8 Things I That Make Travel Easy

London Bound I’m London bound this week and it's time to think about packing. It still amazes me how much stuff I manage to collect in a couple of months and how, without fail, I end up with at least 3 socks who’ve lost their partners; I am convinced washing machines are portals to the place where lost socks go. On the upside this contributes to my minimalistic tendencies, as any sock without a partner, at the time of departure, gets left behind.

However, this post is not about my socks, it’s about 8 things I wont leave behind when I'm traveling.

After an intensive weekend with author Neil Strauss in Toronto, I came to the realization–while talking to event attendees–that most people aren’t familiar with many of the travel tools I take for granted. So, here’s a list of travel apps I’d rather not leave behind with the single socks.

1. Airbnb

This is my go-to app for accommodation; it connects me to people renting out their spare bedrooms, their apartments, their wagons, their yachts, and even their castles. Whether it’s a layover in Venice or a couple of months in Toronto, I’d rather Airbnb than stay in a hotel. The best part is your host is always willing to share local recommendations. This weekend I have a layover in Venice and my host, Antonello, has offered to show me the best local bacaris in the city–look out for next weeks post. Airbnb has given me the opportunity to meet amazing people, share stories and strike up friendships around the world.

2. Uber

On my last visit to Istanbul I did something against my better judgement; used a regular taxi to get from Kadıköy to Atatürk Airport. Having been warned about the Turkish Lira note switch scam, I kept a close eye on the driver while paying the fare. He quickly switched my 50 Lira for a 5 Lira and pretended to wait for me to pay the rest of the fare. When he realized he’d been caught out, he simply waved me off. These scams happen in cities everywhere and that’s why I love Uber. In most cases the drivers are friendly, the system is simple and convenient, I know exactly who is picking me up, and Uber handles the payment process. Any problem, log a call and their support team handles it efficiently. Long live Uber!

3. InterNations

InterNations is an extensive network of expats and while there isn’t a mobile app, they have an excellent website. If you’re a location independent professional, setting up in a new city, or simply passing through, join InterNations and get involved in some of the events hosted by local InterNations Consul. I’ve made lasting connections and grown my network through InterNations; whether volunteering at an orphanage in Santiago or networking on a patio in Toronto, you're bound to meet people who will help you settle in your new city.

4. Miles&Smiles

Part of the reason I love Istanbul is that it’s home to Turkish Airlines. Serving 110 countries, it’s the worlds most connected airline. From Istanbul you can get just about anywhere on the planet–except that place where lost socks go. Their frequent flyer programme, Miles&Smiles, speaks to their culture–one of the friendliest crews in the air, always ready to offer a smile. As far a possible I travel TK, using their mobile app to book and pay for flights, manage my bookings, and monitor my flight status.

5. Todoist

I’d never been big on using an app to manage my list of to dos, that is, until I came across Todoist. A simple, easy to use application that synchs across all my devices. I can quickly add tasks, check my list at the end of each day, and make sure nothing falls through the cracks.

6. Yelp

A location Independent marketing consultant by day; a city explorer by night. Some people have guide books, I’ve got Yelp and Anthony Bourdain. Before leaving on a trip, I check if Bourdain has visited there before–he’s been most everywhere–and make a list of the restaurants he tried. A quick search on Yelp to check the local reviews and I have my itinerary. If you find yourself wondering the streets of Barcelona, craving Galician octopus, just Yelp–or go here.

7. Google Maps

Whether it’s finding the quickest route to a meeting or the bicycle route to the waterfront, Google Maps gets me there. If I don’t have data, simply update the offline maps, locate your destination, and walk out the door confident you have all the directions you nee in the palm of your hand.

8. Moleskine

I never leave the house without my Moleskine notebook tucked in my messenger bag–a writer should always have paper and a pen. I’m constantly scribbling ideas, drafting blog posts, and doodling all sorts of random crap. When I find an interesting looking coffee shop, I pull out my MacBook and turn all those scribbles and random thoughts into something brilliant. Although, after this weekend hand writing analysis class, I’m more conscious of the hidden meaning in all those scribbles.

Happy travels.