Category Archives: Vacation

Do You Need a Laptop With You While on Vacation?

Weinstein888, a member of the LockerGnome community, asked, “How do I convince my parents to let me take my laptop to Europe?” This is a good question, and one that begs an even larger discussion of whether or not you really need a laptop with you while on vacation.

First, I would have to side with the parents on this one. While you’re in Europe, enjoy the sights and sounds of a new continent. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for most people, and a chance to really enjoy something away from the keyboard. Trust me, the regret of spending your time in Europe glued to a keyboard and monitor instead of taking in what that amazing part of the world has to offer will stick with you for a very long time.

Plus, do you really want to lug this thing around Europe? A laptop, even if it is small and lightweight, can become a giant hinderance when traveling. Lugging this thing around will quickly become a bigger problem than it’s worth. A mobile device such as a smartphone or iPod Touch, will be much more manageable and cause you less heartache during your journey.

Another thing to keep in mind when bringing plug-in electronics overseas is the difference in how things are powered. Wall plugs in the United States are different than the ones you might find overseas. Unless you have the right adapters and/or power converters, these plugs will either not connect or could actually damage your laptop. This means you’ll be lugging around an additional piece of equipment just to be able to plug it in.

With mobile devices being as powerful as they are today, the need for bringing a full-fledged laptop with you when traveling is dwindling. Battery life, portability, and extras like convenient on-board cameras are all big advantages that you won’t find with a laptop.

All-in-all, nothing digital can ever truly replace the experience you can have by letting yourself enjoy the environment around you. Europe is an amazing place, and can be an experience that you will probably cherish for the rest of your life.

Tom Bihn Carry-On Luggage for Travel

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Traveling is fun – and also a pain in the ass. You know I’m right. Packing is the worst. If you only want to take a carry-on bag (to save on those baggage fees!), you’re stuck figuring out how to possibly fit everything you’ll need into one small bag. You need to have your personal hygiene items, your clothing and all of your various geeky items in one tiny little duffel. Jake is a minimalist when it comes to traveling, but he’s found what he feels is the perfect bag.

The Tom Bihn product line is not only well constructed, it’s also made right here in Seattle. They make it easy to cram as much as possible into the smallest space available. In this video, Jake is using the Tri-Star, which looks like the perfect solution for my traveling needs.

On the front-right of this pack is a curved zipper pocket. If you unzip it partially, it can easily hold your boarding passes. Unzip it all the way and you can stick your water bottle or soda pop into it.

On the left side of the bag, you’ll find three more zippered pockets. These are awesomely designed, folks. The top one is the same length as the bag itself and can easily hold a book or even a Kindle. The middle one is about half that length, and works well to store your laptop charger or phone accessories. The smallest of the three is still large enough to keep your wallet and sunglasses safe.

You can add Packing Cubes to any of the bags offered in this line. These will help keep different items separate from each other, and make all of your stuff easier to find when you’re on the road. The Freudian Slip features eleven compartments to keep files and small items organized within your main luggage.

The Tri-Star is not only durable, it also comes with several different carry methods. You can use it as a backpack, a cross-shoulder strap or even a normal over-the-shoulder strap concoction. Jake has been using these particular bags since 2006, and reports that he has never had any issues with wear and tear. They stand the test of time while saving you space. That, my friends, is what the perfect carry-on should be doing.

Apple Restricting Employee Vacations

This is a guest post written by community member Craighton.

In wake of the New Year, Apple is quietly prohibiting vacation days for retail employees for three weeks later this month. If this isn’t raising the red flag, I don’t know what will. Apple is planning something big – and it is coming sooner than you think.

Some people with knowledge about the company’s retail plans explain Apple has issued a blackout spanning three upcoming weeks, during which time employees without high level ranking will not be allowed vacation time.

This blackout period is due to begin the last week of January and continue for three weeks into the weeks of February.

This much time without vacation is a big indicator that a new product is going to launch, like a new iPad or Verizon iPhone. Although, we must warn that the latest rumor posts about what Apple is gearing up for is not confirmed.

