Tag Archives: planning

Staying connected in Turkey

New calling cards by the amazing Brooklyn Limestone.

Since I started thinking about my pending Istanbul move, after the initial excitement subsided, panic began to set in. How will I find English-language books to read?! Will I have to give up my beloved Android smartphone and my constant connection to Google?! How will I watch the final season of Lost?! I’ve spent weeks researching and pondering solutions and welcome any advice or input.

Books: Kindle or traditional?

I tend to read a lot, a book or two a week, and while that might change as I won’t have 1 hour+ commuting time anymore, I need access to new reading material regularly. Magazines and newspapers I can read online on my laptop, but books are another story. While I’m sure Istanbul has a few English-language bookshops, not sure how the selection and pricing will be, plus I don’t want to be amassing books while I’m living abroad. Kindle is the only e-reader you can use outside the US (to my knowledge) as long as you download on a computer with a US billing address and I’d appreciate the ability to carry multiple books (especially guidebooks) while traveling. Looking at pros/cons of each, I’m still undecided:

  • Kindle pros: large selection, low per-unit price, convenient for traveling, and no buildup of physical books. Cons: high initial price, not the same as actual books, unsure of technology and “feel,” and what if it gets lost or stolen?!
  • Book pros: Proven technology, English-language bookstore or exchange = instant community, no entry cost might add up to less over time, better reading experience. Cons: Higher per book price, less convenient to acquire and smaller selection.

(Legal) ways to watch American TV

I won’t be ashamed to admit I like TV, and I can get over the loss of DVR and set times that I expect to watch shows, but I’ve invested a few years in Lost and need to know how it ends. Also need to see how tragic the new Jersey Shore in Miami will end up. Not to mention 30 Rock, The Office, and the myriad Law & Order-type procedural dramas I watch. So I look to the internet to recommend the following:

  • Websites to download/watch shows outside of the US like Hulu (which doesn’t work abroad)
  • Long-running TV shows I can watch on DVD and pretend they are new. I’m catching up now with season 2 of Breaking Bad and working my way through Freaks & Geeks.

Phone and internet without roaming

H. and I both have T-Mobile’s myTouch Android phones and love the ability to use the internet, Gmail, Google Maps, and other fine products offered by Google. We can unlock our phones and go with Wi-Fi, but I need to read up on the finer points of buying SIM cards in Turkey, I’ve heard things that they limit the time you can use a foreign phone. I’ve set up a Google Voice number that can forward all calls to another number or just be used as voicemail in order to put on my personal “calling” cards shown above and can use Nimbuzz to use Skype on the actual mobile phone device, but welcome other ideas/tips/problems.

Travel planning

Yoinks, I have been lax with posting, will get back on it this week.  I have officially bought tickets to Nicaragua, planning to stay 8 nights on the Corn Islands over Christmas, and heavily into planning.  I've discovered a few new resources, aside from the usual guidebooks/magazines/TripAdvisor (which should be taken with a massive grain of salt).

  • Newspaper articles:  Okay, fairly obvious, but now most major newspapers have archived their travel sections online.  I find the articles to often be more current and accessible than travel magazines, who are usually writing for a more affluent (read: spendy) audience.  Check New York Times, Washington Post, LA Times, and USA Today for good profiles and articles.
  • Email writers:  Since working at Conde Nast Traveler, I've emailed the writers I already know who have written articles about destinations I'm interested in.  It just occurred to me to not stop there, I could email writers I don't know!  So, I emailed the writer of the LA Times article on Corn Islands that originally got me interested and she has responded with great information.  Most newspapers make it pretty easy to email staff writers, Googling also helps.
  • Search photos:  My new obsession is going to Flickr and Webshots and searching for photos from Corn Islands.  These can tell me a lot more than the hotel's website or anyone's review.  I can actually see what the beach looks like, how far it is from the room, whether there are monkeys on site (very excited about this, I pretty much live for monkeys and there seem to be quite a few living on both islands), etc.
  • Beyond Google basic: I will say without mild hyperbole that I have a PhD in Googling, I love to search and used Google Scholar constantly when I was in school.  For trip planning, I find searching News and then Blogs is really helpful in finding random people's trip recaps and photos that don't show up on a regular search, and now Google's Picasa can be added to my photo search.  Fun fact: my concierge.com Suitcase comes up on Google Searches now for most of the properties on the Corn Islands!  Have I plugged the Suitcase enough?! It really rocks.
  • Other guidebook options: This is sort of a catch-all category.  It won't work for every destination, but if you can find a good travelogue/memoir for your place, it can be way better than a guidebook.  I wish I had taken Pete McCarthy's book to Ireland rather than Fodor's.  For guidebooks, Lonely Planet has just put out a cool new feature: Pick & Mix, so you can buy just a chapter of a guidebook rather than the whole thing.  It won't work for my Nicaragua trip since Nica is half of the guidebook, but it is super cool and I will use for a future trip.  Finally, I'm listing and looking for guidebooks on SwapSimple.com, so I can get books without paying for them and rather than sell them on half.com for pennies, I can trade for stuff I want!  They have a Facebook application now too, which I've added to my growing list of applications, like the highly addictive Traveler's IQ Challenge

Anyway, back to work, will continue the Finnegan's Wake of a travel recap later today.

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