Wednesday, June 20, 2012

June 20, 2012 - The First Day Of Summer for Nomads Everywhere

Hot Summer Time and The Livin' Is Easy
According to Wikipedia, the summer solstice occurs exactly when the axial tilt of a planet's semi-axis in a given hemisphere is most inclined towards the star that it orbits. Earth's maximum axial tilt to our star, the sun, during a solstice  is 23° 26'. This happens twice each year, at which times the Sun reaches its highest position in the sky as seen from the North or South Pole respectively. The word solstice derives from Latin sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still). For those of us more pedestrian in our thinking - Summer is finally here!! And the longest day of the year is viewed around the world in many different ways. Most cultures hold many significant holidays, festivals, gatherings, rituals and celebrations during the summer. Woodstock just wouldn't have been the same had it been held in, say, November. Summer holds great promise for great times and even greater expenditures.

A Little Advice for NOWK's
Fall - done. Winter - done. Spring - done. Summer - not done!!! No more grey skies, the summer, peaches are in and the kids are out of school. So what's a Nomad to do? If you don't have kids, it's pretty simple. Just pick a place and go. Even though flights haven't been slashed and gasoline is still north of $3.00, you simply must go. Travel is the physical and mental balm for what ails you. If you have kids, you have a much bigger challenge. My kids are grown, so na na na na na! If you have young kids, it's virtually impossible to avoid places like Disney. The most important piece of advice for  NOWK's (Nomad's With Kids} who dare to go to Disney, Six Flags, etc. -  Be cool and be smart. If you show up at the gate at 8 AM and stay until after dark, it will NOT go well. So, the word for all theme park trips with kids is moderation. And select some down time, usually in mid afternoon for the kids and mom and dad to R&R. For a hilarious take on Disney, check out comic Jim Gaffigan On Vacationing In The Magic Kingdom.

First You Have To Have A Plan
With or without kids, it has always been the contention of this Nomad, that, while serendipity is always welcome, you must put in some planning time to ensure that you will indeed get the most out of your travels for your hard earned money. I love a surprise as much as the next guy, but no self respecting Nomad is going to just hit the road without a map, unless you are twenty something and just don't care. I've done that too and the results were always mixed. To assist all summer vagabonds in achieving that trip that you will talk about for years, I have assembled a list of my favorite hotel search web sites. Each link takes a different approach to places of unique character and there is very little overlap or redundancy. Most are backed up with numerous reviews. There is also great variety both geographically and economically. You don't always have to go to a five star hotel/B&B/health spa/eco-resort for rich people in Estonia to find places that you and yours can drop anchor and enjoy life on your terms. So happy hunting and pack light!

The Nomad Architect's Top Ten List of Web Sites for Places To Sleep Before You Die

TABLET - I consider this to be the best hotel / B& B search engine available to the discerning Nomad. It offers tremendous variety of very cool places in the States and Europe with prices to fit every budget.

AVANTE GARDE - It's tag line says it best - Hip Hotels, Design Hotels, Boutique Hotels Worldwide. This web site contains many edgy, well designed places for people who want to hang out in places that are not on the tourist map.

i-escape - From Spin & Margie's Desert Hide-A-Way in the Mojave Desert for $125 per night to Chateau Marmont in Hollywood at a sinful $800 per night, this site has thirty seven places for restless vagabonds in the US alone, not to mention hundreds more in Europe and elsewhere.

EPOQUE HOTELS -  A great site for unique and innovative hotels. It contains a vast array of small, boutique hotels worldwide located mostly in cities In addition, it has apartments for those who need a little more room.

Mr. & Mrs. Smith - Not only is this a great site for cool hotels worldwide, it puts forth the proposition that Nomad's With Kids don't have to settle for mediocrity at a characterless chain.  The site contains a special section devoted to family and kid friendly hotels and houses.

Great Small Hotels - Very interesting site specializing in very small boutiques. Offering gems like The Spring - A Natural Hot Spring Resort & Day Spa, located in Desert Hot Springs, California, starting at a paltry $139 per night. Now that's worth a look.

Unusual Hotels of The World - If you want to hang your hat at a place and "sleep with a story", then this is the travel site for you. From Tree Hotel, a red tree house in Sweden, to The Wigwam Motel in Arizona, this site has some of the most unusual places on the planet for the Nomad that needs a change of venue. And the site comes complete with reviews by adventurous Nomads.

Chic Retreats - Great site for exclusive hotels and out of the way B &  B's. One feature of this site is their Collections links. You can click on Beach Chic Retreats or Budget Chic Retreats or Eco Chic Retreats or other specific places with different attributes to assist in zeroing in on the vacation of a life time.

Boutique Homes - A recent find in the world of hotel search web sites. And the most intriguing. This is a comprehensive site displaying very small, intimate hotels and architecturally interesting houses. In addition to specific locales such as By The Sea, City, Country, etc., this is the only hotel / B&B site that lists properties designed by specific architects. So, if you want to stay in a place that really does it "Wright", look no further.

air bnb - This site boasts thousands of places to sleep all over the world. It's a great site to search for unique places, some of which are very affordable. The only caveat is that you must do some research, as they list a very broad range of properties from couches to mansions. They don't really use any quality thresholds, so you must perform your own due diligence. A great resource none the less, because of its variety.

So go north, south, east or west to that place that you have been dreaming about. Travel gives you insight into the world at large and a better understanding of yourself. And if you go to a place that is off the beaten path, you just might find out something that will change you and enlarge your view of the ever shrinking world we live in.

Video Artist of  The Week - The Beach Boys - Who better to head into summer with than the band that invented Beach Music and kicking off a 50th Reunion Tour this summer?

Travel Quote of The Week - “Living on Earth is expensive, but it does include a free trip around the sun every year.” – Unknown

To All of You Vagabonds - Just Go!
D.L. Stafford

All photgraphs from referenced web sites, except Summer from

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