A train ride on a loop and a curve

toy-trains-of-india

The crispness of the cool mountain air, traversing through the slow moving train, tranquility amidst the lap of nature with green valley’s surrounding you, the veil of clouds falling on your face kissing your cheeks and filling you with its heady intoxicating mist.

Nothing quite beats the romance of travelling on a steam train or shunting through mountains. It’s no wonder, that the whistles and sounds of a steam engine featuring the humble ‘toy train’ is a staple in many a Bollywood song, even today.

We have to acknowledge the British who not only established their cantonments into the various parts of the Indian subcontinent, but they also developed many hill resorts where they could go for breaks to beat the excruciating heat in the plains.

The rail routes that they laid to reach these hill stations still exist and function with the very same engines and carriages. The Mountain Railways of India are the best example of bold, ingenious engineering solutions for the problem of establishing an effective rail link through a rugged, mountainous terrain. A trip to the hills by rail is a real treat to the eyes, with these 5 amazing mountain rail routes showcasing India’s spectacular landscapes.

1.Darjeeling Himalayan Railway

darjeeling

Inaugurated in 1881 over the beautiful hills of Darjeeling, the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, popularly known as the ‘toy train’ is an engineering marvel.

It covers a distance of 88 km in West Bengal from New Jalpaiguri to Darjeeling in seven-and-a-half hours. The station Ghum is India’s highest railway station having an altitude of 2,257 metres. The route has 8 major bridges, 542 minor bridges and 177 unmanned level crossings. This train has the narrowest of the regular narrow gauge rail tracks and use diesel electric or steam engines.

The Railway received the World Heritage Site status on Dec. 2, 1999.

2. Nilgiri Mountain Railway.

Nilgiri-Mountain

The first leg of the Nilgiri Mountain Railway from Mettupalayam to Coonoor was opened to traffic in June 1899 and was extended up to Ooty only by 1908. The Nilgiri toy train travels all over the Nilgiri hills aka ‘The Blue Mountains’.

The main features of this meter gauge line are the unique rack rail system, and the equally unique and complicated steam locomotives.

The delightful little train covers a distance of 46 km from Mettupalayam to Ooty in four-and-a-half hours. The real thrill of this train ride is the engine which is at the back pushing the carriages up the hills its twists and turns around the hills, passing through many tunnels, bridges, traversing forests and tea plantations.

On July 15, 2005, UNESCO recognized Nilgiri Mountain Railway as a World Heritage Site.

3. Kalka-Shimla Railway.

kalka

Shimla is a very popular destination with Indians as it was to the British. The Kalka-Shimla Railway line which opened to traffic on Nov. 9, 1903, connects the residents of the plains to the summer capital of British India.

The six-hour-long, 96 km journey, crossing with 101 tunnels, is an engineering masterpiece on narrow gauge and covers many arched bridges and several picturesque stations. The slow movement of this train enables many travellers to sit on the doorway or stick their heads out of the windows to smell the fresh mountain air and enjoy the breathtaking visual of the Himalayas.

On July 7, 2008 the Kalka-Shimla Railway was included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site list.

4. Matheran Light Railway.

matheran

The Matheran Light Railway, which connects Neral to Matheran , was opened to traffic in March 1907. The floods in 2005 forced its shut down but it was re-opened in 2007 much to the people’s delight.

This narrow gauge line takes the sharpest curves when compared to any Indian hill railway line. The view along the journey is indeed breathtaking, and the 21 km ride is covered in two hours. The unique feature of the train ride is the One Kiss Tunnel (the only tunnel on the route, which earned its nickname because the tunnel is just long enough to exchange a kiss with one’s partner).

All stations on the route have solar power and wind energy plants,and energy-efficient LED lights and fans. the train travels over forests and mountains to reveal the astounding beauty of Nature.

5. Kangra Valley Railway.

kangra

Commissioned in April 1929, the Kangra Valley Railway line starts at Pathankot (Punjab) and ends at Joginder Nagar(Himachal Pradesh), travelling on a narrow gauge for 9 hours and 20 minutes, covering 164 km.

Apart from the Kalka-Shimla railway it is the second railway that runs through the beautiful hills of Himachal Pradesh. There are only two tunnels on this stretch, which give tourists an opportunity to enjoy the mountains and valleys without any distraction. This railway line, which is famous for its 993 bridges, connects the state with its hydroelectric power house.

darjeeling-06

All the five mountain railways of India are around a hundred years old. These train trips epitomize the old saying about the journey being as memorable as the destination. There are intriguing stops along each of these lines, leaving it up to the traveller to have nothing to do but sit back and enjoy the scenery.

 

 

 

 

PC: Better India; Tripadvisor; Wikimedia; Travel Leisure India;Discover My Travel

 

 

TRAVEL PHOTO FRIDAY : CAPTION THIS!

lobby

It’s Friday ! Yay ! I hope you are looking forward to the weekend.

This time I thought of doing something fun for the blog post.

I was in Washington DC last year and I saw this interesting display of art in the lobby of The Ritz.

