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The latest news on Features from Business Insider

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    American Flag USA US

    The US is a huge, diverse country, and the characteristics of the states that make it up vary widely.

    We used 38 demographic, social, and economic indicators that cover several aspects of American life, mostly from the US Census Bureau's recently released 2017 American Community Survey estimates.

    We looked at how far away each state was from the average of each of those metrics among the states and Washington, DC. Adding those distances together, we found an overall "averageness" score for each state and DC.

    Read more:See our method and detailed sources for this ranking

    Here's all 50 states and DC, ranked from least to most average, along with some of the metrics for which they were outliers or average.

    SEE ALSO: Here's how much the typical millennial, Gen X, and baby-boomer worker earns in every US state

    51. Washington, DC

    What's average: The 90.2% of residents of DC with at least a high school diploma was very close to the average share among the states and DC of 89.5%.

    What's not average: The nation's capital is demographically and economically very different from the rest of the country, largely because it's a city with no suburban or rural areas. For example, DC's median age of 34.0 years is much lower than the average of 38.4 years, and its median household income of $82,372 was the highest in the country.

    50. Hawaii

    What's average: About 92.1% of households in Hawaii have access to at least one car, right in line with the average rate of 92.2% among the states and DC.

    What's not average: Hawaii's median home value of $617,400 was the highest in the country, and, perhaps not surprisingly, the 9.3% of Hawaii residents who self-identified as Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander was by far the largest share among the states and DC.

    49. California

    What's average: California's poverty rate of 13.3% was just above the average rate of 13.1% among the 50 states and DC.

    What's not average: California's median gross monthly apartment rent of $1,447 was the third-highest in the country. Only 83.3% of California residents had at least a high school diploma, the lowest rate among the states and DC.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    • The Eurostar is the high-speed train that links London to European cities including Paris and Amsterdam.
    • On a recent weekend trip to Paris, I checked out Eurostar's newly revamped lounge for Business Premier passengers at London's St. Pancras International.
    • It was pretty luxurious — and even had a free cocktail bar with its own brand of gin.

    The Eurostar, the high-speed train that links London to European cities such as Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, and Marseille, France, is arguably one of the best ways to travel — especially in business class.

    Passengers traveling in this cabin, called Business Premier, are treated to express check-in and complimentary drinks and fine dining on board and given access to a lounge that was recently given a shiny new cocktail bar.

    Read more: I drank at the best bar in the world, and I was surprised by one thing

    Before a recent weekend trip to Paris, I checked out the new business lounge at London's St. Pancras International.

    Here's what it's like inside.

    SEE ALSO: I've lived in London for 5 years — here are the 50 places where you should actually eat

    The Eurostar, the high-speed train that links London to European cities including Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, and Marseille, is arguably one of the best ways to travel — especially in business class, where the experience starts before you even get on board.

    After getting through security and passport control, Business Premier passengers can turn right for the brick-exterior entrance to the two-floor business lounge.

    The first floor is sleek and stylish, with glass, exposed brick, and blues and grays.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    The Insider Picks team writes about stuff we think you'll like. Business Insider has affiliate partnerships, so we get a share of the revenue from your purchase.

    best gel pillow

    • Gel pillows are ideal for people who need extra support to deal with neck and back pain, as well as for people who run hot but like to sleep cool.

    • The Coop Home Goods Eden Gel Foam Pillow is our top pick, thanks to its support and cooling and because it can be adjusted for ideal custom comfort.

    I can't speak for you, but I'll say that the first time I lay my head down on a gel pillow, I wasn't immediately sold. Far from it, in fact. Upon initial contact, many gel pillows feel too firm and even a bit unusual, with a rubbery texture that's a far cry from the feathers or fabric stuffing to which most of us are accustomed.

    But then my head settled down into the foam, and soon I found myself feeling a level of comfort and support almost unknown in those low-tech pillows I'd used all my life. Also, I who fog up car windows and often sleep without even sheets while my wife is under a down comforter stayed relatively cool throughout hours of use.

    So while standard pillows feel soft and snuggly at once, they don't offer much actual neck and back support and they often heat up. Gel pillows tend to hold their shape, offering all-night support, and they stay relatively cool thanks to the gel's propensity to draw heat in and away from your body.

    Are there drawbacks? Sure. Each time you shift with most gel foam pillows, you need a moment to sink in again to reestablish ideal comfort. And also some of them are a bit pricey. Do the benefits way outweigh those minor issues? Oh yeah. At least, if hours of comfortable sleep followed by a day during which you feel well-rested matters much to you.

    In selecting the best gel pillows you can buy, we factored in everything from price to shape to intended use. Some are ideal for cervical support (spinal support, e.g.), while some are great at keeping you cool. Others still have all the bases covered, though you'll need to pay for that level of quality and capability.

    Here are the best gel pillows you can buy:

    Read on in the slides below to check out our top picks.

    The best gel pillow overall

    Why you'll love it: The Coop Home Goods Eden Gel Foam Pillow is comfortable, cooling, and customizable — you can remove its filling until it's just the right density for your preference.

    The Coop Home Goods Eden Gel Foam Pillow is sort of a best of both worlds situation. Most gel foam pillows are essentially solid blocks of viscoelastic memory foam that either have a layer of cooling gel material or that have gel infused into the foam itself.

    This unique gel pillow does indeed use a gel-infused memory foam, but it's not a solid block of the material. Rather, the pillow is stuffed with hundreds of little bits of gel foam, thus the best of both worlds. When you first put your head down on this pillow, you will settle into it much like with a feather or synthetic fill pillow.

    So comfort right off the bat? Check. The more time you spend lying down with your head, neck, and shoulders on the Coop Home Goods Eden Gel Foam Pillow, the more you'll start to realize that gel foam isn't just a term bandied about by the fat cats in the pillow industry. This stuff actually does draw more heat away from your body than feathers or polyester could ever hope to.

    Thanks to the shredded gel memory foam fill, the airflow throughout this pillow is unrivaled. Thus you enjoy that immediate comfort and all night cooling.

