Tag Archives: domestic travel

United States of America map. USA map with states and state names isolated

Every State’s Coronavirus and Travel Information

Even when you arm yourself with the info below—each state’s most useful resources about quarantine rules, caseloads, reopening (or re-closing) plans, and guidance for travelers—it is tough to anticipate all the potential snags of a Covid-era trip.

A smart, safe, luxury vacation within the U.S.—say, in a remote wilderness lodge in Alaska, or on a private sailboat off New England—is possible, but so much depends on your specific individual situation that we recommend you write to us directly for personalized advice. We are longtime travel journalists with a network of smart travel sources, so we’re accustomed to cutting through the noise and news to get reliable answers about travel during Covid-19 (which we’ve been collecting in our Covid-19 Travel section, which includes intel on testing, insurance, and first-hand accounts from travelers). If you are thinking about a future international trip, we can advise you on that too. Don’t miss our article tracking which countries are open to U.S. travelers and what you can do there; if you are fully vaccinated, you can check out the subset of countries where you can travel if you’re vaccinated without pre-trip testing.

Note that the CDC now requires all air passengers coming into the U.S. to have proof of a negative test or documentation of recovery from Covid-19 before they board the plane. This requirement goes for U.S. citizens too. (Masks are required on all forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States and in U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations.)

Once you land, the CDC recommends getting tested 3–5 days later, along with a post-trip self-quarantine of 7 days. Even if you test negative, they advise you to stay home for all 7 days. If you don’t get tested, the quarantine is 10 days. To help with that, we have info on how to get a quick-turnaround Covid test.




No travel restrictions for visitors

COVID-19 Information Hub

Alabama’s COVID-19 Data and Surveillance Dashboard

Traveler Information (Alabama Tourism)



All nonresidents over the age of 10, including those who have been vaccinated, are asked to upload health declarations and information to Alaska’s Safe Travels online portal.

Travelers must provide proof of negative molecular-based SARS-CoV-2 test taken within 72 hours of arrival or take a free COVID-19 test at the airport. If your results are pending or if you take the test at the airport, you must strictly social distance (both at your own expense) until results come back.  A second test taken 5 to 14 days after arrival is requested.

Fully vaccinated travelers do not have to test or quarantine.

Travelers who have documentation that they tested positive within the past 90 days do not have to submit to pre-trip testing or testing on arrival, but are strongly encouraged to get tested after 5 to 14 days in the state.

Beginning June 1, 2021, at participating airports, all travelers to Alaska will be eligible to receive a free COVID-19 vaccine.

COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Information

Safe Travels information

Reopening Plan

Traveler information, restrictions, and advisories (Travel Alaska)



No travel restrictions for visitors

State Coronavirus Updates

Department of Health Services and Reopening Guidance

Traveler information, restrictions, and advisories (Visit Arizona)



No travel restrictions for visitors

Arkansas COVID-19 Information Hub

Arkansas COVID-19 Data Dashboard

Traveler information (Arkansas Tourism)



The state strongly discourags travel, asking people to delay until they’re fully vaccinated. For those who must travel, the advice is to follow CDC guidelines, i.e. get tested 1-3 days before travel, and 3-5 days after travel, and when you get home, self-quarantine for 7 days, no matter what your test results were. If you didn’t get tested, self-quarantine for 10 days.

All restrictions except those for conventions of more than 5,000 attendees are scheduled to lift statewide on June 15.

California COVID-19 Information Hub

Business and activity restrictions by county

COVID-19 Data Dashboard

Traveler Information for the State (Visit California)

Traveler information by region (Visit California)



No travel restrictions for visitors, but they are advised to follow CDC guidelines.

Colorado COVID-19 Information Hub

Colorado COVID-19 Data Dashboard

Information on what’s open (state parks, campsites, retail, etc.)

Traveler guidance (Colorado Tourism)



No travel restrictions for visitors, but the state recommends following CDC guidelines for safe travel. Masks are required in public (indoors and outdoors) when six feet of social distancing is not possible

Connecticut COVID-19 Information Hub

Latest guidance on masks, social distancing, and what businesses are open

Traveler Advice and Regulations (Visit CT)



No travel restrictions for visitors

Delaware’s COVID-19 Information Hub

Traveler Advisory (Visit Delaware)



No travel restrictions for visitors

Florida’s COVID-19 Information Hub

Florida’s COVID-19 Data Dashboard

Florida’s Reopening Plan

Traveler Advisory Updates (Florida Health Department)

Traveler Advice (Visit Florida)

Walt Disney World parks information (including mask requirement)



No travel restrictions for visitors

Georgia’s COVID-19 Hub

Department of Health Daily Status Report

Traveler Advice and what’s open (Explore Georgia)



Hawaii has strict requirements for travelers:

•All travelers to Hawaii (including to Kau’ai) must have a negative Covid test prior to boarding the last leg of their flight to Hawaii and must upload the results to the state’s Safe Travels website before arrival. Anyone without a test or proof of the results must quarantine for 10 days. Travelers without a test or who cannot show sufficient proof of a negative test, must quarantine for 10 days or until they can show proof of negative results (testing and quarantine are at travelers’ own expense). All travelers, regardless of testing, will undergo temperature checks on arrival and must fill out a travel and health form. Some airlines are offer pre-flight virus testing to Hawaii-bound passengers.

Effective July 8: Travelers who have been fully vaccinated in the U.S. can bypass Hawaii’s pre-trip Covid test and quarantine requirement. Travelers must upload their CDC card to the state’s Safe Travels Program and bring the card with them to Hawaii.

•Only certain tests are accepted by the state of Hawaii: FDA-approved NAAT nasal swab test from a CLIA-certified approved partner laboratory.

•Covid tests and quarantine are no longer required for travel between islands.

Hawaii COVID-19 Information Hub

Hawaii Travel info: Safe Travels Hub and test results upload information

Travel FAQs

COVID-19 Data Dashboard



No travel restrictions for visitors, but they are advised to follow CDC guidelines.

Idaho’s COVID-19 Information Hub

Idaho’s Reopening Plan

Traveler Advice (Visit Idaho)



The state has no restrictions for travelers, but Chicago does. The city’s testing and quarantine requirements are based on outbreak data for each state or territory. Travelers coming from a state or territory designated as Orange must quarantine for 10 days (or the length of their stay, if it’s less than 10 days), have proof of a negative Covid test taken within 72 hours of arrival to Chicago, or be fully vaccinated no less than two weeks prior to arrival. Travelers from yellow states do not have to test or quarantine. Everyone has to wear masks and abide by social distancing.

Illinois COVID-19 Information Hub

Chicago COVID-19 Information Hub

Restore Illinois reopening plan

Chicago reopening information

Chicago Emergency Travel Order and yellow/orange state designations



No travel restrictions for visitors

Indiana’s COVID-19 Information Hub and Data Dashboard

Traveler Resources (Visit Indiana)

Traveler Resources for Indianapolis (Visit Indy/Indianapolis Tourism)



No travel restrictions for visitors, but they are advised to follow CDC guidelines.

Iowa’s COVID-19 Information Hub

Current Case Status Dashboard

Traveler Advice (Travel Iowa)



Quarantine is required for visitors who have been on a cruise, been to a mass event outside the state, and from certain states and countries. The length of the quarantine varies with each situation, and the list of states and countries is reviewed every two weeks. The length of quarantine may be shortened depending on whether you’ve been tested.

Kansas’s COVID-19 Resource Center

COVID-19 Cases Dashboard

Traveler Guidance (Travel KS)



No travel restrictions for visitors, but they are advised to follow CDC guidelines.

Kentucky’s COVID-19 Information Hub

Latest updates and openings

Travel Advisory (Kentucky state government)



No travel restrictions for visitors

Louisiana’s COVID-19 Information Hub

Traveler Information (Louisiana Travel)

Traveler info for New Orleans (New Orleans Tourism)


As of May 1, visitors from all states are exempt from Maine’s previous quarantine and testing requirements. However, if a state has a spike, the Maine CDC will re-apply requirements for visitors to and from that state.

Maine’s Coronavirus Hub

Division of Disease Surveillance and current data

Travel Protocols, FAQs, and Openings (Visit Maine Tourism)


No travel restrictions for visitors

COVID-19 Information Hub

Covid Data Dashboard

Reopening Plan

Traveler Guidance (Visit Maryland) 


Visitors and returning residents are advised to follow a 10-day quarantine.  If a traveler can show a negative test result administered up to 72 hours before arrival, or if they are two weeks out from their final dose of a vaccine, they may bypass quarantine (but quarantine must be observed until the test results are received). Visitors staying in Massachusetts for less than 24 hours can also bypass quarantine

COVID-19 Information Hub

Reopening Plan

Covid-19 Travel Advisory (state government)

Tourism information and Traveler FAQ (Visit MA) 


No travel restrictions for visitors

COVID-19 Information Hub

Reopening Plan

Guidelines for Traveles (Michigan tourism)



No travel restrictions for visitors, but they are advised to follow CDC guidelines.

