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Active Travel Adventure Travel Fashion & Beauty Health & Wellness Travel Trends Women's Travel

The Best Travel Leggings of 2020

Whenever I travel, leggings are a must. They’re the perfect travel-day outfit, especially when paired with a baggy sweater or long shirt, for a chic but comfortable look. There’s so much to love about a good pair of travel leggings. They’re slimming, they stretch, and they don’t take up tons of room in your suitcase. Plus, should you feel the need to utilize the hotel gym or join a pop-up yoga class, you’ll be ready for a workout.

The Best Travel Leggings

Below I’ve divided the best travel leggings into the three most useful categories for travelers: the best leggings with pockets (to hold your phone and documents), the best leggings to make a fashion statement (to show off your personality), and the best leggings that don’t look like leggings (to travel comfortably incognito).

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Travel Leggings with Pockets

Lululemon Speed Up Tight

The sleek cool Speed Up Tight has sweat-wicking fabric and four-way stretch—and four pockets. With two side pockets large enough for your phone and two waistband pockets perfect for tucking away cash, these leggings are a great choice for the active traveler with stuff to carry.

The North Face Motivation Pocket 7/8 Tights

From the North Face, the Motivation Pocket 7/8 Tights provide support and storage. They feature two discreet thigh pockets, an extra-wide waistband, and are also available in a similar cropped style.

Core 10 Onstride Run Full-Length

With both mid-rise and high-rise waistband options, Core 10’s Onstride Run Full-Length Leggings are customizable for everyone, and they come equipped with a drawstring for adjustability. The two side-panel pockets and a stylish behind-the-knee mesh detail prove that these travel leggings combine function and fashion.

alo High-Waist Cargo Legging

The High-Waist Cargo Leggings from alo features numerous pockets throughout the leg but are stylish enough to run errands in, and comfortable enough to work out in. They’re also available in multiple colors, such as black, bone, and olive branch.

Clever Travel Companion

The Clever Travel Companion leggings pack comfort and security into one ultra-functional pair of pants. These leggings for travel are equipped with two zippered pockets. The first is big enough to hold your phone and passport; the second slightly smaller pocket is still large enough to fit your credit cards and keys.

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Travel Leggings That Make a Fashion Statement

Outdoor Voices 3/4 Two-Tone Leggings

With blocks of navy and black, the 3/4 Two-Tone Warmup Leggings are chic while still maintaining an athletic look, which makes them great for both the airplane and a jogging trail. The material is sturdy, comfortable, and opaque, so you won’t have to worry about anything showing through. If you’re a big fan of the color block style, make sure to check out the Outdoor Voice’s tri-colored Zoom Leggings, too.

Columbia PFG Tidal™ Legging

Up for some serious adventure or maybe just a day hike, but want cute leggings that still work? Sturdier than the average yoga pants, the PFG Tidal™ Leggings will perform well in the great outdoors. Made of moisture-wicking and UPF 50 sun-protecting fabric, these travel leggings are smooth to the touch and even include a large pocket on the side.

Girlfriend Collective Trail Compressive High-Rise Legging

For a fashion statement that’s extra comfortable and eco-friendly, the Trail Compressive High-Rise Leggings from Girlfriend Collective really deliver, and come in a slew of gorgeous colors. Made from 25 recycled water bottles, sizes also range from XXS to 6XL, so there is truly something for everyone.

Beyond Yoga High Waisted Alloy Ombre Midi Leggings

With bright blue coloring and plenty of shimmer, there’s a lot to love about these statement-making leggings. The metallic splatter ombre is a unique plus.

Palazzo Leggings

If your flair is a little more bohemian, check out these high-waist lounge pants for a fashionably daring set of pants that are just as comfortable and flattering as any pair of leggings. They’re affordable, available in lots of different patterns, and fabulous for flying.

Travel Leggings That Don’t Look Like Leggings

Betabrand Dress Pant Yoga Pants

If you want to make sure you’re maintaining a little class while staying comfortable on your flight, check out the Dress Pant Yoga Pants from Betabrand. Made of comfortable, stretchable material, they’re totally chic. I love that they come in multiple colors and are perfect for a business-casual look.

Wit & Wisdom Jeggings

If you need jeans to complete an outfit, but dread the discomfort of wearing denim on a long-haul flight, get yourself a pair of jeggings like Wit & Wisdom’s Jeggings, made of lightweight stretch denim that can be worn around the city or to a casual dinner. No one will ever know the difference.

Blank NYC Faux-Leather Jeggings

Sport a lean silhouette with an edge with these super-stretchy faux-leather and faux-jeans leggings from Blank NYC. These flattering jet black jeggings are also very comfortable and will go a long way in your travel wardrobe.

More from SmarterTravel:

Jamie Ditaranto is a writer and photographer who is always looking for her next adventure. Follow her on Twitter @jamieditaranto.

Editor’s note: This story was originally published in 2017. It has been updated to reflect the most current information.

Categories
Active Travel Adventure Travel Fashion & Beauty Outdoors

11 Warm, Lightweight Jackets and Coats for Travelers

Bulky jackets are the bane of cold-weather travelers. If your coat isn’t taking up precious space in your carry-on, you’ll have to lug it around the airport to avoid sweating profusely and looking like a nervous security risk. Here are 11 of the best packable, lightweight winter jackets for travelers that will keep you feeling warm and looking stylish on the road.

Patagonia Women’s Vosque 3-in-1 Parka

Looking for a packable jacket that works for every part of your trip, from the mountains to the city? Patagonia’s Vosque 3-in-1 Parka has it all. The outer shell looks like a stylish tweed jacket, and can be worn alone or paired with the insulated liner for really cold days. The liner can be worn alone and works well when you’re active.  The parka uses 100-g THERMOLITE eco insulation, an environmentally friendly material (it’s 92 percent recycled) that’s lightweight but still super warm.

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Arc’teryx Men’s Atom LT Hoody

The Arc’teryx Men’s Atom LT Hoody is a packable jacket that delivers the warmth needed in a whole host of situations and environments. Insulated with 60 grams of lightweight, water-resistant Coreloft™, this hoody maintains thermal performance if exposed to moisture, and compresses into the tiny nooks of your backpack when not in use.

L.L.Bean Quilted Riding Jacket

L.L.Bean quilted riding jacket

Most easy-to-pack winter jackets look like activewear and are tough to pull off on a city trip, but L.L.Bean’s Quilted Riding Jacket is the ultimate winter coat that can do both. Its classic design goes with any outfit and won’t make you look like a tourist who just wandered into town off a hike. Thanks to the insulated synthetic lining, it will keep you warm in -15 degrees F (with moderate activity). Want to layer this jacket? It has adjustable waist tabs that let you customize the fit based on what you’re wearing.

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The North Face ThermoBall Eco Hoodie

The north face thermoball eco hoodie

The ThermoBall Eco Hoodie, available for women and men, packs down incredibly small thanks to PrimaLoft technology that traps heat within small air pockets. This winter jacket is water-resistant and made of recycled polyester and nylon.

Columbia Women’s Mighty Lite Hooded Jacket

Omni-Heat lining and insulation give Columbia’s Mighty Lite Jacket plenty of warmth. It comes in a range of colors and can be found for a surprisingly low price when on sale. This lightweight coat won’t add much bulk to your bag and has a handy interior security pocket to stow valuables.

Uniqlo Men’s Ultra Light Down Parka

If you’re looking for an affordable and packable down jacket, try Uniqlo’s Ultra Light Down Parka, which folds up into its own handy carrying pouch so you can easily slip it into your suitcase. The hood and water-repellent fabric will protect you in rain or snow showers, and the range of colors will suit any style.

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Obermeyer Women’s Tuscany II Jacket

Based in the snow sports mecca of Aspen, Colorado, since 1947, Obermeyer knows a thing or two about cold and wet weather. It’s developed a patented HydroBlock Sport fabric tested to resist nearly 400 inches of rain (and roll stain-causing liquids right off). Find it in the Tuscany II Jacket, which also uses another unique Obermeyer material: Thermore Classic insulation, which is thin and light but still warm. The hood is removable and adjustable, as is the faux fur trim.

Patagonia PrimaLoft Nano Puff Coat

Patagonia’s PrimaLoft Nano Puff Hoody (available for men and women) is the lightest jacket I’ve ever owned. The women’s version weighs just 10 ounces (the men’s is 12.8 ounces), yet is ultra-warm and waterproof. Unlike some other methods of insulation, you can feel good about this jacket: Its 60-g PrimaLoft Gold Insulation Eco is more than 50 percent recycled material.

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The North Face Arrowood Triclimate Jacket

The north face arrowood triclimate jacket

The North Face’s versatile Arrowood Triclimate Jacket (available for women and men) is a three-in-one coat that’s perfect for travel: You can wear the waterproof, windproof shell or comfy inner fleece liner by themselves, or combine them to make a warm winter jacket. The hood, wrist cuffs, and hem cinch cord are all adjustable for a better fit. This breathable coat is designed for hiking and other outdoor activities.

