Useful Apps for Traveling

Every traveler knows that the most useful gadget one can use is their smartphone. Thanks to advancements in technology, a cell phone can now be used for travel booking, itineraries, maps, and just about anything you would need while going on a trip. Because there are an endless amount of apps out now, I have compiled a list of apps that are extremely useful while traveling, so you will not have to spend hours deciding which ones fit your needs and which ones will just take up space.

GateGuru- This multi-purpose app keeps track of your flight, itinerary, tracks your travel, as well as gives you access to rental cars, restaurants, and airport information. This is an all-in-one app that is a staple for any traveler.

Hipmunk- This app is a travel booking app for flights and hotels, but unlike other booking services, this application is geared towards budget-weary travelers and includes accommodation choices from AirBnB and Homeaway.

Perfect World Clock- If you are traveling to a location with a different time zone or need to stay in touch with people in different locations than you, this app in useful because it shows the date and time for places all over the world.

Wi-Fi Finder- This app finds free or public Wi-Fi hotspots in over 144 countries worldwide. This app lets you filter your results by location or provider and also works both online or offline.

iVox by Comfi-  Calling internationally is expensive, but this app allows you to call abroad for cheap rates (there is even an option to call for free if you are calling to another iVox user). This app makes calls using either VoiP (WiFi/3G/4G) or local numbers.

XE Currency- It is easy to get confused while converting your money to another form of currency, but this app takes away the confusion for you. XE Currency connects to your smart phone’s internet so it is able to keep up to date by updating as soon as new exchange rate information becomes available.

If you have not already heard of these applications, I hope you download them and find these apps useful on your travels!

Posted in Cheap Travel, comfi.com, iVox app, Smartphones, technology, Travel, Travel Applications | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Gong Hey Fat Choy!

This year, Chinese New Year, also known as the Lunar New Year, or the Spring Festival, will take place on February 19, 2015. According to the Chinese calendar, 2015 marks the year of the Sheep/Ram/Goat.
Chinese New Year is the busiest travel season in China. Over the course of the celebrations (which can span about fifteen days) it is important to the Chinese population to travel home so they can celebrate with their families.
The Spring Festival is a tradition that spans back more than 4,000 years. Originally, this was a time in which people would sacrifice to the deities and pray for a year of good harvest. Presently, people all over Southeast Asia and around the world embrace this holiday as a way to celebrate and honor deities and ancestors. Different families celebrate in their own ways, but traditionally, it is common for people to prepare for the new year by sweeping out their homes of bad luck to make room for the good fortune from the incoming new year.
Most families mark the Chinese New Year by having a large feast. The first night typically includes a big arrangement of food, fireworks, and red envelopes (stuffed with “lucky” money and given as gifts). The days that follow the first night are typically celebrated with dragon dances, parades, ceremonies to honor ancestors, visiting extended family, and more feasting.
The fifteenth day is the last day of celebration and falls on a full moon. This night is referred to as the Lantern Festival. On this night, families and neighbors celebrate by carrying lighted lanterns in the streets. These lanterns are usually red for good luck, and can be used as a way to represent the person holding it letting go of the past year’s trials and tribulations and starting the new year with a clean slate.
If you do celebrate this Lunar New Year, I hope you can celebrate with your loved ones like I will be doing and if not, I hope you at least call them with the iVox app to let them know you’re thinking of them. Gong hey fat choy!
Posted in Around the World., Calling Abroad, Chinese New Year, comfi.com, Festivals, International Traditions, iVox app | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Best Places to Ski Globally

