5 Reasons Why the New Apple Watch May Be Your Travel BFF
Shelling out $350 or more for an Apple Watch is a big decision, but it might be easier to make when you factor in all the nifty new functions that are especially useful for frequent travelers. The newfangled ticker, available for pre-order April 10 and on sale April 24, may not be able to magically teleport you to Sydney in the blink of an eye, sci-fi style (don't we wish), but it could streamline several practical facets of your vacation.
1. Keyless hotel room entry, flight reminders, and more: On top of built-in apps like Passbook, which stores boarding passes and tickets and reminds you when to use them, several travel-related apps will be available for download on Apple Watch, making the watch ultra-customizable depending on what's important to you when you travel. For example: A Starwood Hotels app on the Apple Watch will let you check in the second you walk into a hotel's lobby (no front-desk pit stop required), send you your room number, and enable you to simply wave your wrist in front of your door to unlock your room. And that's not all Starwood wants the Apple Watch to do. It hopes to introduce features like stored preferences that enable your favorite cocktail to be delivered to you when you sit down at the bar, without uttering a word to the barkeep. Will the Starwood app also tuck us in at night? We're sure that's in the planning stages too.
Another useful optional feature: The American Airlines app, which not only reminds you when you need to leave for the airport but allows you to check in for your flight from your watch and then gives you easy-to-view details in the air, like how much time is left in your flight, where you are in the sky, which baggage claim you should head toward when you land, and information about your connection. You can continue to fill your watch with apps you personally consider indispensable while you're traveling, whether that's Instagram, public-transit guide Citymapper, Evernote, TripAdvisor, Expedia, PayByPhone Parking, the Dark Sky weather app, language-learning app Babbel, OpenTable, or other fitness- and food-related apps. See a lengthy list of them here.
2. Auto time zone adjustment: Chicago to Barcelona? Manitoba to Venezuela? No worries. Apple Watch automatically switches to the time zone you're in, eliminating that awkward moment spent fiddling with your watch's crown after the plane lands—or after you missed your dinner reservation. Ditto with Daylight Savings Time. Even a Rolex doesn't do that.
3. Maps: Instead of winding through Parisian streets at night while staring down at your phone trying to figure out how to get back to your hotel (not that, ahem, we've ever done that), you can rely on the vibrations Apple Watch sends to your wrist to subtly tell you which way to turn to reach your destination. That's especially handy in an unfamiliar city when you want to avoid looking like a tourist, whether for safety or vanity reasons. Apple also just announced that the watch's battery life will last 18 hours (a.k.a. all day), so finding a place to recharge it won't be an issue.
4. Apple Pay: Double-click a button on the side of Apple Watch, hold it up next to a merchant's payment reader, and boom—you've just paid for a souvenir mouse mug at Walt Disney World in Florida without even touching your wallet. So far, Apple Pay is only available at major chains (think Chevron and McDonald's), but depending on whether this thing takes off, you could be paying for a pork schnitzel in Germany with your timepiece in the near future. That's good for travelers who are nervous about carrying cash or too many credit cards in foreign cities. Even if a thief lifts your Apple Watch, the device senses that no one is wearing it and goes into lockdown mode until a code is entered to activate Apple Pay again.
5. All-day fitness tracker: When you're eating your way through Rome or ordering your third piña colada of the day at an all-inclusive, your usual gym routine can go by the wayside. Enter the Apple Watch's Activity app, including an accelerometer to track your body's movements, plus a sensor that measures intensity via your heart rate. Combine those functions with the GPS and Wi-Fi in your phone that record the distance you've trekked, and Apple Watch spits all that data out in handy little charts, including how many calories you've burned. If you see that you've barely moved that day, save for a leisurely stroll to your beachside lounger, you'll know to schedule a salsa dancing class that evening or a hike the next day. There's a reminder to stand up for at least a minute every hour too—handy for long flights. Conversely, if you're actively pounding the pavement to see a new city's sights, it'll be fun to gauge how much your activity has increased from the norm. Which means more ricotta cannoli for you, guilt-free.
Save Money and Time on Broadway Tickets!