So I was thinking of getting some help from you with a catchy caption for this . What do you say? Would you like to help me with it?

Great !! So dear readers post your captions in the comments. I would love to hear from you !

 

And I hope you have a wonderfully joyful weekend!

Madhavi

Wellness holidays to rejuvenate your Mind, Body & Soul.

wellness

Giving your body a wellness holiday is the ideal gift of happiness and rejuvenation you can do to yourself. And when it comes to picking a place where you could unwind, India most definitely tops the charts.

Imagine yourself being pampered amidst the arms of nature, feels great right?

Wellness tourism is experiencing a huge spike in recent times with people swapping their cocktail-fuelled beach vacations for detox and other aspects of mental and emotional well-being. Most Spa resorts have incorporated Yoga Nidra, Acupuncture, Meditation and complemented them with specially-curated diet plans.

Ayurveda, Yoga, Meditation, Rejuvenation-the options are endless.

Ayurveda, is the oldest system of medicine on Earth and practised from as long as 5000 years back, is known as the ‘Science of Life’ and is a great way to naturally heal and restore not just the body but the mind as well.

kerela (hindu)

Kerala is where it all started. Kerala has stood tall against time and has kept its age-old traditions alive not only with the natives but travellers from across the globe, who come here for seeking positivity, solitude, detox and natural treatments.

rishikesh

Bringing absolute peace to mind, YOGA stands as one of the six orthodox schools of Hindu philosophical traditions. The ancient form aids in attaining good health through mental, spiritual, and physical practices. Indian and international travellers crash into yoga and rejuvenation retreats in India to relish a Saatvik diet (vegetarian proteins grown naturally by not harming nature and all its living beings) and meditate till they feel good. Yoga helps in bringing positivity to your thinking, pain relief, sound sleep, younger looking DNA along with helping in having healthy joints, controlling blood pressure, and boosting immunity.

Rishikes yoga

Rishikesh is the yoga capital of the world. The serenity and tranquility of nature have been very important to retreats in Rishikesh. The treatment or a yoga experience here is a blissful journey as it is housed in the lap of the Himalayas and it is located right next to the river Ganges. Yoga pavilions, landscaped gardens and the breathtaking Himalayan valleys are enough to lure people to get the best out of the retreats in Rishikesh.

dharamshala (shutterstock)

Whenever the dark clouds of stress and tension circle around, Meditation comes in like a savior. Meditation has been with us for thousands of years. This technique of connecting with your inner self in a peaceful environment aids in calming your blood pressure and heart rate. Meditation can fight anxiety, pain, and depression and brings ultimate peace to mind. ‘Vipassana’ a 10 day course and observes “noble silence” — that is, silence of body, speech and mind and which means to see things as they really are, is one of India’s most ancient techniques of meditation. It was taught in India more than 2500 years ago as a universal remedy for universal ills.

meditation1 tushita

Dharamshala is literally regarded as the paradise on earth for meditation. The natural beauty of that place with a very serene backdrop is in itself one of the very prime reasons why people flock to Dharamshala.

bangalore

Spread in a 65 acre Greenland campus, on top of the Panchagiri Hills, The Art of Living Ashram in Bengaluru is another place where not only can you simply meditate, but also practice yoga and other forms of art which gives you the complete freedom to be yourself no matter how the world is outside.

ayurveda

In simple words, rejuvenation is the art of injecting happiness and positive energies in someone. Getting a rejuvenating therapy helps in bringing calmness to your mind, improving your skin and even increase in memory. So whether it’s practicing yoga, or getting an Ayurvedic treatment, or just feeling good by the coastline or simply breathing along in nature, there are ways which you can feel rejuvenated.

Isha

Isha Rejuvenation Center, Coimbatore established by Sadhguru allows an individual to experience inner peace and the joy of a healthy body through a unique and powerful set of offerings. These include residential programs, walk-in medical consultations and Ayurvedic therapies. The Rejuvenation Center is located at the foothills of the Velliangiri Mountains, referred to as the Kailash of the South. The Isha Yoga Center is home to the Dhyanalinga, a unique meditative space that embodies the distilled essence of yogic sciences. The energies of the Dhyanalinga create an atmosphere that supports and catalyzes the rejuvenation process in the human system.

ananda

Ananda in the Himalayas, Rishikesh is the luxury spa which specializes in more than 80 varieties of spa therapies which are the mixture of traditional Ayurveda with modern spa. It also offers a range of Ayurvedic treatments- Abhyanga, Shirodhara, Shloka, Takradhara, Mukh lepa. Besides, the resort is also famous for Yoga & Meditation therapy, healing treatments, physiotherapy, and Vedanta talk.

shirodhara

Besides having places that are specially earmarked for wellness tourism, such as Kerala or the Rishikesh, it’s not unusual to see some of the major hotel chains at touristy destinations such as Agra, Goa, Bangalore or Udaipur and even cosmopolitan cities such as Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata having their own in-house spa therapies which are the mixture of traditional Ayurveda with modern spa.

