Travel tips

Boarding early


Enplaning and deplaning is a fascinating example of how human beings interact.  It seems like many passengers boarding a flight want to get on the plane as soon as possible.  Whatever their specific reasons, this tendency has probably been exacerbated by baggage fees that have increased the amount of baggage brought on board and the high demand for the very limited amount of space for said baggage.

So everyone jockeys to get on the plane first, dragging countless bags, purses, and strollers.  In my experience flying and boarding early, I have never made it down the jetway without having to wait in line.  Strollers are left at the door, to be taken down and placed in the belly of the plane.  Often times, a bag or two that just won’t fit gets bumped as well.

Tag, you're it


Every time I download pictures from my camera, I am confronted with the same issue. What do I do with them? How do I organize them? Where do I do put them?

I think I’ve come up with a simple solution. After sorting by date, removing any duplicate and needless shots, I tag them. In Windows, there’s a tags property where you can add tags.


Lessons learned


This year, I learned a few things about traveling on a long trip.  These things aren’t as big on shorter trips, but become more obvious the longer the trip.

Delays happen

From traffic delays getting to the airport to delays departing from the gate to delays getting your bags at your destination, delays will always happen.  Plan for them, allow extra time, and go with the flow.  You won’t get to your next spot any faster by getting upset.

Planning the trip, Part III


This is the conclusion of how I planned my month long travels. You can read the first and second part.

Planning for a month of traveling is complex on its own. But executing the plan can be much harder. Keeping track of the details was a challenge, and felt overwhelming. Using a combination of TripIt and a tool I developed myself, I was able to keep things straight, for the most part.

Planning the trip, Part II


This is the second part of how I planned my month long travels.  You can read the first part here.

Once I had a list of cities that were possible to visit, I used AAA’s online TripTik to find attractions to visit in each city. I made rough estimations on how long it would take to see each attraction and how long it would take to travel to the next attraction. Leaving a buffer of extra time for the unexpected made things less stressful.


Planning the trip, Part I


I’ve been asked how I came up with my route for the month.  The short answer, a lot of trial and error.  The long answer, it was complex was actually a lot harder than I thought it would be.

First, I wanted to get a lot of value out of the pass.  With anything unlimited, there is a tendency to eat, drink, or use as much as you can.  It isn’t too hard to exceed the price/value of the pass considering it was about two or three round trip flights and the pass was paid for.  Any additional flights meant you were flying bonus flights.  My goal was to see whatever I could, and go wherever I could in a month.

I went to the route map on JetBlue’s website, found destinations that looked interesting, and wrote them down on a list.  As I’ve been to all of the states on the bottom of the United States, it wasn’t necessary to visit those.  What was left was basically the west and east coast, and Salt Lake City, Denver, and Chicago in the middle.


Last minute reservations


Reserving hotel rooms, rental cars, and other parts of a trip can be tricky when you’re looking for a great rate. If you reserve too far in advance, or too late, the rate can be much higher. It really depends on availability and the right timing.

A flexible plan can add further complications to reserving a hotel in advance. Can you accomplish your itinerary and get to the hotel?  If you change plans or get delayed, getting to the hotel can be impossible.

On my trip using the All You Can Jet pass from JetBlue, I allocated a couple of days to driving around Massachusetts and Rhode Island with a rough intinerary. Since I didn’t know how far I would travel each day, and how long each place I visited would take, I looked for a hotel room late in the day for that evening when I knew better where I would be that night. As long as I had an internet connection, my iPhone gave me the lowest prices nearby.

Door handle dilemma


I’ve gone into a lot of public restrooms in my life, but it wasn’t until I spent thirty days travelling around the country that I noticed one thing interesting about them. No, I’m not going to write about toilets, or how messy some people can be. Both can be very disgusting. Something a little different, like the door handle.

Have you ever noticed the door handle to the restroom? Sometimes the door will open into the restroom, and sometimes the other way around. It wasn’t really all that noticable until I was more concious of germs in an attempt to avoid getting sick in the middle of a very grueling journey.

Can you take a picture, please?


I guess I don’t live in a popular tourist attraction or somewhere that people visit and want their picture taken in front of. So when I was travelling around the country, it stood out to be asked by random people to take a picture of them with their camera.

They asked a complete stranger! Forget about handing over a piece of equipment that costs at least a hundred bucks, if not more, and trusting they won’t just run off with it (it must happen), or worse drop the thing (broken lens, ouch!). But then you have the composition aspect to taking a photo. Some people have no idea how to take a picture. They are thrown into the spotlight to learn where to “press the button” and other aspects of the unfamiliar camera in 15 seconds or less. Sure, it’s not that difficult once you get the hang of it how a camera works, but you’d be surprised.