Top 6 Android Apps That Improve Your Travel Experience

Having a modern mobile phone will allow you to do much more than just call various people. Take Android smartphones for example: there are literally thousands of apps that can make our lives easier and better. The only problem is that you need to have a lot of time at your disposal, in order to evaluate the quality of each application, and then decide if it is something that you want to install and use on your smartphone. Read this article to discover some of the best apps that will make all your trips stress free, more enjoyable and easier to plan than ever before.

1. TripIt

If you only want to install a travel app, get a TripIt account and all your travel related needs will be taken care of. As an example, the app will help you check flights, verify the status of your flight, map your travel from the hotel room and many others.

2. Kayack

This app boasts to help you find the cheapest flights ever. There interface might look a bit busy, because there are numerous buttons and options. Nevertheless, when you learn to use them, you will start saving a lot of time; you’ll be able to find out what are the luggage fees, you will have access to the airlines’ contact details, manage your itinerary, and so on.

3. Google Goggles

This app was created for people that use to travel abroad very often; it can offer details related to unknown, foreign brand names, it can help you translate what you want to say in different languages, thus eliminating a lot of the stress that is usually associated to the language barrier.

4. Hotels Near Me

This is an app that will help you find a suitable hotel room once you got at the vacation destination. It has details for about 60,000 hotels which is, let’s be fair, an amazingly powerful database. Thanks to it, you will not have to worry about finding a hotel room while you are abroad, in a not so familiar geographical area.

Use this app and you will be given not only the name of the hotel, but also its rating, address, phone numbers and even feedback from other people that have stayed there in the past. You will also get the chance to see several photos, and thus you will be able to take an educated decision. And the good news doesn’t stop here: if you like what you see and the prices seem OK, you can book the room right away using your smartphone.

5. Trip Journal

This app is using the GPS that is installed on your phone to keep a record of your trip, using the coordinates provided by the GPS. Trip Journal also uses the photos you took while you were away, creating a nice presentation, a photo journal of your trip that includes your pictures. When you get back home, you can export your itinerary using Google Earth and thus share it with your family and friends.

6. WorldMate

Considered to be pretty much similar to Triplt, this app uses the details input by you to create a portfolio containing your flight details, the hotel booking, car rental, and so on. The key feature of this app is its ability to refresh the data very fast, in case that a new hotel needs to be booked, the flight needs to be changed etc. You are also given the possibility to consult Google Maps and see each and every important tourist attraction on your itinerary. Besides all these, you will have the ability to get a five day weather forecast both in the city you live and at the destination point.

There has never been a better time to own an Android smartphone, especially if you are interested in traveling in the near future. Test these applications and decide which ones suit your needs or (our recommendation) install and use them all – you won’t regret it.

Louis Kraml – a Hospital Manager That Knows Business

I was browsing the net, looking for newsworthy content, when I discovered a press release that was mentioning Louis Kraml; it turns out that he has donated over 350 thousand dollars to the local Idaho community, money which was produced by Bingham Memorial Hospital.

I have to admit that I didn’t know anything about Louis Kraml until yesterday, when I started doing some research. It turns out that the man became the CEO of the hospital about five years ago; what’s interesting is the fact that many hospitals in the area were closing, being unable to sustain themselves, despite the commendable government Critical Access Hospital initiative. So Mr. Kraml accepts the offer to manage the hospital and turns it quickly into a profitable enterprise, which is funny when you take into account the fact that he is running a non-profit organization.

Nevertheless, this is good news for the locals, who can use the money donated by the hospital for themselves. Not only that, but I hear that Mr. Louis Kraml has started all sorts of community outreach initiatives, and that’s something that I’ve always loved to be a part of. Think about it for a second: you have to go to the hospital because you are suffering (a powerful source of stress) and you’re also scared by the medical personnel, etc (another powerful source of stress).

