Jody’s Travel Tips


Google is already an essential part of many travelers’ tool kits. Here is an overview of the ways in which Google will be improving their travel tools in 2019.

Google Lens now lets a user scan a menu and get user images of the various dishes. It will also now read the menu to the user in either the original or into a translated language. Lens is also collaborating with museums to give users more information about the exhibits and displays they are viewing in real time.

Google Assistant voice interactive travel booking feature will come to web users. The service will now try to create a reservation itself using its own format and this will be facilitated by data in the Google user’s account.
Google’s advances in thing like automated captions for video, instant speech to text transcription and voice recognition for those with speech impairments have some folks thinking that Google’s demoed, but not released instant language translation technology might be coming closer to a reality.

Google Map updates will include things like position tracking via the camera. The recommendation engine will also be getting an update to suggest things like current and upcoming events as well.

For travelers who use Google heavily as a tool 2019 looks to be an exciting year.

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As far as the airlines are concerned, Thanksgiving is tomorrow. Rates for particularly popular itineraries are already on the rise. And even if price isn’t an issue, booking your preferred trip will become increasingly difficult, according to USA Today.

Thanksgiving Day is almost always the cheapest day to fly for the holiday. This should be no surprise. But how do the other travel days surrounding the holiday compare?

The Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Sunday after—avoid flying on these days if at all possible. They are the busiest travel dates and most expensive. The price of this itinerary has been rising since late August and is currently increasing on average by $1.50 a day, which jumps to about $2.50 a day in October. This could add up to almost $200 in additional fare per ticket.

A cheaper itinerary would be the Tuesday before and the Monday after Thanksgiving. If you don’t have to worry about school or work schedules, try flying the Saturday before to the Monday after and you may see exceptional savings.

Jody Victor

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MSN Travel recently presented some great reasons to travel in the off season. While some are no-brainers we might need reminding of, others are not so obvious.

1. Lower destination costs. Lodging and attractions are often much less expensive during the off season.

2. No crowds. While the world offers all kinds of experiences for travelers, many of them will be far more enjoyable with fewer people around. Or if you just aren’t a fan of crowded spaces, traveling in the off season may be for you.

3. Lower travel costs. Plain tickets and even gasoline for your passenger vehicle may be less expensive during the off season.

4. Spontaneity. During high traffic times travelers mostly have to book months in advance. During the off season there is often last minute availability.

5. Traveling during the off season often allows travelers to experience cultural events that don’t take place during high traffic periods.

6. Interacting with locals. All of those folks who make their living from the tourism industry will have more time to interact with travelers during the slow parts of the year. Perhaps giving tourists a more authentic and personal travel experience.

7. Better photo ops. During the low tide of travel attractions will be less crowded allowing photographers better opportunities for that perfect shot.

8. The road less traveled. Some attractions will be closed on the off season, forcing travelers to look off the beaten path for experiences.

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Summer sees airports filled with many extra and often unseasoned travelers going on vacations, thus making TSA security checkpoint lines even longer and more frustrating to navigate. Here are some tips to getting through the lines more quickly.

The first and easiest method is to sign up for the TSA’s PreCheck program. Much like its amusement park cousin, FastPass, TSA PreCheck isn’t free and many won’t think it is cheap at $85 a person. But the benefits are good for five years it really can save you hours of time waiting in lines. You will have to schedule a brief in person interview and wait for your Known Traveler Number, but again the benefits will be worth the small hassles for heavy airline users.

One trick to saving a bit of cash is to try buying just one PreCheck membership between spouses. Often the PreCheck pass will show up on the non-member’s ticket as well (though not always). You can also splurge on the Global Entry program to get you through customs faster returning to the US from out of country flights. This will set you back an extra $15.

If you don’t fancy spending almost a hundred bucks, you could try the the TSA’s smartphone app which will inform you about which security lines in any given airport are moving quickly.

Otherwise the tried and true methods of double checking for banned items, being prepared (shoes off, etc), and getting to the airport early are just about the only way of getting through TSA security checkpoints hassle free.

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Here is some information from the Jody Victor crew about those cookies you eat on your flight:

— The Biscoff cookie come from Belgium where they are known as Speculoos traditionally given to children for Sinterklass (St. Nicholas Day).
— In the contemporary United States they are typically associated with Delta Airlines, which brought the cookie on board some 30 years ago in 1986.
— Delta staff have been known to fashion birthday crowns out of the cookies for passengers.
— Biscoff popularity has flown to other other airlines such as: WestJet; Alaska Airlines; American Airlines and Sunwing.
— Biscoff may have reached immortal status when it became an emoji in an Apple sticker pack.
— Biscoff cookies are vegan friendly.
— There are cookbooks dedicated to recipes using Biscoff as a primary ingredient.

Source:
CNN

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Whether it’s a hundred miles or a thousand, getting ill while traveling is always a concern. Even a minor cold can make time away from home miserable. Doing things like washing your hands extra, trying to eat well and getting enough rest can help bolster the immune system, water-borne illnesses can be of particular concern in underdeveloped parts of the world.

Some common water-borne illnesses include cholera, Hepatitis A and typhoid. These are some simple tips to help you avoid such illnesses.

Drink bottled water, carbonated water, or canned water. It is also a good practice to ask that it be brought unopened. Drinking unfamiliar water is a very quick way to get sick while traveling. It isn’t a bad idea to use trustworthy water for brushing your teeth, either.

Don’t eat salads. Salads and other raw veggies are more than likely rinsed with water from the local water source. This is another easy way to ingest local water borne pathogens. Stick to boiled or otherwise cooked veggies.

Consider packing an antibiotic. You’ll have to speak to you doctor about this, however, bringing an appropriate antibiotic effective for know water-borne illnesses in the area you are visiting is the best possible safety net in the case of catching something nasty from untreated water.

Use water purification. If you have to drink local water, it simply has to be purified. The best method is a charcoal pump purification system. A sporting goods store can help you choose an effective one. Iodine (not recommended for pregnant women or those with thyroid issues, speak to your doctor) and chlorine tablets are also an option.

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