I recently got back from vacation in Daytona Beach, FL and having not been on a vacation in a very long time; since before Smartphones, my recent vacation was nicer because I was able to access some great resources in the area thanks to my Smartphone.
On my last vacation, getting to my destination was kind of clumsy. I had to use a ‘map’, you know the one you used to have to open, hold and read; figuring out all the dots and lines and how to read a ledger for that map. Not only the map thing, but where’s the hot spots in the area when you get there. The hotel I stayed last time was stuffed full of local brochures and flyers for all the attractions close by, but which to visit; where and what was the most fun…
Some of these questions, I thought, were so much easier by having a Smartphone in my hand during this last trip…
When I first got my first Android phone, it came with Google maps and turn by turn directions, but it wasn’t super fancy, but I have to admit in the past few years, it’s damn awesome. It’s funny, because years ago, I’d have grabbed a map, mapped out my whole drive and how long it’d have taken to get there, with each little turn and exit. I didn’t have to do any of that. Hell, I got up at 4:30 am, turned on my phone, spoke the destination and drove off in the dark…
I didn’t have a worry in the world. I had my phone, Google maps and the Internet— I was set. My phone told me turn by turn directions; it didn’t miss anything and told me how far and how long it was going to take me to get there… and now that Google maps has the traffic conditions, I could see if there was any slow downs.. from vacation to vacation, this was a nice change.
This is kind of back on Google maps, but if you have ever been driving down I49 in Louisiana, you’ll understand this; when you need a gas station in the middle of the night and you just can’t find one— it’s scary; I49 is like that… I’m sure driving in the desert with nothing around is the same.
But, Google maps has a ‘layer’ that’ll show you gas stations as you get closer, or the further you zoom out; it’ll map them all for you. This is great because you can stop worrying about where to stop and when; it’s mapped out for you.
Now, while Google maps can map out the stations, GasBuddy is an awesome website and application for the Smartphones. Not only does GasBuddy find gas stations for your vehicle, it finds the lowest price fuel for you. I used the application several times while I was on vacation.
The service is volunteer updated. People visit the gas stations and then update the site, sharing with everyone else using GasBuddy.
Who doesn’t listen to music on a long trip driving? Albeit if you can find a good book to listen to, those are great too… Anyway, the problem with listening to standard radio is the commercials and repetition of the songs. You can hear the same songs with reiteration again; searching from channel to channel as you go, from signal to signal— you know what I’m saying.
Well, if you’ve got a Smartphone, you can use Pandora. Pandora is a free music service that learns the type of music you like and plays it for you. It plays songs, you like them and Pandora finds more of them for you predicated on that music rhythm. Streaming music to your phone and playing it though your car is going to use bandwidth, but it’s really nice to have. Also, if you have satellite radio for your travels that’s good too.
It’s nice to see that hotels have to be some competitive now. In the process of searching for a place to stay; in the days of the past I’d have been forced to scour the web searching for random hotel deals, but since then we have website devoted to lodging deals.
For sites like Hotels.com and Priceline.com, being able to collect information on a myriad of hotels and pricing, this makes the shopping process very competitive, and in my opinion, the customer is always going to win.
The spot that I stayed in in Daytona was very nice, but out of curiosity while I was there, I pulled up the application for hotels.com and Priceline and did a general search of the area to see what was available.
If I had made any arrangements prior, and just showing up in the area needing a hotel, applications like this would be extremely useful, removing the pain of the old days of having to drive around to hotels in the area to get rate information.
When you go to a new place, it’s hard to decide where he would like to eat, what’s popular, and what’s recommended by the locals. This is where I found the application UrbanSpoon to be exceptionally helpful. The application installs on your smartphone, and once it’s installed, able to select, like a slot machine, the location, the type of food and how much willing to spend.
And as I was mentioning before, places that you usually stay at will have flyers or brochures about local specialties, but we were able to take those flyers and other information and compared with those from Urbanspoon.
Not only does Urbanspoon find places for you to eat, but it also has ratings and in most cases pictures of the food and the interior of the restaurants that you might want to visit. I used this application several times and found it very useful.
I wish I had found an app that’d have helped me find more things to do on my trip, but that’ll have to be later, and for my next vacation…
I hope this helps…
Larry Henry Jr.