Tag Archives: sites and apps

Fregate Island, Seychelles

Have You Been to One of Google’s Top Trending Countries?

Do you search for travel information on your phone? According to Google, mobile travel inquiries increased by nearly 50% from January 2015 to January 2016. The rise makes sense, considering how much everyone seems to be looking at their phones these days. And with that increase, Google has been able to find out some interesting things about where we’re traveling lately.

Top 10 Trending Countries

  1. Seychelles
  2. Greece
  3. Bermuda
  4. Scotland
  5. Brazil
  6. Portugal
  7. Argentina
  8. Germany
  9. Jamaica
  10. Barbados

Based on US searches on Google since January 2016

Top 10 Trending Cities

  1. Myrtle Beach
  2. Playa del Carmen
  3. Cancun
  4. Huntington Beach
  5. Laguna Beach
  6. Santa Cruz
  7. Aspen
  8. Newport Beach
  9. Big Bear Lake
  10. Park City

Based on US searches on Google since January 2016

Of course, all this interesting search information doesn’t remove the challenges of actually planning a great trip. In fact, Google says that 70% of travelers worry that they may not be finding the best price or making the best decision while booking a trip.

That’s why the search company held a press conference yesterday to introduce Destinations on Google, a new way of compiling certain kinds of travel information and displaying it to would-be globetrotters.

The tool works best as an overview of popular locations. For example, if you type in “Europe destinations,” you’ll get a list of popularly searched spots within Europe (London, Barcelona, Paris, etc). And if you tap into a city, you’ll see suggested itineraries.

Google Destinations screenshot

The breadth of the information is decent for overview or inspiration purposes—and you can do some fun filtering by interest, like for scuba diving or hiking—but you’re not going to be able to plan a comprehensive trip from here, one with all the special experiences most people want to discover these days. The Google team says that’s fine—that’s not what they’re trying to do. They’re trying to complement the travel experts and travel planners, by offering a first stop for research.

And Destinations does work decently in that way…though to be fair, sophisticated travelers probably don’t need Google to tell them that the top sights in Paris are the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, and Notre Dame.

Instead, the most useful part of the tool is the same mechanism that powers Google Flights—so that when you type in “Greece destinations” or “Europe vacation,” your search results will include a recommended vacation week, based on the lowest estimated airfare Google Flights can find from your location. Similarly, Google shows the average estimated hotel price, in your chosen star category, in the destination you’re researching. Via its tool, you can find out the average starting price for, say, a seven-day trip from New York to Paris, in any particular month. Though the true price of a trip is never just the average air and hotel (there are meals, admission tickets, transportation, and activities to think about, not to mention the difference in cost between just any old hotel and the hot new spot everyone’s talking about), it’s still a helpful way to think about where you might want to go if you have a vacation coming up at a certain time of year.

Google Destinations price screenshot

A few key things to keep in mind as you explore: Google doesn’t do any of the booking (it’ll direct you to each hotel’s or airline’s site to do that) and it can’t refine for important personalized criteria (such as finding a hotel that is in your loyalty program or has the bed configuration or connecting rooms you need). Also keep in mind that Google is basing most of its information on popular searches that other people make. As an example, Google Destinations will tell you that May is when most people go to Athens; that is helpful information, but that doesn’t mean May is the smartest time for you to visit (unexpected or off-season weeks can sometimes be the best times for travel). Google also doesn’t tell you when a special local festival is happening a few miles outside of the city, or when the curator of the Acropolis Museum is available to take you on a private evening tour.

For that, you still need humans. And Google admits that freely. As a spokesperson explained, “This is not meant to replace travel agents, or TripAdvisor, or traditional travel media.It’s meant to compliment and be used in concert with other resources.”

That’s no surprise to us here—we’ve been talking about the value of exceptional human travel planners for years. So while a smart digital tool like Destinations on Google can be a useful part of your travel toolkit, you’ll still need to put down your phone to discover the most extraordinary parts of travel.


