Do You Even Google? Using My Maps for Planning Your Travels

Do You Even Google? Using My Maps for Planning Your Travels

Google My Maps is an underrated gem for travel planning. Released in 2007 and updated in 2014, Google My Maps allows users to create their own maps. Here’s the idea behind it: Points, lines, and shapes can be placed on top of the typical Google Maps we all know and love. However, the style of that base map can be customized to show satellite, political, or terrain maps, depending on your preferences. For example, when I planned my recent trip to Las Vegas, I used a light political base map—I didn’t want all that fuss of extra info from Google’s default base map. Then, I was able to add points with different icons to signify places I might want to check out and refer to easily (Tacos el Gordo = plate and fork symbol). I also added lines to signify the path of shuttles. The best part is that the maps you make can be easily integrated with your regular Google Maps app, so long as you sign in on the same account. It’s a simple idea but a radically underused one. So for the trip planners with slightly obsessive tendencies like myself, Google My Maps may just be the perfect solution. – Katherine...
Selfie Stick Savvy

Selfie Stick Savvy

If you travel to any popular tourist location, you’ll likely notice one similarity: selfie sticks. It is likely that when you’re around people under the age of thirty, selfie sticks are everywhere. Selfie sticks can be useful when you’re on your own or with a group and want to capture a unique experience without asking someone else to take your picture. You can even capture epic moments while snowboarding or cliff diving using a selfie stick. Generally, selfie sticks allow you to capture more authentic photos and videos because they don’t require posing. But many travelers agree that there are rules of etiquette that should be followed so that everyone (selfie stick user or not) can have an enjoyable travel experience. Be Mindful of Others Don’t use selfie sticks in crowded or narrow places. If you’re somewhere that’s packed with people, there is obviously something noteworthy going on, and everyone wants to be a part of the experience without selfie sticks blocking the view. It is easy to hit others in the head or to run into someone or something while walking and taking a picture in a crowded area. Avoid ruining others’ travel experiences by blocking the view or running into them while you use your selfie stick. Be Careful Don’t use the selfie stick in unsafe situations (e.g., while driving, hiking, or skiing). Selfie sticks have been banned in Disneyland because of safety concerns. In 2015, eight people in the world died from shark attacks, but twelve people died while using a selfie stick. Focus more on what you’re doing and live in the moment instead of...
No Filter Needed

No Filter Needed

If carrying around a fancy camera is a drag but your Instagram gallery needs some spicing up, then look into buying a lens attachment for your smartphone. This gadget is a good option for travelers who want professional grade photos without investing in (or lugging around) an expensive camera. The three most talked-about brands for lens attachments are Olloclip, iPro Lens system, and Moment. Models from each brand have their perks, which are outlined here. Olloclip The Olloclip 4-in-1 slides over front and rear-facing cameras and attaches to your keychain when it’s not in use. It includes four versatile lenses: fisheye, wide-angle, and two macro lenses (10x and 15x). Fisheye and wide-angle are good for panoramic or scenery shots and macro lenses can capture those up-close details. The 4-in-1 creates quality images and is the cheapest option of the three brands discussed here. It costs $80 for everything you need, but it only works for the iPhone 6/6S and only when the phone is without a case. iPro Lens system iPro Lens system’s model involves using a special case to attach the lenses to the phone. Cases of varying sizes are available for all iPhone models and for Samsung’s Galaxy S4. The starter kit for an iPhone 6/6S costs $84 and includes a phone case and a detachable handle that doubles as a storage unit for the lenses. Lenses are purchased separately, ranging from $40 to $100 each. Fisheye, wide-angle, macro, and telephoto lenses are available. This option is for the more serious photographer, and reviewers say it comes closest to DSLR results. Moment Moment lenses come with a...
 Add Some Time to Business Travels

 Add Some Time to Business Travels

April 10, 2015, 12:40 a.m. Parks and Recreation plays on my computer. My roommate and I sit on his bed, watching—waiting. The episode ends and we both open our computers to www.apple.com. The website is slow, but, finally, at 1:10 AM we have both spent $400 on brand new Apple Watches. The Apple Watch has been on the market for a while now, and it is one of the best fashion items to have on hand when traveling for business. Not only does the Apple Watch help the wearer look professional and technologically savvy, the apps on it facilitate easier work travel. Text Messages Your hands are full, and you are frustrated by the need to dig into your pocket, pull out your phone, read a message, and reply to it. Quickly check and reply to text messages without that frustration. The Apple Watch uses voice-to-text technology so you can just quickly speak your reply. Apple Wallet If you have an iPhone 6 or an iPhone 6 Plus, you can use the Wallet app on the Apple Watch to check in for your flight or to use your credi/debit cards with Apple Pay. Just scan your watch and you’re good to go. Worried about your money being too readily accessible to others? If your Apple Watch happens to get stolen, there’s still no need to worry! You can install a four-digit password on the watch. Along with that, Apple Wallet can’t be used unless you’ve recently used the thumb print reader on your iPhone. Phone Calls Ever have one of those moments when you’re pulling your luggage quickly down...

Pick-less Pockets

Money: Let’s face it, we need it to survive, especially when we are traveling away from home. Unfortunately, thieves like to pick tourists’ pockets, which are easy targets. Traveling with the right gear can help you hold on to your money and still enjoy yourself. Money Belts These belts have a pocket on the inside with a zipper and are great for stowing cash, particularly emergency cash. You can open up the pocket and stash a few hundred-dollar bills inside. This is great for emergencies, since you will have spare bills on hand (or in your belt!). Passport Pouches Your passport is your most valuable possession when traveling—a person without a passport is a person without a country. These pouches are good for carrying your passport, but never wear them outside your clothes. It labels you as a tourist and makes it easy for the thief to just grab it and run. Wear the passport underneath your clothes, either under your shirt, or on your hip under your pants. Never put your passport in a bag or a backpack. You can usually find these pouches at places like Walmart and Target. Shoes The brand Slotflops has designed shoes that have a secret compartment that pops out of the bottom of the heel, letting you carry your credit card and even a little cash. This brand only does flip flops, but the website Stashvault.com offers other styles of shoes with compartments. These shoes are useful particularly for emergencies and when bags are inconvenient. The prices range between $26–30. slotflops.com stashvault.com Secret Pockets Whether you buy clothes and bags that have...
Braving the Winter Chill

Braving the Winter Chill

Snow is falling and midwinter blues have set in; it’s time to make haste to sunny beaches, right? Guess again! You don’t need to head south in the winter to have a vacation. Be courageous and camp in the snow! There are plenty of fun activities to do in a white winter. All you need is the right equipment to keep you safe and cozy. Here are five essentials that many forget to bring on a winter vacation. Snow Shovel While it may seem annoying to carry a shovel around while you are camping, this gadget is something no winter adventurer should go without. Snow shovels can dig your buddy out of a life-threatening avalanche, help you collect snow to melt for drinking water, or help you set up a camp area. Many companies make compact snow shovels, so having your snow shovel close at hand won’t be a hassle. Security Cord Also known as a “dummy cord,” these clip-on cords will help you keep track of your gear. Attach mittens, hats, or almost any valuable to you with your security cord. You’ll never lose track of your small camping items with this gadget. Tent Heater There’s no denying it: winter nights are bitter cold, but that doesn’t mean you have to be. Invest in a tent heater to keep the cold at bay. Just follow the guidelines of tent heater use; you will be able to stay safe and warm all night long. Wool Socks These are a must for any winter campout. While cotton socks lose insulating properties in wet weather, wool socks are up for the...