COVID-19 Information Hub

Reopening plan and phases

Travel information (Minnesota Department of Health)

Travelers Guidance (Explore Minnesota)



No travel restrictions for visitors

COVID-19 Information Hub

Mississippi Case and Data Dashboard

Traveler Guidance (Visit Mississippi)



No travel restrictions for visitors

COVID-19 Information Hub

Missouri Recovery Plan

Traveler Guidance (Visit Missouri)



No travel restrictions for visitors

COVID-19 Information Hub

Traveler Guidance and Resources (Visit MT)

Contact Info for Montana’s Tribal Nations and Reservations



Visitors to Nebraska from domestic locations have no travel restrictions, but anyone arriving from an international destination must follow CDC guidelines.

COVID-19 Information Hub

Nebraska Case and Data Dashboard

Traveler Recommendations (Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services)

Traveler Guidance (Visit Nebraska)



No travel restrictions for visitors

COVID-19 Information Hub

Reopening and phases plan

State-wide Traveler Information (Visit Nevada)

Traveler Information for Las Vegas (Visit Las Vegas)


New Hampshire

Travelers from domestic locations have no travel restrictions, but are advised to follow CDC guidelines, including getting a PCR test 3-5 days after travel.

Travelers returning from cruises or international travel must quarantine for 10 days. They may test out of quarantine if they take a PCR test on day 6 or 7 (antigen/rapid tests are unacceptable), results come back negative, and they are asymptomatic. But the state advises these travelers to self-monitor for symptoms for all 10 days and strictly adhere to mitigation measures.

Travelers do not need to quarantine for 10 days or get tested for COVID-19 if either of the following apply: They have had both doses of a Covid-19 vaccination and more then 14 days have passed since receiving the second dose, OR they tested positive for active COVID-19 infection (by PCR or antigen testing) in the last 90 days (if the infection was more than 90 days ago, then the traveler must follow the quarantine rules).

COVID-19 Information Hub

Cases and Data Dashboard

Reopening Plan

Traveler information and quarantine rules (state)

Tourism resources (Visit NH)


New Jersey

Non-essential travel is strongly discouraged, but if you do travel it is recommended that you follow CDC guidelines and get tested 1–3 days before the trip and 3–5 days after. Even if you test negative, you should still quarantine for 7 days. If testing is not available or results are delayed, you should quarantine for 10 days.

Fully vaccinated travelers and those who have recovered from Covid-19 in the past three months are exempt.

All travelers from from New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, or Delaware (even if unvaccinated) are also exempt.

NJ’s COVID-19 Information Hub

Live Data Dashboard

Traveler Quarantine Information and Health Form (Visit NJ)

Reopening Plan


New Mexico

Travelers arriving from high-risk states (with a 5% or higher positivity rate over a 7-day average) are advised to self-quarantine for at least 10 days and to seek out a Covid test. Testing locations and availabilities are available at togethernm.org.

COVID-19 Information Hub

Cases and Data Dashboard

COVID-19 Related Travel Restrictions & Recommendations (New Mexico Department of Health)

Traveler information (New Mexico Tourism)


New York

There are no quarantine or testing requirements for asymptomatic domestic or asymptomatic international travelers arriving in New York, but the state still recommends testing and quarantine for the following groups:

•Fully vaccinated individuals who have not recovered from COVID-19 in the past 3
months are recommended to get tested 3-5 days after arrival in New York from
international travel.
•All unvaccinated domestic and international travelers who have not recovered from COVID-19 in the past 3 months are recommended to get tested 3-5 days after arrival in New York, consider non-mandated self-quarantine (7 days if tested on day 3-5, otherwise
10 days), and avoid contact with people at higher risk for severe disease for 14 days,
regardless of test result.

All travelers must still complete the Traveler Health Form unless the traveler had left New York for less than 24 hours or is coming to New York from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont.

New York State’s COVID-19 Information Hub

Phased Regional Reopening Information

Cases and Data Dashboard

NY State Covid-19 Travel Advisory (state government)

NY State Traveler Information (NY State tourism)

New York City Traveler Information (NYCGo)


North Carolina

No travel restrictions for visitors

COVID-19 Information Hub

Data Dashboard

Reopening Plan with information on local restrictions and what’s open

Traveler Guidance (Visit NC)


North Dakota

No travel restrictions for visitors, but they are advised to follow CDC guidelines.

COVID-19 Information Hub

Reopening Updates

Traveler Guidance (State Health Department)

Traveler Guidance (ND Tourism)



No travel restrictions for visitors, but they are advised to follow CDC guidelines.

COVID-19 Information Hub

Data Dashboard

Ohio Reopening Plan

 State Travel Advisory (Ohio Department of Health)



Travelers are requested to wear face masks and limit participation in indoor gatherings for 10 to 14 days, in accordance with CDC guidelines.

COVID-19 Information Hub

Traveler Guidance (Oklahoma Department of Health)

Traveler Guidance (Oklahoma City)



Travelers are requested to self-quarantine for 14 days. Travelers are exempt if they are 14 days past their final vaccine dose and have no COVID-19 symptoms.

COVID-19 Information Hub

Reopening Plan and County Status

Travel Alerts (Travel Oregon)



No travel restrictions for visitors

COVID-19 Information Hub

Cases and Hospital Data

Traveler information (Pennsylvania Department of Health)


Rhode Island

Domestic travelers from hot spots (the list is updated regularly) must provide proof of a negative Covid test taken within 72 hours of arrival  or quarantine for 10 days.

International travelers must quarantine for 10 days, but If you have a negative result from a test taken at least 5 days after you arrived, you may shorten quarantine to 7 days.

Fully vaccinated travelers do not have to quarantine but are still encouraged to get a COVID-19 test between 5 and 10 days after out-of-state travel.

COVID-19 Information Hub

Reopening Plan

Tourism information (Visit Rhode Island)

Traveler Guidance and FAQs, including testing sites for visitors (RI Department of Health)


South Carolina

No travel restrictions for visitors, but anyone who has traveled is advised to stay home as much as possible and to wear a mask in public.

COVID-19 Information Hub

State Parks Information

Traveler Guidance (State government)


South Dakota

No state travel restrictions for visitors, but some tribal lands are closed to anyone without a permit for providing essential or emergency services. See more information about tribal checkpoints here.

COVID-19 Information Hub

Reopening Plan

Cases and Data Dashboard

Tourism information (Travel South Dakota)



No travel restrictions for visitors

COVID-19 Information Hub

Cases and Data Dashboard

Traveler Guidance (Tennessee Vacation)



No travel restrictions for visitors

Texas’s COVID-19 Information Hub

Cases and Data Dashboard

Reopening Plan

Travel updates (state government)

Traveler Guidance (Travel Texas)



No travel restrictions for visitors

Utah’s COVID-19 Information Hub

Cases and Data Dashboard

Utah State Parks Information

Utah National Parks Information

Traveler Guidance (Visit Utah)



Domestic travelers do not have to quarantine, but unvaccinated visitors (including children and Vermont residents) must have a COVID-19 test within 3 days prior to arriving in Vermont (see rules here).

International travelers must follow CDC after-travel guidelines for testing and quarantine.

Visitors to Vermont must follow the same gathering rules as locals. See full details here.

COVID-19 Information Hub

Cases and Data Dashboard

Traveler requirements and FAQ (Vermont state government)

Traveler Guidance (Vermont Tourism)



No travel restrictions for visitors, but they are advised to follow CDC guidelines.

COVID-19 Information Hub

Cases and Data

FAQs about openings, restaurants, and more 

Traveler Information (Virginia Department of Health)

Traveler Guidance (Virginia Tourism)


Washington, D.C.

A negative test (taken within 72 hours of arrival) is required for travelers from jurisdictions with more than 10 cases per 100,000 people.  Any traveler staying in Washington, D.C. for more than 3 days must take another test within 3 to 5 days of arrival.

