The Summer Travel Issue

12 reasons to get off thy rump and get out there in 2016

By The Editors
March 7, 2016 9:00 am
The Summer Travel Issue

Fact: Summer vacations are better when you plan for them.

Convenient second fact: we spent the last month identifying the 12 quickest and dirtiest excuses for you to skip town this year, so consider said planning fin.

For example, did you know:

That Europe has its own version of Cuba that — until this May — you could only get to by mail ship?

Or that one of Africa’s greatest proprietors of safari is trading at pennies on the dollar right now?

Or that Siberia is kinda sorta mild in July and also stunningly beautiful?

All that and nine more of the best destinations on Earth await.

Summer’s coming. Life is waiting.

Get to going.

Because it’s nice to end the vacation in better shape than you began it

Too often, we leave for vacation super-stressed — and come back super-stressed. And sunburned. Which is why wellness vacations, where making you feel better is the goal, have gained such popularity. While we’re all for an ad-hoc approach — say, cobbling together a week of daily massages at the Four Seasons — it’s better to dive deep, with a seven-day session at the Maui Healing Retreat, which involves yoga, healing meditations, energy clearing and your choice of organic meals and juices. 



HIGH 84-86 LOW 70-72

DON’T FORGET TO PACK:A pair of Birddogs. Half gym short, half swim trunk.

DRESS CODE:How about some organic cotton tees and shorts?

DON’T MISS:Hiking into volcano craters on Haleakala

ORDER:Sautéed local mahi-mahi at Lahaina Grill

AVERAGE FLIGHT:$700 on Delta from LAX to Maui

Because the Best Restaurant in the World is Closing

When Ferran Adrià closed El Bulli, the previous world’s best restaurant, in 2011, he did so with a 49-course “last supper” that drew motivated foodies from all corners of the globe (also, Eva Longoria). The shuttering of Noma — the current world’s best restaurant, and a temple to New Nordic eating — is just as big of news … and it’s a lot easier to get a seat, since Rene Redzepi’s staff are taking online reservations for the summer: tables become available on March 7th for June and March 28th for July. Also, Copenhagen the city is as gorgeous as Copenhageners, the people.



HIGH 59-63 LOW 52-55

DON’T FORGET TO PACK:A jacket. It’s chilly! Also, Redzepi’s book, A Work in Progress.

DRESS CODE: Norse Projects outerwearSoulland

DON’T MISS: Sidling up to the marble bar at Holmens Kanal for a Bonfire: Bulleit rye, cold-brew coffee, chestnut and vanilla

ORDER: Everything you can scoop up at Noma

AVERAGE FLIGHT:$475 for a Norwegian non-stop from JFK

Because where better to celebrate 100 years of the National Parks?

The National Park Service celebrates its 100th anniversary this year — an occasion all good Americans should celebrate by supporting and exploring the parks the NPS protects. Our pick is the original: Yellowstone National Park, which actually predates the NPS by about 40 years. Old Faithful, geysers galore, bison roaming the plains: this is America.



HIGH 70-78 LOW 41-46

DON’T FORGET TO PACK:The double-nest hammock

DRESS CODE:Wicking tops, Stio vests and some “legendary seven-pocket” pants

DON’T MISS:Impossible to choose — but we’ll go with the Grand Prismatic Spring

ORDER:Teddy’s Top Sirloin at the Roosevelt Lodge Dining Room

AVERAGE FLIGHT:$180 from LAX to Salt Lake City, then rent a car

Because there’s more to the Olympics than Rio

While Rio remains the focus of various Olympics- and public health-related dramas (Zika! Sewage in the sailing area! Little kids robbing tourists!), all is relatively calm in Belo Horizonte, around 200 miles inland. It’s home to a handful of soccer matches, including a women’s quarterfinal and semifinal match, plus the men’s quarterfinal and bronze medal games. When you’re not at the stadium, go directly to Inhotim, the world-class art and garden complex — the latter designed by famed landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx and the former featuring work by Matthew Barney, Steve McQueen, Yayoi Kusama and others.



HIGH 75-79 LOW 55-57

DON’T FORGET TO PACK:Mosquito spray.

DRESS CODE:Havaianas, Mormaii sunglasses, Colcci jeans

DON’T MISS:Doug Aitken’s sonic pavilion

ORDER:The Sunday buffet at Restaurante Tambouril

AVERAGE FLIGHT:$1146 on TAM from Miami to Belo Horizonte

Because bad news for the rand is good news for us

The South African rand has fallen so far and so consistently that it was the subject of a Quartz piece entitled “How to explain why the South African rand keeps falling.” With that precipitous drop come deep discounts across the country. We vote for a couple days in the fascinating, underappreciated Johannesburg, followed by a double set of safaris: first at a private Granite Suite at Londolozi, adjoining the grand Kruger, and then south to the Karkloof, just north of Durban.



HIGH 73-79 LOW 46-52

DON’T FORGET TO PACK:Safaris are better with binoculars, especially these 2015 Binoculars of the Year Bushnells

DRESS CODE:Maybe a Stiaan Louw accent piece?

DON’T MISS:The drinks they call sundowners

ORDER:The three-hour, 10-course tasting menu at Cube

AVERAGE FLIGHT:$1,000 on Lufthansa from Newark to Johannesburg

Because long-haul flights are getting cheaper

The cheap fuel prices that are upending the energy industry are slowly beginning to shift airfares — so take advantage of it while you can and book the 14-hour flight to Brisbane, Australia, before continuing on to Byron Bay, the beloved surfer’s town on the coast. Plan on doing as close to nothing as possible at the brand-new beachside resort Elements — except maybe for roaming the 200-acre resort on horseback, camping out poolside in a cabana or booking a massage with star therapist Sally Brown.



