Online Travel Tools for Obsessively Compulsive, Anally-Retentive You

Online Travel Tools for Obsessively Compulsive, Anally-Retentive You

I am chronically incapable of being footloose and fancy free without doing any due diligence, of visiting a place I’ve never been to and just seeing where the wind will take me.  If the good lord wanted me to go where the wind blows, he would’ve made me a dandelion instead of an obsessive, anally-retentive girl scout. I know, I know. I sound like a pill. I’m only a pill in the beginning, though.  I promise. *hand on heart* Once I’ve gotten everything under control and can tell myself I’ve done all I need to do to be prepared, I can be as cool as a cucumber.

But first, I need control. I need a sense of knowing. I need security. I need to know what I’m going to do, where I’m going to go, what I’m going to eat, and how I’m going to get to where I want to go before I do it, especially when it comes to travel. (You can take a girl out of a travel agency, but you really can’t take a travel agency out of a girl!) 

Google has a suite of travel tools that I use a lot.  Flights is great when you’re shopping for airfare, and I particularly love their “flexible dates” option and the way prices and locations change automatically depending on where in the world you happen to be hovering over. Hotels is a very well thought out, intuitive way to look for possible places to stay -it’s easy to read reviews, check out photos and compare prices. Maps is one of my favourite and most trusted travel tools. It gives a sense of security in an otherwise alien place, because you’ll always know where you are and how to get where you want to go, especially if you’ve downloaded a map of the area in advance.

I don’t feel constrained to book travel directly on Google’s website though. Neither should you – if you can get points booking travel on a certain site or with a certain type of credit card, by all means do so. I like to book directly with the airline when it comes to airfare, but with hotels I can be a little more flexible. I tend to go with Expedia for sentimental reasons, and also because they have very competitive prices and an excellent points program. 

The following sites are what I use when I go in-depth. Other than the usual go-tos like Lonely Planet and TripAdvisor, I’ve found some really interesting information off of these sites, and you may already know some if not all of them. I hope they help you as you prepare for your own trips too! 

Wiki Voyage

https://en.wikivoyage.org
WikiVoyage provides a condensed, Lonely Planet-esque overview of your destination. I use it particularly when I want information about districts and modes of transportation but don’t want to feel overwhelmed or pressured to book anything. Like Wikipedia, it’s less about the bells and whistles and more about the actual information but don’t let the wall of text intimidate ya. There’s a lot more information to digest than just districts and transportation, although that is primarily what I use WikiVoyage for.

Atlas Obscura

https://www.atlasobscura.com/
Yes, attractions are famous for a reason, and they should definitely be seen, it’s just that sometimes being able to enjoy what you see becomes impossible when there are too many people also wanting to do the same thing. If, like me you like to avoid touristic mosh pits, Atlas Obscura is great for the weird, the quirky, the secret little things that not a lot of people may be into. It also welcomes suggestions from fellow travelers, and is filled with unusual, off-the-beaten-path suggestions (hence the name!).

Taste Atlas

https://www.tasteatlas.com/
When in Rome, do as the Romans do, and sampling the local cuisine is the best way to feel like a local. I like to try and not eat anything other than local staples wherever I get to go, to get a really well-rounded experience of what living in a certain country must feel like, and Taste Atlas is an invaluable resource. Is food a big part of how you travel? It should be! 

Reddit

http://www.reddit.com
Lastly (but not leastly), never underestimate the power of Reddit. There’s no better advertising than word of mouth, and Reddit is invaluable for checking out what the locals say. Think about it as a place to go for insider information, because locals can (and do) say a lot!

Do you have any travel sites that you’d recommend? Feel free to share, and happy travels!

 

Image from Jumpic

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I’m always fascinated by words and phrases, their origins, and how they come to be used. Take for example “Longbottoming,” colloquial slang for the unexpected transition from dweeby to sexy. I’ve since learned that this is also known as a “glow up.”

While “Longbottoming” is obvious (it’s inspired by the actor who played Neville Longbottom in the Harry Potter movieverse, who started out as the fat loser kid with an overbite and ended up looking mighty foine), the closest I can come to why “glow up” is used the way it is, is because it’s a variation on the phrase “to grow up,” only in this case it’s used to mean growing up pretty. Yay, I guess, but ultimately boring. There’s not much of a backstory there, although why I’m going on about a phrase that’s been dominating the interwebs again since Robin Arryn made such a splash on GoT’s finale at four in the morning, I have no clue.

Oh wait, yes, I do. Seth Rogen is on the cover of GQ, which really goes to prove that the first step towards ultimate attractiveness is to lose weight, which is easier said than done, God knows I say it to myself a lot, but this isn’t about me. So here you go, Seth Rogen being his new dapper, healthier self in silk shirts and expensive ashtrays – GQ

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Most Filipinos come with an ingrained instinct for behaving properly in public. This is known as delicadeza, a word which generally means to do what is appropriate at all times. Like the German “schadenfreude,” delicadeza is not so much an action as it is a  feeling. It’s the intrinsic drive to behave the right way and do the right thing in public, because we cannot bring dishonour to our houses by seeming uneducated, ill-mannered and rude. Maybe it’s the three hundred plus years of being treated like illiterate, uncivilized second-class citizens in our own country by colonizers that fuels this particular drive. Whatever the subconscious triggers behind delicadeza, it’s what makes Filipinos the perfect hosts and house guests. You will never hear us act up, or leave dirty dishes in the sink, or be rude to our hosts. Not to their faces, anyway. We will always try to behave as if our very mothers are watching us with eagle eyes. 

