Archive for the ‘Mobile’ Category

10 Travel Hacks for a Hitch-Free Vacation

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

Travel Hacks are the tips and tricks you need to know in order to save time and money during a trip.  The following travel hacks are some of my favorite, and most proven ways, to make traveling go more smoothly.

0_120-CIOL4J-JJ1. Keep copies of your important documents on your smartphone.  Scan your driver’s license, passport, even your credit card and then email them to yourself. This provides an extra copy of each in the event of loss or theft. As an iPhone user, you can open them and then save them onto iBooks that can be accessed regardless of Internet connection.

2. Use ATMs to get local currency. When traveling abroad, stay clear of money converters in the airport that tack on their own fees and high exchange rates. ATMs always dispense local currency, and are usually located within the airports and train stations, so use your debit or credit card and get your money there.

3. Use a dryer sheet to keep your clothes fresh in your suitcase.

4. When you pack necklaces, run them through a plastic straw so they don’t get tangled. Put earrings and other small jewelry pieces in a pill box or other separated storage box.

5. Use plastic bags…for just about anything. Whether you are the only one traveling or you have the kids in tow, use plastic bags to separate undergarments, socks and even complete outfits. Once you put the folded clothes inside, push down on the bags to let out the air before sealing them.  You will save lots of space and keep organized.  Extra bags are great for anything that might leak, wet clothing (bathing suits) and stinky shoes. And for the return trip, the plastic bags are great for keeping track of dirty laundry.

6. Use the doorstop as a security device. Little rubber doorstops hide out behind hotel-room doors. Instead of simply using it to prop open your doors, you can also use them to keep your door shut. Trust me, I’ve been in a room where a stranger was mistakenly given the key to my occupied room. It’s an alarming feeling. So if you want an added level of security when you turn in for the night, wedge the doorstop under the bolted door.

7. Make a facial scrub for a long-haul flight. When I fly to Europe from the US, I like to feel fresh and not look as if I traveled all night (even though I did).  Here’s something that can help.

  • Ask the flight attendant for some lemon slices and a packet of sugar. Take these and head to the bathroom.
  • Mix the sugar and lemon juice together and use a scrub on your face. This works on your lips as well.
  • Rinse off and you’ll feel instantly refreshed!

8. Travel with an empty water bottle. Staying hydrated is important. Take an empty bottle (plastic or metal) and fill it up for free at a tap or drinking fountain when you get through the gates. Flight attendants will fill it up for you on a flight.

9.  Secret Storage at the Beach. Clean out an old bottle of sunscreen and use it to store keys, money, even your phone.  You may need to be creative and cut a secret door on the back to fit your items inside.

10. Refill hotel shampoo and conditioner bottles with your favorite hair care products. The bottles are just the right size for your carry-on and you’ll feel better about how your hair looks during your travel.


Have a favorite travel hack? Share it here with us on Travel Smart Blog!



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Travel App of the Month: EpicMix

Friday, December 27th, 2013

The FREE and dare I say, addictive, EpicMix (EpicMix for Android) ski app keeps you in the “snow” if you ski in Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone (all in Colorado), Heavenly, Kirkwood, or Northstar (all in California). The app is feature-rich, and brings a whole new level of interactivity to your ski vacation.

EpicMix uses scanners mounted on lifts at each of these Vail Resorts ski areas to automatically read radio frequency identification tags embedded on people’s lift passes. Get on a lift and your elevation is automatically tracked. I find it especially interesting to see where my family (my son, in particular) has skied that day since they are typically more adventurous than dear ol’ mom.

EpicMix lets you:Familyskiday

  • Track your vertical feet
  • Access trail maps, lift status, run conditions, weather reports, web cams, and the latest traffic info for all six mountains
  • Race against your friends, family and even four-time World Cup Champion Lindsey Vonn
  • View and download photos taken by the EpixMix on-mountain photographers
  • Connect with friends and family within the app to share your ski results; and you can connect with Facebook and Twitter to share your action photos, activity, and special accomplishments

Special accomplishments? Yes! Skiers who have an RF-enabled Season Pass, Epic Day lift ticket, or PEAKS card earn digital pins for their ski activity and accomplishments on the mountains.
 If you are competitive or curious, it can be a lot of fun. Skiers collect points for each digital pin they earn and can choose to share their point totals to see how they measure up against all skiers and achieve some serious bragging rights. EpicMix posts nothing publicly until a user activates an EpicMix account and chooses to share information.

