ShermansTravel » Blog » Technology
Waiting is rarely easy, and almost never enjoyable, but it’s an inevitable part of travel. During the dark ages, conventional wisdom suggested that one show up well in advance in case of any snags along the way. But these days technology is enabling us to guess less and anticipate more. From theme parks to restaurants to airport security lines, we’ve rounded up the best apps available for those who don’t want to waste time standing around.
It was a late May weekend in New York City — which meant heavy flash rains and muddy streets. Having just gotten into the swing of spring, I was woefully underdressed on my way to Yotel on Tenth Avenue. Thank heavens, then, that I could get my keys straight from a kiosk when I arrived at the hotel. Who ever wants to slink up to a check-in receptionist when they’re dripping wet and completely disheveled?
That’s just one of the many ways that Yotel has carefully designed a “smart” hotel stay, considering the perspective and mindset of travelers today. The brand first made a name for itself with three sleek airport hotels in London and Amsterdam, and it opened its first in-city property off of New York City’s Times Square in 2011. With more hotels coming soon to cities like Brooklyn, San Francisco, Miami, and Dubai, we checked into the NYC location to get a sense of how exactly the Yotel’s savvy tech focus is enhancing the guest experience.
HotelTonight, the last-minute hotel-booking app, has launched a tool called Escape to source the greatest getaway deals for the weekend ahead. Booking a room via the app is already a snap, but Escape makes it more convenient to book an entire getaway that’s up to an additional 30-40 percent off average rates within HotelTonight itself. Here’s how it works.
Your suitcase is going high-tech. From tracking apps to suitcases that weigh themselves, here’s what’s new in the world of suitcases (and a few things we can’t wait to become reality).
Power problems are a major pain in the you-know-what for travelers. Every country seems to have its own voltage and requires its own adapters, accounting for power as well as outlet shape. Even more confusingly, not all adapters work for all devices — we’ve often found, for example, the converters that work for laptops won’t work for hair dryers. Even the technology for chargers and plugs have changed. Here’s what you need to know.
Today, smartphones are arguably better navigators than those traditional GPS units that sit on the dashboard, thanks to real-time map updates and an infinitely searchable database. That’s as long as you have internet connection, of course. But what happens when you’re in a remote region here in the States without a signal — or are trying to save cash with no data plan abroad? We rounded up a few downloadable maps that allow for perusal and turn-by-turn routing, even when you’re offline.
The recent Nepal earthquake is devastating, but it’s worth noting that, in the wake of disaster, a handful of technology companies have stepped up to provide help in any way that they can. One of those ways is by enabling people on the ground to easily get the one message that matters back home: “I’m safe.” Planning for unforeseen events is a necessary part of travel, which is why we think it’s importantly to understand exactly how two features from Google and Facebook in particular work, before you head out on your next adventure.
We already know that standard international roaming rates can lead to horror stories of coming home to insanely high smartphone bills. That’s why many of us simply switch our smartphones to airplane mode when heading to a foreign land, relying on spotty and inconsistent WiFi signals to attempt to stay in touch. But there’s a better way, especially with all the different services available — including Google’s new Project Fi. If you’re heading to Europe to take advantage of the current awesome exchange rate that you probably keep hearing about, check out these three services before you go.
With Apple Watch shipping to consumers later this month (April 24th, to be exact), it’s fair to say that the smartwatch revolution is officially underway. Even in Apple’s promotional keynote, it leaned heavily on travel-related examples to prove the product’s value. Many have questioned whether or not you truly need wearable tech like this — particularly if you’re already a savvy smartphone user — but there are indeed useful amenities that make it worth considering for road warriors and leisure travelers alike.
We’re all about saving money while traveling, but the need for convenience and unexpected complications can bust a budget in a hurry. These apps can come through in a pinch, helping with everything from finding a ride to a fast, affordable meal.
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.
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.
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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