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The Check-In: Preparing your body for travel, it's almost Mario time, and more

'Travel in 2023 looks strong,' so get busy planning!

Welcome to The Check-In, our weekend feature focusing on all things travel.

Istanbul, Sydney, and Woodstock, Vermont, among 2023's trending destinations

While you're still trying to figure out what to make for dinner tonight, your fellow travelers are booking their trips for 2023. American Express Travel just released its Trending Destinations report, based on the vacations being booked for next year by AmEx card members. The 10 locales that have seen a boost in popularity with U.S. tourists are: Paris; Yaukuve Island, Fiji; Istanbul; the Florida Keys; Lisbon; Sydney; Montenegro; Copenhagen; Woodstock, Vermont; and Mexico City.

AmEx Travel President Audrey Hendley told Condé Nast Traveler that "travel in 2023 looks strong," and "as borders continue to re-open, people are not only thinking about big, international trips, they are booking them." While Paris is always attracting visitors from around the world, it's also not surprising to Hendley that Woodstock is a trending destination. She visited the city in 2021, and said it's "beautiful with great outdoor activities, full of charm, and with great places to eat and shop." A few must-dos include trying local maple syrup and cheese, hiking the Ottauquechee River Trail, and visiting the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park — the first national park in Vermont.

A barn in Woodstock, Vermont.

John Greim/LightRocket via Getty Images

Let's-a-go! Super Nintendo World opening at Universal Studios Hollywood in February

Visitors can enter the land of Mario, Luigi, and Princess Peach on Feb. 17, 2023, when Super Nintendo World opens at Universal Studios Hollywood. The main attraction will be Mario Kart: Bowser's Challenge, described by the Los Angeles Times as "the first major implementation of augmented reality technology" in a U.S. theme park. Guests will wear visors that "allow them to interact with virtual items throughout the ride," the Times says, "all of it designed to give the feel and illusion of altering the experience." When it's time for a power up, food will be available at the Toadstool Cafe, with the menu featuring Super Mushroom Soup, Piranha Plant Caprese, and a Mario Bacon Cheeseburger.

Super Nintendo World

AaronP/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images

TravelSana's Hector Bandelier shares how he stays healthy on the road

Traveling can take a toll on the body — being confined to a car or plane for hours on end and moving through several time zones can lead to a host of issues, from swollen legs and ankles to severe jet lag. Hector Bandelier, co-founder of TravelSana, shared with The Week via email his tips on how to physically prepare for a trip and stay feeling great once you arrive.

Before you leave: First, no one gets you like you do, and "it's important to know your body's constraints and do your best not to overstep them," Bandelier said. Keeping that in mind, start moving. "Exercise promotes the proper flow of food through the digestive system and improves its overall functioning," Bandelier said. "Blood circulation in the digestive system increases during exercise. Regular and moderate exercise significantly improves your immune system. [There's] no need to be a great athlete."

While packing your suitcase, limit the weight so you aren't dragging around heavy luggage, which can lead to back and neck pain. "A good rule of thumb for extended trips is to pack no more than one week's worth of clothing," Bandelier said. "This will help cut down on your luggage size and ultimately strain on the body, especially if you are constantly on the move during travel." Keep in mind what the weather is like where you're going — if it's hot and sunny, bring sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses, and if it's cold, don't forget quality lip balm and moisturizers. Bring different supplements that target specific issues, like not being able to sleep and motion sickness, "as there is no one solution to everything," Bandelier said.

During travel: Hydration is key. "Limit your intake of alcohol and coffee, and eat lightly," Bandelier said. Additionally, "to help yourself relax, wear loose, comfortable clothing and shoes, and have a set of noise-canceling headphones to help eliminate distractions." If you're traveling by air, pick an aisle seat so it's easier to move around, and get up to walk every two hours. In a plane or car, "Try to remember to move your toes, feet, and ankles every 15 to 30 minutes," Bandelier said. "This will help promote better circulation even when you are in a confined space. Also, avoid placing weight on your lap, which can also hinder blood circulation."

At your destination: To reduce the feeling of jet lag, adopt the local time, so you're eating and sleeping on this new schedule. Don't take naps, and "don't think about the time difference between your departure place and your destination," Bandelier said. Be sure to spend time outside in the natural light, which helps with adjustment, and set an alarm so you don't oversleep.

Hector Bandelier

Courtesy of TravelSana

5-star gift ideas: Stocking stuffer edition

Make traveling easier with these tiny stocking stuffers that pack a big punch.

Pinch Provisions offers several small pouches filled with items you might need at a moment's notice — the Tech Kit, for example, has a wall charger, cord organizer, webcam cover, and earbud cleaning tool, among other items, while the Shemergency Kit has 40 essentials, including a lint brush, bandages, dental floss, earring backs, lip balm, and extra buttons. Being prepared has never looked so cute.

A Pinch Provisions travel kit

Courtesy of Pinch Provisions

Dry skin and winter weather go hand in hand, but they don't have to. Superzero's Hand Balm Bar, made with cocoa butter, squalene, Abyssinian seed oil, and upcycled blueberry seed oil, provides soothing relief to skin in need of some TLC. The bar is activated by massaging it between the palms to warm it up, and with its gentle lavender and chamomile scent, this is a relaxing way to get moisturized. The plastic-free bar is waterless, so it's also TSA safe.

Superzero's Hand Balm Bar

Courtesy of Superzero

Bonus idea: Packing cubes take away some of the stress of getting ready for a trip — your items are neatly organized before you even leave home, they save space in your luggage, and the pouches can easily move from your suitcase to a drawer. Calpak's five-piece sets are made from durable fabric (in a variety of colors and fun patterns), with each cube a different size — use one for your delicates, another for tops, and so on. The only thing they don't help with is the laundry at the end of your vacation.

A Calpak packing cubes set.

Courtesy of Calpak

Plan accordingly: Upcoming events to add to your calendar

All machines great and small are celebrated at this California festival. The Pacific Coast Dream Machines Show in Half Moon Bay combines car, air, motorcycle, and tractor shows with music, food, and historical festivals — basically, if it's a cool machine from within the last 200 years, you'll see it here. After a hiatus because of the pandemic, the show is back for its 30th year on April 30, 2023, and already, there are lots of entries from people ready to show off their machines, whether it's a classic car or vintage aircraft.

An orange car

Igor Porton/Miramar Events

For more travel news and features, sign up for The Week U.K.'s Travel newsletter, delivered to your inbox every two weeks.

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