52 Ways to Wander Better

Our picks for the best new trips, gear you'll need in your carry-on, and essential tips, Web sites, gadgets, and more to help you navigate '08 in style.

A perennial favorite: Finca Bellavista Ecoresort, Costa Rica    

Travel tips and gear

Nokia N95 8GB; Oakley Hijinx

Travel tips and gear

Osprey Slipstream 20"/40L, TX Fly-back Chronograph, and L.L.Bean Wrinkle-Resistant Classic Oxford

Travel tips and gear

The Amazon's M/V Aqua

Travel tips and gear

Crumpler 7 Million Dollar Home Bag

Travel tips and gear

Leatherman Wave; Pentax Optio Z10

Travel tips and gear

Filson's Hip Flask

Travel tips and gear

Archos 605 WiFi; Audio-Technica's QuietPoint headphones

Travel tips and gear

Eddie Bauer Convertible Cargo Jacket

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BEST BEACH BAR
1. Ku De Ta
A Balinese shrine to the simple life. Think of a beautiful French woman reared in Shanghai and transplanted to Bali, lounging on a poolside bed, listening to sultry grooves spun by famous DJs. Indian Ocean surf pulses off the deck, with double-overhead rights on five world-class breaks just a walk down the beach. Eat fresh sushi and drink lethal martinis alongside celebs like Bono and Erykah Badu. When the spirits take hold, stumble off to your beachfront bungalow next door. It's Ibiza in the making, only better. kudeta.net

BEST AIRPORT HUB
2. Portland International
Rumor has it that locals come to Oregon's inviting PDX just to shop and eat. Among the draws are the Rose City Café & Wine Bar (with about 80 wines by the glass), Powell's Books (with its big used-book section), free Wi-Fi, and a Nike store. There's easy public transportation to downtown, valet parking, free bikeracks, and complimentary jump-starts and flat-tire assistance. You might not want to fly away. pdx.com

BEST ROMANTIC ECO-TOUR
3. Venice, Italy, Ecology Walk
If you've ever wondered how Venice a city built on mud in the fifth century, with 61,000 residents, rising water levels, no sewage-treatment system, and an annual onslaught of 20 million tourists hasn't disintegrated, hook up with Jane da Mosto, co-author of The Science of Saving Venice, for her unconventional, two-hour tour. You'll go deep into the city's sludgy infrastructure, learning about crumbling facades and 500-year-old canal-dredging techniques. At the end of the day, you'll appreciate the miracle that Venice truly is. $585 (for a group of six), $50 of which will be donated to the U.K.-based charity Venice in Peril; venice.contexttravel.com

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BEST TRAVEL PHONE
4. Nokia N95 8GB
Like Apple's ubiquitous device, Nokia's N95 is a phone, audio player, and camera all rolled into one. Unlike the iPhone, though, the N95 is also a video camera. Plus it takes better pictures (with a 5.0-megapixel sensor and Carl Zeiss optics), and with its integrated GPS receiver, you won't get lost. $780; nseries.com

BEST TRAVEL SUNGLASSES
5. Oakley Hijinx
Of course they look cool.But we picked the Polarized Hijinx because they dish up distortion- and glare-free vision wherever you go be it on water, snow, or the road. $145; oakley.com

BEST SECURITY SYSTEM
6. KenaKai DataSafe Passport Wallet
Theoretically, the new radio-frequency-ID-equipped e-passports will speed passage through immigration queues. But the micro chipped passport is also vulnerable to anyone holding a portable RFID scanner. Your best defense: KenaKai's DataSafe Passport Wallet wraps nine sheer layers of nickel-impregnated mesh which blocks radio-wave transmission inside a classic, unassuming Italian-leather exterior. Slim enough for a back pocket, it fits a passport, seven credit cards, cash, and a boarding pass. $80; kenakai.com

BEST EXCUSE TO CARBO-LOAD
7. Cycling in Tuscany
Giro d'Italia winner Andy Hampsten and his crew lead this eight-day cyclepalooza, a perfect combo of hard riding and serious eating. Pedal 300-plus miles and learn how to make local specialties like stewed and roasted wild boar, courtesy of chef Chicca Maione. Base camp is a family-run hotel in Castagneto Carducci, a hilltop village overlooking the Mediterranean. $3,500; cinghiale.com

