Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Reader Recs: BGM’s Picks (Travel Edition)

unnamedDear Wendy readers are some of the most intelligent, stylish, super-cool people around (it’s a proven fact), so it’s a no-brainer to feature some of their favorite products. Many of the recommended products happen to be affiliate products, which means I’ll receive a commission on any click-throughs or purchases you make through the affiliate links. As always, I appreciate your support! Today’s recommendations come from Bittergaymark, who lives in Los Angeles, California, where he does production design work and improv comedy. He is single (surprise, surprise!) and loves to travel. This “Mad Men” enthusiast adores most anything mid-century modern with a real fondness for vintage tiki bars. He also cohosts The Best News Podcast, which is improv-based. “Basically, we chat about current events before we do improv scenes about them,” he says. The podcast can be found here. Mark will be at the Brooklyn meetup tomorrow, so if you’re in the area, stop by! And keep reading for some of his favorite travel-themed recommendations:

Stressed about Trump? Fear that the world is ending? Need an escape? Lucky for you, I’m here to help! It’s the Bittergaymark — Travel Edition! Circumstances have granted me the marvelous opportunity to visit two of my favorite cities. I’m in New York for two weeks, followed by one week in San Francisco. Now, naturally, I couldn’t embark on such a grand and fabulous voyage with my tired and dreary old luggage. It was time for an update. And how.

I started with this fabulous retro tote from Pan Am. I simply adore EVERYTHING about this bag from its fabulous Madmen styling to all the amazing details. Check out that spiffy lining! Those detailed logo zipper pulls! The groovy attached key chain! And all those fabulous pockets! It makes it oh so so easy to stay organized. Plus, this bag will make anybody feel like Don Draper, a secret agent, or both! This is actually my second Pan Am bag. I had another model that I got about ten years ago which I simply wore out. That one was blue; this time I went bold and white.

Of course not EVERYTHING can be retro. (Um, rolling bags? Didn’t used to exist!), but looking snazzy can be just as much fun and fashionable when you go more modern and up-to -ate. I needed a new suitcase. My old rolling bag was not only battered, but lately — due to the ever decreasing size of airline overhead bins — a little too big. Now, admittedly, I can be picky. My new bag had to be polycarbonate. It had to be stylish. Dammit! I wanted four spinning wheels. Oh, and it had to be orange! Because — HELLO! Orange is still the signature color of Bittergaymark. Finding this on Amazon was a real relief. It’s even got a special laptop pocket for when I wanna travel SUPER light. On this trip I used that area instead for all my boxers and socks and found out it worked just as well for that. It’s silly, but I was nervous ordering a suitcase online. This nifty bag totally, totally met and exceeded all my expectations. Word of warning, it’s tiny. But I love to travel light. PS — This bag strangely has gone up in price. I got it for $71 a few weeks ago. Guess I got a REALLY good deal.

The problem with having a new suitcase is you need new clothes! Enter Uniqlo. I discovered this amazing Japanese store — which has FINALLY hit the West Coast — two years ago when I first came to NYC! Not only is Uniqlo stylish and affordable, but also, two years later, my blazer and wool cardigan STILL look great. So great that they are with me again on this trip. 🙂 I packed especially light just so I could refresh my wardrobe a bit. Plus! Insider tip! Clothing in NYC is NOT taxed! No sales tax! [I got these corduroy pants from Uniqlo for Drew last year and recommend them for the dudes. They look great and they’re so affordable! — Wendy].

New York can be an expensive town — but there are still epic deals to be had. Heck, this one is a freebie. The Staten Island Ferry! I take this every time I am in New York! Four times now, and I never get tired of it! Again — it’s free and for $2.25 you can even enjoy hot chocolate as you sail past the Statue of Liberty and marvel at the views of Manhattan from the water. Eventually, I really must explore Staten Island a bit — so far I alway just zip over and then zip right back. I love the water. I love the boats. Especially the older orange ones! (Oh, look, signature Bittergaymark color!) Insider tip: The wonderful John F. Kennedy is not ONLY orange, but is also the very same ferry Madonna danced around on way back in the 1980s as she decided she was keeping her baby! Pappa Don’t Preach — but Bittergaymark will. Take this ferry already! It is the perfect antidote for too many hours of walking!

What’s a trip without reading material? And no, your phone so does NOT count. I always love to read about other people wandering whenever I wander. And NOBODY ever did this better than Jack Kerouac. Lonesome Traveler is a series of his journals. Reading about his vagabond life of hopping freight trains and hitchhiking through mid-century America is a remarkable journey. People used to hitchhike without fear? Wait, there actually were hobos? His not-so-glam passage to Europe and Africa aboard a steamer is epic. Ugh, our modern life is so frantic. For the Beat Generation there was instead a crazy sense of leisure and — well, real danger to traveling back in the day. Hell, Jack even fulfills my present fantasy of simply running away from it all and living alone on an isolated California mountain top — Desolation Peak — where he lives in a forest service cabin and watches for fires all summer long. It’s the perfect vicarious escape from the looming life under an Oompa Loompa we now all face.

