Tag Archives: travel

4 Apps to Make Traveling Easier

maps 2 goWhen on the road, even the most routine and everyday events can be made difficult. Internet connections can be hard to find, technology may not work correctly (or at all), and you’re forever searching for a free outlet. With all of these hang ups, it can be hard to check email or even locate your flight information in a timely fashion. But thankfully, there’s an app for everything, even for traveling.

Use these helpful apps to make the traveling process go as smoothly as possible, no matter how far you’re headed.

Apple’s Passbook

Coming standard on iOS devices, Passbook allows users to store all their important flight info in one, easy-to-tap location. This also goes for movie tickets, coupons, rewards cards, etc. Handy while on the go, Passbook is also great for everyday events. Simply load boarding passes, rental car info, or whatever other travel documents you need, and continue about your events paper-free.

Google Flights

Tired of searching around for the best deal? Download Google’s free compare app for a second opinion any day of the week. Use it to compare flight prices, or see which airlines are offering the best deals and when. The platform even offers suggestions and lets you know when to buy for the best deal possible.

City Maps 2Go

Out of your data network area? Try these pre-loaded city maps instead. The app offers easy-to-follow maps without the overage fees or slow data time. (Think of them as paper maps, but in a smaller package.) It even locates restaurants, shopping areas, or other specific types of businesses so you can find your way even when your phone has other ideas.

Packing Pro

Take the stress out of packing with this user-friendly app. Make a list of necessary items, and then check them off as you go. Adjust each list based on location, or email family members reminders of what to bring. For a small fee, packing becomes easier with this organized packing app.

Whether needing directions or expatiating your next flight, these apps are meant to take the hassle out of the traveling process. And considering users are on their electronic devices more often while traveling than any other time, pulling up these helpful screens shouldn’t be a problem. Just remember to charge up and log in for a stress-free traveling experience each time you leave the house.

Meet Uber, your on-demand private driver

2013-04-11_09h49_14Thanks to the Uber app for iOS and Android, gone are the days of standing outside trying to hail a cab or find a car service. I was recently in San Francisco for work and I met a friend for dinner across town. We were about to leave, and I said to her, “I really hope there are cabs in this area.” She looked at me and said, “You don’t have the Uber app?” I immediately pulled out my iPhone and download the app, within 5 minutes I signed up and had a taxi waiting for me outside the restaurant.

How it Works

Set up an account

First, you download the app to your iOS or Android device and create an account. You must enter a credit card in order to complete account set up. An email will be sent for you to confirm your information

Right now Uber can be used in the following cities: Amsterdam, Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Berlin, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Hamptons, London, Los Angles, Melbourne, Milan, Minneapolis-St Paul, Napa, New York, Orange Count, Paris, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Singapore, Stockholm, Sydney, Toronto, Washington DC.

Select the type of vehicle you want

The types of vehicles are listed below; however, not every type of vehicle is available in every city. When you launch the app GPS will locate what city you are in and give you the vehicle options for that area.

Taxi: No flagging or yelling required! Use Uber to request and pay for a taxi, at standard taxi rates plus a $1 booking fee. A 20% gratuity is automatically added for the driver.

UBERx: The convenience of Uber at a lower price with hybrid and mid-range cars in a variety of colors. Seats up to 4 people.

Black: Classic black car option is the default. Choose this and either a high-end sedan or SUV will be curbside in minutes. Note: choosing “Black” and being picked up by an SUV will not charge you the SUV rates. Seats up to 4 people.

SUV: When you’re rolling with more than four people, request only SUVs, for a higher rate. Seats up to 6 people

Use the app to tell Uber where you want to be picked up

You can use the map and your phone’s GPS to tell Uber your current location so they can pick you up. If the GPS does not find the exact location, you can manually type in the address.

www.uber.com
www.uber.com

Wait for Uber to respond

Uber will send you a text notifying you of how long you’ll need to wait before you can expect to be picked up, along with the driver’s name. When your Uber ride arrives, you’ll receive another text to let you know.