Which is why one of the worst things that a guest can do to Filipinos is to disrespect our hospitality by being rude. Cleaning up after yourself is a basic tenet of delicadeza, and Canada has shown none when it comes to having the Philippines play host to its garbage for nigh on five years.

No country should ever be the unwilling dumping ground for another country’s waste, and my adopted homeland definitely has a lot to answer for when it comes to how it’s treated my actual homeland. Yes, the Philippines has the right to demand Canada clean up after itself, and do it soon. Canada should’ve recalled the garbage postehaste, not spend five years twiddling its thumbs, and it’s dismissive ideas like the ones this Canadian writer comes up with that really make me furious, not to mention the discernibly flippant attitude with which it was written. Instead of focusing on Canada’s inability to clean up after itself, he can’t resist taking jabs at the Philippine administration’s posturing, as if the dumpster fire that is Ontario’s current leadership is anything to be proud of. Filipinos have a great sense of humour, but we know when a joke is as rancid as five-year old garbage currently waiting to be repatriated. Alternative idea: how about we ship all those garbage containers back to Canada and deposit them on this guy’s front yard? – Toronto Sun

PS: There’s nothing “partly” about Canada being to blame for this literal garbage dump of a situation  – CBC

PPS: Now Malaysia is in on it too – Earther

 

 

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Have you ever been to a Costco on a weekend? The whole world and their mother is there and finding parking gets pretty intense. I remember witnessing some guy scream “It’s not always about you!” at a wildly gesticulating, non-English speaking couple who were mad at him for taking what they thought was their spot (note: it wasn’t). I get it, we all just want to go in and stock up on toilet paper, but that was nothing compared to this woman who went all Danny Trejo in Machete Kills over a parking spot. A parking spot. In Costco. Can we all just agree to be nice to each other at Costco from here on out, on the off chance some of us are packing heat in the trunk?  – CBC

Then again, maybe that woman just lacked sleep. We all get crabby when we’re short on sleep, and the temptation to wave sharp objects around gets even stronger the less sleep we have. I know I don’t have the best of tempers when I’m tired, and this is an interesting read on how to fall asleep in less than two minutes – Inc

I’m adding the term “illusory superiority” to my phrasebook now – The Guardian

Also, I seem to have married an anomaly. Le Hubs is one of those people who haven’t seen Avengers: Endgame and doesn’t care if he ever does, one way or another. I think it’s got something to do with his disdain for all things Disney, especially now that it owns all the major franchises and Pixar. Disney is clearly the Buy n Large of the entertainment world, but I was raised on a diet of Disney movies and sing-alongs so I can’t hate it. Not that much anyway. That said, I think Endgame was kind of it for me. Iron Man was what, 2008? I don’t see myself still hankering after all these superheroes ten years from now when I hit that  menopausal rough patch. Not that I’m going to be their target audience, anyway – Rolling Stone

Speaking of target audience, I’m still one of those crazy ride-or-die Thronies just seeing the whole show out to the end. I know, I wanted to do a recap after watching each episode but that didn’t work out, so I’ll just share Ramin Djawadi’s fantastic score for Episode Three. It’s like the Sept of Baelor meets Westworld, and it’s crazy good – YouTube

 

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It’s been a while since I’ve come up with one of these link sharing posts. I don’t know if it’s a more conscious attempt to not be online or it’s just the story-fatigue that happens when every day is a constant reminder that shit happens and we humans keep finding ways and means to put pearls on a pig. To be honest with you, I think it’s both, but what else is new? If I shared links on all the op-eds floating around about how we’re all sick of being plugged into the matrix, I would never stop copy-pasting hyperlinks.

ANYWAY.

Speaking of pigs, remember when the New Yorker came out with a story about the guy who pretended he was dying and that his relatives were dead so he could milk all the sympathy to get ahead career-wise? No? It’s a riveting read, and now the book he came up with is up for an award because some people will reward success, no matter the means of obtaining it… – Jezebel

…unlike New Zealand, who refused to acknowledge the gringo who went loco and shot up a mosque in Christchurch by name to deny him the notoriety these crazies obviously crave, a move I totally agree with. I also agree with (and admire) how the country’s leadership did more than provide thoughts and prayers. They flexed legislative muscle to nip similar possible future scenarios in the bud, the way we wish some countries would hurry up and do already – Huffpost

Speaking of (s)nipping, did you know vasectomy cakes are a thing? I didn’t either, but if we’re going to reward something with cake, this makes more sense. Getting your tubes snipped is presumably more agonizing than having a lab tech run a sonic gun over your distended belly in the quest to reveal gender – Today