Lululemon Pack It Down Jacket

The Pack It Down Jacket can be folded up into the right-hand pocket, making it one of the best packable down jackets for women. The fabric is weather-resistant, and the 700-fill-power goose down is certified to the Responsible Down Standard. You can remove the hood to further cut down on weight and space.

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Arc’teryx Men’s Cerium LT Hoody

The Cerium LT Hoody from Arcteryx is incredibly lightweight—just 10.8 ounces—yet it’s surprisingly warm thanks to its combination of goose down and synthetic insulation. (Note that on rainy or extremely cold days, it’s best combined with a weatherproof shell.) The Cerium LT Hoody compresses into its own stuff sack for easy packing.

For more options, see The Best Winter Coats on Amazon.

More from SmarterTravel:

Caroline Morse always packs lightweight winter jackets for travel to cold destinations. Follow Caroline on Instagram @TravelWithCaroline for style and travel photos from around the world.

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.

Editor’s note: This story was originally published in 2017. It has been updated to reflect the most current information. Sarah Schlichter contributed to this story.

Categories
Active Travel At Home Cities Staycation

When You Can't Travel, Bike

Church or a fill-up? This Queens corner leaves it up to you.

Biking in New York City is a magnificent thing and a terrifying thing and a thrilling thing and an infuriating thing. I’ve had my bike for four years now, and almost immediately upon buying it my relationship to the city changed. Instead of moving here and there underground — enduring the overcrowding, the train delays, and the angst — I could now get around in the open air. Underground, you have no sense of the place in between the places you love. They are points of interest connected by nothing more than a color-coded line. And yet: Up there (or down below, depending on which line you’re riding), there is certainly life.

In Bushwick and Ridgewood, you can see where the subway goes.

At the beginning of the outbreak in NYC — when the cases were rising by the thousand every day, when the virus seemed to suddenly be everywhere — I dialed my outdoor activity down to zero. I stocked my cupboards with a 30-day supply of food in case I had to officially quarantine myself. I ordered indoor workout equipment. I began a seemingly endless routine of streaming TV shows in quick succession. I swore I would make progress through the backlog of books that I’d bought for now cancelled trips. I promised to do yoga. But none of those things really came to fruition. Instead, a deeply seeded inertia began moving from inside out — my small joys evaporated, my rituals went dark. What was happening was mourning, really — mourning the loss of motion that had supplanted my less-healthy coping mechanisms from so many years ago.

Old-school Italian cookies are a definite reason to go back to Glendale, Queens.

For those first few weeks, I was terrified to get on my bike. The paths along the waterfronts and over the bridges — the safest to use because they are generally guarded and separate from street traffic — were packed with like-minded people. Everyone needed a break from the tedium and claustrophobia of their tiny New York apartments. But in a city of 9 million, when everyone wants to go outside for just an hour or so a day, it’s impossible to safely stay away from anyone else. Those waterside bike paths fill with other bikers and joggers and pedestrian overflow from the sidewalks. You are only ever inhaling the exhalations of others. Who knows who has coughed just a few feet ahead of you? What pathogen is riding that breeze?

The crowds weren’t surprising — I had avoided those officially scenic bike routes before COVID for the same reason. I also knew that crowded streets were far less likely — even in good times — if I biked away from the river and deeper into the boroughs, which I’d done a few times over the years.

Classic New York commerce along Myrtle Avenue in Ridgewood.

From my apartment, I went east, first across Bed-Stuy and then into Bushwick — that part I was certain about. After those neighborhoods, I knew was Queens, but I had no clear plan other than my sense of direction. Keeping track of my right turns and my left turns as necessary, I cut a crooked route that more or less became a long loop. I crossed streets I hadn’t heard of before — ones that bore the old names of the city. the Dutch ones like Onderdonk and Himrod. I passed small, beautiful parks with greens lined by cherry trees and magnolias. Panaderias with open doors revealing cases of pan dulce. Retail relics like the Liberty Department Store on Myrtle, its big red sign visible from blocks away. The scent of pastries coming from Grimaldi’s Bakery. In some places the huge old tenement buildings pressed almost right up to the street. In others, pretty brick row houses with bay windows sat back quietly from the road. Old Jewish synagogues. Massive churches. Pentecostal storefronts. Flower shops. Botánicas. VFWs.

Spots like this out in Ridgewood are quite literally gold.

When I got home I mapped my route to track the miles I’d logged. But really, I’ve always had a fascination with maps — drawing them and poring over road atlases as a kid, and staring at them for untold hours as an adult traveler in anticipation of a trip. From what I could tell, I’d cut across Bed-Stuy and Bushwick into Ridgewood. While I was familiar with certain parts of these neighborhoods — I live on the western border of Bed-Stuy and Clinton Hill, my favorite Ethiopian restaurant is in Bushwick, and I’d gone to queer parties at venues in Ridgewood — my experience of them had, of course, been segmented. New York, as it always does, rendered these places as little satellites connected by underground tunnels. Your own interests in the context of regular life determine your internal map of the city, and this map is, by nature, exclusionary. The thing travel has always stirred in me, it seems, is forcing an acknowledgement that the fabric of any place is a more wholistic thing.

Don’t believe this is New York City? It is. You just have to look to find it.

I expanded the map to see what was beyond Ridgewood. There was a belt of cemeteries to the southeast, with Highland Park and Cypress Hills beyond it. To the northeast, Glendale, Middle Village, and Forest Hills. Each afternoon or evening when I left my house on my bike, I went farther. I noted how the scenery changed. How the apartments shifted from massive apartment blocks in Bushwick and Ridgewood to single-story row-houses in Glendale to beautiful brick Tudor buildings in Forest Hills to the mansions of Highland Boulevard in Cypress Hills. You could see the character change in the businesses too: Italian bakeries and civic organizations along Myrtle Avenue in Glendale; Mexican speciality shops in Ridgewood; Dominican and Puerto Rican flags in Bushwick. The reggaeton, the trap, the bachata, the screeching wheels of the elevated trains, the nonstop sirens of our moment.You can see the neighborhoods that the city cares for and the ones it neglects — old-growth trees lining some streets and others without a shred of green.

Neighborhoods change from block to block when you ride without a destination in mind.

The pleasure in all of this is the sense of discovery, which, of course, isn’t discovery at all. It’s happening upon a place that has been there all along and which, now known to you, can bring something into your life. You find these places at street level, not online. You get the texture and the sound and the sight all at once, without filters — no mitigating reviews of those who’ve already been; no curation by what photographs nicely; no algorithms trying to feed you what the computers think you’ll enjoy most. Like when travel is at its most perfect, when the serendipity hits just right. You stumble upon a place or a person or a thing that you’ll come to love. You catch a vibe.

If I happen to be biking a street I’ve already seen, I’ll go faster. Once I’ve hit the unknown, I slow down. I make mental notes of the places I’ll come back to when they’re open again. When I feel I’ve gone far enough, I turn around and try to untangle the streets, making my way back home. In my body, I notice some of the same feelings I’ve had when aimlessly wandering cities on other continents: that little clench in the gut that’s thrilling, the moment when you aren’t exactly lost, but when you’ve come to understand that you’re surrounded by newness, or at least something that is new to you in the most foreign way. This is the feeling that took the place of all of my worst habits. I suppose it saved my life.

Getting lost in NYC means seeing way more than just red, white, and blue.

For the foreseeable future, none of us are going anywhere. And so, the light at the end of the tunnel is that maybe these small shops, these bakeries and restaurants and cafes, will be there on the other side of this. And that until I can fly away from New York City, I’ll make do on my bike and the thrills that are here that I’d never thought to find.

More from SmarterTravel:

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Active Travel At Home Outdoors Trip Ideas

Explore the Great Indoors: Virtual Hikes and Natural Wonders You Can See at Home

The world remains a big and beautiful place, even when we’re not out there enjoying it. Whether you have a treadmill at home or are just walking circles around your living room, grab your fitness tracker and start earning steps with these virtual hikes from around the world.

See the World with 360° Video

You could spend days exploring Air Pano’s hundreds of panoramic videos of landscapes as varied as Patagonia and the Sahara Desert. This is the perfect way to go couch-trekking in Bhutan and kitchen-table exploring in the Caribbean. Explore while running on a treadmill to take your own virtual hike. 

Transport Yourself with 4K Virtual Outdoor Hikes

The 4K Relaxation Channel on YouTube has become one of our favorites during this stay-at-home period, and the playlist for virtual hikes has over 45 videos. Transport yourself to Lithuania, Washington State, Hawaii, and more for your next virtual hike.

Stake Out to See the Aurora Borealis – Northern Lights

Add watching for the Northern Lights to your daily “quaran-tine.” Explore.org’s live cam is set up in Churchill, Manitoba, which is directly beneath the aurora oval. While the peak season ends in March, you might get lucky to see them in early April.

Walk the Camino de Santiago at Home

Hundreds of thousands walk “the Camino” in Spain each year, and while many are unable to this spring and summer, the tour operator Duperier’s Authentic Journeys is bringing the experience to your home with its Facebook group. Track your own walks as if you were going on the pilgrimage and share photos of the experience if you’ve done it before.

