TripAdvisor launches free Mobile City Guide apps for Android users

TripAdvisor launches new free smartphone app for travelersOn Tuesday, October 11, 2011, TripAdvisor launched their free Mobile City Guide apps for Android users. The apps cover twenty popular destinations, some of which include Paris, New York, Tokyo, Los Angeles, and London.

Benefits of using the app include:

  • Reviews of restaurants, hotels, and attractions
  • Suggested city itineraries
  • Interactive walking tours
  • Historical and cultural information on a destination
  • Weather reports
  • Transportation options

One great thing about this app is that the information is given to you in real-time, so everything you read is current and up-to-date. Also, information from the app can be accessed whether the user has a data connection or is offline.

Says Adam Medros, vice president of global product at TripAdvisor, “We think travelers are going to love the comprehensive information our free Mobile City Guides provide in popular world cities. A tremendous complement to our popular TripAdvisor site app, these guides offer even more city detail, including itineraries and interactive walking tours.”

Renaissance Hotels releases Navigator App

I like Renaissance Hotels. Although I tend to stay away from big hotel chains, I like Renaissance because it’s a boutique line and every hotel of theirs is different from the others. Another thing I like about Renaissance? They have Navigators in place of the traditional concierge.

Renaissance Navigators are, in short, employees who are locals and in the know. I once walked into the Renaissance Pere Marquette in New Orleans and picked the brain of a Navigator on staff. I liked his recommendations. As a point of reference, I own TheAntiTourist. I don’t like being shooed off in the direction of obvious tourist spots and this particular Navigator gave me a run for my money with his list of off-the-beaten-path things I might like to do.

Why is this useful information for you? Because Renaissance recently released the Navigator app. And it’s free for the taking for iPhone, iTouch, and iPad users until February 28th if you use the code ‘intheknow’ on iTunes. So look it up. Take it. See how you like it. And then let us know.

Review: yogoguide Paris online city explorer and trip planner

I’ve just spend a good part of my evening playing around with yogoguide – one of the coolest new online city explorer tools I’ve seen in a long time. At the moment, their service only covers Paris, but since that is my all-time favorite city I’ve got nothing to complain about.

Using the site is a treat – the center of the interface is a very clear map of Paris, to the left are categories, and on the right is where you’ll save your favorites. you can browse the map on your own, or let yogoguide point out the various categories. Once you’ve selected a category, you can narrow things down even more. For example – the hotels category sorts properties into luxury, charming, under 90 Euros, B&B, short term apartment rentals and hostels/camping sites.

Once you pick a sub-section, they’ll all be presented on the map ,and when you select a specific location, you get a handy little window showing reviews, the website, photos and more.

One of the smarter options on the map is the ability to overlay the metro map, the arrondissements and more – making it extremely simple to combine locations with reviews and ease of access. End result is that you can pick shops, entertainment, food and other activities and see on the map how to actually get there. Once you’ve explored the map and added favorites, you can even access the site using your mobile phone, which is perfect when you are abroad, just be sure you add an international data plan!

All in all, this is one extremely well designed city guide, but it is also just plain fun to use. The best part is that all your browsing can result in a perfect plan for your visit to this amazing city. All sections can be printed and you can save favorites to your yogoguide account. The site is free, as is the creation of an account, so head on over to yoyoguide and take it for a spin.

Moleskine City Notebooks turn you into your own guidebook

We’ve mentioned Moleskine City Notebooks in the past here on Gadling, but this line of Notebooks deserve another mention. With a Moleskine City Notebook, you essentially turn yourself into your own guidebook. Instead of relying on tips from others, you create your own guide as you wander through a city.

Inside each Moleskine City Notebook is everything you need to find your way around – maps, a street index, public transit map, important phone numbers, transport information and room to write down your itinerary.

Of course, the notebook also has plenty of room to write down your own content, along with a section where you can write your own reviews and rate locations. This “city file” section is split into food, drinks, sleep, people, places and books. Handy tabs let you quickly browse to the right section.

In the back of the notebook is a page containing adhesive-tab tracing paper, which make it easy to overlay on a map and trace your steps.

The Moleskine City Notebooks are available for 14 North American cities, 24 European cities and 4 Asian cities. The guides retail for $17.95 each, but can be found for around $12.50 at many online retailers.

In sticking with the principle of going back to basics, leaving your high tech gadgets at home, and relying on good old paper to create your trip report can be a fun experience, it may not be for everyone, but without the distraction of mobile apps, you do have a better chance at seeing more of your destination. Of course, if you lack a sense of direction, you also have a better chance of becoming horribly lost – and everyone should experience the joy of being lost in Tokyo at least once.