    With more than 400 reviews logged on Amazon at the time of this writing, the Coop Home Goods Eden Gel Foam Pillow has a solid 4.4-star rating. One shopper speaks for many when she calls it the "best pillow" she has "ever owned," saying they help her and her husband "sleep all night and wake up without any aches or stiffness."

    A writer from RealMattressReviews loved that users can "adjust the fill" to create ideal custom comfort and noted the "lighter, fluffier feel" of this pillow compared to most gel pillows.

    Pros: Custom adjustable fill, immediately comfortable, backed by satisfaction guarantee

    Cons: Less supportive than solid pillows

    Buy a Coop Home Goods Eden Gel Foam Pillow on Amazon for $69.99 and up

    Buy the Eden Pillow at Coop Home Goods for $69.99 and up

    The best gel pillow for side sleepers

    Why you'll love it: If you sleep on your side, your head and neck need a specific kind of support for comfort, and the Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR-Contour Breeze Side-to-Side Pillow provides it perfectly.

    When you sleep on your side, you are asking a lot of your spine in the name of comfort. In fact, you are asking your spin to align itself in a way that it doesn't really want to align, namely bent sideways at the neck. This hardly bothers some people, but for others it can cause pain both acute and chronic.

    But if sleep on your side you must, whether for everyday comfort, during pregnancy, or after an accident that requires specific positioning during recovery, do your spine a favor and get the Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR-Contour Breeze Side-to-Side Pillow.

    With your head and neck cradled by the Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR-Contour Breeze Side-to-Side Pillow, a pillow purpose-built for supporting side sleepers, your spinal column will be kept in line and without undue stress.

    Beyond cervical ergonomics, your head will sink down into the memory foam and be cradled all night long. Also, a layer of cooling gel set near the surface of the pillow will keep you nice and cool during all those hours of ergonomic spine support.

    Most shoppers who chose this pillow were thrilled with their choice. An owner named Penny called it "supportive and comfortable" and said it far outperformed others she had tried, while a gentleman named Bruce said it helped him "maintain a straight neckline" all night long.

    A writer from NYMag called the Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR-Contour Breeze Side-to-Side Pillow loved the "cooling gel layer" that served "hot-headed sleepers" so well.

    Pros: Provides ergonomic spinal support, lasts for multiple years, washable knit cover

    Cons: Quite expensive, too firm for some users

    Buy a Tempur-Pedic TEMPUR-Contour Breeze Side-to-Side Pillow on Amazon for $165

    The best low-cost gel pillow

    Why you'll love it: The PharMeDoc Contour Cooling Foam Pillow will keep you cool and supported for about half the cost of most comparable gel pillows.

    How can the PharMeDoc Contour Cooling Foam Pillow cost only 20 bucks, about half the price of many comparable gel pillows — and less than a quarter of the price of some options on our list — yet still provide decent neck support and cooling? Well, it's a bit on the small side, at 14 inches by 20 inches. And it's too firm for some people. All in all, though, this pillow punches well above its price point.

    Its gel-infused memory foam offers excellent head and neck support, and its two long axis have slightly different heights — four inches and five inches — so you can choose the rise that best suits your neck.

    Also, unless you need to constantly move around to achieve ideal comfort or you have a particularly large head, the fact that this pillow is smaller than standard pillow size isn't much of a problem, and you'll soon get used to it. Besides, in case this part isn't crystal clear yet ... it costs less than 20 dollars.

    Most reviews of the PharMeDoc Contour Cooling Foam Pillow are glowing, such as that left by a customer named Elsie who called it "just right" for providing the "support [she] needed as a side/back sleeper."

    A number of people did note its smaller size, though, which can be an issue when pairing it with standard pillowcases.

    Pros: Great low price tag, two height options, supports neck and head

    Cons: Notably smaller than standard pillow

    Buy a PharMeDoc Contour Cooling Foam Pillow at Walmart for $20 (originally $40)

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Dubai Travel On A Budget (2 of 79)

    • The city of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates is known for its extravagant, newly built landmarks like the Burj Khalifa, the Palm Jumeirah, and the Dubai Mall
    • But those landmarks have little to do with Dubai's history as a major trading city at a crossroads between Asian and Middle Eastern trading routes.
    • To see that history, you have to visit the city's many souks, or marketplaces, and talk to many immigrants — from India, Pakistan, Egypt, and elsewhere — that work in them.
    • The craziest of the souks is the Gold Souk, where you can purchase elaborate, handmade gold pieces for tens of thousands of dollars. There's even a 141-pound gold ring that sells for approximately $3 million.

    If you were to listen to most travel guides on Dubai, you'd think the desert city materialized out of the air a decade ago.

    The city exploded in prosperity after United Arab Emirates discovered oil in 1966,, leading to a development boom that has resulted in the world's tallest building, the second-biggest mall, the most luxurious hotel, and more skyscrapers than any city besides New York and Hong Kong.

    But Dubai was settled as a port city in the early 1800s, where it became a center for fishing and pearling, and a crossroads of sea and land trade routes through Asia and the Middle East.

    That trading history has left behind a legacy of souks, or open-air marketplaces native to the Middle East and North Africa. These are loud, colorful places where traders from dozens of nationalities hawk their wares, as your senses are attacked from every direction.

    Dubai has a lot of them: one for spices, one for perfumes, and another for clothing. But the most extravagant is the gold souk, where people come from all over the world to get a deal on that sweet yellow nugget. 

    As Nada Badran, a Jordanian who has lived in Dubai for most of her life, told me, the souks are the key to understanding Dubai. 

    Here's what it was like to visit them:

    SEE ALSO: I stayed at a hotel on Dubai's massive artificial island shaped like a palm tree and it's more surreal than any photos can show

    DON'T MISS: I visited outlandishly wealthy Dubai, known as the 'city of gold,' and was surprised by how much fun you can have even without billions

    After a couple of days in Dubai, I felt like I was having a hard time finding the city's local culture. So I met up with Nada Badran, who hosts "Wander With Nada" on CNN Arabic. Badran agreed to take me through Dubai's many souks.

    Dubai's mega-projects like Palm Jumeirah, the world's largest artificial island, and the Burj Khalifa, the tallest tower in the world, may be cool, but they have little to do with the culture.