I'm a theater lover, and I'm going to sound a little giddy right now, okay? A new app, TodayTix, helps to take the mystery, expense, and lines out of the Broadway ticket-buying process and literally (I am not misusing that word here) hand-delivers discount tickets to you. I must confess that, even though I'm a total Broadway baby (my dad worked on Broadway when I was a kid, I have written and performed in my own plays and musicals, and my definition of the perfect date is a Broadway show), the Broadway ticket-buying process has always pushed my social-anxiety buttons to the max. Buying tickets by phone or on the Web often means paying full price plus fees, but waiting on line at the TKTS booth in Times Square for half-price tickets has never been my favorite option because of the potential for long lines (depending on time of day). As a consequence, I don't see nearly as many shows as I would like to. Enter TodayTix, a new app that tells you which shows have available seats, lets you buy them at a discounted price, and then—for real—arranges for you to meet a concierge at the theater door who will hand you your tickets. This is the kind of luxe-for-less treatment Budget Travelers can totally revel in: Save money, save time, and feel like a VIP while you're doing it. What shows are are you going to see? This time of year, all eyes are on Broadway's Tony Awards. But here's an insider's scoop: Regardless of who walks away with the big awards this year, if you are in the NYC area I suggest you download TodayTix (for iOS and Google Play) and nab tickets to Terrence McNally's new Tony-nominated play Mothers and Sons at the Golden Theatre. From the moment the curtain rises on a ferociously vulnerable Tyne Daly (who plays a Dallas matron visiting Manhattan 20 years after her son's death from AIDS) to the play's unexpectedly transcendant—and sweet—ending, I was either mesmerized, laughing, or wiping tears. Oh, and if you're wondering where locals grab a bite before or after a show, I'm going to ask you to keep a secret: The Cafe Edison (228 West 47th St., between Broadway and Eighth Ave.) serves the best deli favorites in the theater district for well under $20 per person, and you'll be surrounded not by hordes of out-of-towners but actors, playwrights, and stagehands who love the theater even more than I do. If you want to dine like a Budget Travel editor, order the brisket on rye, a cup of matzo ball soup, and a chocolate egg cream—and tell them Rob sent you.
Can Hopper Help YOUR Travel Dreams Come True?
Whoa. The folks at Hopper.com have set the bar pretty high: They want to help answer three of the most commonly asked travel questions: Where can I vacation for less? What's the best day to buy airline tickets? And what's the best day to fly? Hopper's "When to Fly and Buy" function (on the right-hand side of its homepage), lets you enter your departing city and your destination, just like many other travel deal sites. But after analyzing millions of flights over the past several weeks, and scanning prices for upcoming flights, Hopper provides a near-instant snapshot of your flight options in conversational prose. With flights to Europe sky-high in recent years, I wondered whether Hopper could help me make my dream pilgrimage to James Joyce's Dublin come true. I entered New York's JFK and Dublin. Hopper provided me with flight options between $750 and $850 (not bad these days), and told me that Mondays would be my best day to buy tickets (saving me up to $36 per ticket), that Tuesdays would be my best day to depart (saving me up to $115 per ticket), and Wednesdays my best day to return (saving me up to $59 per ticket). October offered the best prices in the coming months. Call me impatient, but I like the way Hopper lets me see options at a glance, without having to wade through data myself. I'm curious—has Hopper helped your travel dreams along lately?
