Travel News Roundup for June 2017

crosswalk

Thought I would round you up a few articles to get you going thinking on your travel plans and those yet to be made.

How to get some really good flights, strategies to search for what is a deal:

http://www.travelpulse.com/news/features/how-to-arrange-an-epic-far-flung-flight-on-a-budget.html

France seems to be the trend for travel this year:

https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2017/jun/15/france-bed-and-breakfast-hotels-gites-auberges-readers-travel-tips

And my current favorite topic: Laptop Bans, Phone Access. Contact each airline and TSA.

https://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2017-05-12/the-laptop-ban-and-what-it-means-for-air-travel-quicktake-q-a

http://www.express.co.uk/travel/articles/803897/laptop-ban-travel-US

https://www.thesun.co.uk/travel/3142972/uk-laptop-ban-flights-devices-countries/

https://thenextweb.com/insider/2017/05/18/us-europe-airport-laptop-flight-ban/#.tnw_2CoC360f

You should have already done this by now, but visa changes are happening in many countries:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/andrewbender/2017/03/04/going-to-europe-this-summer-you-may-need-a-visa/#69f3a1dc6967

What to Wear and Not Wear

http://www.independenttraveler.com/travel-tips/passports-and-international-travel/10-things-you-should-never-wear-when-traveling-abroad

Please, Act Un American When Traveling. Try Canadian.

According to this article, I should act more like a snob, not so friendly. Don’t bother people. So, why is it when I am in Scotland I can just turn to someone and we both smile and the words just come out and we are both bouncing? I guess it’s just Scotland. The Irish I have encountered pretty much do the same. Oh, wait, the guy was in Sweden.

http://thoughtcatalog.com/charlie-shaw/2014/05/35-europeans-answer-whats-a-dead-giveaway-for-americans-in-your-country/

 

Travel, Data on Your Phone, and Other Sunday Tour Prep

IMG_0390I am sitting here in PDX at the cafe and listening to The Beatles Magical Mystery Tour with a smile on my face. I just spent an hour with my cell phone provider trying to make sure I had the right travel plan for the UK and not get caught unawares as last year. I have opted for the $10.00 per day unlimited and spent time going over what needs to be managed on the phone itself while traveling to keep things under control.

You see, here in Merica, we tend to supersize everything. It’s not just food we gobble. We suck up the data and really don’t realize we are doing it, and that’s what the providers are counting on. The fact that we don’t think like Europeans do about conserving resources can really hit your pocket when you return from your trip. So, let’s look at what you can do to manage your data use and still get around as you like in a big new city.

Roaming

Roaming has always been an evil word in telecom, but since you will be physically wandering joyfully, try making it less painful. I have had cell phones for over 20 years now and still remember this is the most costly thing to deal with, borrowing another network while traveling. Only have roaming on when you are not in areas where you can get WiFi. Make calls when you can be in a WiFi zone. Using maps is tricky and will use a lot of data.

Map Apps

Guilty pleasure here. I do bring paper maps with me of places, but they can be a combersome nuisance. Although if I were traveling with children i would make them use and help with this, it’s becoming a lost art, the reading of a physical map. It can also make you stick out like a tourist target. But if you don’t know a city, it will have to be how you roll. Some map apps and tour guides apps have a offline feature. This may still access data but saves a big file on your phone. You can dump it later or course, but think about it.

How to Access Maps Offline

Warning: Some Offline Map Apps will cost you money. Some are free to try, but full features will cost you.

List of Offline Map Apps

eTips Around the world with specific destinations. Free basic app, more in depth with attractions and such will cost you.

Google  Maps the classic app. IPhone will come with Apple maps,  but this too can suck up data.

MAPS.ME will download a map for your area. Try doing this when you are in WiFi mode as it will go faster and cost less for initial download.

CityMaps2Go Operates off of saving map for area.

Offline – Currated Events and Things to Do in Your City. App grabs information from location on current events happening and has it ready for you.

For a full list see here.

Penny Lane was playing, and made me think what traveling and meeting people in their neighborhoods and communities really brings to travel. Enjoy your travels this season and share them with us. Hopefully with less data fees. Oh, it’s still okay to ask someone where a street is.

https://ting.com/blog/ting-tip-for-ios-download-google-maps-for-offline-use/

http://itstillworks.com/iphones-gps-use-up-data-18643.html

https://www.slant.co/topics/1182/~offline-gps-navigation-app-for-android

Travel Apps Round Up 2 and Clearing Space for Snaps

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Room for Your New Travel Snaps

Grab your smartphone and hang on. You are going on your trip in a month or less and getting extremely excited about everything your will do. You plan on taking snaps everywhere and wonder about the fact you already have a zillion photos on your phone. You have you hard copy itinerary and have booked on a travel app you are sort of liking but not sure is really your thing. There is so much to see and do, and you will get a hundred brochures on sites when you hit the hotel. Overload awaits you. Not if you start planning and clearing out the old, and setting the stage for the new.

