The New York Times:     Honeymoon Hashtag Hell

The New York Times: Honeymoon Hashtag Hell

 If you ask JP Smith what he remembers most about his 2014 honeymoon in Aruba, he’ll say the sunsets, but not because of their beauty.

“It was like a photo shoot for some magazine that would never exist,” said Mr. Smith, 38, a real estate agent in New York, and he didn’t mean that in a good way. He described the weeklong vacation with his new wife, Natasha Huang Smith, as a “sunset nightmare,” “stressful,” “cumbersome” and “torturous.”

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I recently learned I was a kopophobic traveler.

Before I explain what makes me a kopophobe, I should tell you what the term means. Kopos is Greek for “fatigue,” and kopophobia is a fear of being mentally or physically exhausted, a fear of fatigue.

This fear has affected me all my life, but it wasn’t until the last few years that I identified it—once it was making it hard for me to do my job. I’m a travel writer. I am on the road at least twice a month, sometimes back to back. I love every minute of it, but like most professions, it can be stressful and scary.

What’s so scary about seeing the world? Looks at the numbers. Aviophobia—fear of flying—affects 6.5 percent of Americans, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. A survey conducted by InsureMyTrip found that 73 percent of travelers worry about falling ill or getting injured while traveling. Twenty-six percent are afraid of natural disasters occurring during a trip and 11 percent fear terrorism.

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When it comes to dining in New York City, visitors flock to Soho, the Meatpacking District, the Lower East Side, even Williamsburg, and for good reasons: craft kitchens, chic décor and cheap eats, to name a few. But, not many people are going just a few subway stops away from Times Square to fuel up at restaurants on the Upper West Side, and they’re making a big mistake.

Nonresidents think the UWS is for families and settling down—which it is—but it also breeds a vibrant culinary scene that’s been bursting with flavor since before the first foodie set foot in Brooklyn.

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If you turn east on 44th street off Times Square, and push past the tacky pubs and overpriced delis, you’ll be rewarded with a trip to old New York. Just past the block’s halfway mark, The Chatwal lives in a building that can’t help but catch the eye, and it’s not because it towers above you or glows with flashy lights.

The structure was built in 1905 as the home of the country’s first professional theatrical club, the Lambs. The landmark and former socializing, dining and sleeping spot for people like the Barrymores, John Wayne and Fred Astaire attracts a higher-brow type of traveler for the following reasons.

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As you make your way down designer-lined Madison Avenue toward 50th street, you’ll approach a short and wide neo-Italian Renaissance-style brick building that looks odd in its surroundings, where everything else is tall, thin and shiny (not just the people). You start to picture the rich people that lived here in the past, maybe the Rockefellers, and wonder what it’s used for now. If only it could be your hotel. But all travelers know the world “palace” rarely means anything of royal standards when it comes to hotels. Alas, you get closer and see that beyond the large courtyard—odd for Manhattan—the words “The New York Palace” rest above the front entrance in gold letters. You get that giddy feeling you did as a child when playing dress up. You get to be Serena van der Woodsen for a few days! Yes, this is the hotel the blond beauty lived at in Gossip Girl.

Oh yeah, and in real life it once housed Henry Villard—one of the nation’s most prominent financiers—and the Archdiocese.

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We know what you’re thinking; Club Med is so 1970s and tie-dye. But trust us, Club Med is cool again thanks to their new resorts in upscale destinations like Les 3 Vallées, the world’s largest and highest ski area. Located in the village of Val Thorens, this resort embraces the high-energy vibe the company is known for but balances that with creative décor and Michelin star chefs. As more and more skiers flock to the all-inclusive resort, Val Thorens Sensations Club Med Resort is helping the brand reinvent itself.

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Research on millennials leads us to believe that they are risk-taking, adventure-seeking, passionate, experience-craving, spontaneous world travelers.

Not convinced? Six out of 10 millennials prefer to spend their money on experiences, rather than material things. That’s because they travel for outdoor adventures and cultural enrichment. Of course, like any other traveler, they seek some R&R on the road as well.

