Archive for December, 2012

TSB Sits Down With Team Fenom

Monday, December 31st, 2012

This week I had the chance to sit down with Antonia Newman, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Team Fenom.Team Fenom provides sports coverage and connects a large and growing base of women’s sports fans through an online community. Team Fenom covers women’s professional and collegiate basketball, golf, soccer, softball, tennis, track & field, and volleyball. In addition to sports stories, Team Fenom publishes articles on sportswear trends and fitness. Team Fenom uses Huffington Post’s model to source low-cost content. Plans for monetization include digital advertising, corporate sponsorships, and e-commerce. Read on to learn more!

How did you decide on Team Fenom’s name?

Fenom was derived from combining female and phenomenal. Team Fenom is an expression of the global community of individuals who support women’s athletics and lead active lifestyles.

In your career, you’ve traveled quite a bit. What is one of the more memorable experiences?

One of my most memorable experiences was traveling to Athens and Mykonos, Greece where the Deputy Minister of Culture presented me with a silver wreath “for valuable contribution to sport.” I was proud to receive an award previously only given to Olympians. Also, I vividly recall the mouth-watering Greek cuisine and Mykonos’ golden, sandy beaches with crystalline, azure waters.

What tips do you have for keeping your fitness routine while traveling?

Take advantage of fitness amenities at your hotel. Most hotels have fitness centers and many offer exercise classes and personal training sessions. Pack travel-friendly workout equipment such as a fitness DVD and resistance bands for a full-body workout. You can also hit the pavement for a long run; it is the perfect way to explore a new city. If you don’t have time for a workout, consider these options: opt for stairs over elevators, forego the closest parking spot and walk versus drive.

What are your three must-have items while traveling?

My three must-have items to take on a trip are a cell phone to keep in touch with loved ones and capture memories, my laptop to stay abreast of women’s sports updates for Team Fenom, and my Nike Zoom Structure running shoes for exercise and excursions.

What’s the most adventurous activity or experience you’ve done while traveling?

Kayaking the Laguna Grande in Fajardo, Puerto Rico at night was a memorable adventure because there are only a few bioluminescent bays in the world. It was fun navigating the pitch-dark narrow channels. Paddling for approximately 1 ½ hours burned calories and was good exercise for the upper body.

You love sports and fitness. What destination(s) do you recommend for sports fanatics like yourself?

Besides basketball, one of my favorite sports is tennis. The tennis majors provide an excellent opportunity to travel and attend exciting sporting events—Australian Open (Melbourne), French Open (Paris), Wimbledon, and US Open (New York).

As an Atlanta native with a Georgia based company, I also recommend experiencing the following:

  • Masters at Augusta National Golf Club
  • WNBA Atlanta Dream, 2010 and 2011 Eastern Conference champs, at Philips Arena
  • AJC Peachtree Road Race 4th of July, world’s largest 10K
  • BB&T Atlanta Open Pro Tennis Tournament at Atlantic Station
  • Atlanta Motor Speedway’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series over Labor Day weekend
  • Atlanta Half Marathon and Thanksgiving Day 5K
  • SEC College Football Championship Game at Georgia Dome
  • Chick-fil-A Bowl, one of the nation’s elite college football bowl games at Georgia Dome
  • SEC Women’s Basketball Tournament at The Arena at Gwinnett Center (2013 and 2014)
  • NCAA Men’s Final Four Basketball Tournament at Georgia Dome (2013)
 
 

 

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Merry Christmas From the Travel Smart Blog!

Tuesday, December 25th, 2012

 
 

 

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Hotel Hook-Up: Scents of the Season with Milliken Creek Inn & Spa

Monday, December 24th, 2012

Merry Christmas Eve! Have I got a gift for you! So last week, you read about Giving the Gift of Travel and that’s exactly what we want to do today! Travel Smart Blog and the amazingly hospitable Milliken Creek Inn & Spa want to give one lucky Travel Smart Blog reader an amazing gift….keep reading!

Nestled on the banks of the Napa River in the heart of Napa, California’s esteemed wine country, you’ll find the luxurious Milliken Creek Inn & Spa. Originally an 1857 stagecoach inn, Milliken features 12 individually designed, spacious suites with thoughtful touches such as plush king-size beds with the finest linens, oversized hydrotherapy bathtubs, flickering fireplaces and private balconies with charming views.