Clear out the last years photos from your phone. Sounds easy right? It actually is, but we tend to hang on to every picture of our cats doing weird things, and foodie shots. If you are on iPhone and have iCloud account, you should back up your photos to the cloud regularly and there is a feature that lets you do that. So, check that you have uploaded and backed up your camera rolls then clear off your phone. But with all the sharing, images keep popping up on all devices and can be annoying. You need to do a two-step process with iPhone:

How to Set Up iCloud Phone Library and Optimize Storage

Then take the extra step to get the photos off your iPhone after you have verified that the photos have been backed  up in drive.

Clearing iPhone Photos

So if you are an Android or Google Phone type, you will need to check out these ideas to help save and clear your stash of snaps. Many of us use Google drive and this should be easy but you will need to take a few enabled steps.

Clearing Photos and Images on Android Using Google Drive

Travel Apps

Now that you have freed up some space on your phone, and checked what apps you can get rid of because you don’t really use them, you can now start looking at some travel apps. There are many websites that help with booking, but there are some apps that make travel more fun and organized if you try them out and get used to the interface before hand.

Google Trips v Tripit

I have just started using this little gem. If you have a Gmail account, any of your booking confirmations that come in can be automatically added for your trips. I just started my trip planner for July and started manually putting my flight info in. It would be handy if Justfly.com did an export to the app directly. You can access off line as well through your Google account in case the phone is not available, like at at hotel lobby.Google Trips

I can manage my hotel and accommodations on Booking.com easily enough, and export confirmations to my Wallet app so I can just walk in and show it as confirmation. Sometimes it’s good to have a mobile app that has a very user friendly interface. You may have to try a few to see which one has the ease of use that works for you before you hop your plane.

Tripit is a similar program but you can send your itineraries from any email to it and it will add automatically, Google defaults to Gmail of course. It’s a bit more involved, has a few more features. I say try both out for bit before your trip and see which you prefer.

Duolingo

Traveling to France or another tongue you do not speak? Try an app for translation on the fly. Gone are the days of flipping through a translation book, plonk in you language and ask it to translate. There are short lessons in this app that will help you a bit with the language basics. For more in depth in a language, search for that particular language app at the app store. Try it free to see if the interface works for you.

Citimapper

Free alternative to Google Maps with transit mapping included. Works in most major cities. Warning, data hog.

XE Currency

Check all the currency exchange rates at a glance. Smartphone app and web site conversion. This has been a go to standard for years. Currency converter. You can check their rates, look at world currency values up to date by the minute.

Easy Currency Converter

Great little app, available on Android. Includes bitcoin.

My Currency Converter

iPhone app, very clean and easy to view, use design. I always go with easy of use, otherwise it’s smash the app time on the phone.

Travelex Money App

Need to top up your Travelex money card while traveling in Europe, you can do it through this app. What I don’t like is it default loads to try to get you to drop $1k on it immediately as they do make money off you. But being able to slip the currency in on the phone when getting money from your bank while abroad may have even high fees is a good idea.

Usage Hint: Data suck is high in these cities, download travel map apps that allow for offline use when necessary, WiFi doesn’t follow you around, you have to find it. Good WiFi finder app is a must. Live GPS will kill your data space.

More

Hopper

Yelp

Skyscanner

Spotted by Locals

GoEuro

WiFi Finder

Atlas Obscura

UseIt Europe

Local Apps

Check out the city you are going to for their local tourist apps as well, usually on the city website or local tourist board site. Some of them have great walking tours and information about smaller museums and sites that you would otherwise have to dig through Trip Advisor for. Don’t forget the What’s On sections of most online newspapers. There will be links to all local attractions and advertising for apps.GL_ipad

Local Apps Ireland

http://www.ireland.com/en-us/what-is-available/articles/apps-for-ireland/

Belfast

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/visit-belfast/id405725557?mt=8

Galway

https://galway-app.droidinformer.org/

http://townapps.ie/project/galway/

http://www.loveconnemara.com/french/things-to-do-t46565

Scotland

https://peoplemakeglasgow.com/visiting/getting-around

http://everyedinburgh.com/8-essential-edinburgh-apps-you-need-to-download/

http://www.travelinescotland.com/apps

Glasgow App Developers with local apps http://appdeveloperscotland.co.uk/

Articles

http://budgettraveller.org/20-best-free-travel-apps-travelling-around-uk/

https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2016/jan/02/10-best-travel-apps-free-paid-for

https://www.digitaltrends.com/mobile/best-travel-apps/2/

https://www.danflyingsolo.com/best-apps-for-travelling-2017/

 

Smartphone or Camera for Travel

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On my last trip, I relied solely on my smartphone camera for taking pictures while traveling. It was an older iPhone model but still did the job. However, it was very limited to its uses, and the clarity is somewhat lacking. I am contemplating the idea of getting a separate camera to take on this trip. But of course this brings up several things to think about.