Fortunately, through these community outreach programs, you get to interact with the doctors, and maybe even become friends with them, thus cutting down at least one of these stress sources. I’d like to see (and write about) more similar initiatives, so if you know of other successful hospital managers, make sure to drop me a note. Until then, our kindest regards go to Mr. Kraml, who has demonstrated that the American Health System has a bright future even if we aren’t talking about the for-profit hospitals.

The Best Family Car in 2012

I want to buy a car for my family in the near future, so I did some research and I want to share the results of my work with you. There you go:

Once you have your own family, the car that you are going to use when you travel with all your family members should fit your needs of space and safety perfectly. Of course, the choice for the car that you will end up with will depend on the budget that you have for your rental; nevertheless, the experts have done something that is going to ease the choice, evaluating and comparing some of the best family cars that have been bought by people. We are going to talk about two of the family cars which rank well in some of the most important tests.

hyunday-sonataIf you plan to visit a remote country you know nothing about, your biggest concerns are probably related to the safety aspect of the car. If this is the case, then Hyundai Sonata 2012 may be your choice. Specialists have given a 10 out of 10 mark to this model, stating that it offers the best driving safety features. In fact, Hyundai Sonata was actually crash tested and it scored 10, the maximum possible.

The safety equipment on Sonata includes dual front, side, curtain airbags, anti-lock brakes, stability and traction control and active headrests. At the same time, the outward visibility is very good as well. And everyone agrees that its looks are stunning: Sonata is a unique blend of crests and curves that really help it stand out in comparison with the other possible competitors that are running in the same category. You will have the same pleasant surprise admiring the interior or of the Sonata, where every tiny detail has been carefully trimmed.

Once you have driven a Sonata during the holiday, you might want to buy one as soon as you return home. The base price of the Hyundai Sonata is around the USD 20,500 mark; the specialists say that its integrated features are top notch. In fact, the car was given 9 out of 10 with regards to its features; it includes Bluetooth connections, a USB port, power windows, locks and mirrors, a telescoping steering wheel, cruise control, and so on, with all these features being included even in the entry level model.

In addition to this, depending on the exact model of Sonata that you are going to choose, the car can have paddle shifters, a sport tuned suspension, heated front and rear seats, a sunroof, a backup camera, automatic climatic control, an automatic dimming rearview mirror, etc. The Sonata navigation system is easy to use; you are also given 8GB of flash memory to store over 1,000 tracks from your preferred music. And even if you are only interested in renting this great car for your holiday, you will be glad to discover that the trunk is very spacious.

ford-fusion

Ford Fusion picture by Mario Roberto Duran Ortiz

The only serious competitor as an affordable, and yet great vacation rental is Ford Fusion 2012, another family sedan which was voted #1 out of 19 affordable midsize cars. This ranking was established after analyzing dozens of expert reviews, actual test drives, safety and reliability tests.

People who have been driving it say it is a family car which is also fun to drive, offering a high quality interior. Ford Fusion has an optional all wheel drive, a manual transmission and numerous trimming options, which will allow you to customize the car exactly the way you want. The three engine choices have all benefited from very good reviews and so did the trunk which is considered spacious for any family long drive. When it comes to safety, Ford Fusion has earned an 8 out of 10 mark, a good rating for the safety offered to car occupants. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has given the Top Safety Pick award to Ford Fusion, while federal NCAP has give it a three star ranking for frontal impact and a four start ranking for side impact.

All models of Ford Fusion have standard climate control, power windows, telescoping wheel, split folding rear seats, and so on. Options include rearview cameras, with output displayed in the rearview mirror and navigation systems. And with Ford Fusion, you can always choose to get a new generation hybrid car that can offer you the possibility to switch from the fuel-powered engine to battery.

The autumn has begun, but the cold weather is still months away; right now I can feel how the bright sunshine rays warm up my desk. If you plan to take a vacation with your family, renting one of these great cars is definitely a good idea, one that will make your holiday much better and safer. And if you plan to purchase one of these cars in the near future, why not rent one of them for a few days? It’s a surefire, inexpensive way of verifying if you are taking the right decision. I plan to purchase a car next spring, so I know I’ll do that for sure.

