Monday Wake-Up: Laptop Vigilantes, Black Tomato Triumphant

● Laptop thieves beware: Whether it’s scouring Craigslist and calling the cops on the seller with your stolen laptop  or finding your theif’s name and address yourself by activating a tracking software, we’re loving these stories of intrepid travelers looking out for themselves. [MSNBC, BBC]

● Happy New Year to us. United Continental Holdings has just announced their plans to install satellite-based wireless internet on their entire fleet between 2012 and 2015. The satellite technology will ultimately mean that they could enable wireless internet access on international flights instead of just domestic. [BTN]

●One of our favorite luxury travel operators, Black Tomato, has won yet another accolade—that would be Best Online Tour Operator at the British Travel Awards. Specializing in custom and insider tours tailor-made for their customers, both individual and corporate, they’ve also spun off Beach Tomato and Epic Tomato to specialize in lifestyle and adventure trips. [Travel Daily News]

●When’s the last time you depended on a giant department store for your shopping? If your answer is “childhood,” well, ours too. So in cities where real estate and building is expensive and space is tight, some developers are looking to these former grande dames for their latest hospitality projects — expect to see converted stores opening in New York and New Orleans, or check out properties in St. Louis and Portland, Oregon, where similar developments have already opened. [Travel Weekly]

The Weekend Takeoff: DC Tweed, Chicago Brew

Washington DC: Make sure to pack your nattiest attire if you’re headed to our nation’s capital this weekend. The DC Tweed Ride invites bicyclists to don their best Victorian-inspired outfits for an “urban fox hunt,” then gather for a retro-style party afterwards. November 13th.

Portland, Oregon: One of the States’ most exciting food & wine cities has a thriving music scene, but we’re more excited about the pregame. Gather at the Portland Art Museum for a tasting of Southern Oregon wines. They’re slightly warmer-weather varietals, and different from the Oregon stock you may have tried. November 13th.

Minneapolis: Have you noticed all your formerly clean-shaven male friends sporting some unusual facial fur lately? Welcome to Movember, a month of moustache-growing to raise awareness and funds for prostate cancer. The Twin Cities is celebrating with the inaugural Movember Art Auction at the Pink Hobo art gallery to raise funds directly via a silent auction of mustache-inspired donated works. November 11th.

St. Louis: The 20th anniversary of the St. Louis Film Festival kicks off this weekend, with features, documentaries, and short films from around the world being screened across the city. Special events include a reading from Susan Orlean, several classic film screenings, and a closing-night awards ceremony and party. November 10th-20th.

Chicago: 3 Floyd’s Brewery celebrates its 15th anniversary with a blowout party and the release of their XV beer, a collaboration between several well-known microbreweries. Chefs including Chicago’s Paul Kahan, Justin Large and Mindy Segal are contributing grub, while live bands provide the entertainment.

Heritage Travel from Kensington Tours

As the year winds down and we all look forward to spending time with our relatives (or not), most peoples’ thoughts inevitably turn to the past—their personal history, and that of their family. According to the luxury travel tour experts at Kensington Tours, that’s been reflected in a rise in bookings for 2012: many guests are citing an interest in lineage and ancestry as a driving force behind their choice of destination.

“Scotland, Ireland, Germany, Poland, France, Italy and Russia are all extremely popular due to emigration around World War II,” says Kensington’s Europe expert Eimear Duggan. However, in other destinations that are traditionally a site for history seekers, such as Israel, the impetus seems to be on shaking things up—as return visitors come to the Holy Land with their families, or with friends, they’re seeking out new adventures in the region, including “hiking, biking, horseback riding, archaeological digs and jeep safaris,” says regional expert Chris Bazos. Customization has long been the name of the game in separating high-end trips from the pack, and this kind of personalization resonates deeply, indicating it’s likely to become a growing category of interest to travelers.

Monday Wake-Up: Best Caribbean Deals, New HK to London Route

● The New York Times takes a look at the best deals in the Caribbean, where many five-star hotels are just a short flight away. [NYT]
● As budget airlines grow ever more profitable, it’s natural that they’d seek to expand their coverage—but is their product a good fit for every market? A survey of European travelers suggests that their budget airlines have a long way to go to convince business travelers that an airline they can put up with for an hour is one they’ll want to take for the long haul. [Travel Daily News]

● Can you name the 7 wonders of the world? You can probably name seven, but you probably didn’t know that there are actually separate lists for natural, ancient, and man-made wonders, and that they’re up for debate. A two-year voting process has established a current “natural wonders” list. [MSNBC]
● If you’re a government employee, prepare to see more of your desk—President Obama has called for a 20% reduction in federal spending, including all non-essential work travel, for a projected savings of $4 billion dollars. [Travel Weekly]
● As usual, the latest growth news is out of Asia, this time from Hong Kong Airlines, who will begin daily nonstop service in March between Hong Kong and London on an all-business class plane. [BTN]

Golf Gear for Travelers

Hoping to hit the links where you’re headed? Of course you are—and sometimes, it’s even a business requirement. But what’s the best golf gear to bring on the road? Here’s how to make sure no tee is left behind.