Smartphone Camera
Your smartphone has a camera. It works great for selfies and other “get it now” pictures. However is is not a fine detail image builder. There are apps that you can get that mimic other digital cameras interfaces, and using one of these you may like. However unless you pick up a lense kit for your phone, you won’t get great picture quality. And even some of these lenses will only go so far. Check out some reviews on lenses for smartphones and see if this may be all that you need. Save money for splurging on something on the trip.

Budget
Always a tough one. The price of a really good camera can equal the price of a plane ticket. It’s always a matter of what can you afford? Most of the camera manufacturers like Canon, Sony, and Ricoh, have several models within ranges for their camera offerings. A decent camera starts in the $375.00 range and can go up to $800.00 for basic models. Do you want changeable lenses? Then you will need to pay more. The fixed lense models are more affordable, but some have less than desirable digital interfaces. Some models still have the classic camera mirror, others do not. However, mirrors are not a good thing when traveling as they will break. To find your camera for traveI, I would suggest going to a larger electronics store or camera store and look at models that you can test out. Then, see if you can get better pricing online. Pay attention to the interface for working with the camera. Does it feel like you are going to have a long learning curve on this software? Camera software is known to not be easy to work with.

Another Device to Keep track Of
Cameras have always been delicate pieces of machinery. Traveling with them means careful packing, often in a case specific to them. That means another case to keep track of. If you get a slimline style, you can get away with a very small padded case and stash it with your daypack. I am a big fan of a small daypack backpack for all travel as you can keep a lot in it for your day as you may not be able to get back to your lodgings in between all your touring for the day. You may want to get a locking mechanism for any external pouches you store camera in for anti theft deterrent. There are a vast array of camera back packs out there now with the padding and compartments built in to keep parts from jostling, and messenger bag styles as well.

What do You Really Need
Traveling means keeping things compact. Unless you are a photojournalist, chances are you would not need to have a higher end camera traveling with you. You are taking a chance with any electronic device in damage at the airports and other transit for your travels, train racks are brutal. Not to mention the target you become for theft because cameras are easy to grab and resell. Do you want that stress on your tour? I know that I don’t. However, I would like to have a camera that takes better pictures than my iPhone can. But a large extensive camera loaded with features is really going to be more than I truly need. I need to find one that is a few steps up from a camera phone model, with an easy interface to work with. Don’t need learning curve with electronics on vacation.

Tell us your camera stories

More…

http://www.switchbacktravel.com/best-travel-cameras
https://www.lifewire.com/best-camera-cases-and-bags-to-buy-4078328
http://www.tomsguide.com/us/best-iphone-lenses,review-2366.html
http://phandroid.com/2017/02/21/best-android-camera-apps/
https://iphonephotographyschool.com/best-camera-app-for-iphone/

Updates on Traveling with Devices, US Airports Rolling out New Scanning Proceedures

 

There are 10  US airports now following new enhanced testing proceedures for screening laptops and devices. You may have experienced the TSA rule in your airport that laptops must be in a separate scanning bin from your carry on. Most of us are used to this. But these are now being taking to another scanning platform away from you and your other scanned luggage possibly, it depends on their set up. Some are on the same conveyer belt. This isn’t new for many of us, but it is now being enforced at certain airports. This means anything larger than a cell phone must now go in the bin. Because of this, add a half hour more on to your pre flight check in, if not more. People having to physically adjust to this and fishing out devices will take up everyone’s time. If you have anything questions, call you airline or airport before you start packing.

If you are flying through these airports this summer, expect some more delays:

Boise Airport Idaho BOI

Colorado Springs COS

Detroit Metro DTW

Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International FLL

Logan International Boston BOS

Los Angeles International LAX

Lubbock Preston Smith International LBB TEXAS

Luis Munoz Marin Intl San Juan, Puerto Rico

McCarran Intl LAS Las Vegas

Phoenix Sky Harbor Intl PHX

http://money.cnn.com/2017/05/24/technology/tsa-ipad-tablet-airport-security/

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/news/catastrophic-fires-reasons-the-laptop-ban-is-a-bad-idea/

Laptop Travel Ban Expansion Imminent

Talks are underway with the US Government and airlines to extend the ban on carry on laptop ban to include flights to and from the UK and Europe. Not just coming in, but outbound flights. The goal being that nothing larger than a cell phone will be allowed in the cabin. Goodbye iPads and readers. You will have to pack them in the luggage and hope they don’t get damaged or stolen.

I just looked at my flight insurance coverage for the trip. $750.00 barely covers an iPad. It will never cover the loss of a good laptop. Not to mention the extra half to an hour it will take dealing with people who didn’t put their electronics in the check in baggage at the airport. Not to mention the concerns over large amounts of lithium batteries all in one cargo area, and potential danger therein.

Yeah, just in time for heavy travel season.

Here’s the latest on the talks, with no firm dates yet.

Ban on Flights from UK Airports

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/apr/25/us-considers-banning-laptops-on-flights-from-uk-airports

Ban For All Flights to and From Europe

http://www.travelandleisure.com/airlines-airports/electronics-ban-europe