Wait for your payment to be automatically charged

Your card will be automatically charged, with the tip already included. You don’t need to manually hand over some cash or your card to the driver before you leave. It’s that simple.

Pricing

Uber’s pricing is similar to metered taxis, although all hiring and payment is handled exclusively through Uber and not with the driver personally. If the Uber car is traveling at a speed greater than 11 mph, the price is calculated on a distance basis. Otherwise, the price is calculated on a time basis. Prices are higher than prices charged by conventional taxicabs and 20% gratuity is automatically added.

At the end of a ride, the complete fare (which includes a tip) is automatically billed to the customer’s credit card. Uber has said that its high prices are the premium that the customers pay for a cab service that is not only reliable but also punctual and comfortable. Check out Uber’s website for prices per city.

Once the ride is over…

A receipt is sent to your email address (great for those who need to expense the ride) along with a survey to rate your experience. I also received an email for $10 off for every friend I get to sign up using the link they provide in the email.

Conclusion

Overall, my experience with Uber was great. The price may seem a little expensive to some people who give it a try, but when you work it out with the tip and realize that you’re paying for more of a high quality and convenient driver experience, it’s actually well worth the cost.

Holiday Gift Guide 2011: Consultants and Traveling Professionals Edition

Being a consultant or traveling professional comes with some unique challenges compared to the standard 9-to-5 job. We’re constantly on the road, talking on the phone, guzzling coffee, chowing down, and trying to find street addresses in neighborhoods we’ve never been in before.

I’ve put together this gift guide to help make life a little easier for the consultant on your shopping list this Holiday season.

1) Colgate Wisp

I can’t recall exactly how many times I’ve traveled out to a client’s location for the afternoon, which usually means that I get to eat my lunch on the road. By the time I’m done eating and I arrive at my client’s office, I oftentimes wish I could brush my teeth. Thanks to Colgate, this is no longer a problem.

With the Colgate Wisp, I can brush my teeth anywhere without all of the hassle of finding a restroom, carrying around toothpaste, and having a place to spit and rinse. These single-use toothbrushes contain toothpaste “beads”, which are available in many flavors, and much more convenient than a tube of toothpaste. Now I can brush my teeth on the go and simply throw away the brush when I’m done. There’s not a consultant on your shopping list that wouldn’t love to have a box of these under the tree.

2) Bluetooth Headset

Unless you have a car with built-in Bluetooth, a Bluetooth headset is an absolute necessity for a traveling consultant. Considering the amount of time consultants spend on the phone while driving, being able to talk hands-free will save countless lives and trips to the dry cleaners.

There are endless varieties of Bluetooth headsets available from many different manufacturers, which can range from below $20 to well over $100. While many cheaper models are likely to perform about as well as some of the more expensive models, keep in mind that in general, you do get what you pay for. The cheapest models likely won’t last as long or work as well as the upper tier, preventing your gift living up to its potential.

3) Garmin nüvi GPS

Cell phones are a great tool without a doubt. However, relying too much on my cell phone can be a real hassle, especially while traveling. Consider using your phone’s GPS function while dialing in to a conference call and eating your lunch, all while keeping your attention on the road ahead. Talk about a headache.

Stand-alone GPS units, such as my personal favorite Garmin nüvi, are an excellent solution to this problem. Since receiving one as a gift a couple of years ago, my phone is completely free to use for phone calls – imagine that! Having a device dedicated to GPS requires less multitasking, making my drive much safer. No consultant should be without one.

4) Laptop Attaché

Having a laptop carrying bag is a necessity for consultants and IT professionals alike. Traveling with a laptop also means traveling with power cords, wireless mice, and the occasional sandwich (among other important accessories), so it is important to have an attaché with plenty of pockets for items besides the laptop itself.

