination even after you've retreated to your room with a bottle of wine and the room-service menu. And it affords the opportunity to take some pretty impressive pictures without battling crowds of camera-wielding tourists.

Some of the greatest views of America's most spectacular sites—the Statue of Liberty, the Grand Canyon, the rugged beaches of California's Central Coast—are available from the guest rooms of hotels. Here are 10 U.S. properties that overlook superb vistas and offer guests a picture-perfect point of view.


(Photo: Ian A Gratton via flickr/CC Attribution)

The Ritz-Carlton New York, Battery Park, New York City, New York

New Yorkers are knee-deep in marvelous views, from teeming Times Square to the high-flying city skyline to the emerald-green expanse of Central Park. But at The Ritz-Carlton New York, Battery Park, telescopes in harbor-view rooms help you get a special perspective on one of America's icons: the Statue of Liberty. One of two Ritz-Carlton properties in New York City, the Battery Park Ritz property is located about 100 yards from the harbor, giving guests an unobstructed look at Ellis Island. Plus, the port for Statue of Liberty tours is a stone's throw away.


(Photo: Grand Canyon NPS via flickr/CC Attribution)

Grand Canyon Lodge North Rim, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

The astonishing views are what draw many to the rim of the Grand Canyon. So why not stay in a place that's as close to the powerful landscape as you can get? The Grand Canyon Lodge North Rim is the only lodging inside the park that's located at the North Rim. (This means you should book your stay far in advance.) The lodge consists of cabins and motel rooms; the prime spots to book are the cabins close to the rim of the canyon. For best results, be sure to ask for a cabin with a North Rim view.


(Photo: Hotel Vitale)

Hotel Vitale, San Francisco, California

The Golden Gate isn't the only San Francisco bridge worth looking at. Last year, an enormous installation comprised of 25,000 LED lights was hung on the Bay Bridge, which connects San Francisco to Oakland. The Bay Lights make up the world's largest LED sculpture. And Hotel Vitale, which sits on the San Fran waterfront across from the Embarcadero promenade, offers guests perfect Bay Bridge views. When booking your stay, ask for a bridge-view room. You'll get to see the Bay Bridge sparkling with more than a mile of glittering lights from dusk until dawn, right from your room. Some guest rooms also offer views of the Ferry Building Marketplace along the Embarcadero.


(Photo: Preferred Hotel Group)

The Chanler at Cliff Walk, Newport, Rhode Island

Enjoy a view fit for a gilded-age baron in … where else but the former home of a gilded-age baron. There's little argument that this gorgeous historical property offers the best ocean views in Newport. The Chanler at Cliff Walk, a mansion constructed in the 19th century by Civil War-era congressman John Winthrop Chanler, is the only hotel located on Newport's celebrated Cliff Walk. It's perched directly on the trail that snakes between the Atlantic Ocean and a sequence of ornate gilded-age manors. Grab an Ocean Villa to enjoy unforgettable views of the ocean and the historical town of Newport directly from your room.


(Photo: Far View Lodge)

Far View Lodge, Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado

This hotel's name says it all. The only lodging available inside Mesa Verde National Park, Far View Lodge sits amidst miles of arid sagebrush-blanketed wilderness on the Colorado Plateau. All rooms at the lodge have private balconies from which guests can stargaze, search for wandering Rocky Mountain elk, black bears, or coyotes, or simply enjoy the rolling cuesta landscape that seems to extend forever.


Corner Executive Suite (Photo: Swissotel)

Swissotel Chicago, Chicago, Illinois

This Magnificent Mile property affords views of the best of both Chicago worlds: Lake Michigan and the city skyline. Certainly, the finest viewpoints are available via Swissotel Chicago's corner king rooms; these accommodations have wide windows that allow guests to enjoy full views of water and city in two directions. Need an excuse to work out? The property's fitness center, located on the 42nd floor, also offers panoramic Windy City views.


(Photo: Ryan Harvey via flickr/CC Attribution/Share Alike)

Enchantment Resort, Sedona, Arizona

Tucked amidst the multihued red rocks of Sedona, Enchantment Resort has a well-deserved reputation for stunning views. The property is located on 70 pristine acres at Boynton Canyon, where a mix of forest, desert, and canyons forms a unique and visually stunning ecosystem. Trails are accessible for those who want to explore the extraordinary natural setting. Or you can order room service from one of a handful of on-site restaurants and dine on your own private terrace in full view of the Sedona scenery. For the best perspective, request a room with a view of the canyon face or a room on a higher floor.


(Photo: Four Seasons)

Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay, Lanai, Hawaii

The secluded Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay is one of just a few hotels on Lanai, so you won't see any other properties from your window; that equates to pristine, unobstructed views of red lava cliffs and blue ocean. Even if you don't snag a room with an ocean view, you won't have to worry about getting stuck with concrete high-rises in your visual field. There's not a bad view in the house: You might have a view of the sea. You might have a view of the property's lush tropical gardens. Either way, you'll be hard-pressed to spot any signs of commercial development from your accommodations on this calm, quiet island.


View from Peak House Guest Room (Photo: Preferred Hotel Group)

Port Ranch Inn, Big Sur, California

At Post Ranch Inn, secluded cliff-side dwellings offer expansive views of the Pacific Ocean. Take in the sea view from a private porch, a living room warmed by a crackling fire, or a roomy jetted tub positioned before a wall of glass. (The windows facing the ocean hang above a steep incline, which supplies the requisite privacy for large-windowed bathrooms.) You'll also find amazing views in the property's restaurant, Sierra Mar, where walls and floors made entirely of glass extend over the sloping cliffs, creating the perfect visual setting for an unforgettable meal.


