All posts in travel

Visualizing Travel Activity on Facebook

What happens when you visualize the airport Facebook Checkins. Simple, beautiful.

 

 

Visualizing Activity on Facebook.

Plnnr – plan your visit from A to Z on a specific destination

Click, click, click and that’s it, you’ve got your tailor-made recommandations of trip in one of the big cities available on Plnnr, with maps, planning, hotels, details, etc, etc.

If you’ve been doing an agenda for one of your friend visiting your city, you might remember how long and painful the process is. Plnnr is one of the most awesome mashup ever in the world of travel, by building your customized route and itinerary, depending on your style, your time. Perfect to share with friends. And the best part – your own customized route can be stored, saved, forwared to friends. Sweet.

At the moment, there is only a few big cities available. But no doubt that there is more incoming.

http://plnnr.com

Via the excellent makeuseof.com

 

Boarding Pass Fail and Beautiful Designs

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Every once in a while a designer will come across somthing ugly and feel the need to do something about it. So it was with Squarespace Creative Director Tyler Thompson, who late last year found himself aesthetically offended by the mess that is a Delta Airlines boarding pass. Continue Reading →

The iPad As In-Car Entertainment System Killer

Cars.com’s David Thomas speculates that the iPad could prove to be a serious problem for automakers that charge a ransom for rear entertainment systems. Continue Reading →

6 Tips That Will Get You an Empty Seat Next to You On an (Almost) Full Flight

A practical guest post by Scott from Trekeo for AlmostFearless.com. I’m myself a heavy user of these tips when flying between Paris and Vienna… and they really work!  Please feel free to add your tips in the comments.

My nightmare finds myself stuck in the center seat on a 4-hour flight. To my right is a guy twice my size who decides that both armrests belong to him. He spends most of the flight fidgeting and complaining under his breath. Turns out he is a heavy breather; with a head cold. On my left is a middle-aged woman who is flying for the first time in years. The look on her face tells me that she would rather be going in for major surgery than sitting on the plane. She expresses her nervousness by talking; incessantly. For four hours I experience hell in stereo. There has to be a better way.

These are not guarantees, but here are some tips I have used with success in getting an empty seat next to me.

Book near the back of the plane. Usually tickets are first booked at the front and then fill toward the back. I always book near the back, where there is an empty seat next to the seat I want. Some travelers hate the back because it takes more time to get off the plane. For me, an additional 5 minutes deplaning is worth the possibility of an empty seat.

Book an aisle seat. This puts you in prime position to make the shuffle. What is “The Shuffle?” Read on.

The Shuffle. Once you are in your assigned aisle seat, look around for an open seat. As soon as you hear the flight attendants say that the doors have been locked and you sense that there are no more passengers boarding, unbuckle your seat belt and move. Do not wait to ask the flight attendants (they don’t care). Wait too long and someone else will take the empty. Strike as fast as you can.

Book non-reclining seats. Many travelers try to stay away from non-reclining seats. I would rather have an empty seat next to me than 4 inches of reclining seat.

Book an aisle and a window. If you are traveling with another person, book one aisle seat and one window (again, near the back of the plane). Do this only if there is an empty seat in between the seats you book. It is possible that someone will fill that seat, but the chances are slim. Most people who travel solo will look to take any seat except the one between you and your traveling partner. When you check in for your flight, double-check your seating. If your center seat is filled, find another with an empty and change your seat assignments. I have used this with success numerous times.

Be the last to board the plane. If you fly on a carrier that doesn’t have assigned seats, try to be the last person to board the plane. That way you can pick out a seat with nobody next to you without having to wait until the entire plane is full and then look around to see if there are open seats.

What have you used to make more room for you on a flight?

A Wireless Hotspot For Your Car. Why Not?

Want your very own wireless hotspot to follow you everywhere you drive? Plan a long trip and want to keep your kids busy and quiet updating their online social networks? Well, you’re lucky because UK mobile operator 3 has unveiled its in-car Wi-Fi to offer just that. Continue Reading →

How Blogging Can Save Your Expat Life

An expat myself, I couln’t but identify myself to Alison, a very cool expat blogger based in Brussels, when I read her post “How Blogging Saved My Expat Life”.

