Finding the Perfect Carry-On

The luggage you travel with should be a statement about you. You’re sophisticated; you’re a minimalist. You travel light; you pay excess baggage fees. You’re a techie; you don’t own a smartphone. When someone spots your fancy new suitcase or carry-on, he or she might be impressed, surprised, or curious to know more. Where are you headed? What awaits you when you get there? And where did you get that lightweight, designed by space engineers carry-on with spinners, scratch-resistant shell, and a Bluetooth luggage tracker?

Image courtesy of Sattva / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Whether you might choose a stylish canvas bag or a tech-savvy smart carry-on, if you scan all the options available, you’re bound to find something that just screams “you.”

It’s true that as traveling modes have changed over the years, the way we pack has changed, too. We’ve gone from heavy-duty trunks with no concern for weight limits as we boarded a steamship in the 1800s, to being careful to weigh every piece of luggage and hope the TSA workers don’t ask for a full screening before we board an intercontinental jumbo jet.

When shopping for a new carry-on today, you have more options than ever. Some of the best luggage incorporates all those handy travel accessories. For instance, a built-in battery is now commonplace for modern hand luggage. With the USB ports provided, you can charge your electronic devices right in your bag without having to wait your turn for the public charging stations in airports.

Read our luggage tips below to give you a head start on your shopping experience. Choosing the right luggage will tell everyone around you, “I love to travel.”

Away

When you travel with precious cargo, you don’t want to worry about it. So you put it in a carry-on with an unbreakable shell. Away Travel specializes in protective carry-ons with plenty of storage space inside. The Carry-On has a built-in battery, nylon laundry bag, TSA-approved lock, and premium Hinomoto wheels with 360-degree rotation.

“We don’t make ‘smart’ luggage, we make thoughtful luggage—featuring unbreakable shells, interior compartments, and built-in USB chargers—using the best materials in the world. The result is luggage that is beautifully, functionally minimal. It’s luggage that helps you find your way by staying out of it.”

 

Bluesmart

“The makers of Bluesmart came up with the idea [of smart luggage] after facing luggage troubles that most of us have had to endure at one time or another. Lost luggage, last minute check in of an overweight bag, dead smartphone battery and issues at security are the problems that they think a modern carry on should be able to avoid.”

The designers at Bluesmart thought it made more sense to control your carry-on by using an app on your smartphone. By integrating all those extra travel accessories into luggage, you have less to keep track of – and it’s all on your phone. Featuring a luggage tracker, TSA-approved lock, a super charger, digital auto-locking, and world-class materials, this is one sweet carry-on for the techie in you.

Arlo Skye

If you like stylish, but you still want to protect your belongings, consider Arlo Skye’s The Carry-On. “Founded in 2016 by a pair of former Louis Vuitton and Tumi execs, Arlo Skye is the luggage choice of fashion editors and the international jet set.” With Silent Run Lisof wheels, an aluminum-magnesium shell, built-in charger, and full-grain leather handles, this carry-on says you’re a serious traveler.

 

 

G-RO

G-RO’s Carry-On has one design choice that makes it stand out from the others: big durable wheels. Instead of spinners, these rough-terrain wheels are able to handle just about any surface. This hand luggage features an arched belly design, water-resistant bottom, ballistic nylon, shock-resistant polymer panels, TSA-approved dual locks, an easy-access pocket and an optional charger.

 

Genius Pack

The G3 Carry-On Spinner is just one of several carry-ons Genius Pack offers. Their products have intentionality in every design choice. They create luggage with today’s traveler in mind. The G3 has patented laundry compression technology, organization you won’t find in other brands, an embedded checklist, retractable ID card, and even a jacket strap so you don’t have to carry your jacket. Several optional accessories can be added, such as a micro-travel umbrella and portable mobile charger.

“Genius Pack is a brand that solely focuses on extreme functionality; travel products that eliminate the hassles of travel.”

