Nature Valley Trail View Adds Sequoia National Park To Virtual Hikes

Nature Valley Trail View now offers virtual hikes of Sequoia National ParkIn March of last year, Nature Valley launched their Trail View website, giving deskbound outdoor enthusiasts the opportunity to take a virtual hike through three of the most popular national parks in the U.S. The website employed technology similar to Google’s Street View to give us the opportunity to explore more than 300 miles of trails in the Grand Canyon, Great Smokey Mountains and Yellowstone. Now, just in time to celebrate National Park Week, the site is adding yet another spectacular park to the mix.

Nature Valley has announced that starting today an additional 50+ miles of trail located inside Sequoia National Park will be available to virtual explorers. Located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Sequoia is of course best known for the trees from which it derives its name. The Giant Sequoias are known to grow to heights in excess of 200 feet, putting them amongst the largest living organisms on our planet. With the addition of the park to the Nature Valley Trail View site, you can now take a stroll amongst those magnificent trees directly from your favorite web browser.

Adding another park to the website isn’t the only upgrade to Trail View today. The site is also becoming more mobile friendly in an effort to accommodate smartphones and tablets as well. That will include the ability to download .pdf files with information about the parks and specific trails too. This could become a handy resource for travelers headed out to one of these destinations who might need a little help finding your way around.Nature Valley’s commitment to the national parks doesn’t end there, however. Over the past few years, the company has been a tireless advocate for the parks. Through its annual Preserve the Parks campaign they’ve managed to contribute hundreds of thousands of dollars to the National Parks Conservation Association. With another $500,000 donation this year, the four-year total will exceed $1.8 million. This is in addition to some fantastic park restoration projects that conducted with volunteers who are eager to help protect their favorite parks as well.

As a fan of the national parks, I truly appreciate the efforts that Nature Valley has put forth to help preserve some of our most amazing landscapes. Their work is helping to ensure future generations will have the opportunity to enjoy these places as well. And with their Trail View website, they allow me to take a virtual escape now and again, which certainly comes in handy when I’ve spending far too much time indoors.

[Photo Credit: Dcrjsr via WikiMedia]

New Website Reunites Hotel Guests With Lost Possessions

Have you ever settled into your seat on an airplane only to be struck with the realization that you’ve left something valuable in your hotel room? If so, you’re not alone in experiencing that sinking feeling. Each year, thousands of hotel guests leave behind everything from toys to ipad chargers to wedding rings – and getting them back (if they ever do) often involves many fruitless phone calls and emails.

However, a new Internet portal is helping to reunite lost items with their owners. Chargerback works by allowing hotels to upload a description of whatever it is they’ve found when clearing out a guest’s room. Guests can also log onto the site and enter information about their missing possessions. If there’s a match, the website alerts the guest who can either go and pick up the item themselves or opt to have it shipped to them for an average cost of $10-13.The website officially launched today but already around 30 hotels in the U.S. have gotten onboard. The company behind the initiative believes there’s a need for this kind of service and says their research has shown that around a third of adults surveyed had lost an item valued at more than $150 when away from home. Chargerback told USA Today it is considering expanding the lost and found service to include other locales such as airplanes and rental cars.

[Photo credit: gorbould]

Get Personalized Guides For Food And Drink With Eight Spots

personalized guides for food and drink - EightSpots.comIf you are traveling in a big city and want restaurant recommendations, it can be overwhelming to turn to online review sites like Trip Advisor or Yelp that list hundreds of places, many of which are irrelevant to your tastes and preferences. A new website launches today, giving you personalized guides of where to eat and drink, focused on spots you’ll like. Eight Spots gives you just that: a list with recommended spots for breakfast, coffee, lunch, dinner and drinks. Take the fun 10-question “taste survey” (think: night owl or early bird), and tell them a few of your favorite spots, and it will generate a personalized guide for any of the featured cities. The more spots you review or add to your go-to lists, the more tailored your recommendations become. You can also integrate Facebook to further filter your guides based on friends’ recommendations. The current range of cities include Berlin, London, New York, Paris, Perth and Sydney, with plans to expand to 90 cities worldwide.

Get your picks at EightSpots.com

[Photo credit: Eight Spots]

GetGoing Promises Deep Discounts For Flexible Travelers

Sometimes, you just need to get out of town. It doesn’t matter where, so long as it’s far away.

For these kinds of trips, flexible travelers can now avail themselves of a new booking platform: GetGoing.com.

The site, which celebrated its public launch yesterday, features an innovative Pick Two Get One platform, which provides airfare discounts of up to 40% if travelers can prove that they are flying for leisure by being flexible about their destination.

Here’s how it works:

– Search for the type of trip you want to go on. It can be a geographic region, like Europe or Asia, or a more general theme, like “History and Culture” or “Beaches and Sun.”

– Select two destinations from the options provided to you, then select two potential itineraries. At this point, you can see the discounted fare you will receive, but not the airline.

– Fill in your traveler details and credit information, then hit “complete this purchase” and let GetGoing decide where you’ll go.

I recently test-run the platform for an upcoming trip to Europe in May. Some of the discounts were significant, like $854 to Tel Aviv ($211 discount) and $631 to Moscow ($146 discount). But most fares were about on par with what I found by searching discount engines like Skyscanner and Kayak. And since the engine is airline-blind until the deal is done, you can’t factor frequent flier mileage programs into your deal search equation.For me, what’s most exciting about GetGoing’s platform is the ability to search for trips based on an idea, rather than a specific destination. For example, you can search for discounted fares to destinations on the New York Times list of Places to Go in 2013, like Managua or Istanbul. Or, search “Adventures and Outdoors” for destinations like Billings, Montana, and Los Angeles, California (we suppose there are all sorts of adventures to be had there).

According to GetGoing, “a little flexibility can save a lot of money.” Your experience on the site will depend on just how flexible you’re willing to be.

[Photo Credit: GetGoing]

ZocDoc Helps You Find Doctors, Make Appointments While Traveling

ZocDoc helps you find medical assistance while travelingThere is nothing more frustrating than having to seek medical assistance while traveling. It is bad enough to have something unexpected come up while you’re at home, but at least your personal doctor is generally only a phone call away. But while you’re on the road it can be difficult to find a specialist and booking an appointment can be a real challenge.

That’s where ZocDoc can come in very handy. The service, which is available on both the web and as an Android and iOS app, allows users to quickly and easily find doctors, dentists and other specialists based on location. The website version of ZocDoc searches based on zip code while the mobile apps use the smartphone’s built in GPS chip to locate options that are near by. Searches can be narrowed by looking for specific specialties (allergist, cardiologist, orthodontist, etc.) and you can even add a search criteria based on the insurance provider you’ll be using.

When the search is complete, ZocDoc presents all the available options in a clean and easy to read format that includes addresses, reviews and a listing of the next available appointment. Tapping or clicking on an open date and time allows the user to then quickly and easily book that appointment.

Putting ZocDoc through its paces, I was impressed with just how simple the interface was both on the website and the iPhone app. It really is very easy to use the service to locate a doctor. Booking an appointment couldn’t have been any easier either and the whole process took just a minute or two to complete.

For now, ZocDoc only works in the U.S. but for travelers who frequently move about the country, this could be an incredibly useful app. If you find yourself frequently on the road and occasionally needing medical assistance of some type, this service will come in very hand. While not expressly built for travelers, it certainly is a resource that we’ll all be happy to have if we ever need it.

[Photo Credit: U.S. Airforce via Wikimedia]