Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Travelers: Travel Apps

Staying safe while traveling sometimes depends on the weather, an accident, or some other unforeseen issue.

The Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, using a mobile app from the US Department of State, allows you to reach your traveling family in case of an emergency due to civil unrest in a foreign country. Available for fee on Android and Apple devices at

BSafe is a personal safety app packed with features to keep you secure on the road or at home. You can set up a network of friends and family and send notifications of your location using live GPS. There are alarms and other features. Available for free on Android and Apple at

Get the American Red Cross's Hurricane app to track and monitor hurricane conditions for your destination. You'll also receive NOAA weather alerts when location services are enabled. Available for free on Android and Apple at

Another app from the Red Cross is a first aid app containing all sorts of emergency medical intervention information from bites to bruises. It also allows you to make emergency calls directly within the app at any time.

What do you do if you want to call 911...but you're not in the US? Do you know the emergency numbers in other countries? If you have the Travel Safe app it will give you a list of emergency numbers in your location with one touch dialing. Available for $.99 on Android and $1.29 on Apple devices at

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Travelers: Vacaville Event...Don't Miss It

From:  Bob Vollmer, Executive Director         Phone:  (707) 451-2100
Date:   August 19, 2014                                      Email:           
Downtown Vacaville’s Art, Wine & Brew Festival Returns!

Vacaville, California – It’s almost time once again for the annual “Art, Wine & Brew Festival” that’s hosted by the Downtown Vacaville Business Improvement District. This group of Downtown merchants is going all out again this year to bring fantastic entertainment, great wines, sudsy brews and a variety of artisans for everyone’s’ enjoyment. It’s all happening August 22nd to August 24th

Things kick off Friday evening, August 22nd with Roy Rogers and the Delta Rhythm Kings, at 6 pm.  Roy Rogers is considered one of the world’s premier slide guitarists performing today. With 8 Grammy nominations as producer and performer, he is also an internationally acclaimed producer, having produced recordings for John Lee Hooker and Ramblin’ Jack Elliott. He has received numerous accolades for his songwriting, as well as his work on movie soundtracks and television.

On Saturday morning, things get started with Michelle Lewis at 10 am and Hayley and Rudy at 11 am. Westbound 80 performs at 12 pm and then C&W favorites Whiskey and Honey at 2 pm.  J.T. & The Cheaters hit the stage at 4 pm with the Matty T band heating things up at 5 pm and the evening wraps up with Laurie Morvan performing at 7 pm. Laurie ignites audiences at her shows with her incendiary blues rockin’ guitar playing. You won’t be sitting still for this performance!  guitarist Laurie Morvan ignites audiences and reviews.

On Sunday morning join everyone Downtown for brunch and enjoy the music of The Beer Brothers at 11 am. Total Recall takes the stage at 12:30 pm with Val Starr at 2:30 pm. Val Starr will be rockin’ Town Square until 4 pm when we wrap things up.

There will also be artists from the Vacaville Art League present throughout the day along with food, vendors, wine tastings and brew tastings too! (The wine & brew tastings only take place on Saturday afternoon, but there are food and drinks available for sale both days).
It’s all happening at this year’s Art, Wine & Brew Festival in The Heart Of The City. Be sure to visit the downtown web site at  or you can call the office at 707-451-2100 for further information on this event or any of the upcoming festivals, concerts, farmers’ markets and other special events.


Monday, August 18, 2014

Travelers: Travel Games

Recently I read about some travel games to see if you can find out how travel savvy you are.

I've not tried them...let me know what you think.

BBC Geoguessr is a game that virtually plops you down somewhere in the world and tells you to figure out where you are. You can swivel around 360 degrees to see the landscape and roads. Set a time limit for more of a challenge.

Smartypins is a Google one similar to the BBC one. However, this gives clues and not images. Trivia will pop up with questions.

Cruise IQ lets you navigate the ocean like you were born on it. Different levels or play ask you to find cruise ports in the US and around the world.

Traveler IQ Game, by TripAdvisor, is similar to the Cruise IQ.