(Photo: brianandjaclyn via flickr/CC Attribution)

Many Glacier Hotel, Glacier National Park, Montana

It's generally agreed upon that Many Glacier Hotel offers the best views of all the lodgings in Glacier National Park. And what views they are: Lake-facing windows at this Swiss-style property provide a flawless perspective on glacier-carved mountainous landscapes. See the jagged peaks reflecting onto the clear water of Swiftcurrent Lake right from your room. But book early. There are only a handful of hotels within the national park, and lake-facing accommodations fill up especially fast.

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This article was originally published by SmarterTravel under the title 10 Hotels with the Best Views in the U.S.

Follow Caroline Costello on Google+ or email her at editor@smartertravel.com.

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Best Ways for Travelers to Prevent Identity Theft

Posted July 25, 2014 by SmarterTravel.com

(Photo: Thinkstock/iStock)

There are plenty of things to worry about while on the road: remembering your passport, confirming your reservations, packing enough socks for a week. Add "protecting your identity" to that list. Each year, victims of identity theft lose some $20 billion in cash and valuables, and all of the unknowns of travel can make you especially vulnerable to identity thieves. So arm yourself well in advance. Here are 11 ways to protect your identity while traveling.


(Photo: Thinkstock/Photodisc)

Beware of Public Computers

The days of the Internet cafe are waning, as Wi-Fi-enabled tablets and ultra-light laptops have become the norm for many tourists. But if you're not packing a lot of technology on your travels, or your computer dies on the road, or you just need to print a boarding pass in the hotel lobby, remember that public computers are hotbeds for identity theft. Never autosave information on forms, especially if you're typing in your passport or credit card number. Select "no" if you are asked to save any passwords. Delete your search history afterward. If possible, use the Google Chrome browser and open your windows in "incognito mode" (Ctrl + Shift + N, or click on the menu bar in the upper right-hand corner). Your search history, passwords, and cookies will automatically not be saved. Finally, avoid checking bank-account balances on public computers, if you can. Use your bank's smartphone app (most major banks have one), or simply limit your balance check-ins to secure ATMs.


(Photo: Getty Images/Science Photo Library)

Use Secure Wireless Networks

Wireless Internet makes life on the road convenient, but it can also make your private info vulnerable. The free Wi-Fi networks at cafes, in hotel lobbies, and in other public places are notoriously not secure because they often lack data-encryption protections that closed networks have. All it takes for someone to do damage is an elementary knowledge of computer systems and a simple plug-in like Firesheep, which allows a user to spy on others' browser activities.

Whenever possible, stick to more secure WEP, WPA, and WPA2 networks, which require a password to log on. If you must use an open (non-password-protected) network, immediately log out of banking, social media, and email accounts when finished with each session. To prevent your data packets from being plucked from midair, use only encrypted websites (such as those with "https" in the address) when on free Wi-Fi networks. If you see a warning that a site you are entering is not secured, is risky, or contains malware, don't proceed.

Also, don't forget about your phone. When traveling, turn off your smartphone's settings that allow the device to automatically connect to nearby Wi-Fi hot spots.


(Photo: Ashok Govind via flickr/CC Attribution)

Lock Your Smartphone

Most of us store an alarming amount of data on our smartphones: emails and text messages with personal information; photos of our family, homes, and cars; and important travel information, such as boarding passes or itineraries. While it's nice to have a digital backup of everything important, leaving this information unprotected is like rolling out a welcome mat for hackers and identity thieves. Be smart and protect your phone with a home-screen-locking password. Depending on your phone model, this may be a numerical code, a unique swiping pattern, or a fingerprint scan. Avoid obvious numerical codes such as "1111" or your birth year, and remember to change your PIN frequently; it's not that difficult for someone looking over your shoulder to guess what you're typing.


(Photo: Hotel-Room Phone via Shutterstock)

Don't Give Out You Phone Number

You will likely need to provide a home or mobile phone number for your airline and hotel reservations, but beyond that, avoid giving out your phone number while on the road. Having your digits gives an identity thief instant access to you via spammy calls; often they'll be able to look up your home address and personal information as well. A popular scam involves the caller claiming to be a representative from your bank and requesting your credit card number, so if you ever receive a phone call from someone asking to verify your credit card or bank-account number, hang up immediately. Then call your bank. Another scam that often hits hotel guests is a call reportedly from the front desk, requesting a new credit card number to secure the reservation. Never give that information out over the phone; instead, hang up and visit the front desk in person.


(Photo: Thinkstock/iStock)

Use Cash Whenever Possible

In terms of secure payment, cash is still king. If stolen, it can't be replaced (unlike a credit card), but it won't put you at risk of identity theft. When traveling, always keep a combination of cash and cards on hand. Use credit cards at airports, major chains, and shops that clearly use secure payment systems. Use cash whenever there is the slightest doubt about the security of a seller's methods (for instance, if they want to take the card to a mysterious "back room" for payment). Avoid using your debit card whenever possible; while U.S. law requires protection against unauthorized debit card purchases, those protections may not be as instantaneous or as broad as those offered by your credit card company. You may also be hit with immediate overdraft fees that could drain your savings account before you even know you are a victim.


(Photo: Thinkstock/Ingram Publishing)

Use ATMs Carefully

If the only theft you associate with ATMs is the astronomical "convenience" fees some charge, think again. As this video from The Today Show and security expert Jim Stickley demonstrates, ATMs can be fake. Disturbingly, ATM kiosks are available for purchase online. All it takes is a bit of capital and some clever hacking, and voila, that seemingly safe street-corner ATM has now stored your credit card information. (This exact situation happened in Brazil last year, in fact.)

