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.
Vivian J. Paige
I’m surprised you’re still using a Palm :) But then again, there are still applications that I used on mine (I had one model or another for nearly 10 years) that I’m still trying to replicate on the desktop. Amazing that so many useful aps were written for the Palm.
No reason to be embarrassed by Boston Coach. In some small percentage of my trips getting from the airport to the city center is part of the fun. But in the vast majority getting from here to there is just something that has to happen before the real adventure begins.
The main adventure in Rome so far seems to be a nasty case of the flu. Sigh.
Vivian – the Treo (with the Palm OS) is still the best featured smartphone out there (sadly enough). Started with a Palm Pilot in 1997, and . . . yeah, I’ve been strung along for that long. And yes, on the software. I just couldn’t imagine getting on the metro and not having DopeWars to pass the time.
Sasha – my mother and sister would agree with you. A long time ago, the three of us went on a trip to Venezuela. This involved landing around 1am, and finding our way to a small out of the way hotel for a quick layover. Of course, I didn’t arrange for a car service, and ended up piling us into a gypsy cab (which took us on a lovely midnight tour before being persuaded to go to our destination). I thought it an adventure. They remain unamused to this day.
I recently physically damaged my Palm Tungsten C and had to search for a new handheld. I was open for change, and curious about smart phones and iPhones and non-Palm PDAs (been using PalmOS devices quite happily since 1997, but ready for more features)…
After searching for weeks and weeks, and comparing several new devices I ended up buying a refurbished 4 year old Palm Tungsten C because nothing currently on the market comes close to it’s features, simple usability, and reliability.
There is hope for the iPhone with some as yet unseen software fixes (syncing notes is the big show-stopper for me), and the the Treo phones work great as new PalmOS PDAs – but don’t quite cut it as phones yet. So I continue to use an old Nextel phone and a Palm PDA even though I am ready to integrate… the market has not provided a solution I am willing to accept yet.
Palm Tungsten C simply rocks.
That sounds pretty much like my reasoning for holding onto the Treo line, Scott. The only reason I just moved to a 755p was fataly smashing my 650 on the floor. I no longer have any patience for the new and interesting. I just need something that works. And, until I can find something that does, I’ll be sticking with the Treo.
And I don’t think there’s any hope for the iPhone as an actual communications tool, unless we see a real keyboard. Yes, I’ve tried one. Fail.