-Those who are fully vaccinated (and do not have Covid symptoms)
-Those who have tested positive in the last 90 days and do not have symptoms.
-Visitors from Maryland, Virginia, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Guam, Hawaii, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, Northern Mariana Islands, Oregon and the Virgin Islands
-Visitors coming into D.C. for less than 24 hours

COVID-19 Information Hub

Traveler Guidance (Washington D.C. Tourism)

Open/Close Information on Museums, Restaurant, Festivals, and Attractions


Washington State

No travel restrictions for visitors, but they are advised to follow CDC guidelines.

COVID-19 Information Hub

Cases and Data Dashboard

Reopening Plan

Traveler information (Washington state government)


West Virginia

No travel restrictions for visitors

COVID-19 Information Hub

Traveler Guidances (West Virginia Tourism)



No travel restrictions for visitors, but the Wisconsin Department of Health Services recommends residents cancel or postpone travel, even within the state, unless they are fully vaccinated.

COVID-19 Information Hub

Cases and Data

Traveler Guidance (Wisconsin Department of Health Services)



No travel restrictions for visitors

COVID-19 Information Hub

Travel updates (Wyoming Department of Health)

Traveler Guidance (Wyoming Tourism)


Additional Resources

CDC Guidelines for Domestic Travel (CDC)

CDC Guidelines for After International Travel (CDC)

COVID-19 cases by state (CDC)

Covid-19 Travel Recommendations by Country (CDC)

COVID-19 Risk Map for Every U.S. County (Harvard Global Health Institute)

Health departments by state (CDC)

Mask mandates and business restrictions by state (The New York Times)

Mask mandates by state (Pew Trusts)

National Park restrictions by state (National Park Service)

Restaurant restrictions by state (Open Table)

How to Get a Quick Covid Test for Travel (WendyPerrin.com)

The Countries That Have Reopened to U.S. Travelers With No 14-Day Quarantine and What You’ll Find There (WendyPerrin.com)

How to Stay Safe on a Road Trip During Covid (WendyPerrin.com)

Pandemic-Era Travel: The Trip Reviews That Matter Most Right Now (WendyPerrin.com)

We’re here to help

Right now is a remarkable opportunity for global travelers who are vaccinated. When your friends say that travel is problematic as a result of the pandemic—rental cars aren’t available, service even at 5-star hotels is shoddy—the problem is they’re not planning their trips right! Travel can be spectacular now if you choose the right destination, know the savviest local fixers, and approach them the optimal way. Check out these recent trip reviews to see the difference that Wendy’s WOW approach to trip planning makes. And if you’re looking for a similarly carefree travel experience, contact us at Ask Wendy.

Be a safer, smarter traveler: Sign up for Wendy’s weekly newsletter to stay in the know. And read real travelers’ reviews of Wendy’s WOW List and use it to plan your next trip.

Sunrise in Spartanburg, S.C. Road Trip, Wendy Perrin Covid-19

What a Road Trip During Coronavirus Is Really Like

A lot of Americans still don’t understand this virus. Especially the Americans you find in roadside convenience stores. Almost every convenience store attached to a gas station has a sign that says “Mask required,” yet almost nobody inside is wearing one.

That was my family’s main takeaway from our first road trip during coronavirus. On June 18, nine days after New Jersey’s stay-at-home order was lifted and 105 days after we had begun quarantining in March, Tim and the kids and I had to make a road trip to Atlanta (an essential trip for urgent family reasons).  We planned to stay in a bubble except for the time on the highway when we would need to leave the car. We did the full 14-hour drive in one day, leaving at 4 a.m. to avoid rush-hour traffic in as many cities as possible en route. We took I-78 to I-81 to I-77 to I-85 (a relatively rural and low-traffic route that we’ve driven many times). We did the same thing heading back north on June 23, again leaving at 4 a.m.

The farther south we went, the more traffic was on the roads, and the fewer people wore masks. Indeed, the main danger on our road trip, we discovered, was other people. Not only are a lot of people in roadside convenience stores not wearing masks, but they are not staying six feet apart. They brush past you in doorways, in the aisles, at the cash register. And the store managers don’t seem to care. We never saw any mask-wearing requirement enforced. In fact, some store workers didn’t wear masks either, and almost none wore gloves. Coming from New Jersey, where we live in a responsible community (a New York City suburb) that succeeded in flattening the curve and drastically lowering our infection rate (note the NJ graph here), the rules to follow to avoid spreading the virus have become second nature to us.  Tim was in Manhattan for doctor visits two days before our trip, and everybody he saw wore a mask.  We’ve grown accustomed to conducting all transactions in a touchless manner. So imagine my surprise when ungloved convenience-store employees took my credit card with their fingers. (I used a lot of disinfectant wipes on my card during this trip.)

In every state, gas was amazingly cheap—usually $1.75 a gallon. In a past life, we would fill up at gas stations and, while there, use the bathroom and buy food. Those days are gone. On road trips today, the acts of getting gas, using a bathroom, and buying food need to happen at three different places.

car, dog, Charlie, road trip, family Covid-19

My older son and our dog, Macy, had the second row of our mini-van all to themselves. Behind that gray hanging blanket blocking out daylight was my younger son, asleep in the third row.

Based on our experience, here are my five biggest pieces of advice if you’re headed out on a road trip soon:

1. Use the restrooms in state welcome centers.

They’re relatively empty, spacious, and clean, and a relatively touchless experience from start to finish, with few, if any, door handles. Do not use the restrooms in the stores attached to gas stations: It will mean navigating door handles or knobs and people who may brush against you in narrow corridors and stand next to you because there aren’t enough sinks to space yourselves out.

2. Choose hotels where rooms have private entrances and windows that open to let in fresh air.

You can look for motels where each room has a separate entrance onto the parking lot, but such rooms may not have windows that open. Your best bet may be older hotels that have either freestanding cottages or rooms with balconies where you can leave the balcony door open, letting in fresh air throughout the night. Look in areas where you might find historic inns or sprawling old-fashioned resorts with individual bungalows. Because we were driving with our dog, and the only pet-friendly rooms I could find along our route with the aforementioned criteria required a half-hour detour from the highway, we decided to forego hotels and just cram our drive into one day each way. In Atlanta, we stayed with family who, like us, had stayed safely at home for months.

3. For meals, use drive-throughs or pick up curbside.

If you have prep time, of course you can pack picnics and stop in picturesque areas to enjoy them. We didn’t have that kind of time. We packed a ton of snacks, but my two teenaged boys can get ravenous, so for hot meals, we either used fast-food drive-throughs or called ahead and picked up curbside from restaurants near the highway, using Apple Maps or Google Maps to find our best options a few miles ahead of us on the road.

4. Reconfirm curbside-pickup orders.

We ordered takeout 12 times in five days, and not once did we receive a correct order. Sometimes we ordered by phone, sometimes online, but every time, mistakes were made. It’s awkward to attempt to double-check an order that you’re picking up curbside—it isn’t feasible to look through bags and containers to determine if something is amiss—but at least you can, before driving away, look at the receipt to make sure that the order is yours and that the number of items in the bag matches the number of items you ordered. When my 18-year-old, Charlie, realized that a Longhorn Steakhouse in Atlanta had given him bags meant for a different customer, we had by that time encountered so many mistakes that he didn’t even bother returning to Longhorn to see if they could fix the problem. Instead, he called the phone number on the receipt, reached the customer who had been given our bags, and did a direct swap with the other customer.

5. Pack—and have available in the car at your seat—a supply of masks, gloves, disinfectant wipes, hand sanitizer, and tissues.

The tissues are for when you need to touch your face and you’re not sure your hands are clean enough (you can scratch your nose with a Kleenex), or in case there’s no toilet paper wherever you’ve stopped. And remember to put on gloves when you pump gas, especially since you won’t be washing your hands at the gas station!


Be a safer, smarter traveler: Sign up for Wendy’s weekly newsletter to stay in the know. And read real travelers’ reviews of Wendy’s WOW List and use it to plan your next trip.

Newfoundland scenery

Extraordinary Getaways in the U.S. and Canada

When you can’t plan far in advance and don’t want to travel too far from home, here are options for a wide variety of extraordinary trips in the United States and Canada. If you’re not sure which Trusted Travel Expert is the best fit for your particular trip goals, feel free to Ask Wendy.

“Our teenagers are still talking about our Southern California trip…”

The Gill family WOW Moment.

The Gill family’s WOW Moment.

