Archive for the Category »Technology «

  Protect Yourself This Cyber Mon & Black Fri While You Save $ On These Deals!

Today is Black Friday – sounds like an unlucky day right?  It could be if you aren’t careful with your online purchases!

The good news is…if you follow the protective steps below, you can get some good travel deals safely.

OK, so the fun stuff first:  Here are just a few of the enticing Black Friday and Cyber Monday travel deals!!!!

In need of some sun?


Deal #1:  The rather large but fun for families Atlantis resort on Paradise Island in the Bahamas is offering room rates as low as $99 a night. Think water slides and lots of kids  -  sort of Vegas of the Caribbean but kids love it. There are some black out dates, but book this deal from Black Friday through Cyber Monday at 

push-home-middleDeal #2: One of the best resorts in Sunny So Cal – L’Auberge Del Mar  near San Diego is offering 40% off room rates that are booked between today and

Want some snow?


Deal #3: Vail Resorts is offering up to 50% off  – Participating properties include Vail, Beaver Creek, and Breckenridge to name a few.


Deal #4: Lastly, a boutique hotel I’ve written about before in New York City – the newly renovated and swank Benjamin Hotel in the heart of Manhattan is offering rooms starting at $199. Book online at using promo codes CYBERN or CYBER1.

There are many places these days to make online purchases – But be smart about it. In the last year alone, officials have shut down 1500 fake websites that can steal private information from consumers , according to the Better Business Bureau.

Security experts say most of the big sites tend to be safe – Expedia, Kayak, Travelocity, etc. But the travel industry faces the same security challenges as other retailers – There is potential to turn over information, as well as info about where you live and when you will be on vacation!

Security expert Julian Waits of  Threat Track Security in FL says be wary of clicking on any links in unsolicited emails that could lead to phony travel websites. If it seems too good to be true – don’t click on it.

He also says there ARE ways to tell if a site is secure  – Find the URL, and there should be a lock symbol to the right or left. An additional step would be to make sure the website displays a SSL certificate.

Now… be careful, but go get those good deals!


  Travel Tip Tuesday: How & Where To Eat Healthy At The Airport

Do you find that airports are offering more healthy fare? If so – please share!

A new survey says that at the nation’s busiest airports, 76% of the restaurants offer at least one healthful entree.

I dunno… maybe I’m hanging out at the wrong terminals because I’m always searching. And to me, offering only ONE healthful entree, like the survey reports, is not that appetizing. The thing that gets me is that for every “one healthful entree” there are at least 3 unhealthy restaurants – Burger King, McDonalds, Cinnabon….(Someone should do a survey on healthy entree for kids  -THAT doesn’t happen very often at all!)

The non-profit group Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine ranked 18 airports in this survey. Denver, CO came out as the healthiest airport….

Since we are entering the busiest travel season, and many of us will be traveling with kids who will be hungry on our way to Grandma’s, here are some apps to help you navigate the airports’ eateries.

Each one offers maps with the restaurants and concessions in each airport. It saves you lugging your luggage and family through the long gates, searching for something to eat.  I will be upfront and tell you I’ve only really tried Gate Guru, so if anyone has any comments about the others apps below, I welcome them.


1) Gate Guru – I LOVE this app – and it is free. Gate Guru gives you airport maps with food and amenity info, and allows you to filter by terminals for more than 100 airports worldwide. I love that users can leave reviews and photos! A nice touch. You are able to search for something specific you might want in your airport too.

2) Go How Airport – Also a free app, this one partners with airports to give you the most updated flight, parking, and wait time info… It also gives you info on restaurants and amenities, with user reviews.


3) Fly Smart – Another free app with concessions listings and airport maps. It provides info on 90 airports world wide

i fly pro

4) Ifly Pro – The downside to this is that it is $4.99. With the other free apps doing a pretty darn good job, I don’t know why you’d want to pay for this one. This app will tell you all the restaurants available in your terminal, and the other amenities close to your gate.

