Travel to Live Blog

Stories of our adventures and updates about the site.

Category: Travel Planning

Six Tips to Travel With Friends

We love to travel with friends as much as we can but you start to see the same problems come up again and again. Travel shouldn’t be a reason to fight with your best buddies. Follow these tips to make sure you don’t spoil your trip with avoidable mistakes!

6. You travel with friends, not your phone

Travel with friends, not phones!

Don’t spend all your time on the phone. When you’re sitting for a drink, talk with your fellow travelers. Fill in you other friends when you get back home!

Before smartphones became a thing, there was that guy who had to check in with his girlfriend (or mom) by phone constantly. Sorry guys, I can’t go out tonight. I need to call my girlfriend. Now with modern technology, everybody can be that guy all the time. It’s not cool to be texting your friends back home while your friends in Paris are trying to enjoy a coffee together. Get out there and enjoy the day to its fullest. Your friends, family, and significant others will be waiting for you when you get home.

5. Figure out where to eat before you get hangry

Travel with friends can make you hangry

You wouldn’t like me when I’m hungry.

When you get hungry enough, the group will stop being a group of friends and start to resemble a tribe of prehistoric humans. No one will be willing to accommodate the other and tempers will run hot. When you reach this point, it’s too late. There’s no good advice to escape this situation! That’s why you’ve got to avoid it. Think ahead a little about where you’d like to eat or pack a snack in your bag if you know you’re the type to get angry when you get hungry. If you’re not that guy, you might consider taking charge of the food hunt before the hunters turn on you!

4. Be flexible for things that don’t matter

Beach yoga is a fun activity when you travel with friends

Flexibility is important for the body but also for friendship!

It’s easy to get caught up wanting to that thing you really want to do. Be flexible and do things you don’t really care one way or the other about. Agree quickly to win the appreciation of your friends, so that when it comes time to do the thing you really want to do, your friends feel you’re due and don’t question it. If you went to Rome to see the Colosseum, maybe it’s not so important which restaurant you have dinner at. The Colosseum might seem an obvious choice but it costs money to get in – some friends might not care enough to go! If you supported their ideas, they’re more likely to support yours.

3. Get on the same page

Make sure you are on the same page when you travel with friends

Talk with your friends about what they like to do.

Sometimes people have totally different styles of travel. My sister likes to drive from attraction to attraction, always following the guidebook. I prefer to randomly explore the city on foot. Both are valid ways to travel but it’s important to know what types of things your travel buddies have in mind. Travel to Live is a good tool for this because it lets everybody give their suggestions; the group just swipes left or swipes right to discover the things everybody wants to do.

2. You can go your own way

You can go your own way when you travel with friends.

There is no one right way.

It took us a lot of trips together to discover the golden rule of group travel: you don’t need to do everything together. We always thought consensus was important, so we tried to find whatever worked for everybody. The problem is, you end up having a trip that looks a little like a political election. You choose the least bad option. Why choose the least bad thing when you can split into two groups and each do the best thing?

It works in any size of group, whether you’re 2 or 10. And it covers so many of the other problems. Can’t agree on food? Eat at different places this evening. Don’t want to go out to the club? Let your friends dance without you while you check out that museum. We seem to think splitting up means failure or that it shows we aren’t good friends but, believe me, you’ll all be happier in the end – and you’ll have interesting stories to tell each other before getting some sleep. When needed, spending time apart will bring you closer together.

1. Don’t make one friend do everything

Travel with friends means planning with friends

Just because your friend plans everything doesn’t mean he LIKES to plan everything!

I’ve recommended that you be flexible and willing to split up rather than fall apart but sometimes a little planning goes a long way in avoiding that scenario. If you travel with friends but don’t feel like there’s much to do in the planning department, it’s probably because you’re not the planner! Look, I get it, planning can be boring. For people who like to go with the flow, it can seem totally unnecessary. But you should at least be on the same page. Try Travel to Live to plan your trip: it’s as easy as swiping left or right to figure out what you want to do. You can suggest your own ideas very easily, which helps break up the work. It’s the least you can do to help that friend who makes your trips possible!

Traveling With Friends Should Be as Easy as Swiping

We’ve been traveling a lot around the world and one issue comes up again and again: getting your friends on the same page is tough! We’ve created Google Docs, email chains, Whatsapp groups – you name it. This stuff is all so complicated but we believe that traveling with friends should be as easy as swiping.

A Familiar Situation

Traveling with friends is hard on whatsapp

Coordinating with a Whatsapp group can leave some feeling overwhelmed

Imagine you’re struck by that burning desire to travel. You need to go to Japan. But traveling with friends isn’t so simple sometimes. You start up a Whatsapp group. Let’s go to Japan!! Everybody’s in. So you start to tell all your ideas, typing and typing, as fast as they come out. But then… silence. What? But everyone wanted to go.