BEST PLACE TO HABLA ESPAÑOL
8. La Mariposa Language School and Eco-Hotel
Set off the twisting road between Ticuantepe and La Concha in Nicaragua, this inland hotelschool feels more remote than it actually is. Tropical trees and birdsong are the backdrop for one-on-one Spanish lessons and meals harvested from Mariposa's four organic gardens. When you're not conjugating verbs, volunteer for community projects in nearby villages. Hotel facilities are powered by the sun which is in no short supply here. All-inclusive Spanish- school packages, $260 a week; spanishschoolnica.com

BEST FARE POLICE
9. YAPTA
Your Amazing Personal Travel Agent tracks fares for you and follows the price after you've purchased a ticket. Should the fare drop, you can get the difference refunded from the airline, provided you purchased directly from its site. yapta.com

BEST USE OF COCONUTS
10. Cocona Fabrics
By using activated carbon from coconut shells (a waste product of the water-filter industry), clothing made from Cocona fabrics absorbs moisture, reduces odor, and diffuses UV light. Check it out for yourself everyone from Marmot to Royal Robbins to Izod uses the stuff. coconafabrics.com

BEST WEEKEND BAG
11. Osprey Slipstream 20"/40L
The wheeled Slipstream is the compact SUV of the luggage world. Its 2,400 cubic inches of compartment space makes it versatile enough for extended trips, and with the included Glide laptop case, which can be stowed inside or outside the pack, the Slipstream is equally versatile when you've got to get some work done. $200; ospreypacks.com

BEST TOILETS
12. Seamen's Club Resort Hotel Commodes
This hotel on Ishigaki Island is one of the best spots for diving with manta rays. But if this is your first time in Japan, it's the hotel's toilets you'll remember. These deluxe thrones allow you to hit a button on the control panel and a retractable arm will douse your nethers in a refreshing spray. You can warm the seat, adjust the water temperature, and change the spray pattern, as well as specify male or female anatomy. Our advice: Sit down before you mash the buttons. Doubles from $160; seamensclub.co.jp

BEST TIMEPIECE
13. TX Fly-back Chronograph, 730 Series
The Fly-back's electronic compass and chronograph is elegantly simple, and despite its good looks, it's rugged enough for a climbing expedition. $450; txwatches.com

BEST WAY TO FLY CHEAP
14. Wegolo
Browse 75 airlines and their700 destinations for the best low-cost fares in Europe (like $30 before taxes for a one-way flight from Dublin to Barcelona), searchable in 12 different currencies. wegolo.com

BEST MEAL REPLACEMENT
15. Green SuperFood
If you can't forage enough vegetables in Kathmandu or Cuba, don't fret: Bring along these vitamin-and-mineral-rich capsules, which contain real plant food (including spinach, broccoli, wheatgrass, and beets), all of it organic. Five capsules equals seven servings of fruits and vegetables, fulfilling your daily requirement. $28 for 150 capsules; amazinggrass.com

BEST NEW AIRLINE
16. Virgin America
This domestic "next generation" airline which launched last August, with a San Francisco hub will restore your faith in flying. Maybe it's the new, fuel-efficient fleet or the 12 pink-blue-purple shades of mood lighting. Or the seats roomy and all leather, with nine-inch touch screens that allow you to order up a cocktail anytime you want or pick a playlist from a catalog of 3,000-plus tracks. virginamerica.com

BEST PERMA-PRESS
17. L.L.Bean Wrinkle-Resistant Classic Oxford Cloth Shirt
Pull it out of your duffel, give it a shake, and wear. It's that simple. $35; llbean.com

BEST AIRPORT WINE
18. Vino Volo
Offering wines by the glass or the flight (three to four tasting-size pours) and snacks like olives and cheese plates, these chic wine bars will make you forget you have a three-hour layover. Only five airports Washington's Dulles, Seattle, Sacramento, Baltimore, and JFK currently house Vino Volo, but founder Doug Tomlinson plans to unroll several more overthe next few years. Tip: If your flight's on time, pick up a bottle from the retail side you're beyond security. vinovolo.com