In addition to restaurant info, these apps also give you flight info, tell you where there is WiFi, can tell you how long security lines are, etc. When you log all your personal flight info in the apps, they can give you flight delays and other pertinent details too.

A worthwhile download to have in your pocket as the airports will only start to get crazier next week! Bon Appetit!



  Travel Tip Tuesday: What the New FAA Rules on In-Flight Electronics Mean For You





Soon, within months, most airlines will allow you to read e-books, use tablets, and smartphones during take off and landing, as long as they are in “airplane” mode. This, due to the FAA loosening of the rules last week. Already Jet Blue and Delta are allowing electronic devices while taxing, and during take off and landing- Kudos to them – they worked fast  to show the FAA their planes won’t be affected by the use of electronics below 10,000 feet.

Other airlines besides Delta and Jet Blue will still have to demonstrate that use of electronics during take off and landing won’t interfere with each type of plane’s navigational equipment. Flight manuals, crew training and safety briefings also need to be brought up to date.

The electronic gadgets were previously banned during take off and landing out of  concern their signals interfere with avionics, but after in-depth research by a 28-member committee, the FAA concluded electronic use below 10,000 feet is OK.

Here’s what is still not allowed:

1) Use of cellphones calls throughout the flight  – (Amen!)

2) Use of laptops during take off and landing – they need to be stowed because their size may impede any emergency evacuation. Tablets and smaller gadgets don’t have to be stowed.

3) Possible use on foreign airlines – they follow the rules of their country’s aviation authority.

4) Internet connection below 10,000 feet. And, as I mentioned, you need to keep your gadgets in “airplane” mode.

For those of you unfamiliar with “airplane” mode, it disables your device’s signal transmitting functions …. It is also a good idea to keep it in airplane mode if you visit a foreign country so you don’t incur roaming charges.

According to the Consumer Electronics Association, 99% of adult  fliers carried at least one gadget with them on a flight last year. I would bet many of those who were parents traveling with children, that movie playing devices were popular.

The good news for parents is now the kids don’t have to turn off the movie early before landing – making it better for all passengers :)

TIP: If you are traveling with teens who are capable of downloading their own books or movies, remind them to do it BEFORE boarding the plane unless you are paying for WiFi, and even then they can’t access WiFi until 10,000 feet. That is something they might not think of. Yes, I am speaking from experience.

Reminder: Even though you can play your electronic games or read your e-books now during take-off, let’s still be respectful of the attendants doing their job and giving us safety instructions. Hopefully you will never need to use that floatation device or overhead mask, but it is still wise to know about them.



  Travel Tip Tuesday: One More Travel Tool On Twitter

The most useful thing about Twitter is its immediacy, in my humble, average techno opinion. So what better place to learn about any issues that may affect a flight you are about to take?

These days I tell travelers to not only follow the airlines they fly, but also the  airports they frequent to best be prepared for upcoming trips.


For instance, I follow Los Angeles International Airport. A few days ago, I received tweets that the weather was causing delays at SFO-bound flights from LAX. If I had been going to make an important meeting in Northern California, having this information would have helped me change my flight to one of the other Bay Area airports before I even stepped foot in the airport.

Other important info you can get from following an airport: Airports are also using Twitter for promotions…or traffic delays that may affect getting to the airport.

Oh – and don’t forget…. tweeting about an airport is a good way to get customer service attention. And you don’t have to follow them to do that. The squeaky wheel story!

Happy Travels.


  Travel Tip Tuesday: When You Lose Something on a Trip…. #lostluggage, #lostinrentalcar


Hotels, rental cars, and airlines find countless numbers of cell phone chargers, sunglasses, and other items left behind by travelers. And we aren’t the only ones losing important items.  According to the LA Times, U.S. airlines lose about 140,000 bags a month. That’s only about 3 bags for every 100,000 passengers, but if you are one of those three, it is not fun.

