Tips + Strategies
These mobile tools—each vetted by T+L tech correspondent Tom Samiljan—will help you get closer to nature without cutting the (phone) cord. Pick your adventure alter-ego and find out which app is the best for you.
Zoom in on a planet (or star) for extra details.
This stargazing app sees the sky through your camera and instantly annotates the applicable constellations. Location-specific animations tell you when you might see certain stars based on where you are anywhere in the world. The best part: this pocket astronomer works seamlessly without data roaming. $2.99, iOS.
Frequent travelers, it’s time to conquer our worst enemy: jet lag.
While there’s no easy way to completely beat jet lag, there are several steps you can take to ease the pain of crossing multiple time zones quickly.
Travel wasn’t always this difficult on our internal clocks. But each technological advancement in transportation also brought changes to our time management. When long-distance railroads took off, matching timetables with local times became a challenge. So in 1883, we created standardized time zones.
The advent of the jet age in 1958 brought a new problem. We suddenly could traverse several time zones faster than our bodies could adjust. Eight years later, the term “jet lag” appeared in the Los Angeles Times (the earliest recorded mention, according to Air & Space magazine).
The term caught on, of course. And, as we know, jet lag is particularly bad when flying east.
Travel is exciting, yes. But, the packing process—especially for families—is stressful. To do it efficiently takes time and focus. To avoid mass dumpage into the suitcase, I start packing two weeks before we leave. And, I challenge myself to halve what I “think” we need.
I place a cardboard box next to the table and drop things in as I think of them: books, sunscreen, shampoo, and medicine. First, I pack the kids. I begin laying the clothes out by category on the dining room table: undies, PJs, tops, bottoms, dresses, hats, shoes. Then, I create a small grooming kit for each kid with brush, toothbrush, hair ties, and Band-Aids. A few days later, I revisit the mounds and remove what is not entirely necessary.
When it comes to saving money on flights, booking early is key—especially since many ski areas are accessible via mountain airports that accept only a small number of flights each day. Other smart times to look for tickets: right before Thanksgiving and just after the New Year. Kayak crunched the numbers for us, and found that the average domestic airfare to Salt Lake City was at its lowest during those periods last year.
Staying in touch with your loved ones while on a business trip can be tough.
You want to maximize your limited time away, so you get up early, schedule meetings all day, then have a business dinner followed by cocktails. By the time you’re done and get back to your hotel room, your family might be long asleep and you’ve missed a chance to connect.
And that doesn’t even factor in long flights, time zone changes, and cell phone dead zones.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
Ski resorts are full of vacation properties, many of which are available for rent at cut-rate prices. Another bonus: having a built-in kitchen helps save money on meals. Rent-by-owner sites VRBO and HomeAway have more than 95,000 ski properties between them, including residences that are attached to major resorts. Airbnb, which has a growing number of ski listings, is particularly good when it comes to smaller or more offbeat properties. Both HomeAway and Airbnb have helpful mapping functions that allow you to see if a place you’re considering is slopeside—or a long walk (in ski boots) from the mountain. If you really want to save, though, look for properties that are outside major resort areas, such as Frisco, Colorado, which is 30 minutes from Vail.
If you do plan on booking a room at a hotel, ask what sort of lift-ticket-and-lodging offers it has available. (Most give discounts if you bundle this way.) You’ll also find hundreds of ski-and-save packages on Ski.com, which works with top lodges in more than 100 resorts worldwide.
Have a travel dilemma? Need some tips and remedies? Send your questions to news editor Amy Farley at email@example.com. Follow @tltripdoctor on Twitter.
Photo courtesy of Airbnb.com
With day-of lift passes well over the $100 mark for many resorts (they’re now as high as $130 at Colorado’s Vail and Beaver Creek), buying a ticket at the window is simply a fool’s game. The good news is that many mountains are experimenting with dynamic pricing online, enticing skiers with advance-purchase deals (to lock in an early commitment) and even last-minute sales when it looks like a slow weekend is ahead.
Begin by looking for multiday passes on a resort’s own website, which can yield up to 40 percent off window prices. To comparison-shop with specific dates in mind, try the site Liftopia, which collects and sells tens of thousands of deals from more than 250 resorts worldwide. Some things to keep in mind: Book as early as possible. Preseason sales are generally the best. And stay flexible with your dates. Lift tickets are usually lower midweek and during quieter times: before Christmas; following major holiday weekends; and before and after the Spring Break rush, which takes place the last three weeks of March. Liftopia also offers sales on traditionally slow days: Christmas, New Year’s Day, and Super Bowl Sunday.
I’m thinking of getting out of the frequent-flier-mile game. It’s just not worth it anymore.
No, I won’t completely abandon it. There’s still plenty of value in earning miles for flights, gaining points for hotel stays, and remaining loyal to one brand.
But the mileage credit card frenzy? It isn’t worth it anymore.
A: Overseas, tipping is by and large not expected at every interaction. So if you don’t have the right change, you won’t break your bellman’s heart. That said, handing out a few American dollars is also acceptable; it’s a nice gesture of thanks and—in some parts of the world—U.S. dollars are as welcome as local currency. If you have no change and your bellman did a top-notch job, it’s worth seeking him or her out at the end of your stay to deliver a tip.
In the United States, where porters often make less than minimum wage, tips are expected to supplement salaries. So don’t be shy about asking a bellman to break a larger bill. “These people are working for cash, so they have cash on hand,” says one bellman at a New York City hotel. Otherwise, get your porter’s name and leave a tip with the concierge before you check out.
Melanie Lieberman is the Editorial Projects Assistant and a member of the Trip Doctor News Team. You can follow her on twitter at @LittleWordBites.
Photo by HBSS/Corbis
With a name like Hercules, the snow storm set to bear down on the Northeastern U.S. tonight and tomorrow is sure to cause some heavy damage. Inches of predicted snow fall are in the double-digits for cities from New York to Washington, D.C. (up to 18 inches), while the National Weather Service has issued blizzard warnings for Long Island and parts of lower New England. Major highways like I-87 and I-84 will close from midnight until 5 a.m. Friday. Take these tips from T+L to prepare for the first blizzard of 2014:
Be aware of flight delays by signing up for text and email alerts from FlightStats as well as your airline.
Bring adapters and chargers with you to the airport to keep all of your gadgets and mobile devices running (entertainment for your toddler means sanity for you). Travel-friendly board games and packable snacks are also smart for kids.