Some of them offer a range of Ayurvedic treatments such as Abhyanga, Shirodhara, Shloka, Takradhara, Mukh Lepa and more which help in purifying the blood by using herbal oils and medicines.

ITCMughal

Most of these places offer some attractive tailor-made packages for a healthier and sustainable lifestyle, as per guests’ needs which are determined by a doctor and their team of experts, skilled therapist, nutritionist, yogis, and chefs.

With rising demand for traditional healthcare practices and a growing emphasis on preventive health care methods, medical and wellness tourism is gaining immense popularity and attention among people.  And so today the need of the hour is to provide an easy, transparent and organized way to travel and experience wellness with better classification and a more effective rating-system for these wellness centres is crucial.

 

Madhavi

 

 

 

 

 

 

PC: Little India;Shutterstock;Isha ;Hindu;Ananda Spa; Tushita info;Tour My India;Rediff

Amazon.in goes beyond being just a marketplace.

amazon

I am such an online shopping kinda person. Be it apparel, FMCG, books, personal items or electronics, I just love seeing and usually end up buying  some of them on Amazon.in

Imagine my surprise when yesterday I noticed that Amazon India  has also included flight bookings.

ama1

Available only in India at the moment on domestic sectors, customers can now also do flight bookings and avail rewards and cashbacks in addition to shopping, money transfers, utility bill payments, mobile recharges – all of this in one single app.

How cool is that?

Does this mean that having started selling flights, this behemoth seems getting ready to devour all the large OTAs (Online Travel Agents ) globally?

Sample this: As per Forbes, 2019, Amazon.com transacted goods and services worth USD 916 Billion, as against only 160.5 Billion transacted by Delta, United, American Airlines, Lufthansa, Southwest, Expedia and Cleartrip – put together ! This makes Amazon 5.7 times larger than the 5 top airlines and 2 largest OTAs combined.

 By partnering with Cleartrip in creating best in class travel experiences, Amazon.in is enabling the existing customers to do more with their app and their Prime members can now avail more value from their membership.

Despite the abundance of meta search engines, like Kayak, and Google Flights, and OTAs, finding the lowest-priced airfare is still a tedious process. Amazon hopes to change all that by offering the lowest possible price. Amazon potentially has a large impact in travel, both from a booking and advertising perspective.

Amazon-flights-04

Airlines such as Vistara UK, GoAir, SpiceJet, and Indigo were among the carriers offering flights through the service.

Amazon.com is the world’s largest eCommerce marketplace till now focusing on e-commerce, cloud computing, digital streaming and artificial intelligence. And is one of the Big Four technology companies along with Google, Apple and Facebook.

amazonairatmiaedited

Amazon Prime Air, is a cargo airline brand name for Amazon’s freight delivery service based in Ohio. And we have also heard that Amazon is building an airport outside of Cincinnati to have greater control over their shipping by air and remove the need to use third parties like FedEx, UPS, and USPS.

Now that Amazon is expanding its footprint in travel, do you think we will soon see a commercial “Amazon Air” flying the skies anytime soon?

Stay tuned to more information on this exciting news!

-Madhavi

 

 

 

PC: Newsroom Miami Intnl Aiport; Amazon.com;Amazon.in

Technology Trends that facilitate Smart Travel Experiences

cockpit

Technology is much like the Joneses- always up to something new. Frankly you just can’t keep up with it however much you try.

But the usage of technology is not new to Aviation. Back in the late 20’s a variety of technological navigation aids such as rotating lights or radio navigation aids would help pilots achieve a smooth and safe landing. Then towards the 40’s Instrument landing systems (ILS) used the best features of both approach lighting and radio beacons with higher frequency transmissions. Over the past few years many airports/pilots are using global positioning system (GPS) in addition to ILS. The GPS has become a primary method for navigation between airports and is exceedingly precise.

It is critical for the aviation, travel and hospitality industry to keep up-to-date with the emerging technology trends so as to nail the (CSQ) customer satisfaction quotient. Nonetheless, with such major breakthroughs in technology, it is playing a very vital role with its capability to increase the effectiveness of business operations and improve the customer experience.

 

Internet of Things (IoT)

IOT

The internet of things, or IoT, is a system of interrelated computing devices, have the ability to transfer data over a network without requiring human-to-human or human-to-computer interaction. (IoT) involves internet-based inter-connectivity between everyday devices, allowing them to both send and receive data.

To explain simply; Smart homes that are equipped with thermostats,  appliances, heating, lighting and other electronic devices can be controlled remotely via computers, Smart phones or other mobile devices, is a example of IoT.

Similarly IoT technology is being used in hotel rooms to provide customers with a device that connects to everything from the lights, to the heaters and air conditioning, allowing all to be controlled from one place. At airports, this may mean using sensors and sending information to passengers Smartphone’s, alerting them when their baggage is nearby and allowing them to locate it faster.

