Archive for the ‘journeys’ Category

Are Smartphone’s Smart while traveling abroad?

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So you want to use your smartphone while traveling abroad. But choosing an affordable method can seem mind-numbingly complicated. Should you buy an international roaming plan? And if you do, what does 100 megabytes of data get you anyway? Perhaps you need a hot spot pass? Or a SIM card? If you don’t want an eye-popping phone bill, it’s essential to decide before you’re on the plane.

“The pain you can get from just a couple of mistakes can be big,” said Bill Menezes, a principal research analyst covering mobile services for the technology research firm Gartner.

With a little planning, however, you can stay in touch and on budget. Let’s walk through the three simplest ways to do just that, from the most obvious to more creative (and cheaper) solutions.

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Phone Company Plans
Major domestic phone carriers offer prepaid voice and data packages designed for foreign travel that you can buy before you fly, the option many people feel most comfortable choosing. The cost of a text message or the cost per minute of a phone call is fairly straightforward (check your phone company’s website for pricing). But the cost of data — sending text-only emails, posting photos on Facebook, checking into Foursquare, searching the Web for the addresses of restaurants and monuments — is not.
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Verizon, for example, has a global data plan that includes 100 megabytes of data for $25 a month. (Yes, you pay the full amount even if you’re traveling for only a week.) That’s 25 cents a megabyte. Not exactly cheap. Yet it is when you compare it with the $20.48 for a single megabyte that you would have to fork over if you didn’t buy the plan and instead decided to pay as-you-go in a city like Rome. The cost of these plans — or whether you can use them at all — depends on factors including your phone carrier, the type of phone you have and where you plan to use it. Yet any data package, like Verizon’s 100 megabyte option, prompts a broader question: What exactly can you do with 100 megabytes?
As it turns out, not much.

Srini Devadas, a computer science professor at M.I.T., said sending emails doesn’t eat a lot of data, but the fun stuff does. “It’s the photos and videos and the maps,” he said, explaining that emailing a single high-resolution photo is 2 to 5 megabytes. He estimated that a 10-minute video call would be about 24 megabytes.

Companies including Verizon and AT&T have megabyte calculators on their websites that let you estimate how much data you’ll need by selecting the things you plan to do (send emails, upload photos, surf the Web) and for how long. For instance, based on AT&T’s figures, visiting 50 web pages equals about 50 megabytes. Thirty social media posts with photos are roughly 10 megabytes. Downloading 10 songs? Forty megabytes. Boom: You just burned through 100 megabytes. And forget about 4G video streaming. According to Verizon’s figures, that’s 5.8 megabytes a minute. In other words, you would blow well over 100 megabytes watching a 30-minute episode of your favorite television series.

None of this is a science. How much data you use depends on a variety of things, including the resolution and size of your photos and videos. Always opt for the lowest when sending or uploading. Another way to save: When walking around a city, use offline mapping apps like City Maps 2Go andOsmAnd, which can work without an Internet connection. (Such apps can take a toll on your phone’s battery life so consider the time-honored tradition of carrying a paper map.) And of course patience will save you money: Spend the day taking all the photos and videos you want but upload them later using Wi-Fi at your hotel.

Willing to get a little creative? Mr. Menezes of Gartner suggests looking at T-Mobile’s “simple choice” plan. For $50 a month you get unlimited talk, texting and data on your home network but also unlimited data and texting in more than 100 countries at no extra charge. There’s no annual service contract either. See where he’s going with this? If you select the $50 a month plan, you’ll have unlimited data and texting in dozens of countries for a flat fee. (Phone calls to the United States are 20 cents a minute; calls to landlines in some countries are free.) And if you have an old phone that’s compatible with T-Mobile, you can use that rather than spend money for a new phone. Obviously T-Mobile didn’t create this plan for people to use it for, say, a month and then cancel, but you could, without penalty.

Still, everything comes at a price of one sort or another: Some tasks, like streaming music and video, will be slow when you’re abroad. To remedy this, T-Mobile sells high-speed data passes, but these are not ideal for heavy data users. For instance, it’s $15 for a one-day 100 megabyte pass and $50 for a 14-day 500 megabyte pass. If, on the other hand, you plan do a lot of texting and use your data mainly for emails, social networking and Web browsing, the “simple choice” plan might be right for you.

Bottom line: Phone company plans are not always the most affordable way to go, but they offer one-stop shopping directly with your carrier.

