City Views, North America, Travel Advice

TRAVEL PHOTO THURSDAY

April 7, 2011 • By

Taking a break from the unmerciful sun, inside a thatched hut

During my first cruise to the Caribbean, we stopped in several ports, Cozumel, Mexico being one of them.  Our tour guide/driver took us to the celebrated Mayan Ruins in San Gervasio, the largest of the 30 Mayan ruins in Cozumel.  It was nice to get a taste of history and learn how advanced that civilization was as far back as 2,000 years ago.  It felt good walking along the paths of such great people who contributed so much to the sciences that we benefit from to this day.


North America, Travel Advice, Trip Reports

Helen, Georgia – Bavaria on the Appalachian Trail

April 6, 2011 • By

As long as I’ve lived in Georgia, I’ve been told that I needed to make sure that I visited Helen.  Helen who? I asked, facetiously.  Helen, Georgia was their quick retort.  Well, Es tut mir leid (I’m sorry, in German.  If I’m wrong, I’m sure my friend Laurel from My Expat Germany will correct me)!  I had never heard of the place.  Over time, try as I might, the idea seemed more and more appealing to me.

So I decided to take the plunge two weeks ago to see what all the fuss was about.  As it turns out, Helen is a small and lovely town located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, about 100 miles north of Atlanta.  It is located near the beginning or end (depending on your point of view) of the Appalachian Trail and is the site of the country’s first Gold rush in the 1820’s.  Helen is a replica of a quaint German Bavarian village and I think the only way to improve upon its enchanting facade would be to visit when the weather’s a bit warmer.

A lovely view walking down Main Street

The Castle Inn had a very foreboding air to it, it was slightly intimidating.

If we had stayed in-town...I believe this would have been our pick

On our way to the Glassblowing shop on Main Street

It was as if we were walking through one of Hans Christian Andersen's storybooks

Why does this building remind me of Gagamel and the Smurfs?

Poor horse, I'm sure his union rep is going to hear a mouth full.....

Still there was something exceptional about our time there.  It was cold and rainy which suited me fine since we’d decided to rent the Two Bear Loft cabin and planned to get full use out of the cozy fireplace.  Situated at the crest of Tray Mountain, the vistas were superb as we could see 30 to 40 miles into the distance.  It was a glorious sight to be surrounded by the night sky with the stars twinkling brightly in such close proximity to us.

On a clear day, you can see forever.....

Our cozy, old world digs high on top of the mountain

Our first order of business was drive to the center of town and check out the different shops and restaurants.  We wanted to try genuine Bavarian meals which we did at Cafe International.  I ordered bratwurst, sauerkraut, German potato salad and rye bread.  My daughter, Cari ordered a Reuben sandwich with chips.  The meals were reasonably priced at 9 bucks each.

Cafe International's situated right next to the Chattahoochee River

Bratwurst...very nice to experience genuine German fare!

Cari officially declared this as the best Reuben she's ever had!

I was most excited about our visit to Anna Ruby Falls which is located in the Chattahoochee National Forest.  I’ve always loved waterfalls probably b/c it’s a metaphor for unbridled freedom that can’t be caged or stifled.  It blends so perfectly with nature as it courses over moss-laden boulders through a frenetic pathway into a larger pool .  The falls are fed via two separate bodies of water: Curtis and York Creeks.  Curtis Creek drops 153 feet and York Creek 50 feet to form the twin waterfalls which eventually end at the Gulf of Mexico.  Ferns, trillium and violets were awakening from their winter slumber as they witnessed the aqueous dance.  Call me sentimental, but I loved it!

How can this not stir the most embittered soul?

Carisa enjoying the breeze coming from the waterfalls

Watching the waves wash over the ancient stones

As I was doing my research for this trip, I found out something very interesting.  My public library allows you to check out parking passes to Georgia State Parks.  This annual pass costs $50.00, but you can have it for a week for free!  Additionally, you may check out their annual family pass which gives you free entrance into any Georgia State Park.  One caveat, we found out that Anna Ruby Falls is a federal park run by the US Park Service, so we couldn’t use the admission pass.  The entry fee was only $2.00 per person, so no big deal.

Libraries! What would we do without 'em?

Oh, Library who giveth so much, yet asketh for so little.....

