Tech Time: Tech Enhanced Travel

My trip to WOMEX was my longest away from home for many years (7 days). To prepare, I employed an arsenal of tech tools to assist me on my journey. From websites, to software to gadgets, each played a role in making the experience smooth and memorable.

Before Liftoff
For a guide on the best travel booking websites, see Tech Time: Travel Sites.

I booked some of my plans, my office made other bookings. To consolidate all of the arrangements, I turned to Registration was easy, especially since I could link TripIt to my Google account. From here, I could just forward all my flight, hotel and ground transportation arrangements from different sources to one TripIt email address to aggregate my complete itinerary.

TripIt also sent my itinerary to my friends via both email and SMS text message with real time updates if there were delays; bear in mind, many airline websites will do this for you for free. The website can also post to your FaceBook or Twitter account, neither of which I recommend. Sadly, integrating with the popular Microsoft Outlook requires a paid upgrade; iPhone users can access TripIt through an app, BlackBerry users will have challenges.

Rival WorldMate is the leader when it comes to business travel assistance. The popular BlackBerry app is now free. In addition to offering aggregate itinerary, weather alerts, city maps and other features like TripIt, WorldMate is an inspired travelling companion, offering currency, size and measurement conversations, searchable airport, airline, hotel and car rental data bases, flight status updates and rich useful information.

Take a moment to sign up for travel reward programmes to ensure you get your points. Even if you don’t travel regularly, its FREE, so why not. From airlines, to hotels, to car rentals – you can save money, get free stuff or simply identify your preferences so when you travel, you feel like you’re in first class.

Research weather, currency, electricity and internet availability, transport and points of interest for the most fun/work on the ground. Information is power!

In a post 9/11 world, we have long travel delays, so prepare for delays with entertainment. If you like to read, forget the heavy, forest cutting, old school book in favour of an eReader. Readily available are the Amazon Kindle and Sony Reader. Carry hundreds of books and magazines to read while waiting in airports or driving long distances.

As Jamaicans, we need music. So charge your MP3 player in preparation for the long haul. Apple’s line of iPod’s are among the most popular MP3 players, and many models also play video and full length movies in addition to having games good enough to rival the Sony Playstation Portable (PSP) and the Nintendo DS (the new preferred handheld video games).

On The Road
Have fun and make the fun last by taking pictures and shooting video. Smart phones are a great substitute, but better pack your digital camera. The type and features of the camera are totally dependent on your preferences or your budget. Cheapest are ‘point and shoot’, then SLR, then video cameras for capturing your precious memories.

Also ensure you have multiple high capacity memory cards for all your pictures and video.

Make your friends envious (or prove to your boss that you were working) by sending ePost Cards from the road. iPhone users can download and install Postage to do this for them; the rest of us can use 123Greetings.

Alternately, you can post your images online using FaceBook, PhotoBucket or other image hosting sites.

Put a little extra effort in before your trip, to make it easier on the road.

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