Posts Tagged ‘Hilton’

Travel Apps and Websites

August 31, 2012


The cover of the current Travel & Leisure magazine has a headline “60  Apps and Websites Every Traveler Needs to Know”. I think it’s great there are a lot of tools available and competition is what fuels innovation but seriously, 60?

I’m always on the lookout for ways to make better use of technology so I perused the article.  Several of the apps and sites listed I have used in the past or plan to use in the future but day to day, what do you really need on your phone and/or your computer?

On my computer I have a folder on my search engine bar called “Travel”.  There are the bookmarks for the various airlines we use, hotel groups, car rental and off-site airport parking (to make a reservation and print discount coupons).  I don’t use a lot of “search for the best price” sites on airfares simply because I have never found a fare there I couldn’t get from the airline directly.  Most people who travel a lot quickly learn the benefits of being “brand loyal” and wouldn’t trade the perks of free upgrades, late checkouts, skipping the counter, preferred seating, free baggage, early boarding and even shorter security lines for the couple of dollars they may save.

We are living a more “mobile lifestyle” so let’s look at my phone.  After all, as the Travel Queen I am on the go more than the average person so let’s see what apps I keep on my phone.

First, all my travel apps are on one screen of my phone.  Across the top I have the airlines I use.  RARELY do I will fly another airline and if and when that happens, I will load their app for the duration of that trip.

Why not just load it and forget it?  Apps take up memory.  They also update and that can unwittingly use your data plan.  Even if you set them to be updated manually, as I have with many of my apps, you still get reminders that updates are ready and they still take up memory.  So my rule of thumb, if you don’t travel a lot, only load the apps you need for a trip and then uninstall them when you get home.

Next row I have my QR code reader.  I have found this most useful when I’m on the go.  Airports will post them to link to maps of the terminals including restaurants and restrooms.  Ads on public transportation often include them as an easy way to access the website for restaurants, shops and entertainment.

My calculator.  Handy for figuring out tips or dividing expenses between friends.

Then I have 2 things you likely only need if you travel internationally.  One is a super simple metric converter, the other a currency converter.  Knowing temperatures, distances and how much something costs is important to me!  I’ve got my eye on some translation apps for future use.

I have my preferred car rental vendor, Hertz.  I book my car rentals on my  computer usually but I’ve had to change drop off dates or airports while a trip was in progress.  I’ve also rented a car using the app when a flight cancelled and we opted to drive.

There is no hotel app on my phone.  These I book from my computer.  In all my traveling, I’ve only changed hotels ONCE – rare enough not to warrant an app.

I do have OpenTable for restaurant reservations and TripAdvisor which I use two ways.  At home I use it for more reviews and more extensive “real” photos of hotels.  On the road I use it for things to do in an area.

There is also a magnifying/light app which comes in handy everywhere!

I do use my maps and navigation all the time but they are on another screen because I use them – all the time!  Locally as well as when I’m away.

Lastly there is a new app I’m trying out.  It’s called “TripIt”.  The object is to keep all the confirmations related to a trip which come in your email in one place for easy access.  That part seems useful but even with all the privacy and “don’t bug me” settings in place, I still get little email reminders like, “You have a trip coming up, time to pack.”  Seriously?

Even with this new app I’m not ready to abandon my paper backups.  Yes, the app does work without internet but sometimes my phone battery dies by the end of a long day.  I keep all the papers related to a trip in a plastic, zip top “envelope” you can purchase at Office Depot or Staples.  No misplaced boarding passes, hotel confirmations or even concert tickets.

At home we maintain a large binder with monthly tabs and then these plastic pockets (also an office supply store purchase) where all the printed copies are kept.  Sure, it’s all in my computer but if my husband or another family member wants to know something about an upcoming trip, this is the fastest and easiest way to find it.

The bottom line – you need more websites bookmarked for trip planning than you do apps on your phone.  Keep apps to a minimum on your phone and whether it’s your apps or your paperwork – keep it all together and easy to access for hassle free travel days!


Where Do You Want to Go?

August 24, 2012

I’m convinced many people don’t travel because they don’t make a PLAN to travel.  If you’d like to, but just don’t seem to, here are some ways to improve the odds you will go somewhere.

Top of mind awareness.  A couple of times a year, buy a travel magazine and put it in your bathroom.  Flip through the pages while answering nature’s call.  Turn down corners or tear out pictures of places that interest you. (I just bought something from an on-line retailer and got a free 1 year subscription to Travel & Leisure!)

Give a gift of travel.  This past weekend we hosted an engagement party for a young couple.  As a gift, I gave them a copy of 1000 places in the USA and Canada to See Before You Die.  I know it may be a decade or more before they can afford international travel but anyone can load up their car and spend a few days exploring sites in your state or a nearby state.

Use Pinterest.  Create virtual dream boards for various cities and countries you’d like to visit.  Go to the websites for the pictures you’ve torn from the travel magazines and “pin” those pages to boards for future use.

As the Travel Queen I’ve begun to use this new technology to collect and share places to see and things to do in a variety of cities.   Feel free to “re-pin” anything that sparks your interest.

Subscribe to a travel blog.  If you ran across this blog by accident, enter your email address to get the weekly posts delivered to your inbox each Friday.  Read them over your lunch hour or save them for sharing over happy hour with your spouse or friends.

Use a travel related credit card.  We have Alaska Airlines and American Airlines mileage cards.  One of my friends in the Midwest has a Southwest Airlines cardEvery year, your everyday purchases will help you to earn free airline tickets.

If you like to drive, you may be able to convert miles to hotel points for free hotel stays.  Check the partner arrangements before you decide on a card or just get one of the hotel branded credit cards.  American Express offers one in partnership with Starwood (Sheraton, Westin, W, Four Points, St. Regis).  Citi has one with Hilton (Hilton, Embassy Suites, Hampton Inn, Waldorf Astoria, Grand Wailea).

Once you have some places on your wish list, you can begin to price trips and look for special deals.  Your free airline ticket or free hotel nights will no doubt help with the travel budget!  Once you’re booked, you can also sign up for Groupon and Living Social to take advantage of dining and activity discounts when you visit!

When we surround ourselves with images of interesting places, they become more accessible in our minds and this increases the probability that you will actually GO.

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