Like most of the Napa Valley wines that improve with age, Milliken is a cherished retreat that continuously offers enhanced levels of serenity and relaxation to its guests.

Now is the time for you to experience the hotel that redefines luxury, intimacy, charm and the authentic Napa experience.

Now through the end of January 2013, Milliken is offering a “Scents of the Season package” for just $199.  This special accommodation includes:

  • One night’s accommodations in a Milliken room
  • L’Occitane gift bag with sample size products of Citrus Verbena Eau de Cologne, Effervescent Revitalizing Sugar Cube, Pillow Mist, Cade After Shave Balm for Men and Mains Shea Butter Hand Cream
  • Harney & Sons tagalong of Hot Cinnamon Spice and Holiday Blend teas
  • A $50 spa credit to use towards a decadent peppermint massage treatment or any other Milliken Creek Spa offering
  • Gourmet breakfast for two each morning served in-room or anywhere on property
  • Concierge assistance in planning Napa Valley outings including winery visits and dinners
  • Two guest passes to Synergy Wellness and Fitness Center
  • Daily sunset Magic Hour wine and cheese reception
  • Late-night cordial bar

Here’s the best part – Travel Smart Blog is giving away a Scents of the Season Package* to a lucky TSB reader!! Just comment on this post “I love the Scents of the Season from Travel Smart Blog and Milliken Creek Inn” and a winner will be randomly chosen, and announced here on TSB the first week of the New Year!! How’s that for a little holiday magic!

The Scents of the Season package is valid for stays Sunday through Thursday through January 31, 2013. For complete package details or to reserve your stay please visit www.MillikenCreekInn.com or call 800.822.8418.

Merry Christmas!!

 
 

 

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Today is the Busiest Day for Expense Reports

Friday, December 21st, 2012

Where is that car rental receipt?! According to Concur, a leading provider of integrated travel and expense management solutions, December 19th is the day that business travelers (like me) are scrambling to get their year-end expense reports submitted.

Employees are eager to wrap up unfinished business and receive reimbursement for out of pocket expenses. I try and keep my receipts collected in an envelope dated for each trip that I take. That way, I am able to quickly sort receipts and reconcile my expenses.

So what’s the most efficient way to get that report submitted?

Guidance for Surviving the Expense Report Dash

Together with Concur, savvy accounting teams are now providing a few tips to help alleviate the additional burden to the finance department during this busy time of year, including:

  • Send out company-wide reminder emails to submit expenses on time.
  • Provide training videos or create a Webinar for how to submit and/or approve an expense report.
  • Ensure the expense report is complete by making sure required receipts are included and adhering to policies– an incomplete expense report can create more review cycles and increase the time it takes for the submitter to be reimbursed.
  • Leverage mobile technology to capture digital images of receipts and submit expense reports. Managers can also access expense reports in order to approve or reject right from their device. The advancements of mobile technology empower employees to capture pictures of receipts with a smartphone and attach them to expense reports. In addition, Concur sees more and more clients leverage the smartphone to submit expense reports (67 percent increase) and approve (53 percent growth) reports on the road.

I am going to be working on my expense reports this week!

 
 

 

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From Sydney to Berlin: Five Distinctive New Year’s Eve Celebrations

Thursday, December 20th, 2012

Fireworks over the Sydney Harbour Bridge

How do you ring in the New Year? Dinner dates with friends? Walking in a torchlight procession? Or enjoying a live concert and entertainment? There are tons of ways to ring in the New Year across the U.S. and the world!

While everyone rings in New Year’s on December 31, not everyone does it the same way. We’ve found a few of the most distinct New Year’s Eve experiences around the globe that perhaps you’ll be lucky enough to see this year or in the upcoming years.

Most Interactive Celebration

As one of the first cities to celebrate the New Year, Sydney, Australia, is known for going above and beyond to ring in the New Year. This year the city of Sydney is inviting revelers to download an app and participate in smartphone-generated light shows coordinated with one of the largest firework celebrations in the world – 11,000 shells, 100,000 pyrotechnic effects and 25,000 shooting comets.