Now that we’ve reached the middle of winter, the days of basking in the sun and spending hours outside are long over, but thankfully this also means it’s time for skiing and snowboarding. Because of the physical activity and social atmosphere, a vacation at a ski lodge is a perfect escape for you and your family or group of friends. Here is a list of some of the most beautiful and fun places to ski around the world:
Revelstoke, Canada- Revelstoke Mountain Resort prides itself on having North America’s greatest vertical at 1,713 m (5,620 ft). There is 3,121 acres of fall line skiing, high alpine bowls, well kept terrain, as well as family fun in the Turtle Creek Tube Park and Beginner Area. Guests should not feel rushed, as there is day and night skiing offered in the center of the village. This resort is also the only resort world-wide to offer lift, cat, heli, and back country skiing from one village base.
Telluride, Colorado (USA)- This resort has over 2,000 acres of ski-able terrain. There are 127 trails and 18 total lifts. The longest run is 7.4 km (4.6 mi) and the vertical drop is 1,349 m (4,425 ft). The sections for novice, intermediate, and advanced skiers are safely segregated, but within convenient distance so it is good for a family or group trip. This mountain is also used for snowshoeing, dog sledding, snowmobiling, horseback riding, horse drawn sleigh rides and ice climbing.
Zermatt, Switzerland- This is one of the world’s top skiing travel destinations and ski resorts. Because this is the highest ski resort in Europe, it assures snow on the mountain all year round. The highest point is 3,883 m and the length of runs are around 8/1 3 km (5/8 mi). There are three ski areas in Zermatt, but every area showcases the iconic Matterhorn Mountain as its view.
St. Anton, Austria- This resort is known as one of the world’s longest established ski resorts. One of the very first cable cars in the Alps was installed here and the concept of group ski lessons was established here at St. Anton. The vertical drop is 1,519 m and there is 340 km of ski runs for all ability levels. For those more daring, there is 200 km of off-piste, challenging steep slopes, snowboard parks, carving areas, and racing circuits.
Mt. Tremblant, Quebec- The ski area covers 662 acres, with 96 ski trails on 4 distinct slopes stretching over 78.9 km (49 mi) for skiers/snowboarders of all levels. There are also more than 1,000 snow guns on the mountain, which allow for perfect snow conditions. This resort shows breath-taking views of the Laurentian Mountains and offers skiing, dog sledding, snow boarding, ice climbing, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, golf, tennis, concerts, as well as sporting and charitable events.
Posted in Around the World., comfi.com, skiing, Winter | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Spectacular Christmas Celebrations

Christmas is one of the most beloved holidays for children and adults across the world. Here are some places that pride themselves in being the biggest and best holiday celebrations that you can enjoy no matter what your age is:

Strasbourg, France- Also known as the “Capital of Christmas”, this tradition is the oldest Christmas market in Europe and started in 1570. Arts and crafts are typically sold, as well as food, but some highlights include: concerts, shows, activities, exhibitions, an ice skating rink, and the 30-meter high Christmas tree that stands in the middle of Strasbourg. The markets are open this year from November 28 until December 31.

Nuremberg, Germany- This Christmas market is open from November 28 until December 24 and usually brings in about 2 million visitors each year.There are around 180 stalls that pride themselves in selling only handmade toys and goods, mass produced items are forbidden from being sold. Vendors offer everything from baked goods, sweets, ornaments, candles, to all different types of toys and gifts. There are also attractions such as the old fashioned carousel, a Ferris wheel, and a steam train.

Medellin, Columbia- Throughout the entire month of December, there is a carnival in Medellin including over 16 million lights with pyrotechnic displays, street parties and a 79 ft high Christmas tree. On the street, vendors sell food and drinks, while over 500 different activities and 80 events take place for the visitors who want to partake in this Christmas celebration.

Bethlehem, Israel- As birthplace of Jesus Christ, this is the center of nativity scenes during December and January. Every Christmas, thousands of people gather in the Manger Square to attend midnight mass service at the Church of Nativity (built on the spot where Jesus was born). Besides mass, there is also plenty of carol singing, candle parades, live music, and food.

Montreal, Canada- Montreal offers plenty of shopping, events and activities centering around the Christmas holiday. One of the most anticipated traditions for children is the annual Défilé du Père Noël parade in which about 20 floats traverse the main streets and ends with Santa Claus as the grand finale. Another beloved tradition is  the weekly firework displays that are set off choreographed in time with music every Saturday in December.

If you do celebrate Christmas, you know that it is more important who you are celebrating it with, rather than where you are, but if you have the opportunity to go to one of these places it would be a wonderful memory for you and your loved ones to cherish together.

Posted in Around the World., Celebrations, Christmas, comfi.com, Festivals, Traditions, Winter | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Gifts Ideas For Travelers

The holidays are filled with seeing your loved ones, consuming large amounts of food, and celebrating life. In the midst of all this, it is easy to get stressed out about all the preparation and planning that comes with this time of year. Thinking of presents to get your loved ones can be daunting, so I have composed a list of gifts perfect for the travel enthusiast in your life.

