Shermanstravel Blog

Technology

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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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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The prospect of seeing exotic animals in the wild is the reason many travelers long to visit far-off countries. But it’s human interaction — to varying degrees — that’s leading to the extinction of these very animals. If you weren’t already aware of the crisis surrounding African elephants, the outpouring of grief over the recent poaching of the beloved Satao, one of the biggest elephants in the world, has made the situation clear.

Each year, at least 33,000 elephants are killed for ivory; a trade is primarily driven by a growing demand in Asia, particularly China. If the killing continues at this pace, the African elephant could be extinct within 10 years. You can help by boycotting products that contain ivory (it’s illegal to sell it in the United States) and by supporting organizations such as Tsavo Trust, Save the Elephants, and the Elephant Crisis Fund. National Geographic also suggests contacting the Chinese Foreign Trade Management Department Economic Service to demand the country end its use of ivory. If you’re planning to travel to Africa, one of the best ways to protect the elephants is by booking a safari that visits community wildlife conservancies. Those that do include Big Five ToursAustin-Lehman Adventures, andBeyond, and National Geographic Expeditions.

Here are three other ways that the travel industry is helping to protect threatened species — and how you can be a part of it.

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620x400_iStock_000028914764SuitCaseApplesThe carry-on bag: It’s oh-so-small, but crucial to comfortable air travel.

Make yours count by filling it with goodies that will ensure a happy and healthy flight. Whether it’s a stuffed-to-the-brim roller bag or a lightweight backpack, here are five healthy essentials to pack.

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Renaissance Hotel Santiago, Chile

If you think that DJ sets, mixology events, sleek common spaces, LEED certification, book signings, and lightening-fast internet don’t sound like hallmarks of most big-brand hotels, you’d be right. But the Renaissance hotels, owned by Marriott, are striving for a more boutique aesthetic these days. Of course, that means having to shrug off the stereotypes of outdated rooms, subpar restaurants, and uninspired common spaces that people associate with big corporate hotel chains. And that means making its newest properties less cookie-cutter and more bespoke than ever.

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Even the savviest and thriftiest among us can’t usually handle traveling all the time (and nor, you could argue, would we really want to be constantly away from home). But what to do when you’re hit with a sudden bout of strong wanderlust, bored with the day-to-day and itching to see something new?

The most obvious answer that came to mind was travel apps, since we all know that there’s one of those for everything these days. Countries, cities, states – even bathrooms – offer armchair travel-friendly apps with hundreds of pictures, recommendations, and restaurants. Travel the world in 80 minutes, 80 days, or any other amount of time, depending on how long you plan to vicariously travel via iPhone.

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virgin galactic 1Thirty years ago, we wondered if today’s world would have flying cars, hover boards, and a sports almanac that would change the sports-betting industry forever — at least that’s what “Back to the Future” told us. While those things haven’t exactly come to fruition, it seems like the only thing limiting the travel of the future is our collective imagination. Here’s a taste of what travel could look like in the not-so-distant future:

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Screen shot 2014-05-29 at 2.47.18 PMEvery vacation has a story, but why is it so hard to tell it? Pictures alone rarely do it justice. Yet writing a narrative about making a wrong turn or spending eight hours lost in a city is probably too unwieldy for most readers.

Enter Google+ Stories, a new tool within the Google+ app that was created specifically with trip-sharing in mind. We’re excited that it covers everything from documentation to editing to social posting, and we can’t say we’re all that surprised. With Uber integration and new Street View enhancements that focus on famous landmarks, Google is moving deeper than ever into travel. Here’s more about Stories and other Google features that can make your vacation a better experience:

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As airlines continue to crack down on the size of checked and carry-on bags, your luggage space has become more precious than ever. One of the easiest ways to guarantee extra room in your suitcase is to invest in clever gadgets that do double duty. Check out five of our favorite dual-purpose devices.

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Forget plastic hotel key cards and paper tickets. The Walt Disney World Resort has forged full speed ahead into the 21st century with a snazzy new tech-based system called MyMagic+. The star feature of the program is a customizable plastic bracelet, dubbed MagicBand, with which you can seamlessly access every aspect of your next Disney vacation. Here, a look at how it works and what it means for your wallet.

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Photo cameraphoneThese days, there’s less of a need to haul around a dedicated camera on your travels. Using your phone as your primary travel camera isn’t as far-fetched as it once was, especially if you’re not heading to a place where a zoom lens is crucial, like on a safari. Here are some apps that will help you capture a beautiful smartphone shot. Read more

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We’re big fans of unplugging while on vacation, but sometimes our devices just need a little juice. Especially when you’re arriving in an unfamiliar place, it’s good to have a communication and organizing tool at your disposal. While airports and airlines have made great strides in providing charging options in terminals – and they’re continuing to invest to this end – here’s how to power up when you can’t find your own outlet.

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