BEST WAY TO SEE THE AMAZON
19. MV Aqua
Designed by hipster Peruvian architect Jordi Puig, the Aqua elevates Amazonian river travel to hedonistic levels. The brand-new, 130-foot pleasure cruiser has 12 air-conditioned cabins; ample windows for watching howler monkeys, river dolphins, and almost 300 bird species; and a chef who knows how to turn fresh-caught bass into delectable ceviche. From $1,950 per person for three days; aquaexpeditions.com

BEST TRAVEL TROUSERS
20. Patagonia's Nylon Stand Up pants
They're cut from quick-drying, wrinkle-resistant nylon canvas and offer a double layer of material in the seat. Best of all, they don't look out of place with a sport coat at a white-tablecloth restaurant. $85; patagonia.com

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BEST CAMERA BAG
21. Crumpler 7 Million Dollar Home Bag
It may be plush, but it's the best bargain in photo gear, able to safely hold a digital SLR with three extra lenses, a flash unit, and every cord and accessory you own. $130; crumplerbags.com

BEST TRAVEL SHOE
22. Merrell Chameleon Wrap Traveler Gore-Tex XCR
The full Gore-Tex XCR liner helps keep feet comfortable and dry, and while it might not be a deerskin oxford, this full-grain leather upper doesn't scream, "I went hiking today." Even if you did. $130; merrell.com

BEST WAY TO COME TOGETHER
23. TripHub
An Evite for travelers, this site, partnering with Orbitz, facilitates planning for groups, be it a weekend of skiing with friends, a family reunion, or a bachelor party in Baja. Create a "trip page," add photos and itinerary info, then invite pals to join your adventure. triphub.com

BEST VOLUNTOURISM TRIP
24. The Sacred Valley of Peru
Practice 15 days of loving-kindness on and off the mat. Yoga sessions are part of your daily routine in Urubamba, a river town ringed with snowcapped Andean peaks. Days are divided between excursions to surrounding ruins, farms, and towns and volunteer work at a local orphanage. For all that good karma, you'll get a bonus trip to Cuzco. $2,200 $2,450; karmayogajourneys.com

BEST AIRPORT TAXI
25. US Helicopter
Not your average yellow cab. If you're feeling like a tycoon, skip the stress of getting to an NYC airport on time by taking an eight-passenger Sikorsky S76 helicopter instead. If you're flying Delta, Eos, or Continental, you can check bags, get boarding passes, and even go through airport security at helipads on Wall Street and East 34th. From there it's an eight-minute flight to JFK or Newark. Since you've already passed security, go straight to your gate. One-way from $100. flyush.com

BEST NEW TRAIN TRIP
26. Golden Chariot, Karnataka, India
Until recently, touring Karnataka required long drives over strained highways. But in March, the Golden Chariot luxury train (with 11 passenger cars and two massage parlors) changed everything. The train leaves from Bangalore and moves south through the royal city of Mysore and Nagarhole National Park before heading north to World Heritage sites in the towns of Hampi and Badami. Last stop: the beach city of Goa. From $2,450 per person; goldenchariot.com

BEST ONE-TOOL WONDER
27. Leatherman Wave
With its wire cutters, bottle opener, and 16 other equally useful functions, the now- classic Wave remains the best travel multitool. Just don't take it on the plane. $90; leatherman.com

BEST BEACH-FOR-CHEAP HOTEL
28. Luna Blue Hotel and Garden, Mexico
Eighteen spotless rooms with tiled balconies or terraces overlooking tropical gardens, just steps away from the cafés and shops of Fifth Avenue, Playa del Carmen's main shopping avenue. Guests get free access to Mamita's Beach Club, two blocks away where palapa-shaded lounge chairs and frosty margaritas await. Doubles from $70; lunabluehotel.com

BEST MINI-BAR
29. The Sky Hotel, Aspen
Bottled oxygen, furry handcuffs, hangover-relief tablets, and a Kama Sutra Weekender Kit (massage oil, "kissable" honey dust) mixed in with the Red Bull, Coors Light, Clif Bars, and Pringles. It's really all you need for a weekend in Aspen. theskyhotel.com

BEST BEAM
30. Petzl's e+LITE
A tiny, do-everything travel lamp. The one red and three white LEDs work in temperatures ranging from -22 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, can be left on for up to 45 hours straight, and remain fully operational for up to ten years in storage. Good thing it comes with a case. $30; petzl.com