 

 

 

 

A Botanical Garden Like No Other

The cactus might be one of the most under celebrated plants. But a visit to the Moorten Botanical Garden and Cactarium in Palm Springs, California will give you a new appreciation for this desert succulent. First established in 1938, this cactus paradise is a favorite among locals and visitors alike – for anyone who values the variety of plant life found only in the desert.

What exactly is a Cactarium? Even if it is a made-up word, it brings to mind a protected habitat where cacti can thrive.

“At this gorgeous labor of love just off of Palm Canyon Drive, more than 3000 varieties of desert plants can be viewed and marveled at, including prickly pears, agaves, and cacti.”

When Chester “Cactus Slim” Moorten retired from playing in the silent films of the Keystone Kops, he and his wife Patricia moved out west to make a home in Palm Springs. Patricia was a biologist, and together they found beauty and collected plants in the harsh deserts throughout the southwestern United States, Mexico, and even as far south as Guatemala.

The Moortens eventually designed this desert botanical garden and invited others to come and enjoy it with them. Their celebrity friends recognized their expertise, too.

“Slim and Patricia Moorten designed and installed landscapes for Frank Sinatra and were friends of Walt Disney at his Palm Springs Smoke Tree Ranch. They consulted Disney to help design the western theme of Frontierland at his new amusement park which later became Disneyland.”

Today, the Moortens’ son Clark preserves the garden as the curator. He and the other garden docents keep the cacti and tortoise happy, while giving free tours and sharing expert knowledge.

“Tours are given from late fall to mid spring by Master Gardener volunteer docents. Tours are usually given between 10:30AM and 12:00PM and are free with the price of admission.”

The garden design is intimate and secluded, making it an ideal location for a beautiful desert wedding (they’ve hosted over 1,200 weddings). The garden today has desert plants from different regions of the world: North America, South America, and South Africa. While you’re in Palm Springs, you’ll want to make some time to see the cacti, aloes, agaves, bombax, and mirabilis. Come and discover the beauty of the desert!

Where to Stay

Gorgeous mountain views and nearly year-round sunny weather make Palm Springs, California, a veritable golfing paradise. Stay at Cimarron Golf Resort and you’ll be just steps away from two of the best courses in Palm Springs. Spend a few hours on the golf course and return to the resort, where you can relax in the on-site swimming pool and hot tub or unwind in your comfortable home away from home.

 

Exploring Historic Kailua Village

 

Anyone who visits the Big Island in Hawaii knows there are opportunities to swim, snorkel, scuba dive, and parasail. And the landscape lends itself to some incredible hikes, lava walks, and even mountain climbing. But there’s a side of Hawaii that not everyone takes the time to explore: its rich history.

Every corner of Hawaii has a story to tell. Kona in particular has several historic sites, a monthly stroll through wonderful Kailua Village, and a pier inviting you to take in the pristine turquoise waters of the Kailua Bay.

“When ancient kings wanted a vacation, they gravitated to Kailua on Hawaii Island. At first a fishing village, it evolved into a sovereign retreat and 19th-century political and social hub. Today’s visitors still have a royally good time in this historic seaside town on the Kona Coast.”

Monthly Town Party: Kokua Kailua

One Sunday every month the main street in Kailua Ali’i Drive is shut down to vehicle traffic. Vendors set up their booths and pedestrians can stroll at their leisure, browsing and shopping the local handmade jewelry, copper creations, and wooden decorations. Live musicians serenade passersby all throughout the day. Food vendors are eager to give you a sample of their specialties, such as Scandinavian shaved ice (with ice cream in the center) and falafels (fried chickpea balls in a pita). The next Kokua Kailua is scheduled for Sunday, September 17.

Historic Sites

“Kailua’s story comes alive through its longtime landmarks.” Or so the local historians would have us believe. But when you see a place like Mokuaikaua Church, and then hear the story of the first missionaries who came from Boston in 1820, the historic building no longer just looks like an old church. Visitors to the church can walk inside the structure that was originally erected in 1836 and see a model of the brig Thaddeus that brought the party of 14 missionaries to Hawaii. The stone archway was built in 1910 to commemorate the 90th anniversary of their arrival.