    "A lot of people visit and say that Dubai has 'no soul' but that's so far from the truth," Badran told me. "You just have to put in the effort to look for the culture."

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    army-navy football game

    • Army cadets and Navy midshipmen are faced off for the 119th Army-Navy game in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania this weekend.
    • "America's game" is one of the most intense rivalries in college sports, and is steeped in tradition.
    • Some of these traditions are on full display in the annual game, and include a "prisoner exchange" as well as hilarious taunts from midshipmen and cadets.

    Since 1850, midshipmen from the Naval Academy and West Point cadets have faced off on the gridiron in the annual Army-Navy football game.

    In the past 118 years, the rivalry that has developed between the two service academies has evolved into an institution of itself, rich with traditions held sacred by cadets and midshipmen as well as soldiers and sailors across the globe. 

    Read through to find out who the academies' "prisoners" are, how mids and cadets taunt each other throughout the game and why — for several years — midshipmen carried brooms with them in the stadium.

    SEE ALSO: US Military Academy's football uniform for the Army-Navy game is a badass tribute to a famed Army division from World War I

    SEE ALSO: ARMY VS. NAVY: Here's how America's most elite military academies really stack up

    SEE ALSO: The Naval Academy's Army-Navy game uniform is a tribute to a beloved four-legged mascot named Bill

    Midshipmen always find a way to incorporate the sitting president into the game.

    In 2005, they carried a life-sized cardboard cut-out of George W. Bush with them into the stadium. 

    Cadets and midshipmen usually bring signs with them to the game, which they use to taunt their rivals.

    In 2016, cadets used a catchphrase of then president-elect Trump, who was in attendance, to taunt midshipmen. 

    Trump will attend Saturday's game for the first time as sitting president, and will officiate the coin toss, according to the Associated Press.

    Navy had the perfect response to Army's taunt.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    TRV   Main & Villa One Infinity Pools Evening

    • The Resort Villa in Thailand offers guests private access to a 150,0000-square-foot property that includes seven villas and a full-time staff of 60 people. 
    • The resort was recently dubbed "the world's best private villa" by the Boutique Hotel Awards.
    • The property is two hours outside of Bangkok— the biggest international tourist destination in the world — and prides itself on its privacy.

    The world's best private villa is an unlikely destination: It's a two-hour drive from the world's biggest international tourist destination.

    But you wouldn't guess it from the looks of things inside The Resort Villa, where privacy is key. Seven villas, four bars, and nine dining areas are spread out across 150,000 square feet of property.

    The resort beat out other five other candidates in the Maldives, Spain, South Africa, Fiji, and St. Barthelemy, respectively, to win the award. It also unseats Over Yonder Cay in the Bahamas and Coco Prive in the Maldives, which jointly won the award in 2017.

    Read more: The top 14 boutique hotels in the world

    Thailand has long been a tourist hotspot, largely in thanks to its stunning beaches. In fact, Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, was recognized as the most popular city in the world for international tourists for three years in a row. And, earlier this year, the iconic Thai bay featured in the movie "The Beach" was permanently closed due to long-term damage caused by tourists.

    The Resort Villa, however, is located in the non-commercial area of Rayong and prides itself in offering respite from highly tourist-trafficked areas.

    Keep reading for a tour of the property:

    SEE ALSO: A luxury resort in the middle of the jungle in Bali was voted as having the world's 'most stunning views' and the view from the pool shows why

    READ MORE: A 7-bedroom Swiss cabin has been named the world's best ski chalet for 2 years in a row — and an inside tour quickly proves why

    The Private Villa is located in Rayong, Thailand, on the Gulf of Thailand. It's about a two-hour drive from the closest airport in Bangkok.

    Source: Google Maps

    The 150,000-square-foot property has seven private villas and can host up to 14 people at once.

    Source: The Resort Villa

    It's a mere five-minute walk from the beach ...

    Source: The Resort Villa

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    TJ Maxx

    TJ Maxx is thriving as other retailers struggle. 

    TJ Maxx's parent company, TJX Companies, reported on November 20 that comparable sales were up 9% at TJ Maxx and Marshalls in the most recent fiscal quarter. It was the 17th consecutive quarter that customer traffic was up at the stores.

    The off-price retailer has been benefiting from a disappearing middle class and higher demand for budget options — two factors that have been hurting department stores like JCPenney and Sears.

    Shoppers have largely become accustomed to heavy discounting in the past decade.

    "The value-seeking mindset is an interesting one as it is often assumed that it is most prevalent during times of economic difficulty. However, our data shows that it is now an underlying constant in terms of what consumers look for when shopping," Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData Retail, wrote in a note to investors in August.

    TJ Maxx is able to keep its prices low using a number of different strategies. 

    According to the company, much of it comes down to the way TJ Maxx buys its merchandise. It purchases stock from manufacturers that make too much and department stores that overbuy, and it jumps on deals at the end of the season. 

    Here's how TJ Maxx sells its designer goods at such low prices: 

    SEE ALSO: Kohl's is being hailed as a winner of the retail apocalypse while other department stores struggle. We shopped there and saw why.

    TJ Maxx is an off-price retailer, meaning it sells brand names and designer products for 20-60% less than department stores and other retailers.

    Source: TJ Maxx

    TJ Maxx's buyers search year-round for products.

    TJ Maxx gets its inventory from a few different sources, including boutique labels, designer brands, and up-and-coming labels.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    gucci 8912

    • 20 major companies lead the global fashion industry right now, according to the McKinsey Global Fashion Index. These companies account for 97% of global economic profit in the sector. 
    • Nike, Adidas, and H&M are among the well-known names on the list. 
    • According to the report, mid-market players are increasingly losing out to luxury and value brands.

    The global fashion market is dominated by 20 companies, according to new research from management consultancy firm McKinsey & Company.

    In its "Global Fashion Index," released last week, McKinsey ranked the top fashion companies across the world by economic profit, which it defines as "a measure for value-add created by businesses, whereby opportunity costs are deducted from revenues earned."

