A Sustainable Bag Company – A Sustainable Travel Solution

Duffle Side Pocket

FInding the right bag for you travel can be a hassle. Finding the right bag that is also sustainable is near impossible. Enter my problem. Growing up most of my life in Sonoma County I have always grown up with the idea of living sustainable. My backyard was open fields and town over would have open fire pits where people would dance and sing throughout the night.

Let me introduce you to a company who has brought back to my youth. Kind of. The company I am referring to has a unique philosophy. The underlying theme is owner and people who run the place want to change the world’s perception on waste. They do this by diverting materials from landfills and create interesting bags from those materials. I am speaking of the new start up business from named Sonoma-USA.

Despite it’s name, the upstart Sonoma-USA is located in Santa Rosa (California) (Sonoma County). Their team works with businesses like Sonoma Raceway and the City of Santa Rosa to divert materials, like banners, from the waste-stream. They then turn those banners into something interesting, like an amazing dufflebag.

I Am Enjoying My Sustainably Upcycled Duffel Bag
I Am Enjoying My Sustainably Upcycled Duffel Bag

The Duffle Bag

This duffle is made of a heavy vinyl which means is it very durable. I do not feel bad carrying a plastic duffle. I know that the duffle is created from upcycle materials and materials made in the USA.

When the duffle bag is opened it reveals a lot of space. As well a zipper pouch is also is on the inside to help you keep items separate. There are two other pockets on the outside of the bag, one with a zipper and the other that holds my iPad Mini perfectly.

A customer can purchase this duffle for a retail cost of $99. A Kickstarter Campaign is going where the duffle can be purchased early for $94.

Duffle Side Pocket
Duffle Side Pocket
Duffle Bag On The Ground
Duffle Bag On The Ground
Sonoma USA's Kickstarter Photo
Sonoma USA’s Kickstarter Campaign is interesting

2014 Travel Apps – Onavo, GogoBot, HotelsTonight

There we were talking about the adventures we have all experienced. The foods and great places to camp. Enjoying the wine and appetizers. Enjoying talking about ancestry, cowboy rodeos and great bagels?…yeah the topics did get a bit off track, but it was still nice to hang around travelers from around the San Francisco area.

The event was put together by Sprint Mobile. The main reason to be there was to hear the panelists talk. The panelists consisted of Jared Simon of HotelsTonight, Ori Zaltman of GogoBot, Dick Jordan, Chris Bryden from Sprint and Moderated by Travel Editor for San Francisco Chronicle, Spud Hilton. The topic, 2014 Travel Apps. Where they are now and what to expect in the 2014.

What to look forward to

So what can the world look forward to in the future? Well, I like what the the COO and co founder of HotelsTonight said, expect to have your apps know what you want before you know. Ori confided back on this when he mentioned more personalization. This would be great when Chris Bryden mentioned he would like to see these when he parties too hard in Las Vegas and wants to draw more money from the ATM.

Apps and phones are starting to become more that way, with more customization and more personalization the phones start to learn your habits. It will be rather interesting to see an app recommend a place to me based on my previous travels, and some of them already do.

One of the challenges for apps in the future would be the one app that rules them all. But to be honest, ones that try to do that fail miserably. It is better to master one feature than to only give lackluster service to many features.

Another challenge I brought up to the panelists is multilingual support. Most apps are geared towards English speakers and makes it hard to get crowd sourcing information from non English speakers, the locals. Dick rang back with, “Then ask the locals” which is what I do most of the time.

But let us take a look at some many apps today that were talked about by some of the panelists.

Apps today

Gogobot

Ever need to plan a trip? Want to ask your travel agent some advice? But your travel agent has not been there before… but I bet your friends have. Gogobot is a website where you can get travel advice from your friends. Let us take Tripadvisor and Facebook and mash them up together, the result is Gogobot. User’s review and give advice to others to help you plan your trip.

The app was release a year or so later and has come a long way since it’s release. Started mostly as a photo sharing app, now allows you to not just share you photos but your trips and trip planning with your friends. With the new Tribes feature it also allows to connect with others who travel with your same style so you can see places fellow constituents also like.

The Gogobot app is free from the AppStore and GooglePlay store.

Gogobot ScreenShot
Gogobot ScreenShot
Hotels Tonight

Want a hotel tonight or last minute? Hotels Tonight is a great app to book a last minute hotel and get a cheaper price. In this case it actually pays to be a procrastinator. Hotels Tonight is the world’s first hotel booking made only for a phone.

How does it work? Hotels Tonight works with many hotels to get last minute deals to book a hotel. The app can be found on AppStore as well as GooglePlay store.

