40 Crazy Facts About the World, in Maps

If you love maps and data, you should click on over to TwistedSifter.com, which has rounded up 40 maps to give you perspective on the world. See the global distribution of McDonald’s and the rainbow of Antarctica’s time zones. You can marvel at America’s rivers and many researchers, share the love of coffee and beer and sigh at our resistance to the metric system and paid maternity leave. One of the more surprising maps shows the busiest air travel routes of 2012, with the busiest flight path between Seoul and the island of Jeju, the “Hawaii of Korea.” There are no U.S. or European cities on the list, but if you’ve seen enough maps, you’ll have enough perspective to see we’re just a small part of this big globe.

See all 40 maps here>>

Karma Is Pay-As-You-Go Data Service That Rewards Sharing

Frequent travelers who like to stay connected while on the road will want to take note of this story. A company called Karma has launched a new pay-as-you-go data service that provides access to a high-speed 4G data network for laptops, tablets, smartphones and other devices. This isn’t exactly a new concept of course, but what separates Karma from the rest of the crowd is their social-sharing options that allow you, and those who connect to your Wi-Fi hotspot, to earn free data.

The concept is a simple one. New users visit the Karma website and purchase their own personal hotspot for just $79. The hotspot comes with 1GB of data to start you off, which is a solid amount provided you don’t stream movies from Netflix or listen to Pandora constantly. Each additional gigabyte of data will set you back $14, which is fairly competitive with the likes of Verizon and AT&T. But the data plans from those companies aren’t pay-as-you-go, which means if you don’t use up your data at the end of the month, it goes away and you automatically get charged for more. With Karma, you keep your data until it runs out, then you simply buy more as needed.

But Karma users also get the opportunity to earn free data just by being nice to those around them. The hotspot allows you to connect up to eight devices, so when you invite friends, family or strangers at the airport to connect to the service through your hotspot, you’ll both earn 100MB of free data. The more you share, the more data you get. That is your reward for having good data Karma with those around you.
The hotspot has a built-in battery that is good for 6-8 hours and can be charged via USB to keep you going as long as you need. It also weighs just 2.1 ounces, which means you’ll barely know you have it with you when traveling.

The Karma service provides coverage in more than 80 cities across the U.S. using Clearwire’s 4G WiMax network. It can provide connections at up to 6 Megabits per second, which is generally plenty fast for checking email, surfing the web, or even uploading photos to Facebook. It isn’t as fast as Verizon or AT&T’s LTE service, which is often twice that speed or more, but again, it is tough to beat Karma on costs, particularly if you don’t use a lot of mobile data. The service is also offered without a contract, giving you the option to discontinue using it at any time.

Karma’s approach to mobile data is quite an intriguing concept. I’ve used Clearwire’s network in the past and it provides surprisingly strong coverage in a lot of places. It is also consistently fast, although it doesn’t come close to the (more expensive) LTE service that I use now. But considering how affordable it is and the fact that there are no monthly fees, it is tough to beat for the traveler who only needs to connect from time to time. Add in the ability to share with others, something that happens frequently anyway, to earn free data, and you have a service that could be very popular.

[Photo credit: Karma Mobility, Inc.]

Top 10 Reasons Couples Argue On Vacation

Planning a trip with your sweetie, but nervous about potential trouble in paradise? Online travel agency latedeals.co.uk looked into the matter by surveying vacationing couples to figure out the top reasons lovers argued with each other on a trip.

For those who think their relationships are too strong to need to worry, the data shows differently. In fact, the study found over 75 percent of couples argue at least twice during a two-week trip. To help your relationship avoid becoming part of the statistic, read the following list and try to steer clear of these argument starters:

1. Men checking out other women at the pool or beach
2. Disagreements over activities
3. What to eat and where
4. Drinking too much
5. Driving and map reading
6. Packing
7. Women taking too long to get ready
8. Spending too much money
9. What time to get to the airport
10. Disagreements over currency

Have you and your partner ever had a disagreement while traveling?

