It’s easy to get swept up in the excitement of the moment, which explains timeshares, tattoos and destination T-shirts. So you can understand why, upon gazing at a newborn, you would assure his dad that of course you, the doting uncle, would take that little bundle of joy on a trip when he turned 16.
Time has a way of catching up with us. At least it did for Andrew Bender, who, in fact, promised to take his newborn nephew Matthew to Japan. The result: a trip of a lifetime for uncle and nephew and some life lessons for both.
Looking at the world in a different way is one of the joys of travel. After all, what is an adventure but a dream fulfilled? We hope to entice you to embrace the unknown with articles on a German design movement that is still relevant today; a dip in William Randolph Hearst’s San Simeon pools; an attempt to break a record in Arizona; performances by one of the all-time bestselling country artists who has a new residency in Las Vegas; a trip to a cool place in Washington; and a journey to a sanctuary in Utah. (Animal haters can skip that one.)
Plus, we tell you what to expect this summer as you join 2.8 million of your closest friends in U.S. airports and remind you to take your camera and share the fruits of your photographic labors.
My name is Catharine Hamm, and I’m the travel editor for the Los Angeles Times. Dream a little and live a lot as the summer unfolds. Ready for takeoff?
Japan, with a teen: a survival guide for both of you
Andrew Bender and his nephew Matthew didn’t have trouble navigating Japan (Bender is fluent in Japanese), but they did have to learn to travel together, which is no small task in multigenerational trips. Matthew learned a lot about the country, and they both learned about each other, which may be the most priceless part of the journey.
Come on in, the water’s divine
Try to imagine what it was like at San Simeon when the Hearsts were in residence and life was a party. Today, you can tour this Julia Morgan-designed mansion and now take a dip in those pools, Mary Forgione writes. Fulfilling that fantasy comes at a price — $1,250— but one can always dream.
This water’s not bad either (and it doesn’t cost $1,250)
If you’re keen to explore the Olympic National Park in Washington state, you can do so and stay in a place fit for a president. Lake Crescent Lodge, Anne Burke writes, once hosted President Franklin Roosevelt, but it doesn’t cost a king’s ransom and the views are absolutely free.
The outlook for summer travel by air: mixed
The bad news: It’s going to be crowded in U.S. airports this vacation season — about 3.4% more people than last year. That doesn’t sound like much, but that’s about 95,000 more people than last year. The good news: Airfares may not be as expensive as we feared — at least for summer. Fuel prices, which jumped recently because of tensions in the Middle East, do take a while to filter through the pricing structure. Read about other factors that could affect your comfort during the busiest travel season of the year.
Hot enough for ya? Maybe yes in Lake Havasu City
On June 29, the Arizona city will celebrate its all-time temperature mark: 128 degrees, set in 1994. You can join the Hot for Havasu festivities and perhaps sample the “dashboard cookies,” baked in a car. And no, we are not making that up.
But Germany’s very cool
Especially if you’re a lover of all things Bauhaus, the school of design that is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. How can a look that’s so playful also sometimes seem so cold? “That literally defines the school’s two philosophies,” writer Margo Pfeiff said in an email. Follow in her footsteps as she tours the German cities that reflect this angular, colorful style.
Some holiday cheer for Shania Twain fans
She’s back for another residency in Las Vegas, this one starting in December at the Zappos Theater at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino. Jay Jones reports. Part of the proceeds go her charity, Shania Kids Can. Twain’s performance dates extend into 2020, Jones writes.
Hit us with your best shot
With apologies to Pat Benatar, we’re asking for photos, not a fight. We will, once again, display reader photos in our annual summer vacation photo issue in print and online. The photos must have been taken between Memorial Day and Labor Day for this year. You can read the instructions and see examples of some photos that were included last year at our summer photo guide. This year, we have an easy-to-navigate form to fill out that ensures we are getting all the information you can give us on the story behind the photo.
Trying out your new BFF?
Best Friends Animal Society in Kanab, Utah, is known for matching people with their animal soul mates. Now, it will give you a chance for a “test drive” in the privacy of your room. The sanctuary plans to open a hotel by late summer that will allow you to overnight with your maybe. You don’t have to be adopting to stay at the hotel, although the 30 rooms and 10 suites are animal-friendly
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What we’re reading
Can’t planes board more efficiently? It’s a question we’ve explored in the Travel section, but this Washington Post article by Shivani Vora updates readers on the ways airlines are finding new efficiencies.
Put aside a chunk of time to read this well-written and -researched piece in the Atlantic by William Langewiesche that centers on what really happened to Malaysia Flight 370, which disappeared five years ago. Pieces of the plane have been found; the writer suggests that the plane shattered when it hit the water after going off course for several hours. He also turns its attention to several people who might have been responsible for the disappearance, finally coming down firmly on one.
If you’re headed for Barcelona, Spain, you almost certainly are familiar with Antoni Gaudí and La Sagrada Familia, the work-in-progress church (2028 is the target for completion for this edifice, which by then will be more than 140 years in the making). But there are several other don’t-miss places associated with the Catalan architect, Sherri Eisenberg writes for Afar magazine. For instance, who would not want to hear live jazz on a summer evening on the roof of one of his former homes?
OOO? No, no, no!
The bounce-back messages that tell emailers that you are OOO, shorthand for “out of office,” are ubiquitous and a kind way to let people know they are shouting into the dark, at least for a while.
I see many of those messages from you on Thursday mornings when this newsletter is delivered. Some are bland and say only, “I’m out of the office and will return June 24. Please contact XYZ person in my absence.”
But some are more detailed and say you’re out of town or out of the country. Unless you have the National Guard posted at your house and a team of attack dogs, you should rethink that and just say you’re out of the office and leave the email for the person who should be contacted in your absence.
The same advice goes for the message you leave on your office phone and for posting on social media, said Kevin Coffey, a retired LAPD detective who speaks on travel safety.
Be especially wary of telling the world, unwittingly through social media, that your home is unoccupied.
“Here are a few postings you should give second thoughts to posting,” he said in an email:
-- “X more days till our trip
-- “My bags are packed, I’m ready to go
-- “We’re here; one week in paradise
-- “Check out the view from our hotel
-- “Our flight is delayed.
“In the end, every traveler should ‘post, share and check-in’ wisely, and always think before you post, ‘If a thief saw this posting, could they use it to their advantage?’ ’’ Coffey said. “Instead, consider posting all your great vacation photos when you return to reduce your chances of being victimized while traveling.”
I always end this newsletter with a wish that you travel safely and well, and that includes making sure that from the time you leave until the time you come home, you’ll be worry-free and feel as though the world has one protective arm around you and the other arm holding bad people at bay. That is still and always my wish, but please also know that we will be here to welcome you home.