Posts Tagged ‘ traveling ’

Getting Techy With Google Glass

Thursday, May 29th, 2014

Based on the number of people who own smartphones and tablets, everyone appears to be a tech enthusiast these days. The latest must-have–Google Glass–recently became available to the public, allowing users to navigate town wearing a small, computer-like device (if they’re willing to shell out $1,500, that is).

A few weeks ago, at Google Glass’s Travel Event, I had the chance to test out the glasses themselves and explore some of their travel-themed features, apps which many smartphone users may already utilize via their handheld device. Restaurant enthusiasts, take note: Glass users can access reservation service OpenTable and set dinner plans in stone using taps and a few simple commands. While the program had some difficulty understanding my requests (my hometown of Bethesda, Maryland, didn’t register even when one of the pros tried!), it was neat (and a little silly) to stand in a room and have Glass “listen” to my voice as I navigated the app. Got a little one? App-using moms who wish to complete tasks hands-free will enjoy the accessibility Glass provides while on-the-go with Baby.

Perhaps the most interesting–and possibly most helpful–feature I tried was Word Lens, which translates words and short phrases, such as those that appear on street signs and buildings. While wearing the glasses, I viewed signs that were written in Russian, and if I looked at the text from the correct angle, Glass could translate the word in front of me into English. What was especially interesting was that Glass didn’t change anything else about the building or background on which the phrase appeared. Note to self: This would have made my travels in Prague much less confusing!

While obviously the most important aspect of Google Glass is what it can do, the way the device looks is customizable. Buyers can purchase glasses with colorful components, order prescription lenses, and more. Still, the look is more techy than fashionable–if form is more important to you than function, you may not wish to sport these flashy frames.

Photo by Rheanna O’Neil Bellomo 

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Google Street View: Take a Virtual Tour of Family Vacation Spots

Thursday, May 24th, 2012

Legoland California Google Street ViewThinking about  a quick getaway for Memorial Day weekend? Before you finalize your plans, explore family-friendly places by using Google Maps Street View.  If you’re not familiar with this free tool, it gives you a 360-degree street level look at popular U.S. and world destinations (zoos, amusement parks, public parks, landmarks, museums, etc.).  From the comfort of your own home computer or smartphone, preview places to determine if you want to visit them in person.

Get a panoramic look at these following U.S. destinations:

For bigger family vacations, you can take a road trip to different U.S. landmarks, discover historic Italy, or even set sail down the Amazon River.

Plus, if you or someone you know manages a unique destination, request a Street View team to visit the location through the Street View Partner Program.

Happy planning!

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Flat Stanley Visits New York City

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

Recently, I spent two days with a special out-of-town guest, taking her sightseeing around New York City.  We navigated Manhattan with ease, taking on diverse areas such as Gramercy Park, Flatiron District, Midtown East, Times Square, and the Upper East Side. My guest, part of the Flat Stanley Project, never made a fuss or complained — being made of markers and laminated paper.

For parents who are unfamiliar with The Flat Stanley Project, it was started in 1995 by Dale Hubert, a teacher in Ontario, Canada, and was inspired by the Flat Stanley children’s books series by Jeff Brown.  The project involves children making paper cutouts of themselves (their personalized versions of Flat Stanley) and then mailing them to friends and family around the world.  The goal is to encourage literacy as kids write about Stanley’s adventures through his visits, and to promote pen pal exchanges.  Over 6,000 schools in 88 countries have participated in the project, and even famous folks such as President Obama and actor Clint Eastwood have been photographed with a Flat Stanley.

My friend’s young daughter sent me her Flat Stanley (from Georgia!) and my inner host and shutterbug went all-out visiting Big Apple landmarks (Empire State Building, Times Square, Rockefeller Center), historical sites (Theodore Roosevelt’s birthplace, Fifth Avenue Public Library), and some children’s paradises (Toys “R” Us, FAO Schwartz, American Girl Place). It was really fun soaking up familiar sights I wouldn’t normally visit as a New Yorker, and I’m ready for my next Flat Stanley visitor.

Parents, learn more about how to get your school involved in this global literacy project at, and make sure to download the (free) Flat Stanley app from iTunes.

Befriending a guard outside FAO Schwartz

Resting at the Alice in Wonderland statue in Central Park

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