“Our teenagers are still talking about our Southern California trip, especially the paragliding adventure over the beaches and golf course at Torrey Pines and our beach barbeque at Crystal Cove State Park while watching the sunset with our toes in the sand.  Sheri was very helpful in recommending and organizing hotel stays at both the new hipster Pendry Hotel in San Diego and the luxurious Pelican Hill Resort outside of Newport Beach.  We initially had a little misunderstanding with the resort regarding our room location, but after a short conversation with Sheri, we were quickly upgraded to a room with a much better view (thanks, Sheri). This type of personalized service is the reason we plan most of our trips using Wendy Perrin’s trusted travel experts.  Since this was our third qualifying trip, Wendy surprised us with a WOW Moment—a day of adventure on charming Coronado Island. Our guide for the day picked us up at our hotel for a short ferry ride over to the historic island, where we spent the day riding electric bikes around the quaint residential areas, and then we kayaked out into the Bay. Thanks, Wendy and Sheri, for a very memorable day for all of us! ” —Janette Gill

Utah: “The sunset at the rim of Bryce Canyon displaying blazing shades of yellow, orange, and pink…”

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah.

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah. Photo: Mark Campbell

“Our trip to the national parks and monuments of Utah was a breathtaking adventure, thanks to Wendy’s Trusted Travel Expert.  We experienced moments in time that were transformative: The Navajo guide who sang to us in his native language while we were sitting within a grotto at Monument Valley; the slot canyon tour that resulted in absolutely amazing photos, thanks to another native Navajo guide who helped us with our Nikon camera settings, thus maximizing the camera’s capacity to capture vivid colors within the stunningly colorful canyons; the sunset at the rim of Bryce Canyon displaying blazing shades of yellow, orange, and pink; the drive at the base of the canyons at Capitol Reef that could have so easily been missed, had she not pointed this out to us; lastly, the hot-air balloon ride at the Amangiri.  I still cannot believe we experienced all that we did.” —Linda Johnsey

Atlantic Canada: “There were breathtaking panoramic views, rugged coastlines, fascinating history, photogenic lighthouses…”

Gros Morne Western Brook Pond fjord, Newfoundland

Gros Morne Western Brook Pond fjord, Newfoundland. Photo: Maxxim Vacations

Jill arranged a wonderful itinerary for our four-week road trip through Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland. There were breathtaking panoramic views, rugged coastlines, fascinating history, colorful houses, photogenic lighthouses, quaint ports, interesting art, gourmet food offerings, a lot of friendly people, and outstanding activities such as a private tour of Green Gables where you would have believed that Anne herself was taking us through Marilla’s home, a lighthouse picnic in Ferryland with million-dollar views whichever way you looked, a private boat tour exploring the rugged Atlantic coastline between the sea stacks, a sailing boat on the inland sea at Baddeck, and a guided hike to two amazing areas of Gros Morne National Park. It certainly is an advantage to get a local person to arrange an itinerary such as we have enjoyed and organize special accommodations and activities that you would not find if you did not have that local knowledge. It was also a real treat to meet Jill while we were there; it added an extra-special personalized moment for us.” —Paul and Karen Fehlberg

Alaska: “We caught ten 15-pound salmon in Talkeetna (and we had never fished before)…”

A Kodiak brown bear, Alaska

A Kodiak brown bear, in Alaska. Photo: Entree Destinations

“This was our third trip to Alaska—and it was a ‘WOW’ trip for us, thanks to Judith. We flew to the remote village of Anaktuvuk in Gates of the Arctic National Park, caught ten 15-pound salmon in Talkeetna (and we had never fished before), saw bears at Brooks Falls, saw sandhill cranes at Creamers Field, hiked around Byers Lake, got a private tour of the Morris Thompson native heritage center, reached ‘The End of the Road’ in Denali National Park…. Everything was just a delight!  And without Judith’s knowledge as to where to stay, what flying companies to work with, what fishing licenses were needed, and the many details and connections that were necessary for this trip, I could not have put it together without being frazzled and worried about making sure things worked as intended. This was a delightful, stress-free trip.  Judith and her team even arranged the weather for us to get a ‘clear’ view of Denali.” —Marsha Friedli

Wyoming: “She found us the perfect cabin in the Tetons…”

kayaking in jackson lake grand teton national park

Grand Teton National Park is full of outdoor activities in the summer, including kayaking on Jackson Lake. Photo: Billie Cohen

“We—my wife and I and our six-year-old twins—were searching for a memorable 10-day Thanksgiving trip in the mountains anywhere in the West that had the best chance of snow. After advising us as to the pros and cons of every mountain area from Colorado to British Columbia, Wendy’s Trusted Travel Expert steered us toward Jackson Hole, Wyoming. She found us the perfect cabin in the Tetons for half of the time and then obtained a truly phenomenal suite for us at the Four Seasons. We booked excursions in the refuge to see bison, hundreds of elk, and bighorn sheep, and we were directed to great hills to sled on and wonderful hiking areas. It was a five-star experience.” —Garrett Bandy

Great Bear Rainforest, British Columbia: ” The looks on our daughters’ faces were priceless…”

fisherman in a river with a helicopter parked nearby in the mountains of British Columbia Canada

Heli-fishing in British Columbia, Canada. Photo: Entree Destinations

Marc arranged a private heli-fishing tour in the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest. We were first a little hesitant due to the cost, but now we can honestly say that this was by far the highlight of our trip to BC!  Our heli-adventure began with a very scenic ride out to an isolated stream where we fished for pink salmon under the watchful eyes of bald eagles that were nesting in the trees above. The looks on our daughters’ faces were priceless as a mama black bear and her cub ventured to the other side of the stream for a drink. Next we flew past majestic waterfalls to a glacier where we ate a delicious, gourmet picnic lunch followed by a short hike around the fields of flowers and streams. Our adventure continued as the helicopter landed on a very small sandbar on the side of a rushing river to fish for coho salmon followed by another scenic ride back to our resort. It’s these little touches from Marc and his relationships with his service providers that made our vacation to Canada go from good to GREAT…hotel room upgrades, restaurant recommendations and reservations, a personalized foodie tour of Granville Island Market with a personal chef, a candy bar and birthday celebrations for our girls, and a delicious cheese/fruit tray for my husband and I.” —Janette Gill

California Road Trip: “A wonderful road trip on the Pacific Coast Highway from Mendocino down to San Diego…”

Bixby Bridge on the Big Sur coast of California

Bixby Bridge, on the Big Sur coast of California. Photo: Visit California/Myles McGuinness

“Wendy recommended a Trusted Travel Expert who helped us plan a wonderful road trip on the Pacific Coast Highway from Mendocino down to San Diego. He suggested a number of curated visits that were amazing. We especially liked a fabulous canoe trip down the Big River in Mendocino, a bike and wine tour through Sonoma, and a guided tour through Point Lobos (one of the most beautiful spots on earth). He knew the best rooms to stay in—we had some unbelievable views of the ocean from our hotels. It was one of our best trips ever—a definite WOW!” —Cathe and Bob Spear

Maui and Lanai: “We were unsure which Hawaiian islands we wanted to visit…”

Four Seasons Maui balcony

Four Seasons Maui. Photo: Four Seasons

“We were unsure which Hawaiian islands we wanted to visit, but Dani asked our family (four adults) so many questions about what we expected and how we wanted to spend our time, and was so well-informed, that we ended up with a fantastic vacation. We decided on the Four Seasons resorts on the islands of Maui and Lanai, which turned out to be perfect choices. Dani arranged all of our activities: surf lessons, paddleboard lessons, skeet shooting, archery. We had dinner reservations ready and were able to just enjoy our days. A highlight was our WOW Moment, biking down Haleakala through sun and clouds. Just a pleasure! Dani also maximized our time by advising us to take the ferry to Lanai, but to fly from Lanai to Maui instead of using the ferry again. Great advice!” —Nancy Stone

Prince Edward Island: “We had an unbelievable meal that lasted the entire evening…”

chef cooking over fire at Inn at Bay Fortune Prince Edward Island Canada

Inn at Bay Fortune, Prince Edward Island.

