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Travel in The Palm of Your Hand: Traveling Guide For Your PDA

(May 2001)

Three years ago, I threw out my bulky day planner and picked-up a sleek, six-ounce Palm Pilot®. Today, I am on my second Palm Pilot (the color Palm IIIc) and rely on it for the basics like storing addresses, calendars, and to-do lists. With my new Palm IIIc, I can also view downloaded websites, store digital photos, and even read an entire novel. But where the Palm and other handhelds, or PDAs (personal digital assistants), really come in handy is when you are traveling.

PDAs, including the Palm Pilot, Handspring Visor, and Sony CLIÉ, serve as ideal computerized companions for people who want to have their travel information in the palm of their hand. Not only can PDAs help plan a trip, they can also store destination information, flight trackers, currency converters, language assistants, and other travel-related features. With all that in mind, here are some of the must-haves for traveling with a PDA.

Must-Haves: AvantGo & MyPalm

AvantGo is a free service that downloads specially-formatted websites to the PDA, so you can view them whenever you want. Here are few examples of some great websites that offer free travel tools using AvantGo:

  • TRIP.com's flightTRACKER: Allows you to view real-time flight information, including estimated arrival time, airspeed, altitude, and current location. (You can even set it up to receive e-mail information about various flights.)

  • Expedia To Go: Becomes your personal travel assistant for any reservation information regarding your travels.

  • FlightLookup.com: Lists route schedules for the current day along with each route's flight status. (You can also download timetables for various airlines.)

  • 10Best.com: Provides “10 Best” lists and reviews on dining, local events, nightlife, arts and culture, shopping, and more for the city of your choice.

  • Encarta Language Learning: Offers French to Go and Spanish to Go, giving you a mini phrasebook in your PDA.

  • ICurrency.net: Lists exchange rates for every currency around the world.

  • MapBlast! Maps: Provides maps and driving directions.

  • Northwest Airlines: Allows you to view travel reservations. (If you have a wireless PDA, it also allows you to access real-time flight and gate status, download timetables, check WorldPerks mileage balance information, and more.)

  • Citysearch.com: Provides information on the latest events in various cities.
In addition, you can configure AvantGo to download any website. However, don't expect perfection with sites that do not have pages specifically designed for AvantGo—some pages work, whereas others seem to look just plain messy.

Similar to AvantGo, MyPalm is a free service developed by Palm Computing® that enables you to synchronize your Palm Pilot with an Internet-based desktop. You can access your calendar anywhere on the Internet. You can also put in all your important dates—holidays, sporting events, anniversaries, and birthdays—and it will e-mail you reminders. It also allows other people to synchronize appointments with your calendar.

Great PDA Travel Software

Need an application to help you figure out what time it is in Timbuktu or to calculate distances between two cities? There are plenty of great travel tools that you can download for free or purchase online, including:

  • Vindigo: Finds the nearest and best places to eat, shop, and play in 20 major cities—just tell it where you are or where you're going.

  • Frommer's City To Go: Provides free information on dining, accommodations, nightlife, shopping, and sightseeing for more than 60 U.S. and Canadian cities.

  • Lonely Planet: CitySync: Offers free, online guides for cities around the globe.

  • Mapopolis: Provides free, downloadable maps with business locations.

  • American Airlines Timetables: Allows you to lookup scheduled flights or airport timetables, add selected flights to your date book, and find important phone numbers.

  • Zagat Guide for Palm: Provides information on over 9,300 restaurants worldwide. (Some information is free, while other information is fee based.)

  • Travel Assistant: Offers a complete listing of airports and information on airline segments, hotels, and car rentals. (It also comes with a translator, measurement converter, clothing and show size calculator, and more.) (Costs $19.99.)

  • iParis, iNew York, iLondon 2.3: Provides free, interactive maps that help you find your way between monuments, museums, and stations.

  • Abroad! 5.8: Offers three applications, including the Currency Exchange, Unit Conversion, and World Clock. It also provides country information for when you go abroad. (Costs $20.)

  • AirMiles 1.05: Helps you track frequent-flyer miles for up to 14 airline programs. (Costs $29.95.)

  • AreaCodes 2.0.4: Allows users to look up area codes by code or by state, province, or other region throughout the U.S., Canada, the Caribbean, or the Pacific. (Costs $7.)

  • HandMap 3.4b: Allows you to search for streets or landmarks, plan routes, create custom markers, and more. (Some maps are free, while others come with the Deluxe version for $16 or the Pro version for $30.)
For a list of more palm travel applications visit Tucows expansive list of downloadable programs.

Wireless Information

Wouldn’t it be great to be notified of flight changes and to switch air reservations at a moment's notice? With your wireless handheld, you can do that and more. Listed below are some excellent programs that you can download:

  • Biztravel Unwired: Allows you to book a flight, reserve a hotel room, or rent a car wherever you are.

  • Fodors.com: Provides hotel and restaurant reviews for U.S. destinations. (Individuals who own Palm VII handhelds with Palm.Net® service will be able to access Fodors.com's content for free in real-time, without having to synchronize the handheld with a desktop computer.)

  • Starbucks Store Locator: Lets you find the nearest Starbucks coffee shop wherever you are.

  • Traffic Touch: Informs you of traffic conditions and delays in real time.

  • Alaska Airlines.com Anywhere: Allow customers to check-in for flights using wireless handheld devices.

  • United.com UA2Go: Allows you to view flight availability, flight status, and flight paging, and to review your Mileage Plus statement, award availability, and upgrade status.
What's On The Horizon

While we probably won't be saying, "Beam me up Scottie," anytime soon, there's no doubt that Palm® technology is changing the way we travel. Future advancements in portable computing will allow for mobility without sacrificing communication ability or security. So what will they think of next?

Vindigo is building live, personal navigation tools that will tell you where you are in the world and how to find everything and everyone around you.

Bluetooth software has developed a system where customers can check into a hotel without going to the front desk. The system was tested several months ago at a New York City hotel. Upon arriving, guests with Bluetooth software on their handheld device were recognized by the hotel's computer system. Reservations were then confirmed via the wireless device, and room numbers were assigned. Once at their rooms, guests would punch a sequence of numbers into the device to open the door.

Other systems in the development stage include automated flight check-in, which would allow you to use your PDA in place of a boarding pass. Another system in the make is real-time baggage tracking, so you will know where your luggage is at all times.

Great Palm Resources

Palmstock
Handago
Palm.com
PalmGear.com
PDA Tucows.com

Note: Not all software applications may be compatible with your PDA, please check the hardware requirements before downloading any software.


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