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Holiday Travel Tips

Happy holidays, all, it’s time to travel! Over highways and byways, over asphalt and gravel! If you don’t want to get caught dreading your trips, bundle up, leave early, and check out these tips:

–        Download Waze: You’ll get estimated travel times, early warnings of accidents and construction, and even distances to gas stations, coffee, clean bathrooms, and restaurants. Be warned though. This app drains your battery so charge before you go and stay plugged in when possible.

–        Use Hotelstonight: Sometimes travel conditions (or canceled flights) force you to book a hotel last minute, but there’s no reason to book a dumpy roadside motel. Hotelstonight finds one-off rooms at terrific hotels at great prices, all at the very last minute.

–        Download movies from Netflix: In case you’re stuck in the car or somewhere else without WiFi, download a few movies or TV series to your device so you and your kids still have entertainment. Even in the middle of nowhere.

–        Use Uber or Lyft: When navigating a new city away from home, especially if you’ve had a few eggnogs while out, leave your car parked and opt for Uber or Lyft instead. They know the area well and they’ll get you to your destination safely.

–        Be Calm: If the calamity and clamor of the holidays is stressing you out, try the Calm app which provides soothing choices of meditation, self-healing, breathing exercises, and even music to help you focus, relax, or just pass out.

If your destination is a little further afield than over the river and through the woods, you might want to try these apps meant for international travel. Remember, you may need to change your settings or get an international SIM card for your phone to provide full functionality abroad.

–        Get your airline’s app: Nothing is worse than getting to the airport for a 6 a.m. flight only to find it canceled. Most airlines have their own app that sends cancellation alerts, lets you know if your gate has been moved, and allows family members to track your travel progress.

–        Google Translate: Don’t quit your Portuguese lessons, but in a pinch, you can use this handy app to translate any English phrase into any of 100 other languages. It can also translate a picture or scanned image of another language into English (for not quite 40 languages).

–        Zomato: Similar to Yelp in America, this site provides crowd-sourced reviews as well as clean images of menus, high-quality photos of food, and helpful reviews. So, Yelp without the snark.

–        Smart Traveler: The State Department’s official app is a must for U.S. travelers abroad. You can access basic information—maps, official country data, and the location of the U.S. embassy or consulate nearest you—but also be alerted immediately if a country becomes unsafe and you need to make plans for a swift exit.

Be safe, stay charged, and don’t forget to unplug a little this holiday season!

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