April 2009


When I was in Boston last weekend I had my iPod Touch with me that was loaded with several free travel applications. During the trip, I tested the applications to find out just how useful they were.

Several of these apps are designed to help track flights and airport delays. Airport Status is a one-tap app that pulls up delays for major airports in the US and Canada. Travelocity’s app can pull up flight schedules, security wait times and locate hotels nearest to your location.

Other apps are designed to help find various locations of things. Yelp is useful for finding not only nearby restaurant’s, but gas stations, banks and drugstores among several other categories. UrbanSpoon is a quirky app that will choose a nearby restaurant at random. SitOrSquat helps find the nearest public toilet and includes reviews on the cleanliness of the facilities.

For the most part, all the apps worked as advertised and are easy to use. Yelp is particularly useful since it has listings for nearly any business that the typical traveller would need. Because Yelp has a restaurant directory, it makes UrbanSpoon a bit redundant. SitOrSquat can be a bit hit-or-miss at times since all the information is provided by users, but it’s better then no info at all especially when you really gotta go.

One new app that has come out since my trip is TripIt, from the website of the same name. I haven’t tested out the usefulness of this app, but if it’s anything like the website, it’s a great way to keep all trip itinerary info like flight and hotel reservations in one spot.

When I was in Boston last weekend I had my iPod Touch with me that was loaded with several free travel applications. During the trip, I tested the applications to find out just how useful they were.

Several of these apps are designed to help track flights and airport delays. Airport Status is a one-tap app that pulls up delays for major airports in the US and Canada. Travelocity’s app can pull up flight schedules, security wait times and locate hotels nearest to your location.

Other apps are designed to help find various locations of things. Yelp is useful for finding not only nearby restaurant’s, but gas stations, banks and drugstores among several other categories. UrbanSpoon is a quirky app that will choose a nearby restaurant at random. SitOrSquat helps find the nearest public toilet and includes reviews on the cleanliness of the facilities.

For the most part, all the apps worked as advertised and are easy to use. Yelp is particularly useful since it has listings for nearly any business that the typical traveller would need. Because Yelp has a restaurant directory, it makes UrbanSpoon a bit redundant. SitOrSquat can be a bit hit-or-miss at times since all the information is provided by users, but it’s better then no info at all especially when you really gotta go.

One new app that has come out since my trip is TripIt, from the website of the same name. I haven’t tested out the usefulness of this app, but if it’s anything like the website, it’s a great way to keep all trip itinerary info like flight and hotel reservations in one spot.

Hey folks, today’s thought will be delayed until the weekend due to Good Friday/Easter preparations. Happy Passover to all who are celebrating it tonight, and I will be back soon with a post about the 5k that I ran last weekend. 🙂

Hey folks, today’s thought will be delayed until the weekend due to Good Friday/Easter preparations. Happy Passover to all who are celebrating it tonight, and I will be back soon with a post about the 5k that I ran last weekend. 🙂

I was in Tallahassee over the weekend to speak to legislators about not cutting funding for a mentoring program that the Girl Scouts does in Florida. While I was there, I got into a conversation with a woman that has done a bit more traveling then I have and she started talking about cities that she had been to in North America. She mentioned cities like San Francisco, Quebec City and Seattle. As she went along, I mentioned I had been to those cities too, but only for a day. By the time we got to talking about Los Angeles (yep, only been there a day) it became a silly running joke that it was impossible for me to stay anywhere longer then a day.

After that conversation, I started thinking about the places I had only been to for a day and could think of at least half a dozen cities that I had only visited for about a day. In most cases, I had only scratched the surface of what that city had to offer. After all, there’s only so much terrority that I can cover in one day. But is it really worthwhile to stop in those cities at all if I couldn’t see everything?

Many of the cities that I visited were either the start or end point of a much longer trip. Back in 2007 I went on a hiking trip with people from all over the world. The tour started in San Francisco and ended in Los Angeles. When I was making arrangements, I could have chosen just to fly in a few hours before the tour started and skipped seeing San Fran. But since I was going to be in the area, I figured I would give myself a day to see the place before leaving. I’m glad I did. I got to visit the bay, walk along the pier, see crooked Lombard Street and walk through Chinatown. There was so much that I missed- like visiting Alcatraz, crossing over the Golden Gate bridge, or visiting the surrounding wine country. But now I know what I want to see if I get to go there again.

In other cases, I went to a city for a day simply because it was close and I didn’t know when I’d be near the city again. In 2000, I spend a week in Montreal doing some volunteer work there. At the end of the week, myself and several of the volunteers decided to go visit Quebec City to see what it was like. We didn’t know if or when any of us would be back that way again. Sure enough, 9 years later, I still haven’t made it back that way, so I’m glad I saw what I could there.