Given this information, a cruise—especially a luxury one—is not the type of trip you’d think millennials would enjoy. Stereotypes place millennials in campsites with Wi-Fi or high-tech hotels, driving or biking across countries to take in everything possible. Not lounging on a deck with a fruity drink in hand listening to some corny tunes played by an old polka band. And you’re right, to some extent.

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Bed-and-breakfast virgins, like myself, often avoid this type of accommodation for fear of antique overload, mildew and awkward moments. I can’t say this trip proved I was wrong about bed and breakfasts completely, but the inn that swiped my B&B card proved I was wrong about some.

While it had the homey feel, warm hosts (Peter and Susan MacLaren) and quirky tchotchkes that are the very reasons people visit inns, the West Hill House Bed & Breakfast balanced its traditionalism with modern touches and plenty of privacy.

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When the Four Seasons Resort Dubai at Jumeirah Beach opened in November 2014, everyone who’s anyone was there, from sheikhs to diplomats to the most glamorous Emirati socialites. Servers wearing diamond-encrusted headpieces flanked each side of the main entrance, where circus performers—including men on stilts—welcomed Dubai’s best. The property was covered with Cirque du Soleil-type acrobats and fireworks shot into the sky at the end of the night.

The decadence shouldn’t surprise you. Dubai is one of the most extravagant destinations in the world, where the average driver can be found in a Ferrari and diamonds are everyone’s best friends. Four Seasons, one of the most luxurious hotel brands, fits in perfectly, but surprisingly the resort at Jumeirah Beach is their first in the UAE city. The 237-room hotel on 885 feet of natural beach didn’t disappoint on opening night, but what’s it like on a regular day? Not much different—minus the circus acts.

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As a born and bred city girl, I am the first to admit that I could be staying in a tin hut in the bush and I’d still be blown away (figuratively, but literally as well depending on where the bush is located). However, there is no denying the fact that a stellar hotel can enhance the safari experience. I learned that when the wheels of the small plane I was on touched down in the Madikwe Game Reserve, the fifth largest in South Africa.

I have always loved animals, am anti-zoo and pet store, cry in shelters and want to cuddle anything that doesn’t speak. Seriously, I can see the cuteness in a spider. And I did on this trip. As soon as I learned it was possible to wander amongst wild animals as they roamed freely, I made it my goal to do so.

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As a guest of Claudia Bosch, owner of Casa Palopo and its sister villa in Antigua, I was treated to a glamorous stay at this Guatemala hotel with a large bright room and lots of wine. While not everyone is personally invited to a hotel by its owner, a regular stay at Casa Palopo isn’t much different. There is someone to serve you around every corner due to the property’s small size and copious staff, no one to disturb you due to the abundance of hiding-spot worthy nooks and crannies and always a jaw-dropping view due to its location perched high above Lake Atitlan surrounded by volcanoes.

So, really, I got the average treatment, it just so happens average treatment it pretty spectacular here.

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A high-scoring football team, lots of money, a famous name, and even more famous alums might sound cool when you're researching schools. But all of that does not the perfect college make—in fact, it usually just means it's going to cost more money. There are plenty of schools out there with unique programs, stunning campuses, notable grads, and low tuition that are often overlooked because people simply don't know about them.

We wouldn't want you to miss out on the perfect education for you because you didn't know it was out there, which is why we are shedding light on the seven coolest colleges you may have come across. As you start your search, here's a few to keep in mind!

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Where overpacking is never overrated.

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If you’ve just suffered a messy breakup, or you’re swearing off dating because the last person you stepped out with felt the need to reveal that he lived in his aunt’s closet (true story), travel might be a good way to escape the dreaded, lovey-dovey Valentine’s Day.

But, be careful where you escape to or you could land in a sea of happy couples proposing in front of national monuments. Not at all what you wanted.