Discover the Top Romanian Monasteries

travel to romania There are quite a few places in Romania that are considered by UNESCO as being world heritage objectives. The good news is that all of them can be visited and admired if you decide to spend your vacation in Romania.

Located in the Northern area of the country, the Painted Monasteries from Bucovina represent a place where people come every year in search of their peace of mind and soul. The monasteries are called “Painted” because their exterior walls were painted manually in the 15th and 16th centuries. These frescoes represent saints, prophets of the Old Testament, Jesus Christ and many of His apostles, images of angels and demons.

The monasteries are all built in the Byzantine architectural style and are 100% unique in Europe. And while it is true that Europe has many outstanding churches and monasteries, the big difference when compared with the Romanian ones is the fact that the latter ones are still functional, there are monks and priests serving God there and Orthodox Christian religious services can still be attended in them.

If you choose to visit one of the monasteries, you should not be surprised to see a nun or a monk saying his or her prayers or beating a long beam with a mallet. This practice comes from ancient Roman times, when Christianity was considered to be illegal, so those who wanted to gather in order to pray announced each other with a simple knock in the wooden doors of the houses. This is why many tourists, after moments of prayer and meditation, leave the place with peace in their souls and with a whole new perspective on the world and its challenges. The walls were painted with biblical scenes because the clerics wanted even the simple villagers to see and remember God and His miracles.

The monasteries are also visited by people that are interested in seeing the old buildings’ architecture, having specific outside and inside decorations. These monasteries are located in Humor, Moldovita, Sucevita, Patrauti, Voronet, Suceava.

One of the smallest monasteries is the Tree Monastery, which was built in 1503 by one of the Stephen the Great’s (a famous Romanian rule) advisors. It was painted 40 years later and the walls present a scene from the first book of the Bible, the Genesis. Another monastery built in the 1500’s is located in Humor; on its walls you will be able to admire the Prodigal son parable, and the Devil, which is represented as a woman. The colors on the walls are still well preserved – green, blue, red or brown. In addition to this, an expensive collection of icons dated back in the XVI century is being exhibited in the church.

Another monastery that is visited and admired all through the year is the Moldovita Monastery, built in the year of 1532. The painting on the walls was finished a few years later, presenting the genealogy of Jesus and the siege of Constantinople, when it is supposed that Virgin Mary saved the city of Constantinople from a Persian attack.

All these monasteries are located close to one another, in the Bucovina geographical area. You could get there by flying to Bucharest, the capital of Romania, and then to Iasi or Suceava, two of the largest cities in the Northern part of Romania. Another option would be to rent a car from Bucharest and drive for about 10 hours in order to reach the Northern part of Romania. The locals are very friendly, so you could stop at any time and ask for accommodation, in case that you decide to go with the car rental plan – our recommendation.

Walk in showers or walk in bathtubs?

Today I was reminded of a new type of product, and I really don’t know what to call it: a walk in shower or a walk in bath tub? Actually, it looks like it is both of them, depending on your existing tub / shower setup.

walk-in-showers-or-walk-in-bathtubs1

The guy that has invented this EZ bathtub / shower conversion kit is named Steve, and his invention was born about 15 years ago. It’s a bath tub conversion kit, which comes with full assembly instructions. I wouldn’t do the job myself, though; I’ve never been good at that. They’ve got the specialists that can install it for you, I read, but I believe that this will add at least a few hundreds of dollars to the price of the kit.

I’d rather pay a bit more money, instead of doing this by myself, because I’m not a real handyman. And in case that you are wondering, I don’t need this piece of kit for myself, but for my mother, who is now in her 60s and has limited movement capacities.

In fact, I can picture her tub and I’m thinking “how on Earth could a senior citizen step into that tub, or get out of it without risking to fall?” The alternative would be to purchase a shower cabin, but this would involve a lot of mess, not to mention that some people (including my mother) love taking baths, instead of just showering.

A new invention uses a small bathtub cut to place a door in one of the side walls of the tub, sealing it perfectly and thus created a much lower step-in and step-out threshold.