Jill planned a fabulous trip for us in the Canadian Maritimes that included an evening of Nova Scotia wines and local specialties at Le Caveau (you haven’t lived until you’ve eaten Brant Lake Wagyu beef), staying at Glenora Distillery on Cape Breton Island, and dinner overlooking the Atlantic Ocean at Panorama at the Cabot Links golf course. The pièce de résistance was our WOW Moment at The Inn at Bay Fortune on Prince Edward Island, where we had an unbelievable meal that lasted the entire evening. A farmer regaled us with stories about his farm and some of what we would be eating, we had a feast of oysters, and everything was cooked over an open flame! Little did we know there would be another WOW Moment the next morning, when we met the chef carving up a 322-pound tuna in the kitchen. ” —Sonja & Brian Haggert

The Olympic Peninsula to Vancouver and Victoria: “Scenic drives, hikes inside national parks, ferry rides…”

A beautiful sunset on the ocean among the rocks, Cape flattery trail , Olympic Peninsula, Washington state

Cape flattery trail, Olympic Peninsula, Washington state. Photo: Shutterstock

“For our trip from the Olympic Peninsula to Vancouver and Victoria, Sheri planned all the logistics, telling us which ferries to take, what time to visit a national park, what to do only on a sunny day rather than a cloudy one, which hikes to take in light of the ages of our kids, restaurants that we would enjoy, traffic advice, museums to visit, and more. She helped us find a great vacation home in the Olympic Peninsula that we would never have found on our own. We were initially reluctant to hire a travel agent who charged for her time, but we are so glad we did because she was worth every penny. Much of the detailed itinerary planning she does wouldn’t yield a commission for her—for example, planning scenic drives, hikes inside national parks, ferry rides—so I understand why she bills for her time the way she does and would highly recommend her.” —Sally Vaugh

Oahu and Maui: “There are many beaches to stop at, and you can see which is the right one for you…”

Hawaii - Kaneohe Bay, Oahu

Aerial view of Kualoa Point at Kaneohe Bay, Oahu, Hawaii. Photo: Shutterstock

Dani did a five-star job planning our Hawaii trip; her recommendations were awesome. If you go to Oahu, head to the North Shore to catch the real vibe of Hawaii. Take the Kamehameha Highway; there are many beaches to stop at, and you can see which is the right one for you. At Pearl Harbor, don’t miss the USS Bowfin Submarine tour and the USS Battleship Missouri. Maui is so much more than the west side of the island. Be sure to explore upcountry, and take the Road to Hana. Make dinner reservations at Merriman’s—in the Kapalua area of the North Shore—for 30 minutes before sunset. But get there earlier so you can sit outside and watch the day end while overlooking Kapalua Bay! As for Lanai, it’s very laid back and a restful place to chill, but be sure to take the 4 x 4 drive to The Garden of the Gods and beyond to Polihua Beach. The journey is the destination! Shipwreck Beach is interesting too: Where else can you walk out to a WW2 ship run aground on the shoals?”  —Joe Linnehan

Disney World: “…carefully planning the order of parks we would visit to make best use of open hours and Disney Magic Hours…”

Fireworks at Disney World, Orlando, Florida.

Fireworks at Disney World, Orlando, Florida. Photo: Disney

“My husband, two grandsons, and I just returned from Disney World, where we had a fabulous trip, largely due to Michelle. She worked with me on a detailed itinerary, carefully planning the order of parks we would visit to make best use of open hours and Disney Magic Hours (which we took full advantage of). She suggested that we stay at Disney’s Beach Club Resort because she said it had the best pool for our grandsons. With its pirate ship, slides and other water-park features, she was absolutely right. Michelle got reservations for a fun sit-down dinner each day, giving us a chance to take a breather and eat some interesting and healthy food. Each restaurant was convenient to where we were spending the day; I could see the wisdom of all her choices as we went through the week. One dinner even included VIP seating at Hollywood Studios’ excellent light show. On the day we qualified to sign up for our Fast Pass choices, Michelle selected the attractions that were most popular and geared to our grandsons’ ages and interests. She also ordered our Disney wrist bands that were linked to our hotel room, parks, Photo Pass, and credit card. I didn’t even have to carry a purse when we went out for the day. She made it possible for us to focus on memories instead of logistics. That’s a big reason why our grandsons announced to their parents when we returned that it was the most fun trip they had ever been on.” —Christine Stoll

Whistler and the Discovery Islands, British Columbia: “So remote, with beautiful scenery and gourmet food…”

aerial view of Sonora Resort in the Discovery Islands, British Columbia

Sonora Resort in the Discovery Islands, British Columbia. Photo: Tim Baker

“My husband and I and our two teenage daughters wanted to go to British Columbia, but to avoid any really crowded areas. Marc suggested we spend a few days in Whistler, then a few days on Sonora Island, and end in Vancouver. He set us up for fun activities in Whistler—RZR cars, white-water rafting, zip lining—and we were treated to a WOW Moment: A photographer gave us a personal tour of several waterfalls, giving us photography tips along the way and taking family photos; although I am the photography buff in the family, he was able to engage the whole family and everyone really enjoyed the experience (thank you, Wendy!). We then took a seaplane to Sonora Resort, which the entire family agreed was heavenly. So remote, with beautiful scenery and gourmet food. On our eco-adventure tour we were lucky enough to be in the middle of a pod of about 100 dolphins. The food at Sonora Resort was so delicious that on the first night at dinner our daughter said, ‘Thank you for bringing me here.’ Finally, in Vancouver, Marc suggested the Fairmont Pacific Rim for us, which also was in a fabulous location. Since we are foodies, he planned a food tour at Granville Island, where there are so many booths that it was helpful to have an expert direct us; the tour allowed us to sample more items in small quantities than we could have done on our own. Although I was very involved with the details of our trip, I didn’t have to figure out where to go or how to get there or worry about logistics during my vacation. That made it a true vacation for me.” —Nancy Wolf

Oregon: “She got us into the cellar of a family-owned winery…”

View of Cannon Beach and Indian beach in Ecola State park Oregon

View of Cannon Beach and Indian beach in Ecola State park Oregon. Photo: Shutterstock

“Wow, do not hesitate to hire Sheri when planning your trip to Oregon. Highlights: She snagged a 7 pm dinner reservation with a view at a restaurant that was booked solid three months out; she got us into the cellar of a family-owned winery in the Willamette Valley where the owner popped off the cork of the barrel and asked us to listen to the crackling sound of wine fermenting; she arranged for tide pooling at Haystack Rock on Cannon Beach. All of the resorts were spot-on, and her restaurant suggestions for dinner were culinary delights—especially the chef’s tasting menu with wine at Castagna in Portland. Her detailed planning service is worth every penny.” —Linda Johnsey

Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Newfoundland: “Excursions which we never could have arranged by ourselves and about which my three grandchildren never stop talking…”

Newfoundland scenery

Newfoundland scenery. Photo: Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism

“For our three-generation family trip to Atlantic Canada—Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland—Jill arranged excursions which we never could have arranged by ourselves and about which my three grandchildren never stop talking. These included a boat trip where we dug for clams, pulled up lobster traps, gathered fresh mussels and oysters, and had a wonderful lobster boil on a secluded beach. Another boat excursion was to islands dark with puffins, murres, razor bills, cormorants and other birds, and a boat tour of coastal resettled communities during which we saw whales.  We also had a songfest in a private home with guitar and accordion. And we (and some say this was the best) hiked along the shore with Lori, a chef, who pointed out plants which were edible and then used them to make a sumptuous lunch. The vistas of inland lakes, pine forests, and ocean fronts were magnificent. This was a visit of a lifetime.” —Richard Goldin

Washington, D.C.: “We were able to get special access to the Supreme Court…”

The Supreme Court building exterior in Washington, D.C

The Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. Photo: Shutterstock

Emily’s team did a great job helping us with our Washington, D.C., trip. I was completely befuddled by the plethora of options—and even though I booked just one tour with them, they gave me very solid advice in plotting my itinerary. As it turns out, we were able to get special access to the Supreme Court that day. They were also nice enough to switch our tour to the British Museum for an upcoming London trip. That guide did a fantastic job: He made our high-school daughter look shockingly knowledgeable when she was able to answer questions about ancient Mesopotamia a few months later.” —Susan Hughes

Alaska: “The only backcountry lodge permitted to conduct guided hikes within the Park…”

Denali National Park, Alaska

Denali National Park, Alaska. Photo: Michael DeYoung/Alaska Tourism

“There are travel agents, and then there are travel experts. When going to Alaska, you can buy a nice package deal off of a travel agent, get a cruise, take some side tours and perhaps an extension to Anchorage, Katmai, Talkeetna, Denali or Fairbanks. You will see great places, but you will be part of a crowd. We wanted to see how an Alaska travel expert could customize a trip to meet our desires. Our main objective was to see one of the wildest areas of North America—the backcountry of Denali National Park and Preserve. There are very few travel-agent packages that take you this deep. So Wendy put us in contact with Judith. A travel expert like Judith will book you in a place that is off the grid, 92 miles inside Denali, in the only backcountry lodge permitted to conduct guided hikes within the Park and Preserve. Despite the location, this lodge is a first-class operation. She will also connect you with a behind-the-scenes tour with a native Alaskan and a first-rate guide for birding in Talkeetna. We usually do our own driving, but Judith convinced us to try the Alaska Railroad GoldStar Service between Fairbanks, Denali Park, Talkeetna and Anchorage. Good move, with wonderful travel on each leg of the trip. The views from the train were spectacular, and meeting other train travelers was a fascinating experience. Warning: Alaska is expensive. But Judith will provide a first-class experience of a lifetime. Only about 30% of the people visiting Denali get to see ‘The Great One.’ Judith gave us an excellent shot of seeing the highest mountain in North America. We succeeded and now are part of the lucky 30%.” —Henry Sosinski