  • IT Luggage World’s Lightest Carry-On: This is the best selling, ultra lightweight luggage on the market. Weighing in at only 3.44 pounds, this allows you to bring more of your necessities with you. This comes in a variety of colors and is more structured than just a duffel bag, so there is better protection from the outside for the items you pack inside.
  • The Mophie Powerstation Plus: All travelers appreciate their portable electronic devices (smart phones, e-readers, and music players) and know the inconvenience of running out of battery life. This compact universal charger allows travelers to charge their devices easily on the go. These Powerstation devices work two to four times faster than other chargers and are good for 500 charging cycles at full capacity. When not in use, there is a place to hide the attached wires, so it is even more compact than other portable chargers.
  • Scrubba Wash Bag: This portable wash bag cleans your clothes as efficiently as a washer and only takes a few minutes. These wash bags are especially good for people who like backpacking or camping because they only weigh around 5 ounces, fold to fit in your pocket and will allow you to save money on washing clothes while traveling. 
  • BugLit LED Micro Flashlight: This micro flashlight is encased in a durable plastic housing with two “legs” that are flexible and made to be bent and manipulated so that it can be used hands-free. The white LED has a range of up to 50 feet and one-mile visibility. This flashlight has settings for high power, low power, strobe, and signal. There is also a clip attached to this so you can clip it onto zippers, keys, or belt loops for easy convenience. 
  • International Calling Cards: The holidays aren’t the only time to reconnect with loved ones; it is important to stay connected as much as possible. If someone spends most of their time traveling, it is easy to lose touch because of the high cost of calling internationally, but calling cards can eliminate most of the high prices (comfi.com has calling cards that can save you up to 95% on international calls). Showing someone that you care about hearing from them on a regular basis is an inexpensive and meaningful gift.
  • Fresh Travel Wipes: These wipes come in packs of face wash, antiperspirant, nail polish remover, makeup remover, bug spray, and anti-bacterial wipes. Not only are these great for the liquid limitations enforced on air planes, but they also eliminate the fear of liquids spilling in your luggage. These are relatively inexpensive and come in a little package, so they won’t take up much room and they would make for good stocking-stuffers.

Hopefully this list gives you some ideas of what to get your loved ones and gives you more time to focus on enjoying your holiday festivities!

Posted in Calling Cards, comfi.com, gift ideas, holiday, traveling | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Liquid Scanner Could End Airport Restrictions

Most travelers will agree: the restrictions on liquids allowed on airplanes, while meant for our protection, can be a nuisance to abide by. As of almost ten years ago, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) set rules on liquids, aerosols, gels, creams and pastes that limited the amount allowed through airport checkpoints to 3.4 ounces, or less, per container. This rule has caused more hassle for travelers and extra time spent in long lines while going through security.

Colbalt Light Systems has created a machine that can identify any liquid in a non-metal container within five seconds. This new technology, named the Insight100 Liquid Explosive Detection System (LEDS), can identify solids, gels, powders, and liquids based on their chemical composition.This machine can easily screen partially filled or full containers measuring from ten milliliters up to three liters.

Colbalt Light Systems’ Vice President of Security Products, Ken Mann, explains how the Insight100 works, “We shine a laser at the bottle and analyze the light that comes back, compare that with a spectrum and a library of threat materials. If it’s a threat, we alarm. It’s very specific, so we have a very high level of detection and almost no false alarms.”

This is not the first liquid scanner of its kind, but with the low false detection rate of less than 0.5%, the Insight100 is proving to be more reliable than its predecessors.

So far this security scanner is being tested out in 65 airports in Europe and Australia. If all goes well and this machine is implemented globally, there are expectations for the liquid restrictions to be removed by 2016.

Posted in airplane, airport, comfi, gadgets, Global, Safe Travel | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Windowless Plane With a Better View

Imagine flying in an airplane where your view is not obstructed by walls and you can actually see the environment outside of the plane. It sounds like a science fiction novel, but it is actually a real concept in which the Centre for Process Innovation (CPI) is trying to turn into a reality within a short amount of time.

Not only will these windowless planes show a beautiful panoramic view to their passengers, but there are claims that it will reduce the price of flying, which will most likely result in cheaper airfare. On the CPI’s press release, they state, “A view of the skies will not only offer a passenger experience that will transform your journey, the elimination of the windows will also reduce weight, as well as enhance the safety and strength of the fuselage. Weight is a constant issue on any aircraft with over 80% of the fully laden weight being the aircraft itself along with its fuel. For every 1% reduction in weight, the approximate fuel saving is 0.75%. If you save weight, you save fuel. And less fuel means less CO2 emissions into the atmosphere and lower operational cost.”

Instead of regular windows, the airplane walls will be fitted with thin flexible screens that will display the view of the outside in real time (they would be linked to cameras attached to the outside of the plane). Not only would the screens be able to show the surrounding view, but it could also be programmed to show any scenery, including and not limited to in-flight video conferencing, or anything that the passengers would want.

While this new idea seems to be taking off at a fast pace, U.S. engineering firm, Spike Aerospace, seems to be the first windowless cabin of its kind to announce their expectations for the first launch for their luxury Spike S-512 Supersonic Jet to be in 2018.
Posted in airplane, comfi, cpi, technology, Travel, travel news | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments