Five Apps to Keep you Entertained and Informed

July 17, 2018 by · Leave a Comment 

We’re busier than ever. While we used to have to DVR our shows and catch up with them later — and before that, we videotaped them or made sure to sit down when they actually aired! — mobile devices now give us the opportunity to not only be entertained but informed, no matter where we are or what we’re doing.

We used to be held captive by the TV monitor at the airport gate area, now we can use some mobile apps to control the content we read, watch, or hear. While everyone knows about apps like Spotify, ESPN, and Netflix, we wanted to share some more unusual, lesser-known apps for your consideration as you’re on the go. You can use these while you’re in the car, on the plane, or just shuffling around your hotel room as you get ready for bed. And you can use them at home as well.

TuneIn Radio - One of the five best entertainment apps

TuneIn Radio

If you like listening to the radio, particularly to keep yourself updated about what’s going on in your hometown, TuneIn Radio allows you to hear your local commercial or NPR station from anywhere in the world. It will let you listen to any local radio station that also broadcasts on the Internet, as well as download podcasts and even listen to certain sporting events, like MLB, NFL, and even the World Cup.

The same is true for your local TV station and your local newspaper. An easy check in your app store will let you know if your local ABC, NBC, or CBS affiliate has an app where you can find local news. If your town’s newspaper doesn’t have its own app, you might be able to access it if it’s owned by Gannett Company. The publisher of USA Today also owns over 100 daily newspapers and over 1,000 weekly newspapers and offers this local content through its app. All these can provide you with a taste of home even when you’re away.

Six of our favorite entertainment apps for when you're on the road

Six apps to help you stay entertained and informed while you’re on the road.

If you want to stream content on your phone or tablet and protect yourself from being throttled by your data provider, you may want to look into VPN Unlimited. While not an app, this virtual private network service allows you to sign in and choose from a list of preselected servers in different countries. For example, you can access international content from these servers such as World Cup coverage in Iceland or the Olympics as they’re televised in Canada. For those who don’t have cable, this is one way to access premium sports coverage without paying. You’re just watching content provided by another country’s public access channels. Finally, if you’re traveling overseas and want to watch Netflix, you can’t, since Netflix doesn’t allow access to U.S content from outside the country. To work around that lockout, VPN Unlimited also has a dedicated Netflix server which allows you to watch your U.S.-based Netflix from anywhere in the world.

NPR One is the news junkie’s favorite app. Unlike the regular NPR app, which is sort of like a streamlined public radio-only version of TuneIn, the NPR One app lets you select the news, stories, and podcasts just for you. It’s like building your own NPR newscast. The regular NPR app is great for if you want to find your favorite classical, jazz, or eclectic music radio station (like KCRW’s Eclectic24 from Santa Monica, California), but I especially like NPR One for its focus on news and information.

What kinds of entertainment apps do you use to stay entertained and informed? How do you keep up with news from home or your favorite destination? Share them with us, the more esoteric the better! Leave us a comment on our Facebook page, or on our Twitter page.

Photo credit: Erik Deckers (Used with permission)

Top Five Little-Known Travel Apps for Business Travelers

December 26, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

When a traveler who has logged 2 million air miles and stayed 1,000 nights in a hotel offers his top five travel apps, you listen. Thanks to Maurice Freedman for sharing his “Swiss Army Knife suite of travel apps” to help all of us amateurs experience travel like a pro.

Freedman’s first app is stayconnect. It may seem like a small luxury, but being able to control the television in your hotel room without touching the remote could save you from picking up some unwanted germs. It doesn’t work in all hotels, but the 600,000 where it does makes it a worthy addition to your phone. (Plus it may help you change TV stations at a restaurant or coffee shop.)

Mobile phone being used by a woman with red painted fingernails, accessing her travel appsYou don’t have to depend on the hotel’s concierge for restaurant recommendations or to get reservations if you have the OpenTable app. You can search by location, cuisine, or price, and reserving a table is simple as pie. You can book and cancel without penalty too, which is great when your plans change on a dime. The only downside to this app is that not all dining establishments use it.

Don’t want to leave your hotel room to eat because you’re already in your comfy clothes for the night? Room service is not your only option. With Seamless, you can scroll through over 12,000 delivery menus for restaurants with 80+ kinds of cuisines, pay online (including tip), and then sit back and wait for your food to come right to your door.

If your phone comes with a weather app, you may question Freedman’s next recommendation. But does your weather app tell you when it’s going to rain in your specific location and how long you can expect that precipitation to inconvenience you? If you purchase Dark Sky, you won’t be caught without an umbrella when you need it, and you can set it to notify you at a specific time each day so that you know whether to expect blue or cloudy skies.