HIGH 66-68 LOW 53-54


DRESS CODE:Shorts, half-buttoned button-downs, and some carefully cultivated stubble

DON’T MISS:If ever you’re going to do a sunrise walk on the beach, this is the place.

ORDER:Line-caught fish with spring asparagus at Three Blue Ducks.

AVERAGE FLIGHT:$985 on Air New Zealand from LAX to Brisbane

Because everything’s getting warmer

The warming of Siberia is legitimately terrible news for the planet — but it further opens up a fascinating and not-as-forbidding-as-it-looks region to visitors. A university town, Tomsk has incredible wooden architecture, a thriving street-food market spearheaded by Siberian bliny (pancakes) and friendly inhabitants best met at a soccer game with local team Tom over a couple glasses of local beer Nefiltroff. Want more Siberia? Keep heading east till you get to Lake Baikal, the Southampton of Siberian Russia.



HIGH 70-77 LOW 52-55

DON’T FORGET TO PACK:A visa and your Cyrillic alphabet key

DRESS CODE:It’s more shirts-and-tees than you might think. But dress smart for the nightlife.

DON’T MISS:Getting there — make an adventure of it and take the 55-hour train from Moscow

ORDER:Herring and vodka at Vechnyi Zov

AVERAGE FLIGHT:$600 on Aeroflot from JFK to Moscow

Because traveling with the whole family is the next big thing

It’s hard to guarantee delight for three generations at once. The Sossusvlei Desert Lodge, though, can do the trick: set your parents up with the property’s on-site astronomer for stargazing, get the high schooler on a quad bike to tour the otherworldly surrounding landscape and hand the little ones off to the resort babysitter while you and the wife get a look at the oryx over drinks. Everybody wins when everybody’s busy. Bonus: it’s easy to keep an eye on everyone in the middle of the most spectacular nowhere on Earth.



HIGH 70-75 LOW 45-48

DON’T FORGET TO PACK: Your guide to Namibian wildlife

DRESS CODE:Just avoid “safari clothes” and you’re good

DON’T MISS:Sossusvlei

ORDER:Whatever the chef feels like offering — under the stars, by candlelight

AVERAGE FLIGHT:$2,000 on South African from JFK to Windhoek

Because it’s kind of like the Cuba of the South Atlantic

For generations, getting to St. Helena, a British Overseas Territory between Angola and Brazil, meant a voyage on “the last commercially operating Royal Mail Ship.” No longer: to the presumable delight of the island’s tourism industry, visitors will soon take advantage of a new airport, to be served by a single carrier (Comair) from a single origin: Johannesburg. (Or private.) Once service begins — it’s scheduled for May — get there to hike and explore this remarkably untouched island that proves even a remote prison (in this case, Napoleon’s) can be jaw-droppingly beautiful.



HIGH 85-89 LOW 53-55

DON’T FORGET TO PACK: Napoleon: A Life

DRESS CODE:The water is warm enough for snorkeling — but we’re betting a few British cashmere jumpers won’t hurt

DON’T MISS:Sport fishing

ORDER:Beer, fish and chips at the Mule Yard

AVERAGE FLIGHT:Not yet available — but keep checking

Because Wow is making it cheaper than ever

Thank upstart Icelandic airline Wow for making travel to Iceland — and a bevy of European capitals — super-cheap, especially for the two West Coast cities (S.F., L.A.) it will start serving this summer. Make use of a “Wow Stopover” to get two destinations out of one trip. Our choices: a six-day guided backpacking trip across Iceland’s Hornstrandir Nature Reserve followed by another six days of inversely cosmopolitan consumption (of beer, bars, art, etc.) in Berlin.



HIGH 52-55 LOW 45-48


HIGH 72-73 LOW 54-55

DON’T FORGET TO PACK:Money. The flight will be cheap; Iceland, in particular, is not.

DRESS CODE: Iceland: 66 North gear. Berlin: Skinny jeans, neatly cuffed.

DON’T MISS:There is no more subjective title than “best bar in Berlin,” but our heart is true to Mitte’s Meister Schueler.

ORDER:Iceland: cured cod at Dill. Berlin: the Signature Menu at Tim Raue.

AVERAGE FLIGHT:You need to keep an eye on the website for deals and availability — but expect a one-way ticket from SFO to Berlin for $199 (including taxes)

Because going solo is better

The travel press has recently cottoned on to something intrepid types have known for years: solo expeditions offer a singular and invaluable experience. They’re perhaps best, though, when paired with a mission — like exploring the “caminos del Che,” a loosely knit collection of pathways key to the story of Argentine revolutionary Ernesto Guevara. Sample guided tours for itinerary ideas — we’d start with the museum in his childhood home, in Alta Gracia, and end in Bolivia’s La Higuera, where he was executed.



HIGH 72-75 LOW 42-45

DON’T FORGET TO PACK:Jon Lee Anderson’s biography of the man in question

DRESS CODE:Literally anything but a Che tee

DON’T MISS:A trip to the Guevara family’s mate plantation in Caraguatay, for another perspective on a complex legacy

ORDER:Steak (in a potato and olive emulsion) at Tarquino

AVERAGE FLIGHT:$800 from Miami to Buenos Aires on LAN