Maui and The Big Island, Hawaii: “She even managed to snag us an upgrade to a suite…”

Four Seasons Hualalai pool Hawaii

Four Seasons Hualalai, Hawaii. Photo: Four Seasons

“We used Danis help to put together our trip to Maui and the Big Island of Hawaii.  It was a great trip packed with hiking, a sunrise visit to the top of Mt. Haleakalā and a subsequent bike ride down, surfing lessons in Lahaina, and a helicopter tour of the Big Island, including the active volcano.  Dani was in constant contact with us throughout, which was greatly appreciated, as we had questions about various things while we were there.  We had mentioned this trip was a celebration of our wedding anniversary, and at both of our hotels there was chilled champagne and sweet treats, courtesy of Dani.  She even managed to snag us an upgrade to a suite at the Four Seasons Hualalai, which was a pleasant surprise.” —Joseph McBrine

Unclaimed Baggage Center Wendy with wedding gowns

Your Lost Luggage Is For Sale in This Store in Alabama

I can hear the screams of agony. I can see the tears flowing. I see the bridesmaid left out of the wedding photos because her dress never made it to the wedding. I see the road warrior shaking with rage because his laptop has disappeared forever. I see the zombie stares from the airline reps who don’t really care.  I hear them parroting the company policy you agreed to in the fine print on your airline ticket.

That’s what fills my mind as I walk through what is, for travelers like Wendy and me, the creepiest store in the world. Even though we drove several hours out of our way just to see it. Even though the place is light and airy—even cheerful. The merchandise, though used, is practically new and includes many top brands and designers. The store is as tidy as Grandma’s house, and the employees greet you with a genuine welcome and the hospitality that the South is famous for.

This is the Unclaimed Baggage Center in Scottsboro, Alabama. It’s 40,000 square feet of your stuff, bought in bulk from the airlines’ baggage equivalent of the dead letter office.

Unclaimed Baggage Center laptops

The laptop section is scarier than a Stephen King novel.

Unclaimed Baggage Center swimsuits

The swimsuit section scares too. For most women, a flattering swimsuit is one of the toughest items to replace when you’re traveling.

Think of the Unclaimed Baggage Center as a nice-smelling Salvation Army or Goodwill thrift store, full of stuff you had no intention of selling. In fact, probably some of your best stuff. Remember what was in your suitcase the last time you traveled? That’s what you’ll find in this store’s aisles and racks … along with displays of bizarre keepsakes discovered in lost luggage over the years.

Unclaimed Baggage Center religious objects

These precious religious objects, found in lost luggage, are on display but not for sale.

The Unclaimed Baggage Center started in 1970 when Doyle Owens bought a pick-up truckload of “unclaimed baggage” from Trailways Bus Lines in Washington, D.C., and brought it to Scottsboro for resale. Today, the store’s stock comes almost solely from the airlines. After an airline has spent 90 days attempting in vain to reunite passenger and bag, and after restitution has been paid, the Unclaimed Baggage Center buys the unlucky luggage sight unseen and hauls it to Alabama. The contents of each bag are triaged into 25 sub-categories: sell, donate, launder, trash, etc.

No different than any big department store, the facility is divided into sections such as men’s, women’s, and children’s fashion; jewelry; shoes; formalwear; swimwear; sporting goods; electronics (laptops, cameras, cell phones); office equipment; etc. Naturally, there’s a suitcase department too. Prices seemed a tad higher than thrift-shop prices, but good values were easily found. Camera equipment and sporting-goods prices seemed fair. All computers’ files have been deleted, and the software has been restored to operating systems only.

Unclaimed Baggage Center paddleboard

Passenger to baggage services staff: “Well, it’s a paddle board, it’s blue and gray, it’s 12 feet long…”

Unclaimed Baggage Center cell phones

Here’s a quick way to get over your smartphone addiction.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, fewer than three out of every 1,000 bags checked on domestic flights were lost last year. But the Unclaimed Baggage Center stocks 7,000 new items every day.

In a daily event promoted as “The Unclaimed Baggage Experience,” a lost suitcase gets “processed” in front of an audience. One lucky customer is picked to be the first to open it, with everyone else watching. It’s part archaeological dig, part gift-opening time at a birthday party, part slowing down to see an accident on the freeway. Items in the suitcase are divided into four categories, with the event emcee and the audience helping to make decisions to sell, launder, donate or trash.

The Unclaimed Baggage Center even offers a free personal shopper service: “Our top notch personal shoppers will help you build your summer wardrobe, spruce up your office style or create a look for a special event!” reads the sign. You can even become an “Unclaimed Baggage Insider.” Just text “UBC Insider” to 33233, and you can be the first to know about “Roll-out Tuesday Highlights” and more.

Unclaimed Baggage Center formalwear

The Formal Wear department

Unclaimed Baggage Center bridalwear

Bridal accessories

Unclaimed Baggage Center shoes

Formal shoes too—at a steep discount

I can understand the attraction of this store to non-travelers. The Unclaimed Baggage Center claims to get a million visitors per year. I’ve heard about this place for decades, and it was well worth the visit. If only I didn’t know the backstory.

The Mission: Return a Lost Item to Its Owner

Just a few minutes into the Unclaimed Baggage Center, I realized what I had to do: Sleuth out an item and glean enough evidence to help me return it to its rightful owner.

I found the sort of thing I was looking for in the Sporting Goods department: a lacrosse helmet bearing a Zurich Lions decal. That decal was a huge clue. Lacrosse is a North American sport. There couldn’t be too many Swiss lacrosse players. How hard could it be to track one down?

Unclaimed Baggage Center sporting goods

Tim found what he was looking for in the Sporting Goods department.

Unclaimed Baggage Center helmet

How hard could it be to find a member of a Swiss lacrosse team?

Standing in the Sporting Goods department, I did a quick Internet search on my phone and found an email address for the Zurich Lions lacrosse team in Switzerland. The tag on the helmet said it had arrived at the store on March 29, 2018. It was initially priced at $69.95 but had been marked down twice. I bought it for $35 and sent an email to the Zurich Lions.

The president of Zurich Lacrosse was amazed and connected me with the helmet’s owner, Johannes Lohner, now living in Vienna. Johannes had played for the Zurich Lions while studying in Switzerland—he got the helmet when playing at the European championship—and, after returning to his native Vienna, he played for Austria at the world championship.

The helmet was actually never in his checked luggage, Johannes says: He unintentionally left it at the gate in Vienna when boarding a Lufthansa flight to the U.S. (He’d spent the previous night celebrating his army promotion, so that may have been a factor.)  United Airlines took over the hunt for the lost item and never found it. Johannes, who also played for the U.C. Berkeley lacrosse team while pursuing his master’s degree there, says he’s been playing with borrowed helmets ever since.

So I shipped the helmet to Johannes … and, a couple of weeks later, received an ebulient thank-you note.  “I really enjoyed my time in Berkeley,” Johannes writes, “and your gesture is the best example to show how great and open you Americans really are.”  He also sent a photo of himself reunited with his helmet.  And my boys and I have been invited by the Zurich Lions to play lacrosse with them the next time we’re in Switzerland.

guy with lacrosse helmet

Here’s Johannes reunited with his lacrosse helmet in Vienna.

But Wait There’s More in Scottsboro, Alabama

Scottsboro, which sits an hour southwest of Chattanooga, Tennessee, and two hours northeast of Birmingham, has a charming, historic town square that looks like a movie set, with the county courthouse right in the middle. The town is known for the landmark “Scottsboro Boys” legal case: In 1931 nine African-American teens were falsely accused of raping two white women on a train passing through town. After several trials, the Supreme Court threw out the convictions— because African-Americans had been systematically excluded from the jury and the boys had not been granted due process—thus setting landmark legal precedents.

We visited Scottsboro in the early morning, so many shops were not open yet, but the Variety Bake Shop was. The shop is a blast from the past, and the maple glazed donut was the best I’ve had in years. Maybe ever. The Variety Bake Shop had no iced coffee for Wendy, though, so for that we went to Pine Bros. Coffee Co., a local hangout with an indie vibe.