Still, the idea of a retired person getting out of the water and slipping on the floor (or tripping) isn’t too comfortable, so I would also purchase and install some grab bars, in case that they can’t be found at the same place.

From what I know, most people prefer walk in showers as they age, but I’m pretty sure that this is happening because they don’t know about the existence of these walk in bath tub conversion kits, or if they do, they imagine that they are much more expensive. On the other hand, I’ll have to admit that a bath tub will make you use more water (about three times more, from what I remember) in comparison with a shower. We are now in an era when most people are aware of the environmental-related problems, and some of them are actually doing something about it. This means that a bath tub / shower combination might be the winning solution, allowing you to save water, and thus preserve the precious resources of our Planet, and at the same time giving you the opportunity to take a comfy bath whenever you feel the need to do it.

The site also includes a blog which is updated on a regular basis, from what I could tell by looking at its archive. There aren’t too many articles posted each month, but at least they provide detailed information on various bathroom renovation topics. There’s even a funny article about bathroom etiquette, which could give you some pointers in case that you have forgotten some of the rules. Oh, and there’s also a galley which shows some pictures of the actual bath / shower conversions; some of them look really cool, so you might want to check them out as well.

That’s pretty much it for the day! If you discover an interesting invention and you would like to see it presented or reviewed here, hit the contact page and drop me an email.

Going to Disneyland? Learn How to Avoid Waiting in Line

A month ago I attended a nice wedding and I was not very much surprised to find out that the young couple was planning to spend their honeymoon in Disneyland. And there is no need to say that Disneyland is probably one of the top three main touristic attractions in the U.S. if not in the entire world. However, there are some things you should be aware of before heading to Disneyland.

First of all, it will be extremely crowded; you will have to wait in long lines to get inside the Park. You will have also to wait in line if you want to enjoy some of the most spectacular rides in the Park. The estimated, average waiting time is between 69 and 90 minutes for a single ride during the holidays.

If that has discouraged you, cheer up, because there are some simple things that can be done about it. For example, you should try to avoid visiting the park during the summer breaks, meaning between the 31st of May and 31st of August. The Park representatives estimate that the average number of visitors can be up to 55,000 visitors in June, July and August.

Fortunately, the situation is a lot different during the rest of the year, with the number of people decreasing in size down to about 10,000 visitors. So keep in mind this extremely helpful tip: try to plan a Disneyland visit outside the peak months, when the estimated waiting time is about 5 minutes per ride.  And while December is also known to be good month for a visit to Disneyland, you can also enjoy a nice visit in the fall months, when school has already begun.

Sure, you can still visit Disneyland during the summer holidays or any other holiday during the year, but you’d better prepare for the long waiting in line intervals, which might end up ruining the day for you and your family members. And I just want to remind you how difficult (sometimes impossible) it is to ask for patience from your younger kids who just want everything right now.

But isn’t it possible to get to Disneyland during summer and still be able to enjoy all the important attractions without spending hours waiting in line? Here’s a little known hint: you could visit the Park on the same day a big sports event was also planned and long time awaited for, like a Superbowl Sunday. Most people will stay at home to watch the game, while you and your kids will have all the time in the world to enjoy all the rides in the park.

Actually, the Disneyland authorities have created a tool that can limit the time you spend waiting in line; its name is FastPass. You can get a ticket with a 30 minute frame; if you remember to come back to the ride at the specified time, you can enjoy it without having to wait in the line. Please be aware that not every ride offers the possibility to get a FastPass ticket, though.

If you managed to plan a Disneyland visit during a moderate crowded day, try to be among the first few visitors early in the morning. This way you will have the chance to enjoy some of the rides with no waiting at all. And if you manage to get there early, go straight to the rides that are the most crowded ones during the day.

The same strategy should be applied when it comes to eating lunch or dinner. If you manage to be an early visitor, you will have no problem having your meals earlier than usual, in order to avoid the same hungry crowd.

No matter when you intend to visit Disneyland, before making any plans remember to check its website in order to see the operating hours, the weather forecast and all the information related to any special events.