Travel tips from Condé Nast Traveler magazine's Wendy Perrin.
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March 02, 2009

Anna Kournikova Goes Condom Shopping with Conde Nast Traveler

by Wendy Perrin

In case you missed my pal Kevin Doyle's video of his travels in Haiti with tennis star Anna Kournikova, posted over at Daily Traveler last week, I'm sharing it here too. At 19K views and counting, Kevin's film is already the most popular on Conde Nast Traveler's YouTube page. Don't miss the continuation of their adventures either: Kevin, who is the magazine's News Editor, has a follow-up post on Haiti's crippling poverty, and Anna herself wrote a guest post on child survival there.

Kevin and Anna were traveling in Haiti with Population Services International (PSI), a nonprofit group that is waging a global war against malaria, HIV, and child mortality. The magazine partnered with PSI a year and a half ago to create the Conde Nast Traveler Five & Alive Fund, which has raised nearly $1 million from readers and the travel industry to help save the lives of children worldwide. We think that we, as a travel magazine, have a responsibility to help save the lives of the children who are the future of the world in which we travel.

What do you think? Do you believe travel publications have a responsibility to give back to the countries and peoples they cover? What about travel companies?

August 29, 2008

Labor Day Weekend Blues


by Wendy Perrin

Will you manage to avoid labor this holiday weekend?  Not me.  I'll be catching up on any number of work assignments that need to get done by Tuesday.

Yesterday The New York Times' Michael Wilson wrote a funny article about all the people who are "sitting on the absolute cutting edge of the summer's cultural buzz saw" by taking staycations this week. "Staycation."  Somebody came up with a catchy name for one of the oldest activities in existence--hanging out at home--and labeled it a big new trend.

Well, I'd just like to point out that most of the people I know must be on the absolute bleeding edge because they've moved on from the staycation to the next thing: They're working right through their vacations. They've gone beyond holing up at home and are holing up at the office.  Yes, folks, it's the next step forward in the American economy. You heard it here first. We just need to come up with a perky new word for it that isn't a downer like "workcation."  Paycation?  Occupa-cation?  Vocation vacation?

A few days ago, unable to recall the last time I managed to avoid work while on holiday,  I posed the following query to the wired community online at Twitter. "Question for Twitter Nation: When is the last time you had a true vacation--meaning, you did not do ANY work whatsoever? Where were you?"  After the jump, the intriguing mix of answers I got.

Corn2_2Corn sweet corn. Last week's working vacation, St. Michaels, MD., Aug. 23.

Continue reading "Labor Day Weekend Blues" »

May 24, 2007

Cruises That Won't Get You Sick

Scene from my illness-free cruise on Celebrity Cruises' Constellation, February 2007. (Yup, those are my kids . . . again.)

by Wendy Perrin

Can you choose a cruise so as to minimize your chance of catching the gastrointestinal illness known as norovirus?  Yes, says this week's edition of industry newsletter Cruise Week. How?

* Cruise any time from June through October.
Norovirus is seasonal, and there are very few outbreaks in the late spring, summer, and early fall. Flu season -- especially January and February -- brings the greatest number of outbreaks.

* Pick a small luxury ship.
Crystal Cruises, Regent Seven Seas, Seabourn, and Silversea have never had norovirus outbreaks. By contrast, within the past five-plus years (Jan. 2002 through May 2007), there have been 23 outbreaks on Holland America, 18 on Princess, 13 on Carnival, 12 on Royal Caribbean, 11 on Celebrity, 10 on Norwegian Cruise Line, 4 on Cunard, and 1 on Disney (way back in 2002), according to Centers for Disease Control records.

Continue reading "Cruises That Won't Get You Sick" »

December 14, 2006

Best Medical Care For Travelers Abroad

By Wendy Perrin

I'm thrilled to see that one Todd Binkowski of International S.O.S. has written in about my last post, where I was trying to help a reader who did not find in International S.O.S the travel medical insurance he was seeking. (I had recommended International S.O.S. because I believe it provides the best medical care to travelers overseas.)

Continue reading "Best Medical Care For Travelers Abroad" »

December 14, 2006

Which Travel Medical Insurance Is Best?

By Wendy Perrin

Question from reader Cschiu in response to Travel Insurance: Best Companies:

"So it seems International S.O.S. doesn't reimburse your doctor/hospital expenses if you become sick or injured overseas.  It's more of an emergency evacuation/referral service. Do you have a travel medical insurance provider that you would recommend?"

It depends on the type of trip you're taking. (Where are you traveling to?  How close is it to home and how good are the hospitals there?   How old are you?  Do you have preexisting medical conditions and thus need a policy that will cover you if you have to cancel your trip, or abort it midway through, due to such a preexisting condition?  Are you going on a cruise, a safari, or an independent overland journey? Have you put down an initial trip deposit and, if so, when?  Etc.)

