Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Cool New Ideas: Simpatigo and TravNotes

Keeping up with the all the new Travel 2.0 websites emerging every week would be close to a full-time job. I already have a full-time job that consumes a most of my time, so all I can do is squeeze out a review once or twice a month. The websites that I pick to review are those that I think are especially creative (giving me inspiration to write) -- and happen to arrive in my inbox or elsewhere when my real job gives me time to check them out.

Two sites that I learned of just today are and Both are in early beta, and their content and subscriber bases are under development. But I thought they provided creative new twists on current trends in Travel 2.0. is another attraction mapping site designed to help you plan your trips. This is kind of like and maybe, both of which I reviewed earlier. The difference is that Simpatigo generates a Trip Itinerary that includes driving directions (common on most mapping sites) AND short descriptions of attractions that you will pass en route. The itinerary can then be printed out to take with you.

This is a cool idea, though its realization is still a bit rough (remember it is still beta). I entered an itinerary for a road trip I am planning for next year from Cincinnati to Toronto. My itinerary only included two attractions, in addition to the driving directions, even though there were many more within fairly short distance from the actual road I was driving on. I did not see a way to capture those additional attractions into the driving itinerary.

I would guess that this will be worked out at some point. Simpatigo currently has some 1600 attractions, mostly in the more populated regions of the US. Some attractions are being captured from major travel publications, while users can also add their own points of interest to share with others. It has a ways to go before its database is truly useful, but is a good idea that has potential. is a microblog for travel planning and traveling. I have not seen anything that quite compares, though perhaps the popular ("Where Are You Now") offers something like this. For the uninitiated, microblogging was made popular recently by, which only allows 140 characters to each blog post. (Click here for my Twitter microblog.) is another microblog with some added features like photo sharing.

TravNotes is a microblog with features specifically for using before and during your travels, and perhaps to talk about travel in general. Each microblog can be categorized as for an "upcoming" trip, for current "traveling", as a public "question" about a place or trip, or a "general" other. Groups can be created from friends and posts can be limited or made viewable by everyone.

Again, TravNotes is new and its membership base seems to be modest right now. But if you like microblogging and traveling, then you may like TravNotes a lot.

Friday, September 07, 2007

User-Generated Airports and Airport Wifi

I saw this on new service from on

It is basically a user generated airport news services where users can instantly post the good and bad things they are experiencing at US airports -- like parking problems, unusual TSA delays, flight delays, etc. -- as seen in the video, above. This is in addition to more static information about airport and flight conditions.

Do people really use things like this? I suppose I might if I spent a lot of my life in really large airports that have enough geeks using them to generate some useful up-to-date information, and if wanted to shave off some potentially wasted minutes. However, I do not fly through SFO or LAX that often. For my main hub aiport, PHX, the latest postings tell me that 4 hours ago there were long lines at the US Air and Southwest checking counters -- so what else is new? The lines are almost always long at those two airlines. In my opinion, air travel these days is so unpredictable, the best insurance is to arrive early and be prepared to wait. I may be wrong, but I think that user-generated information can have its limits.

There was a user generated gem in the comments on the TechCrunch posting. It was for -- a site where users submit reviews and tips on wireless connectivity at airpoirts around the world. I found it one of the better looking and most useful sites of this kind that I have seen. has a good listing of paid airports wifi services, but no user reviews like, which is a real plus!

And remember to watch out who/what you are connecting to at an airport, as there have been reports of fake wifi services out to capture your personal information. also has a good guide to using airport wifi, along with a summary of availability at US airports.

PS: I found two other site that have reviews of airports around the world: and Both have more of a discussion forum approach and have a limited number of airports and/or reviews. And, of course, neither is "live" like