If you are looking to trade in flowers and chocolates for alcohol and gambling this Valentine’s Day, here are the 11 least romantic cities in the world—or, at the very least, cities that won’t throw your solo-osity back in your face.

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Between the drag queens in blue wigs and the man who walks around the East Village with a cat on his head, nothing is shocking in New York City. You slinking down the street with a broken heel and a baggy button-down at 7:30 a.m. will not turn any heads. However, that doesn’t take away from how physically uncomfortable it is to be stumbling on one five-inch stiletto, last night’s smeared makeup and a piercing headache. Ahh … the pleasure that is the Walk of Shame.

What would make a New York City walk of shame worse? If the walk didn’t lead to your comfy bed because home just happens to be miles and miles away and the friend who’s couch you are crashing on isn’t answering your calls because they are also recovering from last night.

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You know that thing they say about first impressions: They’re important. And what’s the first thing you see upon entering a hotel? The lobby. So, while it’s also important that the bed is comfy and the bathroom sparkly, it’s the lobby that can make or break a hotel’s reputation. That’s why hotels all over the world spend millions of dollars importing things like rare plants and Italian marble to impress guests the second they walk in the door.

To some hotels, however, unique stone and flora are just the tip of the iceberg. From multi-ton chandeliers to indoor gardens, these 10 hotel lobbies really get that whole “first impression” thing.

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All hotel rooms come with a view. Some of brick walls, some of a parking lots and if you’re lucky, it’s one of those weird corner rooms that looks directly into someone else’s accommodations.

Want our point of view? It can only get better from there. From endless desert to iconic skyscrapers and everything in between, take a look at these photos of the views from eight different accommodations around the U.S.

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Vusumzi Mcongo is a former political prisoner, who served 12 years on Robben Island, which is 5.5 miles offshore from Cape Town, South Africa. He was arrested at the age of 26 and released in 1990. He is a small, gentle man, who speaks so softly you have to lean in to hear him. He is also a tour guide at the Robben Island Museum, which was once a maximum-security prison, where he, Nelson Mandela and 3,000 other prisoners served time for everything from petty theft to political protest during Apartheid.

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So you're embarking on your first overseas journey: Congrats! You're about to have a life-changing adventure. To give you a bit of a head start, we've compiled eleven things that inevitably happen to first-time travelers. From homesickness to lovesickness, here's what you can expect. Bon voyage!

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I love when I travel. No, I’m not saying I just love to be on the road. I actually find someone to love whenever I travel. It’s my thing. I can’t help it. If you ask anyone who knows me about my foreign lover, they will say, “which one?”

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With shows like Downton Abbey and Game of Thrones becoming more popular each season, it’s no surprise that many of us often dream of walking the endless halls of palaces fit for a king and queen. And while you can’t buy a title, you can buy the royal treatment—temporarily. From ornate Indian palaces to gothic British castles, these nine royal residences from around the world have lavish hotels within them or enchanting rentable cottages on the property so that you can get a taste of the finest living on earth.

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The luxury sedan seemed out of place amid the tiny tin houses that make up Motswaledi, Soweto’s most impoverished area. However, the driver, Joe Motsogi, assured our tour group we wouldn’t offend the residents. He would know. A resident of Soweto for over 60 years and the owner of JMT Tours, Joe is a Soweto expert. I know what you’re thinking. Can’t a successful business owner like Joe now get out of Soweto, the famously poverty-stricken settlement in Johannesburg, South Africa? Yes, he can. But he hasn’t, just like many of the neighborhood’s loyal residents.

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As much fun as it is prepping our fall wardrobe (leather skirts! Topcoats! Lace-up booties!), we can't help but daydream about summer. The lobster rolls, the ocean breeze, the sweet smell of sunscreen — okay, we miss the beach a little too much.

Have you ever wondered, though, why places like the Hamptons empty out as soon as Labor Day comes? The beaches are still there, the weather is even more pleasant (goodbye humidity!), and a plethora of restaurants and hotels are still open. Plus, since most people don't think of the Hamptons as anything more than a summer destination, the towns are so much more relaxed in the off-season. It's easier to make reservations, hotel rates are lower, crowds everywhere are thinner, and there are some awesome events that happen in the months that follow.