 Recognition Technology

biometrics

The technology includes finger print recognition, facial recognition, retina scanning and various other biometric identifiers. Such technology is already being used in some hotels to allow access to rooms via finger prints, or to allow for semi-contactless check-outs.

As the number of travellers grows, airports have started to turn to biometric technology. This speeds up various airport processes by allowing passengers to complete check-in and go through security or passport control without having to deal with a human agent.

 Robots

robot

One of the most exciting technological developments in recent years has been the increased prevalence of robots in hotels, right from text-based chatbots and robotic assistants, to security robots, being used on the front desk as customer information points. The main benefits are their ability to function 24/7, without needing breaks or motivation, providing greater consistency than humans would be capable of.

With a constant need to improve airport security, robots are being deployed in some locations to assist human security staff, for the purpose of detecting concealed weapons and other hidden items that are not permitted on flights.

Chatbots are used to guide customers through the online booking process, asking intelligent questions along the way for seamless travel bookings 24/7.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

AI-in-Airport

Perhaps the most obvious use is with chatbots possessing the ability to deliver rapid response times to problems or queries.

In fact, one of its most popular and effective uses is for gathering and interpreting huge amounts of data quickly and accurately, in order to draw conclusions about pricing strategies, revenue management, customer feedback from surveys, reviews and online polls, and even intelligently manage inventories, in order to build a clearer picture of current opinion, in real-time.

Blockchain

Blockchain

Although blockchain technology can sound confusing at first, it is actually pretty simple. Ultimately, it is a list of public records, where transactions between parties are listed or stored.

Despite automation, payments and settlements in the travel industry continue to be challenging and time-consuming. A complex distribution system, frequent cancellations and refunds, add to the operational challenges. Blockchain can bring in the seamless integration, agility and speed required between multiple players.

One of the most crucial aspects of blockchain technology is that data is decentralized and is more secure, traceable and transparent along with being resistant to modification and unwanted tampering. The decentralised nature of the blockchain means that information can never go ‘offline’ or be lost through accidental deletion or a malicious cyber attack, ensuring transactions are always traceable.

The travel industry relies upon different companies passing information between one another. For example, travel agents pass on customer details on to flight companies and hotels by way of overseas payment or loyalty programs. Blockchain makes accessing and storing important information securely and more reliably.

Airports use blockchain technology for tracking the movements of luggage, especially when dealing with international travel especially when the passenger uses multiple carriers and journeys to arrive at a destination. Using a decentralised database makes sharing tracking data between companies a lot easier.

online

For companies operating in the travel industry, it is essential to keep up with the latest technology trends. Understanding and adopting the trends allows the businesses within the travel industry to provide a better experience for the customers as well as aid in optimizing revenue management and overall business performance.

 

-Madhavi

 

PC-Future Customer; Airport Show; Hotel Technology; Digital Trends.

 

‘Mancation’

mancation-1

Chances are most of you having seen the Bollywood flick ‘Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara’ -you’d agree with me that it gave us some major travel goals. The Mancation of three friends was the ultimate vacay every man ever dreamt of having.

Or the Hollywood flick ‘The Hangover’ – a blowout Sin City trip which had many a bachelor planning a similar bash with his groomsmen.

Enough of the woman traveller blog posts. Let me give the men their due here with a post on Mancations .

Well what can I say ; sometimes dudes just want to be with themselves. And mancations provide the perfect opportunity for men to get together and bond with guys from work or old friends from college. It could be a father son vacation, a bachelor party, or even a millennial man wanting to trade tips and learn skills from his older counterparts.

Whatever the reason ‘Mancation’ one of the latest buzzwords in the travel industry, is a spin-off on the girlfriends’ getaway marketing phenomenon.

Golf

Although golf outings, sports events and fishing trips are the mainstays of male bonding, high-velocity adventures, spa treatments or just laid back chilling vacays is a fun way for men to disconnect and “allow guys to be guys.”

 

And when you talk about guy trips there is one top most destination that has the power to drive all the guys moony. Yup you guessed it right –Thailand. I don’t think I need to say anything more here.

bangkok

 

Rio de Janeiro– With awesome beach neighborhoods like Ipanema, Copacabana, and Leblon, Rio de Janeiro is a single guy’s paradise and is known around the world for its sexy atmosphere, Dubbed the party capital of Brazil and the site of the annual Carnival celebration, and with beach sports like soccer and volleyball, Rio has everything a single guy could ask for.

