Today marks the 129th anniversary of the opening of the Brooklyn Bridge. Happy Birthday, you barely look a day over 100! This photo by Gadling’s own Willy Volk was taken from the NYC Water Taxi. He used a fake tilt-shift effect to get the unique perspective and slightly blurred edges, but it reminds me of the view you might see on a rainy day riding the subway over the neighboring Manhattan Bridge. It’s a view that never fails to inspire visitors and New Yorkers – one that’s unmistakably New York. Celebrate the anniversary with a walk across its span to Brooklyn and back; it’s one of New York’s last great free thrills.
Because transportation is often one of the most expensive parts about traveling, it’s always nice to get a free ride. And for people traveling around the United States and Toronto from January 4 through March 1, 2012, Megabus is giving away 200,000 free seats.
Megabus, which launched in April of 2006, is already known for it’s budget-friendly prices and offering rides that start at $1 when booked on the internet. The company services nearly 50 cities through the United States and Canada from five major hubs which include New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., and Toronto. For those who value comfort, Megabus’ single and double decker buses offer panoramic windows, free wi-fi, and at-seat plug ins.
To reserve a free ride, use the promo code GOFREE when booking. The offer is based on availability and if you can travel midweek and/or on some of the more popular routes you shouldn’t have a problem taking advantage of the offer.
Who doesn’t love free travel? With a new hub in Atlanta, Georgia, Megabus is giving away 10,000 free seats to travelers using their new routes during trips taking place November 16 to December 16, 2011. The eleven cities included in the new route leaving from Atlanta include:
- Birmingham, Alabama
- Mobile, Alabama
- Montgomery, Alabama
- Charlotte, North Carolina
- Chattanooga, Tennessee
- Knoxville, Tennessee
- Memphis, Tennessee
- Nashville, Tennessee
- Gainesville, Florida
- Jacksonville, Florida
- Orlando, Florida
To take advantage of the offer, just enter the promo code ATL10K when reserving your seat online.
Couchsurfer Matthew Bloomfield really appreciated his stay at host Elmar Bierbaum’s apartment in Lima, Peru. If fact, he felt so grateful that he composed a rap as a tribute to Bierbaum (and he stayed within the 1,000-word limit for a CouchSurfing reference).
Bloomfield calls himself “The Rapping Professor”, as he not only writes rhymes for those you give him a couch to sleep on, but also for his day job. An event entertainer, the rapper has been able to break into an unusual niche and has been very successful, even performing at corporate parties in Asia.
Check out the Rapping Professor’s talents for yourself in the clip above.
Nearly two years ago, I bought my first smartphone: the T-Mobile Android MyTouch*. I’m only occasionally jealous of my iPhone-carrying friends, as I find few travel guide apps for Android. Even after a move to Istanbul, I still use and rely upon it daily; Android‘s interface is fast and easy-to-use, and seamless use of Google applications like Gmail and Google Maps is part of the reason I bought it in the first place. Living in a foreign country means English-language books and magazines are expensive and hard-to-find, and like many travelers, I don’t want to carry bulky books around when I’m on the road. This leaves a perfect opportunity for mobile developers to provide real travel guide content and not just travel-booking apps, especially apps produced by reliable media sources with professional editorial. These days, every guidebook and travel magazine publisher is coming out with apps for the iPhone and now iPad, supplying users with content and directions on the go, but there are hardly any for Android.
So what’s available for mobile travelers from the top travel book and print sources? Better hope you’re running Apple OS…Guidebooks:
- Fodor’s: Happy 75th Birthday Mr. Fodor, but we wish you had more than just five city guides for purchase (in London, New York, Paris, Rome, and San Francisco) and only for Apple.
- Frommer’s: iPhone guides are available for ten major cities in the US, Europe and Asia, but nada for Android.
- Lonely Planet: iPhone users are spoiled for choice: dozens of city guides, language phrasebooks, audio walking tours, and eBooks optimized for the iPad. Android users in 32 countries including the US are in luck: there’s a free Trippy app to organize itinerary items, as well as 25 “augmented reality” Compass city guides and 14 phrasebooks. NOTE: This article originally mentioned that the Compass guides were unavailable in the Android Market store, but they should work for most US users. I happen to be in a country where paid apps are not available and not shown in the Market.
- LUXE City Guides: 20 cheeky city guides work for a variety of mobile phones, including iPhone and Blackberry, but none are compatible with my Android. Bonus: the apps come with free regular updates and maps that the paper guides don’t have.
- Rick Steves: If you are headed to Europe, you can get audio guides for many big attractions and historic walks for iPhone, plus maps for the iPad. You can also download the audio files free for your computer, and props to Rick for mentioning that Android apps are at least in development.
- Rough Guides: Here’s a new one: the Rough Guides app works for many phones but NOT the iPhone OR Android! It’s not as slick as some of the other guides (it’s a Java app) and you will use data to use it on the road, but it provides lots of info for many cities in Europe. You can also find a Rough Guides photo app on iTunes to view pictures from around the world with Google Maps and captions from Rough Guides.
- Time Out: City travelers and residents might want to look at the apps from Time Out for 5 European cities and Buenos Aires, with Manchester and New York on the way. More cities are available for free on iTunes, search for Time Out on iTunes to see what’s available. iPhone only.
- Wallpaper* City Guides: 10 of the design mag’s 80 city guides are for sale for iPhone for Europe, Tokyo, New York and Los Angeles.
- Conde Nast Traveler: It makes sense for magazines to embrace the iPad, and CNT has free Apple apps specifically for Italy, cruises, and their annual Gold List of hotels and resorts. Blackberry users can download an etiquette guide, but Android users are snubbed.
- National Geographic: As befitting any explorer, Nat Geo has a world atlas, national parks maps, and games featuring their amazing photography, all for iPhone. A special interactive edition of National Geographic Traveler is for sale on the iPad; you can also read it on your computer. Androids can download a quiz game and various wallpapers; and all mobile users can access a mobile-friendly version of their website at natgeomobile.com.
- Outside: Adventure travelers can purchase and read full issues on the iPad, but no subscription option yet.
- Travel + Leisure: The other big travel glossy also has an iPad app for special issues. Four issues have been released so far with one available now on iTunes (romantic getaways) but future editions will follow to be read on the app. Just in time for spring break and summer, they’ve also released a Travel + Leisure Family app with advice and articles specifically geared towards travel and families. The apps are both free but you’ll need an iPad – these are designed for tablets, not phones. You can also read full issues of T+L and their foodie cousin Food & Wine on Barnes & Noble’s NOOK Color ereader; you can save per issue if you subscribe to the e-reader version.
- USA Today Travel: Most major newspapers have mobile readers for all types of phones, but USA Today is the only one with their own travel-specific app. AutoPilot combines an array of cool travel booking capabilities and information with articles and blog post from the newspaper. Only iPhone users can enjoy free.
All in all, other than Lonely Planet’s Compass guides, a pretty weak showing for Android travelers. While iPhone has been around longer as a mobile platform that Android, they’ve lost the market share of users to the little green robot. As Android is available on a variety of phone manufacturers and providers, expect that number to continue to grow, along with the variety and depth of content for mobile and tablet users. Will the developers ever catch up or will travelers have to choose?
*Android has not endorsed this or paid me anything to write about them. But to show I’m not biased – Apple, feel free to send me a sample phone and I’ll test out the apps!