5) The Best Travel Mug

Here it is, the Holy Grail of travel coffee mugs: A heated travel mug complete with USB and car adapter! Not only will it plug into your car to keep your coffee warm during the early morning trip to the client far, far away, but you can also plug it in to your laptop once you get there. Unless you like cold coffee, it doesn’t get any better than this.

I’ve had many coffee mugs in my day, and every day I wish I had one of these. If anyone out there’s feeling extra generous this holiday season, send one my way. I’ll appreciate it, I promise!

5 Easy Ways To Geek Out Your Vehicle

A vehicle is one of the most important assets we have. It gets us to all the vital places that we need to go, like to work and to the grocery store. The time spent in our cars can really add up, so why not make those commutes more enjoyable by adding a few bells and whistles that would make any fellow geek jealous?

Add USB Ports

It’s a shame that the auto industry hasn’t caught up to modern times yet as far as power sources go. I mean, we’re still using cigarette lighters as a power source. How ridiculous is that?

By spending as little as a few bucks, you can be charging your devices the modern way by equipping USB ports inside your vehicle. USB car adapters are available pretty much anywhere. I bought this one on Amazon and while it costs about $20, knowing that it’s made by a quality manufacturer ensures that I won’t get that annoying whining noise that comes with cheaper, lesser-quality car adapters. It also pumps out 2 amps to charge larger devices like an iPad (a feature that many USB car chargers lack).

Add Bluetooth

Image Credit: Crutchfield

Not only is equipping your car with Bluetooth a pretty geeky thing to do, but it can also be a literal life-saver when you’re on the road. Having your hands free while chatting with someone on the phone is both a convenience and a safety precaution.

A lot of newer vehicles have Bluetooth built right into the factory stereo system by default, but if you own an older vehicle that doesn’t have Bluetooth, you can still take advantage of the feature by installing either a universal kit or a stereo-specific adapter. Universal kits are merely just Bluetooth speaker boxes that you can place anywhere in your car, like these.

Stereo-specific Bluetooth kits are generally more expensive, but it allows you to use your factory stereo and speakers to talk on your phone without the need for an extra speaker box. Of course, there’s always the option of going the headset route if you don’t mind things sticking to your ear during the car ride.

Make Your Stereo MP3 Player-Compatible

Image Credit: Truck Trend

Newer vehicles nowadays have an auxiliary (AUX) input built right into the factory stereo, allowing you to easily connect an MP3 player and start rocking out. However, older vehicles don’t have this. If you’re one of those with an older vehicle, you might try looking to see if the back of your factory head unit has red and white RCA female ports and if so, you can easily plug in a RCA-to-3.5mm cable and route it through the glove box and into the interior.

If you have a cassette tape deck, you can use a cassette-to-3.5mm adapter. If both of these options are not available, you’re only choice (without using the awful FM transmitter) is to buy an aftermarket head unit with a built-in AUX input that sell for as little as $60.

Hook Up A Dedicated MP3 Player

Using your smartphone as an MP3 player can be really nice at times, but it can also be a pain in the rear end to bust it out and plug it into your stereo every time you want to listen to music in the car. Not to mention whenever you get a call, you have to reach over and unplug it. That’s why I just ended up getting a cheap, dedicated MP3 player to leave in my car that’s always plugged in and ready to go. That way all I have to do is turn it on and press play. I currently have an old iPod Mini that only cost me $25, so if it happens to get stolen, it won’t be too much of a biggie.

Install A Laptop Stand

Image Credit: Instructables

This modification is more aimed at passengers rather than the driver. Putting a laptop stand in your vehicle is an easy way for you to take your laptop on the go and provides passengers great hospitality. You can plug it into your stereo system and blast your music library or watch movies in surround sound on the go!

You can buy a pre-made laptop stand or make your own for cheaper. Since laptops only last a few hours on a charge, it would also be a good idea to get a power inverter that you can plug into your cigarette lighter, like this one.

If you have any other ways to geek out your car, leave them in the comments!