Cherry Blossoms Around the World with Google Earth

mt fuji in the spring

See spring cherry blossoms bloom from home with Google Earth’s imagery from 10 sites around the world. From Japan to Brazil, stream this on your TV and picture yourself reading on a park bench.

Costa Rica’s Volcanoes with Google Earth

Arenal volcano in clouds Costa Rica.

See five of the country’s volcanoes up close and personal with Google Earth footage: Arenal Volcano (don’t miss the nearby waterfalls), Rincon de la Vieja Volcano, Poas Volcano, Irazu Volcano, and Miravalles Volcano.

See the Faroe Islands with a Local Faroese

faroe islands remote experience video control

This virtual experience is more like a video game, and it’s pretty incredible. The Faroe Islands have outdone themselves with this online experience, which lets you control a live experience. The live tours are set at specific times and locally-based volunteers roam around with a live camera attached to them. Each trip is about an hour-long and viewers have one-minute each to control what they do.

Hike France’s Countryside

Explore France, and learn French while you’re at it, with this series on YouTube. There are three seasons that will take you from the Loire Valley to the Alps, and beyond, to tiny villages deep in the countryside. At seven minutes each, these are the perfect backdrop for a quick treadmill jog or language lesson.

Explore Machu Picchu

Experience what it’s like to view Machu Picchu from all its angles with this interactive, panoramic view of the famed ancient site. Learn more about Peru and other South American sites, with an online course with an archeologist and explorer.

South Africa National Parks with Google Street View

family destination winner south africa

Discover South Africa through its national parks and reserves on Google. There are over 170 trails to explore in all of the country’s 19 national parks and 17 nature reserves, including tourist attractions like Kruger National Park, Table Mountain, and Cape Point.

U.S. National Parks with Google Earth and Live Cams

acadia national park autumn.

With Google’s latest technology, you can explore over 32 national parks and DIY your own virtual hike. From the Grand Canyon to Acadia or the Badlands, virtually explore U.S. natural wonders without the crowds.

Yellowstone National park alone has nine different webcams for your viewing pleasure. Watch Old Faithful via a live stream with helpful predictions on timed eruptions and more. Read more about other national park webcams, here.

And don’t forget state parks! You can take an online course with a travel journalist and writer about 24 of the nation’s best state parks and help plan your next domestic vacation.

VR Hike

Started by two high schoolers, this website has external links of virtual hikes you can take across the U.S. with its partners: HikingGuy, Treadmill TV, and Nature Calls. Search hikes via the interactive map feature. (Don’t miss out on the Hawaii trails.)

Virtual Hikes for Treadmills

Transport yourself to Alberta, Oregon, or even a giant Redwood grove forest with Tall Sky Walker’s virtual hikes playlist on YouTube. Whether you want a 15-minute or hour-long hike, jog, or walk, you’ll find a relaxing virtual hike for you.

Pro Tip: Use the settings tool on YouTube to speed up or slow down the playback speed to go at your own pace.

Trek the Appalachian Trail with Walk the Distance

Shenandoah National Park
Shenandoah National Park

This activity tracker app uses the steps recorded in your phone’s Health app and puts them towards walking a selected route. Virtually hike the Appalachian Trail, national parks, or cities; or run a virtual marathon. Currently, the app is free during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The World’s Oceans

Missing out on your beach vacation? Explore the world’s magical oceans with underwater Street View imagery through Google. See sea lions in the Galapagos, coral reefs in Bermuda, and shipwrecks in the Florida Keys.

Take your learning a bit further and take a journey to the polar regions with a National Geographic-led online course.

Share Your Virtual Vacation or Travel Inspiration with Us:

Are you itching to travel? So are we … that’s why we started the #GoLater campaign on social media. We want to see which destinations YOU are dreaming of. Head over to our Instagram channel (@smartertravel) to learn more. 

More from SmarterTravel:

Ashley Rossi is always ready for her next trip. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram for travel tips, destination ideas, and off the beaten path spots.

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Categories
Active Travel Adventure Travel Fashion & Beauty Health & Wellness Outdoors Packing Travel Technology Travel Trends Women's Travel

10 Best Workout Clothes and Tools for Travel and Home

Finding the motivation to work out while on vacation is no easy feat. I try and stick to my normal exercise routine as much as I can while I travel, and this list of the 10 best workout clothes and tools helps me stay in shape on the road—and at home between trips.

Vi Headphones and Fitness Tracker

Say goodbye to tangled headphones, wearing a Fitbit, and paying for expensive fitness-tracking apps—the Vi headphones and corresponding app are the ultimate travel workout companion. With a variety of earbud sizes and clips, these wireless headphones are comfortable and won’t fall out once you get the right size.

If you run outdoors at home and on the road, the Vi Fitness app is a great way to track your runs and mileage. Hikers and cyclers can also benefit from the activity tracker. Dubbed a “personal trainer,” the activity monitor tracks things like speed, heart rate, and distance. It also adapts to your fitness level and personalizes workouts. Plus, the app links to your favorite music streaming service.

Takeya Water Bottle

A reusable water bottle is an essential workout item for travelers, and I especially love Takeya’s insulated stainless water bottles. The handle is great for travel, since you can hook it onto the outside of any bag, and it’s easy to carry around the gym. The double-wall vacuum insulation keeps water cold for hours, and the narrow mouth is great for grabbing a quick sip mid-workout.

Zella Live In High Waisted Leggings

Built from moisture-wicking fabric and fitted with a no-slip waistband, these stretchy, figure-sculpting leggings keep you cool as your workout warms up. They’re comfy enough to wear in other situations as well, including on the plane or while working from home.

Burt’s Bees Facial Cleansing Wipes

Don’t forget one of the most important things to do after working out, even on vacation: taking care of your skin. I am obsessed with these facial cleansing wipes from Burt’s Bees for a post-workout refresh. Whether you don’t have time to hit the shower or you need some immediate rejuvenation, these wipes, made from white tea extract, cucumber, and aloe, are a must. I even use them over my whole body sometimes if I need to skip a shower.

Adidas by Stella McCartney Sports Bra

This mesh-backed sports bra is one of the best workout clothes you can travel with because it doubles as a bathing suit top. The full coverage bra is quick-drying and moisture-wicking, so it won’t stink or stay wet for long after sweating or swimming.

 

Nike Dri Fit Head Tie

Nike makes a great moisture-wicking headband that fits any head size. I typically find myself shifting any sort of headband during a workout because it sits too far forward or back—but you won’t have that problem with this one because it ties.

L.L.Bean Coolmax Nano Glide Multisport Socks

I swear by L.L.Bean socks (with styles for both men and women) for working out. The quick-drying, breathable fabric and thoughtful cushioning on these moisture-wicking socks will keep your feet cool and dry during any activity. These socks are also designed to reduce friction inside your shoe to prevent blisters.

Hoka Bondi 6 Running Shoes

I always travel with my Hoka Bondi 6’s, because I can wear them to the airport with a travel outfit or put them into my carry-on, where they don’t take up too much room. These shoes (available for men and women) are extremely flexible and comfortable for workouts and provide incredible sole support; that’s actually part of Hoka’s mission as a shoe company.

Salomon Agile 250 Running Belt Pack

I cannot say enough how much I love this running belt pack from Salomon. It miraculously fits a phone, keys, and some cash or cards. It doesn’t move while running, and I’ve worn it for stationary workouts as well to hold my phone. It takes up zero room in your suitcase and helps make your workouts annoying armband-free.

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Lululemon Break a Trail Jacket

This Trail Jacket from Lululemon is an ideal choice for hikers and others who love to exercise outdoors. The fabric is both water-repellent and wind-resistant, so the jacket will hold up in any climate. The hood is designed not to bounce when you move, and there are vents in the fabric so you don’t overheat. There’s even a hidden pocket for your phone.

More from SmarterTravel:

Editor’s note: This story was originally published in 2017. It has been updated to reflect the most current information. Codey Albers contributed to this story.

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.

Categories
Active Travel Outdoors Packing Travel Technology Women's Travel

The 9 Best Travel Hoodies

There’s nothing cozier than a hooded sweatshirt, especially on a long flight (or even just on the couch at home) when all you want to do is curl up and get comfortable.

What’s the Best Travel Hoodie for You?

My favorite travel hoodies have nifty features such as extra pockets, sun protection, or built-in pillows. Discover the best travel hoodie for your next trip.

Ugg Nancy Zip Fleece Hoodie

Ugg Nancy Hoodie

Lined with a stretchy cotton fleece, this easy-going hoodie will keep you warm and cozy. Available in neutral colors, the Ugg Nancy Zip Fleece Hoodie will go with any outfit.

The North Face Take Along Pullover Hoodie

The North Face Hoodie

Always cold? Try The North Face Take Along Pullover Hoodie, a sweatshirt with plenty of extra length to keep you warm below the waist. This thick hoodie was designed for camping adventures, but works just as well inside a chilly house.