Apple is also said to have retained their holiday employees at many of the major retail stores around the nation that see the most high yield traffic. With the major shopping season over and everything returning back to normal the employee count still remains high. It appears the company is keeping staff on-hand at some stores, perhaps in preparation for a new product launch.

Just like any other launch, Apple retail employees have no idea what is going on or what may be launched in the upcoming weeks. Though there are a number of products due to be updated, including the MacBook Pro and iPad.

Considering the multiple reports of an impending CDMA iPhone and iPad 2, it is up in the air on to what Apple has hidden under their veil of mystery. Although, the late January early February time-frame could coincide with the introduction of some new Mac products.

Top Ten Free Travel Apps for Smartphones

This is a guest post written by Christian Arno.

Whether you have a smartphone or not, the chances are you’ve at least heard of them. With Web connectivity and a myriad of software created especially, smartphones are the perfect portable PC for business people across the world. And their built-in support for a multitude of media formats makes them perfect for consumers too.

There’s more to smartphones besides their built-in systems. Applications are what makes them special. Easy to download and install, there’s a smartphone app for just about everything you could ever dream of.

If you’re a bit of a nomad at heart and have a penchant for foreign travel, you’re probably sick of carrying extra luggage such as maps, dictionaries and travel guides. And that’s where smartphone travel apps can come to the rescue.

It doesn’t matter if you have a Blackberry, HTC, iPhone, Samsung or other smartphone on the market, chances are you’ll find what you need on the Web.

Some apps are free, while others can cost up to $15. If you’re not a big spender, don’t worry – many free smartphone apps are just as good.

Here are the top ten free smartphone travel apps you can’t do without.


  • WorldMate – This application identifies your flight, hotel, and car rental confirmation emails on your BlackBerry and creates a single itinerary with all the details synched to your BlackBerry. Once you begin your journey, WorldMate guides you through all the stages of the trip.
  • XE Currency – A must have BlackBerry application if you’re not good with numbers. XE Currency can convert more than 180 currencies with up-to-minute rates, provided you’re in an open Wi-Fi zone. Or, you can take the hit on your roaming charges. If you update it just before you leave on your trip, XE Currency has the latest rates gathered to help you even if there’s no internet connection, and the chances are the rates won’t change to much throughout the course of your trip.
  • TripCase – Winner of the ‘Best Travel Application’ in June 2009, TripCase offers flight updates, displays car rental services and restaurants around you (with pictures and prices). If you’re in an Internet zone, TripCase can connect with hundreds of travel websites to create the best itinerary.


  • Next2Me – This HTC app saves you looking like a tourist cliché and you don’t have to ask ‘where the post office is’. Using GPS, Next2Me offers everything you need to know about your surroundings. It provides a list with restaurants, movie theaters, ATM’s, gas stations and more. Besides pictures, reviews and other info, Next2Me offers phone numbers of restaurants and hotels so you can call ahead and make a reservation.
  • Trip Journal – Winner of Google’s Mobile Travel Application Award, Trip Journal allows you to make your own travel guide. Documenting every part of your trip, pictures, videos and notes of what you visit, routes you take as waypoints, Trip Journal can be shared with others, for a similar exciting vacation.


  • Yelp! – Yelp! has an impressive collection of reviews and information on restaurants, bars, and clubs from all over the world. Besides pictures, contact info and working hours, Yelp! also provides the best way of reaching your place of choice.
  • World Customs & Cultures – This iPhone app can save you a lot of trouble when visiting a foreign country for the first time. It has a comprehensive list of ‘do’s’ and ‘don’ts’ on most countries in the world. Don’t know if it’s impolite eating in the park? Check WCC’s database for all the local knowledge you’ll ever need.
  • Skype – A must have app if you don’t like spending all your hard earned cash on international calls. If you’re in a Wi-Fi zone you can chat or ‘instant message’ with friends back home without spending a penny.