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When it comes to New York City boroughs that aren't Manhattan, the Bronx is often overshadowed by Brooklyn (thanks to hipsters and Jay Z) and Queens (hello, beer gardens, nature, and amazing Italian food). And, when it does come up, the conversation likely involves Yankee Stadium. Or, Jennifer Lopez. Even Anthony Bourdain — a New Yorker who has ventured all over the world — was surprisingly late to the party on this one. 

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Vacations can be dangerous: You reward yourself with a getaway and then all you want to do is stuff your face and lie around, completely slacking on your regular fitness routine. While you definitely deserve a break, you don't have to let all of your pre-trip work go to waste. But who wants to lug workout gear across the globe? Or spend their entire vacation in a depressing hotel gym? We get it, and clearly the hotel industry does, too. Establishments around the world are making fit travel easier - and more enjoyable - in creative and delicious ways. Here are seven examples. 

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My name is Maggie Parker, and I am a travel addict.

Many people say they are addicted to travel, but the difference between being a travel fanatic and being a travel addict lies in what happens when you return home. When I get home from a trip, I come down so hard it’s as if I spent a week on cocaine or ecstasy (I imagine).

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While on safari in South Africa, your days will look something like this: game drive, eat, drink, repeat. The most important part of the day is obviously the game drive, during which you will hopefully find South Africa’s Big Five (lion, elephant, leopard, rhinoceros, and buffalo). However, don’t overlook the other activities, especially the drinking. South Africa is a country known for its delicious wines, and between sundowners, dinner, high tea, downtime, and nightcaps, there will be plenty of opportunities while on safari to sample the country’s best vino.

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Not much is worse than suffering a long flight squished into a too-small seat, unable to stretch your legs without climbing over your seatmate. That’s what makes travelers so appreciative of first class cabins. However, some airlines are taking comfortable flying to an extreme level, one we didn’t think was possible. From in-flight nannies to designer linens, these first class tickets are so exceedingly lavish, you’ll never want to disembark.

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Every newlywed couple wants their honeymoon to be as romantic as possible, but not all just-married pairs want (or can afford) to jet off to the usual suspects like Paris or Venice. Believe it or not, there are plenty of other places fit for lovebirds looking for an out-of-the-box destination.

If you're planning a quick post-wedding weekend getaway with your fiancé try the nation's capital or head down south to Charleston. For the travel-obsessed couple who's already been just about everywhere on the map, celebrate your marriage somewhere more unexpected like Brussels or Amsterdam.

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With the hilarious new season of Portlandia coming out soon, now is the perfect time to discover the city these weird folks call home. Don’t worry: Portland-ers aren’t offended by being called “weird.” In fact, they embrace the term, as you will see signage everywhere saying, “Keep Portland Weird.” Between the craft beer, comfy flannel, live music scene, doughnuts and outdoor activities, we don’t see anything weird about Portland -- except for the fact that the city is extremely close to perfection. Seriously, if we could envision the perfect place to visit right now, Portland would be it. Here are 10 reasons why.

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When you’re on your way to Montauk from Manhattan, it might feel like you're headed towards the end of the earth, but it’s only the end of Long Island. And we promise, it’s worth it. Which is exactly why so many of us park our beach chairs there for the summer. 

Montauk is the perfect location for those who love the high energy of the Hamptons, but require a little peace and quiet every now and then. It is rare that those two qualities blend together so easily, and Montauk has it down. One minute you are dancing poolside to the sickest DJ in the East End, the next you are passing by old storefronts that transport you back to the '50s. 

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To help you overcome packing-induced stress (and make a better forecast into your future on the road), we’ve compiled a list of travel accessories that are essential to any trip, no matter what the conditions. This universal checklist will help you pack—sans panic—and ensure you have everything you need for a perfect trip, from take-off to touchdown in your hometown airport. 

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