SCOTTeVEST Chloe Glow Hoodie

From the outside, SCOTTeVEST’s Chloe Glow Hoodie looks like an ordinary, if attractive, microfleece sweatshirt for women. It’s not until you put it on that you realize just how much you can fit into its 14 pockets, cleverly designed to hold phones, tablets, glasses, passports, and other small items. Many of the pockets are on the inside of the hoodie, making them less accessible to potential thieves. Bonus: The main zipper goes all the way up to the hood, so you can protect all or part of your face in windy conditions.

SCOTTeVEST Hoodie Cotton

Men looking for a similar travel hoodie can try this sweatshirt from SCOTTeVEST, which has a whopping 21 pockets. Besides all the storage space, the best feature for travelers is the “Do Not Disturb” eye mask that flips down from the hood to block out the world—perfect for a long flight or train ride.

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BOMBAX Zip Up Travel Hoodie

Do you have trouble sleeping on planes? If so, the Zip Up Travel Hoodie just might help. The hoodie comes with an inflatable neck pillow you can pack into one of the pockets. With 10 pockets for your passport, tablet, and other travel accessories, getting through airport security will be a breeze. If you’re traveling in a colder climate, you’ll appreciate the built-in gloves and eye mask.

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Aros Inflatable Hoodies

Another intriguing option for sleep-challenged travelers is the Aros line of unisex hoodies, which includes both pullover and zip-up models. Instead of lugging a bulky travel pillow onto the plane, wear one of these travel sweatshirts; inside the hood is an insert that you can inflate and turn into an instant pillow. (Don’t forget to remove the insert before washing the sweatshirt.)

Woolly Clothing Merino Wool Hoodies

woolly clothing men's merino wool hoodie.

On planes, the only person less popular than a screaming kid is a passenger with bad body odor. Don’t be that guy. Instead, give the Woolly Clothing Men’s Merino Wool Henley Hoodie a try. This travel hoodie for men is made of fabric that wicks away moisture, fights odors, and dries quickly, making it ideal for stressful sprints through the airport or for active excursions during your trip. Find a similar option for women here.

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Coolibar Sun-Protective Travel Hoodies

If your vacations typically involve lots of time outdoors, shield your skin with a travel hoodie that includes sun protection. Coolibar offers a full line of sun-protective clothing, including the Seaside Hoodie for women and the Packable Jacket for men. Both feature an ultraviolet protection factor (UPF) of 50+ and are made with soft, lightweight fabrics.

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ORORO Unisex Heated Hoodie

This multi-purpose heated hoodie has a battery pack that can both warm you up and charge your phone. Core-warming zones on the front and back of this unisex travel sweatshirt keep you nice and toasty no matter how low the temperature falls. The battery lasts anywhere from two to eight hours, depending on how high you turn up the warming zones. Supply your own USB cable and you can plug your phone or other device into the battery pack for an emergency charge.

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Editor’s note: This story was originally published in 2017. It has been updated to reflect the most current information.

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Bike Safety Tips: How to Stay Safe and Comfortable While Riding

Cycling is often one of the fastest and cheapest ways to get around a city, but it can also be one of the more dangerous ways to travel. Follow these bike safety tips to protect yourself while riding.

Stay Visible

Beryl pixel light

Drivers can’t avoid you if they can’t see you, so make yourself (and your bike) as visible as possible. I love beryl’s Pixel light, a waterproof, two-in-one light that can shine red or white and comes with a Velcro strap and multi-mount that lets you attach the light to your bike, helmet, body, or clothing. Since the Pixel can be used anywhere (and doesn’t need tools to attach), it’s perfect for using with rental bikes. The light will last for up to 10 hours, and is rechargeable.

For a larger light option, Nite Ize’s Radiant 125 Rechargeable white bike light is a super bright 125 lumen light that makes for a good headlight on roads without any light. It comes with silicone attachment bands that make it easy to take on and off your bike, and lasts for around three hours before needing to be recharged.

Communicate Your Actions

beryl burner brake.

Unlike cars, you don’t have turn signals or brake lights on your bike, so you have to communicate your actions to drivers with the hand signals for biking. This chart from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is a good graphic depiction of what to do.

Signals can be hard to see in the dark (and confusing for drivers who might not know what hand signals mean), which is why beryl’s Burner Brake is ingenious. This bright (200 lumens) rear light works just like a car brake light, sensing when you are slowing down and flashing to alert the people behind you. It can be used day or night, and is waterproof and rechargeable.

You can also buy turn signals for your bike, or cycling gloves with light-up turn signal indicators, if you want to make your intensions even more visible.

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Let People Know You’re There

Spurcycle bell.

As someone who’s frequently both a pedestrian and a cyclist, I hate being startled while walking on a path by a cyclist screaming: “on your left” at full volume. And as a cyclist, I don’t want to scare someone by sneaking up behind them. The Spurcycles Bell pleases me as both a walker and a rider—a light press on the bell’s level delivers a sound that’s much more pleasant than other bells, yet still louder and longer ringing (up to three times longer than most bells) that gets people out of the way in a polite manner. The ring is loud and distinct enough that it will also catch the attention of drivers who might not see you otherwise. These bells are made in the U.S. and guaranteed for life, plus are easy to install and will work on any size handlebar.

Prevent Theft

According to Markel Insurance, an average of 188,500 bikes are reported stolen each year. For quick stops, like stopping into a café or store during a ride, the Ottolock is a great, lightweight (145 grams) lock that’s compact and easy to carry, and will prevent someone from just walking off with your bike.

For heavier security, consider using a folding lock like this one from Abus which folds down small enough to fit in your pocket, but still offers a good level of protection. This travel-sized u-lock is also a good choice, as it’s small and lightweight is still a good deterrent for thieves. It even comes with a lighted key so you can easily unlock your bike in the dark.

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Stay Dry, Clean, and Comfortable

Cascadia bike fenders

You’re more likely to bike somewhere if you know that you can arrive there clean, so make sure your bike has fenders that will protect you from mud and puddles while you ride. I previously bought some cheap bike fenders off Amazon that did absolutely nothing—I still got sprayed anytime the streets were wet. I recently upgraded to Planet Bike’s full coverage, polycarbonate Cascadia fenders, and now I can confidently ride on wet or muddy streets without worrying about clothing damage. Attached, oversized mud flaps (130 mm) set these fenders apart by extending far enough over your wheel that even the biggest puddle won’t get to you. These black polycarbonate fenders blend in with the wheel, and look much better than plastic ones.

Wear a Helmet

If you only follow one piece of advice from this list, let it be this one: Always wear a helmet while cycling. Your bike helmet should have a sticker indicating that it meets the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) standards for cycling.

For my everyday commuting, I wear this stylish helmet by Thousand. I like it not only for its looks, but for the secret pop-lock that safely locks the helmet to your bike, so I don’t have to carry it around all day.

The sleek design is more low-profile than most helmets, and comes in a wide range of fun colors (like rose gold or striped).

More from SmarterTravel:

Caroline Morse Teel believes bike safety is important, especially while traveling. Follow her on Instagram @TravelWithCaroline for travel photos from around the world. 

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Some National Parks Are Free Right Now—But Should You Visit?

Editor’s note: Since this story was published, an increasing number of state and national parks have closed to the public. Be sure to check the individual park’s website for the most up-to-date information before you visit.

A visit to a national park seems like a great idea right about now. Getting out of your house, fresh air, and plenty of room to social distance—what could be bad about that?

After Interior Secretary David Bernhardt waived fees for national parks visitors earlier this week, many people may be wondering: Is it okay to visit national parks during the COVID-19 outbreak?

Unfortunately, like much about this pandemic, the answer isn’t simple. Yes, the majority of national parks are remaining open (for now), but many things will be modified.

Essential services (such as visitor centers, restrooms, campground, and shuttles) will be closed as a health precaution. If you do visit a park, you’ll need to be prepared to be totally self-reliant—so come ready with maps, plenty of food and drink, and emergency supplies.

Other parks are experiencing a flood of visitors right now that makes it impossible to follow social distancing guidelines, and that’s sparking concern in residents over an influx of people increasing the risk of contagion. The Mayor of Moab, Emily Niehaus, told the Salt Lake Tribune, “Moab is asking people to please stay in their home community. This is an urgent message to people considering travel to Moab.”

It’s also important to consider if you would be putting park rangers in danger by visiting a park. The Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks released a statement saying, “National parks welcome visitors from around the world. Many National Park Service (NPS) employees interact with members of the public daily. These employees should not be exempt from recommendations made by the CDC. Further, to suggest to the public that gathering at national park sites is acceptable when gathering at restaurants, theaters, libraries, and other public spaces is no longer safe is irresponsible to the visiting public and employees.”

If you are considering a trip to a national park, think about whether or not you can do it responsibly.

Before departing, ask yourself: Will you have to travel a long distance to get there, resulting in stops at rest areas, restaurants, and hotels? Or can you travel there and back in your car, from your home, without much public exposure?