Sometimes I’ve spent a week in a city and just want to see what’s different on a return trip. Las Vegas is a perfect example of this. I was there for a week during a family vacation and enjoyed seeing the strip and the shows there. A few years later, I was there for a day. It was nice to see what was new and what was gone. But I wouldn’t have wanted to stay for much more then a day simply because I have already seen much of what I wanted to see.

Finally, I sometimes visit a city for a day because I just don’t know if it’s really a place that I want to spend more time in. When I was in Los Angeles for a day, I saw most of the touristy stuff- and I was done. To be honest, I didn’t like LA all that much. It’s too sprawly for me. Last year I visited the small town of Lancaster, PA to see some of the Dutch country. Since it is a small town, it was easy to visit the few highlights like the farmer’s market and an Amish museum. One day was a perfect amount of time to see the place without feeling rushed or bored.

Visiting cities for only a day does tend to leave me longing for more time in them. Most cities have much to offer and it will take more then a day to get past the tourist front and get to the heart of a place. But in the end, the woman that I was talking to at the beginning of this post said it best. “It’s better to go than not at all.”

I was in Tallahassee over the weekend to speak to legislators about not cutting funding for a mentoring program that the Girl Scouts does in Florida. While I was there, I got into a conversation with a woman that has done a bit more traveling then I have and she started talking about cities that she had been to in North America. She mentioned cities like San Francisco, Quebec City and Seattle. As she went along, I mentioned I had been to those cities too, but only for a day. By the time we got to talking about Los Angeles (yep, only been there a day) it became a silly running joke that it was impossible for me to stay anywhere longer then a day.

After that conversation, I started thinking about the places I had only been to for a day and could think of at least half a dozen cities that I had only visited for about a day. In most cases, I had only scratched the surface of what that city had to offer. After all, there’s only so much terrority that I can cover in one day. But is it really worthwhile to stop in those cities at all if I couldn’t see everything?

Many of the cities that I visited were either the start or end point of a much longer trip. Back in 2007 I went on a hiking trip with people from all over the world. The tour started in San Francisco and ended in Los Angeles. When I was making arrangements, I could have chosen just to fly in a few hours before the tour started and skipped seeing San Fran. But since I was going to be in the area, I figured I would give myself a day to see the place before leaving. I’m glad I did. I got to visit the bay, walk along the pier, see crooked Lombard Street and walk through Chinatown. There was so much that I missed- like visiting Alcatraz, crossing over the Golden Gate bridge, or visiting the surrounding wine country. But now I know what I want to see if I get to go there again.

In other cases, I went to a city for a day simply because it was close and I didn’t know when I’d be near the city again. In 2000, I spend a week in Montreal doing some volunteer work there. At the end of the week, myself and several of the volunteers decided to go visit Quebec City to see what it was like. We didn’t know if or when any of us would be back that way again. Sure enough, 9 years later, I still haven’t made it back that way, so I’m glad I saw what I could there.

Sometimes I’ve spent a week in a city and just want to see what’s different on a return trip. Las Vegas is a perfect example of this. I was there for a week during a family vacation and enjoyed seeing the strip and the shows there. A few years later, I was there for a day. It was nice to see what was new and what was gone. But I wouldn’t have wanted to stay for much more then a day simply because I have already seen much of what I wanted to see.

Finally, I sometimes visit a city for a day because I just don’t know if it’s really a place that I want to spend more time in. When I was in Los Angeles for a day, I saw most of the touristy stuff- and I was done. To be honest, I didn’t like LA all that much. It’s too sprawly for me. Last year I visited the small town of Lancaster, PA to see some of the Dutch country. Since it is a small town, it was easy to visit the few highlights like the farmer’s market and an Amish museum. One day was a perfect amount of time to see the place without feeling rushed or bored.

Visiting cities for only a day does tend to leave me longing for more time in them. Most cities have much to offer and it will take more then a day to get past the tourist front and get to the heart of a place. But in the end, the woman that I was talking to at the beginning of this post said it best. “It’s better to go than not at all.”

For those of you looking for a vacation that’s out of this world, Expedia is now offering bookings to Mars. Hotel options include the Colbert Hotel and activities include dust surfing. Packages are on sale now, and there are some amazing discounts of up to $3 trillion availible. Hurry though as the offer ends at midnight.

If you prefer something more down to earth, the Hotelicopter is now taking reservations. Stay in a luxury suite in the world’s first flying hotel. But act quickly, as there are only 18 rooms available.

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