Rio

 

Ibiza-With some awesome nightclubs, Ibiza’s nightlife scene is second to none. Situated in the Mediterranean Sea about 50 miles off of Valencia, Spain, Ibiza is a one of the best destinations for a mancation.

ibiza

 

Miami-World renowned for its nightlife, Miami has it all for the single male traveler: beaches, food, culture, and beautiful people.

miami

 

Las Vegas-The home of many bachelor parties, Las Vegas is well known for its active nightlife and casinos. Upscale hotels and home to some of the world’s finest restaurants makes Las Vegas a great destination for the single male traveler.

las vegas

 

Cancun-Cancun is the party capital of the eastern part of Mexico and with good reason. Cancun sees millions of visitors on an annual basis who visit the city with the sole purpose of having fun. With mega clubs and some of Mexico’s most pristine beaches, Cancun is a fun destination for any single man.

cancun

 

Barcelona-Spain’s city that never sleeps is filled with a youthful and energetic vibe that is hard to beat. The nightlife areas of Barcelona around the plazas or squares of the city have the highest concentration of bars in the city.

barcelona

 

Have a wild night of music at Sunburn, getting the party mode on, and swimming in the sea of blood pumping music and vibe, Goa has always been a perennial favourite of the boys

sunburn

If women can have their ladies only – getaway, men should be able to do the same. Biking trips, Pub hopping, Brewery tours, Bungee jumping, White water River rafting, Sky diving, Golfing, there are unlimited options for the men out there. They can do whatever pleases them.

 

poster-happy-brew

But hey, who am I to give any advice. If your man is not too keen on taking off with his buddies maybe you should do this –give them a couple of chilled beers, a lounge chair and leave them aloneThat should be their ultimate “mancation”

 

🙂
madhavi
PC: Trip Advisor; Pinterest; Timeout; Liveinstyle; Frio canon.

L‘APP’ it up!

Travel-Apps1

Travelling alone is a wonderfully liberating experience for the female traveller. Having said that, it can also be quite daunting, especially if it is the first time one is travelling solo or with the gang of girls.

While travelling, Smartphone and technology combined can be your best friend and at times your saviour too. Which is why, it is important to play it smart, safe and have the right apps loaded on your phones before you leave home.

apps-on-phone

Luckily, today there is no dearth of apps built to help with everything from hotel bookings to last-minute flight changes, and everything in between. Not speaking the local language? Hungry? Lost your way? Basically, whatever your interest or need, when it comes to hitting the road, there’s an app for that.

However, there are some apps which are exclusively geared towards solo female travellers , hoping to connect them with like-minded women who can become their travel buddies, or provide some sort of support system when they are away from home.

uber

Uber- A handy app to have when travelling, Uber is currently one of the most popular ridesharing apps and has its presence in more countries than other similar transportation services. It is a convenient way to hitch a ride to or from the airport or to get around while moving around the city. Simply enter your pickup and drop-off location and select your ride option. You’ll get matched with a driver who will meet you at your pickup location and drive you to your destination.

 

google map

GOOGLE MAPS– When we think of a navigation app, we typically think Google Maps. It’s recommend by most people. Google Maps and Waze (also by Google) are excellent GPS apps. Google Maps is kind of the measuring stick for navigation apps. It has tons of locations, reviews, directions, and amazing street-level photography of most locations, included. Waze is a little simpler. It’s great for directions, especially on road trips or daily commutes. It uses user data to show things like traffic jams, police locations, and other useful info.

 

Tourlina-Solo-Female-Travel-App

Tourlina- Tourlina is a women-only app that connects fellow like-minded travellers wherever they are around the globe. Simply enter your trip and discover a travel companion with mutual interests and trip plans. You can start to chat, plan your trip together and voila! You’re on the road with a new friend, possibly one you’ll have made for life and in touch with someone who shares the same travel goals as you.

 

toilet-finder-app

Toilet Finder- This is a game changer for women travellers. As the name suggests, this free app helps you find the closest public toilet in cities, towns, and even in parks. Apps like Flush Toilet Finder and Map is pretty useful when you need to locate a public bathroom that is closest to you. The handy thing about this app is that it has more than 150,000 toilets already listed, and also lets you know if they are free and wheelchair accessible.

 

travelapp2

SoloTraveller is an app for the solo traveler who is looking to be connected with like-minded people who are traveling to the same destination. The app also connects travelers with local people, has a feature to share information on places like restaurants or points of interests,  or  even to just share a taxi, the opportunities are endless.

 

bsafe

Safety apps that provides GPS positioning and tracking ,along with advice about the best places to travel or stay in and shows you how to avoid areas that are very crime prone, are  very essential for the woman traveller. It’s advisable to research the most effective and popular safety app of the destination you are travelling to before you leave.

Here in India Eyewatch SOS for Women which captures audio and video of the user’s surroundings and sends it to the registered contacts along with an alert message and bSafe– which has an alarm and a ‘Follow me’ feature that enables virtual tracking of the user via GPS tracking, until you reach the destination are quite popular.

 

trip-advisor-still

TripAdvisor is one of the largest travel sites in the world and has over 600 million reviews. The app has been designed to give honest reviews from other travelers about their experience with a number of services, ranging from hotels to restaurants. Knowing the ratings may help you avoid going to places with terrible reviews.

 

phones yelp
Yelp and Zomato are food apps that have some of the best, most spot on, hottest and highly rated restaurant reviews around.  From getting free food at restaurants to discovering delicious restaurant recommendations, you’ll find the perfect app that’s just waiting to lead you to your next dining experience.