Are you visiting a crowded trailhead, where it may be tough to stay six feet away from other groups of hikers, or can you park your car and hike without interacting with anyone else?

If you do decide to go, The NPS is urging park visitors to follow all current CDC guidelines, especially washing hands frequently and most importantly—staying home if you feel sick.

Be sure to check the individual park’s NPS page before visiting, as some parks (especially those in urban environments, such as the National Mall) have closed.

The same advice applies for visiting state parks, some of which may be waiving fees at this time. Check the website for the state park you wish to visit before you go, to confirm it is open and to see what restrictions apply to visitors.

More from SmarterTravel:

Caroline Morse Teel is a Principal Editor for SmarterTravel. Follow her on Instagram @travelwithcaroline for travel photos and advice.

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The 7 Best Free Streaming Workouts

Going stir-crazy? Release pent-up energy without leaving the house with these free online workouts.

Peloton

You don’t need a bike to utilize Peloton’s app. The fitness company offers live and on-demand streaming classes in strength training, running, cycling, yoga, meditation, walking, cardio, and more—and it’s currently offering a free 90-day trial to new members.

No equipment beyond a mat is necessary for most classes, but some of the strength training workouts require a set of weights or resistance bands.

Planet Fitness

Planet Fitness is now offering a daily online workout class that’s free for everyone (no gym membership required). These workouts will be streamed on Facebook Live every night at 7pm ET, and also saved for later viewing.

The classes will be 20 minutes or less, and might even feature a celebrity guest or two.

Core Power

With Core Power studios closed temporarily, the company is giving everyone (including non-members) free access to a collection of online classes. New classes will be added every week, and include a variety of practices.

A yoga mat is all you’ll need for most classes, but there are options for those who have weights and blocks as well. 

Daily Burn

Participate in group workouts or one-on-one training on your own schedule with Daily Burn’s wide variety of classes. Sign up and take a quick quiz, and Daily Burn will customize a program for you (including which workouts to do and nutrition plans to follow), or you can choose from the library of classes yourself.

Classes are available for all levels and include strength training, Pilates, cardio kickboxing, stretching, and more. Click here to sign up for a 30-day free trial.

Some classes can be done equipment-free, while others require an aerobic step, kettlebell, medicine ball, pilates ring, plyo box, yoga block, yoga mat, or dumbbells.

Barre3

Sign up for Barre3’s free 15-day trial and you’ll get unlimited access to hundreds of streaming workouts. These full-body workouts can be done without any equipment, but props such as a core ball, core sliders, and a resistance band are recommended.

Yoga With Adriene

Yoga instructor Adriene Mishler has a cult-like following, with over six million subscribers to her YouTube channel. Here, you’ll find tons of free videos to stream. Classes are easily sorted by length or goal (such as weight loss or to relieve back pain) and can be done with just a yoga mat.

Want more? Yoga With Adriene’s Find What Feels Good Membership offers classes without ads, plus monthly membership vlogs from Adriene—and you can get a 7-day free trial here.

The Dailey Method

The Dailey Method, a barre/core conditioning type workout, is currently giving away free 14-day trials to access its extensive library of online classes. Modifications are available to do the exercises without any equipment, although balls and resistance bands are recommended.

Women's Home Workout Outfit

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Caroline Morse Teel is a Principal Editor at SmarterTravel. Follow her on Instagram @travelwithcaroline.

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Planning a Trip to the Grand Canyon

No matter how many photos you’ve seen of the Grand Canyon, standing at the rim’s edge for the first time will take your breath away—especially if you’re there at sunset, as the fading light paints shades of rose, violet, and gold onto the ancient rocks. But planning a trip to the Grand Canyon requires more than just booking a hotel and packing your camera.

Planning a Trip to the Grand Canyon

When should you travel to avoid the heaviest crowds and the most intense heat? Should you visit the North Rim or the South Rim? Where’s the best place to stay? For answers to these questions and more, read the following tips for planning a trip to the Grand Canyon.

Editor’s note: Many Grand Canyon facilities and tour operators have temporarily closed or made other modifications due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Check each provider’s website for full details before making plans.

South Rim vs. North Rim vs. Grand Canyon West

Grand Canyon National Park is split into two sections: the South Rim and the North Rim, located more than four hours apart by car. Then there’s Grand Canyon West, located on the Hualapai Native American Reservation, four hours from the South Rim and nearly seven hours from the North Rim. If you’re planning a trip to the Grand Canyon and your time is limited, where should you go?

The South Rim is the most visited part of the Grand Canyon for a reason. It has more viewpoints than the North Rim, with more expansive views of the canyon’s depth, as well as a wider range of lodging options and other visitor services. It also has plenty of hiking trails and activities like river rafting and mule rides. If you’re looking for classic Grand Canyon views, this is the place to go.

Popular with hikers and photographers, the North Rim is the South Rim’s quieter, more heavily forested cousin. While the views may be less spectacular, many travelers prefer the North Rim for its undisturbed wildlife and pristine trails.

The key draw at Grand Canyon West is the Skywalk, a glass bridge that extends 70 feet over the canyon for dizzying views on all sides—including right under your feet. (Important note: The Skywalk does not permit cameras or phones. Professional photos are available for sale.) This isn’t the best bet for avid hikers, as there are only two (relatively easy) trails here, but other activities include zip-lining, pontoon boat rides, and touring a Native American village. Grand Canyon West is the closest part of the canyon to Las Vegas, making it a convenient, though long, day trip.

Note that because Grand Canyon West is located on Native American land, it requires a separate entry fee than the North and South Rims, which are administered by the National Park Service.

When to Visit the Grand Canyon

planning a trip to the grand canyon

When planning a trip to the Grand Canyon, consider visiting the South Rim any time other than summer—especially if you’re hoping to hike all the way down to the bottom of the canyon, where temperatures can soar above 100 degrees Fahrenheit in July and August. Summer is also the busiest time of year; lodging in the park is expensive and sells out quickly, and viewpoints along the rim can be jammed with crowds.

The South Rim is open all year round, and you’ll find pleasant temperatures and smaller crowds in the shoulder seasons (spring and fall). Even a winter visit can be rewarding; bundle up and enjoy the sight of the canyon dusted with snow.

Thanks to its higher altitude, the North Rim has a cooler climate and is closed between mid-October and mid-May. Fortunately, this part of the park sees fewer visitors and isn’t usually crowded even during the summer high season. Consider visiting in the fall, when the Kaibab National Forest erupts in vibrant colors.

Grand Canyon West, open year-round, is less crowded outside the summer months.

Getting to the Grand Canyon

Most visitors to the Grand Canyon fly into Las Vegas or Phoenix. There’s also a small airport in Flagstaff, just an hour from the South Rim, and some North Rim travelers fly into Salt Lake City. No matter where you land you’ll need to rent a car, as public transit is extremely limited in this part of the U.S.

Once you arrive at the Grand Canyon, you might need to park your car and take a shuttle bus to get around. Grand Canyon West is closed to private vehicles and operates a hop-on, hop-off shuttle around the park, while certain parts of the South Rim are only accessible by bus. A shuttle service makes the 4.5-hour trip between the North and South Rims; it’s particularly handy for rim-to-rim hikers. The North Rim is fully open to private vehicles.

One fun alternative way to arrive at the South Rim is via the Grand Canyon Railway, which runs from the town of Williams, Arizona, into the heart of the park, allowing for a half-day of exploring before returning in the afternoon.

Grand Canyon Lodging

The most convenient Grand Canyon lodging options are within the national park or Grand Canyon West rather than in nearby towns, but these options tend to book up quickly—sometimes months in advance. When planning a trip to the Canyon, reserve your accommodations first.

The South Rim section of Grand Canyon National Park is home to half a dozen lodges, including the venerable El Tovar, which dates back to 1905 and has hosted former presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Bill Clinton. Another option is the Bright Angel Lodge, situated at the top of the park’s most popular trail. There’s also an RV park near the main visitor center, as well as two campgrounds.

If you can’t find lodging within the South Rim section of the park, there’s a handful of options in nearby Tusayan, as well as dozens of hotels (mostly chain motels) in Williams and Flagstaff, each a little more than an hour from the park entrance gates.

The North Rim has just two places to stay inside the park: the Grand Canyon Lodge, which offers motel rooms and cabins, and the North Rim Campground. If these are booked, consider the Jacob Lake Inn, 45 miles away, or head farther afield to Kanab, Utah, or Page, Arizona.

The most unique place to stay at Grand Canyon National Park is Phantom Ranch, located on the canyon floor. The only ways to get there are to hike or ride a mule down.

If you want to stay overnight within Grand Canyon West, you can book a cabin at Hualapai Ranch; each one features a front porch where you can relax and enjoy the desert views.

Grand Canyon Hikes

When planning a trip to the Grand Canyon, leave time for a hike or two.

The simplest walk at Grand Canyon National Park is the Rim Trail, which stretches for 13—mostly flat—miles along the top of the South Rim. Much of it is paved and wheelchair-accessible, and you can enter and leave the path at any viewpoint.