Texting is great until you have to leave the country. Then how do you communicate if your phone plan doesn’t cover international travel? What’sApp is your perfect solution. It works regardless of carrier or phone type and over one BILLION people enjoy its free service. All you need is wifi or a data plan to talk, text, or share locations.

What are your favorite little-known travel apps? What have you been using on your most recent travels? What’s the most esoteric-but-useful one on your mobile phone? Share your best travel apps with us in the comments below, on our Facebook page, orin our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Skeeze (Pixabay, Creative Commons)

Must-Have Business Travel Apps for 2017

February 15, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Many business travelers appreciate the ability to plan, organize, and manage their travel with their mobile phone. No more printed boarding passes, maps, and scribbled directions to your next meeting. Everything can be managed on your phone, saving you all kinds of headaches and hassles.

We’ve seen several new travel apps released just in time for the 2017 business travel calendar, and have a few favorites you might want to try before your next trip.

You can use business travel mobile apps to find your way around AmsterdamGoogle Trips uses your browsing history to suggest places you might want to visit. It might feel a little Big Brother-ish, but a helpful brother nonetheless. The free app allows you to use your Gmail accounts offline to plan and organize your travel through one site, and lets you make hotel reservations, book flights, and arrange car rental.

Lonely Planet’s Guides not only offers visually stunning photographs of over 100 cities, it provides an overview of that city, its language, and different budget options. It also provides insights from on-the-ground experts and maps that help you decide what to see, where to eat, and where to sleep. If you like to “travel like you live there,” something we recommend business travelers do to make their trips more interesting, the Lonely Planet guides are a great place to start.
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Travel Top Five: Must-Have Apps for Business Travelers

January 13, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

January is the time of year everyone seeks to streamline their lives: shedding pounds, decluttering their houses, and organizing their must-haves. And most business travelers want to travel as light as possible, just so you’re not carrying a bunch of unnecessary paper around in your briefcase.

We’ve come up with five different apps that business travelers should have on their mobile phone, their tablet, and their laptop. With these apps, you can store information in the cloud, keep it secure, and get work done no matter where you are.

Evernote is one of our five must-have mobile apps for business travelers

Evernote is ideal for file sharing, note taking, idea storing, and even snapping photos of business cards and syncing them to your contacts file.


Evernote. If you’re unfamiliar with this amazing note taking and online storage app, we recommend you investigate it immediately. It allows you to retain stored information in one place so that you don’t have to carry it in physical form. For example, you can create a document with all your loyalty card numbers so that you don’t have to carry the physical cards any more. You can take notes during a meeting and share them with others at a later date. You can save images as well and sync them with your mobile device or laptop. You can even clip articles and websites that you want to read later, like when you’re on the plane. Evernote’s Plus and Premium versions offer even more options.
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What to Do if Your Mobile Phone is Lost or Stolen

January 4, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

It’s our worst nightmare: you’re traveling and your phone is either lost or stolen. What’s the first thing you should do? According to Asurion, a technology solutions company, 19 million people have had this happen. If you find yourself in this situation, here’s what you can do.

First, try calling or texting your phone. If you’ve lost it, the device may have been found by someone honest. If you’re traveling with someone, you can use their contact information to request a call back, or you can leave the number of the front desk at your hotel and follow up later in the day. Your lock screen will display your most recent text, so send a short message to your phone and hope your Good Samaritan will see it and call you back.

Mobile phone being used by a woman with red painted fingernailsBe sure your phone’s “find my phone” feature is activated. This will enable you to discover its location for retrieval and if you share your account with other users, they too can see the device’s location. Unfortunately, if the phone is powered down, this feature doesn’t work.

Be sure your lock screen is enabled. It may seem like a pain to have to authenticate yourself with your fingerprint or a code every time your phone lapses into sleep mode, but it protects your valuable data. Apple’s lock mode will allow you to access your device remotely and either disable it or display a custom message. It also allows you to disable ApplePay.
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5 Ways to Save Time and Energy at the Airport

November 14, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

As frequent travelers, and the luggage supplier to business travelers all over the world, we’ve shared a lot of travel advice. And one of the things we know is that while we may not enjoy sitting in an airport, trying to get work done, it’s worse to stand in line and not get any work done at all.

A recent article in Smarter Travel shared several ways to save time and get us out of line, as well as save some money in the process. These can save you anywhere from several minutes to a few hours of time, and let you get more work done, or you can simply have more time to relax.