 

xe currency

The XE Currency app offers live exchange rates for currencies around the world, with rates refreshed every minute. It can help you make quick conversions when you’re out shopping and can monitor up to 10 of your favorite currencies and let you know when their value changes.

 

mobileapp-checkin

Your Airline’s App– This simple app should go without saying. Your airline’s app updates you about any departure or gate changes without you having to go looking for them and could be the difference between a frantic airport experience and a smooth one. Plus, you’ll be able to track your frequent flyer points at any time.

With all of these cool and handy apps on your Smart Phone, make sure you have a safe and fun time on your travels. The last thing you will want to do is to lose it! This is where our final app comes in.

 

find my phone

There are plenty of ways to get a hold of your missing phone. If it’s a Smartphone (or even a tablet) running iOS or Android, chances are good it already has the software such as Find my iPhone or Find my Device needed to hunt it down. The app can do all the basic stuff and locate the phone within a certain distance.  These apps work through the account associated with your device. Just make sure it is turned on. For Android devices this is your Google account, and for iPhones, this is your iCloud account. Both allow you to remotely lock and wipe your phone, make it ring, and set up special messages to alert whoever finds it.

 

🙂 madhavi

 

 

 

PC: Tech Prior: Medium: Code Canyon: Urban Tastebud: Tech Crunch :Singapore Airlines

Passengers behaving badly – a ‘Flightmare’

badly3

Oh, please excuse me while I go on a rant here!

Air travel was like being in a five star hotel some decades back. Flying used to be a treat in itself. Passengers would dress up; skirts and heels for women, coat and often a tie for gentlemen.

Good hot meals along with beverages were usually included across all classes of travel and the service was impeccable and served with a cloth napkin and real silverware—spoon, fork and yes, a sharpened knife.

‘Air hostesses’ -the young women with big smiles and bright uniforms greeted every passenger graciously and courteously.

I am talking about the 70’s and 80’s here, when flight travel was not so common, but exciting and very special for flyers.

And the best part, travellers behaved!!

Today, air travel is the most popular method for traveling. And as more and more people take to the not-so-friendly skies, what with the fares being as competitive, stories of rude, disgusting and selfish behavior of many a ‘first time air traveller’ abound.

And as for a dress code, its non-existent; with many passengers dressing as if they are headed to the beach or about to go back to sleep in their dirty sloppy PJ’s no less. They get on planes and decide to behave in ways that drive you beyond your limits of tolerance.

Err, excuse me but the airplane is not an extension of your home. You are travelling  with 200 strangers. When the captain says “Relax and enjoy the flight,” this does not give you the permission to start behaving like you own the airline and start treating staff with utmost disrespect.

From changing their baby’s diapers on the dinner trays — leaving the soiled ones in drink cups for the cabin crew to take away, from  either cramming their cabin baggage in the overhead bins or stashing it away under your seat, from reclining their seat almost into your face, from refusing to turn off the smart phone, from kicking the seat in front, from playing loud music in cabin, from smoking in lav, from inappropriately touching the cabin crew to sticking their bare feet on your armrest from the seat behind you and of course how can you forget ‘mommy’s darling’ who runs across the aisle causing pandemonium across the plane.

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And don’t even get me started about the passenger seated in the middle seat. A lot of passengers rate the battle for the armrest as one of their very greatest peeves. The battle for arm rest superiority has long plagued travellers, with awkward social etiquette and downright confrontation. If the window seat gets the far armrest, and the aisle gets their own, what’s the story with the middle? Well last I heard that Jetstar, in a press release announced that the middle seat is entitled to both armrests – and that’s final.

Well if you are seated on either corners, I pray you are not literally on a flight to hell.

Badly behaved passengers are obnoxiously present world over and in general gross behaviour is unfortunately, becoming the norm.

But what, though, can you do about it? Yes, you can complain to a crew, who may be reluctant or even powerless to stop certain passenger behaviors, however, you try and politely just bear it without even grinning.

But seriously, Why are passengers behaving badly? 

Are we becoming a nation of rude narcissists? Basic, decent behavior has been lost with day-to-day living in a bubble where you feel like YOU are the most important person on this planet. The sense of entitlement and privilege is exemplified by the thought: “I want to do what I want, when I want…. and I will!”

And to make matters worse this bad behavior is contagious. The ‘If he can do it, why can’t I?’ mindset continues to flourish and our “It’s all about me” society continues to rumble out of control.

Don’t you think it’s time that Airlines need to have a ‘dress code’ so passengers will know ahead of time what will fly and what won’t. And maybe include a ‘behaviour code’ as well in their contract of carriage and acceptance of passengers.

However as a fellow passenger there are certain things you can do and follow these common sense guidelines:

When the meal service is on, with trolley carts in the aisles, its best to avoid making trips to lavatories unless absolutely important. This helps both, the crew and other passengers too.

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Tension between cabin crew and passengers often arises from the strict safety directives on board. Though passengers may find them restrictive, crew members must ensure that safety rules are abided by. After all, cabin crew are on board primarily for passengers safety along with the service ,but it has been taken for granted by lot of passengers thinking that cabin crew are mainly at their beck and call.