Or cross the street and venture inside Hulihe‘e Palace. General admission is $10, but they offer discounts for military, seniors, and children. Originally built out of lava rock by John Adams Kuakini in 1838, it was a vacation home for Hawaiian royalty. Today the Palace serves as a museum with “beautiful koa wood furniture, ornaments, portraits, tapa, feather work, Hawaiian quilts and artifacts from Hawaii’s royal past.”

Kailua Pier

A beach vacation on Kona reef must include fun in the sun: exploring coral reefs, basking in the sun’s rays, and discovering underwater caves. The Kailua Pier is just the place for snorkeling, boat rentals, kayaking, and swimming with the fish.

“The pier is known for its world-famous canoe events, the Iron-Man triathlon event, Body Glove snorkeling and sunset tours along with kayaking and standup paddle-board rentals.”

Kailua, Hawaii: it’s one of those vacation spots that offers it all. You can shop locally made products, dig into history, and dive into ocean waters teeming with life.

Where to Stay

Kona Reef is a comfortable four-story resort located on the lush western coast of Hawaii’s Big Island. The resort features a swimming pool, hot tub, and barbecue grills, and each unit has either a patio or balcony where from most you can enjoy views of a verdant garden or the crystal clear waters of the Pacific Ocean. Kona Reef is just a 10-minute walk from the historic fishing village of Kailua Kona, a quaint town home to many wonderful restaurants, cafes, shops, and art galleries.

 

Hiking the Red Rock Canyon Trails

Nothing contrasts the glitz and fireworks of the Las Vegas Strip quite like its neighbor, the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. A 33-minute commute of only 22.7 miles from Polo Towers to the Red Rock Canyon Visitor Center will transport you from the bright lights of the Strip to the majestic beauty of sandstone formations in the Mojave Desert.

There’s hardly a better day trip from Las Vegas than to visit Red Rock Canyon.


Red Rock Canyon has 195,819 acres of natural beauty, just begging all those high rollers in Vegas to get outside and enjoy the great outdoors. 26 hikes and trails have been mapped out for hikers to explore the vast geologic formations all throughout the canyon. If you think the desert sounds boring or bland, then you haven’t seen Red Rock Canyon!

“The unique geologic features, plants and animals of Red Rock represent some of the best examples of the Mojave Desert.”

Iron oxide causes the “red, orange, and brown-colored rocks” in the area. The iron concretions and limestone add their own stories to the natural history of the canyon. Even dinosaur tracks can still be seen in the Aztec Sandstone – at three different sites still being investigated by researchers.

Red Rock Canyon is full of wildlife and plants, like the beautiful Crimson Columbine, a red and yellow flower, and the Joshua Tree. The animals that make their home here are something to behold, and include the Chorus Frog, with his black stripe across his eyes, and the Sagebrush Lizard, with his stripes and spots that blend in well with his surroundings. Check out this select list of plants and wildlife.

Hikers can get up close to see interesting petroglyphs and pictographs left behind by past civilizations that lived or passed through the canyon. The hiking trails like Calico Tanks and Ice Box Canyon give hikers exposure to the geology, waterfalls, and open desert of the area. To help you in choosing your trails, this guide gives valuable information, such as distance, average time, and difficulty.

But not all of us are hikers. For those less inclined to climb boulders and scramble up a mountain, the Scenic Loop is a great alternative. Whether riding in a car or on a bicycle, this one-way road has many scenic overlooks and trailheads for you to explore.

“Reaching the park is a breeze and much can be seen from a 13-mile long Scenic Drive. Several trails depart from the Scenic Drive allowing visitors to explore rugged canyon and unique rock formation.”

Where to Stay

Spacious, well-appointed rooms and an ideal location in the heart of the Las Vegas Strip make Polo Towers the place to stay during your next trip to Vegas. The resort is just steps away from fantastic restaurants and world-class casinos, including the MGM Grand and Caesars Palace, and within driving distance of stunning national parks and all the outdoor adventure you can handle. Once you’ve had your fill of Las Vegas for the day, take in the city’s neon lights from Polo Towers’ rooftop pool and spa or sneak in a workout at the on-site fitness center. Make your next Las Vegas vacation unforgettable at Polo Towers.