All are a fun way to test your knowledge. Happy traveling...

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Travelers: Healthy Tips

We've read about the Ebola outbreak in Africa. While you might not be planning a trip to Africa, you still want to stay healthy when you travel. Here are some things to think about.

Prior to planning your trip, check the CDC website for information on vaccines and health alerts at your destination. You would need to visit your physician at least four to six weeks prior to leaving for some vaccines and medicine.

Give you immune system a boost with exercising, plenty of rest, and vitamins before you leave. No sense in starting out tired and run down. Try to get enough or more than enough sleep the night before your flight.

If you're taking snacks, take healthy ones.

Stay hydrated. Airplane air is dry...drink lots of water. Try to avoid caffeine and alcohol...try!

Wash your hands frequently.

If you're not feeling well when you return home, see your physician immediately. Be sure to tall them where you have been on your travels. It may be nothing more than jet lag...but don't leave that to chance.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Travelers: Read Reviews

When you're looking for a hotel, boutique inn, B & B, or resort, do you read the reviews other travelers have posted? If so, how much value do you place on them?

Here are some suggestions.

Look at more than just a couple of reviews. That way you will have a better idea of what the place may be like in reality.If all 25 reviews are negative with similar complaints or issues, it's probably a good bet there are things wrong. Move on.

By the same token, if all 25 are glowing with praises about customer service and's probably a good bet that this is really a good place.

Usually, however, you will find some good and some not so good. Pay attention to both ends. Check to see if the bad issues keep coming up in reviews. You might want to try another place.

If most reviews are fantastic, with a few bad ones thrown in, check out what they had to say. Perhaps the not so good reviews were written by someone who just didn't have a good time at the pool that day. Take those with a grain of salt.

Bottom and then decide.

Travelers: Customs Info

According to a post I just read on SmarterTravel

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is rolling out a new app called Mobile Passport Control App (MPC), with which flyers can fill out those customs declaration forms necessary for re-entry into the U.S. Insert the usual "There's an app for that!" one-liner here.
This is the first app authorized by CBP, and it launches today, August 13. CBP is hoping the app, developed in partnership with Airside Mobile and Airports Council International-North America, will speed up the customs process, reduce wait times, and cut operating costs.
The app doesn’t allow anyone to skip any lines, but it looks like it will help processing go a little faster. According to CBP, “Since the administrative tasks are performed by the traveler prior to the passport control inspection, MPC reduces passport control inspection time and overall wait times.” Basically, it allows US and Canadian citizens to electronically submit customs forms prior to arrival at customs. Here’s how it works: After creating a profile and entering some information about your trip, you’ll receive an electronic receipt with a QR code. Present the code to the customs officer, and he or she will scan the code and send you through.
In an increasingly automated world, it's not unusual that CBP is trading its old-fashioned paper customs forms for a digital version. Along with CBP's new customs kiosks, the app heralds a more seamless experience for travelers entering the United States. But it might be a while before you can take advantage of the new technology. The free app is still in an initial testing phase. It's available for iPhone and iPad only, and CBP says it will introduce a Droid-friendly version soon. (There's been no word on when.) The app works only for arrivals at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. More airports should be added in the next few months.
CBP says the app works for "eligible" travelers only; the agency doesn't give any details on who's eligible and who's not. Yet it doesn't appear that travelers need any kind of pre-approval for the app to work. My guess is CBP throws "eligible" into the language to cover their bases: If you're on some kind of watch list, perhaps you won't receive a QR code.
Search for "Airside Mobile" to find the program in the App Store. You have to be connected to Wi-Fi or a cell network for the app to work.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Travelers: Security

On July 2 the Department of Homeland Security released a statement about electronic devises on planes. Flyers may have to turn on their electronic devices and show security screening staff.

Screening staff may ask flyers to turn on laptops, tablets, and phones. This could result in longer wait times through security.

If you have those devices, it may be a good idea to keep your electronics charged and ready to go. You can always power them off once you make it through security. Also not a good idea to let your batteries die before you go through security.