    Dubbed the "super winners," these companies currently account for 97% of global economic profit in the retail sector and own some of the biggest and best-known brands in the business, including Nike, H&M, and Zara. 

    "The lesson from 2017 is that size continues to matter," the report said. "There is a demonstrable advantage to scale. The one caveat is that if you can't be big, be nimble."

    Noticeably absent from this list are online players and US department stores — the latter dominated the list 10 years ago, according to the report. The companies are ranked by economic profit, which is net operating profit, less adjusted taxes minus capital charge.

    Find out which companies made the top 10 list below:

    SEE ALSO: These are the biggest clothing companies in America

    10. Kering — Gucci, Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga

    Economic profit: $943 million 

    Luxury conglomerate Kering has some of the best-known high-end labels in its empire. They include Gucci, Alexander McQueen, and Balenciaga, among others. 

    Gucci has exploded in popularity in recent months, especially among millennial and teen shoppers. It was ranked the second-hottest brand on a recent survey by Lyst and was ranked as the 10th most popular apparel brand in a survey of teen spending in April. Sales grew 46.6% in the first quarter of 2018 at Gucci and were up 35.1% in its most recent quarter, according to Kering.

    Read more:Gucci has become hugely popular with teens and millennials. We visited a store and saw why they love it despite the high price tags.

    9. Adidas

    Economic profit: $1.06 billion 

    German athletics brand Adidas continues to be one of the leading global fashion companies. 

    In recent years, it has been doubling down on the US market and has seen positive results because of this, capturing more market share and reporting 30-40% gains.

    Read more:Adidas CEO reveals how the company pulled off a startling American turnaround, what he thinks the future of sportswear will be, and why Kanye West is still good for business

    8. Ross Stores

    Economic profit: $1.06 billion 

    Off-price retailer Ross Stores is known for offering a wide selection of well-known brands at discounted prices and providing customers with a treasure-hunt shopping experience that's hard to replicate online. It has been hailed as a "retail treasure" by analysts.

    Read more:The chain hailed by Wall Street as a 'retail treasure' runs the most disastrous store we've ever seen

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Jillian real money

    • Jillian Johnsrud lives in Montana with her husband Adam and their five kids; they're currently on a mini-retirement.
    • Their income is comprised of Adam's military pension, rental property income, and investment income for a total of $41,400 a year. They earn an additional $50,000-$75,000 a year doing freelance work.
    • For Business Insider's "Real Money" series, Jillian tracked the family's spending for a week.
    • Want to share a week of your spending? Email

    Three years ago my husband and I became financially independent at the ages of 37 and 32.

    Life had been a bit of a whirlwind in the years leading up to that. We had adopted a sibling group of three, bought and renovated three homes, and were both working full time. I found out we were expecting a second biological child and I decided it was time for another mini-retirement. It would be our fifth mini-retirement and our longest, lasting two-and-a-half years.

    The goal of this new mini-retirement was fairly simple. Fill it with rest, family time, and adventure, and start figuring out what we wanted life to look like now that we no longer needed to earn income.

    What was our ideal day or week? Did we want to volunteer or work part time? How much do we enjoy traveling? What was the perfect mix for us as individuals and as a family?

    Here's a look inside a typical week for us:

    SEE ALSO: I'm a Bay Area local earning 6 figures with plans to retire at 40 — here's how I spend my money in a typical week

    DON'T MISS: After retiring from tech in my 30s, I travel the world with my family on $65,000 a year — here's what we spend in a typical week

    Spending for our family of seven averages about $30,000 a year.

    This is largely due to the fact that our fixed monthly bills (cell phone, taxes, insurance, dental, utilities, etc.) are under $700 a month, plus about $400 a month for childcare, which we started in September. The $30,000 includes our six to 10 weeks of travel and vacations a year. Our kids are currently ages 2-11. We also donate an additional $5,000-$20,000 each year.

    Our passive income comes from a military pension ($1,450 plus healthcare), rentals ($1,200) and investments ($800) for a yearly income of $41,400. That is enough to cover all our regular costs because we don't pay a mortgage, car payment, or have any debt.  

    During our mini-retirement we had the freedom to pursue things we loved and were passionate about. We ended up creating some part-time freelance work that earns us $50,000-$75,000 a year working part time. Because we don't need that income to pay the bills, we get to just focus on work that enriches our lives.

    We spent a total of $228 this week.

    It's been almost three years since we became financially independent and left our 9-to-5 jobs. Weeks like this are about how it goes.

    Lots of fun, adventure and friends. Mishaps, appointments, and chaos. A bit of writing and coaching fit in to keep things sane. 

    On Sunday, Adam took the kids to run a few errands before we went on a hike at Glacier National Park.

    I love slow Sunday mornings. When I have to do a bit of reading, reflecting, and planning. All the kids are home and it's a nice mix of them playing together so Adam and I can chat and the constant but brief bids for our attention. Pictures are being drawn and games are being invented that we need to bear witness to. For a few minutes before they are off to go create some more.

    After a few hours of controlled chaos, Adam took the kids to run a few errands: a trip to the dump, buy two sheets of sheetrock to finish my new scheming and dreaming cave, and a few groceries.

    He dropped me off at the local coffee shop to be able to write for an hour. As an introvert mom to five young kids, an hour of quite and time alone with my thoughts is a magic balm for my sanity.

    We live in Montana near Glacier National Park. It was a  sunny, perfect hiking temperature Sunday when the tourists are gone and the fall colors in full swing. So we headed into the National park for the afternoon. We played along the famed Trail of the Cedars in the crisp fall air along with sparse fellow hikers. Although a family of deer seemed to trail us closely peeking out from every corner. Hunting season had just opened and the deer in Glacier National Park have an extra air of confidence in their safe harbor.

    Lake McDonald was like glass so we stopped to eat Nutella sandwiches and skip rocks. We have a pine tree called a Tamarak that fills Glacier National Park and the surrounding mountains. In the Fall it turns a bright yellow and when the sun hits it on a bright day, it's like gold flake in the mountainside.