Fast forward a few weeks. You’re ready to book. Again, you take to Whatsapp and tell everyone you’ve found a great deal and you need their urgent approval. Again, nothing. You don’t get it. Don’t they want to go to Japan? They all thought it was a cool idea when you announced it.

Planners and Joiners

The problem is that there are planners and there are joiners. Planners are like you, very invested into making sure the trip happens. They do all the research and write down all the ideas. Joiners love to travel but they don’t like to plan. They like to give some ideas and they want to be consulted but they mostly just want to show up.

The thing is, when you’re traveling with friends, planners and joiners need each other! The trick is not overwhelming the joiners. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a better way?

There is a better way

We’ve been working on a way to balance these two groups.

Swipe right to travel with friends

Swipe right to agree. Swipe left to say no.

We have a simple itinerary for planners to add their input, which are sent to joiners in easy to digest stacks. Simply swipe right for the travel ideas you are interested in. We’ve tried it and it works great. We’re all walking around with our mobiles these days, so even if you’re busy at work, you can take 3 seconds to swipe a few travel plans. This gives the planners quick feedback, while allowing joiners to have a say.

Traveling with friends doesn’t have to be hard. If you want to make it easy, create your trip now on Travel to Live.

Collaborate on trips with your friends!

Plan, share, and collaborate on trips: that’s our motto! Last time we talked about how to add a trip widget to your blog, so that’s the share but what about collaborate on trips? We’re most excited about collaboration at Travel to Live. In fact, you might even say this feature is our raison d’être. Planning a trip with friends can be a frustrating experience. Where do you write it all down? How do you keep track of everything? It was that struggle that gave us the idea for the site in the first place. Collaboration let’s you plan and dream together.

How to collaborate on trips

You can collaborate on any existing or new trip. If you don’t have any, you’ll need to create a trip first. Once your trip is created, look in the itinerary (on the left-hand side of the screen) for the “invite collaborators” text.

Click to invite collaborators

Click it and get the one-time use code from the following popup.

It's easy to collaborate on trips - just share the URL!

Give the URL to the friend you want to collaborate with. Once they are signed into Travel to Live, they will be added as a collaborator. You need to generate a link for each friend you want to add. Just push the reload button or open the popup again to get a new code.

That’s it! You’re now collaborating. There’s just one last detail: you can always see who you’re collaborating with on the left-hand side of the itinerary.

See your fellow collaborators in the itinerary

You can also click on their pictures to bring up a link to their profile. Give it a try.

Start collaborating!

Now that you know how to collaborate on trips, get planning your next group travel adventure. And if you want to share your experiences on your blog, don’t forget to check out how you can promote your travel blog with Travel to Live!

Add a trip widget to your travel blog

Writing about your travels is a lot of fun but many of us are visual consumers of information. Who doesn’t like pulling out the map or spinning the globe, to see where that place is in the world? I know when I’m travelling, my parents are always at home with an atlas, trying to get a picture of where I’ve been or where I’m going. Our trip widget helps you do just that on your travel blog!

Our trip to Travel Tech Europe in London.

Adding Your Trip Widget is Easy

You don’t need to be an HTML wiz to use our trip widget. All you need is one little line of HTML – that’s it!

 <iframe src=”https://travelto.live/embedded/trip/AX6pz/”></iframe>

There’s nothing to it. Just replace the trip id above with your own and plug the code into your blog. It’s that simple. Here are some easy steps to follow to get a trip into your blog.

  1. Create a trip on Travel to Live.
  2. Once created, you’ll see your browser’s URL has changed to https://travelto.live/map/trip/xxx/. If you don’t know how to find the URL in your browser, look for the share button in the top right of the page. Click it and you’ll see the current link. Copy that xxx!
  3. Replace AX6pz in the above code with what you copied.
  4. In your blog editor, switch to HTML and paste in the code. Done!

Now you have your very own trip widget embedded in your blog. This trip widget will update as you update the trip on our site. You don’t need to do any more work or ever touch the code again. Easy right?

Advanced Users

There are a couple things you can do to customize the trip widget. Depending on your blog editor, you might be able to change the width and height. Our version of WordPress always sets the width and height of an iframe automatically but if you’ve got more control, you can change the appearance very easily. Just add width=”xxx” or height=”xxx” to the above code, as seen below.

<iframe src=”https://travelto.live/embedded/trip/AX6pz/” width=”300″ height=”300″></iframe>

Go ahead and set it to whatever you want. Switch back to Visual mode or look at a preview to see how it looks.

Another thing you can do is limit your trip to a certain day. Travel to Live allows you to add any number of days to your trip. To show only one of them, add ?day=xxx to the end of the URL in the code.