I guess we all somehow experience the same feelings when we move for good to a new place we don’t know, a place we don’t speak the language and are not familiar yet with the culture.  A place we feel like a foreigner, though we now leave there. In her post Alison explains how to turn this, at first challenging, change into a wonderful adventure.

I’d like to dedicate this post to my friend Tanya, a wonderful Mexican expat who lives in Paris and meets with the same issues as Alison did when she started her new life in Brussels.

Hold on and keep faith amiga!

When I started blogging, I wasn’t trying to make money on-line or become famous. In fact, I never expected anyone other than my friends and family would read it. But now, I’m pretty sure that blogging saved my expat life.

I moved to Belgium five years ago as a trailing spouse. My husband and I decided together that we wanted to try living in Europe. The opportunity came up sooner than we expected, when his company offered to move us to Brussels. Legalities being what they are in Belgium, I was unable to get a work-permit as the trailing spouse, so my days were filled with getting our new life settled.

Back then, blogging wasn’t as ubiquitous as it is now, and I didn’t know much about it, but I got tired of writing the same things and answering the same questions in a dozen e-mails. I had learned basic web design and HTML in school so I decided to start a website to share stories and photos with my friends and family back home.

My blog posts were basically extended letters. I didn’t think much about grammar or structure. My posts didn’t have a topic other than what I had been up to since the last time I wrote. I never expected anyone that didn’t know me would bother much with my blog.

In those first few months, I wrote only about happy things – new places we travelled to, new discoveries we made, etc.

The shiny newness of expat life wore off pretty quickly though. The reality was I was mired in mountains of Belgian bureaucracy and red-tape. We had no support from my husband’s company; we didn’t speak the language; we knew no one and we lived in a small community with limited public transportation. I spent most of my days feeling isolated and depressed and wondering what the hell I had done.

I didn’t want to burden my family and friends with my woes. Honestly, I felt like a failure for being depressed in the first place. I mean, I was living in Europe after all. Something that is a dream for most people was my reality. Except most days it felt more like a nightmare.

I turned to the blogosphere for help. Although there weren’t many expat blogs based in Belgium at that time, I found some blogs written by expat women in other countries who were writing about the exact feelings I was having. Suddenly I didn’t feel so alone and it gave me the courage to write about what I was really experiencing.

It was scary to put my stress, struggles and depression out there, but instead of scorn for my whining, I started to get email and comments from other women in my situation. Some were already in Belgium, some were planning an expat move and all of them had similar fears and worries as me.

I was contacted by an expat news website in Belgium and asked to do a weekly column about my experiences in Belgium. Through that column, even more trailing spouses contacted me and encouraged me to keep writing and sharing.

It didn’t happen overnight, but gradually things got better. Because of my blog, I met people, I had an outlet for my stress and worry and I had a sense of purpose. Blogging and the support of my readers gave me the courage to pursue my career as a photographer.

Five years later, my blog and my life have changed dramatically. First of all, we have both moved out of isolation – me to the centre of Brussels and my blog to its own domain.

CheeseWeb is now much less focused on my day to day life and more on expat life in general. It covers a range of topics about life and travel in Belgium. I have guest posters on different topics from art to technology and I write about many different travel destinations around Europe.

Blogging opened so many doors for me in the early months of my expat life and continues to today. I honestly believe that blogging saved my expat life.

About the author:

Alison Cornford-Matheson is a garden and travel lifestyle photographer based in Brussels.  Her website, CheeseWeb has grown into a resource for expats in Belgium as well as a guide for interesting places to visit, eat and shop, but first and foremost it remains  personal journal of one expat wife, making her way in a foreign land.

Need electric power? Then, move your butt!

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Some time ago I wrote about this issue many of us unfortunately already faced once or regularly face when traveling by plane: the scarce number of electric plugs in airports.

As you might imagine, most airports were built long before we were all carrying around all kinds of electronic devices, and as such, finding a place to charge them up can turn today into a real challenge. I expect many of us have snooped around for the outlets the airport cleaners use or that operate vending machines (that’s bad!) so we can plug in and charge up our laptop or cellphone during a stopover. Some of us may eventually have ended-up charging their device in the bathroom. But that’s another story I guess…

So, unless airports management decide to undertake a costly reorganization of their infrastructure or implement a wireless power solution – which won’t be made available tomorrow to the many – , the problem may last some time.

