Archive for February, 2010

Quick Trip to Cali


I found a great air fare a while back and decided it was time to go visit some folks in The Bay area.  It was a quick trip; out Monday night, back Wednesday afternoon.

The flight out was jam packed full, but was uneventful.  I’m a big fan of Seat Guru to help ensure I’m not in a bad seat.  However, I got bit this time.  SG didn’t show my row number, because Delta had crammed in an extra row between the front row and the boarding door.  So while I thought I was getting the extra leg room of a bulkhead exit row, I actually got an emergency slide/raft that stuck half-way into Delta has satellite TV on their trans-con flights, so I was able to watch the prime-time Olympics.  I landed at 10:00 PST (01:00 body clock), hopped in the rental car, and headed north.

It was late as I crossed the bridge on my way to the hotel, but I had to stop at Vista Point for a shot of the bridge.


Great Circle Mapper


I just saw that they have updated the Great Circle Mapper site. Check it out HERE.

They’ve made some GREAT improvements, so I thought I’d post a map of my last trip to show off the new look. For me, key improvements are:

  • Custom path width & color, for each leg!!!
  • City names, instead of just airport codes
  • Custom marker shapes & colors
  • “Blue Globe” background instead of old blue “flat” map

I’m really stoked about this, and you’re sure to see many more maps soon. :)

19,080 miles

Map generated by the Great Circle Mapper – copyright © Karl L. Swartz.

Travel Tip – Cash’n It In


One of the challenges I face when traveling is dealing with local currency.  On some Asian trips I need Japanese Yen, Hong Kong Dollars, Chinese Yuan, Korean Wan, and US Dollars.  At home, I use a credit card 99% of the time.  In Asia, that won’t work.  China, in particular, runs on cash.  My hotel takes credit, but I pay cash for all my meals, transportation, & entertainment.  So the question is, how do you keep up with all that? (more…)

Day Trip To Hawaii


After a recent Asian business trip, I had the awesome opportunity to have almost a full day layover in Hawaii!  I have two friends from college that are living there now.  They were gracious enough to pick me up at the airport and run me all over the island of Oahu, showing me as much of this beautiful place as we could fit in.  I had an AMAZING day, and can’t thank Consuelo and her family enough!!!


Splendid China


We finished our meetings in Shenzhen early, so I had some time to do some sight seeing before my red-eye flight out.  Our local representative was kind enough to send a lady from their staff to show me around, and we visited Splendid China (click here).  This place can best be described as a “theme park” about China.  I have to admit that when I first heard about it, I thought I’d be bored out of my mind.  But I went out of respect for our rep, who wanted to share this with me.  As it turns out, it was pretty cool.  Not Disney World cool, but cool nonetheless.  I got to see all kinds of regional architectural themes, and discover a lot about their culture.  Here are some of the things I saw.

Dragons are a big part of Chinese culture, and they use them a lot.


Travel iPhone Apps


I’m addicted to my iPhone, and one of the biggest reasons is how it improves my travel experience by reducing stress.  Knowing is half the battle, and my iPhone allows me to know when flights are delayed, what weather conditions are like, etc.

  • iXpenseIt – tracks all my business expenses.  Keeps track of things in multiple currencies, and exports nicely for reporting purposes.  This is essential for keeping up with small cash expenses.  For big-ticket items, I use my credit card and the statement makes sure I don’t miss something.  But when buying subway tickets, taxis, snacks, etc. this makes sure that I get reimbursed for all my expenses.
  • Flight Update – this amazing program keeps track of all my flights.  It updates the status so that I know what terminal/gate the flight is going from/to, whether the flight is on time, etc.  It saves confirmation numbers, seat numbers, and even has seat maps!
  • Shopper – for packing lists.  I have a standard catch-all business travel packing list that I filter for each trip.  This keeps me from forgetting key pieces.
  • eWallet – keeps all my passwords, membership numbers, etc. secure
  • Exchange – does currency conversions.  I like that I can have a “custom currency”, whose value I can set at my real rate (the rate I actually got, including any transaction fees)
  • Airport Status – shows systemic problems at airports, like weather delays.
  • Flight Aware Live Tracking – tracks a specific flight.  While this is useful for tracking a friend’s flight, I use it when my upcoming flight is delayed and I want to monitor the status of my aircraft coming into my airport.

What mobile apps do you use that make travel easier for you?

Support Capitalism


When I travel, I enjoy eating the local food.  But as an American capitalist, I also enjoy supporting American franchises.  Lots of people will tell you that “You can get McDonalds at home, don’t eat it in Japan!”  What those folks are missing out on, though, is that the restaurants typically have different menus overseas.  Some places (Subway and Quiznos come to mind) have identical menus, but most adapt to the local taste and ingredients.