 <iframe src=”https://travelto.live/embedded/trip/AX6pz/?day=1“></iframe>

The above example would show only events on the first day of your trip. This way, you can show your readers only the stuff related to your latest blog post.

WordPress Plugin

We realize some of you don’t want to muck around with HTML. Although our trip widget is very easy to add to any blog that supports HTML, we also plan to make it even easier. In the future, you’ll be able to add the widget with a WordPress plugin, so stay tuned to this blog for future updates.

Get Started Now

What are you waiting for? Create a trip now or read more about how to promote your travel blog with Travel to Live. Then add a trip widget or two to your blog!

Planning my trip on Travel to Live

As I look back on the month and 2016, I wanted to take some time to talk about planning my trip on Travel to Live. When we were making our plans for our Vienna trip, my wife and I needed a place to share our ideas with each other: Travel to Live is such a great tool to do that. In the past, we used Google Docs because the most important thing for group travel or couple travel is that you have one place that you can all see. Improving on that experience was a guiding factor when building the site.

Getting Started

Everybody plans differently but, often, you don’t know exactly what you want to do. You have some ideas for some places you definitely want to go. There are some things you want to do. You know what area you’re going to stay in. Don’t you just want to start pinning them on a map, so you can get some idea of what you’re looking at?

Planning my trip on Travel to Live

All our ideas, unsorted

This isn’t quite what we had in the beginning. Originally, there were few connections between the points, with even more points than what you see now. It looks quite daunting, doesn’t it? Well, it has definitely given support to our future plans for sorting and tagging options. But, for now, you can already sort your plans into different Locations and Days. Sometimes you don’t know where or when you’re going, so you just want to list all the ideas. You can do that too.

Save your ideas on Travel to Live

This was actually the main section we used in the beginning. We just kept adding and adding to this list. Then, when we wanted to plan a specific day, we would look into this list or check their locations on the map to figure out what we wanted to do that day. The list can grow to be quite unwieldy but, as I mentioned, we are looking into tagging and sorting options, which will improve the experience.

Sorting your trip

Pin your ideas on Travel to Live

Day 3 of our Vienna trip

We actually kept planning the trip each night, while we were on the trip. Each night, we would sit down on the computer and think about what we wanted to do the next day. We’d drag the ideas into the next day or some future day and come out with something like the above. Sometimes we changed the plan retroactively, so we could share our true journey later. I think you’ll agree the above picture is much easier to read and understand. This picture is focused only on Day 3 and gives a clear overview.

Planning my trip provided many insights

As I mentioned in Eating your own dog food, it’s important that you use your own product. Testing is one thing but really using the product is something else entirely. I quickly found a variety of issues with the site, both in terms of usability and outright bugs. With our week-long trip to Vienna, it wasn’t long before we became overwhelmed by all our ideas. It wasn’t a problem because I know my way around the site and how to use the existing sorting options. Are new users able to use the site in the same way? Do they understand the sorting options? Do they even come to the point where they have so many ideas? These are all important questions that we need to monitor and address.

The site is already very easy to use and straightforward for planning my trip but there will always be improvements that can be made. If you haven’t already, try planning your trip now on Travel to Live. Give us some feedback on what features you’d like to see. Coming soon: the ability to collaborate on one trip with your friends!

Eating your own dog food

No, this post isn’t about man’s best friend or his favourite dishes. Eating your own dog food refers to a company using its own products. Believed to have originated at Microsoft in the 1980s, it’s a colloquialism I’ve always believed in at every place I’ve worked for. It’s not always easily achievable but you need to find a way to use your own product, if you truly want to understand it as consumers do.

It’s easy to get into a bubble and focus only on what you think your product is or what you hope your product will do. Sometimes programmers are assigned a task and they view it purely as a task to be accomplished. I worked at a company previously who was making a Facebook version of their popular web game. Some fellow coders told me how they had never tried the game yet because they didn’t use Facebook. That’s great but we’re making a Facebook game, so you better start using Facebook now. Often I hear arguments about how a feature ought to work, from people who have never themselves used the product and don’t realize that it doesn’t work as they planned it to. That’s why you’ve got to use your own product; you’ve got to be eating your own dog food.

Thus, I came to the conclusion that the designer of a new system must not only be the implementor and the first large-scale user; the designer should also write the first user manual. The separation of any of these four components would have hurt TeX significantly. If I had not participated fully in all these activities, literally hundreds of improvements would never have been made, because I would never have thought of them or perceived why they were important. – Donald E. Knuth, The Errors Of TeX”

Making a product you believe in

Perhaps we’re very fortunate at Travel to Live because we’re making a product we really believe in. We hatched the whole idea when we were flying back from one of our many travels. This is a product that, by definition, is one we want to and do use. That’s why when I started planning my Vienna trip, I started planning it on Travel to Live.