Without knowing these details, all I can do is advise you to contact both Travelex and Travel Guard International and compare how their offerings match your particular needs.   Travelex is typically more expensive and provides more extensive coverage and benefits. Good luck.

December 13, 2006

Norovirus Outbreaks On Cruise Ships

By Wendy Perrin

This year the Centers for Disease Control recorded more incidents of norovirus--a highly infectious gastrointestinal illness--on cruise ships than ever before. There were 22 outbreaks in which more than 3% of passengers and crew reported norovirus symptoms. Last year, by comparison, there were 14 such outbreaks.

Continue reading "Norovirus Outbreaks On Cruise Ships" »

November 14, 2006

Good Walking Shoes, Part 2

By Wendy Perrin

A couple of weeks ago I answered a reader's query re: the best shoes for traipsing around foreign cities.  I avoid U.S.-branded sneakers and any other flashy, non-earth-colored footwear that screams "I'm American," so I suggested either Mephisto or Dansko shoes. They are French and Danish, respectively, and are the most supportive, protective, and comfy footwear I've managed to find.

Well, I was just grabbing some mid-morning coffee in the Conde Nast Traveler kitchen and ran into a colleague who travels as often as I but is far more fashion-conscious. He swears by Geox -- Italian shoes that keep your feet dry and cool.  Just thought I should pass along the tip.


November 01, 2006

Good Walking Shoes For Travel Abroad

Photo:  Dansko

By Wendy Perrin

Back from Russia and can finally answer some of the questions readers have been posting, like this one:

"Enjoying your reports from Moscow but am wondering how your feet are holding up.  My perennial concern when traveling in big cities is how to protect against my feet being sore and pulpy by midday.  Any tips on specific brands of shoes that you have found useful would be appreciated."

After two days of sightseeing in Moscow, my feet were so callused and blistered that I was limping.  That's because I opted against a car and driver (which is how Exeter International, the travel firm that arranged my trip, recommended I get around) in favor of far more affordable transport: my two feet and the metro. Unfortunately, getting from sight to sight in Moscow requires far more hoofing than your typical European city.  The distances between subway stops are much greater, many sidewalks are cobblestoned or potholed, and often it's neither easy nor safe to hail a taxi when you're tired.

Your question about shoes is a great one, and I wish I had the perfect answer.  I rarely wear sneakers overseas, since I like to blend in with the crowd rather than get pegged as an American. When I must spend much of a trip walking on uneven or unpaved streets, the shoes that work best for me are Dansko clogs. My podiatrist recommended them, and I wore them every day when I was in Turkey last summer. But they work best in dry climates. I did not bring them to Russia because the weather called for rain, and Danskos can be slippery on smooth surfaces (such as museum or palace floors, especially when the soles are wet).  So I packed Munro shoes and boots, which serve me well in cities like London and Paris (and, of course, at home in New York City) but were not enough to keep my feet from getting mangled in Moscow. My husband (the best traveler I know) swears by Mephisto walking shoes; he wore them all over Ireland last summer, and they kept his feet in good shape rain or shine.

Can anyone else recommend supportive and well-cushioned walking shoes for big cities abroad?  If so, I invite you to click on "Post a comment" below.


October 23, 2006

Coping With Jet Lag -- Or Not

By Wendy Perrin

Question from joe_kayaker after reading that I'm in Russia:

"So how do you deal with jet lag?  Some trips I'm fine, others I get wiped out.  I've never found a reliable way to adjust quickly."

Neither have I, Joe. That's why I'm up at 3:30 a.m. St. Petersburg time answering questions posted on this blog.  Anyone got some jet-lag tips?  If so, just click on "Post a comment" below.  Please!


October 06, 2006

More Travel Health Advice

San Miguel de Allende

By Wendy Perrin

So this week we've learned that when heading to countries where the food can't always be trusted, some travelers pack baby food, others take freeze-dried camping meals.  A third suggestion came in from reader Liz Duffy:

"Some locals in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, advise their visiting house guests to begin taking acidophilus two weeks before arriving to help boost the good intestinal flora in the stomach that helps weather potentially funky foods."

Great tip, Liz.  I've never packed acidophilus myself, but now I realize there's another reason to do so: Antibiotics often cause stomach trouble that is relieved by acidophilus.  Since I usually pack an antibiotic -- I've learned the hard way that in remote, exotic places you must be your own doctor -- I should pack acidophilus too.  Here's a fun anecdote from a traveler in Asia who needed both.

Anyone else have a travel health tip to share?  Just click on "Comments" below.