So be very wary of ATMs on the road. Carry as much cash as you feel comfortable having and store it in different locations on your person and in your luggage. If you do need to use an ATM, stick to bank branches during normal banking hours, or, better yet, use cash-back options at convenience stores, pharmacies, and shops. Take your travel partner to the ATM with you and have him or her stand behind you to block other people's views of your screen or hidden cameras pointed toward you. Tear up ATM receipts immediately.

If you want to be absolutely secure on the road, you can purchase a prepaid Visa card that allows you to withdraw money from ATMs with a temporary PIN. Simply destroy the card when your travels are over.


(Photo: Thinkstock/iStock)

Check Your Credit Card Statements

Jewelry, passport, luggage, cash—you know you need to protect these items while traveling. Add your credit history to that list. All it takes to ruin your credit is someone running up your credit card balance or opening unauthorized accounts in your name. The easiest way to nip any credit-score disasters in the bud is by monitoring your credit card statements and credit score like a hawk before, during, and after your travels.

Federal law requires the three major credit-reporting bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) to provide you with a free credit report every 12 months. Retrieve yours through AnnualCreditReport.com. Other providers, such as FreeCreditReport.com or CreditKarma.com, offer a monthly credit statement for a small fee; if you're traveling internationally or if you've been a victim of identity theft before, signing up for monthly notifications may be a small price to pay for peace of mind (and squeaky-clean credit). Otherwise, the free yearly report should serve you just fine.


(Photo: Woman Searching Purse via Shutterstock)

Clean Out Your Wallet, Pockets, and Purse

You may be the master of web security, but identity theft can still happen the old-fashioned way: by sticky fingers. Imagine the following scenario: You leave your wallet on your beach towel to go for a quick swim, smug with the knowledge that there's no cash for would-be thieves to take. Yet you've left a doctor's prescription, your business card, and your expired driver's license behind. Any of these documents could do surprising damage to your credit (and your livelihood) if exploited. The thief or impersonator would know which medications you're on (and perhaps your health insurance information), your work address, your phone number, and your job title. It's a good idea to always clean out your wallet or purse before travel. Discard old memos, appointment reminders, expired IDs, and even to-do lists. Shred any confidential documents such as bank statements or pieces of mail that contain your address. Not only will you travel lighter, but you'll minimize the risk of someone scavenging for sensitive information.


(Photo: Thinkstock/iStock)

Lock up Valuable Documents

Hotel safes aren't perfect (yes, even they can be hacked), but they're much more secure than simply tossing every ID card and travel document into your purse or wallet. When you arrive at your hotel, lock up any unnecessary valuables such as passports, jewelry, and gadgets. This includes boarding documents and travel confirmation emails (or go paper-free by using a service like TripIt that stores reservations, confirmation numbers, and itineraries).


(Photo: Thinkstock/Jupiterimages)

Stop Your Mail

Thieves don't steal mail because they like to browse your Victoria's Secret catalogs. They do it because of all the juicy personal information it contains: bank-account and Social Security numbers, even health information. Before you depart, place a hold on your postal delivery or, better yet, ask a close neighbor to collect the piles of bills, cards, and letters each day. Shred all personal mail, even credit card offers in which you're not interested. Go paperless with as many accounts as you can; not only does it cut down on waste, it makes your personal data more secure. And if you'll be away for an exceptionally long period—say, several months or more—consider renting a P.O. box at your local post office and placing a forward on your mail.


(Photo: Wallet with Driver's License via Shutterstock)

Use Smart Identification

While abroad, don't use your passport as your primary identification. If it is stolen, you could find yourself in a world of trouble. Not only will you be ID-less and unable to board a flight, you'll also be at risk of identity theft. Stolen passports are often sold on the black market to criminals who use them to open new bank accounts, get jobs, or participate in human trafficking. Although the local embassy can help you secure a new passport fairly quickly, you'll want to avoid putting yourself at risk in the first place. Lock up your passport and use a driver's license or an international ID for nightclubs, bars, and other places of admission.

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This article was originally published by SmarterTravel under the title Best Ways for Travelers to Prevent Identity Theft.

Follow Dara Continenza on Google+ or email her at editor@smartertravel.com.

Like this story? Join the 1 million other travelers who read our free Deal Alert newsletter. It's full of our best tips, trip ideas, and travel deals. Subscribe here today!

Worst Airplane Seat Ever

Posted July 23, 2014 by SmarterTravel.com


If you thought your coach-class seat was just a little too cozy, those armrests just a little too soft, then you're in luck. Flying could get even less comfortable than before.

News broke earlier this week that Airbus filed a patent for what might be the least comfortable airplane seat in the sky. The new design features saddle-like seats that can fold up when not in use. Illustrations show a three-seat configuration in which passengers would sit upright, with a small seatback supporting the lower spine. Gone are cushions, padded armrests, and tray tables. Gone, too, is personal space: The new seating plan would likely allow airlines to cram more passengers into the limited space of the cabin.

In the patent, Airbus asserts, "Reduced comfort remains tolerable for the passengers in as much as the flight lasts only one or a few hours." Says who, we wonder? Even the shortest commuter flights are already cramped and uncomfortable.

But Airbus gets at something essential in their statement by using the word "tolerable." Airline passengers (especially those in coach) tolerate an increasing amount of discomfort, while paying ever-increasing fees, for the luxury of flight. A long time ago, "enjoyment" became "toleration." With this new seat design, are we at the point where "toleration" becomes "outright suffering?"

Thankfully, we've heard whispers of this type of seat design before, and it hasn't yet been implemented. In 2010, an Italian design firm floated the same idea with its SkyRider model, designed so that planes could fit rows 25 percent closer together, placing the passenger's legs at an angle beneath them (not in front). The seat, which would presumably cause a fair amount of discomfort, was met with widespread criticism, and passengers were spared.

