Bored? New site Goby searches for travel "experiences" in all 50 states
Goby (GO-be) launched today as a clever search engine for finding fun activities to do in neighborhoods throughout the 50 states. Goby searches across hundreds of vetted websites for the lowdown on attractions, activities, events, restaurants, and lodging.
While Google has one search box for you to type a question in, Goby has three. It asks you three questions: What?, Where?, and When? If you have a rough idea of what you're looking for, such as "sports" in "Overland Park, Kansas," plug it in. The site will fetch for you relevant listings contextualized with an interactive map. Everything you need to know to plan a trip is right there.
For example, Goby told us that there are free guided walks by an avid bird ethusiast in Overland Park Arboretum that we could take advantage of. Can your favorite travel website also retrieve detailed information like that? Probably not. Very few travel sites help you plan the "experiences" you may like to have at your destination. Kijubi, Gowalla, and UpTake are rare exceptions.
Goby is far from perfect. Its largest flaw right now is that it still new and has kinks to work out. It needs to gather more info that's relevant for travelers to be truly thorough and authoritative. The pickings for activities at any given suburban location can sometimes be slim. For my search for "sports" in "Overland Park, Kansas," Goby delivered only 30 activities for all dates. But a look at regional newspaper would find broader listings.
I'm still rooting for Goby, though. Expedia and other companies generally overlook the smaller communities of America in their travel listings. Goby excels at breadth of geographical coverage and at its inclusion in free and affordable activities. In another perk, Goby is the first search engine I've seen that fetches so many B&B; listings and presents them in an easy-to-read way.
One more big flaw: It doesn't yet work on the Safari Web browser, as a reviewer for PC World has pointed out.
Good luck, guys!
This hotel offers free yoga even to non-guests
Hotel amenities are usually reserved for guests, but the ultra-trendy W Scottsdale lets you sign up for free yoga classes even if you haven't booked a room. The 224-room hotel has partnered with the Lululemon Athletica apparel company to offer the complimentary 60-minute Vino & Vinyasa classes twice a month. Each yoga class is held every other Wednesday on the hotel's infinity pool deck and followed by $3 wine specials. If you happen to be in town with your dog on the first Tuesday of every month, the pet-friendly W also runs free 90-minute doga classes, or yoga with dogs. Just bring a yoga mat and doggie treats to motivate your pet. Guests can naturally call dibs on the classes, but it's a refreshing option for visitors—at most hotels, these types of perks are reserved for those who stay overnight, buy a day pass, or book a spa treatment. Come late spring, the W will also open its pool to the public. Once a week, the hotel will host a free nighttime swim party complete with a DJ or live music (the infinity pool has underwater speakers). Towels will be provided so all you'll have to bring is a swimsuit. To claim a spot, RSVP, via 480/970-2100 or email the property. [whotels.com/Scottsdale] MORE HOTEL COVERAGE The World's Most Amazing Hotel Pools
Deal: New urban adventures from Intrepid Travel
This month, Budget Travel gave an Extra Mile Award to Intrepid Travel for its commitment to eco travel. Also this month, the Melbourne-based tour operator officially launched Urban Adventures, a series of day trips that makes local experts available even if you haven't joined one of the company's longer escorted tours. Perfect for people traveling alone, Intrepid doesn't charge a single supplement on its regular escorted trips and instead pairs solo travelers with someone of the same gender. So far Intrepid has 81 Urban Adventures running in 25 cities, including its most popular trips in Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh City. Today, the company adds eight Urban Adventure trips in three cities: Istanbul, New York, and San Francisco. This news gave us a reason to remember why a tour operator like Intrepid can be so valuable. Relying on a tour operator's expertise can come in handy in places like Istanbul and Southeast Asia, because the tours each have an English-speaking guide and are limited to 12 people. The guaranteed departures also mean that if the trip doesn't fill up, you could end up with a private guide. Some of the tours in Southeast Asia that caught my eye… • Vietnam: A four-hour biking tour in Ho Chi Minh City, which ends with bargaining at Ben Thanh market ($15) • Thailand: Exploring Bangkok by tuk-tuk, including a visit to Wat Pho temple ($35) • India: Savor a home-cooked dinner in Delhi with a local family ($34) • Cambodia: Tour the majestic ruins of Angkor Wat, with transportation