Travel Chatter: What's Hot on the Net, August 18, 2011


Slowly, but surely, we're getting back in the habit of sharing our favorite travel related links. Here are my favorite from the past week:

Travel Handmade A series of posts and tutorials on how to make your own handmade travel gear. Love the first in the series, the duffel bag. Might have to break out the sewing machine and re-teach myself how to sew.

Vayable allows people to buy and sell experiences in cities where they're visiting. Instead of more formal tours, an individual does the showing around in an area of expertise.

Protect Thy Passport Audrey and Dan at Uncornered Market share some invaluable tips on keeping your passport safe and sound while on the road. I really love the idea of keeping a laminated photocopy of the page in your wallet to use in a pinch.

Maybe it's because I'm a farmers market nerd, but I always love when Eileen of Bearshapedsphere shares with us/gloats over her farmers market haul in Santiago. I'm always impressed and love seeing what's in season in her part of the world.

Great iPhone Travel Apps

Iphone in someone's hand

Since the release of the App Store, users of the iPhone and iPod touch have seen a virtual flood of new applications that are useful for the traveler. Some of them are aimed at a particular city, while others are useful virtually anywhere. A few applications aren't aimed at travelers in particular, but can be invaluable when you're on the road.
To help you sift through the mountains of apps available, we've selected some that we'd gladly take with us on our next trip.

Quick Tip: Turn Off All That Data BEFORE You Leave the Country

tmobile g1 android phone
Image: tomsun.

Wow, I'm kinda embarrassed to admit this, but I'm totally in the dog house here in the Travellious house. I just got my T-Mobile phone bill covering the few days that I was in Aruba last month and it was a jaw dropper. I'll admit that I didn't do my research before hand, nor study up on the costs associated with using my phone abroad. I knew it was expensive (been there, done that) and thought I kept it to a minimum.

Why You Should Always Have a Trip Planned

my desk

The desk I've been spending far too much time at.

Perhaps a more appropriate title for this post should be "Why Kelly has been a terrible blogger in 2010." You may have noticed that I've been in a bit of a blogging slump. I could give you a list of excuses, that I've been busy working on another project, The Wondermap or that I've been spending what's left of my time afterwards offline. Sure, that's part of it, but I came to realize a few days ago that my problem might be one that others share. I didn't have any trips planned. It's hard to inspire other people to travel when you yourself lack such inspiration.

On Being A Good Visitor

Image: sharkbait.

After a recent long-ish trip to Italy, we've learned a few more tricks and tips about being a good, non-annoying, helpful, and grateful houseguest. Of course, it helps to have awesome people to stay with, but we've got some great tips that will help you no matter who you're crashing with. -Austin
You've probably had one or two in your life, we all have. Who, you might ask? Clueless out of town friends, that's who. Odds are you've been that unprepared friend more than once yourself. I've got a few tips to help you be a better visitor the next time you head off to see far-away friends.

Five Ways a Local Newspaper Helps a Last Minute Planner

reading the newspaper
Image: dsevilla.

Headed on a trip and don't have much time to plan? Why not skip the guidebook in favor of a local paper? Many cities, big and small, feature an alternative paper that really gives you the flavor of the city. Written by passionate, interesting and offbeat locals, they are the easiest way to get up to date, and peek into the arts, culture, food and music scene. Best of all, they're free. Still not convinced? Check out our five ways that a local paper can help you plan your next trip.

Travel Tip: Avoid Downtown Hotels

Downtown Los Angeles
Image: vgm8383.

We originally posted this a few months ago, but found it particularly compelling given our recent stay outside of downtown Austin. Getting yourself away from the tourist hub may mean a bus ride and some planning, but these tiny inconveniences will be rewarded twofold.
Often, when planning a trip to a city, we find ourselves looking downtown for accommodations. After all, on paper, business districts are attractive because they tend to have more transit, more well-known museums and attractions, and swankier hotels. However, in reality, staying downtown often leaves the traveller surrounded by homogenous financial buildings, lunchtime-only or high-end restaurants, and department-store shopping. If you're looking for a more offbeat trip, then staying downtown may not be for you.

Uncommon Guidebooks: Getting Out

Getting Out - Your Guide To Leaving America

Are you interested in living and working abroad, but aren't sure how to go about it? Or, are you just plain fed up with where you live and want to get away? Getting Out - Your Guide To Leaving America, by Mark Ehrman, is a great resource to answer all these questions and more. It guides you through a a range of topics, including how to leave, obtaining visas or foreign citizenship, working abroad, choosing a country, and even gets into the fine details of finances once you're there. Basically, if you've ever seriously considered moving to another country, this book is great one to get you started.

How To: Choose a Guidebook

borders bookstore middle east travel section
Image: stevendamron.

If you're trying to decide on a guidebook for your next trip, it's important for you to find one that suits your travel style. How do you do that? Don't just pick up the most well known guide or the one a friend recommended. The next time you're perusing the travel section in the bookstore, keep these three questions in mind.

Quick Tip: Forgotten Expenses

Image: velo city.

When you're setting aside a budget for an upcoming trip, it's easy to remember all the fun things that you'll need money to do, but what about those expenses incurred at home? If you can't beg, borrow, or steal to get something taken care of for you while you're away, paying for a specialized services can quickly add up. Here are a few ideas to keep in mind to keep unwelcome financial surprises at bay.