One of the most down home and novel things that you can experience in a small town is the General Store.  It’s a mix of purity, utility and frugality.  We visited Fred’s Famous Peanuts, a General Store (with an actual paddle-wheel attached) which is located on Hwy 356 right past Anna Ruby Falls.  The rustic store sold pure honey (with or without the honeycomb), peach and apple cider, boiled peanuts, pecan pralines, peanut brittle and frozen lemonade.  The owner had a great sense of humor and seemed to really enjoy his work.  I decided to take home large jars of honey and peach cider and of course, the southern delicacy, pralines!  One bite of those will give you a bird’s eye view into heaven.  YUM!

I am not opening my mouth, k?

This is crazy good!

Yeah, we'll take the largest you've got!

As I alluded to in a previous post, the north Georgia Mountains is considered wine country and boasts three wineries in Dahlonega, a town located 10 miles from Helen.  One of these wineries has a second location in Helen: Habersham Wineries.  We decided to go for a taste test because we weren’t totally sold on the idea that our home state could compete with the big boys.  You are permitted to taste test four different wines.  I ended up purchasing two of them!  I was pleasantly surprised that the wines were so crisp, light and flavorful but had a kick to it.  I bought white muscadine and scarlet red at $12.00 each.  I’m not that much of a drinker so I can’t tell you if that’s a good deal or not, but it seemed fair to me.

Sadly, this is the local AA group ....

I couldn't support that, so I left......just kidding!

Though we’d experienced a particular challenge which I will explore in-depth in my next report, I still think that Helen is definitely a must see if you happen to live in or are visiting Georgia.  It’s unique simply because of where it’s located, so you’re certain to get a kick out of it.


Inspiration, Interviews

The Inspired Traveler # 6 – Janice Robinson

April 1, 2011 • By

Today, we continue our series where we sit down to interview fellow Travel Bloggers and (hopefully) get them to give up some of their best travel tips for you, dear reader.  Next up, Janice Robinson of SkyChi Travels opines about traveling the friendly skies as a flight attendant.

Janice (Skychi) )at GGT Georgetown Airport, Bahamas

1)      What is it about traveling that makes you smile?

I smile all the time when I am on a plane. I love the sensation of flying. I enjoy looking at the clouds and creating wonderful experiences. Flying is inspirational for me. I dream when I fly.

The clouds to me are the “thinking stuff”.

“By thought, the thing you want is brought to you. By action, you receive it” – Wallace D Wattles

2)      What is your favorite place in the world?

I would have to say that is Istanbul, Turkey is my favorite place in the world. The people are so gracious. My experience living there for two years left me with a feeling of being accepted and appreciated by the Turkish people.

3)      What place would have to pay you to come back and even then you’d have to think about it?

I have yet to visit a place that I did find something that I like about it.

4)      What is the best piece of advice that you’ve been given about traveling?

A French Professor got me tons of advice to prepare for living in Paris, France. She described the transition of the senses to different sounds. A sensory overload can cause headaches. Traveling to a new place immerses your senses.

5)      How has traveling changed you as a person?

Living in other countries has completely transformed me into a world citizen with an appreciation for being different. I love the variety and diversity of like. Sameness is boring to me. I feel a sense of freedom when I travel. I can express my self without the restraints of race and color when I leave the U.S. I know that I am gold.

6)      Have you ever volunteered during your travels?   If so, what did you do?  If not, will you ever?

No, I have not volunteered with an organization. However, I have always met people that needed help. For example, while living in Istanbul, Turkey I met a refugee family that I assisted in finding food, money, and clothes. Istanbul is a cross-roads for refugees around the world.

I have had a desire to volunteer in Haiti. I would love to fulfill that desire.

Parc Monceau, Paris, France

7)      What is the best piece of advice that you can give our readers?

Focus on the dream of traveling, the rest will follow. The people and resources for the journey will appear. Dream with Passion for travel experiences. Create a travel vision board. Cut out pictures of places you want to visit. Paste them to a poster board. Read travel books, articles, and magazines about the places you desire to visit.

8 )      Since this is a budget travel blog, what is your best budget tip, bar none?

Traveling on a budget for me includes taking locals buses and trains. I try to avoid taxis if possible. I don’t enjoy being overcharged by taxi drivers who take me on scenic routes. I prefer to save money with public transportation when available.

9)      Where do you plan to travel this year?

I will be traveling to Cancun, Mexico next month for 5 days. I qualified for this trip through Nature’s Sunshine. I am looking forward to staying the Sun Moon Palace for 5 days all expenses-paid.

10)     What are the three things that you could never do without during your travels?

Three things that I must have are my passport, macbook computer, and my camera. My passport is gold. It open the door to a wonder of new possibilities. My macbook computer is my tool for blogging , logging photos, and creating videos. My camera captures the essence of my travel experiences.