Be a smarter traveler: Use Wendy’s WOW List to plan your next trip. You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter @wendyperrin, and sign up for her weekly newsletter to stay in the know.

infographic about best and worst tourist attractions for wi-fi security

Why You Should Think Twice Before Connecting to Wi-Fi When Traveling

This article originally ran on Smarter Travel

These days, traveling is almost impossible without a mobile Internet connection. Between Google Maps, TripAdvisor, Yelp, and other booking and review-based apps and websites, you need your phone to get the most from your trip.

And with international data packages so expensive, you might think a cheap or free Wi-Fi connection is your best bet. But maybe not. Mobile threat defense company Skycure says you should disconnect when traveling in certain high-risk destinations. Here’s why.

Skycure studied the world’s top tourist destinations (based on data from Travel + Leisure) from June 2014 to June 2015 to determine the places most frequently targeted by malicious networks. Times Square in New York City topped the list with the highest threats, followed by Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris and Disneyland Paris. The full list of tourist attractions with the highest risks is below.

Times Square, New York City, NY
Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France
Disneyland Paris, Marne-la-Vallee, France
Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA
Ocean Park, Hong Kong
Las Vegas Strip, Las Vegas, NV
Hollywood Walk of Fame, Hollywood, CA
Union Station, Washington, D.C.
Faneuil Hall Marketplace, Boston, MA
Disneyland Park, Anaheim, CA
Navy Pier, Chicago, IL
St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City
Grand Palace, Bangkok, Thailand
Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, Orlando, FL
Pike Place Market, Seattle, WA

Where is your network the most secure? Places with remote connections and restricted mobile phone use. The Taj Mahal in India, Universal Studios in Japan, the Great Wall of China, Sydney Opera House, and Great Smokey Mountains National Park round up the top five safest spots to connect to a Wi-Fi network.

Also from Smarter Travel: Best Apps to Prevent Travel Disasters

Android v. iPhones

In a separate study, Skycure found that Android devices were twice as likely to encounter a threat compared to iPhones. According to the study, iOS devices will connect to more Wi-Fi networks overall, but Android devices connect to more malicious networks.

How to Stay Safe

Follow these quick tips if traveling to high-risk destinations:

  • Avoid “Free Wi-Fi” networks (8 percent of the total reported threats came from a network with “Free” in its name).
  • Read warnings on your device before agreeing to Terms and Services.
  • Make sure your device is updated to the most current operating system.
  • Disconnect from a network if your phone has erratic behavior, i.e. frequent crashes or if you receive any warning messages.
  • Download a mobile security app.
    Click here to download the full infographic from Skycure. Click here to download Skycure in the app store.

Also from Smarter Travel: The 8 Best (and Worst) Travel Apps


Scarf with Chicago skyline, design by Trey Ratcliff

Don’t Just Visit Your Favorite Destinations. Wear Them.

Vida: The word means “a rare find” in Persian, “wisdom” in Sanskrit, “beloved” in Hebrew, and “life” in Spanish. But in fashion circles these days, it’s the name of a new label that’s using cutting-edge technology to turn digital images into wearable works of art.

Vida’s latest collection caught my eye because it features the work of two renowned travel photographers: Trey Ratcliff—the man behind the number-one rated travel photography blog, stuckincustoms.com—and Karen Hutton, a fine-art landscape photographer. I’m mesmerized by the scarf printed with Ratcliff’s shot of the Chicago skyline (see above); Hutton’s “Ancient Walkways” silk top (below) sends me back to my days living in Tuscany. Several other current designs evoke places as far ranging as the Sahara, Lake Tahoe, and Versailles.

Sleeveless silk top with scene of Lucca, Italy; design by Karen Hutton for VIDA

Sleeveless silk top with scene of Lucca, Italy; design by Karen Hutton for VIDA

This being a San Francisco-based tech start-up, Vida does things a little differently: They manufacture on demand, producing only as many items as they sell. They also provide literacy classes to the Pakistani workers who produce their goods. And their worldwide network of up-and-coming painters, sculptors, architects, and other artists who create the designs receive a cut of each sale.