So what can we do to increase the odds we come home with the same items with which we left? It is obvious, but even if you think you have everything, you need to take a final, careful look in your hotel room, cars, airline seats, etc. Even if you think you have everything!! Remember to look in the shower, all the electrical outlets for those ubiquitous forgotten chargers, hotel safes, and under the seats of rental cars.

All of us still leave things behind anyway  - and airlines have millions of bags to tend, so here are some other ideas.

–RENTAL CARS:If you realize you’ve left something in your rental car, call the company right away. Call the local office from which you rented. And don’t stop there – some rental car companies have online lost and found pages which really streamline the process. In some cases you can see in general terms what has been turned in, what date, and the location. That can give you a pretty good idea if your item was found. Fill out the online info, and if your item has been found, you will get an email approving shipping costs, and a few days later it appears on your doorstep. Easy – no phone calls, waiting on hold, etc.


–AIRLINES: To make sure you get your luggage back if the airlines do mishandle it, label your bag on the outside AND the inside. If your luggage tag gets pulled off, then you will also have back up identification on the inside.

–Pull off old airline tags, and make sure the correct destination airport  is on the new luggage tag.  Remembner the airlines won’t  always reimburse you for everything so check your homeowner’s policy if you do lose items.

–It doesn’t hurt to photograph your bags on your smartphone quickly. That way if something does get lost, you can show the airlines what it looks like if an employee needs to look for it. (In addition, I always photograph where I parked in airport parking…because tend to get lost after a mind-cleansing trip :) )

Good news is that there are apps and other devices coming to the market to help you find any lost luggage.


A company called GlobalTrac has devised an item that once you put in your suticase, you can track your bag via the internet or smart phone app. It is called Trakdot and will sell for $50.

Also, Airbus announced last month it is coming out with luggage  with its own technology that allows passengers to track their bags. Also included is a novel feature I like: it also comes with a built in scale so you can know in advance how to avoid those excess baggage fees!

Now… have a great day.



  Hotel of the Week: Still Need a Room in N’awlins?

Super Bowl fans who are still searching for a place to stay in New Orleans, or anyone who wants to attend a good party despite not having tickets to the big game can still find a hotel thanks to technology.

A popular app that is still growing in users is called Hotel Tonight. It does pretty much what it says – finds you a hotel room today, one that you should have booked weeks ago!

Above is a screen shot of a hotel from Hotel Tonight (from itunes.) Simply click on the city in which you are interested, and the app will spit out the possibilities. It is ideally supposed to help the last minute traveler.

I clicked on New Orleans as my destination, and was disappointed to find a clock ticker, saying it would take an hour and a half to find me something. No explanation, like maybe the app was doing maintenance or or something – but based on other messages I got when I clicked on other cities, it seems as if the app updates the hotel availabilities each morning. Looks like you have to try after 10 am PST. I will check back and let you know.

Another place to look is This website provides you with rooms in houses or apartments, and sometimes complete homes or apartments to yourself.

An airbnb listing from

Above is an example listing from, of a penthouse in New York.

I typed in New Orleans as my destination – arriving today and leaving Monday. Up popped 278 listings of townhouses, rooms, condos, etc – some that claim to be within walking distance of the Superdome. Prices range from $100-$1700 a night (that’s for a full home.) Shoot – extend your stay for upcoming Mardi Gras!

This might not be for everyone since some of the listings are for one room in a house…and you never know if certain safety features are in place that would normally be in a hotel – fire alarms, etc.  but if you find a place that works for you, it can be an affordable alternative in a situation where all the New Orleans hotels are jacking up prices.

Enjoy the game wherever you are…and forgive me… I do have a sentimental favorite since I spent some of the best days of my life in San Francisco – GO NINERS!

  Travel Tip Tuesday: Work Your Hotel for Better Prices and Experience

There’s some good news/bad news for we travelers who like nice hotels.

Ravel Hotel, Long Island City, NY

Good news: Hotels are spending $5 billion in improvements in 2012…. renovating lobbies and rooms, and installing flat screen tvs, high speed internet service, and nicer beds. Yay!