  • If you have an unruly passenger near you, try to calm him/her down, but don’t waste your time on this if the individual is out of control – simply proceed to the next step, which is press the call button and let the trained cabin crew take over the situation. Some carriers have Air Marshalls on board who are trained to handle aggressive passengers.
  • Do not panic in case of turbulence. Stay calmIf you start panicking, it’ll just add to the chaos and might complicate the situation further. But yes, easier said than done.
  • Leave it to the professionally trained cabin crew. Stay in your seat – but if you’re blocking a cabin crew’s access, get out of the way. Try to find an empty seat and use it.
  • Be helpful if asked. Don’t intervene unless the crew requests help. If you’re the least bit unsure if you can render assistance, let someone else do it.
  • And finally brace yourself for delays. If the captain decides to divert the flight to drop off the passenger to law enforcement authorities, there’s nothing you can do about it but resign yourself to a delay.
  • Well, travelling in groups is fun but air travel seems to be a challenging one for people travelling in group. Most of the passengers in group wants to stand in the aisle chatting with their friends causing hindrance to cabin crew tasks and won’t even occupy their original assigned seat. Cabin crew needs to be firm with them to ensure safety is not compromised during any phase of the flight keeping in mind nobody’s sentiments are hurt.

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Are we really living in this world of arrogant and egoistic passengers where basic etiquette are forgotten by some of our esteemed passengers? You may have read about the case of an Irish passenger who spat on an AI crew for not serving more alcohol, in Business class, last November and was arrested on landing. Well, she was finally convicted of assault by a British court, early March.

Many countries ‘blacklist’ unruly passengers from flying. Our Ministry of Civil Aviation has recently come out with guidelines for such passengers on Indian domestic flights. Unfortunately not a single passenger has made it to that list. What a shame!

Travel safe, travel sane.

Madhavi

PC: DenverPost:Pinterest;Kelly Kincaid

Going SOLO

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Everyone remembers their first solo journey. For some women it was a long time ago, and there have been many more trips since. For others, the memory is still quite fresh.  I know mine is. It was the year 2009. Taking the leap of faith I plunged into a 2 night trip. Things had come to a head on the personal front and I wanted to break out of the rut of work and home and head out to the safest place I knew . Goa!

I know. I know. Who in their right mind takes off to Goa alone? But that’s me. Never following the herd, I have made my own rules.

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Coming back to the solo trip, it’s true almost everyone has some anxiety before setting out. But there is not a single woman out there who has regretted doing so.

Solo travelling is becoming more important and more popular for women today .It’s an opportunity to discover more about themselves and the world around them.

Although I have to say that the Indian woman is still a little conservative when compared to her western counterpart.  India is an old school country, and where women’s safety is often a massive concern. Many women aren’t allowed to or are afraid to be travelling alone. However, things are changing. More and more strong, independent women are choosing to travel alone and do not let the patriarchy hold them down. Right from backpacking across India to hitch-hiking in another country altogether, these women are inspiring others to give up their fears and have major travel goals.

However there are a few Travel Tips I would recommend for Women Travelling Alone.

  1. Do Your Research! Choose your destination with Intent.

Preparation is the key to success! Or safety in this case. I cannot emphasis enough how important the research you undertake before or during your trip is. User review sites are really useful when looking for advice on where to stay (hotel/hostel/Airbnb) but usually you’ll get some insight into the surrounding areas from people who have been there. This can mean the difference between staying in a shady area where you’re afraid to go outside or a comfortable place full of like-minded travellers and friendly staff.

For example Scandinavia, Ireland and New Zealand,Verona (Italy), Hilo or Oahu (Hawaii) and Amsterdam (Netherlands), just to name a few countries/cities that are safe for women travellers.

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  1. Frequently Update Someone on Your Whereabouts.

Whether it is your mum, dad, brother, sister, friend etc. always keep someone informed of your movements. It is always better to be safe than sorry. Regularly call a friend or family member, where you can check-in and they can rest assured!

  1. Be Smart with Your Smartphone.

We’re lucky that these days everything we need for getting around is in the palm of our hands. So be smart and download the apps on your Smartphone before you take off. From navigation to interacting with locals who have shared interests it’s essential for every woman traveller. Apps like Uber, Google Maps, Toilet finder etc are smart applications that will keep you covered.

Additionally do invest in your phones data plan before you leave so that you can use the data for your maps/Uber etc, without it pinching your pocket on buying a local sim card.

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  1. Make Copies of Important Documents. 

Make copies and additionally take pictures of your travel docs and store them on a secure online server, such as Dropbox, that can be accessed from any computer. If any of your documents are stolen or get lost, this is a sure way of helping your Embassy allocate new ones for you so that you are able to continue on your travels and/or get home.

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  1. Don’t be a fool. 

