4th of July Tech Travel Tips from a Very Frequent Flyer
Frequent flyer Mitchell Harper on tech break, Sydney Harbor.
CREDIT: Mitchell Harper
The American Automobile Association this week projected 1.56 million people will take to the skies over Fourth of July weekend, an increase of more than 8 percent from one year ago. With new fees for carry-on luggage, mobile boarding passes and in-flight Wi-Fi, the airline landscape has changed. For the best flight possible, consider these tech tips from an expert traveler to make holiday flying as painless as possible.
Mitchell Harper flies 50,000 miles or more each year. His company, BigCommerce, an online service that powers many e-commerce sites, is based in Sydney, Australia with sales and customer service facilities in Austin, Texas. That's 16,940 miles roundtrip. Harper says he also does a lot of internal travel while in the U.S. to trade shows, for time off, and to meet partners and clients.
When it comes to electronic devices, Harper is a Mac fanatic. On trips he takes his Macbook Pro, iPhone 3GS and iPad – he bought six of the new tablets, but travels with just one. His go-to business apps are "Google Apps for Enterprise" to make sure he has uninterrupted access to his emails and calendar. He also uses "Remember the Milk "with Gmail integration to set important tasks.
"I consider myself an early adopter and with tools like email and calendar being in the cloud thanks to Google, I don't ever have to worry about having Outlook or other clunky desktop software installed on any of my devices," Harper told TechNewsDaily.
Like many frequent flyers, Harper uses smartphone apps to find the best air and hotel fares. His current favorite is "Kayak" for his iPhone. He uses both "FlightTrack Pro" and the Southwest airlines app to track flights, a handy way to save time if a flight has been delayed.
For those who cross international time zones, remember to update the time zone on phones and within calendar programs on any device.
"There's nothing worse than being woken up at 3 a.m. for a meeting that's set for an incorrect time zone," Harper said.
He enjoys trying new restaurants, but plays it safe with more hi-tech helpers.
"I find a good restaurant on Yelp and then verify the ratings on TripAdvisor," Harper said. "TripAdvisor for me is about 90 percent accurate where as Yelp is more like 60 percent accurate in terms of reviews."
As for in-flight entertainment, Harper recommends people install the free "Kindle" app on their iPads and download a stack of books before an international flight.
"If the movies and shows on the flight don't interest you or you can't sleep, then you can easily get through an entire book," Harper said. The Kindle app will also work on the iPhone in its airplane mode and the iPod touch, and a free Kindle program is also available for PC users. Alternately, iPads and iPhones offer iBooks from the iBookstore, similar to the Kindle program.
Harper also thinks its important to know when to power down, and he's not referring to battery life.
"If you're away on holiday, take some real time off and leave your gadgets in your suitcase," he said. "You'll come back with more focus and will be more productive."
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