Largest Open-Air Celebration

Known as one of the biggest open-air New Year’s Eve parties in the world, Berlin’s New Year’s festivities attract over one million travelers. With the Brandenburg Gate as the backdrop, partiers can enjoy over two kilometers of party fun between the Brandenburg Gate and the Victory Column. Enjoy live music and DJs, bars, laser shows, international food vendors, and dance floors. The best part? The party does not require a reservation or a name on a list to attend; it’s open to the public!

Highest Firework Celebration

Standing 160 stories tall, the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, in downtown Dubai plays host to the world’s tallest pyrotechnic displays. The extravagant firework show commences at the stroke of midnight and is broadcasted live to over two billion homes globally. This year, guests can see Snoop Dogg in concert with Faithless, Gorillaz and Armand Van Helden. The Queen Elizabeth 2 will also be docked in Dubai for a New Year’s Eve Gala Dinner.

Most Expensive Celebration

Are diamonds, champagne and caviar your style? Then consider kicking off the start of 2013 in South Beach at club WALL. Costing $700 per ticket, travelers can enjoy an exclusive live performance by world-renowned artist OTTO KNOWS, gain general admission to the club, WET, and enjoy the live New Year’s Eve countdown.

Longest Celebration

Hogmanay, the Scots word for the last day of the year, is a three day New Year’s Eve celebration in Edinburgh, Scotland, packed with live music, carnivals, torchlight processions, film screenings, a New Year’s Day triathlon and Dogmanay (dogsled racing). On New Year’s Eve, join 80,000 of your closest friends on the streets below the famous Edinburgh Castle for live music, entertainment and DJs.

Have you experienced one of these celebrations or do you have one that you want to share that didn’t make the list? Please let us know in the comments section below. Happy (early) New Year from the team at Hotels.com and the Travel Smart Blog!

 
 

 

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What Do Oranges, Roses, Sugar And A Fiesta Have In Common? BCS Football, Of Course!

Tuesday, December 18th, 2012

Another season of college football is quickly coming to a close with a few lucky teams preparing for their awarded Bowl positions. This year’s match-ups have once again sparked much debate over how a team ends up in a BCS Bowl game (don’t get me started on how a feel about UGA’s bowl assignment).

There are now 34 total Bowl games in the college football post-season. The bigger the Bowl, the bigger the celebration and the host-cities roll out the red carpet for the honored teams and all their fans. Traveling to a Bowl game is a fun excuse to support your collegiate favorites and get a great vacay, too.

Four Bowls are reserved for the top-ranked division match-ups every year, rotating the national championship among them.  And as teams vie for the chance to play in one of these bowls, you can just smell the…. Roses, Oranges, Sugar, and Tostitos!

1) Rose Bowl

Rose Bowl Stadium, Pasadena, California

Started in 1901, the Rose Bowl might just be the most beloved of all college Bowl games. The Tournament of Roses Parade is always a highlight with each float constructed and adorned with flowers. On January 1, 2013, the 99th Rose Bowl Game will welcome the Big Ten Champion Wisconsin Badgers and Pac-12 Champion Stanford Cardinal

The City of Pasadena is located less than 10 miles northeast of downtown Los Angeles at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains. Pasadena is unique in that it is home to 16 historically designated districts, such as Bungalow Heaven and Garfield Heights.

Pasadena is a prime location for museum lovers, theatergoers and performing arts enthusiasts (not to mention the obvious sports fan).

Hotels in Pasadena

2) Orange Bowl

Sun Life Stadium, Miami, Florida

The Orange Bowl plays host to this season’s Discover BCS National Championship Game on January 7, 2013. It has been home to five Super Bowls, four BCS National Championships, two World Series, and was the first stadium to host the NFL Pro Bowl after 30 years of the game being held in Hawaii.

Sports aside, Miami is an enticing winter escape for this New Year

Bowl game, especially for the folks from Notre Dame. The warm days and hotter nights of Miami’s South Beach offer beautiful scenery (and I don’t just mean the beaches), world-class shopping, dining and entertainment, throw in a strong Latin-influence and you’ve got yourself quite a vacation!