This latest indignity from Airbus also made waves online, with would-be passengers deriding its torture-device-like configuration. One commenter on the Washington Post suggested "Why not just suction cups that line the ceiling and latch onto your head? You could probably dangle 400, maybe 450 people on your average size plane. Plus any wallets or loose change that falls out of your pockets legally becomes the property of the airline, creating a new revenue stream on turbulent routes."

Shhh. Don't give them any ideas.

What do you think, readers? Ready to ride or this seat going too far?

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This article was originally published by SmarterTravel under the title Worst Airplane Seat Ever.

Follow Dara Continenza on Google+ or email her at editor@smartertravel.com.

Like this story? Join the 1 million other travelers who read our free Deal Alert newsletter. It's full of our best tips, trip ideas, and travel deals. Subscribe here today!

8 Must-Have Apps to Prevent Travel Problems

Posted July 21, 2014 by SmarterTravel.com

(Photo: bSafe)

Staying safe and healthy while traveling isn't always easy. Despite your best intentions and most thorough preparation, disaster can strike, whether it's as small as a rental-car fender bender or as serious as a hurricane. Thankfully, technology can help. Prevent on-the-road catastrophe—or learn how to cope when it occurs—with these must-have smartphone apps.


(Photo: Smart Traveler)

Smart Traveler

Be the savviest world traveler with this mobile app from the U.S. Department of State, which rounds up official country information, travel alerts, travel warnings, maps, U.S. embassy locations, and more. Check your destination for updated safety and security alerts or access a list of embassies should you need help recovering a lost or stolen passport. You can access the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, which can help your family and friends reach you in the event of an emergency, such as civil unrest in a foreign country. Best of all, the app features a great airport time-waster: Simply shake your device and get official information about a random country.


(Photo: bSafe)


This personal-safety app is packed with features designed to keep you secure on the road or at home. Set up a personal network of friends and family, and send notifications of your location using GPS-enabled service. Use the timer mode to send automatic alarms if you have not checked in to pre-appointed locations, and even set up a fake incoming call to remove yourself from unwanted conversations. Live GPS tracking makes it easy to meet up with friends or family and to ensure that everyone gets to their destinations safe and sound, especially in unfamiliar cities. If an alarm is triggered, your phone can even transmit a siren sound and record video.

Available for free on Android and Apple devices; GetBSafe.com.


(Photo: American Red Cross)

Hurricane by American Red Cross

Traveling to a hurricane-prone destination? A weather app is a great basic for your garden-variety rainy days, but in the event of more serious weather events, you'll want a more serious app to match. Get the American Red Cross's Hurricane app to track and monitor conditions for your area, download simple checklists for hurricane preparedness, access a toolkit with a flashlight, a strobe light, and an audible alarm, and use a one-touch "I'm Safe" messaging system to alert loved ones in the event that a storm hits and you can't be reached. You'll also receive NOAA weather alerts when location services are enabled.

Available for free on Android and Apple devices; RedCross.org.


(Photo: Travel Safe)

Travel Safe

Everyone knows that you dial "911" for help in the U.S., but do you know the emergency numbers in your travel destination? You needn't write them down or look them up. Just download the seamless Travel Safe app, which features a list of emergency numbers in your location on an easy-to-access home screen that features one-touch dialing. Simply enable the location services and the app will automatically detect your location to access medical, fire, and police numbers; if you don't have Wi-Fi, you can manually set your location. You can also create a custom list of emergency contacts and personal information for emergency responders.

Available for $0.99 on Android devices and $1.29 on Apple devices; LKapps.com.


(Photo: iWrecked)


Driving can be a scary undertaking even at home. Now add the stress of a strange destination and an unfamiliar rental car, and even the best drivers among us can be at risk for a dustup on the road. Be prepared for the worst with the iWrecked app. Create a fully detailed accident log and import photos of the damage as well as vehicle numbers and insurance information of other drivers. You can find nearby taxi and towing companies for assistance, or, in the case of injury, access one-touch emergency-department calling.

Available for free on Android and Apple devices; VurgoodApps.com.


(Photo: American Red Cross)

First Aid by American Red Cross

Another essential tool from our friends at the American Red Cross, this first aid app contains everything you need to know about emergency medical intervention, whether you're battling bush snakes in Australia or simply a sprained muscle at the Magic Kingdom. Access step-by-step medical-care instructions for a number of injuries and illnesses; preloaded content means that even if you lose a data or Wi-Fi signal, you can still access safety information in the event of an emergency. Best of all, fully integrated technology allows users to make emergency calls directly within the app at any time.

Available for free on Android and Apple devices; RedCross.org.


(Photo: GateGuru)


Simply getting to your flight on time, with all bags accounted for, can be a challenge. The GateGuru app helps avert airport disaster with a number of features designed to keep you organized—and sane—while traveling. The JourneyCard stores your itinerary and displays security wait times, flight delays, gate changes, and layover adjustments on one easy-to-find screen. The AirportCard gives you easy-access airport-amenity information, maps, weather forecasts, and traveler tips. Never again will you be surprised by a terminal change, a nasty thunderstorm, or another vacation-ruining revelation.

Available for free on Android, Apple, and Windows Phone devices; GateGuruApp.com.


(Photo: TripAdvisor)

TripAdvisor Offline City Guides

This app's new offline functionality, which launched earlier this month, is a great asset when Wi-Fi access is spotty or an overseas data plan impossible. Simply download the data for your destination before you arrive. Even if you lose your data or Wi-Fi signal, you'll still be able to access reviews, photos, and city maps—meaning you won't get lost in a strange destination (or have to rely on strangers for help). The app contains dozens of offline city guides available for download, with more in the works.