If your fitness allows, try to hike at least part of the way into the Grand Canyon; you’ll get a completely different perspective than you do from the top.

The most popular South Rim trail into the canyon is the Bright Angel Trail, which is well maintained and offers some shade along the way. Another good option is the South Kaibab Trail—it is a little steeper and has less shade, but boasts slightly more dramatic views if you’re only doing part of the trail. While both of these trails go all the way to the bottom, you can easily transform each of them into a day hike by turning around at one of the mile markers and going back the way you came.

The North Rim offers a variety of day hikes ranging from less than a mile to about 10 miles round-trip. It’s possible to hike into the canyon from the North Rim on the North Kaibab Trail and back out of the canyon via one of the trails on the South Rim (or vice versa); this is recommended only for fit, experienced hikers.

For information on all the trails listed above, see the day hiking information page on NPS.gov.

The National Park Service strongly recommends against hiking down to the river and back in a single day, even if you’re a veteran hiker. Instead, plan to overnight at Phantom Ranch or one of several backcountry campgrounds within the canyon.

Keep in mind that it usually takes twice as long to come back up the trail as it does to go down, and that temperatures at the bottom of the canyon can be up to 20 degrees higher than those at the top. Hundreds of hikers are rescued each year from the canyon due to dehydration, heat exhaustion, or injury.

Grand Canyon West offers just two hiking trails, one easy and one moderate, and neither one goes into the canyon.

One intriguing Grand Canyon hike to consider is the 10-mile (each way) track to Havasu Falls, the famous turquoise cascade you’ve probably seen on your Instagram feed. It’s located on Native American land between the South Rim and Grand Canyon West. Reservations are required (and limited). To learn more, see the NPS website.

Mule Rides, Rafting Trips, and Helicopter Tours

When planning a trip to the Grand Canyon, don’t forget about other activities besides hiking, like riding a mule into the canyon. (Why a mule? They’re more sure-footed than horses.)

From the South Rim you can ride a mule to the Colorado River and spend a night or two at Phantom Ranch, or take a shorter two-hour ride along the rim. (See GrandCanyonLodges.com.) From the North Rim you can take one- or three-hour rides along the rim or part of the way into the canyon. (See CanyonRides.com.) Book as far in advance as possible to guarantee yourself a spot.

Dreaming of rafting the Colorado River? You can take a guided trip in the national park with options from a half-day to more than two weeks, or plan your own trip with a permit from the National Park Service. To plan a one- or two-day rafting trip at Grand Canyon West, visit GrandCanyonWest.com.

Finally, one of the most incredible ways to view the Grand Canyon is from the air. Numerous companies operate helicopter tours over the canyon, including Grand Canyon Helicopters and Papillon.

General Grand Canyon Travel Tips

As soon as you arrive, stop by the visitor center—especially if you have limited time. Park rangers can help design an itinerary to make the most of your visit, suggest hikes to suit your fitness level, and recommend the best viewpoints for sunrise and/or sunset.

The desert heat can be deadly, so hikers should pack plenty of water as well as salty snacks. Bring a reusable bottle that you can fill up at water stations located throughout the national park. Start hiking early in the morning to avoid the midday sun. If you get a headache or start to feel dizzy or sick to your stomach, stop to rest and rehydrate.

The South Rim is located at 7,000 feet above sea level, and the North Rim is at nearly 8,300 feet. Some travelers may experience fatigue, headaches, or other symptoms of altitude sickness.

Stick to the trail. Not only does this protect the landscape, but it also protects you. Numerous tourists have died after falling from the rim of the canyon.

The most crowded viewpoints at the South Rim are those nearest the parking lots and bus stops. To avoid getting a hundred other people in every photo, walk along the Rim Trail in either direction. Often you can snap great shots along the trail or find your way to a less congested viewpoint.

More from SmarterTravel:

Follow Sarah Schlichter on Twitter @TravelEditor for more travel tips and inspiration.

Editor’s note: This story was originally published in 2017. It has been updated to reflect the most current information.

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Greater Zion: The Side of Zion That Most People Miss

Unbeknownst to many travelers, Zion National Park is part of a much larger group of communities that makes up the 2,400 square miles often referred to as the Greater Zion region. Springdale, the town closest to the national park, is just one of many areas worth a visit if you’re headed to Southern Utah.

There’s so much to discover in Greater Zion—from the national park’s hidden corners to nearby towns such as St. George and beyond, to nearby state parks, hidden artist communities, and beautiful golf courses—that a trip to the area can easily fill a week.

The Distinctive Areas of Greater Zion

During my stay in the Greater Zion area, I spent a few nights in Springdale and was able to experience a spectacular day in the national park. But it really was exploring the surrounding communities that left me wanting to return.

The region is best known by avid IRONMAN athletes and mountain bikers for its exceptional trails, competitions, and training environment. But there’s plenty to  appeal less extreme outdoor enthusiasts and adventure tourists as well.

Four main towns and areas make up the Greater Zion communities:

The town of St. George is 37 miles from the park’s entrance, and is an idea hub for exploring Greater Zion. The joke here is that everything is “20 minutes” away, and during my exploration of the region, that proved pretty much true (although the drive to the national park takes just under an hour).

St. George is home to the region’s most convenient airport, which offers nonstop flights from Dallas, Denver, Salt Lake City, and other cities. Shops, an old-time theater, and mom-and-pop restaurants dot the streets of St. George’s downtown area. You’ll also find the second outpost of the region’s first microbrewery, Zion Brewery, which is set in an old firehouse with a patio area ideal for basking in the sun.

Veyo Pies
Zion Brewery, Station II

It’s no surprise that artists and galleries have found inspiration here, and there are plenty of places to explore local art. Make time for a visit to the local artist community of Kayenta, where you’ll find dozens of galleries, a day spa, a labyrinth garden, and a garden cafe. The area is also home to a red-rock amphitheater, Tuacahn, which hosts family-friendly musicals and bands, including well-known Disney productions. 

National and State Parks

When you’re at Zion National Park, you’ll likely encounter lines of tourists waiting to board the park’s shuttle busses along the main canyon road, and you’ll be lucky to get a parking spot. As the fourth-most-visited national park in the country, Zion sees more than its fair share of tourists.  But there’s a lot more to see: I recommend also exploring the Kolob Canyons and Kolob Terrace areas (note that some permits are required for Wilderness-designated land). Check out the Timber Creek Overlook Trail and the North Fork or South Fork of Taylor Creek trails in the canyon area. In the Kolob plateaus, you’ll find fewer tourists at Hop Valley Trail, Grapevine Trail, and Northgate Peaks Trail.

Furthermore, don’t discount the region’s four state parks: Snow Canyon (which really could be a national park), Quail Creek (home to a massive reservoir for boating), Gunlock (if you get lucky, you’ll experience rare waterfall features – they only happen about once every 10 years), and Sand Hollow (one of the best spots for ATVing).

Getting Outside the National Park

When you’re ready to leave St. George, most attractions are just, you guessed it, a 20-minute drive away. Whether it’s playing a round at one of the area’s 13 golf courses, tasting a Mountain Berry pie from Veyo Pies (trust me on this one, and send me an email if you go), mountain biking on Gooseberry Mesa, hiking through other-worldly Snow Canyon State Park, or canyoneering relatively unexplored BLM land (hit up Paragon Adventures for a unique experience), there’s plenty to do in the area beyond the boundaries of the national park.

Where to Stay in Greater Zion

The newly opened The Advenire, an Autograph Collection Hotel, has impeccably decorated rooms, a rooftop hot tub and lounge, as well as a fantastic on-site restaurant and bar, Wood. Ash. Rye. It’s centrally located right in downtown St. George.

If you’re looking for a boutique-like experience in Springdale, the Cliffrose Springdale, Curio Collection by Hilton, is just steps away from the Zion’s entrance as well as the Virgin River. It’s newly renovated and has plenty of outdoor hangout areas along the riverbank perfect for families and groups of friends to enjoy.

For a health and wellness experience in the Greater Zion area, book a package at Red Mountain Resort in the community of Ivins, just outside of St. George. Located next to Snow Canyon, you’ll get plenty of time to hike, and lounge by the pool or at the spa.

If you’re after a more immersive experience, the area has two glamping sites in addition to the national and state park’s camping areas. The first is Under Canvas Zion, which is located close to the Kolob entrance of the park. The second nearby site, Wildflower, is currently under development and set to open soon. 

There are plenty of budget-friendly and hotel chain options scattered throughout the region if you’re looking for affordable accommodations outside of camping.

Welcome to Virtual Vacations, our series of meditative audio travel tours of both popular and off-the-beaten-path destinations around the world.

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Ashley Rossi is always ready for her next trip. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram for travel tips, destination ideas, and off the beaten path spots.

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Tip: Carry These Translated Emergency Phrases When You Travel

Whenever you travel to a destination where the primary language is not English, it’s a good idea to learn a few phrases and key words in the local language. This can not only help to locate the nearest baño, salle de bain, or badezimmer when nature calls, it can help save your life.

