Archive for November, 2010

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Seven new travel apps for your smart phone

I’m thinking about promoting Becca Torres, a Friendly Planet Travel reservationist, to travel app extraordinaire. She downloaded and reviewed several apps for us at the beginning of the summer to tell you what she thinks the best travel apps are for your smart phone. And since then, she hasn’t stopped downloading.

She’s been experimenting with even more apps to bring you her latest roundup. Keep reading to see why Becca likes these seven new travel apps. And if you see any that Becca missed that you think deserve a mention, let us know in a comment.


Whether you’re abroad or in the U.S., here are more travel apps I think are worth downloading. I hope you find them to be useful!

TripAdvisor – Gives reviews and advice on hotels, restaurants, flights, vacation rentals, travel guides, and more. It’s helpful if you need to book a hotel in a pinch or want other travelers’ opinions on a particular site. Free for iPhone and Android phones.

World Clock – Stop waking mom and dad up at all hours of the night because you can’t figure out what time it is at home when you’re on the other side of the planet. World Clock comes free with most phones, so put it to use and get the local time. Or opt for the $1.99 version on the iTunes store.

The Weather Channel – Leave your sunscreen at home or pack your poncho. The Weather Channel will tell you what the weather is going to be like in any part of the world. I personally live by it! Free on all smart phones.

Currency Exchange – Dollars to yuan? I can’t do that type of calculation off the top of my head either. Knowing the exchange rate will help you keep your travel budget balanced. Try the Lite version for free on your iPhone or upgrade to Pro for $0.99.

Google Earth – Never pull out a map again if you get lost and need to find your way. Find your location quickly, explore in 3-D, and search by voice to get you going. Available for free on any smart phone.

Twitter App – Keep family and friends updated on your travels in 140 characters or less. You can also search a destination and find out what is happening there. There are numerous Twitter apps to download for every smart phone, but I stick to Twitter’s official app.

Goby App – It’s only available in the U.S. right now, but it tells you all of the events that are going on in your city or town. With over 350 categories of things to do, you can easily plan your social life around this app. Free for the iPhone.

Reminder: Post a comment, win a free SCOTTEVEST Travel Vest

The clock is a tickin’ folks. I wanted to remind everyone that the deadline to enter to win a free SCOTTEVEST Travel Vest is Wednesday, Nov. 10 at 11:59 p.m. EST Friday, Nov. 19 at 11:59 EST. To enter, answer these two questions in a comment on our original giveaway post:

  • Which Friendly Planet Travel tour would be best suited for wearing the SCOTTEVEST Travel Vest on?
  • How would using a SCOTTEVEST Travel Vest on that tour change your trip?

You can find out all the contest details in the original post. There’s only one vest to give away, so enter to win before time runs out!

Why the National Geographic Channel’s ‘Great Migrations’ is a must-see

If you’re a nature lover, you probably have the National Geographic Channel set on your DVR, I know I do.

This Sunday night, I’m looking forward to its new new seven-part series, “Great Migrations.” It will cover the annual journey millions of animals take to ensure the survival of their species.

One migration that I’m very excited to see, which centers around Kenya and Tanzania, is that of wildebeest. Their annual migration is considered one of the most spectacular in nature.

Over a million wildebeest, along with 450 other species of wildlife, make the circular migration year after year. Friendly Planet Travel offers several tours to Africa where these migrations take place. Travelers frequently ask me about when and where they occur, so I thought I’d take this opportunity to tell you a little bit more about it.

Wildebeest are herbivores and need to graze constantly. As a result, they move as the seasons change to find fresh land and water. In Tanzania, the wildebeest herds gather in the Southern Serengeti. During the rainy season in April and May, the herds begin their migration northward by heading west first.

The wildebeest herds move to the flourishing grasses and open woodlands of the Western Serengeti, whose sweeping vistas make it the best place to watch the migration unfold. This is also the time when the wildebeest mate.

By June, the herds are heading north towards Kenya. One of the most breathtaking sights of the migration is that of the herds congregating to cross the Grumeti River in Tanzania and the Mara River in Kenya. From July to September, wildebeest tackle the strong currents and the crocodiles that wait for them in the waters.

For tourists, it’s amazing to watch the lions, leopards, hyenas, and wild dogs follow the herds. Unfortunately, a quarter of the wildebeest won’t make it, falling prey to predators or drowning in the rivers.

By the time November rolls around, the wildebeest return south to the Serengeti plains to give birth to their calves. Until the end of March, this is the perfect time to see almost a half million calves running with their mothers. The sight of the mothers and their young also attracts predators, including lions which hunt them as prey.

Then the migration begins all over again. The wildebeest migration is often spontaneous because it revolves around the weather. If the rainy season starts earlier, so does the migration. But no matter when it starts, their migration is an integral part of Africa’s ecosystem.

Wildebeest crop the grasses, fertilize the soil, and serve as food for predators. It’s important for people to understand this, and I’m sure “Great Migrations” will let us enjoy a view of their incredible journey as never before seen. That is, unless you are lucky enough to join us in Africa to see it for yourself, in person.

So I’ll be tuning in Sunday night. Will you? If you do watch it, let me your thoughts in a comment on this post.

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