3 Inconveniences of Traveling Made Easier – by Apps

By: Erin Golden, @erinngolden

Traveling is easily one of the most rewarding experiences there is. Seeing other cultures, experiencing new people, and coming back completely enlightened, are all benefits of traveling this wonderful world of ours.

As anyone who’s traveled knows, however, it isn’t always “fun and games.” Sometimes the most frustration comes from some of the most common traveling situations.

  1. Delayed/changed flights. Ugh.
  2. Currency conversion (no one said PR people are good at math).
  3. Wandering the streets looking for someplace to eat (when you’re already starving). 

But with the wonderful world of technology and smartphones at our feet, there are a few apps that can help you navigate these specific situations.

1. Flightview. This app allows you to track and plan your trips, and more specifically, your flights. Once you plug in your flight information, you can save the flight to a  specific “Trip.” On this “Trip,” you can add multiple flights – all of which will be saved for you to access later. Flightview then sends you push notifications for delays, boarding times, take-off and landing. I’ve also found this app extremely helpful when traveling with friends and family who may be on different flights, because you can monitor their exact arrival time, gate number and also receive a message when they’re on the ground. And – it’s free!


2. Convert. This app proves handy when you’re visiting a country where the currency is wildly different from yours. The convert app lets you choose any two currencies and use it in a very similar way as a calculator. It proves extremely useful when you’re shopping around and need a quick conversion.


3. Foursquare. Foursquare might be an app that has recently changed and expanded in its “check-in” system to it’s partner app called Swarm, however Foursqaure itself is a mind-reading master when it comes to dining in new locations. When you’re traveling to a new destination, hopefully you’re not craving McDonald’s. Instead, hopefully you’re craving amazing, local food! Foursquare pulls from your current location and time of day to suggest good eats near you. It also gives addresses, hours of operations, and directs you to your GPS, if you decide you need help getting there.


Of course there will still be complications when you travel, but using these apps might just help ease the pain a little bit.

Big Lights, Big City: The Small Town Girl’s Guide to a Big City

By: Sam Miller @keepcalmsam14

D.C.It’s no secret that in this business big cities are the hubs of public relations. However, being born and raised in small town Somerset,Ohio, does not prepare you for a city that has so many new things to offer. The village I live in is nestled in Perry County, and is a solid hour and a half drive to a city where there are not cornfields every mile. So you could say that being dropped in the middle of Washington D.C. for PRSSA National Conference was a little overwhelming. However, during my stay I picked up a few skills that’ll make surviving a big city a breeze.


  1. Enjoy the diversity. In D.C. there were people from all around the world, speaking languages I had never heard before – the experience really opened my eyes to the outside world. Seeing it all me realize just how beautiful the world can be when not surrounded by cornfields. And while being in the setting of one of the most culture-rich cities in the world can definitely be overwhelming, just embrace the city around you and you’ll find yourself in the hustle and bustle of it all!
  1. Try everything. The city offers so many things: amazing places to eat, breathe taking sites, diverse culture and many other exciting things! D.C. not only had amazing landmarks but delicious food. Every meal means something new – I tried Ethiopian food for the first time and it was amazing. Every city has something beautiful to offer, just break outside of your comfort zones to find it. The last experience I recommend to try is public transportation. Whether it’s a bus, taxi or the subway, just try it. Since my little hometown would never dream of having public transportation, it was brand new to me and using it everyday made me feel very metropolitan.
  1. Be prepared. The best piece of advice I can give you is to just be prepared. No matter how prepared you think you are, the city will definitely catch you off guard.. Knowing exactly where you are, what you have with you or what you’ll need will really help you manage the hustle and bustle of the city and will make you feel a lot more comfortable in such a new place.

Knowing how to make your way in place that is new to you is important, but it is especially to those of us who have never lived in a large city before. Being able to manage and navigate such a new, big city will make your next job or internship a breeze, and will allow you to have a much more enjoyable experience during your stay.

5 sites that are making travel more social

By: Lindsey Zimmerman @lindseyzim716

travel personGood news for everyone suffering from an incurable case of wanderlust: it’s easier now to see the world than ever before! In the past, would-be explorers usually had to book their adventures through a travel agent, but now travelers can plan and personalize every aspect of their trips in ways that wouldn’t have been possible even a decade ago. And with our society becoming more and more connected every single day, travel planning is becoming a social experience as well.