Hotels in Miami

3) Fiesta Bowl

University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Arizona

The 42nd Annual Tostitos Fiesta Bowl will take place on Thursday, January 3rd.  Played at The University of Phoenix Stadium, in what I find to be one of the most remarkably designed stadiums in the world. It was designed to be a truly multi-purpose facility with the ability to host football, basketball, soccer, concerts, consumer shows, motorsports, rodeos and corporate events.

The first of its kind in North America, the stadium features a roll out grass field, which is kept outside except for football and soccer events. For these games the field is rolled into the stadium on an 18.9 million pound tray and takes 75 minutes to travel approximately 741 feet.

As the home of the NHL Coyotes and Arizona Cardinals, Glendale is a place where visitors can immerse themselves in sports and entertainment year round. And nearby Scottsdale and Phoenix are equally attractive for golf and spa-goers.

Hotels in Glendale/Phoenix/Scottsdale

With the resort towns of Phoenix and Scottsdale so close, visitors can enjoy the spa life at resorts like:

  • Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Resort and Spa
  • Royal Palms Resort & Spa
  • Renaissance Phoenix Glendale Resort & Spa
  • 4) Sugar Bowl

    Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana

    The Sugar Bowl, born in the depths of the Great Depression, has survived many difficulties, including a World War and a devastating hurricane, and still ranks as one of the most uniquely successful amateur athletic achievements in the history of American sports.

    Ranked as the fourth-best U.S. city to visit by Condé Nast Traveler magazine, as one of the Top 10 most romantic destinations by National Geographic Traveler, and one of 10 “Cities that Rock” by Esquire Magazine.  The historic and cultural experience that attracts more than 10 million people to New Orleans each year is as rich, charming and welcoming as ever.

    New Orleans boasts more than 28,000 hotel rooms. Combine great accommodations with famed restaurants and music clubs, a visit to the Crescent City is as sweet as “Sugar”!

    Hotels in New Orleans

    Hotels.com is actually featuring New Orleans as its City on Sale this week – check out these New Orleans hotel deals!

  • Bourbon Orleans Hotel
  • Omni Royal Orleans Hotel
  • Royal Sonesta Hotel
  • Will you be attending any of the Bowl games next year?

 
 

 

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The Ultimate Holiday Present: Give the Gift of Travel

Friday, December 14th, 2012

Wondering how to WOW that special someone this holiday season? Want to give your family a gift that won’t end up in the donation pile in two years? How about giving the gift of travel? It’s a priceless gift that will live on in stories and pictures for years to come. So how do you pull it off? Let me tell you.

You don’t have to have the whole trip planned or the itinerary scheduled in order to give this type of gift. On the contrary, simply sharing the intention to take a trip in the coming year should be exciting enough – especially when packaged the right way!  Consider:

  • Wrapping some travel brochures or photos of a destination
  • Give an empty scrapbook with a note inside that says: “Let’s fill this with memories on our trip to X!”
  • Create a holiday scavenger hunt peppered with clues about the future adventure!

Tips on Planning a Trip Start to Finish

Multi-generational travel is huge these days, and a trip is the perfect holiday gift, giving the whole family something to look forward to after the hustle of the holidays is over. Careful, it could turn into a Destination Family Reunion!!

If you want to get the details ironed out as part of the gift then here are a few tips on planning a trip for someone else:

  1. Check schedules!! You’d hate to book non-refundable plane tickets for a time when your intended travel recipient is unavailable. (This may require some stealthy questioning so you don’t blow the surprise.)
  2. Consider the likes, needs and interests of your travel companions. This includes dietary, age appropriate, and accessibility needs at hotels, restaurants, and tour companies.
  3. With airline gift certificates, you can give that special person the gift of flight, and let him or her choose where to go and when to fly. They fit within just about any budget, usually from as little as $25. Some airlines even wrap the certificate up for you in holiday packaging or present it as a decorative e-card.
  4. You can purchase frequent flyer miles for others on many North America-based airlines. Often, you can have the miles deposited right into the recipient’s frequent flyer account, which he or she can later redeem for a flight. Just make sure you find out his or her preferred program and the associated frequent flyer number.
  5. Many hotel chains and individual hotel properties offer gift cards, which can be redeemed for stays or other hotel services like spa treatments, dining and room service. You choose how much you put on the card, usually in increments of $50, although many have lower limits.

