More Travel Mashup, A Podcast

*** SHOW NOTES ***

This week’s topics

  • The Coronavirus, again
  • Google Trips replacement
  • Digital Hotel Room Keys
  • More Google
  • Working from home


For the 3rd week in a row, we lead with the Coronavirus. As I typically do I will offer up a Pro-Tip….. Do Not, I repeat Do Not check your 401k until 2021.

Here are a few updates, and more than likely you’re already aware of these…… I’m not FoxNews for God’s sake.:

  • All Disney, as well as Universal parks, are closed
  • No March Madness means no office pool
  • LAX NO HANDSHAKES!!! Don’t Play With Pandemic
  • Hilton is waiving all cancellation fees in response to coronavirus concerns
  • The TSA Now Allows 12oz of Hand Sanitizer in Carry-On Luggage
  • Kentucky Derby moved to September
  • Funeral homes are live-streaming funerals
  • If you’re in some sort of a recovery program, don’t let social distancing curtail your progress, most organizations offer some sort of remote support LINK
  • In the spirit of the 1983 movie, Vacation, “Sorry folks, parks closed” but in this case it’s Canada… all of it.   Canada’s borders are closed to all except Canadian citizens.
  • Production on almost all TV shows are shutdown
  • All of Nevada’s hotel-casinos to shut down, per state orders



Google Trips

Up until mid-2019, Google offered up its app –  Google Trips. I don’t recall if you could book travel through it, but it had the ability to aggregate your Gmail account and ingest your travel-related emails, and in turn, create an itinerary. Very similar to what my TripIt account does. But what Google Trips did that made it enticing was it gave you additional destinations based on your itinerary.

For some reason, Google has a habit of removing some of their best products. They offered the best RSS reader around, and then suddenly it was gone. Well, Google Trips has been replaced with Google Travel…. Currently, there’s not an app, for iOS, but you never know.

Google Travel allows for several things

  • There’s a Trips portal
      • At its core it allows you to build a trip
      • Since Google knows all  it offers up Potential trips – Travel suggestions based on your recent activity
  • An Explore portal
    • This allows you to find out more about an area.
    • If you’re short on time it will help to Plan a Day Trip, for instance, New York
      • Manhattan Bridge
      • Brooklyn Bridge
      • Coney Island
      • Staten Island Ferry
      • Battery Park
      • Charging Bull
      • St. Paul’s Chapel of Trinity Church Wall Street
      • The Woolworth Building
      • Chrysler Building

In order to keep this within a day trip, Google suggests the amount of time to spend at each stop as well as the travel time between each venue, be it on foot, train or cab.

  • The Flights Portal
    • You can visit all your flight options in one handy place, No visiting Expedia, Kayak, etc…
    • The comes complete with travel tips. Such as this $42.00 round trip from Orlando to New York on Frontier it indicated
      • Below average legroom (28 in)
      • Often delayed by 30+ min
    • If you find the flight you want a single click takes you to all of your booking options.
  • Hotels
      • The site is bright enough to remember the destination and dates of your flights and shows you the relevant hotels. For example on my New York trip I 
        • Club Quarters Hotel, New York City, World Trade Center   
          • High-rise hotel overlooking the 9/11 Memorial
          • 20th-floor eatery
          • A  gym 
          • And loaner iPads
  • Packages
    • Lets you select from popular destinations where hotel and airfare are included in the price. Once you select a package, you’re directed to a 3rd party site to complete the transaction.

It also allows you to track flight pricing. If a cheaper fare pops up you’ll be notified so you can re-book. It’s doubtful that I would ever use this to actually book a flight, but I do see the value in using it for planning out a trip, especially if it’s a new destination.

Make no mistake about it Google’s core business is information, users behavior, preferences, trends etc They will be recording what you surf for and interact with.



Digital Hotel Room Keys

Several years ago Hilton updated their app to add several new features. 

One was remote check-in and the other was a digital key. 

Remote check-in functions exactly like you’d think – you can check in from anywhere, it’s perfect for introverts. 