The question is, “shall we cry on our cruel fate and accept that?”. I think we shall not!

Designer Ryan Klinger has identified this big flaw and has created the Empower Kinetic Rocking Chair which harnesses your body movements to provide power for your devices. A small box under the seat stores the generated power in a battery, which can then transfer into your devices using either a regular plug or USB. LED indicators on the box tell you how much of a charge the battery is holding.
So simple you wonder why nobody came up with this idea earlier.

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The Empower Kinetic Rocking Chair is a finalist in this year’s Greener Gadgets Design Competition. Let’s hope it will win and start blooming everywhere we need to plug.

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Greener Gadgets Design Competition, via Inhabitat.com

Up in the Air

Up_in_the_Air_movie_poster“Modern aviation: like Icarus himself, how lowly this once-golden enterprise has fallen. None of us is getting thinner, yet the seats get smaller all the time. The air stewards, forced to flog booze, fags and scratch cards like street-market hawkers, mooch down the aisles with sullen hatred for their passengers. The crowding; the waiting; that generic short-haul smell — like being forced to bathe in a pigpen: the folk at Peta would be up in arms if animals were confined like this.

The pleasure and part of the fantasy of Up in the Air [...], is that it wafts us through a very different aerospace. This is a realm where all the officials treat “guests” with pearly-teethed gratitude, where queues are non-existent, and the seats recline just so. Up, up and away: to a retro-tinged zone free from the gravity and tedium that earth-bound drones have to endure.” – The Telegraph

If just like me you consider yourself a “World citizen”, not because you disapprove traditional geopolitical divisions derived from national citizenship (wikipedia) but because you’re actually travelling it, then you should go and watch this movie: Up in the Air.

I could of course make a thorough review of this movie, as they’re are many ways to do it – I guess everyone of us who has watched this movie has found something in it that reminds him or her of something individually experimented in their real life, should it be the rituals of their corporate life, this feeling of being at home while flying at 30,000 feet, the complexity of human relationships, or their quest for the most optimized trip through an airport. As for myself, I watched with delight the scene of the airport security control.

But that was not really the purpose of my post, and I’d rather leave this task to people who do that for their living (and do it good) and who’ll probably better explain why you should consider taking the time this evening or this week-end to go to your nearest theater to discover what’s in this mind-blowing movie.

And if today you’re too lazy to read, then just watch the trailer of Up in the Air. Within two minutes you’ll have a better idea of what I meant.

Extreme tip of the day: Pack a Gun to Protect Valuables from Airline Theft or Loss [Air Travel Tip]

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If you’re reading this blog, this might be because you are also sharing our philosophy of living the life of a Digital Nomad. Or not… but you’re at least interested in news about cool gizmos, mobility oriented design, hot news on mobility or travelling tips like the one of today.

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Though at first I found this tip a little bit too extreme (maybe because of the fact that I’m a European who is not familiar with this kind of practice and the idea of owning a firearm – and less of carrying it with me in my suitcase!), I then realized after reading this article by Jason Fitzpatrick of Lifehacker, that this was not such a bad idea, all the more so as the word “weapon” extends to airguns, and STARTER PISTOL and that this is fully covered by the regulations of the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA), or better said, legal.

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Until you’ve yourself experienced this pain in the neck situation of having your luggage lost by the airline you flew with, which is even worse when it happens to you on your way to your holiday destination (or can turn into a nightmare when you were planning to spend two weeks skiing in Vancouver or Vail…) you can’t understand why this tip is actually very helpful.

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Personally I flew three times with Delta Airlines (twice to New York City, once to Mexico City), and I got my luggage lost every single time. Bad luck? I don’t know, but this makes me now believe that I have 100% chances to lose again my suitcase when I’ll fly with this Airline. So if I have a chance to make the risk drop to.. 0% I’ll take it!

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Read the full article on how to take advantage of the TSA’s own security rules to prevent your bags from being lost or looted by airline/airport workers

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If you want more crazy stories about bad ass airlines and if you can read Spanish (or at least use Google Translate, but as usual this may spoil the quality of the professional-like writing), you should read this story which happened to a friend of mine on his way back to Mexico. It’s really well written and worth the ride.

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