    After a long afternoon in the mountains, we ate a bit of dinner and all slept well.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    new york city skyline

    • The list of the most visited cities in the world was released this week by market-research firm Euromonitor International.
    • New York City saw more than 13 million international tourists last year, but it only finished No. 8 on the global list.
    • Asian cities dominated the top 10, with one city attracting nearly 28 million international tourists.

    Euromonitor International released its annual ranking of the most visited cities in the world this week, measuring the appeal of some of the world's most famous destinations to international travelers.

    The UK-based market-research firm looked at 600 cities worldwide and ranked the 100 that attracted the most international tourists in 2017, and projected estimates for 2018 using part-year data.

    Read more: 13 places to visit in December for every type of traveler

    Seven American cities made the cut this year, led by New York City, which attracted more than 13 million tourists in 2017, good for eighth in the global rankings.

    Meanwhile, Asian cities dominated the top of the list, comprising seven out of the top 10 most popular cities. One Asian tourism powerhouse retained its title for the eighth consecutive year, leading the world with nearly 28 million international visitors. 

    Read on to see the biggest urban tourism hotspots in the world:

    SEE ALSO: France has been the most-visited country in the world for more than 20 years in a row — but experts think it's about to lose its crown

    DON'T MISS: The most dangerous intersection in every state

    31. Barcelona, Spain

    2017 arrivals: 6,530,100

    2018 estimate: 6,726,000

    30. Osaka, Japan

    2017 arrivals: 6,605,900

    2018 estimate: 7,456,300

    29. Agra, India

    2017 arrivals: 6,644,000

    2018 estimate: 8,258,200

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    marvelous mrs maisel

    • Every week, Parrot Analytics provides Business Insider the most in-demand TV shows on streaming services.
    • This week includes Amazon's "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" and Netflix's "The Last Kingdom."


    Amazon's Emmy-winning comedy "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" returned this week with its second season, and immediately landed on the list of audiences' top shows.

    Every week, Parrot Analytics provides Business Insider with a list of the seven most "in-demand" TV shows on streaming services. The data is based on "demand expressions," the globally standardized TV demand measurement unit from Parrot Analytics. Audience demand reflects the desire, engagement, and viewership weighted by importance, so a stream or download is a higher expression of demand than a "like" or comment on social media.

    This week's most in-demand streaming shows also include Netflix's "The Last Kingdom," which debuted on the list last week, and the recently canceled "Daredevil."

    Below are this week's seven most popular shows on Netflix and other streaming services:

    SEE ALSO: 'Avengers: Endgame' directors on dealing with sky-high expectations, and which characters they want to enter the Marvel Cinematic Universe

    7. "The Last Kingdom" (Netflix)

    Average demand expressions: 21,484,962 

    Description: "As Alfred the Great defends his kingdom from Norse invaders, Uhtred — born a Saxon but raised by Vikings — seeks to claim his ancestral birthright."

    Rotten Tomatoes critic score (Season 2): 83%

    What the critics said (Season 3): The lazy gloss on this BBC series, set in 9th-century Britain and based on a series of novels by Bernard Cornwell, is that it’s a poor man’s Game of Thrones. And yes, the aesthetics are the same: furs and fortresses, gloriously tattooed pagans, bloody battles in windswept fields. But the reason Kingdom has been something of a cult pleasure since it debuted in 2015 is the way it’s pitched somewhere between solemn drama and high-camp hilarity. — Taylor Antrim, Vogue

    Season 3 premiered on Netflix November 19.

    6. "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" (Amazon)

    Average demand expressions: 21,647,286 

    Description: After Midge’s triumph at the Gaslight, the fallout from her takedown of Sophie Lennon looms large, making her climb up the comedy ladder more challenging than ever. As the actual grind of being a comic begins to take its toll on Midge, the pressure to come clean to her family weighs on her – especially as her choices have a ripple effect on everyone around her.

    Rotten Tomatoes critic score (Season 2): 94%

    What critics said:"Sherman-Palladino has written a woman who's fearless, blunt, and brilliant at what she does, and watching her rise is Mrs. Maisel's trump card."— Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic

    Season 2 premiered on Amazon December 5.

    5. "The Handmaid's Tale" (Hulu)

    Average demand expressions: 23,160,282

    Description: "A woman forced into sexual servitude struggles to survive in a terrifying, totalitarian society."

    Rotten Tomatoes critic score (Season 2): 91%

    What critics said: "The colors on the show's palette now include alternating resignation, rage, supplication and subversion; Elisabeth Moss continues to excel, but glimpses of the world beyond her have grown yet more intriguing."— Daniel D'Addario, Time

    Season 2 premiered on Hulu in April.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    laguardia airport 2018

    • New York's LaGuardia Airport has a reputation for being one of the worst airports in the US.
    • I reviewed my experience flying out of Terminal B in December 2017 and found it to be dirty, cramped, and poorly lit.
    • I flew out of the terminal again in November and noticed improvements.
    • In its current state, LaGuardia is still not equipped to be a transit hub for one of the biggest cities in the world, but recent improvements indicate that it's on the right track.


    New York's LaGuardia Airport has a reputation for being one of the worst airports in the US.

    While New York City's government cited proximity to the airport as an advantage Amazon would gain by locating its second headquarters in Long Island City in its pitch to the company (Amazon ultimately decided to place half of its second headquarters in Long Island City), travelers who use the airport have suggested that working close to it could be a curse as much as a blessing. 

    Read more: The 10 airports in America people hate flying into the most

    A 2018 study of more than 40,000 travelers by JD Power found that respondents were less satisfied with their experiences at LaGuardia than at any other large or medium airport in North America. That may change in the years to come, as an $8 billion makeover is underway, but for now, LaGuardia still lags behind other major airports.

    I reviewed my experience flying out of Terminal B in December 2017 and found it to be dirty, cramped, and poorly lit. I flew out of the terminal again in November and noticed improvements. Concourse C, where my gate was located, was cleaner and brighter than the year before. Even better was the new pickup area for ride-hailing services, which was a vast improvement over the old system.

    In its current state, LaGuardia is still not equipped to be a transit hub for one of the biggest cities in the world, but recent improvements indicate that it's on the right track.

    Here's what I saw during my most recent trip to LaGuardia.