You’ve made the super-smart decision to explore the world, now just make sure that intelligence extends to your everyday life during your travels. Just general common-sense including, not going down dark alleys on your own or talking to strangers, securing the locks on your purse or locking away your things are few things you need to keep in mind. Just be observant to the world and goings-on around you.

  1. Don’t flaunt your cash. 

If you’re travelling alone, be careful of where and how you keep your cash/credit card. Make sure your purse/bag has a hidden pocket for your wallet. Pack light. Protect your documents, cards and cash

  1. Don’t Trust People Too Quickly.

There are a lot of like-minded solo travellers and friendly locals out there, but not all of their intentions are as fun-filled and honest as yours. Women travelling alone should try to avoid going down anywhere too remote or hidden or when it gets too dark and you are far away from your hotel. Trust your gut, if something seems peculiar, strange or weird about someone, you can walk away. Always remove yourself from uncomfortable situations as quickly and quietly as possible.

  1. Blend In.

 This seems quite obvious, just try and blend in as much as you can. Do not wear too revealing outfits and pay attention to your surroundings; do not walk around with your camera around your neck and your nose pressed into a map.

 

The first step is taking the first step. Yes, it’s scary and I’ve found that feeling doesn’t necessarily go away, but if you don’t do it you’ll always regret it. The bigger question is what if I don’t do it? You will be amazed where your strength will come from.

It’s no doubt wonderful to travel with your bunch of friends or your family, but I feel travelling solo once in a while nourishes your soul. I have taken many a solo trips since that day in 2009 and believe me I just can’t get enough.

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Good luck with your life’s experiences!

Madhavi

 

 

 

PC: Personal; Getty Images

Let’s put the Heart in the Smart

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Artificial Intelligence (AI) to me is daunting. Every time I read and research about AI, I feel like I am entering a maze. I find myself getting pulled into the vortex deeper and deeper, with no way out. Yes, it scares me, but it also excites me at the same time.

AI is not something you can ignore. It is everywhere.

……When you download an app,

…..When you order stuff online,

….When you book your flights and hotels through web portals,

AI is there like a watchdog, keeping track of you through all the data you have entered. This post on AI will be just one of the many I will be writing about, considering the vast amount of work AI is doing through the various applications used within and about the Travel and Hospitality industry.

Thanks to the combination of enormous data stored on the expanding processes and applications of AI, and the ever up-and-coming technological capabilities, we are embarking on a journey where you can expect radical changes in how people get on and off planes, and how airlines get their planes in and out of airports.

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The travel industry has always been at the forefront of technology adoption, either through computerised reservation systems (CRS), online bookings, social media presence or direct messaging. And now with AI being at the helm of things you can expect a lot more personalised online interactions and marketing intelligence to revenue management and ticket pricing.

Emerging Trends for Hospitality Industry - SoftwareSuggest

For instance working through its core model of a digital travel booking website, AI is able to access and collect historical data about millions of fare searches going back several years and create a algorithm, capable of predicting the future price movements seasonal trends, predicting travel choices, manage in trip and post trip needs , special airlines offers and deals.

Today, a traveller has all the information he needs at the click of a button.  Travellers can plan where they want to go, compare options, weigh budgets and make bookings and cancellations.

At the airports, AI addresses more serious issues such as flight disruptions, baggage handling, complex embarkation and disembarkation processes or lost cargo consignments.

Airline travel requires repeated scrutiny of travel documents both at departure and arrivals by different sets of people. Facial recognition technology brings an end to the tiresome paper-bound processes. On my recent trip to Singapore the immigration at Changi Airport got over in a breeze thanks to facial recognition and bio-metrics.

With facial recognition, travelers can seamlessly move through airports, immigration, customs and board aircrafts without the need for having travel documents scrutinized at each step.

Most hotels and resorts rely heavily on delivering excellent customer service to build their reputation and AI technology makes this happen in a wide variety of different ways. For example, a robot concierge service is being offered at some hotels. The robot gives real-time recommendations for visit-worthy sites and attractions and answers customer queries on the spot. A robot can also offer tailor made recommendations and guarantee fast response times, in the absence of staff.

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Hotels and airlines have used AI to sort through customer feedback from surveys, reviews and online polls, in order to build a clearer picture of current opinion. Service Providers who redeem themselves after a bad experience almost always win back the customer trust and get repeat business.

In an industry where time is critical, and information is constantly changing, AI reduces the time taken to complete tasks while improving the accuracy of processes and outcomes.

Models such as Airbnb and Uber are proof of the successful usage of AI in travel and hospitality.

Having little or no human interaction may be the calling card of the future, but let’s not forget one thing here. We are beings with numerous emotions running through our veins. We may adapt to being ‘handled’ by a robot, but only so much. At the end of the day we would however love to see a smile and feel understood.

I believe that technology is just amazing, but let’s never forget to

“Put the heart in the smart”

If you think there are more revolutionary ways in which AI will transform the travel and hospitality industry, please share your views in the comments below. TIA

 

🙂  Madhavi

 

 

 

 

PC:Pixabay ;Techopedia;Airport Show