Here are just a few of the many apps and websites that make travel planning a breeze, no matter where you are in the world. How many have you tried?

  • Planely is a relatively new site that helps passengers connect with others on their flights. Their mission is pretty simple: why sit at the airport bored by yourself when you could be making a new friend? Once passengers register and enter their trip details into Planely, they can begin connecting online with fellow travelers even before arriving at the airport.
  • Globetrooper takes Planely one step further by allowing users to plan trips and invite other users from around the world to join them on their adventures. It allows travelers to meet like-minded people who want to share the same kinds of adventures. So if you’ve always wanted to hike the Himalayas but none of your friends are up for it, don’t worry – there’s a Globetrooper trip for that.
  • Couchsurfing is probably one of the most well known sites for finding free accommodation just about anywhere in the world. This site allows travelers to stay with a local resident for free in their destination city. Ratings and reviews are available for all Couchsurfing hosts so you know what you’re getting into. Even if you’re not looking for a place to crash, Couchsurfing holds free events and meet-ups in cities all over the world, making it easy to meet and connect with fellow adventurers.
  • Yelp probably isn’t new to most people, but it can be incredibly useful while traveling. With reviews on everything from food to nightlife to shopping, it’s incredibly easy to see what other people’s experiences in your city have been like, and plan accordingly to avoid potential problems. You can also check out different events that will take place in your destination city in case you need something else to fill you itinerary.
  • Airbnb is the place to go if you’re looking for somewhere to stay long term – or if you’re not into hostels. Locals who are willing to let travelers stay in their homes will create a listing on the site, often with a very reasonable price per night. Accommodations can range from a spare bedroom in an apartment to an entire house. Just like with Couchsurfing, you can check out reviews of potential hosts written by other travelers who have stayed with them.

This list is by no means exhaustive, and there are hundreds (if not thousands) more sites and apps that are socializing travel in similar ways. Exploring the world is getting easier one click at a time.

Summer Spotlight: Kathleen Marincic

By: Kathleen Marincic @KathMarincic

photo 1As all summers seem to go, this summer flew by. It feels like just weeks ago, my parents were down in Athens helping me pack up my old house to move it all into my new apartment and I had close to 4 months of freedom in front of me.

With the exception of it going too fast, this summer was by far one of the best! After being bedridden for almost a week straight after a slow and painful wisdom teeth removal process, I was on the go with family, friends, work and other summer fun activities.

Most of my time was dedicated to my internship with Cleveland’s iconic West Side Market through the Cleveland Foundation. There were 16 interns in the Cleveland Foundation’s program that were all placed at difference nonprofits throughout the City of Cleveland. We would get together once a week and visit a different organization to learn what our fellow interns were up to and to experience the world of Great Cleveland nonprofits.

I worked directly with the manager of the West Side Market and created content for their bi-monthly newsletter, updated their brand new website, oversaw their social media efforts and developed a social media packet for vendors to implement in their own social networks.

I got the chance to sell merchandise from one of the stands inside the Market and even climbed the metal-mesh staircase to the top of the 137-foot-tall clock tower (in wedges I might add).

photo 2Another highlight of my summer was a family vacation to the glorious beaches of Oak Island, North Carolina. 16 of my relatives plus a two-year-old and a 4-month-old baby shared a five bedroom house with the ocean as its back yard for a week straight. We even made t-shirts and tank tops with our family crest proudly displayed front and center (yes, we are THAT family)!

Besides spending the majority of our time on the beach, we traveled to Wilmington, North Carolina to visit some of the popular filming locations of One Tree Hill and rode a ferry over to Bald Head Island, where there are relatively few cars on the island as every resident drives a golf cart.

After a summer full of wonderful memories and new work experiences through my internship, I feel fully prepared to return to Athens and conquer my senior year of college.