from Siem Reap ($70) Also under development are tours in San Diego, Barcelona, and Florence. In other initiatives, Intrepid is a few weeks away from introducing a kayaking tour on Melbourne's Yarra River. The sunset paddle will even include a pit stop at the waterfront FishBar restaurant for fish-and-chips. As more day trips are added between now and June 2010, you can register to be an Urban Adventures Tester. The program, which is offered on a first-come, first-served basis, lets you try out new itineraries for free. In exchange, you have to take photos and write a review that Intrepid can post on its website. MORE REAL DEALS FROM BUDGET TRAVEL Intrepid Travel is taking 25 percent off more than 60 itineraries to Thailand and adding an Urban Adventure excursion (your choice of a four-hour Bangkok bike tour, a walking tour of Chinatown, a boat ride on the Chao Phraya River, or a five-hour tuk-tuk city tour) at no extra cost. The deal is valid for the first 20 BT readers who book by Dec. 31 and mention code 3173. After the 20th booking, use code 3174 by Dec. 31 to receive $100 off a Thailand itinerary and one free Urban Adventure. Airfare isn't included. When: Until Dec. 31, 2010. Contact: Intrepid Travel, 800/970-7299. More Real Deals
You Need This New Passport App Now!
One of the questions I get asked most often is: “How can I get through customs faster?” Up until now, the answer has always involved tips on packing neatly and politely and accurately answering questions. But the Mobile Passport app is poised to change the way you pass through (or make that “breeze through”) customs. How does it work? Download the app to your mobile phone, and when you are about to land back in the U.S. after overseas travel, complete the app’s “New Trip” section (including the airport you're arriving at and the airline you’re flying), snap a selfie, and answer common customs questions right on the app. You’ll receive a bar-coded e-receipt, which you’ll present to a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer to re-enter the U.S. How can you get Mobile Passport? If you’re a U.S. or Canadian citizen with a valid passport, you are eligible to use the Mobile Passport app at five U.S. airports that are part of the Mobile Passport program: Atlanta, Chicago, Miami, San Francisco, and Seattle, with 20 airports expected to be available in the next 12 months. To learn more, visit the Mobile Passport page of the CBP’s website. TALK TO US! We want to know: Have you tried Mobile Passport?
Tech: Evernote's app lets you search for text in photos
Updated this summer with powerful new features, Evernote's free mobile application lets you record memories while you're on the go, using your iPhone, Blackberry, or Palm Pre. Jot down a funny anecdote or a bit of historical trivia using your device's keyboard. Or just speak the message, using the built-in voice-recording software. The app will synch up all of your info—and any photos—with a Web service that makes them accessible from your home or office computer. The niftiest trick? Evernote can recognize text that appears in photos you take. There are lots of surprising travel uses for this text-recognition feature. Let's say you check out a hip new restaurant like The Breslin in New York City. And let's also say that you may have knocked back a couple glasses of wine during your meal. In hindsight, you may be a little fuzzy about which ingredient made the house smoked ham so delicious. Now let's say you anticipated this problem by taking a photo of the menu. Evernote lets you search for keywords, such as the restaurant's name or a word like "ham." Then it fetches the image of the relevant menu. (A-ha! The ingredient was piccalilli!) A month passes. You're standing in the aisles of the wine store and you wish you could remember the name of the great wine you sampled at The Breslin. Whip out your smartphone, search on the words "wine" (or "pinot," etc.), and the image of the menu with the exact details of the wine will appear. What if you tend to take photos of lots of churches when your on a trip, but when you come home, you can remember which one is which. Easy! Take an additional photo of the name of the church as it's written on a sign or a paper bulletin while you're there. Then, when you come home. Search on "church" on Evernote, and all of the churches next to their relevant names will appear. Tag your notes by trip name, or search for them by date or the geographic location where you recorded them. Organizing your happy memories just got a lot simpler. But nothing's perfect, of course The app can be slow to use on AT&Ts; service. So I would use it selectively when wireless service is intermittent. Free, download from Evernote's site. EARLIER iPhone: Priceline's new app is best for last-minute hotel bids Travel tech tools: binoculars, headphones, watches, cameras: Save vs. Splurge 15 Essential Digital Apps Smart Travelers Must Know