You can even put your own best travel shot onto a Vida blouse—just upload a photograph onto the site’s designer platform, share your personalized webpage with friends, and as soon as you get enough pre-orders, Vida will manufacture the goods for you.

Like what you see? WendyPerrin.com readers can use the coupon code VIDAWP to get 20% off anything at shopvida.com through the end of the month.

Trey Ratcliff:

Karen Hutton:

The 2015 GlobeRunner Awards Are Here and We’ve Been Nominated

If you’ve been enjoying WendyPerrin.com, I sure would appreciate your vote in the 2015 Frequent Business Traveler GlobeRunner Awards. The Awards honor the world’s best airlines, airports, hotel groups, car rental agencies, luggage makers, loyalty programs, travel websites, and the like, and WendyPerrin.com has been nominated in the category of Best General Travel Blog!

I don’t know whether that’s because of the honest travel advice written for consumers rather than advertisers, the WOW List of top travel fixers who can make your dreams a reality, or the easy access to answers to your burning questions, but I do know this: It would never have happened without my awesome team: digital strategy director Billie Cohen, content director Deborah Dunn, editors Brook Wilkinson and Sara Tucker, and producer Irene Huhulea.

Please help support our mission of making your next trip extraordinary and vote for us. Thank you!

Virgin America Wi-fi

Wi-Fi Report Card: Which Airlines Keep You Connected the Best?

For Internet-addicted business travelers, an in-flight announcement that “Wi-Fi is down at the moment” is enough to induce the shakes. And getting booked on a flight that doesn’t offer Wi-Fi at all is enough to send them into fits of rage.

Fortunately, a new study finds plugged-in road warriors had less reason to panic over their in-flight connectivity last year. And 2015 looks even better.


Also from Yahoo! Travel: The Wi-Fi Race: What Are the Best-Connected U.S. Airlines?


A new report by travel website Routehappy finds U.S. flyers now have at least “some chance” of finding Wi-Fi on 66 percent of domestic flights. In contrast, Routehappy’s last report, in June 2013, found Wi-Fi connectivity on less than half of domestic flights. And the story is getting brighter internationally too.

So what’s the Wi-Fi state of the union? Here are the main highlights of Routehappy’s “Global State of In-Flight Wi-Fi” report.

Routehappy Wi-Fi report

Virgin America is out in front on percentage of flights with Wi-Fi. But when you look at the total number of Wi-Fi-connected flights, it’s another story. (Photo: Routehappy)

Wi-Fi is growing like a weed on U.S. air carriers.

Overall, Virgin America leads Routehappy’s list, with the highest percentage of total flights and flight miles with Wi-Fi (that’s not surprising; unlike many other carriers, all of Virgin America’s planes offer Wi-Fi). Southwest is in second place.

But when you’re talking the raw total number of flights that offer Wi-Fi, Delta Air Lines—which runs many more flights than Virgin—is number one by far. It’s followed by the newly combined American Airlines/US Airways.

Delta Wi-Fi

Because of its size and aggressive upgrades, Delta has more Wi-Fi connected flights than anyone. (Photo: Delta)


Also from Yahoo! Travel: No More In-Flight Wi-Fi for AT&T


United Airlines did top one domestic category: Wi-Fi growth. In Routehappy’s last survey, United offered at least “some chance” of Wi-Fi on 518 U.S. domestic flights. Today, that number is 1,445 flights—a 179 percent increase. American/US was a distant second with a 23 percent increase, followed by Delta with 15 percent.

“Domestically, Wi-Fi is being offered on more flights than ever before,” Jason Rabinowitz, data research manager for Routehappy, tells Yahoo Travel. “All mainline airlines have either finished or are nearly finished rolling out Wi-Fi to their entire domestic fleets.”

It’s not just what airline you fly—it’s where you go.

Routehappy finds that all the busiest U.S. domestic routes (20 daily flights or more in each direction) have Wi-Fi availability on all flights. That includes: New York’s JFK to Los Angeles; New York’s LaGuardia to Boston; LaGuardia to Washington-Dulles; New York’s JFK to San Francisco; and Charlotte to Atlanta.