Some higher end hotels like the Bel Air in Los Angeles, the New York Mondrian SoHo, some in the Four Seasons’ chain are even adding iPads – a nice convenience that allows guests to order room service, call for a taxi, set a wake up alarm, or request a bill for check out.

The bad news: Why are they doing all this? Hotels have seen higher occupancy than in years past, and are charging higher room rates and fees. So the average traveler needs to be equipped with road warrior knowledge to make smart travel decisions:

–When booking a room, instead of settling for high prices, do a little homework without spending way too much time. If you find what you think is a good price on a travel website, call the hotel desk directly – not the 800 number – and ask if they can do better. They have access to exactly how many rooms are left, and a manager can make a pretty good assessment if they are going to sell out – or if he or she should cut you a better deal to get your business.

Those travel websites take a mark up, so you won’t be paying for that by going directly to the front desk.

–Also – when asking for recommendations for activities or restaurants, use a reliable website like Trip Advisor or Yelp to read reviews from locals. Or ask someone at the hotel other than the concierge. I have found concierges often recommend the same places… and aren’t always the better ones, just ones who are marketing to the concierge, or places they have known about for years and haven’t bothered to update their repertoire. Many times, they are more expensive.

Have a great day!




  Time Travel: Convert All Those Trips Into The Digital Age

Venice, Italy

I have boxes and boxes of old printed color photos and negatives from trips I took B.D.C. (Before Digital Cameras.) I purposely don’t look at them very much because the guilt overwhelms me: I know I need to do something with them….find a better way to preserve and store them so I can enjoy my past. BUT – it is a hassle… a commitment… it would be another mammoth project on my ever-growing to do list. “When my kids go to college… ” I tell myself.

I have heard of companies that can convert for you, but to be honest, it even seems laborious to just GET THEM the photos or tapes to convert.

Now there seems to be an easier way. I read about an intriguing company that the tech columnist at the Wall Street Journal recommends. It is called “Peggy Bank” – word play on J-PEGs and banks. It stores all your old photos or videos online for free, so you can share easily and not worry about losing any CDs. It does cost, however, to convert material…about .45 a print.

Here is Wall Street Journal’s Walter Mossberg’s review. It sounds like a great idea…one that I may even attempt B.K.C. (Before Kids’ College.) :)




  Travel Tip Tuesday: How To Remember Where You Parked At The Airport

We’ve all done it. Raced to the airport, drove in circles in a an airport parking lot looking for a spot, finally grabbing one with glee as you race against the clock and departure time.

OOPS. You’re in such a rush, you forget to look at where you’ve parked.

Finding your car upon return isn’t so easy. Sometimes after a long trip, you can just forget anyway because you’ve had so many business trips lately, or the location  just got mixed in with all the other information floating in your brain.

A friend of mine has a good strategy: She takes a photo of the place she parks as she gets out of her car. The secret here is to have your smart phone, or camera, out and ready to use as you get out of the car so you don’t forget that too as you rush out! If you can remember, also take a photo of the name of the lot if you are off-site…. that way you remember which shuttle to take back to that lot.

Happy Travels.

  Travel Tip Tusday: Beware: Travel in the US Can Still Send Cell Phone Bills Soaring

If you want to stay connected on your next overseas vacation, you should know by now to get an international plan with your carrier before you go. If you don’t get one, you need to adjust your phone settings to deactivate data roaming, otherwise you could get hit with BIG charges for those texts you receive.

Skagway, Alaska


Now what may be deceiving is if you go on a cruise – even if it is to a domestic location, say along the West Coast or to Alaska, you have to do the same thing, or completely turn your phone off. Once you are far enough from shore,  your phone will connect to something called “cellular at sea if your cell phone is turned on; which carries expensive international roaming fees.  Your phone will collect charges by just being turned on even if it’s not being used!

That is deceiving because you technically aren’t entering another country. Be careful!

Somewhere at sea between Tracy Arm, Alaska, and Skagway, Alaska..