Travel Tips for Couples

Travel Tips for Families

I recently gave my daughter Genna Grace the gift of travel with a surprise trip to New York City. It’s one neither of us will ever forget!

Have you ever given the gift of travel? Tell us how you “packaged” your present!

 
 

 

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Hotels.com Holiday Travel Wish List

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

Who’s on your shopping list this holiday season? An adventure seeker? A technology lover? A fashionista? Before reaching for the latest gadgets, electronics and fashions this year, consider the fact that while material items eventually wear out, memories from a vacation can last a lifetime. If you think a vacation is out of your price range, Hotels.com is here to change your mind!

Below, you will find a list of destinations far and wide for every budget. So read on and discover where you can stay for the price of some top hot ticket items this holiday season.

**All hotel prices are based on the 2012 Hotels.com Hotel Price Index.

If you’re traveling on a PlayStation 3 budget of $275, here are three great places you can check out this holiday season:

  • Lake Louise, Canada- For an average hotel price of $275 a night, you can find out why this lake in the Rocky Mountains has become one of the most photographed landscapes in Canada. During the winter, adventurous visitors can take part in a variety of outdoor activities such as downhill skiing, ice-skating and more.
  • Ayers Rock, Australia- Take a trip down under to Australia’s most famous natural landmark for an average hotel price of $273 a night. If you’re feeling daring, take the tough 1-mile ascent to the top of the rock with an aboriginal guide to learn about its fascinating history with the Uluru people.
  • St. Johns, Antigua and Barbuda- Enjoy a tropical getaway to one of the most relaxing locales in the Caribbean for an average of $270 a night. During the day you can get active by hiking, swimming, sailing, and snorkeling. At night, you can unwind with a variety of musical entertainment.

If you’re traveling on an iPad budget of $549, here are three great places you can check out this holiday season:

  • Sun Valley, ID – With an average hotel price of $225 a night, travelers can visit this wintery destination for a relaxing two nights and three days. Visitors can check out the Sun Valley Nordic & Snowshoe Center, take a sleigh ride, or go heli-skiing (if you dare).
  • Singer Island, FL - For those who want to go a bit more tropical, check out Singer Island off the east coast of Florida. Sunny and warm year round, this tropical jewel lies close to cities West Palm Beach, North Palm Beach and Palm Beach Gardens. And at $226 a night, travelers can stay for a satisfying two nights and three days.
  • Lucerne, Switzerland - For a unique winter getaway, visit Lucerne in snowcapped Switzerland. A tourist favorite, Lucerne embodies the storybook image of a Swiss town, boasting narrow cobblestone streets and quaint houses and fountains. For just $228 a night, visitors can hobble across the Kapellbrücke bridge and whet their appetites at Old Swiss House, a prime spot for traditional fare.

If you’re traveling on a Louboutin budget of $1075, here are three great places you can check out this holiday season:

  • Bora Bora, French Polynesia – Looking to splurge on a luxurious vacation destination? Bora Bora, with an average hotel price of $731, offers an incredibly lavish experience for a truly special getaway. Located about 140 miles northwest of Papeete, this island is considered the most beautiful and romantic in the world.
  • Soufriere, St. Lucia – Soufriere’s view of the Pitons is a picture perfect setting for a visit to this beautiful town in southern St. Lucia. Travelers can visit the famous Diamond Botanical Gardens, bike through the Anse Mami sugar plantation or enjoy a wealth of hot springs and mineral baths for an average hotel price of $495 per night.
  • Wailea, Maui - Don’t want to travel abroad? Wailea, a luxurious resort community in South Maui, is the next best choice. While you’re there, relax on Wailea Beach, “America’s Best Beach,” play golf at Wailea Golf Club or shop and dine in world-class shops and restaurants. With an average hotel price of $430 per night, Wailea is the perfect place for a high-end leisure getaway.

What’s on your travel wish list?