New for the 2013/2014 Ski Season: lesson goers (that’s me) can track their progress in Ski and Snowboard School with EpicMix Academy.



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Top Three Ways to Use Your Days

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013
happy new year 2013 on the beach; Shutterstock ID 115836760

Achieve your 2013 Travel Resolutions by the End of the Year

With many Americans failing to use their allotted vacation time, we thought it would be fun to come up with the best ways to use those days before 2013 is over.  After you check out the top three ways to use your days, talk to @HotelsDotCom on Twitter to let us know what you will do with #OneMonthLeft:

Turn your obligations into “obli-cations”

One may not choose to go to Ohio for a family reunion or to Seattle for a business trip, but obligatory travel doesn’t mean you can’t turn it into an “obli-cation.” After the dishes are cleaned up, or the meeting is over, head to a nearby city to extend obligatory travel into an obli-cation; something relaxing, budget-friendly and effortless. Check out the mobile app for last minute hotel deals, and find that this convenient vacation option can be extremely fulfilling.

Completely Disconnect

Eighty-five percent of American travelers use a smartphone on vacation, according to, but hotels are helping travelers re-discover the benefits of getting off the grid. For example, Buccament Bay Resort in Saint Vincent and The Grenadines offers a “digital detox” package where guests surrender their cell phones and gadgets to implement complete relaxation. Other hotels, such as The SPA Retreat Boutique Hotel in Jamaica and Enchantment Resort in Sedona, Arizona are offering more spa, yoga and wellness options to relax travelers and remind them of the purpose of a vacation in the first place.

Get out of Your Comfort Zone

This travel resolution is a two-in-one, as it accomplishes travel goals and personal goals simultaneously. Whether it’s tackling a crazy adventure, learning a new language or traveling solo for the first time, anything is possible! For instance, the Six Senses Zighy Bay hotel in Oman requires all guests to choose an extreme form of transfer service from the airport.  Arrive at the hotel via speedboat, parasail or an all-terrain Jeep. The Hard Rock Hotel Chicago allows guests to use guitars with personal sound systems so neighbors don’t hear them learning from the in-room video tutorial. The Mistral Singles hotel in Greece helps guests embrace the feeling of traveling alone in a foreign destination.  Whatever the goal may be, hotels of all kinds can help employees achieve what cannot be done by sitting in an office.



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Travel App of the Month: You’ve Got Mail… with Postagram!

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013






When I was 11, I didn’t like it so much when I was away at summer camp and I received postcards from my parents in Hawaii and Paris. Maybe it was because at that time, I couldn’t return the favor to show them how awesome Rockbrook Camp for Girls really was. Now I think I realize how genius they really were. But I digress, back to Postcards.

One travel app takes us back before the digital age, breathing new life into the postcard, and making it more than possible to share your travels and favorite moments with friends and family in a way that brings back the excitement of getting real hand-delivered mail.

Postagram Postcards

For 99 cents a card, you can send a personalized photo postcard right from your iPhone, Instagram, Facebook, and Dropbox and your recipient receives it via postal service a few days later – no more wasting time trying to track down a post office and a stamp. Some companies, like Hyatt House, are even sponsoring postcards enabling FREE postcards for guests visiting their hotels. Very cool!

Check out Postagram and let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Screen Shot 2013-10-02 at 2.12.53 PM




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Five Useful Gadgets for Business Travelers

Monday, September 16th, 2013

Close up of businessman's hands touching digital tabletHeading for a sales trip, attending a conference or visiting another office across the globe?  As we all know, business trips can be very challenging, needing to stay connected and productive and having to fully recharge on the go. Business travelers are supposed to be supermen, and with the five useful gadgets we selected below, you can claim your superpowers for your next demanding business trip.

Battery Extender

Who hasn’t been in the situation where your phone runs out of juice just when you need it most?  With a battery extender, you can enjoy extra hours of conversation, internet surfing and fun. The Kensington Pocket battery can be used as a back-up battery and a charger for smartphone devices. Its USB connector allows you to charge your iPhone, Samsung or any other device and add hours to your use!

