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Cool Eco-Friendly Travel Gadgets

green travel devices

When it comes to the environment, technology can be a double-edged sword. New devices use up energy and precious resources, but they also offer exciting ways to travel green. These days, the best are doing this while also lightening their footprints. Take the Android-powered Samsung Replenish smartphone ($50), made from recycled plastic and without many of the toxic chemicals found in other phones. It is loaded with a bundle of eco-friendly apps (Treehugger; National Audubon Society) and can be powered using a solar battery charger. Music lovers, meanwhile, can take comfort in knowing that the new Etón Soulra XL ($300) iPod dock, which is designed to resemble an old-school boom box, not only charges while it plays but lasts up to five hours on a single solar charge—perfect for the beach. Unfortunately, most travel-size solar chargers are still not strong enough to power your laptop. In the meantime, though, there’s the Energy Star–rated IDAPT i1 Eco ($24.99). Constructed of recycled materials, it lets you charge nearly any device on the go. The green edge: when a gadget is fully powered, the IDAPT turns itself off—conserving essential electricity.

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New Taxi App Rolling Out in Major European Cities

20107-b-moscowjpgSeventy-nine billionaires now live in Moscow—more than in any other city—and it’s easy to see how they get around. Mercedes, Bentley, Maserati, and other luxury brands clog the roads. As for the millions of other Muscovites, they can flag down any enterprising driver for a ride. Locals make extra rubles by offering impromptu cab services at rates negotiated on the spot. And then there are the vans known as matrushkas that swerve through traffic, picking up passengers and dropping them at requested stops.

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Alaska Travel: There's an App for That

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Our friends at MSNBC Travel are reporting that Denali National Park is maxing out on visitors. We knew Alaska was a popular summertime destination, but it seems travelers are turning its most famous (and accessible) park into the next Yellowstone. So with all the people exploring the 49th state, we thought we’d give you the heads up on a great app we found to research your trip and use while you’re there.

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Destination Radio: Emirates Airline Launches a (Cool) New App

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With the invention of the iPod and the digitalization of music, listening to the radio seems to be almost prehistoric. Whenever I start a sentence with the phrase, “I heard on the radio today…” my friends are at first confused, then immediately flabbergasted that I would partake in such a seemingly unhip activity (I guess it’s my nostalgic nature, or the fact that I’m too lazy to play DJ all the time).

But radio has been making a comeback, especially when Pandora Radio was launched in 2005, introducing the masses to the digital (i.e. cool) version of its dashboard predecessor. And now, with the iPhone spurring on the creation of a plethora of apps, radio is back.

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TODAY Show: Best Travel Apps + Websites

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Features Director Nilou Motamed dishes on the best travel apps and websites right now. Check out Travel + Leisure's top must-know resources for the connected traveler.

In-flight Wi-fi Slow to Expand Outside the US

BBC Travel's Passport Blog |  While in-flight wi-fi is fairly common on domestic US carriers, its availability on flights elsewhere in the world has been growing at a much slower rate, a frustrating issue for frequent travellers who have become reliant on staying connected at all times.

"In-flight internet makes my time in the air equivalent to time in the office,” said North Carolina-based Ramsey Qubein, who flies more than 300,000 miles per year on writing assignments. “When I’m flying overseas, it's frustrating that I cannot access my email. While I relish the time away from the office, it leads to a bit of mayhem upon landing when I am in no mood to handle multiple emails."

Gogo, the leading provider of in-flight internet in the US, began installing a network of ground-based wi-fi antennae throughout the continental US and southern Alaska in 2006, which has been key to its fast growth since the service debuted in 2008. …

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Top Italian Food Guide Apps

Elizabeth Minchilli

Who She Is: Though she’s been known for years as a writer of books about Italian interiors, Elizabeth Minchilli’s greatest passion is food—an interest that blossomed after her family moved from St. Louis to Rome when she was 12. “By the time I was 14, I was cooking for the whole family,” recalls the writer, who, in addition to writing for Food & Wine, posts daily about Italian cuisine and travel on her blog.

Her Big Idea: “I’ve always had my own list of restaurants to recommend to friends when they come to town,” Minchilli explains. “People kept saying, ‘You should do an app.’” Earlier this year, she did just that, with the launch of Eat Rome and Eat Florence ($2.99 each; iTunes). Both are searchable, GPS-enabled apps with Minchilli’s picks and reviews for the best places to eat, drink, and shop for food in each city, complete with downloadable maps for offline viewing (to avoid costly roaming charges).

Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Minchilli

CNN American Morning: How to Enjoy a Tech-Free Vacation

Do you get the shakes just thinking about traveling without your iPhone or Blackberry? Maybe what you need is digital detox. On the set of CNN American Morning today, T+L International Editor Mark Orwoll gave some examples of hotels and resorts that are helping travelers go through electronic rehab.

Hotel Towels Tagged with Traceable Microchips?

201107-b-towels-istockjpgDailyMail Online |  The days of hotel guests helping themselves to towels and robes when they check out could be a thing of the past as high tech gets in to the linen.

One company has come up with a way of adding miniature tags in the expensive materials which were costing hotel managements a fortune to constantly replace.

It has long been assumed, wrongly in most cases, that the smart towelling robes and plush fluffy towels were fair game for guests looking to save some cash at home. But now beware—they may come with an electronic leash as more and more hotels are turning to new radio frequency chips to keep track of their inventory.

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Contest Watch: Thailand Escape, Historic Belfast + Romantic VT

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This month’s Contest Watch has a mixture of innovation and history. Honor the Titanic’s 100th anniversary with a grand trip to Ireland or look to a social-media startup to get you to Thailand. Inspired by past, present, or future, these prizes are guaranteed to get you traveling.

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