It doesn't take much to get excited about the latest tech toys for travelers. Gadgets like the new Palm VII offer cool features such as a two-way radio for wireless communications. And laptop computers offer more bells and whistles, too. Take, for instance, Gateway's Solo 3100, which comes with a DVD II drive for those long plane flights.
Despite the attraction of these tech toys, travelers have not neglected the humble day-planner. It requires no batteries, is easy to read and is the epitome of user-friendly. Plus, with a starting price of about $20, it's a bargain compared to gadgets that can cost thousands of dollars.
It may be a contrary thing to do: A recent study by Newton, Massachusetts, market researchers Cahners In-Stat Group predicts that by 2003, worldwide wireless handset sales will nearly double. And Forrester Research Inc. expects U.S. personal computer industry revenues to peak at $55 billion this year.
But the day-planner is holding its own, thank you very much. Although sales are just a fraction of their electronic rivals, planners continue to clear the shelves at a brisk pace, according to retailers.
"I think it's too early to talk about the demise of the [planner]," says Alla Schonfeld of Worldtraveler.com, a Web site that sells corporate and noncorporate travel accessories. "Even though we're living in the age of computers, travelers still want to feel something. They want to touch something. Sometimes they feel more comfortable reading their own handwriting instead of a computer's."
And there are still a few tricks that neither a laptop nor a PDA is capable of, like carrying your credit cards, checkbook and airline tickets. A top-of-the line Bosca planner, priced at around $200, will easily last you 20 years, adds Schonfeld. Can you say that about your computer?
Christopher Elliott is a writer in Annapolis, Maryland. Contact him at http://www.elliott.org
Keep The Faith
Airports enable travelers to practice what they preach.
The most difficult thing about traveling, to hear Mark Joseph talk about it, isn't the flights, the long layovers or living in a hotel for days at a time--it's what to do on Sunday.
Joseph, 31, a practicing Protestant who owns a Santa Fe Springs, California, TV and music production company, spends one week each month on assignment. Although he tries to attend church while he's away, it isn't always easy.
Balancing a life on the road with a walk of faith can be a struggle for business travelers, but airports are trying to help. Last year, for instance, the Albany Airport in New York opened a new terminal with a dedicated interfaith prayer room developed with the help of local religious leaders, as did Washington's Reagan National Airport. Larger facilities, such as Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, offer formal services on holy days.
"There's a need for a quiet place of meditation at airports," says Linda Greene of the Airports Council International, North America. "The intent is that business travelers can use these areas any time--on their holy day or when there's a personal crisis."
- Trip.com (http://www.trip.com) has released a new version of its IntelliTrip travel tool, which searches multiple Web sites for the lowest air fares.
- TWA frequent fliers can now earn miles when they buy a car. The new Aviators Auto Buying Program allows TWA Aviators to earn up to 15,000 frequent-flier miles when they purchase or lease any new car or truck from one of hundreds of participating dealerships nationwide.
- Through October 31, Visa cardholders can receive their second, third or fourth night free at participating Holiday Inn or Crowne Plaza locations throughout Asia.
Airports Council International, North America, 1775 K St. N.W., #500, Washington, DC 20006, firstname.lastname@example.org
TWA, (888) 310-3435
WorldTraveler, (800) 314-2247