Available for free on Android and Apple devices; TripAdvisor.com.

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This article was originally published by SmarterTravel under the title Best Apps to Prevent Travel Disasters.

Follow Dara Continenza on Google+ or email her at editor@smartertravel.com.

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JetBlue to Phase Out the Check-in Process

Posted July 18, 2014 by SmarterTravel.com

JetBlue is shaking up the check-in process as we know it.

The low-cost U.S. carrier will eliminate the online or airport check-in requirement for passengers flying in Even More Space seats starting immediately. The airline is calling this "automatic check-in." JetBlue plans to offer a check-in free experience to more of its passengers by 2015.

Instead of having to check in online or at the airport within 24 hours of departure, Even More Space flyers will now get an e-mail from JetBlue that contains their boarding passes—simple and easy. So if you don't have any bags to check and you've booked an Even More Space seat, you can just show up at the airport and go to the gate with your boarding pass. No checking in required. Better yet, passengers with the JetBlue app on their phones can use e-boarding passes at select airports, no printing necessary. (The email JetBlue sends will give details on all of these options.)

According to Blair Koch, JetBlue Vice President Commercial and Shared Development Services, "The idea of asking customers to jump an additional hurdle before their flight is an increasingly antiquated concept. By having the right systems in place, we can remove this step, and even help identify and prevent issues that can hinder customers from fully enjoying their travel experience."

Eliminating one more hassle in the flying process is a step in the right direction. It's one less thing to remember. Some carriers already offer an automatic check-in option; Lufthansa is one example. The German airline gives flyers the option to select an automatic check-in when booking flights. A few other international carriers provide automatic check-in, but JetBlue is the first U.S. airline we know of that is beginning to offer this option for its passengers.

JetBlue's current plan for Even More Space flyers is just a trial. Although automatic check-in will likely save money for the airline by helping to cut airport-service costs, we'll have to wait and see if the scheme is here to stay.

Are you onboard with JetBlue's new automatic check-in system?

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This article was originally published by SmarterTravel under the title JetBlue to Phase Out the Check-in Process.

Follow Caroline Costello on Google+ or email her at editor@smartertravel.com.

Like this story? Join the 1 million other travelers who read our free Deal Alert newsletter. It's full of our best tips, trip ideas, and travel deals. Subscribe here today!

(Photo: Angelo DeSantis via flickr CC Attribution)

Strange Things Found by Airport Security

Posted July 16, 2014 by SmarterTravel.com

(Photo: Getty Images/E+)

Don't feel bad about forgetting to toss your bottled water before the airport security checkpoint. That's nothing compared to what some of your fellow travelers have been up to. You won't believe these 10 bizarre things found by airport security. And you might learn a thing or two about what you can't bring on board a flight, too.


(Photo: Thinkstock/iStock)

Human-Skull Fragments

Carefully check your vacation purchases before heading to the airport. You never know when they may end up containing human-skull fragments. Passengers in Ft. Lauderdale were seriously delayed in 2013 when the clay pots they'd checked in their luggage were found to contain fragments of human skull. According to the TSA, the flyers claimed they didn't realize that their souvenirs came with bonus body parts inside. The pieces weren't considered a security threat by the TSA but were instead treated as evidence in a crime scene.


(Photo: Thinkstock/Image Work/amanaimagesRF)


Nobody ever intends to pack fire (we hope), but you could accidentally start one in your luggage if you pack the wrong stuff. Take, for example, this incident in Atlantic City, when a flyer's checked bag exploded into three-foot-high flames. The fire was caused by a combination of a leaking can of hair spray and a lighter, which sparked when the bag was being loaded onto the conveyor belt. Even if you're not packing a lighter, it's a good idea to stow all liquids and aerosols (like hair spray) in a plastic bag in case of leaks.


(Photo: Thinkstock/iStock)

A Dead Body

Come on, people, Weekend at Bernie's is a comedy, not a great source of inspiration to help you avoid paying extra to transport a corpse. We're shocked at how many people have tried to pass off a body as a "sleeping" passenger, like the family that tried to haul a dead body through airport security in a wheelchair in order to avoid paying a fee, or the mother-and-daughter team that tried to smuggle a 91-year-old dead man onto a flight by putting him in sunglasses and dumping him in a wheelchair.


(Photo: Thinkstock/iStock)


Did you know that cannonballs can retain their explosiveness for years and then randomly detonate on their own? Neither did we, but we still wouldn't pack them in our luggage. (Think of the overweight fees alone.) And, unfortunately for the 290 passengers who were delayed at Ft. Lauderdale International Airport in 2012, neither did the diver who tried to bring home an old cannonball he found near a shipwreck.


(Photo: Thinkstock/iStock)

240 Live Fish

Hey, we're not here to judge—maybe you went on an amazing snorkeling vacation and were overwhelmed with the urge to start your own aquarium. And maybe you couldn't wait to get home to buy your new pets. That's fine. Most airlines will actually let you ship your new fishy friends home via cargo. But don't be that guy who decides to transport 240 fish in four large hard-sided suitcases—suitcases filled with nothing but water and fish.


(Photo: Thinkstock/iStock)


G'day, mate! Bringing home a boomerang as a souvenir from Australia? You can carry it on Australian flights, but once aboard your U.S.-bound plane, you'll need to transfer that boomerang to your checked baggage. It's considered a deadly weapon stateside. Airport security has confiscated boomerangs in the past, so you'd better check it.


