Archive for August, 2012


5 must-have apps for traveling

Categories: travel

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I’ve been on the road a lot this summer, and even thought it’s drawing to a close, there’s still a lot of travel ahead of me with out of town soccer games and visiting our college freshman 4 hours away.

I rely a lot on my phone to keep information at hand when I’m away from home, and there are thousands of apps out there that can help you do just that, and make your trip a little more organized.

These are some of my favorite apps that I always keep handy when I travel:

Tripit - If you’re not familiar with Tripit, you should be, I love this app. It keeps all of your travel information (reservations, flights, itineraries etc.) in one place. It’s as simple as forwarding your confirmation e-mail (or, you can enter information into Tripit manually) to your TripIt account, and Tripit automatically builds you an itinerary you can access from anywhere. No more combing through e-mails for that confirmation or flight number!

iExit - I’ve recently traveled some by myself with my youngest child, and when it’s just us, I want to make sure our stops are safe and efficient. iExit provides real time Interstate exit information to help you answer that age old question, “Where’s a ‘good’ exit?” Since you shouldn’t use it while you are driving, I’ve taught him to use it, and we look for a good place to stop together.

AroundMe - Just like the name implies, AroundMe is a location app to quickly find out about your immediate surroundings. It’s invaluable for finding things like restaurants or the nearest drugstore when you’re in an unfamiliar city. It shows you a list of businesses in the category you chose, as well as the distance and route from where you are.

RepairPal - This is an app I hope I don’t need frequently, but I’ve used it more than once (just last week, as a matter of fact). RepairPal is a location-based app that lets you find a car repair shop near you, get an estimate, get roadside help and more.

Ambiance - Everyone in my family sleeps with white noise, and when on the road at a hotel or a friend’s house, things can seem awfully quiet at night and it can be hard to get to sleep. Ambiance is an app that provides noises and sounds that can help you sleep, relax or set a mood.

I’m always on the lookout for great travel apps to keep me organized, do you have a favorite one? Tell us about it in the comments below!

5 tips for packing for college

Categories: Organization, Tips and Tricks


A while back, I shared my experience with college dorm shopping, and this past week, I got to put my efforts to good use when we took our daughter to begin her freshman year. The time finally arrived and we packed everything and headed south. I’m certainly glad we started gathering things when we did, I can’t imagine having to shop and pack in just a few days time.

She’s all moved in now, and I’m by no means an expert, but I did learn a few things along the way about packing for college:

1. Make a plan - Visit ahead of time, look at pictures (Flickr can be helpful) or read the school’s housing descriptions and outline an idea of which items you’ll keep in dresser drawers, closets and/or plastic storage containers. Packing like things together makes it easier to unpack and planning ahead saves time deciding what to put where.

2. Put everything in a container - Trust me, loose items do not fare well during move-in. Box up everything you can, and make sure it’s sealed well. This makes things a lot easier to get on the moving carts and this will reduce trips on the elevator. You want that. Really, you do.

3. Label all containers -Label the outside of all your containers with a name, room number and cell phone number. There are lots of people moving in at the same time. Things can get mixed up, or your loads can get separated and end up on 2 different elevator trips.

4. Allow ample time to pack the vehicle - Once you get everything together, it will look like your kid is taking the most of any college student, ever. Take comfort in the fact that someone will always have more than your kid, but you still have to get stuff in the car. I found the whole thing to be like a game of Tetris, but I did get everything in the van, it just took a lot longer than I expected.

5. Separate electronics and valuables - Often, when you arrive at school freshman year, there’s a whole army of volunteers waiting to help you unload the car. The moment you drive up, they descend and start unloading and it can be hard to know which items are in what load. Before you arrive at school, make sure you have all fragile and/or valuable items separated from the load and carry them yourself.

College is an exciting time, and a little advance planning goes a long way to get you started right.

I know many of you are more experienced than I am, what tips do you have?

Organizing and managing business cards

Categories: Organization

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I just returned from the BlogHer conference in New York, and I have a lot of business cards I collected there. This year, I’m determined to save these contacts and follow up as needed, but I’m still experimenting with the best way to save the information.

There are 2 ways you can save business cards: save the cards themselves the old fashioned way, or save them electronically.

Some people store cards in an old-fashioned file while others have elaborate business card notebook systems. I have this complicated system that I like to call, “Two Piles”. The first pile is contacts I need to follow up with for business purposes, and the second pile is new friends, social contacts and blogs to check out. Then I enter them into my contacts as needed.

There are also several digital options for saving business cards. Scanners have made handling business cards easier than ever. There are also smartphone apps that scan your business cards and enter them into your contacts.

I have to confess that I usually save cards from conferences in the paper manner because I like business cards. I love to see the different kinds and some of them inspire me for my next design. However, there are some smart phone apps that store them as images so you can still enjoy them.

No matter how you organize them, using cards from contacts is only as effective as your follow-up practices. Develop a system for taking action by jotting notes on the cards after you meet someone to help you remember details and contact people while they’re still fresh in your mind to get the most out of your efforts.

How about you? Tell us how you organize and manage contacts you meet.

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