Samsung Apps

  • Anti Mosquito Plus Sonic Insect Repeller – This application from Vanilla Breeze does pretty much what it says in the description. It’s an anti mosquito app that emits an insect-repelling sonic frequency that will keep you free of mosquito bites and any nasty diseases.
  • Talking Phrasebook – Packed with more than 500 professionally translated words and phrases, Talking Phrasebook might just be your best friend when you’re abroad. Each phrasebook provides both text and audio translations recorded by a native voice-over artist to help you get to grips with the local lingo and sounding like a local in no time!

Even though trips around the world are meant to be relaxing and fun, sometimes things don’t go your way. With a smartphone and some travel apps you can save time, money and keep yourself from having to carry a suitcase full of books and other paraphernalia.

Christian Arno is founder of Lingo24, a global language services provider that specializes in technical and creative translations across all industries, as well as translating websites of all sizes and scope. Launched in 2001, Lingo24 today has 150 full-time employees and a turnover of $8m.

Google Chrome Brings You Free Gogo Wi-Fi During Holiday Flights

Happy holidays from Google Chrome! The team behind the browser says that they love “innovations that make our lives on the web and in the browser better” so much that they are going to give all of us free Internet access at 30,000 feet this holiday season! These people truly feel that the innovations they work so hard to bring to the table would be nothing unless people are able to connect to the web – and they’re right, of course. Why would you need a browser if you cannot connect to the intertubes of information?

From November 20th, 2010 until January 2, 2011, Google Chrome is teaming up with several airlines to give you free Internet access on enabled flights. These carriers include AirTran, Delta and Virgin America. This may seem like a small gesture to many – but it’s a large one if you ask me. Keeping you connected to your family, friends and even co-workers (or boss!) when you’re traveling home for the long holiday weekends can be crucial for most of us. Heck, it can even mean the difference between being stuck in the office and being allowed to go home for turkey or presents.

To get more information, be sure to visit, and give a little thanks to Chrome by checking out their latest browser version if you haven’t already.

How to Pay Less for Travel With Yapta

This is a guest post written by Matt Gamboa.

It always happens… you wait for the best price on a plane ticket to maximize your savings, only to find that a few days later, the price drops even more. What can you do? Don’t most tickets say “non-refundable” when you’re reading the terms of sale at the final confirmation screen? What you might not have known is that quite a few airlines offer some form of credit if the price of your travel drops after purchase. The fine print varies per airline, but a Seattle startup is looking to exploit that policy and empower the user with the information. The company is called Yapta.

Yapta is an airline travel site whose main feature is to track airline ticket prices and provide alerts. You look for a specific itinerary by searching on the site (powered by Kayak), and set up alerts to let you know via email when that ticket falls within your budget. It’s very useful if you don’t want to spend more than a specific amount on a ticket, or if you’re just waiting for the best time to travel.

The other, quite unique service Yapta provides is the ability to tell you if your ticket is eligible for a refund because the price dropped after you bought it. A lot of airlines have a policy on refunding travel credit in the event that the ticket you purchased drops. It varies, but generally if the ticket drops below $150, you’re eligible. Yapta will monitor the ticket while you just watch your email account for notifications!

The site was launched in 2007, and they say there have been more than $300 million in savings. Travel is already expensive, you should be obligated to save as much as possible. Yapta helps us take a huge step in getting that lowest price.

Your MacBook Air Can Stay in the Bag in Airport Security Lines

Reports earlier today claimed that the TSA was making a big exception for the new 11″ MacBook Air machines. The rumor was that the devices did not need to be removed from their bags when going through security checkpoints in airports. Several people were angry over this news, wondering why their machine of choice wasn’t given the same treatment.

Is this really a case of being prejudiced or selective in what the TSA wants to require? It certainly seemed that way when the original article was published. However, they apparently didn’t do their homework before blasting the Security Administration. Right on the TSA blog, it was revealed earlier this year that the guidelines had changed.

Electronic items smaller than the standard sized laptop should not need to be removed from your bag or their cases.

There were no special exceptions for the new MacBook Air – nor the iPad. Every device the size of a netbook is treated equally, and left in their protective bag.

Prepare Your Eyedrops for a Travel Bidding War

This is a guest post written by Matt Gamboa.

A Seattle Startup located in historic Pioneer Square is looking to change the way you compete for the best price in vacationing. Off & Away is a hotel auctioning site that puts a little twist on things and truly promotes staring at the screen and watching the timer count down to zero.