Titleist’s wheeled golf bag cover goes over your regular bag to protect your clubs and keep your equipment in place. This one uses in-line skate wheels for durable maneuvering and is frequently spotted traveling with PGA Tour players who love its tough exterior and hardware.

We’re firm believers that everything in your suitcase should multitask, but unfortunately, that’s rarely the case for golf shoes. So while they may take up space, you can make sure they’re not costing you weight with a pair of Dawgs, which weigh in at around 7 ounces for a men’s pair and 5 ounces for ladies’.

Veteran golfers have their preferred polarized pair of lenses all figured out, so we’re not going to step in there. But we will say that Callaway’s FT Tunes case justifies its price tag with its built in speaker to play the MP3’s of your choice on the back nine.

“Golf shirt” has become an unfortunate catch-all term for a certain variety of casual-Friday wear that simply doesn’t do justice to any athleticism golfers may possess. Lyle & Scott’s fitted Birdseye polo is cut slim, like the rest of their styles, and is woven from pima cotton, Thermocool Eco, and 5% Spandex to keep you cool and in shape on the course and off.

Travel Skincare Essentials

When it comes to looking your best, travel certainly takes a toll even on the toughest regular road warriors. We’ve put together a regimen (in the order you’ll need them, from before you board to after you step off the plane) that will support your skin in its hour of need—despite your pre-flight cocktail.

Cleanser: When your skin is under stress, it’s not the time to whip out your full chemical arsenal. Stick to something gentle for cleansing, like Kiehl’s Ultra Facial cleanser, a gel formula that’s careful not to overdry.

Moisturizer: Staying hydrated on a plane is key in keeping yourself looking fresh, but when you’ve drunk all the bottles of water you can handle, give your skin a boost from the outside with Amore Pacific’s Moisture Bound spray, which is packed with beneficial natural ingredients like bamboo sap and red ginseng.

Cleansing wipes: Remember your mom’s nightly cold cream treatments? This is like that, but in a much more convenient form. A quick all-over swipe to remove the indefinable ick of travel grime and you’re ready to head straight to a meeting.

Depuffing eye cream: Congratulations, you managed to fall asleep! But between the drinks cart knocking your elbow and your chatty neighbors, it was hardly as restful as you would have liked. Remove the evidence with a de-puffing gel, with a rollerball applicator that sends a hit of caffeine and antioxidants straight to the problem area.

Sunscreen: The first FDA-approved product to use mexoryl, beloved by dermatologists for its UVA-blocking powers, La Roche-Posay’s Anthelios line is nevertheless a light, easily absorbed formula that’s perfect for everyday wear.

Finally, if all else fails, there’s no quicker fix than a cool pair of sunglasses. These unisex aviator frames from Paul Smith are subtle, stylish, and cover all manner of sins.

 

[Image via Ancher/Shutterstock]

BOA Chip Cards Coming, Continental’s Algae-Powered Plane

Today in technological developments that have taken far too long to come to fruition, a few exciting announcements from some big players in the business travel industry. In a surprising service reversal from their recent debit-card debacle, Bank of America has announced that their first chip-and-pin cards will go out in the first quarter of 2012 to U.S.-based corporate customers — a relief for those who travel frequently to regions where the technology is already common (as in, most of Western Europe).

Also this week, Continental ran their much-delayed first biofuel-powered commercial flight from Houston to Chicago, on fuel derived from algae. They’ve agreed to buy 20 million gallons of the fuel starting in 2014, and it looks like other airlines may be following suit: Alaska Airlines and their subsidiary Horizon Airlines will start biofuel flights later in the week.

Your Cat Doesn’t Want to Go on Vacation

But who cares, you’re the boss in this relationship. Right?  As holiday travel planning ramps up, and family and friends replace colleagues and conference rooms in our priorities, our furry friends apparently play a major role in our travel planning, with 85% keeping trips short due to pets, according to PetRelocation.com, a pet-moving service in Austin.

