Travel tips from Condé Nast Traveler magazine's Wendy Perrin.
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June 04, 2007

Travel Tip Of The Week

Wendys_tip_of_week_2 When you're overseas and buying something handmade by a local craftsman, take a photo of the artisan--especially if he or she is putting the finishing touches on the object you're buying. Is the item a gift for someone back home?  Be sure to include the photo with your gift.

February 24, 2007

Courtyards of Palm Beach

Palm Beach courtyard
The alleys and courtyards of Palm Beach, Florida, have always reminded me a bit of Capri's (with Venetian-style architecture and Iberian-style tile thrown in).

By Wendy Perrin

Now we're farther up Florida's Treasure Coast, visiting my friend Mary near Palm Beach. Mary and I were crazy enough yesterday to take the kids window-shopping in the Italianate courtyards off Worth Avenue.

Palm Beach courtyard and fountain
Doug checking out a fountain in a Venetian-style courtyard, Feb. 23, 2007

The kids got a kick out of the "dog bars" that are a signature of this elegant winter beach resort.

Dog bar in Palm Beach
Only on Worth Avenue.

Continue reading "Courtyards of Palm Beach" »

December 13, 2006

Holiday Shopping Online? Get Extra Miles!

By Wendy Perrin

Attention last-minute holiday shoppers: Don't forget how you can earn a ton of bonus miles.  My post about linking to store sites via airline sites (published 9/12/06) bears repeating:

"Now you can earn extra miles by doing your online shopping via airline and hotel Web sites.  If you go to American Airlines' or Continental's or Delta's or any of 10 other airline sites, you can link to a huge variety of stores and, if you make purchases, earn anywhere from 2 to 10 miles per dollar spent. As a time-crunched working mother who does most of her shopping online, I can assure you that next time I order from Barnes & Noble or Lands' End or Harry & David, I'll be doing it through an airline Web site.

December 05, 2006

Night On The Town In Cannes

Brook Wilkinson of Conde Nast Traveler and Nina Wennersten of Hippo Creek Safaris on the Rue d'Antibes earlier this evening.

By Wendy Perrin

After a long, LONG day spent meeting dozens of travel planners--tour firms, travel agents, villa rental companies, hoteliers, cruise lines--who've come from all over the world for the annual ILTM conference, our faces hurt from all the smiling and chatting.  I asked Nina Wennersten, a safari specialist on our annual list of the world's best travel planners, to join the Conde Nast Traveler gang for dinner. We nursed our sore jaws and feet with Bellinis and curried lobster at Laffable and toasted the Hotel Martinez's concierge who recommended it.

Continue reading "Night On The Town In Cannes" »

December 04, 2006

Shopping In Cannes

December in Cannes on France's Cote d'Azur: A pleasant, breezy 60 degrees.

By Wendy Perrin

The conference that my colleague Brook Wilkinson and I are attending here in Cannes didn't start till this evening, so we got to spend most of the day just kicking around.  First we had lunch with Virginia Irurita of Made For Spain, the Spain specialist on my annual list of the world's best travel planners (in Conde Nast Traveler's August issue each year). Virginia just started a blog herself so that her clients can keep up with her as she travels around Spain.

Left to right: Virginia Irurita, Brook Wilkinson of Conde Nast Traveler, Alonso Alvarez de Toledo of Made For Spain, and me at the Horse Croisette cafe.

Afterward Brook and I strolled along the Rue d'Antibes, Cannes' famous shopping street. First we stopped at LeNotre, a gourmet-food boutique and cooking school.

We drooled over LeNotre's pastries . . .

Continue reading "Shopping In Cannes" »

November 15, 2006

Tax-Free Shopping For Foreign Visitors

By Wendy Perrin

Question from a reader:

"I read that when shopping in certain countries abroad you can get a Value Added Tax (V.A.T.) or Goods & Services Tax (G.S.T.) refund. Does the United States have any similar tax refunds for visitors to the U.S.?"

Louisiana is the only state I know of that offers tax-free shopping specifically for foreigners. Anyone know of other states that do?  Please educate me by clicking on "Post a comment" below.

Of course, foreigners can buy from duty-free stores at U.S. airports.  And certain U.S. states and cities promote tax-free shopping for everyone, including locals.

To learn about getting a V.A.T. or G.S.T. refund when you travel abroad, click here.

November 11, 2006

Shopping In Washington, D.C.

By Wendy Perrin

If you live in Washington, D.C., you have one day left to attend this year's Museum Shop Around at the Strathmore Mansion. It's a nifty idea: 19 museums in the D.C. area bring the unique merchandise from their gift shops to one central location and set up shop. Today I found art books and apparel from the Corcoran Gallery, music-oriented toys and books from the Kennedy Center, funky scarves and mittens from the Textile Museum, train games from the B&O Railroad Museum, political books from the U.S. Capitol Historical Society, cool necklaces from the Bead Museum, contemporary gadgets from the National Building Museum, amber jewelry from the Hillwood Museum & Gardens, holiday knick-knacks from the National Museum of Women in the Arts . . . . And I managed to get all my Christmas shopping done in an hour and a half!