(Photo: Hotel Particulier Montmartre)

Venomous Snakes

We bet the writers of The TSA Blog get some super-weird comments (maybe even weirder than the comments we get here)—which is probably what prompted this update to a story: "A container of dead venomous snakes was found in checked baggage at Newark (EWR). Updated 3/3/12 to add that dead snakes are not prohibited. The snakes were permitted to travel. The large liquid jar holding the snakes needed to be inspected due to an explosive-detection system alarm. No dead snakes were harmed during the making of this post. We just took advantage of the photo op." So take note, travelers. You can totally pack your dead snakes, just be careful if you store them in liquid.


(Photo: Thinkstock/iStock)

18 Severed Heads

Packing 18 severed heads in your luggage? Not a problem, as long as you have the right paperwork. Packing 18 severed heads in your luggage and then losing them? Totally a problem. In 2013, some misplaced human craniums made, um, headlines when they were misplaced at Chicago O'Hare International Airport. (They were medical specimens, and there was a mix-up with some paperwork.)

Security kept a cool head about the incident, though. As Brian Bell, a U.S. Department of Homeland Security spokesman, told the Chicago Sun-Times, "Everybody here is, 'Oh my gosh, you got a box of heads,' and everybody thinks that it's unheard of. It is a potentially legitimate medical shipment. We've seen it at various ports in the nation."


(Photo: Thinkstock/iStock)

A Baby

Parents: Please do not put your baby through an X-ray scanner. Airport security will probably notice that there is a living human inside there. One couple was busted at an airport in the United Arab Emirates when they tried to smuggle their young son (who did not have a visa) into the country by packing him inside a carry-on bag. Unsurprisingly, the jig was up when officials spotted the boy on X-ray.


(Photo: Thinkstock/iStock)

Samurai Sword

Remember, people: If you're in doubt about what you can bring on board a plane, you can always go to the TSA's website or mobile app and use the "Can I Bring?" feature. Simply type in whatever you're wondering about and you'll get an immediate answer. This would have saved the person who tried to take a samurai sword aboard a plane at Boston's Logan International Airport earlier this month a lot of hassle.

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This article was originally published by SmarterTravel under the title 10 Strangest Things Ever Found by Airport Security.

Follow Caroline Morse on Google+ or email her at editor@smartertravel.com.

Like this story? Join the 1 million other travelers who read our free Deal Alert newsletter. It's full of our best tips, trip ideas, and travel deals. Subscribe here today!

Gorgeous Hotel Bathrooms Around the World

Posted July 14, 2014 by SmarterTravel.com

Big Sur Cabin at Glen Oaks (Photo: James Hall)

The bathroom is arguably the heart of any hotel room. Whether serving as a respite from frenetic city streets or as a romantic spa-like sanctuary for two, the hotel salle de bain can make or break a stay. With that in mind, we're paying homage to some of the best. Discover deep copper soaking tubs, swaths of marble, beautiful views, and soothing rain showers in these unforgettable hotel bathrooms.

While a few of these properties fit firmly in the luxury category, we've left expensive presidential suites and Las Vegas penthouses off the list. These hotels are, for the most part, within reach of the average traveler's budget.


(Photo: Jade Mountain)

Jade Mountain, Soufriere, St. Lucia

Chromatherapy (a healing method that uses light and color to soothe and balance) whirlpool tubs are the highlight of the huge bathrooms at Jade Mountain. Grab a glass of Champagne and relax in full view of St. Lucia's most famous vista: From the large pedestal-mounted tubs, which are partially in the open air, bathers can enjoy the sight of St. Lucia's storied Pitons. These very special bathrooms also have spacious six-head rain showers and double sinks.


(Photo: Tree House Lodge)

Costa Rica Tree House Lodge, Punta Uva, Costa Rica

The bathroom of the Beach Suite at the nature-focused Costa Rica Tree House Lodge looks like something built for a mermaid. Sand-colored stone forms a double shower and a large central Jacuzzi. Colorful stained-glass windows filter rays of sunlight into the vast room. A giant seahorse statue perches on the edge of the deep tub. Tropical plants flourish. It's surely a fun fantastical space in which to wind down after a day of hiking in the surrounding rainforest.


(Photo: Amangiri)

Amangiri, Canyon Point, Utah

The designers of Utah's Amangiri clearly kept the dramatic environs in mind when they dreamed up this ethereal property. Fittingly, windows abound, as the resort sits among the colorful mesas of Southern Utah. The gorgeous bathrooms of the property's Mesa-View Suites contain deep tubs stationed in front of tall windows overlooking the magnificent landscape, which takes on rose and gold hues when the sun sets and rises. Two-person rain showers, green limestone tiles, and locally sourced artisan bath products enhance the experience.


(Photo: The Yeatman Hotel)

The Yeatman Hotel, Porto, Portugal

A copper tub with unparalleled World Heritage-site views sits in the appropriately named Bacchus Suite at The Yeatman Hotel. Here, the wide Jacuzzi rests steps from a freestanding fireplace, a rotating bed, and a private double terrace. While relaxing in the deep, round soaking tub, turn one way to take in views of the River Douro and the ancient cityscape (a World Heritage site), then turn another direction to face the warming fire. Now those are what we call options.


(Photo: The Louise)

The Louise, BArossa Valley, South Australia

Want to stargaze under an invigorating veil of warm water? Shower under the stars in the Australian Outback. In Marananga, South Australia, guests at The Louise can cleanse in private outdoor showers beneath sunny or starry skies. The lodge's Stonewall Suites are outfitted with unique open-air rain showers, plus en suite bathrooms with two-person spa tubs and additional indoor walk-in rain showers. This remote food-and-wine-focused resort is nestled among thousands of acres of olive groves and vineyards in the Barossa Valley, a popular Australian wine region.