 
 

 

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Tested and Approved: Travel Smart Blog’s Top Travel Apps

Friday, December 7th, 2012

I travel quite a bit, so the last few months I thought I would test out some of the most popular smart phone travel apps. I downloaded so many: from car rental apps, itinerary trackers, hotel bookers, currency exchanges, flight trackers, Wi-Fi finders, virtual tour guides…you name it. I have to say that most were fairly useful, but a few stood out as quick and effective; and that is the measure by which I deem an app, “best”. Below is my list for best travel apps.

1) TripIt

Great for: Keeping tabs on your travel plans

Price: Free

Available for: Android, iPhone, iPad, BlackBerry, Windows Phone 7

Forget sifting through your email to find your flight confirmation and your car rental The TripIt app makes it easy to track all of your travel plans, including flight times and confirmation numbers and the app syncs it all with your calendar. Simply forward your confirmation emails to plans@tripit.com, and essential travel details will be stored online.

Download: iOS | Android Market

2) Flight Track

Great for: Flight updates

Price: $4.99

Available for: Android, iPhone, iPad, BlackBerry, Windows Phone 7

Frequent fliers will appreciate this app, which tracks gate changes, delay times, seat availability via SeatGuru, and baggage claim locations. Upgrading to the Pro version is worth it for the most controlling of travelers to receive alerts on gate changes or flight delays. Plus, you can sync with TripIt.

Download: iOS | Android Market

3) Skype

Great for: Calling, seeing, and messaging with others

Price: Free – low calling/texting rates.

Available for: iPhone, iPad, Windows Phone, Android

Ok. So not technically a travel app, I couldn’t take a trip without Skype. Calling home when traveling abroad is not only free for Skype to Skype calls, but a great way to close the distance between traveling parents far from their kids. Skype transforms your Wi-Fi connection into a virtual cellular network, enabling calls to anywhere in the world for pennies on the dollar. Use the app stateside to place calls to destinations abroad, starting at 2.6 cents per minute. And, one Skype account works on all of your devices.

Download: iOS|Android Marketplace |Windows Phone

4) Triposo

Great for: Travel guides

Price: Free

Available for: iPhone, iPad, Android

Triposo travel guides don’t need an Internet connection. Want to go to Lyon? Mexico? Sri Lanka? Kribati? Choose your next trip from the more than 8,000 travel guides available to download free on Triposo.

Download: iOS | Android Marketplace

5) Hotels.com

Great for: Last-minute hotel booking

Price: Free (other than your reservation)

Available for: iPhone, Android

The Hotels.com app lets you search and book hotels all from your mobile phone. The GPS-powered location-aware function makes it possible to find the closest hotel to where you are currently (which may just be Aunt Irma’s couch at the holidays). You can even access reservation information without an Internet connection.
Download: iOS | Android Market

6) Google translate

Great for: Language translation

Price: Free

Available for: iPhone, iPad and Android
The greatest compliment you can give a local when traveling abroad is to try and use the native language. This app translates between 64 languages. It may not always get the translation right, but it is probably the most comprehensive translation app out there.

Download: iOS | Android Market Place

7) Packing (+TO DO!)

Great for: Packing organization

Price: $0.99

Available for: iPhone

The next time you have to pack, follow the packing tips on the Travel Smart Blog and download the Packing (+To Do!) app to make sure you don’t forget anything. The Packing app helps users to create packing lists and check items off as they’re packed. Packing allows you to also view recreated sample packing lists or templates built for a variety of common trip types.

Download: iOS

8 ) Roadside America

Great for: Road trip warriors

Price: $2.99-$5.99

Available for: iPhone & iPad

Roadside America will add hours to your trip…if you are up for a good time! Find all that’s weird and story-worthy along the long and windy road. Search by themes like “big,” “movies,” “animals” and even “freaky hoo-ha.”
Download: iOS

9) Road Trip Bingo HD

Great for: The kids, ages 4 and up

Price: $1.99

Available for: iPhone & iPad

If your child is sitting up high enough to see out the car window, they’re old enough to play this fun game. The point is to look for signs and vehicles to complete a bingo card. Share between two kids in the back seat with the two-player option to keep them busy for long car rides.
Download: iOS

What are your favorite travel apps?

 
 

 

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