At this auction site, hotel packages are offered and the bidding begins. Every bid made costs $1 to the bidder, and adds 10 cents and 20 seconds to the current bid price and time. If you’re the lucky one to bid last and have the timer run down to zero, you win! Since most people will bid towards the end of the time limit, the price will usually go up during that time. But, the savings are huge if you work for it! And you must work, since every bid adds 20 seconds and only adds $0.10, it really comes down to who can outlast the other at the computer. Their very first auction was 2 nights in the Tata Suite Pierre in New York… listed for $40,000 and finally sold for $938! Can you say, DEAL? That’s typically what you can expect from the website. Classy hotel stays usually worth a few thousand dollars are able to be sold in for only hundreds.

So what if you lose? What happens to all your one-dollar bills? Don’t worry if you lose an auction and just blew $300 trying to lock in your dream vacation, Off & Away makes sure you get your monies worth. Any money you “lose” from bidding is reusable via the site’s Book Now section. Just like other hotel booking sites, you can book at over 100,000 hotels worldwide using your credit. But pay attention to the rules, the credit is only valid 30 days after the auction.

Off & Away has a good strategy and lots of potential. Madrona Venture Group, who also backed Amazon and Farecast, and have an advisory board that includes top executives from and Alaska Airlines, backs them.

If you’re a developer, you should check out Deploy 2010 on Monday, November 08, 2010 from 9:00 AM – 5:30 PM (PT). Deploy 2010 is an all-inclusive conference for technology builders to give you new tools to create the applications of tomorrow. The conference will be held at the Bell Harbor Conference Center in Seattle.

Zagat Puts Reviews in Your Hands

At first glance, Nina Zagat looks like any other woman you might happen to meet in New York City. She is pleasant and personable, with a huge smile that lights up her entire face. Spend even just two minutes speaking to her, though, and you’ll understand why she and her husband Tim have made Zagat Rating and Review guides into a household name. She embodies everything that one would hope to find in an entrepreneur. Nina is smart, creative and passionate about what they’re doing in the NYC offices. She also has a damn good eye on the future and what they need to do to keep up with the times.

Zagat Survey began as a hobby for Tim and Nina back in 1979. They saw a need for good restaurant guides, and wanted to fill that gap. I believe it is this enthusiasm and love for what they are doing that has carried them to the top over the years. They became a leader in the social space before the social space was even defined. In the years since their launch, they have expanded to become the world’s most trusted source to help consumers make informed decisions about restaurants, nightspots, hotels, attractions and other leisure activities.

Zagat is working hard to lead the mobile push, as well. Nina chuckles when she speaks of the ways they are pushing forward to embrace the mobile market. She admits that the majority of their users come from iPhone owners… but they are working hard to improve their Android app and their upcoming Windows Phone 7 app. Look for information about that here on launch day – November 8th!

Today, Zagat Survey® has expanded to cover more than 100 countries worldwide and a range of leisure activities including dining, travel, nightlife, shopping, golf, theater, movies and music. Zagat content – available today on most media platforms – lets people search for and find the perfect places for their needs based a wide range of useful criteria. That breadth and depth of information has made Zagat a name that consumers can trust – even if they aren’t sure how to pronounce it.

The single best component of Zagat is the fact that their information actually comes from YOU. The surveys are filled out by consumers just like yourself… people who eat, shop, watch movies and visit local attractions. The information is compiled into a guide by Zagat’s content department. The star ratings are given based on the feedback provided by all of you.

Zagat is not just an ordinary guide book – it’s a way of life. Check them out today.

Sustainable Living at Gnomedex

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Scott Mueller is a quirky-smart thinker with leadership experience ranging from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies. He’s passionate about helping people see their true potential and getting them to places they never thought possible.

Scott and his wife, Alex, started an experiment in life and living, called Moosicorn Ranch, east of Spokane, WA. Through the help of friends and colleagues, they hope to make Moosicorn Ranch a sustainable home and farm. But there are even bigger dreams in the works including providing a place for workshops, seminars, and even a place for artists to live, learn and create.