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SIM Cards
Travelers who want to make local calls at their destination sometimes buy a SIM card (a microchip that can be inserted into a cellphone) from a provider other than their home phone company, which gives them a local phone number — and local calling rates. To do so, your phone must be “unlocked,” allowing it to be used on another network. Ask your phone company if it will unlock your phone (it might not) or search online for a phone that’s already unlocked (Amazon’s cellphones and accessories department has an “unlocked phones” category where you can find a used one for less than $50). At your destination you’ll need to visit a newsstand or mobile phone store to buy the SIM card (American suppliers generally charge much more), then activate the card with instructions that are, alas, sometimes in another language. You won’t be using your own phone number if you go this route. And because you’ll have a local number, if anyone in the United States calls you and doesn’t have an international calling plan, they’ll get socked with a fat bill. (Check with your provider about SIM cards and calling plans, as there are special rates for some places, including Mexico.)

Bottom line: If you’re an inexperienced traveler or, as Mr. Menezes pointed out, visiting someplace where you don’t speak the language, there can be a learning curve involved in using a SIM card that you may not want to tackle. But this continues to be one of the best ways to make cheap local calls.

Hot Spots
If you use a lot of data and want to avoid overage fees, your best bet is to turn off data roaming and buy an unlimited pass for citywide Wi-Fi instead. One company, Boingo, offers one-month unlimited mobile Wi-Fi access for two devices at more than 700,000 hot spots worldwide for $7.95. This is a recurring subscription, so if you want the service for only a month, you have to cancel, but there’s no fee for doing so. If you were to use Boingo in London, for example, you would discover that there are 32,209 hot spots in public spaces, 721 in restaurants and 244 in retailers. You can see city maps with hot spots at Boingo.com.
Wi-Fi opens up a whole new set of affordable uses for your phone, like making voice calls and texting. Download Skype before you travel and you can make free phone calls (as long as both parties are members). You can text free too, using apps like WhatsApp. Note, though, that calls and messages through these services are free only if you’re using them over free Wi-Fi. Data charges apply when you’re not.
In some cities, you don’t even have to buy a Wi-Fi pass, thanks to free public networks. Paris, for instance, has more than 250 free hot spots. Apps like Free Wi-Fi Finder, which works even if you shut off data roaming, can help you locate Wi-Fi.
Alas, free public Wi-Fi has a significant downside: Users are at risk of “sniffer” attacks, designed to steal information like IDs and passwords. Professor Devadas advised against using Internet browsers to log onto websites like Gmail, Yahoo and Facebook. You would be wise not to do your banking either. It’s less dangerous to download email through inboxes you configured in your phone’s operating system. But of course the safest option — and neither you nor I want to hear it — is to avoid free hot spots altogether.
Bottom line: If you use a lot of data and are willing to gamble with free public Wi-Fi, you’ll save serious money.
As you can see, each method has its pros and cons. Just be sure to choose before you travel. And remember: You’re exploring someplace new. Soak it up. Put down the phone.

PAYING THE PRICE TO STAY IN TOUCH
A look at the amount of data it might take to perform some common tasks on your smartphone when traveling, based on estimates from Srini Devadas, a computer science professor at M.I.T.*
Sending an all-text email: 1 to 10 kilobytes.
Sending an email with high-resolution photo attachment: 2 to 5 megabytes.
Uploading photo to a social media site: 1 to 5 megabytes, depending on resolution.

Uploading a 3-minute video to a social media site: 5 to 15 megabytes.
Making a 10-minute video call: 24 megabytes.
Watching a 30-minute standard-definition video: 30 to 90 megabytes.

* These numbers may differ from those of your phone carrier. How much data you use depends on factors including the type of phone, the resolution and size of the photos and videos you’re uploading or downloading, and the proximity of cell towers.

Courtsey : Stephanie Rosenbloom | NY Times


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The Bee Gees and a few noise-avoidance tricks & harmonic tweaking

One day in 1968, members of the BeeGees were flying aboard a British Airways Vickers Viscount plane, listening closely to the aircraft noise inside the cabin. “It was one of those old four-engine ‘prop’ jobs’ that seemed to drone the passenger into a sort of hypnotic trance, only with this it was different,” the late singer Robin Gibb once said in a BeeGees anthology. “The droning, after a while, appeared to take the form of a tune, which mysteriously sounded like a church choir.” According to Gibb, it inspired one of the band’s most famous songs, I Started A Joke. read more


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A Caribbean Rum Trail

“Care to kiss the ground?” The question came, with a slightly patronizing grin, from Norman Murray, local sage and tour guide in the rural parish of St. Elizabeth, Jamaica. “Our visitors from Europe, America — this is a holy pilgrimage for them. So, really,” he egged me on, “feel free.” Confession: I nearly knelt. After years of visiting Jamaica, I had at last landed in Appleton Estate, a centuries-old temple of sorts, teeming with spirits and nestled in the lush Nassau Valley. read more


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Europe’s Most Beautiful Villages – Tellaro, Italy

From the Alps to the Mediterranean, these frozen-in-time European villages will make you appreciate the beauty of taking it slow.