Wi-Fi and power don’t always go together (but they should).

What’s the point of offering passengers Wi-Fi if their computers, tablets and phones run out of juice while they’re using it? “That drives people crazy,” Rabinowitz says. Offering Wi-Fi without power is like offering mac without cheese: Yeah, you can do it, but what’s the point?

Fortunately, some airlines have gotten that message. In Routehappy’s report, Virgin America leads the way with 100 percent of flight miles with Wi-Fi and in-seat power in Economy class. Alaska Airlines is second, and United is third. But if you’re flying JetBlue or Southwest, you’d better bring a book: Those airlines were found to offer the greatest majority of flights with that unfortunate Wi-Fi/no power combination.


Wi-Fi on international flights

Wi-Fi on international flights is getting much more common, especially on Icelandair. (Photo: Routehappy)

Slowly but surely, Wi-Fi is spreading worldwide.

International airlines have been slower to offer Wi-Fi than U.S.-based airlines, but they’re getting better.  In Routehappy’s latest report, non-U.S. airlines offered at least “some” chance of Wi-Fi on 15 percent of their international flights. That may not seem like much, but it’s still a slight improvement. “As of our last report 18 months ago, very few airlines outside of the United States offered the service, with only a handful of flights each day,” Rabinowitz says. But now, “some airlines have nearly completed the rollout of in-flight Wi-Fi on their entire widebody fleet.”

In all, Routehappy finds nine non-U.S. airlines now offer a “very good” chance of having Wi-Fi on 20 percent or more of their international flight miles: Japan, Emirates, Aeroflot, Iberia, Lufthansa, Singapore and Etihad. On the remaining two airlines—Norwegian and Icelandair—that number tops 80 percent. Overall, the airline with the most international planes with Wi-Fi was United.

Wi-Fi user on a plane

Don’t worry: There’s a lot more Wi-Fi in your future. (Photo: Thinkstock)

The future is bright for Wi-Fi on planes.

Rabinowitz thinks we’re not far from seeing in-flight Wi-Fi that resembles the speedy connections you have at home and the office. “In-flight Wi-Fi will be faster, less expensive and available on airlines you probably wouldn’t have guessed today,” he says. With the launch of newer satellites—which offer better connectivity than the more common land-based Wi-Fi systems—he expects the Wi-Fi experience to greatly improve.

In addition to getting faster, Rabinowitz predicts Wi-Fi will get even more commonplace, with U.S. airlines expanding it to more international routes and to their smaller regional planes as well. “Passengers are not only aware that in-flight Wi-Fi exists, but they actually expect it to be available,” he says.

So it looks like “What do you mean this flight doesn’t have Wi-Fi?” will be a question workaholic business travelers will have to ask less and less.


More from Yahoo! Travel

The Millennial’s Guide to Surviving Your First Business Trip

Confessions: The Top 10 Things That Will Make Your Flight Attendant Hate You

Extreme Weapons the TSA Seized at US Airports in 2014


This article originally ran on Yahoo! Travel

United Airlines Business First class

How to Find the Best Flight with your Frequent Flier Miles


Wendy, is there someone you recommend to make airline reservations using frequent flier miles? I have a ton of United miles and American Express Membership Rewards points and am looking for someone to figure out the best way for me to use them. We want to fly to Europe this summer in business class.



Francis, I get this question at least once a week. There are a few mileage-award redemption advisory services, but I’ve always sworn by Gary Leff, whose Book Your Award service, geared to travelers who want to fly in first or business class, has been put to the test by thousands of my readers over the years.

Gary is the blogger behind View From the Wing, a co-founder of the frequent-flier community MilePoint.com, and a one-time hilarious guest in a Colbert Report skit. His partner at BookYourAward.com is Steve Belkin, another mileage magician and the founder of Competitours, an Amazing Race–type travel company.