Download your airline’s app. This free service will let you know if your flight has been delayed, and has up-to-date information about arrival and departure times. You can be in the know about where to find your connecting plane. Plus, the GateGuru app can give you information about security wait times, gate changes, and maps of over 200 airports.

The TSA Security lines at Denver International Airport

The TSA Security lines at Denver International Airport

Check in online. This is the easiest way to bypass a line and get on your way to security faster. Online check in also provides you with a virtual boarding pass which you can scan with the TSA officer instead of having to juggle it and your identification. Better yet, just use your airline app. You don’t even have to mess with your laptop and printer.

Protect Your Personal Information. Be very, very wary about using public wifi. Not every free wifi hotspot you see is legitimate; some enterprising thief can set up a fake hotspot called AIRPORT_WIFI and you’ll never know the difference. So, be sure all your computer security and the firewall are up to date, before you leave the office. Next, never do any personal banking or financial transactions online when you’re in public. If you need to work online, use your mobile phone’s personal hotspot.

Bring food with you. You won’t be gouged for overpriced airport food that probably isn’t very healthy, and you’ll know who handled that piece of fruit before you. Consider some pre-packaged energy bars as well, because they’ll keep in your bag for a few days.

Mark your luggage. Even if you don’t check your bag, there are still a lot of black carry-ons out there. Be sure to have a luggage tag with your name and address securely fastened to the bag. Consider adding something to distinguish the bag from everyone else’s, like a decal, or tying a very small tchotchke to the handle.

How do you minimize downtime in the airport? What do you do to avoid lines and still say efficient? Share some ideas in the comments below, on our Facebook page, or in our Twitter stream.

Photo credit: Melissa Gutierrez (Flickr, Creative Commons 2.0)

Key to Saving Cell Phone Battery Is Not Closing Apps

August 17, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

If you’re an avid cell phone user, preserving battery life can be an all-consuming obsession. You limit your data usage, you only operate certain mobile apps on wifi, and you may even avoid some of the data hogs your colleagues all swear by.

Closing your mobile apps on your cell phone won't necessarily conserve your battery life.

Closing your mobile apps won’t necessarily conserve your battery life.

One thing we’ve always thought about battery extension was that we should close our dormant apps instead of leaving them open.

Turns out, that’s just not true.

According to an Apple support page, “apps that are in a suspended state aren’t actively in use, open, or taking up system resources.”

Android users can also rejoice. According to an ABC News story, David Burke, the vice president of engineering at Android, agrees. “It’s simply not true.”

He says just the opposite occurs when you go to close those apps to conserve power. Closing them actually activates them momentarily which may drain more power than just leaving them in their suspended state.

So, if closing apps is unhelpful, what can you do?
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7 Newest Travel Startups

January 28, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

We’re more mobile than ever, and not just in our day-to-day lives. Over 1 billion of us traveled internationally last year, and that number is expected to increase by three to four percent this year. There’s lots to manage when you’re on the road, and seven companies have new apps to help you get the most from your experience. We found several new travel start-ups and apps that can ease the burdens of travel and make it a lot more fun.

For those who operate hotels, getting customers to choose your establishment isn’t such a shot in the dark any more. Kaptivating targets potential customers by studying their social media activities and initiates a relationship with them to let them know how a specific hotel could meet their needs.

Lyft car with pink mustacheDo you use Uber and Lyft when you are in a different city? Pistats allows you to analyze all the details of your experiences — frequency, spending, and locations most used — via an integrated map.

Want to get out of Dodge but don’t have a traveling companion? Eo will match your interests, budget, and travel plans with others wanting to go where you’re going. Scroll through profiles, make a connection, and make new friends before you leave town.

Ever wondered where in the world all the best jazz festivals or art festivals are held through the year? Cronomio is a travel calendar that will help you sync your travel with events you don’t want to miss (not just jazz and art).

If you’re a tour operator or travel agency desiring to make and maintain connection with your customers before and after a trip, Keeptrax makes that possible. Keeptrax collates travel information, details of places visited, and photos to help travelers remember all the good things that happened on their trips when they’re making their travelogues for friends.

Moving to Bora Bora and need a nanny? Expat Helpers is an app that explains local labor laws and currency denominations to expedite the process of connecting with and hiring local help.

Get Out is an app that connects those with less run-of-the-mill interests who are looking for out of the ordinary travel experiences with one another. This will help you find that needle-in-a-haystack adventure to do underwater basket weaving in the Great Barrier Reef.