Diversifying my Skills: Documentary Filmmaking

 1622881_773739329321709_239015431_nTwo months ago I had one of the most amazing and stressful experiences I have ever had in my 19 years of life, the opportunity to study abroad in Quito, Ecuador for a documentary filmmaking program through Ohio University. I was not exactly prepared when I walked into my first class session during fall semester – because this was my first experience ever working with film beyond the mediocre short movies I made using a digital camera and a trial version of Final Cut Pro. During the first week, we split up into the four documentary groups we would work with for the entire trip.

Over the next few months we started preparing for the trip by finding contacts, doing pre-interviews and laying out the overall concept of our film. Those class and preparation sessions taught me a lot about film, but when we landed in Quito and got to work on producing the documentary, I realized just how much I was going to learn. Here are the five basic lessons I learned about documentary filmmaking while on an amazing adventure in Ecuador.

  1. Always Have a Backup for EVERYTHING: This means having backup batteries for your camera and audio equipment, a backup camera, a backup microphone, a backup tripod, quite literally a backup everything. I can’t even count the number of times a camera dies during a shoot or the amount of audio problems we had with the lavalier microphones (the personal ones that hook onto the interviewees shirt), and had to use the backup audio from the RODE microphone (the one that attaches to the top of the camera). Having a backup means you at least have something to work with even if it’s lesser quality than what you were hoping for.
  2. You Have to Learn to Roll with the Punches: Things don’t always work out with filmmaking, especially with nonfiction documentaries, and you need to learn to adjust to the issues. Traveling to Quito we didn’t know many places to set up a shoot at, so much of the time we went to our interviewees homes. We had to do our best to control the settings, but its hard to control when a child yells or a dog barks, and it’s impossible to control when the sun goes down or a cloud changes the lighting. For all of these problems you need to learn to adjust, whether it’s reshooting that portion of the interview or entertaining a 3-year-old girl by going to watch Finding Nemo with her.
  3. Film is HARD: I’ve been around a lot of people who work in photography or film, and I always knew the technical aspect must have been difficult, but I never realized just how difficult. I went into Ecuador thinking it’s a camera, they’ll tell me how to set it up and I’ll press record. Definitely not the case. You have to shoot manually in film because the automatic settings will adjust to the slightest change and usually overcorrect. So every setting needs to be set manually, and that is something I still cannot do. I would try and help set up the camera, and I could set up the frame, but then I had to have Gretchen Kessler (a film major in my group) come and set focus, aperture and basically everything else you can think of.
  4. Audio is HARDER: Now this may not be the case for everyone, but from what I experienced dealing with, audio is on a whole new level. Recording the audio itself isn’t difficult at all, other than the cruel and unusual punishment that is holding the boom for an hour interview. The real difficulty with audio is listening. While recording audio you have to make sure there is no background noise – background noise can come from something as small as the buzzing of a light bulb. While you’re recording the audio you have to make sure there are no peaks in sound and no unwanted noises or echoes. If there is an issue the only thing you can do is ask the question again until you get the right sound.
  5. Editing Takes a Special Type of Patience: I enjoy playing around on Final Cut Pro just as much as the next person, but when it comes to making a documentary you don’t realize the amount of video you have until you start editing. I would estimate we had over 15 hours of video that we had to be cut down into a 12-minute documentary. Thank goodness we had our own personal editing king, Jarrett Lehman, to shift through hours upon hours of film and edit everything into our final piece, and my first documentary.

I learned a lot during my experience in Quito, from a filmmaking and a cultural perspective. This past winter break has prepared me for a lot for my future in Journalism, and has given me a new sense of respect for all the hard work that goes into documentary filmmaking.

You can watch our documentary, “Ecuador, The American Dream” here.


Becca Zook is a sophomore studying Strategic Communication with specializations in South American Studies and Sports Management. You can follow her on Twitter at @BeccaZook.

International Travel for the Inexperienced Traveler

QuitoIn less than a month I will be traveling to Quito, Ecuador for a study abroad trip and I could not be more excited! Considering I’ve only been on a plane twice in my life and have only had one real experience abroad, preparing for this trip has been a pain in my backside. So here’s the basics of what I’ve learned so far in my how-to on preparing for traveling abroad:

Get a passport (if you already have a passport check the expiration date): I know you’re sitting there thinking, “Thanks Captain Obvious! I’m going out of the country of course I need a passport!” But let me tell you something, Lieutenant Sarcasm; putting off getting your passport can turn into a big problem.