(Photo: The 1900 Inn on Montford)

The 1900 Inn on Montford, Asheville, North Carolina

Although an image of the bathroom of the Fitzgerald room has gotten a lot of attention on Pinterest, we also love the pretty and enormous bathroom of the Cloisters room at The 1900 Inn on Montford. In addition to the remarkable tub in this 1,300-square-foot guest room, there is a six-by-eight-foot rain shower that is enclosed by etched glass and has seats for those who wish to take a steam bath. There are even speakers in the shower!


(Photo: Hotel Particulier Montmartre)

Hotel Particulier Montmartre, Paris, France

Wash away your cares in the attic of an old, elegant French mansion. Each artist-designed room at this Parisian boutique hotel is unique. And each room, of course, has its own twist on luxury bathing. Our favorite: Hotel Particulier Montmartre's top-floor deluxe suite, artistically named "Curtain of Hair." The loft space in the attic of this once-private mansion offers priceless panoramic views of Paris. And a beautiful Napoleon III claw-footed bathtub, which sits smack in the middle of the suite, affords bathers the suite's magnificent Parisian city sights. For privacy, head to the en suite bathroom, which contains a shower and has a sliding door.


(Photo: Hotel 1000)

Hotel 1000, Seattle, Washington

When you arrive in your guest room at Seattle's Hotel 1000, you'll notice a regular-looking spacious bathtub. But this isn't just any bathtub. It's a "fill from the ceiling" bathtub. In the property's luxe rooms, a glass wall divides the main room from the bathroom, where, at the touch of a button, water flows from the ceiling into a very roomy freestanding pedestal tub.


(Photo: Mainport)

Mainport, Rotterdam, the Netherlands

Private saunas, sweeping views, spacious bathing areas, and sleek, minimalist design—Mainport's guest rooms have it all. The property's sauna and spa rooms, in particular, wow with over-the-top bath and spa amenities. In addition to availing of walk-in showers, mirror-mounted TVs, and Jacuzzis, guests get to relax in the soothing steam of their own private saunas.


(Photo: James Hall)

Glen Oaks Big Sur, Big Sur, California

An affordable Big Sur property with unforgettable guest cabins and bath facilities, Glen Oaks Big Sur is as unpretentious as it is luxurious. At the lodge's Big Sur Cabin, two outdoor soaking tubs sit side by side in front of a fire pit in a private courtyard. A forest of skyscraping redwoods rising above the courtyard's wooden fence creates a breathtaking scene. To put it simply, this setup allows you to take a bath next to your favorite person in the middle of a redwood forest. Better yet, Glen Oaks is one of the more budget-friendly options for accommodations in the area.

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This article was originally published by SmarterTravel under the title 10 Strangest Things Ever Found by Airport Security.

Follow Caroline Costello on Google+ or email her at editor@smartertravel.com.

Like this story? Join the 1 million other travelers who read our free Deal Alert newsletter. It's full of our best tips, trip ideas, and travel deals. Subscribe here today!

12 Must-Pack Essentials for Your Summer Carry-On

Posted July 11, 2014 by SmarterTravel.com

Savvy travelers know how to pack a week's worth of wardrobe changes into one carry-on year-round, but even the most packing-challenged among us can do it like a pro when summer rolls around. See ya later, bulky sweaters and jeans, make room for gauzy tops and easy dresses. Summertime shoes and sandals are light, so you can always get away with bringing an extra pair. The key is zeroing in on pieces that work together and in different ways. We've packed a carry-on full of ideas that will take you from the beach to the museum to dinner, with enough room left over for a few little luxuries.

(Photo: Helen Kaminski Australia)

Keep on Top of It

Whether you're stretched out at the beach or beating the big-city pavement, a physical shield between you and the sun not only keeps you cool and shaded, it's an absolutely necessary barrier that prevents sun damage. (And, we admit, hats really come in handy on those less-than-perfect hair days.) We love the rollable, packable, crocheted raffia Helen Kaminski Caicos Hat ($195), with its rounded crown that offers SPF 50-plus protection and a casual, angled brim. It comes in several colors and has a detachable lightweight cotton lining in the crown, a sateen elastic inner band for a secure fit, and hand-rolled raffia string for adjusting the size.

(Photo: Sundance)

Free and Breezy

If you're looking for a piece to pull double duty day in and day out, a cotton tunic is as versatile as it gets. It can go from poolside, where you can throw it over a bikini as a cover-up, to a casual dinner, where you can wear it with leggings. If yours is a little longer, pair it with sandals or flats for an easy dress. One of our favorite looks is a tunic worn over wide-legged pants for a casual-but-polished outfit. We're crazy about this Moroccan Dreams Tunic ($118), with its bold colorful accents, twisted ties, and sequined medallions for a little extra kick.

(Photo: Novica)

It's a Wrap

Who knew anything this simple could be so indispensable? Whether called a pareo, sarong, or shawl, this large oblong stretch of cotton is the do-all workhorse in your luggage. On the plane, you can wrap it around your neck for warmth. Once you land, it hits the ground running, too. It's a quick cover-up over a swimsuit—just wrap it around and tie or tuck it in the front. Wear it as a shawl in the evenings. We even use ours to sit on for impromptu picnics and, in a pinch, as a towel. Best of all, you can simply wash it out and hang it up and it will be dry in a matter of minutes. We like the crisp white Shadow Fish Cotton Shawl ($62.99) because it goes with so many different items in our bag.