I’ve used this feature a handful of times and it does allow you to pick the room you want, the end of the hall, near the ice maker or away from the elevator. What the app doesn’t do is offer you an on-site upgrade if there’s one available.  I used the digital key at first. It was nice to take only my phone with me when I exercised, but over time I just kind of forgot about it. 

However the other night it came in real handy. Side note,  when you spend each night in a different hotel it’s real easy to keep any sort of a routine. I was in Valdosta for the evening and decided to sit outside and enjoy a cold or two,  Altair IPA, from their Avondale Estates GA brewery. While I remembered to take the beer, I forgot to take my room’s coffee table.because that’s where I left my room key. 

No worries I’ll just stop by the front desk and have them issue a new key. 

As I round the corner of the hotel I see one of those large college motor coaches. Hoping that the passengers were still on board I quicken my pace towards the front doors.  I enter the lobby and it’s packed with a solid 15-minute wait and I’ve had two, maybe three beers, and I am in need of a restroom. That’s when I remembered the app and the digital key, A swipe, and a few taps and the key was downloaded to my phone and I was back in my room.

Again not something that I would use every visit, but a great Plan B.



I don’t know how many times I’ve jumped on YouTube to watch a video and then 80 minutes I’ve learned how to rebuild the Carburetor on my now deceased 1973 Dodge Duster.

I’m here to tell you that the Google Arts & Culture site can lead you down the same path. We live in a very visual world, Instagram, SnapChat and TikTok, and this site will highlight it. 

For instance, You can tour U.S. Route 66, US 66 was established on November 11, 1926, with road signs erected the following year.  The highway, originally ran from Chicago, Illinois, through Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona before ending in Santa Monica in Los Angeles County, California, covering a total of 2,448 miles. 

You can also visit the oldest city in Georgia, good old Savannah.

Each year Savannah attracts millions of visitors to its cobblestone streets, parks, and notable historic buildings. We just spent last Saturday and Sunday there. While they had already canceled their huge St. Patricks Day parade there was no shortage of green while we were there. 

The plan is to get the CEO on here next week for her thoughts on our most recent trip there and of course the Coronavirus.


Working From Home

Working from home, more than likely this has impacted us, or someone you know in the recent few days.

 First if you’re a Cubicle Jockey the thought of you working from home scares the ever-loving hell out of your boss. Here’s the reason… his management style relies on intimidation. He has no confidence in his management abilities, so in turn he believes that micro-management via face-to-face is the answer…..he believes that you’ll short change the company by quitting work at 4:30 PM. 30 minutes, oh the horror…. This is not the norm when working from home.

Working from home aka “Remote Working” is nothing to shy away from. 

A recent Owl Labs study provided some interesting Remote Work Statistics.

  • 44% of global companies don’t allow remote work. 
  • 16% of global companies are fully remote. 
  • 40% of global companies are hybrid. 
  • Departments with the greatest remote work participation include facilities/operations/IT (18%), customer support/service/success (14%), and sales (13%), and administrative (11%).
  • The biggest challenges for remote workers during hybrid meetings are interruptions/being talked over and IT issues during meetings.Wait your turn to talk, and stay on mute when you’re not talking
  • Brainstorms are the most challenging meetings to follow and participate in when working remotely. 


Here’s my take. Remote workers are more efficient and work longer hours than the Cubicle Jockey.

  • Efficiency – We spend no more time on Twitter, Instagram, and Reddit than the cubicle jockey. If your internal IT policy is to restrict access to those sites, I’m here to tell you that your employees are using their phones to get around your policies. IN addition, we don’t get side-tracked every time we go to the bathroom because Karen stops us to look at new pictures of her cat.
  • Work Hours – Spending several nights each week away from home it’s hard to disseminate between personal and work hours. So let us consider a typical workday when working from Chateau’ Relaxo.

