Gizmos and Goodies: Travel Wiser This Year

Travel_Wise

Ah, travel. The thought of upcoming trips can always bring a smile to my face. Chris and I have dubbed this our U.S. travel year, since by the end of 2015 we will have added Ohio, Missouri, Kansas, Utah, South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana and Louisiana to our list of been-there states. (This is, of course, in no small part due to our partial cross-country drive out to Denver at the beginning of the year.)

In addition to that, we’ll be traveling to Japan in February of 2016 for Chris to complete his sixth and final race in the 6 World Marathon Majors.

Travel is, obviously, an important thing for us. And while I love collecting travel books, and I tend to keep most maps, tickets and other paraphernalia that we collect while we’re actually on these trips, I’d be lying if I said that technology wasn’t a huge help these days when it comes to traveling. So in honor of all you Weary Wanderers out there, I thought I’d share some of my favorite tech gizmos and goodies that make the road less traveled just a little bit easier.

Here goes nothing.

GasBuddy
I’ve had this app for a while now, but since Chris and I just moved to a place where we needed a car at the beginning of this year, I haven’t had a ton of chances to use it yet. Still, I’m excited to use the app when we hit the road for our Wyoming/Montana trip in September. Just type in your zip code on the website or hit the ‘Find Gas Near Me’ button on the app and let the magic of GasBuddy do the legwork to find the cheapest gas wherever you are.

onTime and MyTix
While I probably won’t have a ton of use for these two apps anymore, when I was a New York City dweller, I basically lived by them to get home to visit family. The free onTime app from Metro North Rail provides real-time updates on train departures and arrivals, along with track information, for any route you plunk into its database, while New Jersey Transit’s MyTix allows you to actually purchase, activate and use tickets directly through your smartphone (finally!).

Foursquare
Cool or creepy: Sometimes when I’m just walking around Denver, I’ll hear a little ‘ding’ from deep down in my purse, and I’ll pull out my phone to find that Foursquare is recommending a restaurant (or even a specific dish!) near where I’m standing. Okay, so maybe that’s a little creepy, but you actually don’t have to allow the location access on Foursquare to use it when you’re out and about to search for awesome restaurants, bars and shops near where you are.

Roadtrippers
Ah, road trips — the staple of American travel, am I right? As I mentioned before, Chris and I only recently needed a car in our lives, but I’ll tell you right now that pretty much nothing about having a car excited me, except for grocery shopping and, of course, road trips! So of course I love the idea behind Roadtrippers and plan to use it a ton for upcoming trips. Plan out an amazing road trip by inputting your start location/end location and start date/end date, and asking the app/site to provide you with information regarding hotels, attraction, natural wonders and/or weird stuff. For example, when I use the app to set me up with a route from Denver to Glacier National Park, I’m told the trip will cost about $157 in gas, should take about 16 hours total and covers approximately 916 miles. Set your destinations, then click the little location icon off to the bottom left of your screen and select what you’d like to find (accommodations/attractions & culture/camping & rv/entertainment & nightlife/food & drink/outdoors & recreation/etc.), and the app will automatically pull up the best options on your drive. For example, on the way out to Glacier National Park Chris and I might stop at Bighorn National Forest, Teapot Rock, Yellowstone Art Museum or the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, among many others.

PackPoint Packing List Travel Companion
If packing for a big trip stresses you out because you fear you may forget something super important, that’s where PackPoint can help. Download the app and start by picking if you’re a gal or guy. Then input where you’re going and when, then the number of nights you’ll be staying and the type of trip you’ll be having (business or leisure) and activities you plan to do (swimming, snow sports, working, camping, gym, photography, international, beach and baby are just a few of your options, and you can customize activities if you upgrade to the $2 app version, as well). Hit ‘repeat basics’ or ‘laundry’ if you’ll be able to do that on your trip, and the app will generate a suggested packing list for you. You can check off items as you pack and swipe to remove stuff you don’t need. For example, on my trip to Glacier National Park — where I plan to hike, take photos and do lots of walking — my packing list includes things like camera bag, memory cards, battery and my camera, as well as maybe a handheld GPS, water bottle, bug spray and sunscreen. I find the obvious reminders (things like chapstick, pain reliever pills, wallet, house key and reading glasses to be particularly helpful because, let’s be honest, if I’m going to forget something, it won’t be my camera!)

If you’re a person who prefers checking things off on an actual, tangible list, rather than an electronic one (which sometimes I am), try printing this super cute one (in black & white or color) from a pair & a spare. (Her 5,4,3,2,1 packing guide might be helpful, too!)

Bis bald, friends — and happy travels!

A Gorgeous (and Expensive) Drive Through the Alps

Hi friends,

So back to last Wednesday morning, Chris and his dad left the hotel early to pick up our rental car so that we could get on out of Munich. We would be driving about 2 hours from Munich to Salzburg to drop Chris’s parents off (it was so sad to say goodbye!), and then Chris and I would be continuing on to Venice.

We knew that we were starting off with an expensive journey, since renting a car in one country and returning it in another is, you know, not that cheap.

Little did we know that was just the beginning …

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G4: Grounded

I hope this volcano in Iceland stops acting out—otherwise my sister and I will be traveling to Europe like Seth did in Grounded

I mentioned a while back that I was reading a book a friend had recommended to me–and I just had the pleasure of finishing said book. And so here goes my first foray into an actual travel book review…

“Grounded: A Down To Earth Journey Around The World,” written by Seth Stevenson, chronicles the tale of the author and his girlfriend as they travel around the world, roaming from latitude to latitude, without ever setting foot on a plane (well, spoiler alert, that’s not totally true of both of them). They take container ships and cruise ships, buses, trains and rental cars. They even book it for a while on a bike journey.
I have to say that what I liked most about this book was how Stevenson managed to tell his personal journey so well, while teaching me something about the history of travel in the process. (That, and the fact that Stevenson settled it for me—I could never travel around the world the way he and his girlfriend did!) I’ve never known more about the origin of air, ship and train travel. And who even knew you could catch a ride on a container ship?

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Arigatu Mr. Roboto

Yup, that’s a volcano.

Finally, Chris’s account of his Japanese adventures from a few weeks before. Buckle up, and beware of the snowboarding stories:

14 hours later and touch down,  g’day Tokyo, niced to meet ya!

Here I am, land of the rising sun, snowboard bag on my shoulder, ready to take down Japan.

Just a couple of Tokyo subway rides, a short walk and I arrive at hotel heaven…  K’s House Hostel in Tokyo is exactly what you want a hostel to be—super clean, super cheap, super friendly and super location (I really stretched my vocab in that description).  Seriously awesome diggs —if you’re ever in need of some great accommodation in Tokyo, I couldn’t recommend it higher!

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A Japanese Adventure- Before It Even Starts

Well Chris has made it safe and sound to his final Japanese destination—Niseko. His journey wasn’t without its bumps, though. After finding out that he had booked his connecting flight from New Chitose to Niseko on the wrong day (arrive in Tokyo Sunday afternoon, but booked connecting flight for Saturday, rookie mistake), he had to do a bit of reconfiguring.

Anyway, after the mix-up he managed to rejigger the schedule so it looked a little something like this:

Depart JFK, arrive in Naritu
Stay at K’s House Hostel
Depart Haneda, arrive in Niseko Village

Looking at that schedule, and thinking about traveling alone, in a country where the language is not my own, combined with that subway map from my previous post— I gotta say, I don’t know if I could do it on my own. Chris’s ability to travel on his own, such long distances, to such foreign places where he doesn’t even speak the language, it amazes me.

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