- April 25th 2012
This month we’ve been looking to help you ease the pain at the gas pump. As well as our own tips, we’ve been featuring sites that help you save on gas (not so coincidentally the name of this month’s airport parking coupon) on our Facebook page and Twitter profile. To round out our coverage of this issue, here are more resources on saving gas.
1. First of all, there’s this infographic from Bankrate.com on where our gas dollars are going.
2. GasBuddy offers its top ten fuel saving tips.
3. Ernest Miles offers 30 tips on fuel economy, covering every aspect of driving.
5. NBC has a video on gas savings:
6. The Federal Trade Commission has a clickable graphic that points to savings you can make by optimizing different parts of the car and the driving experience.
7. Carpooling.com has some startling figures on cars, CO2 and why you should carpool.
8. The AAA has a daily Fuel Gauge Report which looks at national gas price averages.
9. Avoid the hype with this CNN article on 6 gas-saving myths.
- March 27th 2012
Have you ever found yourself turning up to an online meeting at the wrong time because you didn’t enter the time zone right? How about losing track of time on a job you’re doing so you don’t know how to bill? These days, many of us are working with colleagues across the globe and keeping track of time is even more crucial. Today, I’d like to share a few of my favorite free tools for keeping track of time.
Every Time Zone
Every Time Zone is the simplest time zone tool I’ve ever come across and it’s got a nice interface too. The site’s motto is ‘never warp your brain with time zone math again’ and it certainly delivers on this promise. Visit the site and it automatically detects the time zone you are in. The left side of the page has a number of major cities (from San Francisco to Auckland). The page itself is divided into three zones showing the previous day’s date, today’s date and tomorrow’s date. Your current date appears in green and all the rest around the world in blue and there’s a dark purple box above a vertical line that shows your current time. On top of that is a green box which also shows your time. This one is draggable, so you can move it to the time you want to see and the appropriate boxes light up. The screenshot below shows how this works.
- February 9th 2012
I’d promised myself I wasn’t going to get hooked on yet another social media site so when Pinterest first came out, I hung back and waited to see whether it was worth it. At first, I didn’t get the sudden Pinterest mania, but then all of a sudden I was hooked. Anyone who’s ever created a vision board will see the appeal immediately. And anyone who’s thought of creating one but decided it was too difficult doesn’t have that excuse any more. Pinterest is simply a great way to collect the stuff that interests you and I think it could also be a great tool for trip planning. Well, if not the actual planning, at least the visualization. Here’s how it could work.
Getting Started with Pinterest
Pinterest helps you get started with a few boards, one of which is Places I’ve Been. Many people immediately add another board, for places they want to go. This is a great place to collect all your dream locations and as soon as a few people start following you, you can find out what they think of the places too. Some of the pins have dozens of comments and it’s a good way to get a feel for how people really feel. With a built in @ messaging system, Pinterest allows you to speak directly to other users about the places on your list.
Travel Planning with Pinterest
So suppose you have your list of places to go. What’s your next step? One option is to put out a call on your blog or other social media site for people to recommend particular locations our resources that might relevant to your trip. All boards are public but only you can edit them. However, you can allow others to edit your board on a board by board basis. Doesn’t that sound a great way to collect suggestions for a family trip? You can add contributors by name to allow this to happen.
Adding to your Travel Boards
Install the Pin It bookmarklet in your browser and you can pin anything you think is useful. This brings up an image and links back to the site where you found it. So if you find a travel accessory you’re considering, or someone recommends a useful guidebook for the region you are visiting, you can also pin it to your travel board.
Once you get into Pinterest, you will probably find that you visit it regularly to see what’s new in your area of interest. You’ll soon find new locations to add to your places visited, places you want to visit or architectural eye candy boards, to name just a few possibilities.
I’ve only scratched the surface of the possibilities of Pinterest for travel and I’d be interested to hear how you are using it. In the meantime, you can check out my fledgling boards on Places I’ve Been and Adventures of a Nomadic Writer on Pinterest.
- January 31st 2012
Today I’d like to share with you one of my all time favorite online planning tools. It’s called Workflowy – and it works just as well for planning travel as for any other use. Workflowy starts from the premise that almost everything you do starts with a list, so when you first login to Workflowy, what you get is a blank page where you can make bulleted lists. Type and hit enter and you have a list item. Keep repeating till you run out of things to list. So far, so good, but there are lots of listing tools, so what gives Workflowy the edge? Several things, and I’ll illustrate by sharing how I set up my account.
Planning a Trip to Europe
As well as projects, goals, blog ideas, thoughts and links, I started a list item for my planned trip to Europe. I wanted one place to collect all the stuff I needed to think about. Once I’d created the main heading, I double clicked on the bullet point to create a new page with that list item as the main heading. On that page, I created a number of sub-items for the issues I wanted to look at, such as the countries I wanted to include, the accommodation to investigate, and some possible sightseeing targets in each country. Then I could add sub-items for each item. For example, under things to see in Spain, I could add Barcelona (yes, I do mean the whole city!), the Sagrada Familia, etc.
Workflowy has drag and drop, which means I can easily reorder items if I need to. I can also add notes to each list item, which is useful for more detail or to keep track of links related to a particular task I want to carry out. Every time I complete a task, a line goes through it, and I can choose to keep completed items hidden or visible. I can delete items that are no longer relevant, and I can also export the entire list (or a portion of it) and share lists with people, which could be useful if more than one person is involved in trip planning.
I find Workflowy an excellent tool for all sorts of uses. You can do a brain dump when you are initially thinking about a trip, then refine your thoughts by adding other considerations as sub-items and changing the order of items to reflect their importance. Workflowy also has search and tagging. And there’s one more good thing about Workflowy – it’s got a restful user interface. It looks like a page with a list and it never gets overwhelming because you can keep main list items collapsed and only expand when you want to see the sub-items.
Have you ever tried Workflowy as a travel planning tool? What do you think of it?
Planning a trip? Don’t forget to use our Happy12 coupon and save on off airport parking.
- September 14th 2011
I was recently asked to take a look at TripSofa. This is a question and answer site for travel. In its own words: “Tripsofa was founded with one single goal in mind: make finding great travel information easy”.
TripSofa Home Page
The Tripsofa home page is impressive, consisting of a map (currently centered on the outskirts of Rome) with a box at the top where you can ask questions and check out the latest site activity. Sign up for the site to ask questions or provide an answer via the comment form (complete with captcha) below each question. TripSofa looks like it’s trying to be Quora for travel and its ais are good. According to the founders, Tripsofa aims to end the annoyance of outdated information: “the site will be continuously updated by our members and staff so that travelers can easily find a wealth of travel-related information without getting annoyed by excessive advertising”.
There’s no denying that the site has a clean, uncluttered interface, with just one simple text ad block above the lists of questions. It’s easy to see which questions have answers and to search for information about areas of interest. You can also check out popular tags or all questions. In the all questions view, you can see hot topics, most voted, most answered and most viewed questions. At the moment, there’s not that much activity, with the top question on the day I checked only having 20 answers. Most were far fewer than that.
TripSofa – My Verdict
At the moment, I’d file TripSofa under interesting, but not yet that useful for me. I’d like to see an easy way to focus the map on the area you want to travel to, and see the questions that have been asked and answered there. I’d also like to see navigation to all the site options from each page, instead of having to hunt around if you’re not in the right view. If more people participate, TripSofa could be a good resource. We’ll have to see how the site develops.