My typical WFH schedule

  • 6:15 AM – Wake up along with the CEO.
  • 6:15 AM – 6:25 AM – Check email, and answer the ones requiring it. The experts claim that starting your day with email isn’t great, but this works for me.
  • 6:25 AM – 6:50 AM – Let the dogs out, feed the dogs and prepare my coffee.
  • 6:50  AM – 7:50 AM – Send the CEO off, exercise and then shower.
  • 7:50 AM – 8:15 AM – Get caught up on my YouTube subscriptions and enjoy my coffee.
  • 8:15 AM – My workday begins

When working from home, my day begins at 8:15 AM, and my phone is active 2 hours before that. I  typically work through lunch since no one is home, and my day ends around 5:30 PM when the CEO pulls into the garage. 

I’ve worked remotely for the past 20 years, and work out of a brick and mortar building just outside of Atlanta. Inside that building, our group has its own office, complete with a locking door and everything. When all of us are there together it’s rare that we all sit in that office. Normally we each find a vacant conference room and work from there.

If working with remote workers is new to you please keep a few things in mind.

  • More than likely you’ll be interfacing with people that are also working from home for the first. Be aware that you will hear kids crying and dogs barking in the background.
  • Be patient with on-line meeting services like Zoom and GoToMeeting as they will be overloaded with traffic. And unfortunately, PornHub nor YouPorn is the connectivity backbone for your meetings, or maybe it is.

In all seriousness here are a few tips that might help you transition into being a remote worker.

  • Act like you’re going to the office. Keep your morning routine and change out of you pajamas!
  • Act like you’re at the office. Have a start time, end time and make sure you break for lunch. It’s taken me years to perfect my routine.
  • Have a dedicated workspace just like you’re at the office. Make sure there are enough outlets for your PC, phone charger and whatever else you need to power. Do not work from your BED.
  • Breaks, you need to take them and it’s real easy to work right through them. Use your phone or online site to set an alarm. This is especially true if your dedicated workspace is the kitchen table. Those chairs aren’t designed to be sat in hour after hour. I have a standup desk at home. At first I thought I’d be exhausted by the end of the day, but just the opposite. If I have to sit in a meeting for several hours, you can bet that I’ll be loading up on Monster Energy drink beforehand.
  • Let everyone know that “You are working”. More than likely everyone that you live with is also at home. The CEO is off till, who knows when, and all three of the Chateau’ Relaxo college residents have had classes and work canceled.
  • Go mobile. Working from home for endless hours can lead to boredom. If you’re not participating in on-line conferences it might be worth your sanity to head over to the local coffee shop for a few hours, if they’re open. Also for some working from home can lead to distractions, such as doing laundry or cleaning the house. .
  • Add some background noise. I have several YouTube bookmarks that play, get this Bossa Nova for 3 hours straight. Not sure what it is about Bossa Nova that keeps me in a work frame of mind, but there’s something.
  • Do a bit more. One of my first bosses was a good ole Georgia boy and he used to say “Give me the X-tree” and I always wanted to ask him, “How do you spell X-Tree” but I also wanted to keep my job. Right now is a great time for you to shine, especially if working remotely is something new. By doing the X-Tree it shows that you adapt to changing situations and that you can work unsupervised and still produce results.

If you’re “That Guy” and wish to give remote working a bad name, that’s easy to do as well.

  • Every time you answer the phone make sure there’s a bunch of background noise, preferably a bar.
  • Keep your monitor awake, so people think you’re working with the app Caffeinated. Caffeinated is a simple utility to prevent your PC from going to sleep. 
  • You can combine caffeinated with Auto Mouse Mover, which allows you to move you mouse automatically which prevents your computer from logging off. 
  • If your office uses Slack you can try SlackOff. This  lets you stay active on slack even when you’re away from your computer. You can set schedules to automate your online status.
  • Brian Feldman from the Intelligencer has some advice. He describes the importance of thinking about how you actually type. Yes, you probably have a different way of talking when you’re sitting at your desktop or laptop, at work, then you do when you’re on your phone, “working” from afar. You need to marry these two worlds so nobody can tell where you are when, all of a sudden, you become a punctuation champion during random points of the day.
  • Remove your ugly, work-from-home mess from video calls. If you’re using Zoom they offer a virtual background. This feature allows you to display an image or video as your background during a Zoom Meeting. 

Well, there you have it, thanks for listening and safe travels.

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