Thanks, Janice for sharing your unique point of view about traveling!

Please contact her at:

Travel blog: http://skychitravels.blogspot.com/

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/skychi_travels

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/pages/Skychi-Travels/108728319184530


City Views, North America, Travel Advice

TRAVEL PHOTO THURSDAY

March 31, 2011 • By

Start spreading the news……

Today’s photo in Nancie at Budgettravelerssandbox’s Travel Photo Thursday is a scene from the top of 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York City.  It was taken in June 2010 during the “Top of the Rock” tour, which I highly recommend.  It is a photographer’s dream to get such a breathtaking view of the city’s skyline.  As you can see its pretty well populated; so much so that they only way to for the city to grow is vertically.  It was pretty windy which didn’t bode well for videotaping, but it was virtually impossible not to get a great shot.


Inspiration, Interviews

The Inspired Traveler # 5 – Jeremy Jones

March 25, 2011 • By

Today, we continue our series where we sit down to interview fellow Travel Bloggers and (hopefully) get them to give up some of their best travel tips for you, dear reader.  Next up, Jeremy Jones with Living The Dream RTW shares his views about traveling around the world.

I give it two snaps up in a rock formation...Petra Jordan

1)      What is it about traveling that makes you smile?

Traveling is great because it is something new.  Whether it is exploring a new city, beach, or mountain it is always refreshing to take in something new and wonderful that this world has to offer.

2)      What is your favorite place in the world?

Ouch, tough question.  I spent 6 weeks in Thailand and could easily go back right now for another 6, so I guess I’d say that Thailand is my favorite thus far.  Apart from the beaches, Chiang Mai is just a wonderful city in its own right and I absolutely love it there.  If I had to go somewhere else, I’d say Switzerland because the mountains are absolutely stunning and my kind of summer weather – chilly but not cold.

3)      What place would have to pay you to come back and even then you’d have to think about it?

I can’t say there are many places that I disliked enough to never want to go back.  There are several that I have seen my share of and have no desire to see again, just from doing the items I wanted to see, but I think if I was offered money I’d go back to almost everywhere unless it was competing for some vacation time or something. This is especially true now that my fiancee is going to travel with me, and she hasn’t been anywhere.  So even if I have been somewhere and got my fill, I’ll still go for her to see it.

4)      What is the best piece of advice that you’ve been given about traveling?

I think my biggest piece of advice I received is not so much physical as inspirational.  Anytime I hear someone say “The one regret I have in life was not traveling when I was younger” I get the urge to buy another plane ticket right now.  I’ve been to 34 countries already, but I don’t want to end up saying that!

The hills are alive.......Cameron Highlands, Malaysia

5)      How has traveling changed you as a person?

I’ve definitely become more straightforward and extroverted.  If you would ask anyone in high school or college about me and I would be the quiet one who never really spoke up.  But after having to fend for myself for 5 months on the road, especially in China, I really broke out of my shell out of necessity.  Introducing yourself to new people every day on the road really helps networking skills and confidence!

6)      Have you ever volunteered during your travels?   If so, what did you do?  If not, will you ever?

I would love to volunteer while I travel, but for some reason never got the opportunity to do so yet.  I’m really unsure on how to go about getting started with such a thing, and what time commitments I’d be needing to give.  When we go on our next open ended adventure I think it’d be really great to do some volunteer work if we can find anything of interest.

7)      What is the best piece of advice that you can give our readers?

Traveling on a budget does not mean going cheap.  Make a budget, figure out what you can afford, and do it.  Going for 3 months doing it the way you want to is a much more enjoyable experience than going 6 and living like a bum half the time.  If you require AC, pay extra.  If you like to book in advance, do it.  Don’t let others tell you how to plan your trip in ways you are not comfortable in exchange for a perceived freedom or longer travel.  The key is to just get out there, regardless of how you do it.

8 )      Since this is a budget travel blog, what is your best budget tip, bar none?

Hub cities, easily.  Flying is the most expensive aspect of travel, and breaking up trips via Hub cities can save hundreds of dollars.   The trick is simple, airlines code-share flights with others to get you to where you need to go.  But lumping the ticket into one package becomes more expensive.  If you have time, book a round trip ticket to a hub city, and budget flights to the place you need to go.  Might get a full day trip to a city out of it, and save several hundred dollars in the process.