I’ve known Gary and Steve for years. Between them, they can figure out any first-class or business-class mileage ticket you need, taking into consideration your personal requirements (date range, maximum number of stops, etc.) and your available bank of miles, credit-card points, and other loyalty-program points. (And they’ll help you find more if you come up short).

They know which airlines offer the best award-seat value for which destinations. They come up with flights and routes that require fewer miles than you thought you were going to have to spend or that provide a few welcome layover days in a destination you thought you’d have to skip. And, if that’s not enough, once you’ve used your miles, they’ll teach you how to replenish your bank for your next trip. Their flat fee is $150 per ticket. They’re also insanely busy helping people like you so, if you do reach out to Gary and Steve, tell them I sent you.

Google Word Lens

Google Translate App Just Got Even Better

Google Translate has long been one my essential travel apps. Need to find allergy medicine in Japan? Done. Grocery shopping for vegetarian food in Oslo? Not a problem.

But the app just got even better, thanks to a few cool upgrades released today. While several language packs were already available for offline use (saving you a bundle on data charges), now two of the app’s best features have been improved and also made available without any data or Internet connections.

Point, shoot, understand
Need to translate that restaurant menu? Read wall text at a museum? Just point the app’s camera at the sign, and it’ll automatically translate it, showing an overlay of text right over the sign itself. This is much more efficient than the way the tool used to work, which required actually snapping the photo, highlighting the text with your finger, and then submitting it for translation. Oh, and if you had an iPhone, you couldn’t use this Word Lens feature at all.

Have a real conversation
One of my favorite things about traveling is the amazing people you meet, but if you don’t speak the language (and I don’t speak anything more than high-school French and various pleases and thank-yous), those interactions can be limited. Not anymore. Go into the app’s conversation mode, select the two languages you and your potential new friend are speaking, then talk into the microphone. The app will recognize which language is being voiced and will translate it—out loud—into the other. This is obviously a lifesaver when it comes to asking for directions to the train or ordering your morning coffee, but you can easily imagine how it could open up worlds of much more interesting conversations with locals.

For now, these two features are available in 36 languages (the app’s basic tools translate more than 80), and it’s a great start, because you can travel to dozens of destinations and not have to worry about being able to communicate. It’s one of those apps that just removes a certain kind of stress from the entire equation. Even more impressively, it might also remove all the hand waving and unnecessary shouting.

GoPro Hero 4 Black

11 Cool Things From the Consumer Electronics Show That Will Make Travel Better

While the breathtaking new televisions and connected home displays that do everything except break up with your girlfriend might get the most attention at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, there are plenty of excellent new gadgets that could make your next vacation or business trip a little less stressful.


Also from Yahoo! Travel: The New Gadget That Makes Disney Even More Magical


Travel technology is all over the cavernous expo floor, if you know what you’re looking for — from a passport case that promises you’ll never lose your identification documents again to a luggage lock that pops open with a tap of your smart phone. And we’re desperate to get our hands on the luggage GPS tracker, though we bet the airlines are less than stoked about that one.

You’ll get a kick out of this selection of travel gems from this year’s CES that we think will make travel a little bit easier, or at least a lot more fun.

iWallet Passport Holder ($599) — Your passport is the one thing you truly cannot do without when you are traveling internationally. This passport case comes with biometric sensors, ensuring that only you (and up to four other people you authorize) have access to it. Misplacing your passport also becomes a thing of the past, since the case will sound an alarm if you walk more than 10 feet away from it.

SMS ANC Headphones ($280) — The newest version of these noise-canceling headphones not only allows you to tune out the screaming child three rows back, it also offers a premium listening experience that could last your entire trip. Weighing just 200 grams, these headphones have a 70-hour battery life and come with a snazzy leather travel case.

eGee Touch Smart Luggage Locks

Your new luggage lock might be smarter than you are. (Photo: eGee)

eGeeTouch Smart Luggage Locks (Price not available) — eGee’s take on the luggage lock does away with keys and combination codes. Instead, this lock responds to the near field communication feature in your smartphone — opening when you tap your phone against the lock. These locks are also TSA compliant, with a built-in key mechanism that allows authorized agents to gain access.

