Travel Gear

Mini Moleskin Pen

by Scott on March 10, 2011

I carry a mini moleskin everywhere I go.  I use it to jot down different ideas as I have them.  It’s not a full moleskin it’s the slimmer 50 page kind that fits better in the back pocket.   The one problem you run into right away is what do you write with?  You can just use any old pen and keep in your back pocket.  But for me I just know that sooner or later the pen is going to pop and make a mess probably at the worst possible time.  That’s the kind of luck I have.
There are pens out there that are made for moleskins.  Some are shorter click type pall points and some are flat that are designed to be pocketed with a moleskin.  Personally I don’t really care for flat pens, it just doesn’t feel right.  The shorter plastic pens work well, but thankfully I caught them when they cracked and before the outright broke in my pocket.
What I’ve found is a cool little pen by Zebra.  The pen is made of metal so it is less likely to break.  This is exactly what I was looking for.  Instead of a normal clicker or a turn the barrel to get the ball point out, this one you pull. The retractable pen tip is hidden by the metal tip guard when not in use. The best thing is the same size, it’s half the length of a normal pen when it’s stored. In use it’s the size, weight and feel on a normal pen.  Both the moleskin and the pen are small enough to take with you anywhere, without feeling like your whipping out a reporters pan when you want to write a note.

I found the Zebra at Office Max and they are sold in packs of two for around $5.


Top Hotel Chain Apps

by Scott on February 22, 2011

Airlines aren’t the only travel companies that have apps! Many hotels now allow you to book rooms, browse the amenities and check your points directly from an app too! Here is a list of the big chains that have apps that are for all of their locations. There is a list at the bottom of chains that have an app but are only for specific locations.

You’ll notice that Hilton has an app for nearly every brand of hotel they run.

All links are affiliate free. Icons link to hotels website where available, iTunes otherwise.

Hotel Brands

4 Seasons Hotels and Resorts
Omni Hotels


Sharaton. Four Points, Aloft, W Hotels, Le Meridian, Element, Westin, St Regis

Hampton Inn
Hilton Hotels
Best Western
Embassy Suites
Doubletree Hotels
Conrad Hotels and Resorts

Choice Hotels

Comfort Inn, Comfort Suites, Quality, Sleep Inn, Clarion, Cambria Suites, MainStay Suites, Suburban, Econolodge, Rodeway Inn, Ascend Collection


Sofitel, Pullman, M Gallery, Grand Mercure, Mercure, Novatel, Adagio, Ibis, All Seasons, Etap, Forule 1, Motel 6, Studio 6

Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group
Waldorf Astoria Hotels and Resorts

Most notably missing form the list are some major names in the hospitality industry.  I mean come on – even Motel 6 has an app.

Apps available for select locations only:
Holiday Inn

Has only a golf app (???):

No apps at all:


Streaming Music on the Road.

by Scott on February 11, 2011

Pandora is the most familiar service, at least in the US.  More people use Pandora on their phone then on their computer.  What does that tell you?  People want their music, quick and easy without having to make their own mix tape.  After a while though you notice that even Pandora starts repeating the same songs.  On my stations for whatever reason it’ll throw in some random song from a different station (why is Johny Cash playing on my Audioslave station?)

If you would like to mix it up a bit or merely need another alternative once you’ve hit your 40 hour limit on Pandora,  try one of the other streaming music services.

Although not free, they do have a 7 day free trial,  Slacker Radio is very similar to Pandora.  Slacker is available on nearly everything from your computer to your mobile devices to you living room. has recently announced their plans to start charging $3 a month for subscriptions on mobile devices but will remain free through their website for users in the US, UK and Germany.  Not to fret though it’s still free on the xBox.

For some countries in Europe Spotify is the player of choice. I haven’t had a chance to use it as it’s not available on this side of the pond.

All of these players have some sort of free component but your better off paying for the one of their premium services which are commercial free.  You also have more flexibility to skip songs.  Make sure your device is supported if you haven’t made the jump to a smart phone yet.  Features do vary a bit, I wished I had Spotiy’s offline mode on Pandora last summer while riding NYC subways.


The Smart Traveler’s Passport: 399 Tips from Seasoned Travelers

Budget Travel magazine isn’t just about the best travel experience at the lowest price it’s also about traveling “the right way.” Their philosophy, “Vacations for real people,” has led them to their readership for guidance, and this collection of their readers’ best 399 travel tips is an essential addition to any traveler’s library. In The Smart Traveler’s Passport, you’ll learn:

  • 13 different uses for Ziploc bags
  • How dental floss can double as a tape measure
  • Where to find the best street food in cities worldwide
  • How a digital camera can help you find your rental car
  • Why clearing your Web browser’s cache will lead to lower prices on airfare and hotel reservations
  • How to avoid long lines at the world’s most popular attractions

Rating: (out of 24 reviews)

List Price: $ 14.95

Price: $ 5.65

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