Scottsboro’s other must-visit is Payne’s Sandwich Shop and Soda Fountain, which opened in 1869. Talk about a throwback movie set, complete with black-and-white floor and red-vinyl-covered counter stools. It’s the kind of place my buddies and I used to ride our bikes to.

How Not To Lose Your Luggage in the First Place

A trip to the Unclaimed Baggage Center will convince you to take extra precautions the next time you entrust your luggage to an airline.

* Make sure your name, mobile phone number, and email address are attached to the bag in a way that can’t get caught and removed in the machinery of the baggage systems.

* Put the same information on at least one piece of paper taped inside the bag too, so that it is the first thing someone will see when opened. I always put my name and mobile number on our kids’ carry-ons too, as well as on electronics and other valuables inside the carry-ons.

* If your luggage is the same color as everyone else’s, then affix something to your bag to differentiate it—say, a red ribbon, or a purple handle—so that other passengers don’t mistake your bag for theirs and run off with it.

* Use your smartphone to snap a quick photo of each bag you check. If the airline loses it, a picture of your bag will be worth a thousand words.

* Get to the baggage carousel before it starts disgorging bags. If you’re not there when your luggage comes out, it’s more likely to go astray.

Unclaimed Baggage Center Wendy parking lot

The Unclaimed Baggage Center can make for an interesting detour on a Deep South road trip.

Unclaimed Baggage Center store exterior

Be a smarter traveler: Read real travelers’ reviews of Wendy’s WOW List and use it to plan your next trip. You can also follow her on Facebook, Twitter @wendyperrin, and Instagram @wendyperrin, and sign up for her weekly newsletter to stay in the know.

Fakarava island in french polynesia with canoe on turquoise blue water

New Flight Routes That Could Improve Your 2018 Travels

At the start of each new year, as I plot out my travels for the year ahead, I like to look at the new routes and flights being launched. That’s not just because airlines sometimes offer special fares on introductory routes. It’s because these added flights indicate which places are growing in popularity and thus are best visited sooner rather than later (when they could get overrun).

It’s not at all surprising to see airlines adding routes in 2018 to destinations that have skyrocketed in popularity, such as Iceland (which in the past few years has gone from blissfully empty to teeming with tour buses), Portugal (a hot spot, thanks to a buzzing architecture-and-design scene, stylish new hotels, and exciting new food and wine experiences) and Hawaii (which is currently so in-demand that top hotels are already almost sold out for the 2018 Christmas-New Year holiday). Personally, I’m most excited about the new non-stop from New York to the Azores, the sunny Atlantic islands off Portugal that will soon be reachable from JFK in only six hours.

These are the new flights, all from major U.S. hubs, that excite me the most:

Atlanta to Lisbon, Portugal, on Delta, starting May 24.

Chicago (O’Hare) to Venice, Italy, on American Airlines, starting May 4.
Chicago (O’Hare) to Vancouver, Canada, on American Airlines, starting May 4.
Chicago (O’Hare) to Calgary, Canada, on American Airlines, starting June 7.

Dallas to Reykjavik, Iceland, on American Airlines, starting June 7.

Houston to Sydney, Australia, on United, starting January 18.

Los Angeles (LAX) to Kona, on Hawaiian Airlines, starting March 12.
Los Angeles (Long Beach) to Honolulu, on Hawaiian Airlines, starting June 1.
Los Angeles (LAX) to Paris (CDG), on Delta, starting June 16.
Los Angeles (LAX) to Amsterdam, on Delta, starting June 16.
Los Angeles (LAX) to Shanghai, on Delta, starting July 2.

New York (Newark) to Porto, Portugal, on United, starting May 4.
New York (Newark) to Reykjavik, Iceland, on United, starting May 23.
New York (JFK) to the Azores (Ponta Delgada), Portugal, on Delta, starting May 24.
New York (JFK) to Nairobi, Kenya, on Kenya Airways, starting October 28.

Philadelphia to Dublin, on Aer Lingus, starting March 25.
Philadelphia to Budapest, on American Airlines, starting May 4.
Philadelphia to Prague, on American Airlines, starting May 4.

San Francisco (Oakland) to Kauai, on Hawaiian Airlines, starting April 12.
San Francisco (SFO) to Madrid, on Iberia Airlines, starting April 25.
San Francisco (SFO to Zurich, Switzerland, on United, starting June 7.
San Francisco (SFO) to Tahiti, on United, starting October 30.

Seattle to Paris (CDG), on Air France, starting March 25.
Seattle to Dublin, on Aer Lingus, starting May 18.

Washington, D.C. (Dulles) to Edinburgh, Scotland, on United, starting May 23.
Washington, D.C. (Dulles) to Hong Kong, on Cathay Pacific, starting September 15.


ALSO: Southwest Airlines has promised to start flying to Hawaii in 2018 from multiple U.S. hubs, but has not yet revealed where or when. Hurry up, Southwest. Travelers need those extra flights!


Be a smarter traveler: Read real travelers’ reviews of Wendy’s WOW List and use it to plan your next trip. You can also follow her on Facebook, Twitter @wendyperrin, and Instagram @wendyperrin, and sign up for her weekly newsletter to stay in the know.

pink flowers and green plants blooming along a road with a mountain in the distance in Denali National Park Alaska

Your National Parks Calendar: Which Park to Visit Each Month

National parks are not just for summertime. The United States national park system offers so much diversity—climates range from tropical to subarctic, and from arid deserts to lush rainforests—that in every month of the year you can find a park worth visiting.



January: Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho

snowy scene of hot spring steaming in winter in Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park in winter. Photo: tpsdave/Pixabay

This usually crowded park is almost deserted in winter, so services are quite limited, but the wildlife viewing is amazing, and the steam and ice create stunning scenes. You can go cross-country skiing, showshoeing, and riding in snowmobiles or heated snow coaches. If you don’t score a room at the one hotel inside Yellowstone that’ll be open this winter, you can visit on a day trip from Jackson, Wyoming.

Related: Insider’s Guide to Yellowstone

February: Saguaro National Park, Arizona

Saguaro cacti, desert national park Arizona

Saguaro cacti, Arizona. Photo: samuriah/Pixabay

This park’s two sections—the Tucson Mountain District and the Rincon Mountain District—lie in the Sonoran Desert to the west and east, respectively, of the city of Tucson. The weather there is not as extreme in winter, when daytime temperatures range from the low 50s to the high 70s (it can get up to triple digits in summer). Explore its trails by foot or horse to see the continent’s largest cacti, the namesake of the park.

March: Big Bend National Park, Texas

Santa Elena Canyon in Big Bend National Park Texas

Big Bend National Park, Texas. Photo: NPS Photo/Ann Wildermuth

With three strikingly different landscapes containing canyons, rivers, desert, and mountains, this remote area has much to offer: Navigate the Rio Grande by raft or canoe, soak in hot springs, climb the Chisos Mountains for a view into Mexico, or search for rare ocelots, jaguarundis, and jaguars. The park is a mecca for birders too, with more species observed here—over 400 at last count—than in any other U.S. national park. March and April are the best times to see the cactus and wildflower blooms.

April: Yosemite National Park, California

mountain view in Yosemite National Park, california

Yosemite National Park, California. Photo: tpsdave/Pixabay

Sparkling waterfalls (which are at peak flow in springtime), massive granite walls, and a lush valley full of wildlife make Yosemite a great option for your family’s spring-break adventure. Whether you’re looking for easy day hikes or technical rock climbing, a bicycle ride along paved paths or an overnight trek into the backcountry, Yosemite fits the bill—and you can easily combine a visit there with a few days in San Francisco.

Related: Watch: How to Make Family Trips Fun

May: Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks, Utah

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah.

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah. Photo: Marty Behr

It’s natural to visit these two nearly adjacent parks in a single trip: In Zion, you look up at stunning vertical peaks, while in Bryce you look down from the plateau’s rim onto hoodoos and other mystical rock formations. And they’re readily accessible, just a half-day’s drive from Las Vegas. In spring, wildflowers burst into bloom, providing a gorgeous contrast to the red, orange, and yellow stone. At this time of year, the temperatures are generally moderate and the crowds thin.

June: Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Grand Canyon view of the watchtower.

The watchtower in Grand Canyon. Photo: Mike Buchheit

The peak of summer sees crowds almost as huge as the Grand Canyon itself, which is up to a mile deep and 18 miles wide; go in June and you’ll have much more breathing room, as well as access to the far less visited North Rim (which is open only from mid-May to mid-October). Ask Wendy about who can arrange helicopter flights over the canyon, mule rides down to where the rocks are 1.8 billion years old, float trips along the Colorado River, and behind-the-scenes tours of sites not accessible to ordinary travelers.

