TRAVEL TIPS: Dennis Callan talks about travel

THE TRIP: Before, During and After

1) Techie Travel; 2) Getting the most out of your trip, 3) Favorite places; 4) Learning from Europe’s lifestyle, urban plans and infrastructure 5) Personal background of Dennis
Before Trip:  Researching where to go. Web sites – Wikipedia; Wikitravel; YouTube; Google search; Google Earth, street view.  Google maps for finding hotels in center. Trip Advisor, plus and minuses.
During: Get Most out of Trip,  Immerse yourself by walking and talking.
Best way to see a place is spend time and walk in the center.  Visit the historic sites; then take a stroll in main lanes.  Do research to find out where to walk so you don’t get lost.  E.g. my articles, free.  Map it out before you go.  These directions are basic to your trip, where to go, where not to go.  Don’t waste time getting lost or choosing boring neighborhoods.  Take a walking tour with a guide.  Or find one of these free sites, locals connecting.
Great to chat with locals.  How?  Ask for directions or advice.  Pick someone who is not in a rush.  Smile and see who smiles back, than ask them a question.  In a bar or café, be outgoing, don’t worry about the language.  Amazing how many people speak English.
Restaurants tips: choosing (inspect by walking around inside, examine tables, food quality, how many not eating waiting for service-if too many, escape); ask waiter for favorites; ask for check during meal and pay early, then walk out when done.

my personal travel experiences,

favorite places, what I’ve learned.
Favorite country: Italy; City: London
Asia, wonderful but cannot come close to Europe for me – but it is all personal.
Europe: Why so fascinating?  Describe the top cities.
Europe is way ahead of us in so many ways: enjoying holidays; leisure time; outdoor life, sidewalk cafes, evening stroll, pedestrian orientation.
Most towns have pedestrian zones which are the heart and soul of town and the best place for your explorations.
Europeans live in cities that are well-planned: apartments downtown, human scale, neighborhood feeling, effective mass transit.  Mixed use: apartments; shops; work.
The Passeggiata: evening stroll, essential in southern Europe.  Get out and walk, see people, have a drink, shop, have a chat. The good life.
When to go:  off-season.  Travel is getting crowded.  It can be horrible in peak season.  The same place will be perfect off-season, nightmare on-season.  Chinese, Indians and always more Americans are coming, increasing crowds, getting very bad.  You don’t want to wait on long lines or be turned away from restaurants.  High season is too hot and crowded and expensive.  Don’t do it.

Travel smart, study before, enjoy!

More Tech Tips:
Capturing web information for your devices (phone, tablet, laptop);  save as web archive, Safari especially good browser for this capture.  Saving as Web Page complete, in Firefox or Chrome, not as effective.
Need good app for transferring to mobile device, like Air Sharing, easy to set up folders and organize things.  iTunes much less useful.
Scan in chapters from guidebooks, then transfer as pdf files to your device, leave the books home.  You can organize chapters easily.  Perhaps you can find books in the library for free.  Useful to review the info night before or during meal breaks. Also for scanning maps.
use travel apps: there are 1,000s of them. 
Or travel e-books like my Rome on Foot book.
Tech-stuff During trip:
Camera: While phones now shoot good photos and are usually available, it is better to use a real camera because you have  more control and better quality.  However, you must learn how to use your camera: e.g. force flash on; low-light shots are a challenge but give great results – hold it steady; use a camera with large sensor, sensitive to low light.  Be active during twilight rather than crashing or eating.  Bring plenty of SD cards, shoot at maximum res.  Edit later when you get home.
Wifi: most hotels now offer it free.  Sometimes an expensive hotel charges extra but offer it free in lobby.  Great for Skype, so have an account, to call home.  Also to post a few shots to your Facebook or other account.
 Then put the tech aside and immerse yourself in the travel experience.  E.g. don’t just look at everything through your camera – shoot fast, then use your eye and brain and emotions.
Write a diary – just a few lines every day to describe what you did, otherwise you are going to forget.
After trip: Organize your photos, upload, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Flickr, etc.  Expand on your diary – write a journal to go with the photos to 1) share with friends, and 2) lock into your memory.  The digital scrapbook. After coming home, read guidebooks again and watch my videos about where you just went, you appreciate watching and reading about a place more after a trip because you can visualize and relate to the locations.