November 03, 2006

Flying Via Europe? Duty-Free Don'ts


By Wendy Perrin

Say you're flying home from Kenya via Amsterdam.  Or from Moscow via Paris.  Or from Singapore via Frankfurt.  Starting Monday, any duty-free liquor, perfumes, or other liquids, pastes, or gels that you bought at the originating airport will be confiscated if they are larger than 100 ml.

Click here to read more about this new European Union rule, which applies to passengers on flights from non-E.U. airports who are transiting through an E.U. airport.  Any liquids, pastes, or gels in containers over 100 ml. will be confiscated not only if they were bought at the point of departure but also if they were bought on the plane en route to the E.U. airport (IF the plane belongs to a non-E.U. airline).

So wait till you get to a duty-free store beyond check-in at the E.U. transit airport to buy any liquids.

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.


September 19, 2006

Maine Shopping Expedition

By Wendy Perrin

I loved this comment that came in during my Boston-area trip last weekend:

"Wendy: As long as you're stuck in Peabody with no Internet access, ankle on over to the Peabody Essex Museum with the kids. There is a great new wing, Moshe Safdie is the architect, and it's a very user-friendly place, bright and cheerful." 
                                                                  Betsy Shequine

Thanks for the thoughtful suggestion, Betsy. I'm afraid we didn't get to the museum, as we were too busy hitting the L.L.Bean Store in Freeport, Maine.  I'm also afraid my two- and four-year-old whirling dervishes are not quite ready for such a civilized outing.   Take a look:

Doug and Charlie attack the L.L. Bean flagship store. Sept 15, 2006
Inside the L.L. Bean Hunting & Fishing Store next door.

The boys storm the Factory Outlet.

Continue reading "Maine Shopping Expedition" »

September 17, 2006

Shopping In Florence

The Mall, 30 minutes outside Florence.

By Wendy Perrin

Question posted by reader Sande Davidson:

"Several years ago Wendy Perrin wrote an article in Conde Nast Traveler about her experience shopping at the outlets ouside of Florence. She said she used a Personal Shopper/Guide who helped her get around and that she was expensive but worth the money. Does anyone know the name and how to contact and book this shopper? Thanks."

The guide was Maria Teresa Berdondini of Tuscany by Tuscans.  The article was my May 2005 Perrin Report.  If all you want is to get to the outlet stores at The Mall (where you'll find discounts of up to 70 percent at Gucci, Bottega Veneta, Emanuel Ungaro, Ermenegildo Zegna, Fendi, Giorgio Armani, and Ferragamo, among many others), you can easily take a shuttle bus from Florence (it's about a 30-minute ride).  If you want an insider's tour and insider prices at lesser-known outlets (e.g., the Pratesi factory store) or to visit legendary Florentine artisans in their workshops, call Maria Teresa.

September 12, 2006

Attention Mileage Junkies!

By Wendy Perrin

A fascinating article in today's USA Today has rocked my world. Now you can earn extra miles by doing your online shopping via airline and hotel Web sites.  If you go to American Airlines' or Continental's or Delta's or any of 10 other airline sites, you can link to a huge variety of stores and, if you make purchases, earn anywhere from 2 to 10 miles per dollar spent. As a time-crunched working mother who does most of her shopping online, I can assure you that next time I order from Barnes & Noble or Lands' End or Harry & David, I'll be doing it through an airline Web site.

September 11, 2006

Speaking of Tax-Free Shopping . . .

By Wendy Perrin

Getting a V.A.T. refund is often much trickier than it was for Tim in Ireland (see below).  In Turkey last summer I was actually the victim of a tax-refund scam: 

I bought a camera from a store that promised I'd get the 15 percent tax back.  The store gave me a form and instructed me to have it stamped by Customs at the airport and then submit it to the Tax Free Shopping booth to get my money.  At the airport Customs eyed my paperwork skeptically.  The form did not have the Tax Free Shopping/Global Refund Cheque logo on it.  The store had lied to me:  It does not belong to the Tax Free Shopping program.

The moral of the story: Check to see if the store has a Tax Free Shopping (or other reputable V.A.T. refund program) decal posted.  If the store promises a tax refund, make sure the form it gives you has the official tax refund logo on it.

September 09, 2006

Where Tax-Free Shopping Is Crystal Clear

It takes a keen eye to cut a vase at the Waterford Crystal Factory.

By Wendy Perrin

My husband Tim just got back from Ireland, where he did his souvenir shopping at the Waterford Crystal Factory.  He was surprised to discover how easy it is for travelers to Ireland to get a refund of the 17 percent V.A.T. (Value Added Tax-- the tax that is built into the price you pay for merchandise in stores). Tim never had to get a form stamped by Customs at the airport or show his purchases to Customs before checking in his luggage.

It was this easy:  The Waterford store deducted the 17 percent when it charged Tim's credit card. . . .

Continue reading "Where Tax-Free Shopping Is Crystal Clear " »