Whether you take a language class, study a phrasebook, use a language app, or don’t bother with any formal preparation, you should bring an index card listing translations of key phrases you might need for getting help in emergency situations. Keep the card handy in a pocket or bag separate from your wallet (in case your wallet is stolen) that you can easily access at all times. You can also capture this information as a screen shot on your phone, but keep in mind that if your phone runs out of batteries or is stolen, you’ll be out of luck. This is one of those cases in which low tech may be better than high tech.

Choosing which words and phrases to include will be specific to your destination, activities, and needs. But no matter where you’re going, there are some standard translated phrases that are important to have on your translation card:

  • Help
  • Stop
  • Leave me alone
  • Call the police
  • I need the police
  • I need a doctor
  • I need to go to the hospital
  • I had a [car, bike, moped, etc.] accident
  • I have been robbed
  • I need a taxi
  • I need someone who speaks English

Beyond these basic phrases, look at your specific situation and think about other words and sentences that could help you. For example, if you are going sailing on vacation, you might learn some emergency terms associated with boating. Obviously it helps if you practice saying the words in advance, but the card is a good backup for when you’re stressed and not thinking straight. You can also point to the phrase if you’re having trouble pronouncing the word or phrase in a way locals understand.

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Products to Help You Stay Healthy While Traveling

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Editor’s note: This story was originally published in 2008. It has been updated to reflect the most current information.

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13 Best Shoes to Wear in Europe in 2020

A trip to Europe presents the ultimate shoe-packing dilemma—you want to look stylish (and not out of place in running shoes), but you know you’re going to be walking for miles every day on hard sidewalks and cobblestones. I tested out a number of different travel shoes on recent trips to Europe; here are the ones that I would pack again.

The Best Shoes to Wear in Europe This Season

These are the best shoes to wear in Europe because they not only are stylish but also stand up to days of nonstop walking.

Born Julianne

born julianne flats.

I am skeptical of folding flats, because while they are great for packing, they rarely are comfortable for walking. The Born Juliannes completely surprised me—they are not only a stow-and-go flat that folds neatly into a bag for packing, but they offered a high level of support and padding. Born uses a patented handcrafted construction method that sews together the entire shoe at once, which eliminates rigidity and unnecessary seams that rub, and I could definitely tell the difference. The footbed is very cushioned as well, so I didn’t have problems wearing these on hard surfaces. The Juliannes are hands-down my new favorite ballet flats—they didn’t cause blisters or foot fatigue and the tan color matched everything. I packed these and wore them when I was transitioning from sightseeing to dinner, and they worked wonderfully and looked great.

Adidas Men’s Originals NMD_R2 Sneakers

adidas originals nmd r2 sneaker.

Adidas’ sneakers have exploded in popularity among fashionistas—you’ll see stylish locals rocking these throughout Europe. The NMD_R2 style is part of Adidas’ street-style focus, and the design draws inspiration from vintage runners, lending these sneakers an ultra-cool look. In addition to the fashion, you’ll get all of Adidas’ performance technology to keep you comfortable—including a Primeknit upper (which is super light and won’t cause blisters), trademarked boost energy-returning properties, and great arch support.

Ilse Jacobsen Tulip Perforated Slip-on Sneaker

ilse jacobsen tulip performated sneaker.

Ilse Jacobsen’s Tulip Perforated Sneaker is a great compromise between a full-on sneaker and a slip-on flat. The shoe goes on and off easily (it’s perfect for airport security), but still offers plenty of support and padding on the bottom. It comes in a variety of colors and patterns.

Allbirds Wool Runners

allbirds white wool runners.

I’ve written diatribes in the past against wearing white sneakers, but now I have to eat my words, because I rocked Allbirds’ white Wool Runners all over the streets of New York City and Switzerland on recent trips. Made from a breathable merino wool (I wore them on 80-degree days and they didn’t make me hot), these unisex shoes are designed to be worn without socks and look miles different from a regular white workout shoe. The shoes are lightweight and fairly crushable, so they pack easily—plus, they are machine-washable, which is a huge bonus when you’re wearing white. I can’t overstate how comfortable these are right out of the box—and they’re pretty stylish for a sneaker.

Aldo Jille

aldo jille sneaker.

Aldo’s Jille slip-ons work with dresses and pants for either a dressy or casual look, but still pull their weight in the comfort department, making them ideal shoes to wear in Europe. They slip on and off easily at security.

Skechers Ultra Flex Harmonious

skechers ultra flex harmonious shoe.

Knitted shoes have rapidly become my favorites for packing—they weigh almost nothing, plus they squish down easily to save suitcase space. Knitted uppers rarely irritate my feet or cause blisters compared to other more traditional shoe materials, and they offer more ventilation. One particularly comfy option is the Harmonious shoe from Skechers. They’re lightweight, they’re well cushioned, and they come in more than half a dozen colors. If you’re looking for shoes to wear in Europe, you can’t go wrong with knitted ones.

Nisolo Elayna Sneaker

nisolo elayna.

Nisolo’s handmade Elayna Sneakers are definitely some of the most stylish sneakers that I own, thanks to details like rose gold eyelets and waxed cotton laces. Aside from being beautiful, the Elaynas offer comfort and stability in the form of Vibram soles—making these the perfect stylish walking shoes for Europe.

Rockport Raelyn Knit Tie Sneaker

rockport raelyn sneaker.

Rockport takes sports technology, knitted fabrics, and casual style, and combines them into the Raelyn sneaker. It has a great firm sole that’s made from a lightweight EVA material, which provides shock absorption without weighing you down, as well as a patented Ortholite foam footbed that cushions every step you take. The woven fabric textile sock liner means you can wear these with or without socks.

Ecco Soft 7

ecco soft 7 fashion sneaker.

Athleisure sneakers are super on-trend right now, and Ecco’s Soft 7 works the style perfectly. It has a classic, basic look that goes with pretty much any outfit, and is packed with comfort features like a removable leather inlay sole, the Ecco Comfort Fiber System (which fights moisture and odors), an anatomical shape that molds to your foot, and long laces to help you get the perfect fit.

M. Gemi Palestra Minimo

If you think all sneakers are unstylish, you might reconsider after seeing M. Gemi’s Palestra Minimo. These minimalist leather sneakers look good, are built to last, and feel comfortable right out of the box.

Mercanti Fiorentini 48600 Sneaker

mercanti fiorentini 48600 sneaker.

This men’s sneaker from Mercanti Fiorentini is stylish enough to fit in on the streets of Europe but comfortable enough to keep you walking all day. It’s made of leather, with a vulcanized rubber sole and a cushioned footbed.

Bombas Socks

bombas cushioned no show socks.

You don’t want to ruin the look of these cool shoes with regular socks, so I also tested out Bombas No-Show Socks, which are a much lower profile than standard socks. Unlike most no-show socks, these have a special heel grip that prevents them from slipping down and bunching up in your shoes, and they worked with most of the pairs I tried above.

Gekks

gekks insert.

If even a no-show sock is too much for you (like if you’re wearing a ballet flat), I recommend Gekks, a new system that you install into your shoes to give you all the benefits of socks (no blisters, no odors) with no sock lines, even in the lowest shoes. These are ultra-thin and won’t interfere with your shoes’ fit, and you can get ones designed especially for ballet flats, loafers, slip-ons, or sneakers.

For more options, see The Best Women’s Sneakers for Travel and The Best Men’s Sneakers for Travel.

Traveling? Consider Some of Our Favorites

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Caroline Morse would love to hear what your favorite shoes to wear in Europe are. Follow her on Instagram @TravelwithCaroline and Twitter @CarolineMorse1 for shoe and travel inspiration.

Editor’s note: This story was originally published in 2017. It has been updated to reflect the most current information.

Categories
Active Travel Adventure Travel Beach

The 10 Best Bathing Suit Websites for Men and Women

Don’t let swimsuit shopping anxiety prevent you from booking your next tropical vacation. These 10 bathing suit websites make swimsuit shopping easy and breezy … just like those palm trees you’re dreaming of. And since finding the right fit can be particularly tricky for swimsuits, we’ve included the return policies for each of these bathing suit websites.

The Best Bathing Suit Websites for Women

Everything But Water

two female bathing suit styles

The swimsuit website and retail chain Everything But Water doesn’t just sell hundreds of bathing suit styles, but also rash guards, cover-ups, resort wear, and accessories (including sandals, beach bags, sunglasses, sun hats, and more). The bathing suit brand earns a spot on this list for its variety in sizing—there is an entire plus-size line—and its quality. The brand also supports sustainability practices through beach cleanups, donations, and waste reduction and recycling programs within its supply chain.

Return Policy: Full refund for in-store or online purchases within 21 days of purchase. If your order is over $100, return shipping is free; if your order is under $100, an $8 shipping fee will be deducted from the refund.

Anne Cole

two female bathing suit styles

Peruse the bathing suit website from iconic swimwear designer Anne Cole, the inventor of the “tankini,” for stylish, high-quality swimsuits at reasonable prices. The brand offers a plus-size line as well as cover-ups and swim dresses for even more coverage. This year, I have my eye on the Textured Twist swim top and bottom set.

