Helps You Travel The Backcountry More Safely

One of the long-standing rules of backcountry travel has always been that you never set out without first letting someone else know where you are going and when you expect to be back. In the past, that was sometimes accomplished simply by leaving a handwritten note on the kitchen table before heading out the door. As low-tech as that sounds, the approach was still useful if you ever ran into trouble, as at least someone knew where to start looking for you. Now, a new website called is bringing that same concept into the 21st century, giving us a way to keep loved ones in the loop whether we’re traveling across town or around the globe.

The concept of iNeverSolo is a simple one. Users go to the site, create an account, login and input their planned itinerary. It could be as simple as a one-hour hike on a local trail or as complex as a round-the-world adventure. You can add details such as what time your excursion will begin, how long it should last and when you expect to be finished. You can even opt to include important waypoints, significant milestones, modes of transportation and the location of your final destination. After that, you just add email addresses or mobile phone numbers for your emergency contacts so that they can be alerted if you fail to arrive back home as expected.

The site has plenty of obvious uses for hikers, backpackers and climbers who routinely head into remote regions, but its usefulness can extend to others as well. For example, if you’re a solo traveler who will be out of contact for a while, the site can help you let others know that things are going fine on your journey. iNeverSolo is so versatile in fact, that it can be used for something as simple as going out for a night on the town or taking your dog for a long walk. Any activity in which you may need to alert someone of your location should you run into trouble is fair game.

Best of all the service is completely free, so there is no reason not to use it.

[Photo Credit: Kraig Becker]

New Website Commemorates War Of 1812

While events commemorating the sesquicentennial of the Civil War are happening all over the country, the bicentennial of the War of 1812 has received less attention.

Now, a new website created by the New York State Museum provides information on the war and events and activities commemorating it. Much of the fighting took place along the New York-Canadian border, although battles were fought as far away as New Orleans and Washington, D.C., which got burned by a British invasion force. The image above, painted on the spot by George Munger, shows the White House as a gutted ruin.

The War of 1812 website offers a wealth of information on the conflict, including a timeline, biographies of key figures, and important documents. It’s also open for submissions if you have written something about the war or you have an ancestor who was affected by it. Of interest to travelers is the resources section, showing upcoming events such as reenactments.

National Park Service Launches New Civil War Website

On April 12, 1861, exactly 151 years ago today, Confederate forces attacked Fort Sumter in South Carolina officially igniting the American Civil War. What followed was four years of brutal fighting that would not only decide the fate of over 4 million slaves, but also the very future of the nation. That war left an indelible mark on American history and culture that is felt to this day and many of its battlefields and important landmarks are still visited a century and a half later.

In commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Shiloh, the National Park Service has launched a new website dedicated to the Civil War and the various locations from that conflict that now fall under NPS supervision. Places like Gettysburg, Antietam and Appomattox Court House to name just a few. The website provides travelers with tools to discover these destinations for themselves while providing a historical context for their significance. It also lists upcoming events for those places and provides insights into what to expect while visiting these important national parks and monuments.

The new website also features an interactive timeline that describes the significant events before, during and after the war. A series of detailed stories provide more depth on the background of the conflict, while profiles of the most important political and military figures from that era help to put a human face on the struggle as well. There is even a “civil war reporter” that delivers daily news about the war via Twitter.

Whether you’re a history buff or just a simple traveler looking for information on Civil War related destinations, you’ll find this site to be a great resource. The Park Service has done an outstanding job in bringing all of this online.

South African Airways introduces virtual itineraries

South African Airways Vacations has introduced a new feature on its website that gives visitors the ability to explore options for travel in Africa like never before. The company has launched a series of “virtual itineraries” that use a combination of maps, photos and points of interest data to help travelers choose the right trip for themselves and to prepare them for their experience when they reach their destinations.

The site offers tours to a variety of locations including South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe and more. To explore those options simply visit the SAAV website and search for itineraries based on the location you would most like to visit or the type of travel experience that you’re looking for. The search results will provide the name of the available tours, a brief description and the price. There will be a button that will allow you to view the virtual itinerary for any given tour as well.

Opening one of those virtual itineraries presents you with an overview of the tour that includes each of the destinations that you’ll be visiting, the number of nights you’ll be staying there and the type of accommodations you can expect. Selecting the “day-by-day” view zooms the map in close to show more details about the area you’ll be visiting on any given day and offers some suggestions of things to see and do in the region. It will also show you where your hotel for that night is located and even offers images and detailed information about those accommodations. The virtual itineraries also provide notes about the daily activities, giving travelers plenty of information about what’s on the agenda for that day of the tour.

All of these tools help to take the guesswork out of a visit to southern or eastern Africa. Those two regions are popular dream destinations for may travelers, but planning and preparing for such a trip can be an intimidating experience for many. With the SAAV virtual itineraries you’ll know exactly what you’ll be getting when spending your hard-earned dollars, which can be very reassuring for travelers who aren’t particularly fond of surprises.

Wynn Las Vegas website looks like a 1990s CD-ROM

The Wynn Las Vegas is not an old hotel. It opened in 2005 and was last renovated in 2010. It’s an exquisite – and, more importantly for the sake of this post, modern – property. Why, then, is its website reminiscent of a CD-ROM menu from 1994? Everything from the frames to the bullet points to the seemingly generic layout built from a template make the site look like it was made on a shoestring budget by the designers of GeoCities. The single most marvelous aspect of the site, however, is the auto-play video that takes up more than half the screen and features 70-year-old Steve Wynn welcoming you to the website and marveling at the wonders of the internet.

Look, all hotel websites are horrible, and the more Flash they use and music they auto-play, the worse they are. But this? This isn’t even trying. This is either a joke, a tragic mistake or proof that Steve Wynn has spent too much time in the tanning booth.

What the hell is going on here, Wynn Las Vegas? Did you spend all of your money on the Lake of Dreams?