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February 12, 2013
Travel / Armchair Travel

Armchair Travel

My daughter’s 18th birthday party with family and a few friends in NYC took me weeks of planning. I agonized over restaurants that would please the various vegans, vegetarians, lactose and gluten intolerant among us (Gemma at the Bowery Hotel), then fretted some more over which hotel would happily house four teenagers in one room and us, in close proximity, in another (The Parker Meridien). I even found the perfect party favor (heart boxes stuffed with Moonstruck Truffles from The Chocolate Shell). Thank goodness my sister was handling the birthday cake (Cupcake Cafe). And all for naught. We spent four rather long days snowed in, like the rest of the Northeast, making do with troughs of carb-laden comfort food and cozy fires. Despite a few dramatic moments (power off! now on! now off!) and a mysterious leak in the guest room, we had a surprisingly lovely time. Oh, and we managed to plow through the contents of those fourteen boxes of chocolates, too. Now, however, I am so ready to get the hell out of CT. If you’re in the mood for some armchair travel, here’s my list, from high-brow to budget-babe.

First Stop: Where to go? Shall we book a room at a mansion in Santorini?  How about an eco-daydream in Tulum or the perfect pied a terre in Paris? If you’re on the hunt for a luxury stay at discount prices, head to Tablet.com, a curated selection of unique hotels all over the world, presented in an alluring magazine format. Browse their lists for 8 hotels with Splurge Worthy Minibars or Hotels for Digital Detox, and bone up on your destination with city guides (eat, shop, do) from concierges in the know. Here’s our list:

Tablet
Sign up to get a Tablet subscription in your inbox to get updates on awe-inspiring hotels around the world anonymously visited and evaluated by Tablet’s own team of experts. Feel at ease with their top-notch customer service and online booking that guarantees the lowest price. Click here to learn more and subscribe.
AFAR
AFAR is different than most other travel websites out there, since it’s not just a website but a community as well. This mulit-platform travel brand inspires and guides those who travel the world to connect with its people, experience their cultures, and understand their perspectives. The NYtimes says it bestBrowsing through Afar.com, the user-generated online travel guide, is like chatting with a group of well-traveled friends. 
Fathom
You’ll be glued to Fathom for well-written personal travel stories, city guides, and lists galore including one for the best 24 travelblogs. Check it out here.
Triptuner
TripTuner is a fun travel discovery tool that helps you find destinations based on your tastes, as well as create and share travel wishlists. Inspired by a stereo equalizer, TripTuner’s descriptive sliders let you fine-tune preferences and see matching results immediately. Click here to try it out!
Conde Nast Traveler
Do not leave Conde Nast Traveler out of your armchair travel session! Why? Because they have the: vigorous curiosity to go where so few follow. Take a minute to peruse their Readers’ Choice Awards, 46,476 readers elected 1306 of their favorite properties and places. Read on here.
Jauntsetter
Geared to New Yorkers, but just as useful for us here in CT, Jaunsetter’s destinations are often not far from home; great for weekend getaways. Click here.

Deals
Okay, now that we have a short list of places we want to go, let’s look for deals. Sniqueaway and Jetsetter offer some of the best deals to exotic locations, but it’s a good idea to do the research and take a look around at other sites. Click here for our list of discount travel sites.

Resources
Sometimes it’s possible to find an amazing package deal for your dream trip, but other times a small budget slows you down, or maybe you’re just a more adventurous traveler. Whatever your travel style, there are plenty of spots on the web to help you book your flights and accommodations, or… you can always couch surfQuikbook is my go-to favorite for boutique hotels in the U.S. Recent bargains in NYC included the Ace for $109 and the Standard High Line for $222. Sign up and you’ll get weekly deals like these straight to your inbox. Looking for the latest and greatest? Get the scoop on brand new hotels and openings at Hotel Chatter. I depend on Eater’s Heatmap (where to eat now!) and Essential Restaurant Lists for the best food at my destination. Click here to read my list of travel resources.

Apps: Don’t Leave Home Without Them Tripit tracks and keeps all your reservations in one place. With FlightTrack you’ll always know when and if you’re coming or going. Need a roof over your head NOW? Hoteltonight. Talk to strangers in 40 languages with SayHi. AllSubway features 151 international subway systems. Aroundme will find the closest ATM, parking garage, hospital or virtually, anything else. Skip the journal and record your trip (pix, videos, maps, notes) with hipGEO, a social travel blog.  And shop Minimus before you go for everything from a tiny tube of Tom’s Toothpaste to travel-sized Tabasco.
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