Thanks, BGM!

If you have some products you’d like to recommend to the DW audience, shoot me an email at wendy@dearwendy.com with links to five recommendations. (Write “reader recs” in the subject line, please.) Your recommendations can be from any store or website, but they need to be accessible online. If your list is a good fit for the site, I’ll ask you to write a brief description of each item/explain what you love so much about it.

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19 comments… add one
  • girltuesday November 15, 2016, 1:25 pm

    I love Mad Men, too. I need that Pan Am tote.

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    • bittergaymark November 15, 2016, 1:27 pm

      They have a TON of different styles…

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  • rosie posie November 15, 2016, 2:05 pm

    I love the Rockland bag! Is it bad that I want some new luggage just to have spinner wheels?

    BGM is looking carefree and relaxed in the pic above. Traveling suits you.

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  • snoopy128 November 15, 2016, 2:51 pm

    I love Uniqlo. They’ve been promising to open one where my parents live…..but it’s been 3 years without a store in Western Canada. I get my fix when I go to the states (or that one time in Japan…).

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    • RedRoverRedRover November 15, 2016, 3:14 pm

      They just opened one in Toronto this summer. Maybe they’ll move across Canada soon if that one succeeds.

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    • Portia November 15, 2016, 3:57 pm

      Uniqlo is the best. They were incredibly useful on two recent trips where it ended up being much colder than I had expected and I needed extra gloves/long-sleeved shirts.

      Also, their knitted tights are so incredibly warm and got me through last winter. These are my favorite: https://www.uniqlo.com/us/en/women-heattech-knitted-leggings-cable-179896.html

      But it also looks like they have new styes. Fair warning – I had to order a much larger size than normal, as they seem to be made for tiny women. The non-knit tights are even smaller.

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  • ktfran November 15, 2016, 3:07 pm

    Uniqlo opened in the Windy City a little over a year ago, I think. Thanks BGM for making me want to finally check it out.

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  • Wendy's Sister November 15, 2016, 3:07 pm

    BGM, do you like mid-Century modern architecture? Miami and Miami Beach are known for their MiMo (Miami Modern) architecture. You should check it out sometime, if that interests you. Even our local post office has the “swiss cheese” look.

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    • bittergaymark November 15, 2016, 3:10 pm

      Love it! I need to get back to Miami! I haven’t been there since the 1980s!

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      • Wendy's Sister November 16, 2016, 8:27 am

        I just moved here a year and a half ago, but people who’ve been here a long time say it’s changed significantly since the ’80s. Have fun on the rest of your trip!

  • Today November 15, 2016, 3:46 pm

    BGM you’re so glam! how much (or how little) does that luggage hold? I’m in the market for a new carry on and that one looks really nice especially with the laptop pocket in the front, but I still want it to hold enough stuff for me to use it on week-long trips.

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    • bittergaymark November 15, 2016, 10:18 pm

      It might be a better weekend bag for you — the laptop compartment does take up a fair amount of space… Though as I said, this trip I packed clothes in that half and it worked great for underwear and socks.

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      • bittergaymark November 15, 2016, 10:22 pm

        But I think they make versions without the laptop compartment as well.

  • Samba November 15, 2016, 5:30 pm

    That was great writing, BGM could sell me anything! Maybe you picked up more from Madmen than just the style 🙂

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  • Moneypenny November 15, 2016, 7:43 pm

    Love that Pan Am bag! I have a couple myself! 😛
    I have an over the shoulder bag and a larger zip-top similar to yours that is great for overnight trips. I love the attention to detail, especially the zipper pulls!
    (I also have my dad’s old, original Pan Am bag- my great aunt worked for them and he has a bunch of memorabilia from her.)
    See you in SF!!

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    • Wendy's Sister November 16, 2016, 8:28 am

      That’s so cool that you have an original! Is it in good shape?

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    • bittergaymark November 16, 2016, 9:27 am

      Yes! See you in SF! PS — One of the few pens that ranked GLAM enough to go on this trip was the one they gave me at SMUGGLERS COVE! 🙂

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  • Ange November 15, 2016, 7:59 pm

    Catching the Staten Island ferry was such a treat. I had no idea how that huge crowd was going to fit on the one boat yet we did and it was a surprisingly comfortable trip with no waiting! Definitely worth it.

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  • bittergaymark November 15, 2016, 10:21 pm

    PS — I wanna go try on some of those corduroy pants.

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