Q: What’s a Chip & PIN card, and do I need one if I’m going to Europe?
A: For the past decade, Europe has been moving away from the swipe-and-sign credit cards that we use domestically and toward those employing a Chip & PIN system (also called EMV). These cards protect users from fraud by asking them, with each purchase, to confirm a numeric code that’s stored in the card’s data chip. But although Chip & PIN is now the primary payment method in much of Europe, you can still get by with your American plastic—just as long as you can find an attendant to process the transaction. Even so, it’s best to prepare for the rare occasion when nobody is available. If you don’t already use one, call your bank to establish a four-digit PIN, which will make any card compatible with EMV machines. And while some travelers may feel it’s more hassle than help, you may buy a Chip & PIN Cash Passport from Travelex which allows you to preload euros or British pounds on to a universally accepted card (leftover cash can be transferred back into your bank account).
Over 3,000 exhibitors and 1.85 million square feet of eye-popping innovations later, annual gadget industry gala the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) has finally wrapped in Las Vegas, leaving frequent travelers surprised in more ways than one.
An evolutionary, not revolutionary, year for technology, key revelations nonetheless spanned the entire spectrum, including the weird (hooray, Internet-enabled forks), wild (see: self-driving cars), and wacky (enter the robotic spider walkers). Happily, a few—i.e. smartphones and tablets with PC-grade power, Android-powered cameras, and remote home security system—may even make sense to the lay viewer. Big trends in 2013: Smart—a.k.a. online-enabled—everything, mass interconnectivity between gizmos, and growing set-top performance from pocket-sized devices, courtesy of performance-obsessed chipmakers like AMD and Qualcomm.
Too busy sprinting between connections to enjoy scene-stealers including 110-inch 4K or OLED (read: ultra-crisp, high-def) televisions and table-sized touchscreens, however? No sweat. Try one of these pocket rockets—among the year's top travel gadgets, and each destined to find a welcome home inside any purse or carry-on—instead. So what if they lack the sheer stopping power of living picture windows the size of billboards? All are infinitely easier to cram in an overhead bin, and infinitely more practical in-flight companion.
More than 110,000 visitors attended the Spring 2012 exhibition "Doisneau, Paris les Halles," a collection of photographs that portray the city’s demolished wholesale food market at the Hotel de Ville. The exhibition was timely: the old structures are being torn down. But if you missed the show—or were discouraged by the lines and the weather—it’s not too late to capture an enhanced digital experience. Now, you can download the free iPad application, which includes photographs, interviews, and special reports.
Paris-based Tina Isaac is a contributor to TravelandLeisure.com.
In celebration of the world not ending today*, I decided to start a new blog series highlighting the top social media travel news of the week, for anyone that may have missed the headlines. In the news big this week? Privacy policies.
Long before Hipstamatic and Instagram, the cool kids used Lomography cameras to take nostalgia-inducing photos on film. Now the Austrian company has a Maps Edition series with cartographic motifs: the Diana F+ (pictured) and Diana Mini for dreamy, 70’s-style pics; the Fisheye for distorted images; and the wide-angle La Sardina, which produces saturated colors. Bonus: they won’t drain your iPhone battery. From $99.
Q: Why do I have to turn off my devices during takeoff and landing?
A: Electronics emit a variety of frequencies that can interfere with navigation systems. The problem is: no one is sure which devices pose a threat. Variations in aircraft and individual gadgets (a new device is different from one that’s taken some abuse) make each situation unique. For now, better safe than sorry.
At this month’s 2012 PhoCusWright Conference, the travel tech industry’s much-anticipated annual event, many in attendance agreed that the Travel Innovation Summit, held on Day One, was, always, a highlight. (Read our conference dispatches here and here.)
It comes as no surprise that some of the most exciting, buzz-worthy attendees and presenters were the wunderkinds behind travel start-ups and high-profile online products. At the conference, they breakfasted together behind closed doors, networked, and schmoozed investors. Travel + Leisure sat down with select Millennial entrepreneurs—or maybe a better moniker is disruptors?—shaping the next generation of Travel.
The 84-year-old grande dame just unveiled the next-generation rooms of its modern tower, part of a $58 million, 15-month renovation. (The original building will reopen in April 2013.) T+L got an advance look at the 21st-century makeover, complete with cutting-edge technology hatched in the hotel’s own R&D lab and a sleek new design that maximizes space and functionality. $$$$
• Guests can make free international calls on the wireless phones with VoIP (voice over Internet protocol).
• Ten multi-language touch-screen panels placed around the room control the lights, curtains, thermostat, television, and Internet radio (all 3,000 stations).
Some 1,400 people from 30 countries are packed in this year to the PhoCusWright conference at the Westin Kierland in Scottsdale, Arizona. It’s three days that are themselves packed full of information on the travel technology industry. Day 1 is the Travel Innovation Summit, while Day 2 brings in CEOs and other industry big shots.
One of the highlights is always the interview with Dara Khosrowshahi, President and CEO of Expedia. His company’s back to double-digit growth this year, and they’ve been busy. They revamped their hotel search experience, and are about to do the same with flights and package tours. A feature we love about Expedia is its user hotel reviews; in order to write a review, someone has to have booked that hotel through Expedia and actually stayed there.