A Day in the Underwater Museum

Wherever there is water, underneath the surface awaits a fascinating world to those who seek it. The Caribbean Sea is full of old tales of shipwrecks, pirate lore, and natural coral reefs. But it’s only in the Mexican Caribbean, near Cancún, that you’ll find the largest underwater museum in the world.

Cancún Underwater Museum (Museo Subacuático de Arte or MUSA) was founded in 2009 by Roberto Díaz Abraham, Jaime González Cano (Director of the National Marine Park), and Jason deCaires Taylor (British sculptor). Taylor sculpted over 500 figures made of pH neutral clay/concrete. The founders hoped to see coral, lobsters, and tropical fish make a home in and around the sculptures.caribbean sea,

“The Museo Subacuático de Arte, located off the coast of Isla Mujeres in Mexico’s Riviera Maya, is the world’s largest underwater museum. Composed of over 500 life-sized sculptures, MUSA offers incredible displays hidden 28 feet below the ocean’s surface. That means that the only way it can be explored is by diving or snorkeling.”

Their vision was to create a sanctuary for marine life to thrive and invite snorkelers and scuba divers to see them up close – diverting divers from the precious natural coral reefs nearby.

“The exhibitions were designed to draw tourists away from local reefs that were being damaged by snorkelers.”

Over the years, Taylor has added his own unique inspirations to the collection, all while thinking of marine life. Some of his creations, such as “Resurrection” or “The Banker”, are social commentary on today’s thinking and politics. Others, such as a Volkswagen Beetle, were placed to make a welcoming environment for crustaceans.

“The main goal of the museum is preservation, so the clay promotes marine growth to form a complex structure inhabited and colonized by various forms of marine life.”

The Underwater Museum is divided into two galleries: Salon Manchones and Salon Nizuc. Scuba diving is the recommended way to see Salon Manchones. Snorkeling works, too, but the statues are about 30 feet below the surface. Several snorkelers mentioned they were disappointed with visibility on a windy day because the sand on the ocean floor was stirred up, making it difficult to see the statues from so far away.

Snorkeling, glass bottom boats, or the Jungle Tour are the three ways to see Salon Nizuc. No scuba diving allowed here because it is too shallow.

MUSA is not the only underwater museum in the world, but it is the biggest. When you’re in Cancún, it’s an attraction you don’t want to miss. Even if you’re not scuba-certified, it’s a great way to spend the day at this beach destination.

Where to Stay

Club Regina Cancun is a beach resort located in Mexico’s premier vacation destination, nestled between the Caribbean Sea and the Nichupte Lagoon. The location brings ancient and contemporary Cancun to your vacation experience. This destination offers seaside views of naturally turquoise waters; perfect for waterskiing, diving and snorkeling. The resort amenities include an on-site restaurant and bar, and a sparkling swimming pool.

 

Happy Independence day, dear Mexico!

Celebrating in Puerto Vallarta!

Every free nation can trace its independence back to a significant moment in history. For Mexico, that moment is September 16, 1810, when Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla uttered the Cry for Independence (Grito de Dolores or El Grito). Rallying his countrymen to fight against the Spaniards, Hidalgo, a Catholic priest, helped start a revolution that led to Mexican independence almost 11 years later.

That famous moment is commemorated every year on Independence Day all throughout Mexico. Every city brings out its decorations, fireworks, officials, and its own twist or local flavor of how to celebrate the holiday. But some things are consistent in every town. On September 15, at 11:00 p.m., the mayor of the city comes out on the balcony of the town hall carrying the Mexican flag, rings a bell, and then recites the traditional speech that ends with “¡Viva México!” (“Long Live Mexico!”). Thus begins the Fiestas Patrias (national holidays).

“The main event of Fiestas Patrias is a party in the street, overflowing with authentic food stalls, live music and folk dancing until the mayor’s Proclamation of Independence at 11pm. Fireworks soon follow, as clubs and bars across town keep things lively all night – and into morning.”