Return Policy: Full refund with free return shipping within the U.S. and within 30 days of the original ship date.

Summersalt

two women wearing bathing suits

The direct-to-consumer bathing suit website Summersalt prides itself on impeccable fit, use of eco-friendly materials, and comfortable, but still trendy pieces. Oh, and did we mention most styles are under $100?  The brand also sells high-quality and reasonably priced loungewear, travelwear, and sleepwear.

Return Policy: Full refund with free return shipping within 30 days of delivery date.

Bare Necessities

two female bathing suit styles

With over 1,000 swimsuit styles, Bare Necessities is your go-to for the best online bathing suit selection. The intimate apparel and swimsuit website offers free two-day shipping and returns to make online bathing suit shopping easier.

Return Policy: Free returns and a full refund on qualifying orders within 60 days of purchase. After 60 days, you receive an online voucher.

Athleta

two female bathing suit styles

Popular athleisure brand Athleta designs a specific swim line each season. We love the bathing suits for their high-performance abilities while still being stylish. From rash guards to swim shorts to bikinis and everything in between, you’ll feel comfortable and on-trend whether you’re just sunbathing or taking a surf lesson.

Return Policy: Free returns for a full refund at any time. You can even wear the item and decide if you like it.

The Best Bathing Suit Websites for Men

Nordstrom

two mens bathing suit styles

You’ll find hundreds of options from popular swimsuit brands like O’Neill, Trunks Surf & Swim Co., Fair Harbor, and Volcom on Nordstrom’s website as well as bathing suits from menswear-focused brands like Tommy Bahama, Barbour, and Peter Millar. With one of the best return policies in the business (see below), Nordstrom is an ideal website to use for testing out different swimsuit styles.

Return Policy: Free returns via mail and full refund with no time frame restrictions. You can also return at any Nordstrom location.

Bonobos

two male bathing suit styles

From solid colors to fun prints (think flamingos), the online men’s retailer Bonobos makes a killer bathing suit line. Note that Bonobos does have select Guideshop locations around the U.S. where you can try on styles and also process returns. This line stands out in particular because customers can customize the waist and length of their swim trunks. Choose from a range of waist sizes from XS to XXL and a length of five to nine inches. Most of the current styles are even made with a recycled polyester fabric.

Return Policy: Full refund within 45 days of the purchase date, or for store credit for up to 90 days after purchase.

Rhone

two male bathing suit styles

Menswear line Rhone might just sell the best board shorts on the market. Constructed with water-flow pockets and a secure waistband, you can body surf, paddleboard, wakeboard, or simply lounge at the pool with no worries in these board shorts. Rhone also sells a trunk style, which is quick-drying and made with four-way stretch for comfort.

Return Policy: Free full refunds within 45 days of purchase.

Chubbies

two male bathing suit styles

Bright, fun patterns are Chubbies’ bread and butter, and the brand’s creativity is visible across all of its swim styles. From roosters to hippos to roaring dinosaurs, pick your print (or solid) in a variety of lengths ranging from four to nine inches. Most styles even come with a back zippered pocket.

Return Policy: Returns and exchanges are accepted within 90 days of purchase.

Hill City

two mens bathing suit styles

Online men’s retailer Hill City sells two well-designed swim styles online: the Easy Swim Short and the Boardshort. Both styles are stretchy, quick-drying, and abrasion-resistant, and have a UV-protective fabric as well as a rear pocket.

Return Policy: Like its sister site Athleta, Hill City offers free returns for a full refund at any time. You can even wear the item and decide if you like it.

Accessorize Your Bathing Suit

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Ashley Rossi is always ready for her next trip. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram for travel tips, destination ideas, and off the beaten path spots.

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.

Categories
Active Travel Adventure Travel Beach Island Outdoors Packing Travel Trends

15 Beach Bag Essentials You Need for Summer 2020

From a clever sand-removing powder to a high-performance water camera, these beach bag essentials will make your trip to the beach much more enjoyable.

HyperGo Body Wipes

After a long day at the beach, you’ll have sand, salt, and sweat on your body. Quickly refresh before heading back to your car—or the closest bar—with HyperGo Full Body Wipe. These biodegradable, hypoallergenic wipes come in a variety of sizes—and they don’t leave a sticky residue. Bonus: The wipes are alcohol-free and also have a moisturizing component.

MyKazoe Waterproof Wet Bag

gray chevron bag and aqua drawstring bag

These water-resistant pouches by MyKazoe are amazingly multi-functional—use them for a wet swimsuit, to separate dirty items from the rest of your beach bag, or to protect your phone or any other valuables from water and sand. You’ll want one in every fun print for your beach bag essentials.

BYRD Texturizing Surf Spray

Throw this sea salt spray into your beach bag for a natural UV filter for both your hair and scalp. It will complement your wavy beach hair and protect your locks and contains only natural or plant-derived ingredients so your hair won’t dry out. I recommend using it on damp hair and reapplying after swimming.

Icy Cool TSA Approved Neoprene Caddy

Keep those beach bag essentials that you don’t want to be exposed to the sun shaded and cool with these bags. Whether it’s your phone, a snack, medications, or toiletry items, these pouches are a great alternative to a cooler. Simply freeze the inserts and place them in the lining of the bag.

Vitrix Kitchenware Bottle Caps

green bottle cap on wine bottle

Throw this bottle stopper in your beach bag so you can close and save your drink on the beach. Each bottle stopper comes in a different color, so you know whose bottle is whose. The stopper fits on bottles like beer, wine, water, juice, or sports drinks, and is a must-have for serious beach days.

Takeya Actives Water Bottle

Stay hydrated at the beach with a Takeya water bottle. These babies will stay cold for 24 hours, and come in sizes as large as 40 ounces. Whether it’s water or something stronger that you want to keep discretely chilled, this bottle will be one less thing to pack in a cooler.

Beach Sandy Sand Remover 

wooden brushes and blue bag

This miraculous brush set removes sand from your body and belongings after a long day at the beach. It wicks away any excess moisture and sand so you won’t track anything back to your car or house. The lightweight beechwood brushes come in a portable microfiber towel bag.

Dock & Bay Towel Microfiber Towel

Dock & Bay makes roomy quick-dry towels that are easy to transport and perfect for the beach. The extra-large size is great for more than one person to use, and the lightweight material makes it easy to shake any excess sand off.

Blue Lizard Sport Sunscreen

Obviously sunscreen and sun protection are beach bag essentials, but I especially love Blue Lizard Sport for its environmentally friendly formula. The formula is also mineral-based and paraben-free. This dermatologist-recommended sunscreen also packs up to 80 minutes of water resistance.

iJoy Beach Bomb Portable Speaker

This portable speaker was made for the beach: It can float, has a long-lasting battery of up to six hours, and is durable enough to handle sand. Amazon reviewers love the sound quality, and the speaker doesn’t take up too much room in your bag.

Beach Reads 

Nothing beats relaxing on the sand with a good book or magazine. Whether it’s a new, juicy novel or your favorite classic, a book is always one of my top beach bag essentials.

I’m currently reading The Futures by Anna Pitoniak, and highly recommend it as a beach read this summer. You can find our full list of the hottest beach reads here, or check out some of our readers’ choices for top beach reads on Amazon.

Nixon CoolPix W300

yellow digital camera

SmarterTravel’s Shannon McMahon tested out this beach bag essential. “I’ve never been one to trust a water-proof case to protect my iPhone, so I jumped at the opportunity to try a Nikon CoolPix W300, which is completely waterproof and can transfer photo and video directly to your phone over Wi-Fi,” she says. “A point-and-shoot camera with its own memory card, it has far better resolution and storage capabilities than my jam-packed iPhone.”

Wallaroo Hat Company Crushable Hats

For more beach bag essentials that will protect you from the sun, you’ll want a stylish hat for the beach. The Wallaroo Hat Company makes crushable hats for men, women, and kids, plus the fabric is UPF 50+ protective. SmarterTravel’s Christine Sarkis loves the Catalina Cowboy Hat for its style, lightweight material, and easy reshaping.

REKS Unbreakable Sunglasses

Sunglasses are a must-have item at the beach, and REKS Unbreakables are one of the ultimate beach bag essentials because they won’t break or scratch, and still have UV 400 protective lenses. Available in a variety of styles for both men and women, just add on floating croakies and you’ll never lose or damage your sunglasses at the beach again.

Zesica Beach Cover Up

A cover-up is a classic, but often one of the more neglected beach bag essentials. I love this light and airy cover-up from Zesica because it’s more like a blanket, and you can adjust it to cover only the areas you don’t want to be exposed to the sun.

For more ideas, see The Best Beach Accessories and Traveler Tips for Your Next Beach Trip.

Cute Beach Bags to Snag this Summer

Stylish Beach Bags

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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.

Editor’s note: This story was originally published in 2017. It has been updated to reflect the most current information.