    SEE ALSO: Here are the best airlines for 2018 according to The Points Guy

    I arrived at the airport a little before 6 pm on a Tuesday.

    I noticed that progress had been made on construction near Terminal B.

    Here's what it looked like in December 2017.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Echo dot

    • Amazon currently offers a wide array of Echo smart speakers. 
    • While there are plenty of excellent and expensive options to choose from, there's only one Amazon Echo most people really need: the Amazon Echo Dot.
    • The Echo Dot only costs $50, but it looks great and can do everything the other Echo devices can do. 
    • Here are three reasons to choose the Echo Dot. 

    Back in September, Amazon unveiled a truckload of new Echo devices

    There was an Echo for your car, an Echo subwoofer, an Echo microwave, and an Echo Clock. Plus, Amazon revealed redesigned versions of the more mainstream Echo Show, Dot, and Plus. 

    There are now so many Echo devices, it's almost impossible to count them — and seemingly even harder to pick the right one for you. 

    But even though Amazon makes plenty of solid Echo devices to choose from, there is actually one option that will suit most people just fine: the Echo Dot. It may seem like the most basic option in Amazon's lineup, but there are plenty of reasons to buy the Dot over some of the fancier options. 

    Here's why the Echo Dot is the only Echo you really need: 

    SEE ALSO: Amazon's latest onslaught of hardware proves it won't stop until it reaches every aspect of your life

    1. The price

    The Echo Dot only costs $50, and Amazon frequently offers promotions on it — for Black Friday, for instance, Amazon was selling the Dot for $24, and for the holidays, it's on sale for $30.  

    Compared to Amazon's other devices, the Dot is crazy-cheap. The standard Echo is $100 (although it's on sale for $70 right now), the Echo Spot is $130, and the Echo Plus is $150. But there's no reason to spend that much when you can get a Dot for as lost as $24.

    2. The design

    Amazon changed the look of the Dot when it introduced the new model earlier this fall.

    The original Dot was a hard, plastic device that had the overall look and feel of hockey puck. But the new Dot adopted the fabric exterior of the standard Echo, giving it a fuzzier, cozier look. 

    The new design makes the Dot look not only more high-end, but more modern, too, and it should fit into your home's decor better. Plus, the Dot's small size means it fits well into nearly any space in your home — your bedside table, your kitchen counter, your name it. 

    3. The functionality

    Perhaps the most important reason to choose the Echo Dot has more to do with what's on the inside than what's on the outside. 

    The version of Alexa that lives inside the Echo Dot is no better and no worse than the Alexa that lives inside the Echo and Echo Plus. The Echo Dot can still answer random questions, make shopping lists, let you know the status of your package, tell you the news and weather, and more. You're not getting a subpar Alexa just because you buy the less expensive product. 

    The only area where the Dot may not measure up to other Echo devices is the audio quality. Amazon improved the speakers on the Dot compared to the previous generation, but due to its small size, the sound quality likely isn't as good as a device like the Echo Plus. 

    However, the Echo Dot has an ace up its sleeve: It has a standard audio jack in the back, so you can plug in any full-sized speakers you happen to have lying around. You can still talk to Alexa via the Echo Dot, but the sound output will come through your sound system — meaning it's a good, affordable way to make your existing stereo a little smarter. 

    That being said, if you're in the market for high-end audio, and you don't have your own speakers, don't buy an Echo anyway. There are far better speakers out there for playing music, audiobooks, or podcasts. 

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Zach Randolph and Stephen Curry

    For the second-straight season, Stephen Curry is the NBA's highest-paid player.

    But not all teams pay their top players the way the Golden State Warriors pay Curry or the way the Los Angeles Lakers pay LeBron James.

    In all, 11 players are making at least $30 million this season, and 26 teams have at least one player making at least $20 million. And then there are the Sacramento Kings who have nobody making $12 million.

    Below we take a look at this season's highest-paid players on every team and how their contracts break down, with data provided by Spotrac.

    30. Zach Randolph, Sacramento Kings — $11.7 million

    Position: Power Forward

    Contract:years, $24.0 million

    One thing to know: By the end of this season, Randolph will have made $197 million in his career. That is one of the 20 highest-paid players of all time.

    29. Kent Bazemore, Atlanta Hawks — $18.1 million

    Position: Shooting Guard

    Contract:years, $70.0 million

    One thing to know: Bazemore is expected to pick up his player option for next season at $19.3 million. The rebuilding Hawks would like to move the contract but have been unsuccessful so far. The Rockets, Pelicans, and Bucks showed interest in trading for Bazemore during the offseason.

    28. Allen Crabbe, Brooklyn Nets — $18.5 million

    Position: Shooting Guard

    Contract:years, $74.8 million

    One thing to know: Crabbe has a player option for the 2019-20 season he will likely pick up. The Nets probably want to trade Crabbe, but will have a hard time finding somebody to take a player who is now scoring 8.1 points per game and has seen his eFG% drop from 57.2% to 42.4% in two seasons.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    meng wanzhou

    • Huawei's CFO Meng Wanzhou was arrested on December 1 in Canada over fears the company violated US sanctions against Iran.
    • Meng is the daughter of Huawei's ultra-wealthy CEO and founder, Ren Zhengfei.
    • Ren and his three children are Chinese royalty, given Huawei is China's most successful tech firm and is bigger in smartphones than Apple.
    • While Meng and her brother Meng Ping work at Huawei and keep their heads down, their half-sister Annabel Yao is a social media-loving socialite who loves ballet and recently appeared at a high-fashion debutante ball in Paris.

    The high-profile arrest of Huawei's chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, has thrust the Chinese mobile and telecommunications firm into the Western spotlight.

    Most people know Huawei in the US and Europe for its well-produced line of smartphones that firmly compete with Apple's iPhone, Samsung's flagships, and Google's Pixel line.

    Now US authorities are scrutinizing the Chinese company, and Meng in particular, for potentially violating its trade sanctions against Iran.

    Meng isn't just Huawei's CFO, she's Chinese royalty. Her father, Ren Zhengfei, is the founder and CEO of Huawei and keeps an ultra-low profile despite his reputed massive wealth of $3.2 billion.

