Archive for the ‘Tech’ 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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The Digital Detox: Can You Really Disconnect on Vacation?

Friday, December 6th, 2013

Thanks to WiFi and 4G and the Internet, it’s nearly impossible to escape the going-ons of life, whether for work or social pleasures.  That’s why “digital detox” vacations are becoming more popular as people find themselves wanting to unplug and go off the grid for awhile, and actually enjoy some quality time with family or friends.

A number of great hotels and resorts in America are ready to help travelers disconnect while on vacation whether its through their remote locale or their take-no-prisoners approach to removing that cell phone from your hand.

Do you need a digital detox?

The hoteliers I spoke to say that it takes a few days for most guests to stop feeling antsy as a result of the separation from their devices. Physical activities, like surfing and yoga, help make the transition easier.

Off-the-Grid at Amangiri Resort


Located in Southern Utah, just shy of the border with Arizona, sits the luxurious and unparalleled off-the-grid desert oasis, Amangiri Resort. With 600 protected acres looking out towards the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, this resort and its minimalist architecture blends spectacularly into the landscape. The resort pampers its guests with exquisitely prepared meals, the 25,000 sq. ft. Aman Spa, and a pool sunken into the rock formations that will take your breath away.

Escape to Little Palm Island

No phones, no TVs and no shortage of fun and romance with a private beach, outdoor pool, and fitness facility at Little Palm Island (a Noble House Resort). Located on Little Torch Key, the only way you are getting to or from this resort is by seaplane or boat. The cottages are lovely (outdoor showers, freestanding soaking tubs), the beaches are private and magical, and the opportunity to unwind and disconnect is yours the minute you make a reservation at this Florida Keys resort.

Silence in the City

Chicago is anything but off-the-grid, yet one hotel is helping some guests achieve silence in the city. The Hotel Monaco Chicago provides guests with a “black-out” option, whereby they surrender their gadgets to reception upon checking in. Guests can fight their gadget addictions and enjoy their stay sans digital intrusion with the help of the hotel’s attentive staff.

Disconnect to Reconnect at the Four Seasons at Peninsula Papagayo, Costa Rica

Guests at the Four Seasons at Peninsula Papagayo can have both an eco-adventure in the Costa Rican jungle and a serene surfing sanctuary. Through a partnership with iPhone case company, Uncommon, guests can choose to surrender their iPhones for 24 hours. And then the resort provides them with a list of 24 things to do without technology during that time at the resort. Phones are returned after the allotted time with a choice of four Costa Rican-themed iPhone cases. Activities include a Costa Rican coffee scrub treatment at the spa, and sipping fresh coconut water by the pool.

Tech-free Zones at Marriott Caribbean and Mexico Resorts

The JW Marriott Cancun Resort and Spa is one of nine Marriott and Renaissance Caribbean and Mexico Resorts featuring “tech-free zones” throughout their properties. These zones are designated to encourage guests to leave their digital devices in their hotel rooms and relax, read, or enjoy quiet conversation. I’d spend my time in the

14-foot dive pool with the artificial reef!

Focus on the Family at the Renaissance Pittsburgh

The Renaissance Pittsburgh is trying to keep families connected with its
“family digital detox package.” Instead of families occupying the same rooms but not sharing in the experience, the hotel encourages them to reconnect with one another. All laptops and mobile phones must be surrendered on check-in, and the television, telephone, and iPhone docking station are removed from the guest room. Instead, families are provided board games and playing cards.

How willing are you to disconnect on vacation?



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5 Hi-Tech Hotels You Need to Stay At

Wednesday, December 4th, 2013
hi-tech hotels you must stay at

hi-tech hotels you must stay at

Traveling can be a bit of challenge when your hotel isn’t as tech savvy as you are.

According to the 2013 Amenities survey, free WiFi is the #1 factor when choosing a hotel. Increasingly, high tech features in hotel rooms are becoming the standard, not the exception. From high-end coffee makers to loner iPads and wired rooms, travelers are looking for those techie comforts of home.

Top hoteliers are turning to smart surveillance and mobile technologies to anticipate their guests’ needs and deliver on their expectations. Hotel mobile applications are engaging guests with real-time, real-value offers on deals at the hotel and even for area attractions and restaurants.

Here are a few US-based hotels and chains that are making quantum leaps with their tech offerings:

Andaz by Hyatt, Anywhere

Upon you arrival at any of Hyatt’s boutique line of Andaz hotels, a concierge will greet you with an iPad to check you into your room, process your payment and take your signature via tablet.

Yotel New York, New York City

The hotel’s resident robot, Yobot, will store your luggage while an electronic check-in terminal dispenses your room keys at the Yotel New York.  The innovative hotel design and technology within come at a surprisingly affordable value in NYC.  Rooms, called “cabins” at Yotel, all feature complimentary high-speed WiFi, sofas transform into beds at the touch of a button, and the air conditioning is activated by motion sensors. Even the hotel restaurant, DohYO, is hi-tech, with tables that diners can raise and lower at the flick of a switch.

theWit, Chicago

theWit is both an oasis of comfort and connectivity with features such as hi-speed internet, VoIP color touch screen phones for weather updates, flight information and wake-up calls from famous Chicagoans, laptop compatible safes, along with a 42-inch flat screen entertainment center and iPod docking station.  Sensors in the guest rooms automatically adjust to an ambient temperature that matches that of your body. The hotel’s signature bar, ROOF, is truly above it all. A massive 3D surface projection system creates optical illusions using video mapping imagery.

Marlin Hotel Miami Beach, Miami Beach, FL

The Marlin Hotel is a boutique property featuring only 16 rooms. But what it lacks in size it makes up in big technology features. Each room has a 60-inch HDTV powered by Apple TV that is concealed behind a mirror when not in use. Guests use an in-room iPad that controls the lighting, shades, TV, audio and the temperature. That iPad is customized prior to your arrival with your favorite movies, music and games. The hotel promises 10 MBps wireless Internet access, and even features a Tannoy Surround system and subwoofer.  As if that isn’t enough, the Marlin also offers two fully functional recording studios complete with a MacBook Pro.

Radisson Blu Mall of America, Bloomington, MN

This year, the only hotel connected to the Mall of America opened 500 stylish rooms featuring many a high-tech perk. iPads are used throughout the property to make life easier for guests: in the exercise room, business center and event rooms. RFID-based access cards provide better security in elevators and allow you access to your room.

Hotels worldwide are truly taking technology to new heights! What technology must-haves do you look for when choosing a hotel?



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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!

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