HotelsTonight ScreenShot
HotelsTonight ScreenShot
Sutro Guide Books

It is nice to have a guide book with you, but I cannot tell you how many times I have lost or did not bring my guide book because it was just too heavy or I was just absent minded. Now if I can only keep all my books in one spot…well, I can. Sutro Guide books are the answer to this.

These books are great offline books that you can access from your book. There other major brands who also offer their ebooks, but at the expense of…expenses. They are just pricey. Sutro is a great cheap alternative to get ideas of where to travel to so that you can later ask your friends on Gogobot 😉

Sutro guide books are created by independent writers who are looking out for the best interest of you the traveler.

The Sutro Guides app is free from the AppStore the individual guides only cost $3-$5

SutroGuides ScreenShot
SutroGuides ScreenShot
Eat 24

So you are hungry after running around the city where you are staying. You want to pick up something to eat while you work on your blog, photography or just spend time with family. You dont want to deal with exchange rates of the country you are at when ordering the food. Check out Eat24.

Eat24 allows you to see the restaurants near you who offer delivery or pickup service. You can also place orders from the app as well. Even better, you can pay with your PayPal account. No need for conversion rates to worry about or foreign exchange fees from your bank.

After placing your order just get lost in the city and go and pick it up, actually eat24 offers a map view of the restaurant so that you can get there easier and it also integrates with your phones built in navigation app.

Eat24 can be found for AppStore, GooglePlay and Kindle for free.

Eat24 Screen Shot
Eat24 Screen Shot
Onavo

Are you traveling and want to manage your dataplan on your prepaid account? Perhaps you do not want to rack up too much roaming charges? Onavo is perfect for this.

Onavo is a data compressor that allows you to browse the internet w/o eating up your data plan. Onavo compresses data using a VPN server based in the USA. Onavo also tracks where you data is going to so you can adjust your settings accordingly.

Onavo was recently purchased by Facebook. Onavo is free and can be found on the AppStore.

Onavo ScreenShot
Onavo ScreenShot

Conclusion

From eating out, finding a place to stay or just helping your phone save data, there are some great apps out there for you to use already. But look forward to them personalizing your experience even more.

Do not forget to just put down your phone and just ask a local, as they are the best form of advice you can get from anyone, and it is always up to date.

So what are you some of your favorite travel apps out there? Would love to hear about those apps you cannot live without when traveling. Leave a comment below, send me a tweet on twitter using #pathlesstravels, or post on my facebook. Heck even send us a message. Let me know, we want to share your outrageous stories with others. Happy travels 🙂

 

Airbnb.com – Review

I am looking and looking and all I can find a hotel for is as low as $120 per a night, AND that is with a discount that I am privy to. I am thinking, why not go to a hostel? So I check and there are private rooms for $90- $110. I only get private rooms as I travel with thousands of dollars worth of photography equipment.

I know many travelers, like yourself have been in a similar situation. You look for a hotel, and it is the largest expense on your vacation. But which do you book at? Are you getting the best deal for the price? The reviews make it hard to decide, and how do you know if it is as good as in the images? You are not planning on living in the hotel, you want to go out and see the attractions and live the culture. Spending too much is not the plan but how can you plan on spending cheaper?

At this point I looked into renting an apartment. Yes, I said an apartment, and despite what you are thinking, it is actually cheap. An apartment was found as cheap as low as $83 a night or I can rent a room at some one’s house for as cheap as $45 a night. The great thing about getting a room, is I can get advice from the person who lives there about local places to visit.

The website I found these great deals is Airbnb.com, a great place to find a good place for a good price, stay in a local area that is safe, and travel like being in the comfort of your own home.

What is Airbnb.com you ask? Well it is a website where apartment and house owners can put their apartment/house or a room up for others to use while they are away or even there. Places are available from all around the world and you can feel like you are at home (without all the hassles) while you are traveling. Below the video explains more in depth on how Airbnb works:

How do you use the website? First you go to the website and choose the destination you are traveling to and the dates you are traveling and then hit search. On the left side you can filter out whether you want an entire home/apartment or if you want a private room or share a room. Also is a map feature that allows you to look for places base on where in the town/city you want to stay at. Choose a pin and check out the information.

One of the drawbacks is that you most places require a deposit (which are sometimes pretty hefty) and that it is all charged on your credit card. This requires money “up front” which is a temperary charge on your card, and removed/charged back to your card when you check out (and you haven’t damaged anything). This is just to help insure the renter from those who want to throw a massive party and thrash the place. Also the credit card is not charged for the room Until you check in (via the website or mobile app) to prevent an owner from taking your money w/o giving you a key.

    

The website is really well designed, simple and easy to get around. The mobile App is also the same and very easy to use. The mobile app is hands down of the best designed apps on my phone as it offers wonderful stunning images and a great lay out to find out the information you are looking for. The app makes it easy to find a place when you are on the road, simple and easy. I almost exclusively use the iPhone app more so than the actual website due to its ease of use.

