Shermanstravel Blog

Technology

Chip-and-PIN

Have you seen the new(ish) credit cards with embedded square chips on the front? Or heard travel friends throw around the phrases “chip-and-PIN” or “chip-and-signature”? While these cards — otherwise known as smart cards or EMV cards — are a relatively recent product from American banks, they’re widely used in many regions abroad, particularly in Europe as well as in Australia and parts of Asia. In fact, EMV cards are so common that cards with magnetic stripes, like most from home, can’t be used in some situations abroad.

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etihad airways - 620

Space travel. Bitcoin payments. Suites on airplanes. Some trends just keeping popping up on our news feeds time and time again. Some of these are fantastic and others… not so much. But for better or worse, here are nine that we think are here to stay.

1. Wearable tech.
Now that Apple’s in the game, wearable tech seems more and more like a part of the future — and not just as an ugly fashion trend. While we all love to hate Google Glass, travel brands are already responding to the Apple Watch unveiled in September. For example, Starwood’s new SPG app, which will let guests unlock rooms with their iPhone, is already designed to be Apple Watch-compatible. Of course, at nearly $349 dollars, Apple Watch isn’t a casual purchase, and we bet there will be some software and hardware challenges to overcome. Plus, it needs to be paired with an iPhone, though brands like Samsung are attempting to market what’s essentially a mini-smartphone to wear on your wrist.

2. Space voyages.
Despite the unfortunate Virgin Galactic crash at the end of last month, space travel is going to happen. The brand’s CEO shared that the company is continuing full steam and will “have a new spaceship that’s going to be ready in a few months” (as investigations into the crash continue). Having recently received massive funds from NASA, Boeing is also working on developing passenger aircraft for space. And it’s not just planes we’re talking about here. A Beijing-based company called Space Vision is developing a “high-tech balloon” powered by helium to bring tourists into space, and a Japanese construction company, Obayashi Corporation, is aiming to operate an elevator into space by 2050.

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CanopyPortlandLobbyImage_HR

Last month, Hilton Worldwide announced its latest foray into the lifestyle category with Canopy by Hilton, a new concept from the international hotel behemoth that will localize the guest experience. Poised to open its first set of doors in 2015, we spoke with Gary Steffen, the brand’s global head, who shared five things you should know about Canopy by Hilton.

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neXstep Luggage new

We’re always impressed by the brilliant ideas that we find on crowd-funding platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo — particularly the ones that solve the biggest problems and frustrations in travel. Here are four smart inventions that we think do it right.

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Here at ShermansTravel, we jump at the chance to make traveling less stressful — even fun. From a tool to de-clutter electronics to a simple water hack, here are five surprising accessories that create a better away-from-home experience.

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homesick 1

Homesickness comes in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes it’s missing the coziness of your own bed. Other times it’s feeling lost without a loved one. And, occasionally, it’s a deep-rooted nostalgia for a functioning dryer. While homesickness certainly dampens your vacation, the obvious tips to solve your sadness — like writing postcards, eating home-y meals, or sleeping with your significant other’s pajamas every night — don’t always keep the pillow dry. Here, a few unordinary, scientifically-backed, and totally effective methods to cure your bout of saudade.

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carnival magic - flickr-El Coleccionista de Instantes

Which cruise lines are making headlines this week? We’ve got the latest on charitable itineraries, new pricing structures, and more in this week’s weekly cruise news column.

Call your cousins and neighbors! American Cruise Lines passengers who refer a friend or family member to cruise with the small ship river line will get a reward in the form of a $500 credit toward their next cruise. Planning a group cruise and have already sailed with ACL before? You could conceivably have friends or family make a booking, get your credit, then join them on the same sailing so that everyone can enjoy a little extra.

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File this under the “better safe than sorry” category. ThermalStrike, a company specializing in heating technology designed to kill bed bugs, has come out with a new heated suitcase for pest-fearing travelers.

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tappsi

Latin America can be intimidating for first-time travelers. Here are three apps to download, to use with WiFi, to make your trip go more smoothly.

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Apple_Pay

This year’s edition of Apple’s now-famous annual smartphone release introduced two exciting devices: the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus. Apple made no bones about the fact that this year’s updates were the biggest improvements yet, but what’s in it for travelers? We’ve distilled the 2+ hour keynote into a few ways the new features can enhance your jetsetting lifestyle.

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beach bag - Shélin Graziela
You’re going on vacation to get away from it all, but disconnecting from your smartphone, computer, and other digital devices is easier said than done. According to a recent Hotels.com study, only 35 percent of Americans are willing to ditch their mobile devices on vacation, and 56 percent admit to checking and responding to email. So, how can you beat the odds and truly take a break?

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lufthansa wifiWe recently raved about our first (and probably last) experience flying business class on EVA Air, when we cashed in all of our points for a 15-hour-flight. Between the lie-flat beds and the lobster meals, there was lots to love on their Boeing 777-300ER planes. But the one thing that absolutely made us cringe? The wifi charges.

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travel by drone 1

Every so often the world of armchair travel shakes up with a new revelation. Last time we covered this, we explored North Korea’s Tourism app, and before that we reviewed Google’s travel updates. Now, we have something else that’s taking remote wanderlusting to a whole new level: drones. While much of the media associates drones with militaristic projects, these machines can also capture beautiful panoramas from stuning vantage points most of us don’t have the privilege of enjoying — outside of airplanes and the occasional Planet Earth episode, rarely do we see a bird’s-eye view of the world.

So how exactly do you “travel by drone”?

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hiltonroomappYou select your seat when you make a flight reservation, so wouldn’t it make sense that hotels would let you choose your room? Hilton think so. The company has recently launched an update to its HHonors app that allows guests to pick specific rooms from a floor plan using their mobile device, making them the first hospitality company to do so. Hilton aims to offer this service at 4,000 hotels (covering 650,000 rooms) by the end of the year. Read more

Visa Terminal

Keeping your funds in a money clip and your passport in a fanny pack is a great start to guarding your essentials when traveling, but these days, you also need to consider digital safeguards. Yes, there’s certainly a fair bit of misinformation and fear-mongering when it comes to keeping one’s information and devices safe, but some of the concerns you’ve probably heard about are worth paying attention to. Here are three of them — plus what you can do to be less vulnerable.

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