BEST DIGITAL RIG
31. Pentax Optio Z10
Pentax's 8.0-megapixel, deck-of-cards-size Z10 might look like all the other ultraslim digicams on the market, but it packs considerably more punch: Thanks to a 7x zoom (the equivalent of a 38 266mm lens) and ananti-blur system, you don't have to get anywhere near the lion to fill the frame with fur and teeth. $250; pentaxoptioz10.com

BEST ACCESS
32. Priority Pass
Secure a pass to more than 500 swanky airport lounges around the world (such as Lounge Bellevue, in Zurich's Terminal E). The Prestige Membership, an all-access, anytime pass, costs $400 a year. prioritypass.com

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BEST WAY TO GET IN THE SPIRIT
33. Filson's Hip Flask
Flight delays, dry counties, BAR CLOSED signs: all reasons to pack Filson's Bridle Leather & Stainless Steel Hip Flask on your next trip. $68; filson.com

BEST GASTRO-ADVENTURE
34. Rogue River Wilderness Gourmet
By day, paddle rapids; by night, learn to whip up Chef Bob's riverside specialties, like seared filet with a Jack Daniel's reduction  sauce, porcini risotto, and pepper-rosemary prawns, while sipping Oregon's finest pinot noirs. Bob Anderson,the former chef of Yosemite's Ahwahnee Hotel, is your culinary expert on this four-day trip. $1,250 per person; oars.com

BEST TRAVEL PLASTIC
35. Starwood AmEx
Airline-reward credit cards are more common, but the Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express is smarter: Its points are easier to use, and it comes with $100,000 in travel accident insurance. There are no blackout dates, and you get 10,000 Starpoints with your first purchase, enough for three free nights at one of 825 participating properties. First year free, $45 every year after that; americanexpress.comspg

BEST WACKY SKYMALL PRODUCT
36. Cruzin Cooler
It may be a slow ride (13 miles per hour) atop this motorized ice chest that runs on rechargeable batteries, but at least your beer will be cold when you arrive. $500; cruzincooler.com

BEST IN-FLIGHT TOY
37. Archos 605 WiFi
The Archos 605 WiFi multimedia player costs the same as the 16-gig iPod touch but packs ten times the storage, with a whopping 160-gig hard drive and a 4.3-inch touch screen. Use it to surf the Web, or load it up with 95,000 songs or 200 movies. $400; archos.com

BEST COKE
38. Hecho en Mexico
It contains pure cane sugar, comes in voluptuous green-glass bottles and tastes like the cola that dropped out of old-school vending machines before U.S. Coke bottlers started sweetening it with high-fructose corn syrup in the early eighties.

LOCAL SPIRIT
39. Brennivin
A foul-as-it-is-potent schnapps (37 to 40 percent alcohol), Iceland's Brennivin, a.k.a. "Black Death," is made from fermented potato pulp flavored with caraway seeds, and it's often tossed down to mask the taste of another of Iceland's native treats: hakarl, or rotten shark meat.

BEST NEW TRAVEL PHILANTHROPY
40. The Good Night Foundation
Now you can give while you sleep: Hatched last spring through the Clinton Global Initiative, this is a brilliant idea for channeling tourism funds into do-good projects around the world. At participating hotels, a four-dollar-per-night optional charge is added to each guest's bill, and 25 percent of the money goes to local charities. goodnightfoundation.org

BEST WHITE NOISE
41. Audio-Technica's QuietPoint
Buy Audio-Technica's QuietPoint ATH-ANC7 headphones and you'll get an 85 percent reduction in outside noise for $80 less than a popular Bose model. The set comes with adapters to fit most audio jacks, including those on airlines. Now you can sleep soundly, even in coach. $220; audio-technica.com

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BEST JACKET
42. Eddie Bauer Convertible Cargo Jacket
Thanks to seven pockets and zip-off sleeves, this cotton jacket is a bomber travel piece. $128; eddiebauer.com

Our last ten "ways to wander better" are the ten winners of our annual Best Trips article. From skiing in Norway to trekking in Tibet to surfing in El Salvador, your life list is ready and waiting.

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