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Keyboard Carrying Case Review

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I usually lug several different things around with me when I’m out and about. I take my iPad, in case I need to do any work. Then, of course, I have the Bluetooth wireless keyboard for it, my iPhone, perhaps a netbook… and various cords. I tend to throw all of the cords into a gallon-sized baggie, which doesn’t give such a great impression. I’ve been on the lookout for a good-looking and durable carrying case for small items such as this. The one sent to me by Waterfield fits the bill perfectly.

The Waterfield Keyboard Travel Case is perfect for my needs. It looks professional and simple, which I like. The inner compartment is actually divided by a fabric liner into two separate spaces. My keyboard tucks nicely into the back, leaving room for other items I may need to bring along.

The outside of the case features another zippered pouch which is also divided. You can keep your batteries separate from your cords this way. I know how important that is. Is it just me, or do cords tend to somehow multiply? Anyway, keep them well apart with the liner and never worry about that little situation again.

The case is lightweight, and it has a little “thumb hook” on the end to carry it by – or attach it to something else. It’s also small enough to pack inside of a larger bag when traveling.

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FourSquare Sends Local Reviews to Your Phone

Ever found yourself in a new town or neighborhood, feeling a little hungry, but unsure if there was a restaurant nearby that was worth checking out? If the new location-based resources in FourSquare take off as they’re predicted to, you won’t have that problem much longer.

ReadWriteWeb reports that the Independent Film Channel (IFC) and the Huffington Post will now push reviews and suggestions to your cell phone. All you have to do is opt-in.

“Click to follow these publishers, check in near one of the locations they have annotated,” says blogger Marshall Kirkpatrick, “And your phone will get special tips pushed to it just like you get when near a place where one of your individual friends has left a tip.”

What kind of suggestions will you see? Visit IFC on FourSquare and you’ll find examples from their “Always On, Slightly Off Guide to America,” with recommendations for bars, restaurants, and other local attractions across the U.S. If you’re logged into FourSquare, you can click to indicate that you’ve visited one of the Top 50 locations or to add it to your personal to-do list.

Know a place that’s not on their list and should be? Just go to the IFC site and nominate it. Can you make a suggestion that gets your hometown in the Top 50?

How do You Travel?

Chris Brogan is – simply put – a great guy. I’ve heard him described as a “big teddy bear” with a “huge heart” on more than one occasion. He’s genuine, personable and extremely intelligent. Chris recently started up a new site that he is calling Man on the Go.

Chris is definitely a man on the go. He attends more conferences and functions than even Robert Scoble does. During all of his travels, Chris has learned many things the hard way about packing, unpacking, hotels, food, airlines and things that most of us never even think about. He’s using Man on the Go to help educate men and women alike… helping us all be better travelers.

Some of the tips Chris gives in this video include:

  • Only use a carry-on bag whenever possible. – You’ll cut down 20-30 minutes of each trip by not having to wait in line for luggage. You also will never run the risk of having your luggage lost.
  • If you’re a larger person, go for a window seat. – Chris has very wide shoulders, so he always chooses to sit near a window. This way, he can tuck himself in a little better and not be bashed in the arm or leg by the beverage cart.
  • Bring your own snacks on the plane. – Chris advises you to bring your own snacks to eat. Most airlines will give you nothing more than a small bag of half-stale pretzels or nuts. Bring some jerky, trail mix or other snacks that can be easily tucked into your bag.
  • Test out your carry-on before getting on the aircraft. – There’s nothing worse than struggling to find what you need in your bag in the middle of a flight and disturbing people around you. You don’t want to elbow someone repeatedly as you dig through and attempt to find what you’re looking for. Pack smart, and be aware of where things are located that you might want to retrieve in the air.
  • Don’t read your magazines until you are going on a trip. – If you subscribe to any magazines, don’t read them when they arrive if you know you’ll be traveling soon. It’s unreal how much you will save by not grabbing something in the airport to read on the plane. Many magazines have their cost inflated by up to 90% when you buy them this way.