Here are a few other apps that will help you travel safely.

STEP stands for Smart Traveler Enrollment Program and is a free service of the US State Department that makes the US Embassy in the country you’re traveling to aware of your presence there.

SOS is an emergency app that provides you with local numbers for police, fire, and hospital. It has a location finder to help you know where you are in an unfamiliar city.

Medical ID is an emergency app that will allow someone to access health conditions about you even if your phone is locked and you’re unable to communicate.

Finally, Trip It is a password protected app that collates your itinerary, passport, visa, identification information in one place in case those documents are lost or stolen during travel.

Seeing the world is supposed to be fun, not a hassle. These new apps offer you, the savvy traveler, an individualized, unique experience, tailored to needs and desires.

Leave us a comment below or on our Facebook page.

Photo credit: PraiseLightMedia (Wikipedia, Creative Commons)

Smartphone Travel Bookings to Increase

January 7, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Mobile apps are making life so convenient, so easy to function. I have season tickets to the Miami Heat, and I just learned that I can use a function of the Heat’s mobile app to purchase concessions during a game. I don’t even have to pull my wallet out of my pocket. I haven’t used it yet, but the push to use mobile payment sites is everywhere.

We recently read a report from Phocuswright that said the number of travel reservations made from smartphones is expected to increase to 18 percent of all bookings, up from a measly five percent just three years ago. The numbers forecasted for Europe and China are even bigger. I know members of my team use their mobile devices to make hotel reservations and book flights.

Trip Advisor mobile appI’ll admit, something about using a laptop seems more secure, more credible, than using my phone, but I know there’s no basis in reality for that perception. I’m hesitant to say so, but it probably has something to do with my age.

The key is the comfort level each of us has with mobile payments in general. The Phocuswright report says that 48 percent of us were more comfortable with the idea last year than we were in 2013, when only 33 percent felt at ease with it.

What I think will help more people use these travel booking sites with confidence is the development and implementation of mobile deep linking by different providers. Mobile deep linking is a link that just doesn’t launch an app, but starts within a trusted app — for example, being able to book an Uber ride from within the United Airlines mobile app. You already trust United, so you know they’ve worked out the security with Uber’s app.

As these opportunities for mobile bookings and mobile payments increase, I’m sure I’ll get with the program. I just need to try it out a few times first. Maybe I’ll start with a couple chicken tinga tacos at the next Heat game.

Photo credit: Amy Wardlaw (Flickr, Creative Commons)

How to Entertain and Inform While You Travel

November 12, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Remember the vacations you took with your parents? If you were lucky enough to fly, your entertainment only needed to last a few hours. But if you went over the river and through the woods to wherever you were going, then time yawned ahead of you. Unless you were properly prepared.

Nowadays, there’s no way you can possibly be bored while en route to your destination, thanks to all the entertainment and information available online? You might hear someone utter a few choice words if they discovered they didn’t have the latest episodes of their favorite podcast, that ebook they’ve been waiting to start, or the latest game app at their fingertips because they didn’t realize there wouldn’t be wifi.

iphoneSo, don’t be like those unfortunate souls. Take a few moments in the days before your trip and assess your entertainment and information needs. Perhaps you want to catch up on your favorite television show. Download recently aired episodes to your tablet or be sure to add the Netflix app to your phone so that your queue is ready to go.

Second, Flydelta.com and the Delta app are excellent ways to keep track of your flight status and can be shared with your ride at the airport, so they’re not endlessly circling or waiting in the cell phone lot, wondering where you are. The Trip Advisor app can also let you spend your time in the air planning activities when you land.

If you want to get some work done while en route, set up your documents folder to sync to a cloud service like Google Drive or iCloud so your work isn’t stranded while you’re soaring through the real clouds. Evernote is also a great place to store travel information, and it isn’t wifi dependent.

New podcasts appear every day and most are a free, quick way to learn new information or while away the time. Note to Self and Serial come to mind. Check Overcast or other podcasting apps to find a few favorites.

If you’re traveling with children, a new game app can buy you valuable minutes of silence. If you haven’t investigated this realm lately, believe us, there’s so much more than Angry Birds. Try Noodles or Two Dots. The fun thing about Two Dots is that you can download the soundtrack and enjoy it as background music if you don’t want to play the game.

Travel time doesn’t have to be down time. It can be productive, entertaining, and even relaxing. Just make sure you download and sync everything before you leave home or your hotel, and you won’t be dependent on airport or airplane wifi.

Photo credit: jeshoots (Pixabay, Creative Commons)

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