For example, I flew from Dayton, Ohio to Cairo, Egypt and return from Amman, Jordan with layovers.  The cheapest all inclusive flight was around $1500, with one of the layovers being in Athens.  Looking at a round trip ticket from Dayton, Ohio to Athens, returning from Amman, had a price of $1100.  Then, a ticket from Athens, Greece to Cairo was $90 on a budget carrier (and that was an expensive seat).  I had to get my bags in Athens and re-check in, but I had a 12 hour layover, got to explore the city, and saved over $300 by the trick.   More sites and less money?  Why not?!

If only I had gnome you’d be here…..Koh Tao, Thailand

9)      Where do you plan to travel this year?

I cut my gap year short to come home and get married to my long time girlfriend, so we don’t have plans for travel just yet since I am looking for a job and saving for a gap year trip in 2013.  Right now we are thinking road trips to NYC and a weekend in Vegas to celebrate a job offer (if I ever get one).  Next year we’re going to Norway for our honeymoon as of now.

10)     What are the three things that you could never do without during your travels?

My SLR camera is my baby.  I am horribly addicted to the internet, so that would be my number 2.  The third is my fiancee, of course.  I spent 4.5 months without her on my last journey, and will never go away for more than a few weeks without her again.

Thanks for proving that budget travel doesn’t mean denying yourself phenomenal experiences, Jeremy!

Please contact him at:

Travel blog: Living The Dream

Twitter: @livingdreamrtw

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/livingthedreamblog


City Views, North America, Travel Advice

TRAVEL PHOTO THURSDAY

March 24, 2011 • By

I’ve always thought that I was born in the wrong decade.  I seem to have wistful thoughts about what it would have been like to live in the 30s and 40s.  I love almost every thing about that era, especially cinema, which explains my fascination with film noir.

So, when I gazed upon this Buick sedan from the mid 30s parked in front of the Casablanca Hotel in South Beach in Miami, I was transported back in time.  I could imagine bank robbers, like the Barker gang,  hanging on for dear life on the side of each step plate as they made their getaway with Eliot Ness closing in on them.

What can I say?  I have an overactive imagination.  But it does remind me of old films like Mildred Pierce, The Women and Double Indemnity that featured actors who had both talent and moxie.  Yes, it’s pretty obvious that I was born too late.


Inspiration

How traveling improves your quality of life

March 20, 2011 • By

Way back when during prehistoric times, one of my best friends in high school and I were talking about what the future would hold for us one day.  She happened to mention that one of her desires was to leave Alabama.  Having never traveled more than 20 miles from her birthplace, she figured it was time for a change. At the time, it seemed incredulous to me that she had never crossed state lines, so I fully supported that wish.

Long story short, she never left.  I believe that she had wanted to, but didn’t know how to put her plan into action.  I think that there are many people like her who feel stuck and in a rut, so their solution is to do nothing.  Many years later, she still hasn’t and attributes her previous lamentations to youthful flights of fancy.

I don’t like to focus on a life of regrets or what might have beens, but I can’t help to think about what opportunities she’s missed.  She has settled comfortably into a life where she only gets to see the beauty of the Maasai through photographs gracing the pages of National Geographic.  She will only get to experience that moment through someone else’s vantage point and never realize the sheer joy of witnessing first hand, the completeness that traveling brings to a life.

Photo credit:thefreshtrain.com

I believe that my friend has a good and happy life.  Still, I can’t help but wonder how much more fulfilling it would be had she allowed herself to be exposed to things outside her comfort zone.  I think traveling offers you so much more than fancy stamps on your passport.  I believe it makes you a bona-fide citizen of the world and exposes you to things that are not censored by media outlets.  It gives you a first person look at the beauty and ugliness of life.  There are no filters to obfuscate the realities of life, in some ways, it offers a more realistic view of what’s really going on in the world.  In fact, it’s confirmation that we really aren’t so different.  No matter how rich a country is, there is always a segment of the population who aren’t as fortunate.

More importantly, it helps us to bridge the differences between cultures.  I think unfamiliarity breeds contempt; people tend to fear the unknown and mistrust things that they do not understand.  At the end of the day, a father living in Bangladesh wants his family to be as happy as a family living happily in a high rise in upper Manhattan.  Though we may have different ways of living, of worshipping, of dreaming….we all want what’s best for our loved ones….we all have dreams for our families.  That is the great equalizer….we all seek peace, harmony and joy in our everyday living.  Such is the human condition; we simply have our own unique ways of trying to achieve them.