(Photo: Sesto Meucci)

Jute Rocks

Espadrilles are a summertime classic, evoking sailboats, tanned legs, and Greek islands. We particularly like the way Sesto Meucci has gussied up the traditional kicks with his Jose Metallic Espadrille Wedges ($95), by adding a 1.75-inch heel and stretchy silver metallic fabric where the utilitarian canvas cloth used to be. The relatively modest heel height makes it sporty enough for day (with pants and casual dresses), and the metallic glint lends some pop to nighttime dressing.

(Photo: Ray-Ban)

Shady Business

Do you know anyone who has only one pair of sunglasses? We don't either. But if we had to choose just one to put in our bag, it might very well be these Ray-Ban Cat-Eye Sunglasses ($145). These sturdy but stylish glasses have a more sophisticated look than the brand's classic Wayfarer style, making them a strong choice for casual and dressy occasions. And unlike some trendier styles, these are flattering to most face shapes. And let's not to forget how these soft-brown-colored lenses will make your eyes go "ahhhhh" with relief the second you slip them on.

(Photo: Anthropologie)

Dress Success

We're going to assume that wherever you're headed, you're probably going to take a sundress with you. And since you can easily roll a sundress up into the size of a deluxe burrito, it leaves room for a dress that's classy enough to take you from day to night. This Capuchina Dress ($138) by Vanessa Virginia flatters almost every figure, with a V-neck that's not too plunging, sexy straps that cross in the back, a sash that self-ties at the waist, and draping fabric that hides almost all bumps and bellies. It comes in both tried-and-true black and a gorgeously rich blue print. For daytime, add some cute flats and simple earrings, and step it up for night with metallic sandals and bold jewelry.

(Photo: Supergoop)

Skin in the Game

The best thing about buying travel-sized toiletries is that it allows you to test products before going "all in" and paying for the full size. One to try is Arcona's Basic Five Travel Kit ($87), part of a skin-care regimen that promotes fresher, glowing skin. Golden Grommage scrub and White Tea Purifying Cleanser are particularly popular, and the kit also includes Magic White Ice moisturizer, Gentle Solution nighttime treatment, and Desert Mist for hydration. Need a lift after a long flight? Klorane's Dry Shampoo with Oat Milk ($9) has been a bestseller for more than 40 years: A few well-placed sprays of this all-botanical formulation will lift out oil and restore volume to your jet-lagged locks. And we always throw in a few sticks of Burt's Bees Replenishing Lip Balm with Pomegranate Oil ($3.30) to add moisture and just a touch of color to lips. Last but not least, make sure you bring along a good sunscreen, such as Supergoop's SPF 50 Antioxidant-Infused Sunscreen Mist with Vitamin C ($13 for three ounces).

(Photo: EMU)

Where the Leather Hits the Road

When we travel, we want sandals that not only look great but are as pleasing to our toes as they are to our eyes. Flats, wedges, chunky heels—choose the style that works best for you, but whatever you do, wear them a few times to make sure the pair you take isn't going to chafe or give you hot spots after a full day of sightseeing. (Providing the fit is right, we like a sandal with a toe thong because it helps keep the foot from sliding in the footbed, which can cause blisters.) These Burnberry Zip Sandals ($114.95) from Emu Australia fit our sandal criteria to a T: seriously stylish, with textured nappa leather contrasted by oiled-leather straps. As for road testing, we put literally dozens of miles on these, and they only got softer and more comfortable with time—so we bought another pair.

(Photo: Michael Stars)

The Long and Wide of It

Skinny jeans are a staple of most closets, but they're not always the best choice for travel, especially if you'll be hand-washing your garments in your resort or hotel room. That's why we opt for a pair or two of wide-legged cotton or washable linen pants. And of course, they're as easy to wear as they are to care for—they look equally smart with silky camis or boho blouses or tunics. Michael Stars makes his Solid Linen Drawstring Pants ($128) in a heap of colors, so consider buying one pair in a neutral shade and one in a fun, bright hue.

(Photo: Philippa Roberts)

Pretty Little Things

Just because you're traveling light doesn't mean you can't travel pretty. Statement necklaces and chandelier earrings are good for a bit of drama but can feel a little heavy when the weather heats up. Oakland-based Philippa Roberts crafts just the kind of jewelry we want to wear all summer long, especially from her Fig Collection. The green amethyst on a gold vermeil chain ($156) casts a lovely light-green or light-blue reflection, depending on the light, and the gold vermeil drop earrings ($110) complement it perfectly. The watery-blue chalcedony and silver earrings bring a little bit of the beach with us wherever we are.

(Photo: Mophie)

Juice to Go

If there's one thing more frustrating than helplessly watching your smartphone or tablet bleed its charge before your very eyes, it's the mad search for the nearest place to plug it in. That's why we never leave home without the Mophie Powerstation Duo ($99.95). With two USB ports, it can simultaneously and fully recharge both a smartphone and a tablet (or any other device with a USB charger) in an hour or less—while you're on the go. Trust us: At under 12 ounces and just slightly larger than a deck of cards, this sleek little beauty has proven to be a lifesaver many times over.

(Photo: Ultimate Ears)

Sound Advice

There are times when you just don't want to—or can't—put your headphones on. The UE Mini Boom Bluetooth speaker ($99.99) is one of our favorite travel luxuries, and at a mere 10.6 ounces, there's no reason not to pack it. A tough rubberized shell protects the speaker, which comes in several fun colors (we're partial to the cheerful green), and the up/down volume controls are big and easy to adjust. We use it to listen to live radio or podcasts (using the Stitcher app on our smartphone or tablet) while getting ready for the day, or we set it to an iTunes playlist while poolside with friends.

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This article was originally published by SmarterTravel under the title 12 Must-Pack Essentials for Your Summer Carry-On.

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