You can gain a lot of insight by eating your own dog food. Regular bug testing won’t catch everything because you won’t think of every use case. By using the product naturally, you find those corner cases or you find the places your app breaks down and stops being fun. You think of new ideas for the future. Soon, your bug list has exploded, your wish list has created work for the next ten years, and your understanding of the product has deepened immensely.

Staying focused

It sounds like all upsides but it isn’t. It’s easy to become distracted or to lose focus. Every software developer knows that you can’t implement every dream feature or fix every bug. The first thing I learned when I started working at Electronic Arts is that the typical game ships with hundreds or thousands of bugs. Most of these errors are simple: the user will never see them. But it’s a reality every project manager needs to consider when prioritizing tasks and assigning work.

I’m on day 4 of my trip and I’ve already thought of months worth of work, all of which would derail us from our current plans. Right now, we want to focus on user acquisition and the early experience. As a power user of this site, the things that matter to me aren’t the things that matter to our target users. You can’t lose sight of that. You can’t allow bias to cloud your judgement and change your plans. I would absolutely love to implement a tagging feature right now, to make sorting my Ideas much easier, but it’s not a top priority. It’s going to have to wait a little longer.

The most important thing to do is fill out the bug reports and write down the new user stories. Don’t lose all this valuable data. Issues can be closed and rejected or simply scheduled for the future. You lose nothing by recording these valuable insights.

Eating your own dog food is important at all levels of the company

The most difficult thing is keeping all employees engaged. In a small startup, it’s not so difficult, because the company is made up of a tight group of passionate people. They wouldn’t be working on the project if they weren’t interested. It’s a different story in a larger company, meaning startups need to keep their culture as they grow. As companies grow, they hire people to do a task, not always because they are passionate about the product. It’s important to keep a culture of eating your own dog food in the company because employees may not do it without prompting.

Like many millennials, I believe everybody has something to contribute, at all levels. I believe everybody should feel included. You want the people at the lowest level of the company to be able to raise issues that might be important, issues which the highest levels might find important. If everybody is using the product, you maximize the number of different internal viewpoints on the product, which can only be a good thing. You don’t need to implement everything Joe in QA wants; however, he just might be using the product in a way you never imagined.

Time to eat more

I’ve been writing this article from Cafe Tirolerhof in Vienna, Austria. I’m on vacation but an entrepreneur is never truly on vacation. After all, I’m eating my own dog food every day I’m here. Follow my adventures on my personal blog or view my Vienna trip on Travel to Live! Coming soon: blog integration with your personal profile! Stay tuned for more details.

Our Travel Planner Explained

We thought we’d write a little more about using our Travel Planner than is available in the demo. From the beginning, we wanted to create something that is easy-to-use and straightforward. To accomplish that, we needed a drag-and-drop and “it just works” kind of design. We think you’ll agree that we’ve achieved that goal.

Getting Started with the Travel Planner

Create your trip with our easy-to-use Travel Planner

Start by creating your trip. After a few short steps, you’ll be in the Itinerary, where all the planning takes place. Look in the bottom corner at the green button. Click it and you’ll be presented with some different options: Location, Day, Event, Idea. Locations are essentially groups; you can type anything you want here. Days extend the duration of your trip and are placed within Locations. Events are where you’re going and what you’re doing. They must correspond to somewhere on the map and are planned on a Day. Ideas are like events but are useful when you don’t really know all the details yet. Ideas can just be text, don’t need a day, and don’t need to appear on the map.

It’s Easy

Our Travel Planner has an easy-to-use drag-and-drop interfacePick the components you want to use to plan your trip and start dragging them into place in the Itinerary. The greatest part about our travel planner is that you can order and re-order your whole trip with these simple drags. Everything is dragged in place from the green button but you can also click to add too: simply click any option in the menu as many times as you want to quickly add more Days, Events, etc. This way, you can easily fill out the shell of your trip and then re-arrange it how you like afterwards.

Once you’re ready to start adding some more specifics for an Event, just click! When you click on an Event, you’ll see a new screen with some different fields, where you can fill out the nitty gritty of your trip. If Google has data for this location, you might also see some automatically filled out data, like opening hours, price level, website, rating, and phone number. We fetch it all from Google, so you don’t have to switch tabs so often.

Using the Map to Plan Your Trip

Use our Travel Planner to plan your European backpacking trip

Sometimes when you’re planning, you’re not sure what the names of the places are where you want to go. Other times, they’re in languages you can’t type with your keyboard! Don’t worry, our travel planner has you covered. You can also click on the map directly to add new Events and Ideas. Since events are automatically added to the currently selected day, pay attention to the filter drop-downs at the top of the map. If no day is selected, the travel planner will instead add your destination as an Idea. No pressure – you can change back and forth between Events and Ideas any time you like.

We hope you have a better understanding now of how to get started. Why not start planning your next trip?

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