Johnny Jet's Travel Blog

Travel blog featuring best travel sites, travel deals, travel guides, effective travel tips, daily stories with up-to-date travel information, travel pictures, travel webcams. For more, visit my travel portal, www.johnnyjet.com.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

WEBSITE OF THE DAY: Hangover Helpers From Around the World

Hangover Helpers From Around the World
Tomorrow is New Year's Day so it's perfect timing to highlight this website. Hangover Helpers From Around the World is a chart created by National Geographic, which depicts remedies that "work" in different countries. Just roll your mouse over the images to see how each culture copes with a hangover.

TRAVEL PRODUCT OF THE WEEK: SlingCatcher

SlingCatcher
I think I have died and gone to technology heaven! The new Sling Media product called the SlingCatcher is technology that I have been looking for and now I have it! Think of the SlingCatcher as a reverse SlingBox. The SlingCatcher is a universal media player for your TV. I have two SlingBox units. Well, now I have a new Sling Media unit that will allow me to do three things that will change the way I watch TV, movies and use my computer. SlingCatcher's on-screen interface and remote control provide easy access to TV from your SlingBox, Internet video from your PC, or personal media from your USB hard drive. The SlingCatcher was very easy to set up. The box has multiple connection options, so whatever your situation is, you will be able to hook the box up to your television with relative ease. I decided to hook it up to my main TV, which is nowhere near my Internet router (an Internet connection is required). There is no need to run 50 feet of Cat 6 cable from your router to your SlingCatcher. Instead, you only need to pick up a SlingLink Turbo, plug it into a regular power outlet near your Internet router and then into an outlet near your SlingCatcher and bingo! You have a full strength Internet connection. Set-up was easy and the on-screen menu was simple to follow. To ensure that your unit is completely up-to-date, the SlingCatcher will automatically search the web for the latest software update.

Once the unit was up to date and completely set up, I began my testing. If you have other SlingBoxes in your house, then the SlingCatcher is a great way to save you money. A nice feature of the SlingCatcher and specifically the SlingPlayer for TV, is Sling Accounts Integration. If you've downloaded the new SlingPlayer 2.0 for Windows software, you are familiar with Sling Accounts. You can now log into Sling Accounts on the SlingCatcher via your TV screen and once you do so, your SlingBox Finder ID will appear on the screen and you can easily connect to it to start streaming your home TV to this second TV where the SlingCatcher is now connected. The box immediately recognized my other SlingBoxes and I connected with ease. You can eliminate the need for an extra receiver for your cable or satellite system by simply having the SlingCatcher hooked up to your TV and tap into a SlingBox that is hooked up to a TV with a cable or satellite access. The quality of the picture is good (I have a SlingSolo hooked up to an HD output), so you won't lose much of the quality of the directly connected television. The SlingCatcher enables you to record multiple shows and still watch something else from the other room as well.

The second great feature of the SlingCatcher is that you can plug up to two external hard drives to the SlingCatcher box and view any media that you have on that hard drive directly on your television. If you have copied any movies or backed up your music or pictures, you can view them or listen to them on any TV that your SlingCatcher is connected to. The SlingCatcher supports a number of media formats natively, including WMV, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, H.264 and Xvid and supports a number of file formats including .avi, .vob, .ifo, .mpg, .mov, .wma, .wav as well as many others. With the new digital copies of movies that you can get when you buy a DVD, you can now take that movie with you to any room in your house, or even take the SlingCatcher with you on vacation and watch your movies in your hotel on your hotel television.

The third and coolest feature is the ability to project what's on your PC directly to your television via a free software add-on called SlingProjector. SlingProjector software for 32-bit Windows XP and Vista lets you select any window on your PC to project full screen onto your TV. This is ideal for watching an ever increasing amount of Internet video content on your TV instead of a laptop screen. Clips from YouTube or Hulu, full episodes from the major networks such as CBS.com or NBC.com, even streaming feature length movies from NetFlix can all be projected to your big screen. SlingProjector works with most websites and video players. This feature will enable you to take advantage of all of the future Internet direct delivery to your PC.

The SlingCatcher retails for $299 at all major electronics retailers and is well worth the investment. This one piece of technology will enable you to keep up as the digital offerings on the web grow at an incredible pace. I see the SlingCatcher as a hub for all the media you have and it will become a centerpiece for how you watch TV, movies and use the Internet. For all of the incredible offerings from SlingMedia, visit SlingMedia.com.

