September 26, 2017 Technology

Making Travel Easier and More Fun

Jeffrey Allen & Ashley Hallene

One of the nice things about getting older is that you reach the point where you say, “I have worked long enough, and it is time to take more time to enjoy life and to travel instead of work.” In truth, you would be well-advised to not wait and make time to enjoy life and to travel while you are younger. For those of you who still are, take heed. For those who are no longer younger, never fear, you still have time.

While we live in unquestionably troubled times, we have some real advantages over those who lived before us. The world has grown far smaller (a mixed blessing), but once you get past TSA, travel has generally become easier and faster (although not always as pleasant as it used to be). One of the really nice things about where we are in time is that we can work part-time, be semi-retired, and enjoy traveling as senior attorneys if not senior citizens. With that in mind (and as I am on vacation while I write this), here are some tips to make travel easier.

  1. Plan With an Online Consolidator.  
    While traveling as a vagabond holds some appeal, I have found that it holds less and less as I get older. I generally feel more comfortable if I know where we are going, how we will get there and where we will stay when we arrive. Travel agents are few and far between these days, so your best bet is to figure out where you want to go, look at some guidebooks to determine what you want to see when you get there, and then contact a consolidator on the internet (Expedia, Hotels.com, Orbitz, etc.) to plan where to stay. I have found some very nice hotels that way and at very reasonable prices.  You may also find discounted airfares through consolidators.
  2. Take the Train.
    Like Sheldon on the Big Bang Theory, I love trains, particularly the ones they run in Europe, where they have figured out how to make the train system work effectively and efficiently. Trains give you a better chance to see the countryside as you travel. I have found them very relaxing for day trips, allowing me to see the local scenery, snap a few pictures as we go and either read or do some work along the way. While trains (even the TEE trains) travel more slowly than planes, you may find that it takes less time to get from point A to point B on a train than by plane, particularly on a relatively short trip. A good digital camera is great to have on a train trip, as well as an eReader (Kindle), and a laptop or tablet or smartphone for Internet access. (An FYI, the difference in cost for First and Second Class on a train is far less than the difference in cost for Economy and Business or First class on a plane.)
  3. Set Up Your Phone.
    Get your cell phone provisioned for international use before you go. Some of the plans now offered to make it reasonable to use your own phone and domestic provider overseas. That is a very new development. As recently as last year, it still made better sense to buy a SIM card from a local provider at your destination and pop it into an unlocked phone, rather than use your domestic provider and incur roaming charges.
  4. Use WiFi and Text Messaging.
    Most of the international plans I have explored for cell phones include a discount for the per minute calling rate, a miniscule amount of data and unlimited text messaging. Some of the newer plans cost more but give you better features. If you go with the less expensive versions, you should be able to handle most of your communications through text messages and emails. Only send these when using WiFi so you can avoid data charges.
  5. Use Your Phone as a Travel Agent/Guide.
    You can find apps and maps galore in the store for your phone. Some are free, some cost a few bucks and some cost more. We have found a pretty good collection for a relatively small investment for every place we have traveled in the last several years. In addition, to guidebooks, GPS-based map and direction systems, local transit system maps and local taxi apps are good things to add to your collection. We like the Lonely Planet guides, Frommer and Fodor guides, Tripwolf and Trip Advisor a lot. In terms of maps and directions, look at Sygic and Ulmon Pro. As your phone will be with you most of the time and most of the contemporary smartphones have GPS functionality, it makes good sense to keep the apps there and take them with you. There is no harm in putting them on a tablet, but tablets get left in the hotel more frequently than phones do, so make the phone your first choice.
  6. Add Some Entertainment.  
    Phones are quite versatile these days. You can add music, movies, books, and lectures to them.  Add some of each of those media forms. I will be the first to tell you that I prefer using a tablet to the phone for movies due to screen size; but it really isn’t too bad watching a movie on a phone, particularly one of the larger ones like the Samsung Note or Galaxy, or the iPhone 6, 7 or 8 Plus, or the X.

Jeffrey Allen

Jeffrey Allen is the principal in the Graves & Allen law firm in Oakland, California, where he has practiced since 1973. He is active in the ABA, the California State Bar Association, and the Alameda County Bar Association. He is a co-author of the ABA book Technology Tips for Seniors. 

Ashley Hallene

Ashley Hallene is a petroleum landman at Alta Mesa Holdings, LP, and practices Oil and Gas law, Title Examination, Due Diligence, Acquisitions and Oil and Gas Leasing in Houston, Texas. She frequently speaks in technology CLEs and is Deputy Editor-in-Chief of the Technology and Reviews Department of the GPSolo eReport.