[Image via Big Stock]

How We Tolerate Travel: A Weekend Trip By The Numbers

I’ve been working on a theory for a little while now about why some habitual travelers continue their journeys, and I’m starting to think that it’s got to do with the level of anguish involved in being on the road – or rather, our tolerance for it. Hipmunk uses a style of this data on their search engine called “agony,” which is a measure of suffering incurred by lower leg room, higher baggage fees and a variety of other variables that can make airline travel miserable. That level of duress can be applied to other experiences as well.

To apply this to experiential travel, it’s first useful to think about the influences presented to any person in motion. While external influences like class of service, traffic and weather affect every passenger, internal factors such as purpose (i.e., business, leisure, wedding or funeral), health and state of mind can vary by each person. Add up the external influences in parallel then multiply that number by each person’s perspective, say, their Coefficient of Travel Tolerance (COTT), and one can produce a relative comparison between each experience.

So someone with a low coefficient of travel tolerance (i.e., someone with a high tolerance for difficult travel) could handle a journey in a chicken bus just as well as someone with a high coefficient (i.e., someone who hates leaving home) could handle a flight in international first class.

Wanting to quantify part of this theory with actual data, I ran an experiment on my weekend trip home for a wedding this past June. The itinerary I concocted was complex but not difficult: leave work on Friday, take the train home to visit my parents in West Michigan that evening and then pick up the train again the next morning for a wedding in Ann Arbor. On Sunday I would take the last flight out of Detroit to return quickly back to my home in Chicago.

I broke down the journey into several categories and separated my time out in groups of five minutes. Travel, whether by car, bus, bicycle, airplane or train was one section, while leisure, work, wedding, eating, sleeping and “other” filled out the rest. A few sections overlapped; for example, the meal consumed on the Amtrak train between Chicago and Niles counted as both travel and eating time (category: meals, dinner, prepared).

Breaking down the data by category at the end of the trip, I found that 25.33% of my time was spent traveling, 28.97% was sleeping, and 9.26% was spent eating and working respectively. Of my time in transit, 44.1% was spent on trains, 23.8% was spent in a car and 18.5% was on foot, while 7.3% of my time was in an airplane, 4.7% was on bicycle and 1.6% was on a bus. Of those in a car, 36% was spent in my father’s Mazda MPV 6 while 55% was spent in my friend Aaron’s BMW 3.28xi. At the wedding, 8.9% of my time was spent in the bouncy castle.

For me, that 25.33% of time in transit for a weekend visiting family and friends was entirely worth my investment. I held a few meetings with colleagues, worked on the train, watched the news with my parents and told stories with Aaron and his wife.

Others might find that 25.33% too high to justify the trip. Whether it’s work or family commitments, high stress levels, reality television or budgetary, for many, a short weekend spent traveling the world is often not worth the destination.

On the other side of the spectrum, there are plenty of people who would be comfortable spending most of their weekend on the road. Mileage runners, people who book and fly itineraries solely for the valuable miles, often fly across the country or the ocean just to spend an hour in the airport and return home. Those travel ratios can be as high as 90%.

Now combine that time on the road with one’s Coefficient of Travel Tolerance. My journey worked well because I have a high tolerance and only needed to spend 25% of my time on the road. The mileage runner works because he’s got a really high tolerance despite being on the road almost exclusively. Our will to travel dictates how complex our itineraries become.

As it is right now, my tolerance is high because I languish in the art of travel and in the problem solving in getting from point A to B. I enjoy staring out the airplane window, people watching and drinking coffee from train station cafes. I’m happy on the road, and will continue to be for the near future. Ask me again after I have kids.

Video Of The Day: How Humans Have Fundamentally Changed The Earth

Over the past 250 years, humans have impacted the Earth irreversibly. This three-minute short film, commissioned by the Planet Under Pressure conference, uses stunning visuals to show how population growth, combined with rapid industrialization and globalization, have contributed to a degree of global change on par with a major geological shift. In addition to being a feat of data imagery, the video is also a reminder for us of the need to tread lightly, both at home and in our travels.