Friday, December 26, 2008

WEBSITE OF THE WEEK: ePassportPhoto.com

ePassportPhoto.com
Two weeks ago I wrote about needing to get passport-sized photos for my Chinese and Indian visas. Kinko’s charges $14.02 for two photos while Costco’s cost is $4.99. However, you need to be a member of Costco, too and that’s a $50 annual fee. For those of you who are thrifty, have a fairly good idea how to use a camera and are web savvy, then ePassportPhoto.com will help bypass those pesky fees. ePassportPhoto.com allows users to print six to eight photos for free. My only advice is to be 100% sure that you follow all the passport specific directions for your country (i.e. no shadows on the face or wall, use photo style paper). Otherwise, your passport/visa application will be declined. Personally, I don’t think it’s worth chancing it unless you have plenty of time and are very computer and camera literate.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

WEBSITE OF THE DAY: Track Santa

Track Santa
Our friends at NORAD have been tracking Santa Claus for 50 years! This season they are using Google Earth to bring even more detail to the journey. Be sure to grab the kids and log on December 24th. Ho! Ho! Ho! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

WEBSITE OF THE DAY: ePassportPhoto.com

ePassportPhoto.com
Two weeks ago I wrote about needing to get passport-sized photos for my Chinese and Indian visas. Kinko's charges $14.02 for two photos while Costco's cost is $4.99. However, you need to be a member of Costco, too and that's a $50 annual fee. For those of you who are thrifty, have a fairly good idea how to use a camera and are web savvy, then ePassportPhoto.com will help bypass those pesky fees. ePassportPhoto.com allows users to print six to eight photos for free. My only advice is to be 100% sure that you follow all the passport specific directions for your country (i.e. no shadows on the face or wall, use photo style paper). Otherwise, your passport/visa application will be declined. Personally, I don't think it's worth chancing it unless you have plenty of time and are very computer and camera literate.

Monday, December 22, 2008

TRAVEL PRODUCT OF THE WEEK: TourSaver.com

toursaver.com
It’s difficult for me to comprehend that many people are now planning their summer travels. Heck, I don’t even know where I’ll be next week or even this weekend … that’s how fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants I am. However, for those of you who are planning to go to Alaska, one of the best money-saving tips I have is to get an Alaska Tour Saver book, which has EVERYTHING as a 2-for-1 deal. It includes: bear viewing, week-long wilderness adventures, flightseeing, cruises, fishing, train rides, deluxe hotels/lodges, admissions and much more. The only thing it doesn’t offer is a shopping spree with Governor Sarah Palin. But seriously, there are more than 135 2-for-1 travel coupons throughout the state. Though the book costs $99.95, it’s well worth the price if you plan on doing some sightseeing. Most travelers save hundreds, if not thousands of dollars and it’s a good idea to start making reservations early before they sell out. If I visit Alaska this summer, I’m definitely doing the 2-for-1 flightseeing deal up to Mt. McKinley, which includes a glacier landing or a glacier cruise in Kenai Fjords National Park. Don’t just take my word for it. Frommer's calls this book "the essential money-saving guide for Alaska travel.”

Friday, December 19, 2008

TRAVEL PRODUCT OF THE WEEK: reLAX Lounge

reLAX Lounge
Last week, I had the opportunity to check out LAX's first Pay-to-Use lounge. It's located in the Tom Bradley International Terminal on the second floor near the food court. It's called the reLAX lounge and what's unique about it is that it's open to all travelers, regardless of airline or class of service. It's also situated before security. The advantage is that you now have a quiet place (children aren't allowed) to bring your friends and family members who kindly dropped you off at the airport. The downside is that you have to keep an eye on the security line since you can't cut the line. Prices are reasonable - especially for the solo traveler. It's $10 for the first hour, $25 for three hours. For one hour, it's definitely worth it because users not only get free drinks and snacks (they sell real food, too) but there's free Wi-Fi! If you don't have your laptop, no worries! They have a slew of computers and plenty of electrical outlets. I liked the design and especially the view - great plane spotting!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