Photo Credit: youalreadyknowthisstuff.com

One of the truisms borne out of this Internet generation is that the world is getting smaller.  Electronic communication has opened up so many gateways to people and places we wouldn’t ordinarily be exposed to.  I think this makes our quality of life more interesting, complex and exciting.  I believe it makes us more well-rounded, educated, open and willing to take risks.  It creates an instant community between people from all over the globe who share specific interests and the willingness to help one another is nothing short of amazing.  Reaching across the chasm of space and in some respects, time, I believe we can create a new understanding between cultures.  We fear that which is foreign to us; if we resolve to knock down the walls that tend to divide us, we can create a spirit of brotherhood instead of conflict.

Photo Credit: "another story" on Flickr

Isn’t that what truly matters anyway?


Inspiration, Interviews

The Inspired Traveler # 4 – Mike Collins

March 18, 2011 • By

Today, we continue our series where we sit down to interview fellow Travel Bloggers and (hopefully) get them to give up some of their best travel tips for you, dear reader.  Today’s guest is Mike Collins, the founder of Exotic Visitors travel blog.

Adventures with the family

1) What is it about traveling that makes you smile?

I grew up in a little fishing village in Maine. Every day we would head out to sea where the horizon was just an empty line. I guess the vanishing point had some sort of magnetic pull for me to see what was there. Traveling always makes me feel like I am fulfilling a childhood dream. It keeps me young and inquisitive.

2)  What is your favorite place in the world?

There are so many wonderful places across the globe but if I had to choose a favorite I would have to say Clonakilty Ireland. My family and namesake are from there. When I visit I feel a deep sense of home.

3) What place would have to pay you to come back and even then you’d have to think about it?

Colon, Panama. I love Panama but that city is the lowest place I have ever seen.

4)  What is the best piece of advice that you’ve been given about traveling?

No matter where you are in the world, never say “The way we do it back home…” . Learn from the culture by being part of it. Trying to fit in to a new location is so much more rewarding than comparing. I have learned to be comfortable in just about any conditions that way.

5)  How has traveling changed you as a person?

To sum it up in a single word I would have to say tolerance. Routine often leaves people with a single mindset. The way people have adapted to their environments creates cultural differences but deep down the basic emotions of people are universal. The same hopes, desires and fears exist in the hearts of people sitting in a London West End theater as they do in hearts of those sitting around a fire in an Amazonian rain forest.

What makes it all worth it, my youngest, Hailey

6)  Have you ever volunteered during your travels?  If so, what did you do?  If not, will you ever?

I have done a lot of volunteering around the world. Everything from building sailing dinghies for disabled children to school houses for the Ngobe Indians. There is truly no better way to immerse one’s self into a culture than to contribute. The rewarding feeling cannot be put into words. It is like describing a sunset to a blind man; you have to experience it to understand.


7)  What is the best piece of advice that you can give our readers?

If you have a list of reasons why you cannot travel now but will in the future, chances are that list will always be there. Just go and see the world.


8 )  Since this is a budget travel blog, what is your best budget tip, bar none?

Live like a local. The cost of living is pretty low in most of the best places to visit. Shop where they shop, eat what they eat and be entertained by what entertains them. It is so much cheaper and far more rewarding.

9) Where do you plan to travel this year?

I am pretty lucky. I have six children. They range from 18 months to 28 years.  The oldest ones have sailed around the world with me and seen a multitude of wonderful places. Now I get to experience it all over again with my youngest through her eyes. I am starting at the beginning where I grew up in coastal Maine. We will be visiting a lot of islands and spend an enormous amount of time exploring the crawly things on seaweed strewn rocky beaches.

At dinner, enjoying the view

10)  What are the three things that you could never do without during your travels?

Ignoring the obvious camera etc… , I have to say with 30 years of exploring behind me, travel is kind of like vanilla ice cream. I love it but my wife and daughter are the toppings that make it a wonderful treat.  So family is my number one “can’t do without.”

The second is what I call my constant. I always bring a book from my childhood like Robinson Crusoe, Treasure Island or Moby Dick. When I start to feel a little out of place these books snap me right back to my comfort zone. It makes adjusting to a different culture quick and painless.

A wonderful little piece of technology has made my life so much easier, the digital pen recorder. Whenever I pass a restaurant, street or sight that I want to return to later I record it so that I can easily describe it to taxi drivers. When bombarded with so many sights of a new place it is easy to forget.

Thanks for sharing your unique point of view with the rest of us, Mike!