What tips do you have that are tried-and-true? Leave us a follow-up comment and give us your ideas.

What is There to Do in Boston?

It’s been awhile since we last wrote about travel tips, as sent in by our community members. We asked months ago for you to send us the top ten places to visit in your hometown. So many of you responded that we are STILL trying to get them all posted! Today we’re going to talk about Boston. We may end up with more than ten things to do, since three of you sent in your ideas. Thanks to Mike, Robert and Charmain for letting us know what great things there are to do in Boston, Massachusetts!

  • USS Constitution – Better known as Old Ironsides, the USS Constitution was a prominent ship during the War of 1812. Tour the ship or visit the museum, which is full of over 150 interactive displays.
  • Harvard Walking Tour – After taking this tour, you’ll be able to say you’ve been to Harvard! Tour the famous campus with a student leader, and learn of its history and prestige.
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Campus Tour – Regularly scheduled student-led campus tours are conducted Monday through Friday at 11:00 AM and at 3:00 PM.
  • Institute of Contemporary Art – For more than a half century, the ICA has presented contemporary art in all media – visual arts, film, and video, performance and literature – and created educational programs that encourage an appreciation for contemporary culture.
  • Bunker Hill Monument – In this first major battle of the American Revolution, the outnumbered American militia flew a red, white, and blue flag bearing the pine tree emblem of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Today, you’ll find a 221-foot granite obelisk marking the site of the famous battle.
  • Fenway Park – Fenway is the home of the Boston Red Sox baseball team. It’s a gorgeous stadium, and one that you’ll enjoy visiting… even if you’re not a baseball fan!
  • New England Aquarium – Founded in 1969, the New England Aquarium is a global leader in ocean exploration and marine conservation. The Aquarium is one of the premier visitor attractions in Boston, with over 1.3 million visitors a year, and a major public education resource.
  • The Public Garden – The Public Garden was created in 1837, Boston Common in 1634. What a difference two centuries made. From its inception, the Public Garden was decorative and flowery, the Common pastoral and practical. The Common’s walkways were for crosstown travel, the Public Garden’s paths for meandering. The Common was America’s first park, the Public Garden its first public botanical garden.
  • Boston Tea Party Ship and Museum – This is a comprehensive museum dedicated to preserving and interpreting the legacy of the single most important event leading up to the American Revolution. It is scheduled to re-open in the summer of 2010 (after renovations are complete), and will undoubtedly be a huge hit.
  • Boston Children’s Museum – The Boston Children’s Museum exists to help children understand and enjoy the world in which they live. As an early museum experience for children, the environment is informal, but the purpose is serious. The exhibits are geared towards children ages 2 – 10.
  • Boston National Historical Park – The Boston National Historical Park is an association of sites that showcase Boston’s role in the American Revolution. It was designated a national park on October 1, 1974. Seven of the eight sites are connected by the Freedom Trail, a walking tour of downtown Boston.
  • Boston Duck Tours – You’ve never toured Boston in anything that comes close to Boston Duck Tours. The fun begins as soon as you board your “DUCK”, a W.W. II style amphibious landing vehicle. First, you’ll be greeted by one of our legendary ConDUCKtors, who’ll be narrating your tour. Then you’re off on a journey like you’ve never had before.
  • Arnold Arboretum – The Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University is the oldest public arboretum in North America and one of the world’s leading centers for the study of plants. It is a unique blend of respected research institution and beloved public landscape.
  • Whale Watching Cruise from Boston Harbor – Boston Harbor Cruise’s Whale Watching cruise is both an unforgettable and educational experience. The guides, who are researchers from the Whale Center of New England, will teach you about everything from whale behavior and migration patterns to the local ecology. You’ll also be able to get amazing photographs of the area – and the whales!
  • Franklin Park Zoo – Franklin Park Zoo is a 72-acre site nestled in Boston’s historic Franklin Park, long considered the “crown jewel” of Frederick Law Olmsted’s Emerald Necklace Park System. You’ll find hundreds of exhibits, and enjoy hours’ worth of fun.

It sounds as though there is no shortage of fun – and educational – things to do around Boston! There seems to literally be something for everyone!