To find retailers, or learn more about Moleskine city notebooks, head on over to their product page.

Galley Gossip: Gifts for the flight attendant (and frequent flier)

Here it is, what you’ve been waiting for, my 2008 list of holiday gifts for that special flight attendant (or frequent flier) in your life…

1. STARBUCKS GIFT CARD – Because there’s a Starbucks in every city – and every airport. Most travelers I know can’t start the day without a good cup of coffee. Note I said good. The coffee on the airplane is not good, and you know it, so don’t act surprised when I pour you a cup. It doesn’t matter which airline you fly or whether the flight attendant double bagged it or not (double bagging is the act of leaving an extra coffee packet in the bottom of the pot), it’s just not good and that’s not the way to start your day. Last year my mother bought me a $100 gift card and I’m still using it, and I’m always glad to have it on those early morning and late night departures.

2. HAND LOTION – Do you find yourself washing those hands with soap and water in the airplane lavatory quite often? That explains why your beautiful hands have aged 20 years in the last few hours. Moisturization is key at 35,000 feet. I don’t know a flight attendant who doesn’t carry a fruity smelling antibacterial hand lotion. Me, I prefer anything with Shea butter.

3. BUBBLE BATH – When you spend your days cramped inside a germ infested flying petri dish, and your nights showering in nasty ankle deep water at your hotel, there’s nothing better than a nice hot bubble bath at home to wash it all away. My bubble bath of choice is Milk Bath, by Fresh. Add the matching soap and lotion, as well as a candle, and you’ve got yourself one happy flight attendant. Remember, when your flight attendant is happy you’re happy.

4. AIRLINE CRAP – Most of the travelers I know have some sort of airline collection hidden somewhere. I’ve written about my own personal airline museum, so you already know about the bottle of wine that makes a perfect flight attendant gift. But anything airline related will do this holiday season. I’ve got my eye on a cute bag tag from Ann Taintor, as well as a bag handle wrap in red that reads NOT YOURS, designed by binhog.com. I’ll just add the tag and the wrap to the REMOVE BEFORE FLIGHT thingie that my husband brought home from a motorcycle convention last weekend, a thingie that has already been attached to my bag.

5. SOMETHING TO READ –You know you’re going to need a distraction during flight, especially if you get stuck seated next to a crying baby, or even worse, an adult baby who wants to cry about everything that’s wrong with your flight. Or what if your flight is delayed due to a mechanical or bad weather this holiday season? It happens. It’s that time of year! So please come prepared for the worst. That means you need to bring books and magazines, and a lot of them, and when the flight is over please don’t forget to leave behind the good ones in the seatback pocket in front of you. The Old Patagonian Express, by Paul Theroux is an old favorite of mine. It’s about traveling by train, not plane, which is something you might want consider next time you travel. One of the items on my book wish list is a set of books, the Louis Vuitton City Guides, which is the perfect gift for the traveler who has it all.

6. MASSAGE – A must for the one who spends too much time cramped inside confined spaces. Whenever the husband returns from an International flight, I always book a massage for him as soon as possible. There’s nothing worse than a cranky traveler bringing all that crankiness home with him. As for me, I actually own a Homedics foot massager. It works great. I love it so much the husband finds it disturbing.

7. IPOD – Though The Shuffle is nice, the one that can play movies is even nicer. Leave that DVD player at home and forget about lugging that ginormous laptop. Don’t you know less is more, especially when you have to cram everything into that one carry-on bag, the bag that now weighs 50 pounds, the bag you’ll be dragging from city to city.

8. LAPTOP NOTEBOOK- Now that we have internet onboard some of our flights, a laptop will make the hours pass faster. Oh I know you already have a laptop, that ginormous one I mentioned above, but what you need is one of those new teeny tiny machines like the Acer notebook. I just bought one for $350 at Walmart. It makes the perfect gift for those who want to keep in touch with loved ones while on the road. Plus being able to do those trip trades on a layover without having to take the crew van back to the airport an hour earlier doesn’t hurt. I mean what flight attendant can’t use an extra hour of sleep in the morning?

9. NICE WATCH – Flight attendants have to wear a watch because people are constantly asking, “How much longer?” And because some of you may actually have a heart attack onboard, we need to time how long we’ve been doing those chest compressions. (Please don’t make us do the chest compressions!) One of my favorite watches is the IWC pilot’s watch. Yes, I do own one, even though I’m a flight attendant, not a pilot. While it may be a little big and look ridiculous wrapped around my wrist (and goes off at security), I love it and that’s why I wear it. Need to know the time, ask me!

10. A HOME COOKED MEAL – Because let’s face it, when you spend your days and nights on airplanes and in hotels, there’s nothing better than the comforts of home.