As has been hinted at, my last trip was a near perfect storm of logistical problems originating with weather, the airlines, and myself. I spent no small amount of time on the concourse trying to sort out what options were available, and at what cost. Handling these challenges was much easier with a laptop and a data connection than, well . . . without either. I’ll sing the praises of a few websites/online tools that have served me well in situations like this:
- Kayak.com – I almost always book my tickets directly with the airline, but Kayak.com is an excellent comprehensive resource in sorting out exactly how many routes are available to your desired destination, and how they compare in cost. The screens are what make it so useful.
- Flyertalk – there is *always* someone with the answer to your question reading the forums at any given moment. Plus, most of them are cheap bastards with rich tastes, so you’ll get the straight scoop on how to achieve your objective with a minimum of fuss and expense. (Contrast this with LP’s near unusable ThornTree forums, which – to this day – remains one of the great tragedies of online travel resources.)
- TripAdvisor – this is a surprising one, for me. I’d long ago dismissed TripAdvisor as being for the sort of folks who stayed at Best Westerns when they went to Europe. And while it still serves those needs, I’ll have to say that I’m pretty impressed with the depth of the information available for a very wide range of travel tastes/modes. Easy all in one resource when you need to quickly figure out the options in any given city.
- Sleeping In Airports – exactly what it seems to be. Most recently used when I booked a 5am connection through LIM, having planned to arrive at 1am (told me that the upstairs food court was a common and safe place to make camp for a few hours). Has also done a good job in directing me to in-airport showers in the past.
- Weather.com – because it helps to know if that Northeast storm is going to keep your Atlanta connecting flight from showing up.
- WikiTravel – dismissed years ago as a good idea, but lacking the necessary participation to make it truly useful, I was pleasantly surprised to see that it’s grown into a serviceable resource. I may spend some time contributing. (Yeah, I know.)
- The Subway Page – maintained by Robert Reynolds, it’s a great place to snag a map of most any major (and lots of minor) public transport systems in the world.
- BostonCoach – I’m somewhat embarrassed by this. Sometimes, you just want to know that you can step off the plane without thinking, see your name, and know that that person will get you exactly where you want to go, no fuss. BostonCoach can do that for you with very little notice, almost anywhere in the world.
Finally, for fellow Palm users, there is FlightStatus. A rather basic little shareware program written by a young fellow some years ago, it has turned out to be one of the most useful Palm apps I ever installed. Does exactly what it says – gives you flight status and gate information for most any domestic US flight.
I’m sure I’ve forgotten a few (such as Airpower), but I hope these will be useful to some.