Yes Please; Party of One,” T Magazine
My friends are often baffled when I tell them I’m taking a trip alone. But I think traveling solo is the ultimate indulgence. Andrew O’Hagan backs me up in his convincing essay, “Party of One,” in T’s Summer Travel Issue. “I believe that traveling alone is the last great test of who you are in a world where everyone aches to be the same,” he says. I couldn’t agree more. —Jen Murphy

24 Countries That Actually Require People to Take Vacation,” The Cultureist
In case we needed more evidence that Americans don’t travel enough…—Serena Renner

Is SF Friendlier Than the Midwest?,” The Bold Italic
A humorous look at the ultimate question—can the Bay Area’s sunny disposition compete with the down home sensibility of the Midwest? From one Midwest transplant to another: Mat Sletten, you nailed it. —Kim Fortson 

A Spanish Road Trip,” The Perennial Plate
Need some summer road trip inspiration? The team behind Perennial Plate spent two weeks traveling from Spain’s Basque Country, to Galicia, Andalucia, and ending in Barcelona. Their three-minute film captures appetite-whetting highlights of their eating adventures. —Jen Murphy

How to Photograph Strangers,” National Geographic
My favorite photograph from a recent trip to Turkey was a shot of a colorfully-dressed woman selling fruit, syrups, and herbs from a red street cart (which just so happened to have a matching red Turkish flag hanging from the corner of the awning.) The woman didn’t speak English (and I spoke no Turkish), so it was challenging to ask permission to take pictures without making her feel uncomfortable. My strategy was to buy a bag of loquats and then hold up my camera and do a shoulder-shrug-head-nod gesture to get my point across. To my surprise, it worked. Here are some additional tips that I’ll try on my next trip. —Serena Renner 

Go the Same Way, or Go the Wrong Way,” The New York Times
There’s no safety in numbers—at least when it comes to the “Yelpification of culture,” according to writer Lee Siegel. The pervasiveness of Yelp and other review sites has made crowdsourcing the “best” places to eat, drink, and play just a few taps or clicks away. But it’s marked a shift in the importance we give to strangers’ opinions and how we act on them. Or, as Siegel puts it, “Now the idea is that if you are not following the crowd of five-star dispensers, you are a tasteless, undiscriminating shlub.” —Lara Takenaga

Discover Uncrowded Alaska in Sitka,” Sunset
AFAR magazine contributor Edward Readicker-Henderson has a deep love for Alaska, which he conveyed in a personal cruise story that ran in AFAR’s March/April 2012 issue. Here, he returns to his former home of Sitka and discovers new sources of beauty that only reveal themselves after he spends several years away. —Serena Renner

 Photo by Ashley Lohmann/AFAR