Please follow Mike at:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/exvis

Twitter: http://twitter.com/exoticvisitors

Travel Blog: http://www.exoticvisitors.com


City Views, North America, Travel Advice

TRAVEL PHOTO THURSDAY

March 17, 2011 • By

This week’s photo is an ode to how we take the things in our own backyard for granted.  I see this sculpture everyday as I leave work.  I’ve always admired it, but never thought to capture its beauty with my camera lens until last week.  It is an adaptation of the “Ballet Olympia”  Sculpture,  which features a pair of nude ribbon dancers.

Originally created by Paul Manship in the early 1900s, the architect (and my boss) John C. Portman adapted it to be displayed as a landmark for one of his design masterpieces, SunTrust Plaza in downtown Atlanta.

During his stellar career, Mr. Portman has designed such geographically notable hotels  like the  Hilton San Diego Bayfront hotel, Hyatt Regency Atlanta, the NYC Marriott Marquis,  the Westin Bonaventure in LA, the Westin Peachtree Plaza in Atlanta as well as the Marina Square in Singapore, the Shanghai Centre, and the Embarcadero Center in SFO, among others.

I guess the reason for this pic is two fold.  Always remember to check out what your own city has to offer and the second was to acknowledge my realization of just how instrumental my boss has been to the world of travel.


Reviews, Travel Advice

A guest review of Tripsplitter, the app

March 13, 2011 • By

A pensive David Bennett

After reading my post about the 12 best apps to make traveling a breeze, David Bennett asked to share one of his favorite apps with the rest of you.  While it’s not free (you’ll have to spend a buck ninety nine on it) he felt it was important enough to sing its praises here after having found it useful so many times during his travels.

On a side note, I thought it would be a good idea to review this one because I remember the time when I had a meetup in Paris with some internet acquaintances.  I purposely did not order liquor (for two reasons, one…not a big fan and secondly, I was watching my budget).  Imagine my surprise after they had singlehandedly inhaled the contents of the establishment’s liquor cabinet that they announced to the waiter that we would split the bill six ways.  Oh, not so fast, grasshopper…..I was only paying for what I actually ate.  I wasn’t there to subsidize their drinking habits.  So, I paid my portion and bid them farewell.  I suppose some would say be a good sport and pay….you wouldn’t want them to think poorly of you, right?  I figured that there was a reasonably good chance I’d never lay eyes on them again, so I thought more about not being taken advantage of than popular opinion.  There, now that I’ve had a chance to vent…David…take it away!


Sharing expenses and working out who paid what is a chore that can become painful if it runs out of control.

Never is this more true than on a trip when there are a lot of other much more interesting things to capture your interest.

What is the best way to stay on top of this? Should one keep the receipts to sort through later? What about those occasions when you don’t get a receipt? Should you scribble the amounts down in a small book as you go along?

I know that my Moleskine notebook used to get a lot of use that way.

Whichever method you use to record expenses, eventually you have to add everything up and work out who has to pay whom.

My Expenses Nirvana
My wife and I run separate bank accounts and we try to be fair to each other with expenses.

However, sometimes we stare at an entry and wonder whether the amount I scribbled down refers to the groceries one of us bought or some other purchase that remains a mystery.

Of course, if I made a careful record of each purchase it would be different. But scribbling notes ‘on the run’ and keeping careful records don’t always go hand in hand.

So when I saw an app for the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPod that made the whole process easy, it didn’t take me more than a minute to decide to get it.

How It Works
To start a new trip, type in the names of the participants.  Up to six people can be accommodated, as you can see here in screen one.

You only do this step once unless you start a new trip or change the participants.

Now the trip is set up.

Next time, when you click the icon to open the app, you will see screen two. Click the blue ‘+’ button at the top of the screen. That brings up screen three.

Choose the kind of entry you want to make (you can change the section names at any time), and that takes you to screen four where you enter the amount and the details of the payment.

Click for who paid, and click for who is going to share the cost.

It takes longer to explain than to do it!

Who Owes Who
When you want to see who owes who and what amount, turn the device sideways at any time and you will see the amount.

And if you want another record of your expenses, just email yourself a file straight from the app. Then at your convenience you can open that file in Excel on your home computer.

It really could not be easier. All the arithmetic is done for you and because it is so easy to enter amounts and type in what the entry is for, it has turned a chore into a pleasure.

I highly recommend it!

When not exploring the world of iPhone applications, David Bennett is a photographer and designer who together with his wife Tamara runs Quillcards – a travel, photography and card site.