Tag Archives: Tips

The AFAR Mobile Travel App – Take 1

By Lakshmi:

AFAR is just everything a travel company/magazine should aspire to be.  Their content breathes and lives every travel adage you’ve ever heard.

“Get off the beaten track.” 

“Live the moment.”

“Experience life like a local.”

So, when AFAR announced an app, I couldn’t rush any quicker to download it.  Here are some initial reactions from a sample of 1.

The Awesomeness! 

Just like its print publication, the AFAR app opens with beautiful, inviting pictures that beckon you to explore a variety of locations through their local expert curated guides.  For the first option that I clicked, “Big Day Out In Singapore”, it gave me 9 options.  Each of the choices was brief, telling me what to do quickly, so I’ll have more time to enjoy the experience rather than spend time reading.  I’m not sure how the guides are picked, but there is an assortment of locales that you can explore for totally enticing eye candy!

Moving to the Highlights section brings you to another pictorially engaging area populated with interesting architecture (Zaha Hadid), delicious dining (Kupu Maui) and more.  All displayed in the brief prose, stunning photos style that permeates the entire site.

A Nearby feature uses location technology to pinpoint interesting locales that you might want to explore close to you.  A Warning!  Don’t sit in a suburban area and wait to get excited…it yields nothing making you almost doubt your choice of living venue.  But when you are in a more “happening” or popular area, it comes up with choices.

On the Awesomeness factor, the app rocks for being both practical and a handy way to daydream your way out of long queues, waits and more.

The Eensy Weensy Frustrations:

On the opening screen, the app asks you to Sign In using an account, Facebook or Twitter.  The option to skip this step to explore the content is displayed not too prominently on the top right hand corner of the screen.

Using the search feature to do research for a recently concluded trip to Angkor Wat, produced options in Europe, Africa, Asia and more!  It looks like the app uses a key word search rather than relevancy and the search for Angkor produces a result to visit Baron’s place in Cairo.  So, if you are not sure of where exactly a destination is on the map, you’ll go through some frustration navigating this way.

When I tried to join AFAR, the screen was pretty faded with text not standing out.  Now that I have joined, I have the ability to create my own highlights and travel guides, something I will do before our next trip and report back in a Take 2.  That’s where this app could really rock.  Imagine taking trips with AFAR recommendations to guide you along…..kind of like an AFAR trip without the big price tag:)

If you have used the AFAR app, we’d love to hear what your experience has been.  Do drop us a line.

Rohan’s Top Five Theme Park Travel Tips

Tokyo Disney

It feels like no matter where you go these days, there’s always a huge theme park waiting for you to dare to try their intense roller coasters and of course, beg you to spend big bucks on sugary snacks and souvenirs. Theme park travel and hopping from one attraction to the next is a ton of fun, but it can also be very stressful if you don’t follow these important tips.

1. Reserve Tickets Ahead of Time: The greatest insult of going to a theme park (especially a major one like Walt Disney World, Busch Gardens, or Universal Studios), is looking at the park skyline in awe only to find out you have to wait two hours just to get in. Print out your tickets and keep them in a folder. You are going to need this folder for later so hang on to it! It’ll be your best friend by the end of the day.

2. Establish Priorities: Think of five rides that you HAVE to do before exiting the park. This way, you can plan your day around these five rides, finding restaurants and shopping locations adjacent to the attractions you are dying to hit.

3. Expect the Unexpected: This category is pretty self-explanatory. Bring an umbrella, even if there’s only a slight chance of rain. You don’t want to get soaked and then have to pay thirty dollars (or more) for a theme park umbrella. Make sure you research indoor activities (arcades, indoor attractions like the Haunted Mansion at Magic Kingdom, eateries, etc.)

4. Skip the Lines: Why wait two hours to ride the 30 second long Rockin’ Roller Coaster at Disney’s Hollywood Studios? Many major theme park chains have something called a Fast Pass. For you theme park newbies, a Fast Pass is a ticket that allows you to re-visit rides at a later time and skip the line all together. I recently got back from a trip to Orlando and Fast Passes were our best friends by the end of our five days. There’s nothing more satisfying than a white-knuckle ride on Test Track with a two minute wait.

5. Be Unconventional: It has been proven (and is evident through personal experience) that theme parks are the busiest from eleven in the morning to around three in the afternoon. This is why you need to re-structure your day if you want to make the most out of it. Hit the biggest rides bright and early. We rode Expedition Everest at eight in the morning and could get on it three times in fifteen minutes. Another great time to check out the park’s thrill rides is during popular shows and parades. If you are traveling with older kids who are uninterested in watching Disney or Nickelodeon characters prance around the park, that’s your cue to get in line and scream to your heart’s content. Another great and unique time to hit these rides is late at night. I was so glad that we rode Test Track at night since it actually felt like we were speeding down a highway at sixty miles per hour and the idea that we were in a theme park was erased from our minds.

Follow these tips, and you can make the most out of your day at any amusement park! If you have interesting stories or tips to share, please feel free to post them in the comments section below. We would love to hear your perspective on theme park travel!