An app I love for pre-travel

We are about to take a big trip. I am sure you will hear much more about it in the next month and a half but it’s part of the reason I have been so bad at posting on a regular basis. I have been trying to get everything done I need to get done before we leave on May 20 when we will fly off to Edinburgh to start an almost month-long trip through the British Isles and a cruise to Iceland. Today I got into my favorite pre-travel app on my iPad.

We all have all kinds of apps for our iPhones and iPads that we love to use for travel, (I have more than 30 on my iPhone) but I have one I have been using pretty steadily for more than 10 years and I truly love it. Every time I use it religiously it works. If I forget to use it religiously, I forget things (like on our last cruise). My favorite pre-travel app is called Packing Pro.

Packing Pro is a super app that does more than remind of you what to take, but reminds you of all the things you need to take care of before you leave. Here’s a screen shot of the app with my favorite category open for our upcoming Scotland/England/Ireland/Iceland trip. As you can see it starts way before your trip with things like “Book cruise” and “Buy airline tickets.” When you are done with them, you can check them off. But the ones I love are the ones you don’t think about that often, like “Turn off the water to the washing machine” or “E-mail your neighbors (in our case Jayesh and Lisa).”IMG_3316

Another thing I love about the app is that when we are going to take a new trip, I can just clone a previous trip and start over. You just go in and change your quantities and categories based on the climate and duration. For instance on our Panama Canal Cruise on Infinity, I took a lot of shorts. On this upcoming trip, probably no shorts at all other than ones to workout and walk in.

They also give you some great categories to work with and you can add more if you like. The screen shot below are the ones that I use on a regular basis.


So if you are looking for a great app to get you ready to travel whether it be a cruise, a land trip or just a short business excursion, Packing Pro is a great choice. When I went to get the link above I found that it was for sale today only for 99¢. That’s a great bargain because I am sure I paid at least $5.00 for it. And you can get it for your iPad, your iPhone and sync them as well as with your partner’s devices as well. And as Mr. Powell notes below, you can check with the app when you get back.

When you get back from a trip, make a note of what you didn’t wear. This will avoid packing it unnecessarily next time. —Robert Powell


Calm…and then crazy

crazyCalmThis travel business is strange. At least compared to the other side of my business life. In the yearbook world, things ebb and flow through the school year and after 38 years in the business, I knew exactly what to expect at any given time of the year.

In travel, you just never know. And so much of it just happens with no rhyme or reason. Two weeks ago I spent the week in the office and had a few people actually looking for travel. Then last week, really nothing to do until all of a sudden Thursday hit and a client/friend from South Carolina called and he and his wife have now booked for this summer to Alaska. Then one of my favorite local clients called and wanted me to do some research for him into cruises that go up the Amazon river. This is something I hadn’t done before and was really pleasantly surprised to find so many options for them.

Around the same time our a friend’s sister-in-law sent me a request for a Norwegian cruise to the Western Caribbean in January and a good friend/client we met on Celebrity Summit last fall who lives in Minnesota e-mailed for a travel insurance quote—which we got set up for him. So the last few days have been crazy busy. That’s how this business seems to go for me. One minute calm with nothing to do and the next minute, totally crazy.

One thing that did come from this whole thing is how full ships are right now. Especially in prime season. The example I can use is this summer going to Alaska. If you want to take your family to Alaska on a cruise ship, there aren’t too many great options out there for this summer. Your best bet is to book now for next summer. Keep that in mind. I have said it before and I will say it again, BOOK EARLY!

The truth is you don’t know what is going to happen tomorrow. Life is a crazy ride, and nothing is guaranteed. —Eminem


Visiting every country in the world?

SALThink you can do that? Visit every country in the world? Do you even know (without Googling it) how many countries there are in the world? I will save you some time—there’s 193. Late last week I was checking my Twitter feed and I saw a post from Conde Nast Traveler’s website about a guy (Sal Lavallo—that’s him at right) who actually visited every single country in the world. All 193 of them. WOW! (I want his frequent flyer miles!)

So I checked out the article. It was great. Instead of a typical travel log or interview, Conde Nast Traveler asked this great guy 193 questions. One for every country he visited. I read every one of them and I loved them. Sal is the is the kind of guy who I would love to meet and I would love to travel with. The article that you can read by clicking here is worth a look. And the best part is, it reads fast.

You can find out all about his life and his journey in bits and pieces by reading just a few of the 193 questions. You can learn some cool stuff like, which country has the best tap water or what was his worst mistake. Or the most unusual place he slept and the hardest country to get into. I am betting if you start, you will finish. It’s that good.

Were you ever bored? There was always something new to see and learn.—Sal Lavallo, the man who visited all 193 countries of the world.



Number one rule of posting online: never apologize for not posting.

Ok, I just made that up. But I just got a reminder from WordPress saying, “You haven’t posted this week. Are you going to post soon? Your readers will forget you.”

Since I only have one real reader who I am not married to (Hi Bob–tell Judy we said hi), I doubt he will forget me.

So what’s my excuse? Lots of stuff but the biggest is that our franchise partner Mark and his lovely wife Kim have gone off to an Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise owner meeting and I am covering for him this week. This means that for the first time since I taught high school in 1982 I have someplace to get up and go to every day this week from 9 to 5. It has been interesting and while I have truly enjoyed all the travel talk, it means I have gotten very little done outside of going in to work, coming home, cooking dinner and waking up really early to work on my other job.

And last night was my son’s 40th birthday so we had the local family over for dinner which consumed another full evening. By the time they went home at 8:00 I was half asleep. It was fix some websites, deal with a couple of things online, watch a TV show and fall asleep. It’s been that kind of week.

So hopefully you will forgive me and know that I will get back to posting about travel next week. Thanks for your patience.

I’m busy, man, too busy. There’s a lamentable absence of free time. —Juan Pablo Montoya

Quick Shots

Viking almost catastrophe follow up

Tonight just two quick things I want to share. The first is an awesome story about Viking Cruise Line’s ship that ran into trouble last week off Norway. If you missed it, I wrote about it late last week. Their crew and the whole company stepped up big time. You can click here to read the article. Worth the few minutes. Warning thought, it is a harrowing account. I would not have wanted to be on that ship. But I would have been thrilled by the way the crew onboard handled things.

Watching a big ship sail down a tiny canal

MeyerWerftAll through 2008 we were anxiously waiting the building and launching of Celebrity Cruise Line’s Solstice. This was not just a new ship, this was an entirely new class of ship. We (Kathleen and I) along with our Martini Mates were booked on Solstice’s 8th cruise in early March. So leading up to the launch we watched her being built at the Meyer-Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany. They had web cams all over her and we checked every day to see the progress. We would try to figure out where our staterooms were and how the rest of the ship was coming together. Finally, after waiting for months, they had the “roll out.”

They call it a roll out because the ship literally has to roll to the sea though some pretty tight places. We watched that journey on webcams and from people posting photos taken along the way. When ships roll out from Meyer-Werft they are quite a ways from the open ocean. It is really quite a site to see a GIANT cruise ship in a tiny little canal floating through farm lands. I bring this up because it happened again this week. It wasn’t a Celebrity ship but a Royal Caribbean ship. Their new behemoth, Spectrum of the Seas, is really something to see. And she was captured in a really cool YouTube video being towed out to sea. You can watch it all by clicking here. It’s one of those things that I find fascinating and you might too. It’s only a little over a minute.

We are all travelers in the wilderness of this world, and the best we can find in our travels is an honest friend. — Robert Louis Stevenson