     According to reports,  Ren has been married three times, and produced a brood of sons of daughters, not all of whom are quite so media-shy.

    Here's his youngest daughter, Annabel Yao, appearing at a debutante's ball in Paris in November 2018:

    A post shared by Annabel Yao (@annabelballerina) on

    Here's a window into the lives of these crazy rich Asians: 

    Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei was born in 1944, and came of age just before China's Cultural Revolution began. Zhengfei is his first name, as surnames come first in China.

    Ren was born in China's poorest province, Guizhou. He told the BBC in 2015 that he came from a humble background. "We had salt to cook with so we were considered wealthy," he said.

    The BBC show is no longer available, but you can read a summary here.

    At the age of 30, Ren joined China's military as an engineer — a connection that still provokes questions about Huawei's ties to the army and the government.

    He's denied that the Chinese government has ever asked Huawei to spy.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    strained friendship


    At some point, you may feel that you and a friend don't connect anymore, whether you find you have less in common or feel they're treating you differently lately and are subtracting from your life more than adding to it.

    Like a romantic relationship, you may know it's not working out, but when it comes time to breaking up with them, it's easier said than done. However, sometimes, there are signs it's time to dump a friend.

    "We crave connection and to build a pack around us," Kailee Place, licensed professional counselor (LPC) at her private practice, Shifting Tides Therapeutic Solutions, in Charleston, South Carolina, told Business Insider in an email. "We may have different groups of friends that serve different purposes — from friends who enjoy going on adventures to ones who may indulge our homebody side — and healthy friendships allow us to be authentic, comfortable, and loved."

    Place said the common theme in working friendships is having a friend who leaves you feeling supported and cared for. "Occasionally, friendships go sour, and it's incredibly hard to cut off a friend, but keeping a toxic friend around is draining," she said. "In the long run, it's better to cut ties, and find people who appreciate and support you."

    To Place's point, if you're not sure whether or not to cut someone out of your life, here are 9 signs it's time to end a friendship, according to therapists.

    SEE ALSO: 7 hard truths about adulthood my 20-year-old self would never have understood

    1. The friendship is consistently one-sided

    Any type of relationship should be a two-way street, whether it's a platonic, familial, or romantic one. But if you find that a certain friendship is consistently one-sided, it may be time to say goodbye.

    "If you're pouring energy into someone who isn't giving you the same treatment, it's not a mutual friendship," Place said. "If you are finding your friend only pops up when they need something or they are going through a hard time — but often go silent or provide very little in your time of need — it's time to say bye to this friend."

    2. They betray your trust

    Trust is a big part of any kind of relationship, and once it's gone, it's hard to recover.

    "In friendships, there are minor and major betrayals that injure trust,"Melody Li, an Austin-based licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT), relationship specialist, and co-founder of the Austin Counseling Collective, told Business Insider in an email.

    Li said if it's a minor incident and the injuring friend shows regret and a plan to regain trust, the injured friend may give them another chance — with caution. "However, major betrayals — like seducing the friend's significant other, cheating, or stealing money — are red flags," she said. "That relationship may not be worthwhile to reexplore at all."

    3. They don't keep your secrets

    Along the lines of being able to trust your friend, you want to make sure that they keep private things private, according to Jill Whitney, a licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT) who writes about relationships and sexuality "You need to be able to trust your friends to respect your confidences," she told Business Insider in an email.

    Many things you talk about won't be especially private, she said, and then it's probably fine for your friend to share those things with other friends. "But when you make it clear that you don't want a specific thing shared, any decent friend will honor that," Whitney said.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 (Blackout)

    For the first time in years, the new "Call of Duty" has something truly new: a Battle Royale mode, along the lines of "Fortnite" and "PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds."

    It's still got traditional multiplayer modes like Control and Deathmatch, and the fan-favorite "Zombies" mode, but the big addition in "Call of Duty: Black Ops 4" is the Battle Royale mode: Blackout.

    In a surprising twist, the "Call of Duty" version of the insanely popular Battle Royale game type is a fresh, innovative take on Battle Royale— rather than the copycat mode that many were expecting. It's so good, in fact, that "Fortnite" and the rest of the Battle Royale competition could take a few cues from Blackout. 

    SEE ALSO: The new 'Call of Duty' has a surprisingly fantastic Battle Royale mode aimed directly at 'Fortnite'

    1. The Blackout map is still huge, but it's small enough to easily traverse the entire thing in a match.

    The vast stretches of open world you'll find in games like "Fortnite" and "PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds" ("PUBG") don't really exist in the "Call of Duty" Blackout mode.

    Instead, it's pretty easy to run from major area to major area while stopping on the way for supplies in various abandoned houses and gas stations. 

    Blackout's one map is a collage of major "Call of Duty" multiplayer maps, all stitched together:

    Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 (Blackout)

    The speed at which you can run from one area to the other means less time spent running in terror in the wide open, hoping against the odds that no one's spotted you through the lens of a sniper rifle.

    2. The vehicles, especially the ATV, are far better and easier to drive than in any other Battle Royale game.

    There are two main land-based vehicles in "Blackout": the ATV seen above, and a large-ish flatbed truck. Both are delightful in their own ways.

    The ATV is incredibly fast and versatile. Sure, you're out in the open, but you're going so fast (and able to hop off just as quickly) that the risk is well worth the reward. And if you're playing in duos? Your buddy can hop on the back and fire at fools while careening over yet another hill.

    In the case of the truck, it's like driving a mobile bunker. Pull up to a house, hop out of the driver's seat and into the flatbed: Voila! Instant cover! 

    In both cases, vehicles are able to traverse vast swaths of the map. No gas required (like "PUBG") and no wonky driving physics (also like "PUBG"); no friend required to push the shopping cart (like "Fortnite").

    3. The "Quick Equip" function is a game changer for Battle Royale on consoles.

    One of the worst things about "Fortnite" is how needlessly complicated its controls are. Just swapping between weapons is needlessly complex, to say nothing of learning how to drop items and build.

    Blackout smartly streamlines those systems into a simple "Quick Equip" menu.

