Marco Nielsen at myITforum.com

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My favorite travel tools, tips and equipment

tools I have been traveling through airports and cities in the United States for quite some time now and at times get questioned about tools, or people see what I have been using.. So this post is an attempt to share information on some of the tips and useful tools I have been using for my travel needs.. Feel free to add your comments and your tips!!

Power Outlet | Targus APS03US | Product info | Review | Prices
You are in a busy airport or location and need to juice up your equipment and all the outlets you can find are being used people.. Your hotel room only has a few wall outlets, only one being at a convenient location.. What you need is a handy portable power strip so you have more outlets where you need it!image

Pros:
- This adaptor is small and handy, fits in a corner of your bag. Cord plugs into one of the outlets so it is neat and tidy.
- Has a flat wall plug, so it fits in tight spaces and hangs downward.
- Has 4 outlets, on 3 different sides. Can handle multiple bulky power adaptors.
- Built-in surge protection so you have some protection of your equipment in foreign places..
Cons:
None that I have found so far! :-)

Universal Power Adapter | iGo everywhere 130 | Product Info  | Blog | Twitter
imageThis should be no surprise for many of the road warriors out there. I was first sold on it when I saw one of my colleagues with it and saw how useful it was. (Thanks Doug!)

I also purchased the handy iGo organizer so I can keep my dual-power adapter (so you can power your laptop at the same time as other devices) and tip splitter organized together with all the device tips I have to charge almost any phone on the planet. And my Zune of course. :-)

 

Itinerary Tool | TripIt | Home Page | Blog | Mobile Site | Twitter
Another useful online-social-web site type application that is very slick and useful to keep track of all your itinerary information.. You setup a free account, and forward all your flight, rental car, and hotel confirmation e-mails to mailto:plans@tripit.com and viola!

By magic it scans and parses through all the e-mails and inserts all the relevant information into your TripIt account. This information can then be retrieved centrally from http://tripit.com or on your phone on http://m.tripit.com! It will automatically add map links, directions and weather information as well..

Everything you need in one place, on your mobile device, while you are on the go.. Absolutely marvelous in my mind and a true "life saver".. :-)  Using the "Share" feature you can also collaborate or view-only with your spouse or team members.

The TripIt team has now also opened things up with their own API, so other sites can access their platform and integrate your travel information into their online services..

Favorite Airline | Southwest | Home Page | Blog | Mobile Site | Twitter
imageI've been a long time Southwest fan. Just the ease and no hassle to change travel plans online has me hooked. Several larger airlines have just stuck it to me over and over again.. Enough I say.

Some good tips for the online check-in using the mobile site on your Windows phone go here.  Need to check-in and get a "A-group" seat? Try to go here. :-)

Airline Seating Tool | SeatGuru.com | Home Page | Mobile Site
When it comes to using other airlines, I always go to Seatguru.com to figure out my best options for seating arrangements.. I've been lucky a few times to get the right seats with power on certain flights. Their mobile site also makes it easy and useful.

Don't fly again without weighing your seat options for the particular plane type you are booked on!

Flight Tracker | FlightStats | Home Page | Mobile Site
At this time my favorite flight tracking and airport status web site is the FlightStats one.

Since you can also get a listing of flights on a specific flight route between two cities, it is also very useful if you need to find another flight a specific day with any airline, or see when the next available flight is!

Also with it's handy mobile site, you can check up on flights while on the go..

Conference Bridge Calling | Windows Mobile Professional
image So one of the least known tricks I believe when scheduling conference calls and having participants on the road is to list the conference bridge number in the body of the Outlook Meeting Request so it is super easy for the folks on the road to dial in.  You don't have the write down the number from an e-mail and then manually risk to mistype it into the phone. Jason Langridge blogged about it here.

Basically you prefix the number with a "TEL:", and it will make the string after it hyperlinked You can add "," (comma) or "p" characters for pauses. And of course the "#" to signal the end of a phone number or passcode. Thus a conference dial-in with a passcode could look something like this: TEL:1-800-555-5555p123456#, and in Outlook and on the Windows Mobile Professional device it will be hyperlinked so you can tap it and the device will execute the entire string in your dialer!

You don't need to do the "TEL:" trick on a Windows Mobile Standard (non-touch screen) device, but it would still be advantageous to use the string to reduce the mistyping of the passcode or other digits needed after the phone number..

This way none of your participants on the road can say that they mistyped the bridge number and unable to dial-in. :-)

In Case of Emergency (ICE) | Windows Mobile
This is an idea that is a few years old, and not officially sanctioned by all the various first responders and/or police.  But my view is if it helps just one family it is probably still worth it. :-)

Heck it could perhaps also help get lost devices back in your hands from kind people out there.. :-)

The excellent idea my colleague Patrick Salmon highlighted was to use the Owner Information screen in Windows Mobile and make it display upon power on. This would make it much easier to view without knowing how to operate or login to the phone. Especially a corporate device with a PIN lock. :-)

To do it (quoting Patrick Salmon's blog):
On both PocketPC/Professional and Smartphone/Standard Phones go to Start->Settings->Owner Information.
In Professional, use the Address field. With Smartphone use the “Notes” field.
Put the following information here:
(i) ICE {contact name} {phone number}
(ii) Relevant medical information. Blood group, if you know it. Are you diabetic? Allergic to penicillin? List any prescription medications.
Finally, while still in the Owner Information screen (Professional Only) go to the Options tab and select the checkbox that says “Show Owner Information at power on?”

ICE Reference links:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In_case_of_emergency
http://www.snopes.com/crime/prevent/icephone.asp

So that's all the travel tools tips I could think of in this round.. I'm eager to hear what others are using and even better tools!

|\\arco..

 

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