Ugh. I have never been happier I’m no longer with Fido than I am right now – there’s a lot of things to love about Canada, but our three major telecom companies are not one of them. They do not deserve any cake whatsoever – Mobile Syrup

Ending this with an upbeat cake, or at least, cake-adjacent note, Toronto is to have a new cookie dough parlour downtown this summer. At least we get something to be happy about for a few minutes, before all the pesky reminders that raw cookie dough can be unsafe kick in – Narcity

 

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I’ve had it with people indifferent to the way they smell and how it affects other people. I can’t count the number of times I’ve come home with a blazing headache from either too much Axe or too much BO, so good on American Airlines for having the balls to do this – Washington Post

Speaking of stinky, I’m buying these. You’d think people on my side of the world could afford regular showers with soap and water but apparently not, and winter just brings out the worst offenders ever. Come to think of it, summer does too, so maybe I’ll bulk buy these things or something – Amazon

Still on the subject of stinky, Toronto Hydro cut power to the building directly across from us because winter in the True North is hazardous to everything. A pipe burst and flooded their electrical control room, leaving all the residents of a 33-story high-rise without heat, water and light for the past few days.  We checked last night and the lights are on again, but still. Yikes – Global News

In even more stinky news, the Bryan Singer expose is the ripest kind of ripe. On so many levels. If you didn’t already hate him for sticking his fingers into the X-Men reboot and ruining Matthew Vaughn’s vision for the X-Men franchise, this read should do the trick – The Atlantic

I worship at the altar of carbs. Yes, you are absolutely right, I need to stop. Still, this is one of the most blasphemous things you could ever do to a delicious dish of pasta, all in the name of of celebrating a stupid gender reveal party. Yeah stinky is really driving this particular post – New York Post

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I keep thinking we’ve reached peak insanity, and every day proves I truly have no idea how crazy humans can get. This sounds like a rip-off from the Naruto Shippuden arc where the baddie decides the only way to bring peace on earth is to control everyone by creating a moon he can utilize as an extension of his hypnotic eye jutsu, clearly a ridiculously overwrought fantasy. Enter China, giving that arc a run for its money – Esquire

Hate to be that person, but this guy was kiiiiinda asking for it. Green screen, anyone? – HuffPo

This guy was not – The Globe and Mail

Nope. Nope. Nope. – Buzzfeed

All this really needs is Scott and Tessa doing one of their smoking hot ice dance routines while we gape and marvel at their technical expertise as well as the almost perfect rectangular iceberg – Gizmodo

Being too cheap for cable, I really only get to see The Voice whenever I get to see it. I would advise you not to do this unless you have the rest of your day to spare, because watching Adam and Blake get their competitive bromance on amidst a backdrop of talented singers in one of the best reality TV shows out there is deeply addictive. Kelly Clarkson and J Hud bring their status as Idol alums to bear with some major chemistry this season, which makes it even more fun to watch and if – like me – you love reading TV recaps and watching the mentioned clips, I can’t guarantee you’ll ever emerge from this particular k-hole intact – Rolling Stone

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If I had a penny for every Facebook status reminding me to wake up because September has ended, I would have enough to buy something at Tim’s. But coffee never works on me, so I use sugar instead. Which is awful.

You know what else is awful? The concept of free bleeding. I would’ve been perfectly happy not knowing what free bleeding is, but I am cursed with the need to know. This week, my pursuit of knowledge is a curse. Free bleeding is when women take going with the flow to an extreme in the name of freedom and the environment. In a nutshell, it’s voluntarily going without tampons, pads, period cups or liners because hygiene and basic human courtesy, like common sense, is on its way out the door – Vice

Another word I learned this week is “scumbro,” which is wonderfully self-explanatory. It’s the perfect term to describe the fashion sensibilities of Justin Bieber and Pete Davidson et al., who are running around in the most ridiculous outfits while remaining inexplicably attractive to women. I say inexplicable because as a nineties child, my idea of attractive is a healthy, corn-fed boybander with squeaky clean hair, non-skinny jeans and clothes that follow a complimentary colour scheme. To my eye, these kids look like everything they own is filched from the local thrift shop, rarely (if ever) bathe, and get dressed blindfolded in the dark. Except they’re mad rich, so the whole thing is purposefully not on purpose, the guy version of the no make-up make-up look. Behold, the rise of the scumbro – Vanity Fair

Apropos of nothing, here’s an interesting take on the Japanese psyche as influenced by the fallout of WWII, anime and the rise of technology. An oldie (2016) but a goodie – The Verge

Why do all my links start with a V today? Let’s go with a C, for children, who are cute, but are also the worst  – CTV

Speaking of C’s, my favourite Chris in the pantheon of Hollywood Chrises said goodbye to Captain America, setting off an avalanche of crying gifs as the internet weeps for its loss. Please, there’s three other Chrises left in the game, with one of them set to do a particularly revealing scene this November on Netflix (to Karen’s utter glee), so we’re all gonna be juuuuust fine. That said, he made for a splendiferous Cap, and the Captain America movies have always been among my MCU faves. You will be missed, Chris Evans.