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active 9 hours ago

Lilly Graves

I'm a freelance writer, photographer, and travel planner originally from Northern Michigan, affectionately known as 'Up North'. My first gig was—a start-up travel site, now owned by TripAdvisor—who sent me to photograph and review hotels in the U.S., Caribbean, Central America, South Pacific, and South Asia. Since 2011, I've covered 500+ properties around the world.

During this time, I worked for's Personal Travel Planning team customizing honeymoons and family vacations for members of the site. Among other projects related to travel, I've helped open a restaurant in Chicago and a hotel in Brooklyn so food, wine, and hospitality are high on the list of things that make me smile.

How did you get involved in travel?

"During a trip to Australia, Asia, and Europe in my 20s, I started a blog and became hooked on travel writing and photography. A few years later, I moved to London to attend journalism school and (no surprise) stuck to the travel industry. I then completed internships with the London Times Travel Desk and the New York Times Frugal Traveler, which led to my first job out of college. From then on it's been all about travel and hospitality. "

Please share a unique travel experience you will never forget.

"While photographing hotels in the Bahamas, I jumped out of a boat in Harbour Island when a leg of my tripod, which became loose, slid off and sunk in the water. I didn't realize it until after I got to my next hotel to take 360-degree panoramic photos only to realize it was missing! Yikes! My entire work trip hung in the balance—I needed this tripod leg before I could take any photographs of this hotel and several more in weeks to come. A hotel driver rushed me back to the dock to see if we could find it. That's when we discovered it at the bottom of the clear blue sea. Without another word, he dove in the water and fetched it, while others gathered around to see what we were up to. I tried to tip him when we got back to the hotel but he refused and said he was happy to do it. Talk about personalized service!"

Sognefjord, nicknamed "King of the Fjords".
Norway Epic Family Tour: Oslo, Fjords & Bergen - 7 Days

This week-long family-friendly itinerary combines popular summer destinations and activities for a true Norwegian adventure. Start off in Oslo, where you can experience the capital's cool culture before taking a train to the mountain village of Geilo. From here, hop on a scenic steam train to Aurland, where a speedboat whisks you towards Skjerdal for hiking, goats, and spectacular fjord views. Sail through the magnificent Sognefjord to finish the trip in the picturesque port of Bergen, where you can explore its UNESCO-listed waterfront and take day trips into the surrounding fjords.

The charming village of Flåm on Norway's Sognefjord.
Norwegian Highlights: Oslo, Balestrand & Bergen - 7 Days

Experience jaw-dropping scenery and cool Scandinavian culture on this 7-day Norwegian itinerary. Start in Oslo, where you'll have two days to revel in the rich history, trendy cafés, and summer festivals of Europe's fastest-growing capital. Next, you’ll head west on the famous Flåm Railway to explore Balestrand and its majestic mountains. From here, take advantage of the warmer weather with a kayaking tour of dramatic fjords. Finish the adventure in Bergen, with a wander around its colorful wooden houses and a trip up Fløyen Mountain for panoramic views of the city.

Dining outside on warm summer nights is a Provencal staple
How Many Days Should You Spend in Provence?

The French region of Provence is made for explorers—and there's a lot of room to explore. For a solid itinerary, we recommend at least four days to experience a few villages and sun-drenched landscapes. Of course, you can get a taste of the elegant Provençal lifestyle in a day or two; better yet, rent a car and take a long, leisurely road trip through lavender fields, ancient olive groves, clifftop roads, and Mediterranean views. Below, find a range of itineraries ranging from 24 hours to a week (or more).

See the city's historic and modern architecture by tram and bicycle
How Many Days Should You Spend in Bordeaux?

For a solid itinerary in France's wine capital, we recommend at least three days—ample time to explore the city's elegant streets and modern attractions with a day-trip to nearby chateaux. Of course, a fun-filled day or two lets you experience a slice of the urban action while having closer to a week allows more freedom to discover UNESCO-listed treasures and beaches along the Atlantic coast. Let this local guide steer you in the right direction.

Marseille's romantic port draws boaters in summer months
How Many Days Should You Spend in Marseille?

Historic, multicultural, and even a bit scruffy—a trip to Marseille in the South of France is a memorable feast for the senses. For a solid itinerary, we recommend at least two to three days so you can explore the city's famous port, its diverse neighborhoods, and the delicious food scene. Tack on more time for Marseille's ancient sites and modern museums, with possible day-trips to the Provençal countryside or Mediterranean coast. Check out some possible itineraries, ranging from 24 hours to a week or more.

Street and cafe scene in Old Lyon
How Many Days Should You Spend in Lyon?

Superb museums, UNESCO-listed neighborhoods, and the county's best gastronomy scene are just a few reasons why France's third-largest city is worth a visit. For a solid itinerary in Lyon, we recommend at least three days to explore the city's hills, rivers, bridges, and parks. Alternatively, you could squeeze in the top draws in a day or two, or take your time and soak in the culture over a week or more. Let this local guide help decide which trip length is right for you.