The notion of postcard-perfect villages steeped in old-world charm has inspired centuries of travelers to fan out across Europe, seeking its secluded hamlets.

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Tellaro, Italy
Snaking cliff-top roads and a minuscule harbor have protected Tellaro from the wave of tourism that has swallowed other Ligurian seaside towns like Vernazza and Portofino. A jumble of pastel buildings clings vertiginously to the sheer cliffs of Tellaro, which occupies the easternmost tip of the Golfo dei Poeti. It’s named for the poets and literary icons like Lord Byron and D. H. Lawrence who have sought inspiration in this Mediterranean haven. read more


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Beautiful Railway Stations around the World

There’s more to admire than the passing scenery. Have your camera ready when you pull into these beautiful train stations. read more


Hertz Launches New Ultra Luxury Car Fleet

When it comes to choosing a rental car, I’m always spinning my wheels, trying to balance comfort and price, and always ending up with something as sensible (read: boring) as a Chevy Aveo or Nissan Versa. Yeesh! What am I—a bank examiner or something? Now I have every reason, if not necessarily the funds, to don a pair of Tod’s Gommino driving shoes and Brooks Brothers deerskin driving gloves (and perhaps a rueful smirk) and step behind the wheel of a real mean machine, thanks to Hertz’s new DreamCar program, which launched this week. read more


luggage tag airlines & hotels of the 20th century

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Back in the day, travelling was a privilege reserved only the rich. Displaying a luggage tag on your luggage was the ultimate symbol of status and evidence of your travels. The luggage tag was given to paying customers of airlines or hotels during the first half of the read more


Eisbach – European River Surfing Championships

At the Eisbach, a small channel branching off the Isar River in downtown Munich, people in wetsuits line the banks, waiting patiently for their turn in one of the world’s more unlikely surfing capitals.

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Munich is 500km from the coast and more than 1,100km from any surfable ocean breaks. But an read more


4 Great New Books for Travelers

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Looking for some good reads while you’re on the road? Here are some new travelogues written by travelers, for travelers.
The Perfect Meal: In Search of the Lost Tastes of France, by John Baxter (On sale now, Harper Perennial Press). Following the 2010 decision by UNESCO to declare French formal dining a part of humanity’s “intangible cultural heritage,” Baxter journeys around the country to recreate the type of meal UNESCO deemed so significant. Full of humor, insight, and mouth-watering details, The Perfect Meal is a delightful tour of “traditional” French culture and cuisine.
 
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The International Bank of Bob: Connecting Our Worlds One $25 Kiva Loan at a Time, by Bob Harris (On sale March 5th, Walker & Company). Hired as a freelance writer to tour the most luxurious destinations on earth, Bob Harris could not get over the disconnect between the ultra-deluxe hotels and the impoverished laborers who built them. Afterward, Harris loaned his earnings to individuals around the world through Kiva, a charity that uses the Nobel-prize-winning approach of micro-financing to lessen poverty. Heartwarming and fascinating (and also laugh-out-loud funny), The International Bank of Bob chronicles Harris’s globe-trotting journeys on which he meets the recipients of his $25 loans.
 
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Here, There, Elsewhere: Stories from the Road, by William Least Heat-Moon (On sale now. Little, Brown and Company). An anthology of nearly thirty previously published travel stories, this collection by the best-selling author of Blue Highways explores the notion of discovering the “elsewheres” of the world. Journey with him as he searches for Faulkner inMississippi, chats with Japanese World War Two veterans in Nagano prefecture, and witnesses Mayan magic in the Yucatan.
 
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Access All Areas: Selected Writings 1990-2011, by Sara Wheeler (On sale now, North Point Press). Another anthology, Access All Areas compiles smart and engaging travel essays by Wheeler in celebration of her fiftieth birthday. The prolific British travel author (and member of the Royal Society of Literature) has selected an eclectic mix of pieces that reflect her many varied experiences while traveling. At times tragic, and at other times hilarious, Wheeler’s Access All Areas covers almost all areas of the world, from pole to pole, with stops in Poland in between.

by Peter Schlesinger an editorial intern at Travel + Leisure.

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Road Trip USA

USA Road trip including New York San Francisco Grand Canyon Arizona and Nevada

Shot with a Canon7D by Menassier Gabriel

 

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