I don’t consider myself the adventurous type. Not at all. While I like to travel and see new places, I’m just not good at committing nor planning. Part of it is procrastination but part of it is just fear of making the wrong decision about timing, destination or activities. If it isn’t planned for me, I’m better off with last minute decisions than trying to sit down and think through an itinerary.
It’s terrible but it’s just the way I am. I’m afraid I’ll book something, then a scheduling conflict or something else will happen and I will not be able to use it causing me to lose the money paid for tickets or reservations. Either that or I just simply make a poor decision. Every once in a while, I’ll try to plan, but I’m reminded of why I’m just not good at it.
As an example, a few years ago during the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration, a group of us went out for drinks at Epcot after the meetings and events were done. A couple Midwest bloggers said they could use their auto-industry contacts to secure sponsorship for a vehicle and asked if I would be interested in road tripping to BlogHer in New York during the summer. The plan was to take turns sleeping and drive straight through to reduce the cost of a hotel bill. Along the way we would blog and share on social media about the sponsor and the trip. The carpool and sponsorship would save on transportation expenses for all of us while giving us a unique event to showcase the sponsor’s vehicle. As a bonus, it would provide a way to bring home more of the samples that reps would supply us versus what we would be able to pack into a suitcase for a flight. Unfortunately, the sponsorships didn’t come through and we ended up having to rent a car. Then one of the people in the carpool was late getting to the rendezvous point and we were a few hours late getting on the road. We ended up having to get a hotel in Pennsylvania.
The one thing I remember is driving, exhausted and unaware where we would find a hotel. I asked the passenger to use her phone and start searching for a hotel nearby that had vacancies. We needed a few winks for safety’s sake. She loaded up a few apps and eventually found a hotel that was open that would offer us a discounted rate to fill a room at an hour when many people would be waking up to check out. It was a challenge but after several phone calls, she found something.
Apps have come a long way in the past few years and there are so many more options for the best travel planning, deals and booking. With a device such as a 4G LTE iPhone 6 or iPad Air 2, Expedia, Orbitz and Kayak all can be used as great tools. These all-inclusive apps offer the ability to research and book hotels, airfare and even vehicle rental. If I can get past the fear of commitment to travel, the resources for being able to plan are plentiful.
Once it is travel time, there are plenty of options from there also. Unless you travel regularly, navigating an airport on a tight schedule can be challenging. You need to check the monitors for flight delays or gate changes, find and use a restroom, grab some food then locate and arrive at your gate before they start boarding. The last couple times I’ve flown, I simply asked the gate agent where the closest restaurant was and if she thought I had time to get there and back. That worked like a charm as she was able to point me in the direction of the closest ones that would ensure I didn’t miss my flight. Gate Guru would have saved me a lot of trouble though. It offers the ability to add your itinerary, check-in, reference TSA wait times, track flight with gate location and even send push notifications right to your phone. Maps of various airports are also available including detailed information on amenities and what gate they are closest to. Need a rental care? You can do that also. I just discovered it and plan on using it the next time I fly. The gate agents will thank me for not troubling them.
Travel isn’t always by air. Sometimes it is about pavement. Let’s say you’re in the middle of traveling on the interstate and need something. With reliable 4G LTE service from U.S. Cellular, your passenger can load the Around Me app and find the nearest gas station, hospital, pharmacy, hotel, bank/ATM and more. This app would have been tremendously helpful during our trip to New York! Already at your destination and looking for something to do? Around Me also helps locate local guides, bars and movie theatres. Oh… and coffee shops… although it’s pretty easy to find those without an app. There’s one on almost every corner. I only recently discovered Around Me, and think it will fill the voids created when Whrrl (location app) was bought out and when Foursquare decided to focus on its (useless-to-me) Swarm app.
Of course, you’ll want to keep track of all those memories! The iPhone 6 offers an 8MP camera, as good or better than many point and shoot camera. (Here’s the kicker:) You always have it with you to capture those awesome moments during your travels! Send them off to a friend or family member in the form of a real postcard using Postagram or create a memory book when you get home using services like Shutterfly or Tiny Prints.