Daily Archives: May 19, 2011

Cool Tools: FlightViewApp

I got an iPhone. Did I ever mention that? In October, we all caved. Me, Jon, my sister, her husband. We had been flip-phones, sans camera (well, Jon had a camera but no picture-sending ability in his phone plan), for the longest time, and poo-pooed the fashionable smartphones. What makes people so much smarter with it? They just become lazy.

Then we decided to stop sounding like old cranky folks who can’t operate a computer and get with the technological times. The flip-phones became toys for my niece and nephew, and we got the iPhone 4.

Of course, with the iPhone, you have to download lots of apps. So, my co-worker, who is one of these stereotypical slaves to Steve Jobs and Starbucks (the kind I saw at South by Southwest), made me download the FlightViewApp. It really should be called the Stalker App, because that’s what it does – stalks flights across the sky. My co-worker, who traveled with me to Austin but on a separate flight out of DCA, took my flight info and then continually texted me updates about my gate, my flight times, my estimated arrival time, and my connection Dallas.

That’s exactly what FlightView does. Enter a flight number and date, and it will tell you when it lands and where. I admit it was handy when I was still on the plane and wondering where my connection in Dallas was, although part of me still resists being that dependent on my IPhone – and checked the monitors in the airport instead. There is also an “airport delay map” but only of the United States (and Canada) showing weather and delays, which is kind of cool, but not terribly useful to me.

What is cool, however, is the ability to keep track of upcoming flights for yourself and others. Picking up someone at the airport? You can keep that person’s info right on hand, and then check if they’re coming in on time before heading to the airport. It saves from having to dig through e-mails and airline websites to find out whether you’re delayed or not, especially if you’re like me and cut it close – sheerly out of principle because it shouldn’t take an hour to go through security.

(By the way, did I mention that in other countries like Japan and China, they actually HELPED you load your items into the x-ray? A nice individual helps put your coat and smaller items into a bin, asks you kindly to remove your belt and wallet, asks if you have liquids or a laptop, places it in a bin FOR YOU, and helps you put your other luggage on the belt as well? And there was hardly a line for security. When I flew out of Chicago, the TSA people just barked at me – remove your coat! Take off your shoes! Hurry up! Nobody to help me load it – and the line was significantly long. But this has nothing to do with FlightView)

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In the Suitcase: non-travel gifts for travelheads/hats

Now that I’m grounded to my desk these days after exhausting my vacation time at work, I’ve resorted to traveling via the World Wide Web. This edition of My Travel Hats will be about Gifts for People who Like to Travel but are Not Gifts That Look Like Souvenirs From Developing Countries or are Not Luggage-Related. (They probably already have all the travel gear they need).

E-Reader. Oh, how flat! So light! Look how many books it carries! See how it can take your travel guide in electronic form! I have no opinion on which e-reader to get, but there’s something about the Kindle over the IPad that makes me feel less vulnerable standing around like a tourist on a street corner, especially since the Kindle is only $118 now versus the IPad which is like $499.

World Necklace. I’m still deciding whether this necklace is cheesy or not. It has potential to be really fun, but also look like something an elementary school teacher would wear. Could be a great gift for a female travelhead, but make sure to include a gift receipt. Available in gold, too, from www.uncommongoods.com.

50 Wonders of the World Book. This enormous coffee table book has some incredible photography and description of some of the greatest things in the world. The Great Wall of China, the Bay Bridge in San Francisco, the Egyptian Pyramids, Ankor Wat, Stonehenge, and 45 other things. It’s a great way for job-bound travelheads to dream a little and create a checklist of things to visit next. (Tip: I also found this book in the bargain bin at Barnes& Noble – or maybe it was the now defunct Borders – for about $10. It sits on our coffee table at home, and it is everyone’s favorite book to browse through when they come over.)

Miles. Now that they are set to expire, give a travelhead your infrequently used miles. They’ll love you.  A lot.

A Clear Compact Umbrella. I’ve found ones that are clear, but none that seem to fold up small enough to fit into a jacket pocket or purse. There is nothing like trying to see the Coliseum when it’s raining and you have a purple umbrella that cuts out half your view. I’ve been on a pursuit for the compact clear umbrella ever since. If you find one, please email me! (mytravelhats@gmail.com)

World Dartboard. Another item I’ve been looking for, but no dartboards seem to come with maps on them. There’s nothing like aiming a dart at the world map and determining your next destination as the ultimate adventure. It could be Borneo! Russia!  The middle of the Indian Ocean! Somewhere in Indiana! And I don’t mean a corkboard with the map stuck to it; I mean a solid dartboard with the heavy darts designed to choose your adventure.

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