Breeze through airport security

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What would you pay to skip the line at security and go right to the luggage scanner? Does $179 sound reasonable? A new service that I learned about on Mashable called Clear will clear you to do just that:

Travelers can enroll in Clear by buying an annual membership for $179, which allows them to tack on any family member over 18 for an additional $50…

Part one of the user enrollment process can be completed online by entering basic information including your name and address, or at various Clear locations in airports, Sotheby’s locations, malls and the company’s NYC offices.

The second part of enrollment involves verifying your U.S. citizenship or permanent residency. At this stage Clear also logs your biometric scan. Flyers will receive their Clear card, with smart chip, in seven to 10 business days after enrollment.

Now, I’m a frequent flyer and bypass the line already, so for me it’s a bit steep – for those who only travel once or twice a year it also seems a bit much to me. I like the idea, but am wondering how much market they’ll really get. Most people are either at my end of the spectrum (so much travel that we already have all of the perks) or at the far other end (traveling once or maybe twice a year) making it not worth any price to bypass a little waiting in line.

That said, it’s a pretty neat idea and I think we’ll see more companies like this popping up hoping to cash in on our impatient natures.

Make friends in airports

Monster power strip

Lifehacker has a post that didn’t really tell me anything I didn’t already know, but it’s something I should share with you all in case you didn’t think of it.

If you don’t travel as much as I do you might not know that finding outlets in airports can be an art form. If you do travel as much as me, you might know this and just cross your fingers and hope. But Lifehacker’s tip reminded me of a tip I can share with you all. Never travel without a power strip! Now, that sounds a bit crazy – who wants to lug around a big power strip when traveling? Well, it doesn’t have to be big and bulky, you can buy one of these puppies.

The Monster 4 outlet power strip folds in on itself, takes up minimal room in your carry on and costs between $10 and $15 (depending where you get it). I have had mine for years now and it always shocks people when I walk up and ask if I can plug their device in to my power strip so that we can share the power. It has also made me quite popular in some airports and come in handy in hotel rooms without enough outlets.

So, if you’re like me and about to head to Monterey for Internet Librarian, you might want to run out and get yourself a power strip so that you can stay connected in the airport without worrying about running out of juice.

New Travel Search Site

itamatrix

I pretty much stick to my favorite hotel and airline brand sites when looking for travel info (that way I keep my frequent traveler status and usually find the best deals that way), but once in a while I like to confirm that I’m getting the best deal and look at the usual travel aggregators.

Lifehacker recently pointed me to a new travel tool called ITA Matrix. The beauty of this tool is that it can be used to find cheap first and business class seats.

One secret that hardcore business travelers know is you can often fly first class or business class for almost the same as flying coach (and sometimes it’s just as cheap). Certain seats are priced like coach but actually upgrade you automatically. You can find them on ITA Software’s Matrix.

Literary Travel Locations

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I’m subscribed to Frommer’s mailing list and last week they emailed me with an article that I thought would be of interest to you all – Literary Locations Around the World.

Whether imagined or plucked from the author’s experience, book settings often play a key supporting role to the colorful characters and intriguing storylines. Be it a small cottage and garden in England’s Lake District, a stretch of street in a San Francisco suburb, or the city of Paris itself, here are 10 cities with inspiring literary locations for travelers of all ages.

Mashup Idea: Where are my friends?

Where my friends be on Facebook

Last week I went to San Francisco for work and then a bit of a break. I knew I had friends in SF, but couldn’t remember everyone. I touched base with a couple before heading out that way and set up plans, but once in the state got a message from another friend that I forgot lived there! There are many apps out there with location information, Tripit for example is what I use to track all of my travel. When I add a trip to Tripit it tells me who’s close … but it’s only using Tripit data and only my other trainer/presenter friends use Tripit. Facebook lets you enter your location but I don’t look through all my friends in one area before I go on a trip. There are also apps (like wheremyfriends.be) for Facebook that gather that info – but not all of my friends are on Facebook or add their location info (I don’t). My contacts in Google have a lot of location info, but not for everyone I know in libraryland.

So, what I’d like to see is a tool that told me the city I’m heading to is close to specific friends. A tool that I don’t have to register for and a tool that my friends don’t all have to be registered on. A tool that lets me pull in data from all of my networks and alerts me without forcing my friends to sign up or add info to some additional service. Does such a tool exist for the web or Android?

Google to buy Frommer’s?

My travel bookshelf is heavy on the Frommer's

My travel bookshelf is heavy on the Frommer’s

This from The Next Web:

Word on the street via The Wall Street Journal is that Google is acquiring the Frommer’s brand of travel guides for an undisclosed amount in order to beef up its travel-planning searches.

What remains to be see is whether Frommer’s will continue to have paper guides published, or whether the entire product will go digital.

I am a huge huge fan of Frommer’s books and actually don’t use the web resources much even though I keep saying I will. I buy a new Frommer’s book for every big trip and carry it around with me. While I love my Android and my Google Now feature (which this article poses will be improved with this data) I still want my Frommer’s books and hope that they don’t go away.

Use Pictures to Plan Travel

PixMeAway Pictures Take 2

There is a new site out there that’s fun for people like me who like to travel and love pictures! PixMeAway lets you pick a series of pictures that interest you to determine where you should travel to next. I decided to play a bit with the tool to see where I should go. First I chose these pictures:

But then it told me that a percentage of me was interested in adventure and that is very much not the case so I chose again and decided on these pictures:

This was a bit more accurate, but not exactly how I’d describe me so I went with it and choose my preferences on the next screen:

And then the result! Apparently the first place I should visit next is Tel Aviv:

Where did PixMeAway say you should go?

Email to TripIt

Okay, so a big huge thank you goes out to Chris Cormack for pointing out this feature of TripIt.

As you know I travel a lot. This means I have a lot of info to keep track of and a lot of info to share with my husband both so he knows where I am and so he knows when to pick me up. What I usually do is forward all my confirmation emails to him and he then proceeds to lose them. So today when Chris asked if I wanted a ride from the airport in Wellington to my hotel I said ‘yes please’ and he asked if the details were on TripIt and I said ‘huh?’

It turns out that I missed a simple feature (which is displayed right in my face on the top of the screen) – the ability to forward your confirmation emails to TripIt (at plans@tripit.com) and have it update your trips with details of your travel!!

I did this with a bunch of my trips and it added the details perfectly! How awesome is that?? Anyway, give it a whirl if you use TripIt.

Visual Search for Flights

I have just been playing with Hipmunk – a new air travel search engine – and I have to say I’m impressed. I don’t know for sure if I’m getting the best prices (and can’t tell you that until I use it for a while) but what I am getting is a new way to visualize flights. As most of you know I travel a lot (an understatement) and sometimes I spend hours trying to book travel efficiently and cost effectively. Hipmunk displays flights the way I think – graphically.

I did a search from my two local airports to LAX (for my trip to New Zealand this fall), they were split between two tabs so I can jump back and forth easily (something other sites do not make easy) to compare times, airlines and prices.

I’ll keep trying Hipmunk before my upcoming trips and if I find something else worth mentioning I’ll be sure to share!