WEBSITE OF THE DAY: Jet Photos.net

Jet Photos.net
Do you love checking out planes like me? If you can’t make it down to the airport, log on to Jet Photos to see hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of plane shots. Users can sort by aircraft, airline, airport, country, photographer, date … you name it. I searched Boeing 747-400 and it turned up 65,000 photos from around the world. How cool is that?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

WEBSITE OF THE DAY: TripplersView.com

TripplersView.com
I don’t always see eye to eye with my colleague Terry Trippler. However, he does provide excellent travel commentary. Just click the link and watch his two-minute rants/raves/explanations/opinions … Last Friday’s segment was about Understanding Airfares, while Monday’s video discussed the fact that deals are still to be had for Christmas. He’s right and in fact, I’m still deciding where I should fly to spend Christmas/New Year’s, and I’m even contemplating a mileage run. If you’re on the fence and haven’t booked a ticket yet, be sure to price out your options before denying your friends and family your holiday appearance. And let me know what you think of Terry’s videos.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Around The World on Jet Airways Video

Friday, December 12, 2008

TRAVEL LOGO OF THE DAY: The French Government

Check it out! The French government has created a new logo to rejuvenate the country's tourism industry. The design is a fluid feminine figure that is modern, sensual, timeless and forward-looking and the new tagline reads: Rendez-vous en France. Ooh la la! I’m not exactly sure why they feel the need to rejuvenate since in 2007, France welcomed 82 million foreign visitors. That made it, for the 15th year in a row, the number one tourist destination in the world. For more information, click here.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

WEBSITE OF THE DAY: Keith Prowse Theatre Tickets

Keith Prowse Theatre Tickets
Check it out! We just partnered with Keith Prowse who has been selling tickets to the theatre, sporting events, concerts and special events for more than 200 years! They started in London but now have 36 offices in more than 20 countries. Besides selling tickets to attractions in each location, they package tickets with hotels and restaurants. When I used them last year for last-minute tickets to London’s hottest show, they weren’t cheap. But when you want to see a certain performance front and center, they’re the ones to go to. Going to the theatre is one of my favorite pastimes, especially in London -- and Keith Prowse makes it easy.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

WEBSITE OF THE DAY: AirShipVentures.com

AirShipVentures.com
I was just in San Francisco, checking out one of the area’s newest and best hotels -- Cavallo Point. I will write about this restored historic landmark in detail in a few weeks. But for now, I have to share with you what I saw, staring out at their incredible view of the Golden Gate Bridge. Every day, I kept seeing this enormous blimp flying overhead. It turns out it’s the return of the Zeppelin! It’s run by Airship Ventures and they indeed fly a Zeppelin NT airship around the San Francisco Bay Area for daily sightseeing flights and other moneymaking missions. They are based out of Moffett Field (near Mountain View) but it will also fly out of North Oakland and Sonoma County airports soon. A one-hour flight is $495 per person and two hours is $950. The gondola seats up to 12 passengers and they cruise at an altitude of 1,200 feet going 35 to 40 mph. Looks like a pretty cool way to get a view of the city by the bay. I just might have to check it out the next time I’m up there to do a feature story.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Johnny Jet on The Radio

Today was a busy day for radio interviews. I woke up before the sun from my incredibly comfortable bed at the plush new Cavallo Point Lodge. I called into my good friend Peter Greenberg’s worldwide radio show to discuss my recent trip to Mumbai and then the Rick Steves interview I taped in September began airing across North America. In many of Rick’s 100+ cities it hasn’t played yet so here’s a link to his program information or you can click this link to listen directly to the show.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

WEBSITE OF THE DAY: Bluenity.com

Bluenity.com
Ever wonder who you’ll be sitting beside on your next flight? Well, bluenity.com might be able to help in the near future. Air France and KLM have just jointly launched bluenity.com, which is being billed as the first social networking site for air travelers. Once you register (it’s free), it will enable you to share your travel tips, recommendations and best of all (i.e. the reason I’ve selected it as Website of the Week!), it allows Air France and KLM passengers to make their flight schedules public. This, in turn, allows users to get updates from other travelers so they can potentially meet their planemates (I think I just coined a new word) online before they leave. Hey, why not save some money and arrange to share a taxi in advance or better yet, make a business, friend, or even a romantic connection … your trip won’t be so lonely. Don’t worry about language barriers; the service is available in French, English and Dutch.