October 05, 2006

Packing For Places With Scary Food

Street stalls in India
Photo:  Indian Ministry of Health & Family Welfare

By Wendy Perrin

In my last post--the one about business travelers who take baby food with them to West Africa so they'll have something safe to eat--I asked readers what they pack for snacks when traveling to hygienically challenged parts of the world. After all, you can eat trail mix for only so many days.

Loyal reader joe_kayaker, winner of this month's prize for Best Comments Posted, shared this advice:

"As a regular traveler to India, and sometimes wilder places, I always pack several freeze-dried camping meals.  They're tastier than baby food (yup, I've tried it) and much lighter and more compact--big plusses when traveling. They're available at your local REI or camping store. You do need a source of boiling water, but in India there is almost always a tea kettle available. Boil suspect water for at least 15 minutes; better yet, boil bottled water."

Great idea, Joe.  Maybe I'll branch out from Clif Bars.  Thanks for all your enlightening tips.


October 04, 2006

A Business Traveler's Tip

By Wendy Perrin

On my morning train commute into Manhattan yesterday, the stranger sitting next to me managed--despite an obsessive preoccupation with his Blackberry in one hand, cell phone in the other, and Wall Street Journal in between--to notice that I was perusing an itinerary for Russia.  He asked if I was going there and said he'd been many times.  We got to talking about our favorite countries. Turned out he's a Wall Street corporate financier and seasoned international business traveler.

Twenty minutes later we were comparing the food precautions we take in different parts of Africa, Asia, and the Middle East to avoid getting sick on the job. We discussed the basics--avoiding salads, eating well-cooked meats, peeling fruit ourselves, sticking to carbonated water when the flat bottled water looks suspect--and the foods we pack for when we need to skip meals that seem unsafe.  I always take dried fruits and nuts, energy bars, and/or bread and peanut butter. He, on the other hand, swears by baby food!

Continue reading "A Business Traveler's Tip" »

October 03, 2006

Cruising And Losing

Photo: Regent Seven Seas Cruises

By Wendy Perrin

One of the big fears about taking a cruise is that you'll come back five pounds heavier.  People have only laughed when I've suggested that, if you can resist the poolside ice cream, the tea-time scones, and the midnight buffet, a cruise is actually a great opportunity for losing weight.

Continue reading "Cruising And Losing" »

October 01, 2006

Think It Can't Happen To You? (Part 2)

By Wendy Perrin

A comment came in from reader SavvyTraveler re: my post about MedjetAssist. I wrote, "Should you get sick or injured on a trip and end up hospitalized, it will evacuate you by medical aircraft (basically a staffed I.C.U.) from the hospital overseas to the hospital of your choice (annual membership, $205; individual trip policy, $75)."  I thought I was clearly stating that what MedjetAssist does is transport you from hospital to hospital--no more, no less.  I guess not, because reader SavvyTraveler wrote back:

"I had a MedjetAssist annual plan, and it won't happen again. READ THE FINE PRINT!  First of all, MedjetAssist won't perform an evacuation unless you are hospitalized as an inpatient. Secondly, MedjetAssist doesn't cover the medical expenses you incur, even though it requires you to be hospitalized to qualify for its services.  Finally, MedjetAssist has a number of medical situations for which it won't provide evacuation services, including injuries or illnesses which can be treated by local doctors.  You can have MedjetAssist.  I'll take the medical evacuation coverage that is automatically covered in most travel insurance plans at no additional cost."

I can assure you I would not pay $205 per year for something without reading the restrictions and exclusions.  I never said that MedJetAssist is a replacement for other travel insurance!

Continue reading "Think It Can't Happen To You? (Part 2)" »

September 27, 2006

Think It Can't Happen To You?

By Wendy Perrin

Many travelers are shocked when they hear how much an emergency medical evacuation from a foreign country to their hospital back home can cost.  Today MedjetAssist, the medical evacuation service, is paying $65,000 to transport back to Philadelphia a client who fell and broke her hip in Budapest.  And that's the wholesale rate.  If the woman had arranged the medical transportation on her own, it would have cost 15% to 20% more.

That's what Roy Berger, MedjetAssist's president, was telling me in my office earlier today. Here's what I already knew about MedjetAssist: Should you get sick or injured on a trip and end up hospitalized, it will evacuate you by medical aircraft (basically a staffed I.C.U.) from the hospital overseas to the hospital of your choice (annual membership, $205; individual trip policy, $75). What I didn't know but am extremely glad I know now is this:  Even if you don't own a MedjetAssist policy, if you're traveling and suddenly require evacuation to your hospital back home, MedjetAssist can provide it--at a lower cost than what you'd pay if you tried to arrange it on your own.

Continue reading "Think It Can't Happen To You?" »