Puerto Vallarta is one of the best places to join in the national celebration. There’s food everywhere, including some tasty recipes that are saved for special occasions, like Chiles en Nogada. The Taco Fair (Feria del Taco) has to be one of the highlights of the festivities, “as the best taquerias in town serve their succulent creations with a myriad of fillings (fish, shrimp, carne asada, pollo, al pastor, chorizo, etc) and homemade salsas.” Last year’s Taco Fair was a big success at the Lazaro Cardenas Park.

Vallarta Food Tours guarantees visitors to Vallarta City will eat like a local for three hours. Join their food tour to taste authentic Mexican fare like traditional ceviche tostadas, mole enchiladas, and a jalapeño margarita.

“One of Vallarta Food Tours’ favorite ways to celebrate is do our own Vallarta city walking food tour and hit one of the many local restaurants featuring Mexico’s exquisite cuisine.”

Whether you come to Puerto Vallarta, Los Cabos, Cancun, Oaxaca or any other Mexican town to celebrate Mexico’s Independence Day, you are bound to experience incredible cultural displays of dancing, music, arts, crafts, fireworks, local celebrities, and of course food.

At our Inizio Restaurants at our Club Regina resorts, our chefs prepare a special holiday menu for our guests. Make sure to ask each resort for details if you are visiting!

Where to Stay

Club Regina Puerto Vallarta offers comfortable amenities, on-site dining, and easy beach access right in the exclusive Marina Vallarta.

Villa Vera Puerto Vallarta is located near the restaurants and bars of the exclusive Marina Vallarta just a few miles from Puerto Vallarta’s beaches and best attractions.

 

Exploring Whistler’s Valley Trail

In 1982, architect Tom Barratt and other city planners created Whistler’s Valley Trail to give people of all ages a place for recreation and a great way to see Whistler, British Columbia. What started as a trail in the immediate areas around Meadow Park and Whistler Village grew to become a 40-kilometer network of trails connecting Whistler to the five alpine lakes nearby.

Tom Barratt said, “The trail allows anyone to see the wetlands and lakes and forests. It gives you different views of the mountains and lets people who aren’t hard-core hikers or bikers really experience Whistler.”

It doesn’t matter where you start or end up. The trail map can help you identify distances, sights, parks, and difficulty levels of the trail. First choose your form of transportation: walking, running, cycling, rollerblading, or skating. Motorized vehicles are prohibited, except for wheelchairs. Valley Trail is more for the casual stroll or ride with your family (fun for all ages), but it is wide enough to provide two lanes (one for each direction), so even serious runners and cyclists can make the most of it.

“The Whistler Valley Trail is a free and accessible way for people to see the beautiful scenery without having to be advanced cyclists or hikers. Even people in wheelchairs can access the Valley Trail, so it epitomizes the very best kind of family-friendly bike trail – AAA (All Ages and Abilities).”

Dogs are welcome on the trail but must be leashed. There are over a dozen parks that connect to the trail, which give your dog lots of opportunity to come off the leash and run around to make friends and mark some trees. Barking Bay at Rainbow Park is one such place.

Whistler is a great destination in Canada for both summer and winter activities, and Valley Trail fits both categories. Open year-round, Valley Trail invites hikers and fat-tire bikers to enjoy the same views in winter. Some of the trail is designated for cross-country skiing, while other parts are cleared of snow daily for hikers.

“There are few experiences more uniquely Whistler than hopping on a bike or pushing a stroller or wheelchair or skateboard out into the towering rainforests and panoramic vistas of the Whistler wilderness.”

To give you a sense of the picturesque beauty and the too-many-to-count scenic spots, watch this video from GoWhistler. This is adventure travel the Canadian way!

Where to Stay

The Westin Resort & Spa is located in Whistler, British Columbia, Canada, a charming village widely regarded as one of the world’s best skiing and boarding destinations. The resort is ideally located just steps from the base of both Blackcomb and Whistler Mountains, as well as the pedestrian-only village featuring Whistler’s fantastic shops and restaurants.

Westin Resort & Spa