5 Helpful Apps For Visiting Singapore
This article was written by Sia Ling Xin, who travels and writes about it for Asiarooms.com, a blog and online community focused on travelling in Asia. You can also find her on Twitter. The modern traveller knows there is no need to carry various maps, train schedules, and a hefty guidebook. After all, there are a whole host of mobile phone applications that cater to just about every possible scenario. And Singapore may just be the perfect place to start practicing your techy-traveller skills. The government alone has pushed out 1600 WIFI hotspots so far, and just a few weeks ago, a dedicated WIFI zone was launched in tourist hotspot Chinatown. If you're planning a visit to Singapore, check out these five free apps that are bound to help you out. HungryGoWhereThe name of this app, a lexicon of Singlish, means 'where should you go when you're hungry?' You can search by location, cuisine type, name of restaurant, or for different occasions. It includes everything from Michelin restaurants to hawker centres, and even various branches of chain restaurants can be found. Simply look at the overall number of stars each establishment has, and counter-check against reviews left by those who have patronized the place. A good gauge is to see how the recent reviews make the place out to be—a 4-star restaurant that suffered a drop in standards in recent months might not have its overall ranking pulled down yet, or a 3-star café that revived its menu might be gaining a following but is still affected by older reviews. Their app also collects information from diners on how much they spent and the must-tries in the restaurant, so it is easy to budget and plan your order. Whether you are intent on planning your gastronomy adventure and making reservations in advance, or just making a last minute search for a highly recommended dinner place, this app will come in handy. AsiaRoomsIf you're the sort of person who hunts for hotel deals while on the go, check out the AsiaRooms app, which recently made the Apple App Store's list of 'Best New Apps.' Doing important research on your mobile device can be tricky, but the updated app makes checking hotel reviews and prices a breeze. No matter if you are on a squeezy morning bus on the way to work, or boarding the plane for a spontaneous getaway, the app is designed for the busy, multi-tasking traveller who also wants a great hotel room. Spontaneous souls can score great last minute hotels; early birds can kick-start their vacation excitement by booking hotel rooms up to a year in advance, especially with the 'book-now-pay-later' feature. The instant confirmation also really comes in handy if there is a deal you want to snap up. GoThere.sgA common traveller fear is getting lost. Sometimes, all the online research and all the maps you consult still leave you baffled. GoThere.sg is shows you the various ways to get to your destination (a train then a bus, or a bus then a walk, etc.), the journey time, and costs. It even prompts you to just walk to your destination if it's just a short distance away. IrisIris is the acronym for Intelligent Route Information System. Essentially, it tracks the arrival timings, routes, and operating hours of buses under one of Singapore's two major bus service providers, SBS Transit—easily identifiable by the red and white bus exteriors. The app is useful for instances when you have a choice of two or more buses to take, as it allows you to check which one will arrive first. It also shows you the itinerary of bus stops, so it's handy when you are counting stops and need a guide. In the event of any delays, the app also sends a notification on the cause and how long the wait is expected to be. Taxi BookingYou can always call for a taxi in Singapore, but the insider tip is to use the Taxi Booking app, which is much faster. A traveller caught in the rain trying desperately to grab a taxi so he can make his flight would be better off booking through the app. Simply enter your mobile number and pick-up point. If you are not sure where exactly you are, there is always the 'location services' option which can detect your location. The app will give you the license plate number, location, and estimated time of arrival of your taxi once a booking is successfully made, so you can track the progress of your taxi. Hailing a cab this way is usually faster than over the phone, as there is no need to wait for a free operator to pick up the call. It is a godsend for peak hours or rainy days, which often see a half an hour wait before hotline operators to get to your call. Tip: the standard booking charge, same as if you were to book over the phone, applies.
Time to Book Your Summer Vacation??
I am a worrier. There's a little voice in my head that whispers sweet nothings like, "Who is going to want to read America's Most Awesome Boardwalks?" and "What if nobody votes for America's Coolest Small Town this year?" And I'm happy to report that my "worry voice" is almost always wrong. (In fact, I sometimes tell it to shut up.) But when that little voice says, "Yikes! Summer is only five months away and you haven't booked your vacation yet??" it is actually spot on. Our friends over at FlipKey gave us a surprising heads-up the other day: Vacation rentals for June, July, and August 2014 are already filling up. According to FlipKey (a vacation rental marketplace owned by TripAdvisor that has more than 240,000 listings in more than 12,000 locations worldwide), more than 90,000 rental requests have been made on properties for summer 2014. A full 30 percent of FlipKey's properties have received at least one summer 2014 request. While I'd never suggest that this news—or anything we report here—put you in a panic, I will suggest that now is an excellent time to start browsing vacation rentals and other summer options. We'll do our part by sharing more early-bird advice on summer 2014 here over the next few weeks. In the meantime, it might interest you to know that FlipKey's three most popular summer 2014 vacation spots so far are: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Ocean City, MD; and Myrtle Beach, SC. I don't know about you, but I'm ready to start my summer planning right about now…