The usual pre-vacation research can be somewhat tedious. Hotel accommodations and car rentals and maps may be a must, but It’s time to infuse some fun into the process. What better way to do that than a bit of twist on the usual to-do list. Go ahead and pore over Expedia for good deals and recent reviews, but don’t forget to include a book, movie, TV show or compose a shopping list of the essentials to bring home as souvenirs.
If you’re going to London…
Read: A Bear Called Paddington (kids), The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
Much like the city, these stories are classics. You’ll fall in love with the city and be speaking with a terrible accent three pages in.
Watch: Either of the above movie adaptations; Skyfall (James Bond).
Drink with a warm, cozy cup of tea, then chase with a martini – shaken, not stirred. Alternate daydreaming about Robert Downey Jr. and Daniel Craig. You’re welcome for that.
Listen to: Abbey Road
Listen to the album, then go take the quintessential photo at Abbey Road Crossing. Predictable? Sure. Iconic? Absolutely. The album and location are still memorable some 47 years later.
Bring home: A teacup from Harrod’s
That you’ll never drink from or let anyone touch because it’s the closest you’ll ever get to the queen.
If you’re going to Hawaii
Watch: Hawaii Five-O
Oahu is the real star of this television reboot. Hilton Hawaiian Village and the infamous Kahanamoku Lagoon are just a couple of downtown Honolulu’s most picturesque and recognizable locations.
Listen to: Israel Kamakawiwoʻole
You’ve probably heard his soulful ukulele version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow at least once, even if you can’t remember where or why. Nearly 20 years after his death, his voice still remains one of the most distinctive and recognizable in Hawaiian culture.
Bring home: Coffee
This is an obvious choice for me, but Kona coffee, available on all islands, is legendary, for good reason. Volcanic soil and the sunny climate make this regional treat a must. You may even decide to leave your personal belongings behind and just fill your suitcase with it. No judgment. It happens to the best of us.
If you’re going to Las Vegas
Read: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
It may be a drug-fueled view of Vegas in the 60’s, but Hunter S. Thompson’s descriptive take on Sin City is one of the most notable in literary history.
Watch: Ocean’s 11; The Hangover
Vegas is also about adventure and fun, and no one has more fun than George Clooney or Bradley Cooper. An inside look at Caesar’s Palace and the Bellagio fountains are really all you need to know about Vegas before you visit.
Listen to: Frank Sinatra and Britney Spears
He became the voice of the Sands, and eventually the Strip; she experienced re-birth on the stage at Planet Hollywood. If they had ever collaborated, “You Make Me Feel So Young Because I’m Not A Girl, Not Yet A Woman” would have surely headlined the Vegas soundtrack of a lifetime.
Bring home: a used deck of cards and dice from a craps table
Because they raise less eyebrows than naked lady playing cards in your carry-on.