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El Batán in Cuenca, Ecuador

SOUTHERN AMERICAN HOSPITALITY

The kitchen is a no-fly zone, where space to craft a punch or charcuterie spread has to be carefully usurped at the margins of the vast empire. The best time to sneak in is when my father is updating his tabulation of butter used thus far. A true student of the tradition of Julia Child, he delights in giving us a painfully honest breakdown of precisely how the sausage was made, as waistlines strain against belts. The only time I had ever missed my family’s Thanksgiving before was to share a Turducken with a friend who was stranded and alone under house arrest. Now, thousands of miles from Cleveland in Ecuador, the reality of the glamorous traveler’s life came with a complimentary jar of maraschino cherries.

DESTINATION: HOMETOWN; MAKING THE MOST OF STAYING WITH FAMILY

There may be moments where it’s up to you to offer a counterpoint to crass generalizations and cultural falsehoods. That obnoxious Uncle in the MAGA hat who keeps suggesting Latin American countries are dangerous (whilst never having traveled beyond the tri-state area) is wrong. You’re well within your rights to let him know how wrong he is. Diminishing an entire group of people based on cultural differences is, to put it lightly, fucking bullshit. But do it gently and respectfully. Remember that we’re all human beings working towards similar goals. Far from being polar opposites, most of us are reasonable people, occupying some spot in the middle ground of the human experience.

A portrait of LL Cool J at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.

MUSEUM GUIDES: THE NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY

The Obamas’ portraits had been unveiled a few months prior to our visit to D.C., so we were excited to make a pilgrimage. While the museum was busy, the galleries are large and numerous. After a day of walking, we cut some rooms short, skipping some parts entirely. Portraiture is lovely, but once you’ve seen one old, dead white man, you’ve generally got the gist of it.

Backcountry Camping Loop, White Sands National Monument

CAMPING GEAR GUIDES: ADVANCED

It’s not always easy to fit an extended camping trip into a busy schedule, but it’s certainly worth it. Whether you’re thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail or canoeing through a network of lakes, these longer trips are truly singular experiences. Whether you’re a veteran of the outdoors or sizing up your first big excursion, our Advanced Camping Gear Guide sets you up for success and covers all the bases.

The Long House at Bandelier National Monument, NM

NATIONAL PARKS GUIDES: BANDELIER NATIONAL MONUMENT

The centerpiece is the former settlement of Tyuonyi. Both buildings on the floor of the valley and the cliff dwellings are part of a trail leading through the former Pueblo town. Hikers are encouraged to climb replica ladders to see what life was like inside the cliff dwellings, while at the end of the trail, there is an excavated kiva high up within the cliff face.

Desert View Campground, Grand Canyon

CAMPING GEAR GUIDES: INTERMEDIATE

While there’s no shortage of accessible camping grounds around the world, there’s something to be said for the solitude of some backcountry camping. For those more confident in their outdoor abilities, these serene places are only a few miles along a trail but represent an entirely different world. Far from the sound of cars or any sort of cell of wi-fi reception, this level of camping can both challenge and enhance your skills. Our Intermediate Camping Gear Guide aims to dull the challenges of the outdoors while sharpening your enjoyment.

Camping at Cooper Lake State Park, TX

CAMPING GEAR GUIDES: NOVICE

Camping overnight is a great way to explore the natural beauty of the world on a more intimate level. Even if your car might be a few feet away, there’s a definite thrill of being a little exposed. While some creature comforts obviously get sacrificed the wilder your experience gets, camping can still be a comfortable change of pace and a wonderful way to unplug for a few days. Our Camping Gear Guide for Novices helps make sure you enjoy your visit with Mother Nature in the high comfort.