Web workers often lead more nomadic lives than others, and many of us are used to the trials and tribulations of traveling. The web is full of free sites and services that can make your trips much more free of hassle, though. In this post, I’ll round up more than a dozen good ways to do everything from working more conveniently on the road to saving money.
What, No Cell Phone Reception? If you scroll halfway down this page I’m linking to right here, you’ll find fields that allow you to type in a zip code you may be visiting, and get detailed, mapped information about where cell towers are located, and even warnings such as “reception is very limited in the hilly areas.” I also like Antenna Search.
For Gas Misers. Cheapskate that I am, one of my favorite sites to use when I’m traveling by car is GasBuddy.com. Just enter in a zip code, and you’ll get a list of nearby stations ranked by lowest gas prices, and maps showing how to get to them.
Find and Connect to Wi-Fi Hotspots. There are many utilities you can use for automatically connecting to Wi-Fi hotspots and municipal Wi-Fi signals. For Mac users, I recommend the free solution from Devicescape. After you’ve downloaded the software, Devicescape lets you know what Wi-Fi hotspots are in range, and can auto-connect to ones you’ve defined to connect to. For users on Windows systems who want the same functionality, I recommend WiFinder and JiWire.
Mind Meld With Air Traffic Controllers. Hands down, the very best site for finding out the status of a flight you’re waiting for is FlightAware.com. Unlike many of the other flight checking systems online, Flight Aware taps directly into data from the air traffic control system and will show you on a map precisely where your plane is.
Control Remote Computers—For Free. Try LogMeIn Free for no-cost remote access to a remote computer when you’re traveling. It’s browser-based, so Windows, Mac and Linux users can use it. For free virtual meetings and controlling remote desktops, try Yugma.
What’s Going On Locally Where You’re Going? Try Travelicio.us for articles about and photos of any new place you may be visiting. Ask.com’s city search features are also very useful. You can also have community favorite listings for restaurants, hotels and more sent to your mobile at 411Sync.
Optimize Your Airplane Seat’s Amenities. I’ve written about SeatGuru before, so I won’t blather on, but it’s the very best way to make sure your airplane seat has the Internet, entertainment, and other options that you want.
Optimize Your Airport Parking. You can check on real-time parking conditions at most airports, as well as prices for various parking facilities at Aboutairportparking.com.
Weather for Geeks. Weather Bonk is a fantastic mashup of Google Maps, photos, outdoor webcams and other tools for techie travelers.
Plan Your Trip Intelligently. The best way to optimize your flight times and fares is Kayak.com. The site is an aggregator that doesn’t hook up with travel agencies to push flights at you. It just gives you all the best options from all over the web, and you can set a threshold for the price you want. For optimizing when to buy your ticket, try Farecast.com. It provides graphs of the highs and lows in prices for any ticket over the course of several weeks.
Need a Ride? I’m always surprised by how many people use Google, but how few use the company’s Ride Finder application. Enter your location to quickly find out how to get a taxi or other kinds of rides.
Bed and Breakfasts in a Snap. Do you find bed and breakfasts more quaint and comfortable than hotels? Type a location into BnBFinder.com to weigh your options.
Renting a Place? Do you need to rent a place in a distant city for a long visit? Try clicking on the green balloons at HousingMaps.com to check for available listings from Craigslist, and set your monthly price range.
Do you have any good tips for web worker road warriors?