For those of you planning on traveling with your pets, the bloggers at Cheapflights.com have plenty of tips — from the quotidian (packing food and water) to the essential (checking fees and restrictions ahead of time) to help you plan. On the arrivals side, the AP explores different pet residence options, including personal home care and luxury doggie resorts.

[Image via Serg64/Shutterstock]

Shop the Globe Offline

You may have dreamed of the Saks Fifth Avenue Christmas windows or longed to feel posh carrying around a shiny Harrods bag, but these days, the retail outposts that stand for imagination and quality aren’t huge department stores—they’re legendary concept stores around the world that truly embody both their home cities and a certain international sophistication that’s common to all. We’ve showed you our favorite online showcases, but when you’re out on the road here are five that have long been on our hit list—and one we can’t wait to visit.

10 Corso Como, Milan Owned by gallerist Carla Sozzani (you may recognize her last name from the masthead of Italian Vogue—her sister, Franca, is the editor-in chief) this store has been an essential stop for editors and fashionistas on the fashion show circuit as they pass through Milan every year. Opened in 1990, it’s become a brand in its own right, with 13,000 square feet of gallery, bookshop, café, and roof garden making up the physical presence, and numerous collaborations, events, exhibitions, and branded merchandise expanding their conceptual presence. The store is open until 2am and there are outposts in Tokyo and Seoul to serve their loyal Asian clientele—as well as an outlet across the street if you just can’t get enough.

Colette, Paris – From the capacious magazine rack that any fashion fan could get lost in to the impeccable cool of the mannequins upstairs (turned out in outfits so artlessly stylish you’ll curse the stars for not being born a French girl), Colette engages the imagination from the moment you step in the front door. Don’t let the bright aqua-and-white color scheme and space-age fixtures fool you—this store isn’t about futuristic kitsch, it’s all about the now. So sit back at the café with a coffee and absorb the music, the gadgets, and the crowd.

Opening Ceremony, New York – Established in 2002 by a pair of friends who love fashion, Humberto Leon and Carol Lim have taken their vision global while still retaining their uniquely New York sensibility. From their first discovery (Havaianas flip flops) through the rapid growth that followed their headline-making collaborations (Chloe Sevigny, Rodarte) they’ve since expanded to Tokyo and Los Angeles, as well as an outpost in New York’s ultra-hip Ace Hotel. The stores blend hipster high-fashion pieces from names like Proenza Schouler and Alexander Wang with a selection of books, records, accessories, and themed items from the year’s country of focus (this year it’s Argentina) in a homey, wood-paneled environment you wish was your living room.

Dover Street Market, London – Always the home of avant-garde fashion, London is known for producing visual themes that resonate, from the birth of the punk aesthetic to regular influxes of colors and design from the young blood at Central Saint Martins. Dover Street Market’s five industrial-chic floors are stocked with a mix of emerging designers and established names creating progressive fashion in an almost gallery-like setting. Overseen by designer and founder of Comme des Garçons Rei Kawakubo, the store’s goal is to push the envelope, yet there are dozens of super-wearable pieces at every turn—so every visit is really just a chance to train your eye and expand your shopping list.

Graanmarkt13, Antwerp – The stately white townhouse in the Flemish capital has few indications on the outside that it’s inhabited by two of Belgium’s most creative minds—and that’s saying something in this emerging fashion capital. From their home on the top floor, they direct the spacious, warmly lit ground-floor boutique stocked with neutral-toned understated staples from a range of designers, while the first floor gallery is home to a regular rotation of artists as well as new fashion talent. The basement restaurant, overseen by Seppe Nobels, is an intimate space serving sophisticated yet simple cuisine focusing on fresh ingredients with gastronomic scientific influences.

Cara&Co, Sydney and Moscow – With locations in Moscow and now Sydney, Australia as of August 2011, Cara&Co has its fingers on the pulse of two of the fashion world’s latest obsessions: Russian money and glamour and Australian casual cool. The boutiques stay open until midnight, serving up their distinctive range international fashion, vintage pieces, unique perfumes, high-end jewelry, and fun (albeit pricey) gadgets in a gallery-like setting. After the store officially closes, you can still walk down a path through the metal curtains closing off the sales floor in order to get to the restaurant, instant hotspots serving up a cuisine called “Flemish Primitive,” part of a new culinary movement focusing on classic Flemish preparations like beef stews and apple dumplings, but incorporating craft beers and fresh, local ingredients with an emphasis on the veggies—perfect for the fashion crowd.