Mini Battery Pack and Charger (iPhone and iPod): $29.99

Pocket Battery for Smartphone Devices (other smartphones): $39.99

MiFi Card

Tired of looking for a crowed public hotspot? Frustrated with paying for WiFi use? Now you can choose to have your own high speed wireless connection that is both convenient and secure. Get an easy-to-use MiFi device from AT&T to keep your devices connected at blazing fast 4G internet speeds. Its powerful battery provides up to 10 hour of continuous use.

AT&T Mobile Hotspot MiFi Liberate: $49 with 2-year contract

Close up of businessman's hands using smart phoneHeadphones

Most likely, business travelers need to keep working – even on an airplane, but chatty seatmates and other external noises can make it difficult to concentrate. A pair of noise-canceling headphones helps drown out the noise so you can get your work done. Headphones like Plantronics’ Blackwire 700 Series USB Headset, are ideal for business travelers and connect to your PC via USB and Bluetooth.  Its Smart Sensor technology automatically answers a call when you put on the headset, so you can answer calls and immerse yourself in silence.

Plantronics Blackwire 700 Series: Prices starts at $129.95

GPS for your Luggage

Your trip could become a nightmare if you arrive at the airport but your luggage doesn’t. Knowing where your bags landed can calm you down. Trakdot is like Find My iPhone for your luggage. Simply putting it in your bag and track your missing items with the Trakdot app, or get its location sent to you via text message or email.

Trakdot Luggage: $49.99

Packable Travel Pillow

The ability to fall asleep anywhere is an essential quality for business travelers, needing to take advantage of every minute they can to relax and recharge. While you may find that a regular travel pillow cannot guarantee a comfortable sleep, the reinvented Travelrest ® Travel Pillow might be worth a try. This banana-shaped pillow nestles against your head and neck, reducing the likelihood of slipping while you’re sleeping on the go. It is easy to set up and fit into carry-ons.

Travelrest ® Travel Pillow: $26.95

Try these out and let us know your thoughts in the comments below.



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Travel App of the Month: Tracking Your Travel Photos with Trover

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013


trover1trover2A new website/app is making it easier for you to share and see the world with a super convenient way to document your travels in the moment!

Trover is photo site with a Pinterest-like design but with the goal of being the world’s photo atlas.

Within the app, photos are categorized by location, themes, and other options like “what’s new.”  And what’s nice is that not only are you able to share photos, but tips and insights for others who may find inspiration in your photo and travel to that very spot.

You can see my trover travel photos here:  My first photos are from my trip this week to San Antonio with my kiddos!


Check it out and share your thoughts on the app in the comments below!





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Travel App of the Month: Vonage Mobile

Friday, July 12th, 2013

The smartphone apps on the market today have made international travel easier than ever.

Looking for food nearby? There’s an app for that.
Want to navigate your way around a new city? There’s an app for that.
Need a hotel? We’ve got you covered there…

vonagemobilescreenshotBut what about the most basic need for any mobile user during international travel: The ability communicate with others in a quick, easy and cost effective manner.

Vonage Mobile is a FREE app (available for iOS & Android) that allows you to call work, home, family and friends for free. And you don’t need to worry about extremely costly roaming charges, because with the Vonage Mobile app, you can avoid them all together.

Even better, the app includes free calling, texting, video calling, photo sharing and location sharing all in one convenient app. It works over any 3G/4G or WiFi network across iPhone and Android platforms, and it has an average rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars on iTunes, due to it’s convenience and quality.

How does it work?
Vonage uses Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), allowing you to call, text, video conference, and the like, all while connected to Wi-Fi. The app is free to use between users, meaning as long as both parties have the app, you can chat as much as you’d like for free.

vonagemobilevideoConveniently, your Contact List can be integrated into the app so you won’t need to re-enter a contact’s information or add them as a friend to be in touch (like you might for other communication apps). To make it even easier, the app shows you which of your contacts have already downloaded Vonage Mobile, allowing you to see who you can talk to for free right from the start.

How cost-effective is it?
While you can essentially talk, text, video chat and share photos and locations with any smartphone user completely free of charge by having access to Wi-Fi and (both) downloading the app — Vonage Mobile also allows you to add credit to your account easily, within the app- for those situations when you may not have access to Wi-Fi or might need to contact another mobile user or landline that doesn’t have Vonage Mobile — all at some of the most competitive rates you’ll find for mobile usage.

We’ve tried it, we love it. It’s reliable, easy and best of all – free.

Check out the Vonage Mobile app before you take your next international trip and let us know how you like it in the comments below!







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