July: Glacier National Park, Montana

Going-to-the-Sun Road, Glacier National Park, Montana

Going-to-the-Sun Road, Glacier National Park, Montana. Photo: NPS/Tim Rains

High up on the Canadian border, Glacier has a very short season: The entire Going-to-the-Sun Road (the park’s star attraction, cut into an immense, craggy cliff with amazing vistas) is only open for a few months, typically from late June to October. In July, there will still be snow, but the weather is pleasant. These days, sadly, you’ll find only a few dozen glaciers left from the 150 that were here back in 1850. There are more than 700 miles of hiking trails to choose from, some of which skirt waterfalls and glacial lakes.

August: Denali National Park, Alaska

pink flowers and green plants blooming along a road with a mountain in the distance in Denali National Park Alaska

Denali National Park, Alaska. Photo: Shutterstock

Denali is mainly a summer destination, and August sees less rain than June and July; you’ll also benefit from the long days, with up to 21 hours of light. Here you’ll find some of the greatest wildlife on earth—grizzly bears, Dall sheep, caribou, golden eagles—as well as the highest peak in North America, for which the park is named. Make one of the area’s remote wilderness lodges your base, and you can explore the park by helicopter, foot, and kayak.

Related: Insider’s Guide to Alaska

September: Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Grand Teton National Park in fall, Wyoming.

Grand Teton National Park in fall, Wyoming. Photo: NPS

Autumnal foliage, warm days, cool nights, and fewer crowds make early fall a lovely time to visit Grand Teton, its jagged peaks rising straight up from the plains with no warning. Hear what sounds like the rusted hinges of a screen door in the middle of the wilderness? It’s the bugle of a male elk, its mating call during this rutting time. Don’t make Grand Teton an afterthought tacked onto your trip to Yellowstone; whether you’re interested in summiting the Grand or fly-fishing on the Snake River, there’s plenty here to keep you busy for a few days.

October: Olympic National Park, Washington

Sunset from Mt. Olympus, Olympic National Park in Washington

Sunset from Mt. Olympus, Olympic National Park, Washington. Photo: NPS

In October, the weather is usually pleasant across all three of the park’s environments: the Olympic Mountains, the temperate Hoh Rain Forest, and the rugged Pacific coastline. There may be snow at the high elevations and some rain lower down, but the waterfalls will be flowing, and the area is very lush. Sunsets also tend to be spectacular at this time of year.

November: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii

volcano erupting in Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii

Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii. Photo: skeeze/Pixabay

November is shoulder season on the Big Island, so both crowds and prices are down. While it’s a bit rainier on the side of the island where Hilo and the national park are located, it’s typically dry and sunny on the Kona side. When you’re done exploring the park’s two active volcanoes, there’s plenty else to do: hiking, kayaking, scuba diving, snorkeling with manta rays at night, zip-lining, sampling Kona coffee, and visiting one of the world’s premier astrological observatories, atop Mauna Kea.

Related: Insider’s Guide to Big Island, Hawaii

December: Joshua Tree National Park, California

Joshua Tree National Park

Southern California is full of adventures, including a trip to Joshua Tree National Park. Photo: Visit California/Myles McGuinness

It can get cold at night in December, but the days in Joshua Tree are sunny with temperatures in the 60s (versus 110 or more in summer), making it ideal for hiking, with no crowds in sight. The park has two very distinct ecosystems: the low desert of the Colorado and the high desert of the Mojave, each with its own flora and fauna. The Mojave section also has some impressive granite monoliths and rock piles. Palm Springs is less than an hour away, so you won’t have to rough it while exploring the park—unless you want to.



Be a smarter traveler: Use Wendy’s WOW List to plan your next trip. You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter @wendyperrin, and sign up for her weekly newsletter to stay in the know.

Boating on the lake at the Kempinski Hotel High Tatras, Slovakia. Photo credit: Kempinski Hotel High Tatras.

Summer Vacation at a Ski Resort? Yes, and Here’s Why

Ski resorts such as Vail and Park City might be best known for their winter attractions—namely, skiing down powdery slopes. But these and many other ski areas are just as much fun to visit in the summer, when warm-weather activities abound. In many cases, hotel rates and airfares are lower too. Here are a few of our favorite ski areas that make for fun, and family-friendly, summer vacations:

Vail Valley, Colorado

The Area: With nearly 200 runs on Vail Mountain itself and numerous ski areas nearby, the Vail Valley is a Rocky Mountain paradise sitting two hours west of Denver.

Summer Fun: There is a huge array of outdoor activities here during the summer—hiking and biking, plus stand-up paddleboarding at Piney River Ranch, zip-lining, an adventure ropes course, and much more. But you should also take advantage of the cultural offerings, such as free Tuesday-night concerts, the Bravo! Vail Music Festival, and the Farmers’ Market & Art Festival on Sundays. In Beaver Creek, the Vilar Performing Arts Center has a fabulous summer lineup and an intimate setting. If you arrive early enough, you can even ski Arapahoe Basin.

Four Seasons Vail hotel

At the Four Seasons, rates are 40 percent off from mid-April through mid-December. And the view! Courtesy: Four Seasons Vail

Where to Stay: The Manor Vail Lodge is an easy walk from Vail Village. The majority of their accommodations have kitchens and fireplaces (which do come in handy on chilly summer evenings), but since each unit is different, it’s key to book through someone who can explain the pros and cons of each. At the Four Seasons, rates are 40 percent off from mid-April through mid-December; opt for the mountain-view rooms. The hotel’s Remedy Bar is a local hotspot for post-adrenaline cocktails. The Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch is nestled in an ideal spot, seemingly remote but a short shuttle ride from Beaver Creek, with great hiking right out the front door.

Insider Intel: The Epic Pass offers unlimited skiing at a number of resorts in Colorado, California, Utah, Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Australia—plus a warm-weather bonus. If you plan to ski at any of these locations even once next winter, buy a pass and use it for unlimited free rides up the gondola during the summer as well. You can also save a few bucks by perusing the Vail Daily for two-for-one dinner coupons, which are common in summertime.

Contact Wendy to find the right Colorado ski specialist to plan your best possible trip to Vail. Expect a trip of this caliber


Park City, Utah

The Area: Thirty miles from Salt Lake City, Park City is home to the Deer Valley Resort and Park City Mountain Resort, as well as the Sundance Film Festival.

Summer Fun: The biking here is very family-friendly: There are flat, paved paths for babies in trailers and toddlers on balance bikes, and a variety of mountain-biking trails accessible from the ski lifts. There’s also the Alpine Slide, the bobsled track, whitewater rafting, and hiking—not to mention great dining and shopping.

Where to Stay: In Deer Valley, the Montage and the St. Regis have rooms in summertime for a fraction of what you’d pay in winter. The Montage is ideal for families (there’s even a bowling alley in the kids’ club), while the St. Regis has a more adult feel.

Insider Intel: Even in summer, you should make restaurant reservations before you arrive; tables fill up quickly in Park City.

Contact Wendy to find the right Utah ski specialist to plan your best possible trip to Park City. Expect a trip of this caliber


Doug tries his balance on a teeter-totter in Whistler’s bike-skills park. Photo: Tim Baker.

Wendy’s son Doug tries his balance on a teeter-totter in Whistler’s bike-skills park. Photo: Tim Baker.

Whistler, Canada

The Area: Whistler Resort, which is 75 miles north of Vancouver on a scenic highway, joined the world stage when it hosted the Winter Olympics in 2010—but there’s actually more to do here during the summer than the winter.

Summer Fun: Whistler has endless options for the adventurer: among them are zip-lining, kayaking, canoeing (on both lakes and rivers), tubing, whitewater rafting, fishing, ATV tours, hiking, bear viewing, mountain biking, and golfing.

Where to Stay: With an indoor/outdoor pool and lots of dining options, the Fairmont Chateau Whistler is great for families. Rates are always lower during the summer, and the weaker Canadian dollar often means an even better value for American visitors.

Insider Intel: If your budget allows, charter a helicopter or small seaplane to access high alpine lakes, glaciers, and hiking trails that you’d never get to on foot.

Contact Wendy to find the right Canada specialist to plan your best possible trip to Whistler. Expect a trip of this caliber

Be a smarter traveler: Use Wendy’s WOW List to plan your next trip. You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter @wendyperrin, and sign up for her weekly newsletter to stay in the know.