Trackimo Universe luagge tracking device

Here’s how to know where your luggage is all of the time. (Photo: Trackimo)

Trackimo Universal ($100) — We want this now! Ensure your luggage never gets lost with this GPS Tracker. Just toss one in your bag and you’ll always know where it is — even if the airline doesn’t. You’ll even get a text alert when your bag is moved.

GoPro Hero 4 Black ($500) — GoPro is setting the bar even higher with its latest line of mountable cameras. The Black records in 4K ultra-high definition at a lightning fast 120 frames per second, meaning images stay crisp when you put them in slow motion in your edits. Better still, the user interface has been improved, making it much easier to operate on the go.


Also from Yahoo! Travel: Katie Couric Explains CES


Monster Backfloat Speaker ($169) — Waterproof speakers generally focus more on being waterproof than on being good speakers. Monster’s new entry in the market (in collaboration with Shaquille O’Neal of course) puts out some incredible sound while happily floating in your pool or garden tub, playing anything from your nearby (and safe and dry) smartphone.

Mophie Juice Pack ($99 and up) — Mophie is the king of battery cases for your phone — and rightfully so. This year it offers two new devices for the iPhone 6, effectively doubling the phone’s (already impressive) battery life, letting you take calls and pictures all day (and night) long.

Narrative Clip 2 photo taking device

Finally a camera that lets you document everything all of the time. (Photo: Narrative Clip)

Narrative Clip 2 ($199) — Want to live in the moment and not worry about pulling out your camera but still have pictures commemorating every single thing that you do? So do we. The Narrative Clip 2 is a “life-logging” camera that automatically takes a picture every 30 seconds without any required action from you. The new version shoots 8 MP photos and has a wider field of view than its predecessor. It also automatically uploads the pictures to your phone via WiFi and Bluetooth creating a seamless record of your day without requiring you to do anything at all.

Samsung Portable SSD ($180–$600) — Samsung’s new portable SSD drive is lightning fast, offers storage from 250 GB to 1 TB, and is as small and lightweight as a credit card. Aimed more at business travelers, it’s also useful for people who are shooting a lot of digital video during their trips.


Also from Yahoo! Travel: Wired Babies Invade CES


Powerocks Power Bank Charger ($80) — Now you can avoid being stranded when your rental car battery dies unexpectedly. This charger (which is about the size of a paperback book and weighs under one pound) not only gives your phones and tablets more juice, it can jump-start a car. It’s also equipped with a flashlight, red and blue flashing emergency lights, and a sharp metal corner to knock out a car window in the case of a dire emergency.

Zolt’s Tiny Laptop Charger ($99) — Finally! This teeny tiny charging brick has three USB slots. And with a MagSafe cable ($30) it can power MacBooks that require chargers up to 70 watts. Could this be the charger to end all chargers?

A Great Last-Minute Gift You Can Give With Your Phone

Up until now there have been only a few things your phone’s airplane mode was good for: complying with FAA regulations while still listening to music or watching movies on the airplane, saving battery life, and protecting against data overages. Thanks to Lufthansa there is another option now: helping to save the world.

For the holidays, Lufthansa has created a free smartphone app (available for iPhone and Android) which encourages you to turn on airplane mode during the holiday season. There’s a double benefit to this scheme: Not only do your flight mode minutes translate to more quality time with friends and family, but by December 24, all of the flight mode minutes from all app users worldwide will be totalled and translated into donations for school projects in India and Benin, as well as for a children’s daycare center in Brazil. The project is in partnership with the airline’s own philanthropic organization Help Alliance, which was founded by employees in 1999. For a real burst of holiday cheer, just look at how many minutes have already been collected at lh.com/flightmode—almost eight years.

So, if you’re not sure if you’ve made the ‘Nice’ list this year, you’ve got an easy last-minute reprieve. This is a wonderful way to give back without changing anything (or much) in your daily routine.