Airbnb is a great solution to those who are looking for a place to stay but do not want to spend a lot of money on a hotel. It is not for those who want to be pampered, but it is great for those who don’t want to stay in a not so clean hotel to save money. Check it out and see about a place to stay on your next trip, I know I will to reduce my stay price on my next trip. Here is a $25 credit for your first time using Airbnb.

Have you ever used Airbnb? Let us know of your experience. Write a comment below and feel free to follow us on twitter and Facebook and follow our feeds.

Farecompare.com Review – Cheaper Flights

“Erick, can you give me advice on purchasing my flight?” THIS is a question I get all the time from my friends, and then I hit them with a wealth of information like:

  • The best day to travel is Saturday, yes I said Saturday. Also Tuesday and Wednesdays are good days to travel as others are considered peak days.
  • Make sure you purchase your tickets about 6 weeks ahead, any later and the prices tend to go up.
  • Purchase you tickets on a Tuesday, that is usually when the cheapest flights are after all the Monday price matching.

At this point, people tell me how smart I am, BUT I am not. I am going to stick to an old adage, “A smart man does not know the answers, a smart man knows how to find the answers.” As somewhat of a “smart” man, I found a lot of answers on when to travel and how to buy the cheapest tickets on a great website. The website is known as farecompare.com

 

Started in March 2006 Farecompare started as the company XXI Technologies, a data mining company working on a project for Hotels.com. They were introduced to the same database as Orbitz and found a great usage of all this data. They went ahead and started Farecompare.com after getting a slew of data of airline prices, they published tips on when to buy and where to go and which days to fly. It paid to have all this information in their grasp. Farecompare.com debunked many of the travel myths that were out there.

Farecompare is both a flight search engine, which is amazing for the fact that it will allow you to see the best day of the month to fly on your trip. One of the features on the website is to see a calendar based on how long you want to go and how much your flight would be on certain days. A very convenient tool for anyone who wants to take a vacation.

Also is a search feature based on a month you want to go somewhere and it will show you map of he some of the lowest fares around the world of where to go. This is a great tool for some one like me, who wants to take a vacation, but have no clue of where to go next.

Another feature of is the blog on Farecompare, especially the blog from Rick Seaney the CEO of Farecompare who gives analysis of the date they have collected and the trends in travel. He will tend to give tips on how and when to book certain airlines too. His blog is the most useful blog as it tends to tell the best tips, some of which I have already mentioned above.

So my suggestion, be a “smart” person and find out some answers about travel. Check out Farecompare.com. Don’t you like to save money? I know everyone out there does, plus it is nice to be that person everyone goes to about the advice on how to purchase your tickets.

So what are you some of your favorite travel websites? Where do you get some good tips and advice on travel? Tell us some more places. Tell us what makes you the smart person your friends always go to for advice (even if it isn’t travel related). Write a comment below and feel free to follow us on twitter and Facebook and follow our feeds.

Gogobot iPhone App

So I have favorite websites where I go to get some good advice for travel. One of my favorite websites I like to head to is Gogobot. What is even more interesting is that Gogobot just released a new iPhone App today for their website.

So what is Gogobot? It is a great website to get reviews from people who have visited the places you are interested in. Some one can write a detailed review of a place so that you do not have to go guessing on whether the place is good or not. It also has a great social networking feel where your friends, and others can add suggestions to your trips as well as give recommendations and reviews of the places they been before you go. The site also, to an extent, allow to you plan trips from the advice of your friends or suggestions of things around your already points of interest. Each user can also create city guides from their reviews, and also allows to make your own custom guides. Basically, Gogobot is the best of TripAdvisor for the trip advice and Facebook’s social networking.

This App… is NONE of that. This app is a mostly an app to help make postcards based on where are you at. It is kind of like Instagram, with all its wonderful camera filters, but not. The reviews are limited to ratings and the information of places are limited to addresses and phone number. It is rather cool how it can show you a map of where to find the place though. But there is no way to really find out detailed information about a point of interest.

A user can grab their trip plans from the app, which is great if you already made some plans on the website. But some one like me who travels with his iOS device only, would like to get the ability to add advice of places they have been; as well as see or get new advice of places around. These elements are missing from this app. It lacks the ability to add a review and also lacks the ability to get advice (one of the key features of GogoBot’s website).

I know this is GogoBot’s first attempt at making an iOS app, and I am looking forward to them developing this app to something as powerful as their website. But right now, the app is not very helpful at all and would not recommend anyone to download it, unless you want to make cheesy postcards. Personally, I will stick to the Tripadvisor App.