- November 19th 2012
Wow, Thanksgiving weekend is almost here and it is the busiest travel weekend of the year. Here are a few tips and suggestions to help you get the most out of your travel preparation and more time to enjoy your visit with your family and friends.
Traveling by air?
- Be sure to allow plenty of time to check your bags and get through the security lines. The lines are expected by be long. In fact, if you are checking a bag please arrive at the airport at least 2 hours early. Some airlines may not allow you to check a bag with less than 45 minutes before your flight.
- If you have any questions about what to bring on a flight, check out the TSA page for answers.
- Check the status of your flight before you leave for the airport to prepare for any weather delays.
- Secure your airport parking reservation in advance. It will save time driving around the airport.
Traveling by car?
- Pad some extra time in your plans to allow for any traveling delays.
- Service your car. You really don’t want to miss the big dinner by sitting along the side of the road? Be sure to check the tires, top off the fluids, and your GPS is set.
- When traveling by car, Thanksgiving is the busiest travel day. Have some games planned for the kids in case of any delays in traffic.
- Fill up the car with extra water and snacks to keep yourself awake and hydrated.
- If possible, leave on Wednesday to avoid the traffic on Thanksgiving.
- 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.
- February 15th 2011
Old movies, novels and biographies often showcase the adventure of travel – the sense of mystery and exploring the unknown that used to be a part of every trip. Way back when, boarding a plane or a ship was something extraordinary, something that only a small percentage of the population did. These days the mechanics of travel can be more mundane, but that’s no reason that it has to be boring. Try these tips to inject some zest into your next trip.
A Chance Destination
Instead of planning your trip a year or two ahead (which admittedly, you might need to do sometimes), try picking a random destination with a pin in a map or a flip of a coin. If that’s a bit too random, then go to a last minute travel site and see where you can go from your local airport. The only rule is, it has to be somewhere that you haven’t visited before.