I took a week off last week, driving with my wife upstate from New York City to the Finger Lakes for some sightseeing and winery touring (with stops along the way in White Plains, Binghamton, and Corning), and then to Hyde Park (via Ithaca and Woodstock) for the FDR Library and Culinary Institute of America, and then on to East Hampton (along with some excursions there to Montauk, Sag Harbor, and Southampton).
I managed to spend the entire week off email – even off Facebook mail – but still made some good use of technology. Here are the most useful sites and tools that helped with my vacation (you can also check photo albums of the upstate and Hamptons legs):
1) Zipcar: We’re car-less Manhattanites, and while we were able to borrow a family member’s car for the update leg, we used Zipcar, the car-sharing service, for the Hamptons journey. It worked out very well, with only a couple glitches. While the rental costs include free gas and tolls, the gas card didn’t work so I have to file for a reimbursement. Also, they have a four-day limit, and since we needed it Tues-Sat, we had to time the pickup and dropoff to get the most out of the 96-hour window. Overall though, it was a good deal and very helpful.
2) Google Maps: This is a ‘duh’ moment, but the best feature here was being able to drag routes through different roads and cities to automatically reroute it. For instance, after driving up through Binghamton, it’s hardly a scenic route and there aren’t any fun stops. Going to Hyde Park had us covering largely the same route back. Instead, I dragged the map through Ithaca and Woodstock, which led to some other unexpected stops like Coles Maple and an alpaca farm.
3) VZ Navigator: We don’t have a car so we don’t have GPS. My smartphone, the Samsung i760, isn’t equipped for GPS either, but my wife’s Motorola Krazr can run it – does that make any sense at all? Not really, but we were fortunate to have her phone so we could spring for Navigator at only $10 a month. It fared as well as any other GPS device I’ve used (and when I rent cars I always get GPS now), and it allowed us a ton of flexibility on our trip. Great deal.
4) The mobile web: My phone did come in handy for getting Mets scores and letting my wife read NY Post’s Page 6 at the beach.
5) Television: Anachronistic? Sure. But once the Olympics started, we actually switched where we were staying in the Finger Lakes since the first B&B didn’t have a TV. Getting to watch Michael Phelps win that final gold medal live, and then getting to marvel at Usain Bolt and the US women’s Olympic team, made me so thankful for television. While I tested out a couple versions of online video around the Olympics, I didn’t need the web for anything beyond medal counts and reading some athlete bios in Wikipedia. TV delivered 99% of the experience.