    At any time, simply tap up on the d-pad and you'll see a quick and easy way to access your entire inventory. From here, you can quickly add attachments to weapons, switch consumable items out for other consumable items, and use perks (I'll get those in a moment). 

    And, given that we're talking about a Battle Royale game, inventory rapidly expands throughout each match — thus, having the Quick Equip function is a real game changer. You don't have to be a pro to quickly swap grenade types! Hooray!

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Angela Strange

    • Andreessen Horowitz's General Partner Angela Strange spoke about the history of the insurance industry and the tech companies that are helping to shape its future. 
    • Strange explains why no new insurance company has cracked the Fortune 500 list since before World War II. 
    • She's confident, however, that the industry is ripe for disruption: "The innovation we’ve seen over the last three centuries [in insurance] isn’t going to be nearly as exciting as what happens over the next three decades."
    • The full video of Strange's presentation can be found here.

    At Andreessen Horowitz's annual Innovation Summit in November, a16z General Partner Angela Strange spoke about the history of the insurance industry and the tech companies that are helping to shape its future. 

    Strange explains the difficulties that incumbent companies face, which is why no new insurance company has cracked the Fortune 500 list since before World War II. 

    With the advent of new data analysis technology however, Strange is confident that the insurance industry is bound for a seismic shift.

    "The innovation we’ve seen over the last three centuries [in insurance] isn’t going to be nearly as exciting as what happens over the next three decades," she said. 

    Chek out BI's recap of Strange's presentation on tech and the future of  the insurance industry below (you can also watch the full video here): 

    SEE ALSO: This Andreessen Horowitz General Partner discusses the future of home buying and the startups that are turning the 'broken' real estate industry on its head

    We protect against our losses by sharing our risk, or pooling.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    The Lawrenceville School

    Sending a child to a top private high school can be expensive.

    We took a look at the 150 top-ranked private high schools in America according to Niche, and found the 50 schools from that list with the highest annual tuition. 

    The lion's share of the most expensive top-ranked schools are in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, especially the New York City area. No fewer than 15 of the schools on the list are located in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Bronx.

    Here are the 50 most expensive top-ranked private high schools in America, along with their location, annual tuition for the highest grade offered according to Niche, the Niche ranking of the school, and whether or not the school provides boarding. For schools that offer boarding, we've listed only the cost of tuition, without room and board.

    SEE ALSO: The most expensive college in every state

    50. The Urban School of San Francisco

    Location: San Francisco, CA

    Tuition: $42,721

    Niche ranking: 129

    Offers boarding: No


    49. Riverdale Country School

    Location: Bronx, NY

    Tuition: $42,805

    Niche ranking: 38

    Offers boarding: No

    48. Menlo School

    Location: Atherton, CA

    Tuition: $42,830

    Niche ranking: 68

    Offers boarding: No

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    costco wine 6

    • Costco wines have quite a fan base — just ask everyone who contributes to and follows Costco Wine Blog.
    • Business Insider spoke to blog founder Andrew Cullen and reviewer Erin Reyes about the mistakes Costco members can avoid when shopping for wine.
    • They advised members to always sample the wine before buying a huge case and to always dig around in the bins.

    Costco wines have a reputation for being high-quality and high-value.

    But that doesn't mean that there aren't a few subtle pitfalls that come with the territory. Play your cards wrong, and you could end up with a bulk-sized case of wine that you can't stomach.

    Read more: 13 tips for getting the best deals on wine at Costco

    Fortunately, there are certain strategies you can employ to avoid such a fate. Business Insider spoke to Costco Wine Blog founder and editor Andrew Cullen and contributing reviewer Erin Reyes to get their thoughts on all there is to know about Costco wine.

    Here are their top tips for mistakes to avoid in the wine section at Costco:

    SEE ALSO: From entire lawn sets to used toilets, these are the most ridiculous returns employees from Costco, Walmart, and Target say they've ever gotten

    DON'T MISS: Costco sells millions of pumpkin pies every year — and the recipe has apparently been the same since 1987

    SEE ALSO: Costco employees share 31 things they'd love to tell shoppers but can't

    Don't expect unlimited options.

    Cullen and Reyes agree that Costco has a great selection of vino, with especially good coverage of California and other domestic US wines.

    But you shouldn't think of the warehouse chain as your one-stop shop for the exact, specific wine that's on your mind.

    "Costco is almost like a curated wine collection for you," Cullen told Business Insider. "You're not going to go there and find whatever bottle you may be looking for. If you're looking for a Chardonnay, you're going to have to buy whatever Chardonnay is there."

    Reyes recommended calling ahead if you've got a particular wine in mind, to make sure it's in stock. 

    Don't be intimidated by the more expensive options.

    Costco is famous for its value-oriented approach. And Reyes and Cullen both say that the chain boasts quality wines for good prices.

    But Cullen said that you shouldn't be afraid to occasionally splurge on a more expensive wine.

    "I think it's a great place to buy more expensive wine," he said. "The average price savings that you're getting — it's magnified as you spend more."

    He gave the example of the 2013 vintage of the Joseph Phelps Insignia. Cullen said the wine could go for around $225 at most retailers, but Costco members could pick it up for around $199. Cullen happened to get an especially killer deal on the wine.

    "I was able to get that for $179, which is a pretty good deal," he said.

    Don't be afraid to dig around.

    You might feel a bit silly tearing through the wine bins like you're searching for your dropped keys. And Cullen said that he feels that people think he's "weird" when he starts digging around in the wine section of the warehouse.

    But he doesn't let that stop him, and for good reason. Cullen said that different vintages are often mixed up in the bins together. If you forgo rooting around, you risk missing out on the best vintage.

    That's because different vintages tend to be thrown in the bins together.

    "Don't just grab the first bottle," Reyes told Business Insider. She said that while vintage might not matter as much for lower-end wines, for high-ticket bottles it's far more crucial.

    Cullen also recommended checking beneath the wooden racks, where you might find a forgotten bottle of an otherwise sold-out wine.

    Either way, it's a mistake to leave the warehouse without doing a thorough investigation of the available bottles.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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