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.
There are still many places where you cannot drink the tap water. Buying bottled water during a whole trip is obviously not very green, consider in investing in a water filter and you can create your own safe water right from the tap.
In many places choosing to eat locally over eating at familiar chains can save you money and save the planet as local, small businesses tend to be greener by nature. Also, you’ll get to experience much more of the culture and more of your money many stay in the local economy. Ask other tourists and hotel staff for recommendations.
Slow down your rate of travel, if you are on multi-destination adventure, many studies have shown that choosing passenger vehicle travel or trains for medium and long distances is far greener than jet setting.
Lastly, hang up that sign asking your room not to be serviced every day. Think of all the resources involved in cleaning the room and the linens, it is much more than the average person would use at home on a regular basis.
Happy, safe and greener travels!
To be sure, customs officials see some bizarre things in their line of work. However, an unexpected batch of hundreds of live tarantulas might be a new one.
A package shipped from Poland and opened by Philippines customs contained an amazing seven hundred and fifty seven live tarantulas hidden inside boxes of cookies and oatmeal that had been gift wrapped to conceal their creepy content. Of the five hundred some spiders, babies were found plastic vials with air holes while adults where in larger plastic containers.
The shipment was valued at bout $5,900 (that’s for the tarantulas, not the cookies) by the Philippine Bureau of Customs when they examined the contraband at a mail exchange center near the Manila airport. The Filipino man who came to claim his so-declared “collection items he was arrested on the spot.
This is not the first in a recent barrage of illegal wildlife smuggling in the Philippines. While the country requires permits to trade and possess such creatures as tarantulas, as one might suspect this doesn’t do much to stop persistent black-market traders. Reports of hundreds of incidents come just from Manila where larger and more exotic wildlife like iguanas, chameleons and bearded dragons are regularly found being smuggled illegally.
Probably one of the most iconic motel chains in America is Motel 6. But how did they start? Who invented them? And, frankly, what’s up with their name?
Paul Greene and William Becker were two contractors who had worked together on low-cost housing projects. They wanted to try their low-price handy-skills in another sector however—hospitality. Their goal was simple—build a motel chain that could unbelievably low prices, but that could still maintain a high profit margin.
Greene and Becker started the planning phase of what would become Motel 6 around 1960 and they originally wanted to charge the crazy-low rate of $4 a room. Through research they found out this price would be too low, still in the planning stages they raised the theoretical rate to $5 and eventually came up with the figure of $6 a room (you can probably see where this is going). In their figuration they found this rate was still low enough to attract guests (no kidding! Good luck finding a $60 room these days) and still pay for the land leases, building costs and operational costs like janitorial supplies and employees.
Their first motel opened just two years later in 1962 in Satna Barbara, California. And, wait for it, they named it Motel 6. But give some credit to Greene and Baker, the marketing is simple and direct. Customers know what it is and how much it costs all in a simple and easy to remember name: Motel 6. It probably even ranked as one of the best values in the would of hotels and motels at the time.
While that brilliant marketing isn’t as relevant now, the chain is still known to be affordable. And no motel chain in America, Motel 6 included, can boast a national flat room rate. In 2017 a room at the Motel 6 ran from about forty dollars a night in Oak Creek, Wisconsin to about one-hundred and fifty a night at a location in proximity to the Newark Liberty International Airport. $6 would have been worth about forty-eight dollars in 2017, so proportionally to inflation their prices are about the same.
Consider what some hotels charge these days, even at its most expensive, Motel 6 is still a pretty good deal.
Flip-flop fanatics beware—inappropriate footwear could cost a tourist up to $2824 while visiting Italy’s Cinque Terre. Sensible hiking shoes will be a requirement.
The Cinque Terre is one of Italy’s most beautiful and most visited spots. The pastel colored buildings of the villages are set among rolling hills and trails. While most visitors plan on walking from village to village, footwear wise they are often grossly under-prepared, favoring beach style sandals and such instead of trail shoes or boots. Many of the trails of areas of steep and mountainous terrain. This so often results in accidents, injury and full-on SOS calls to mountain rescue teams the Cinque Terre has had to establish these new rules and fines.
The ban will begin on the fist of April, 2019. Fines are set to begin at $56 and can go up to the stated maximum of a whopping $2824 depending on inconvenience and expense inflicted on local authorities—presumably calling in a mountain rescue team will cost a tourist almost 3k in fines.
The mountain rescue teams that are made up of volunteers from the Italian Alpine Club will begin with awareness campaigns to make sure tourists come to the Cinque Terre well prepared. Visitors will be given fliers and a printed warning when they purchase the required pass to visit the Cinque Terre. A flier campaign will be put into effect as well.
All of this comes into action as the Cinque Terre’s busy season for tourists begins in April. They expect some 750,000 cruise passengers this year compared to just 450,000 a year ago.