I had a passport from my freshman year of high school, but unluckily for me it expired within five months after my study abroad. In order to leave Ecuador you need to present a passport with at least six months validity. (I recommend checking your country of travels policy on validity.) So I took my drivers license, old passport, social security card and another government issued I.D. to the post office to renew my passport. Because I was a minor when I got my first passport, those four forms of identification weren’t enough. I also needed my birth certificate and a copy of my birth certificate. Basically the only thing they didn’t need from me was a list of my ancestry and a written note from the doctor that delivered me stating that I was, in fact, myself.

I did eventually end up getting all thirty forms of the necessary documentation, filling out the application and getting my picture taken. A half an hour and $150 later, I had ordered my new passport.

Purchase your plane tickets: Make sure you have enough time to get from terminal to terminal if you have a connecting flight. I, being the inexperienced flyer I am, made sure I had plenty of time between flights… six hours to be exact. You know just in case I can’t find my terminal or get lost in the airport for five and half hours. On second thought, I’m probably going to regret that layover choice.

Pack light: You’re going on a trip, not moving you’re entire life to a foreign country. I realize you might really like those black studded heels but realistically you’re never going to wear them! Leave them behind! Only pack the necessities and when you’re dragging your suitcase through the airport by yourself, you’re going to thank me. Check ahead of time to see if you’ll have access to a laundry facility, because if so, only take enough clothes for a week. Just think the less stuff you bring, the more room you’ll have to take things back!

Embrace a more natural look: You don’t want to lug 50 different hair products or tools to another country, trust me. And this goes for the men too! Leave the hair gel behind! Take only what you need. I promise that you’re not going to want to spend an hour getting ready when you could be out exploring.

Adapters, Money, Identification, Etc.: If you plan on using any electronics you’re going to need an adapter. Research the type of outlet used in the country you’re traveling to and buy a couple adapters of that type. When traveling you don’t want to be carrying around all your money in case you get pick pocketed. Your best bet would be to take the money you will need for the day with you when you go out and leave the rest in the safe at your hostel or hotel. Same thing goes for identification; take COPIES of your passport with you and leave your original passport in your safe. In foreign countries your United States driver’s license will not work as identification, instead use a photocopy of your passport.

In Quito the American dollar is widely accepted so I won’t have to worry about changing currency, however they aren’t going to be able to break large bills for me either so I’ll be taking mainly smaller bills (10’s, 5’s and 1’s) and change.

The Not-So-Stand-Out American: Basically try not to look too American and tourist-y. Blend into the culture; wear clothing that doesn’t make you stand out. The more out of place you look, the easier target you are for pick pocketing and petty theft. If you make an effort to keep your belongings on or in front of you, you definitely reduce the risk of theft, but if you’re wearing name brand clothing that is obviously expensive you are basically holding up a sign inviting thieves to target you.

Last but definitely not least,

HAVE FUN! Traveling is fun and exciting. You get to experience a new culture with interesting customs, foods and languages. Many people don’t get the opportunity to travel so take advantage of it. Take risks and do something new! Personally, I have this crazy fear of sharks but while abroad I’ll be snorkeling with sharks and other tropical fish in the Galapagos Islands. Granted I might have a minor anxiety attack, but I’m still going to! Take chances and do something that you’ll remember forever; make the thousands of dollars you’re spending worth the trip. Don’t spend too much time stressing the little things and just look forward to the great experience ahead of you.

Travel safe and wish me luck in Quito! I’m going to need it with those sharks!

-Rebecca Zook is a sophomore studying journalism with a minor in studio art. Follow her at @BeccaZook.

5 Reasons You Need International Experience

DSCN2714One of the biggest things that can make a candidate stand out in an interview is having international experience.  With an increasing global economy, it is extremely beneficial for students to get international experience and become more marketable and well rounded.

At Ohio University there is a program called “The Global Leadership Center” or GLC. The GLC is a two-year certificate program that focuses on developing “internationally-minded, locally-engaged leaders in all walks of life.” The purpose of this program is to make students better rounded and skilled, both professionally and culturally so they are prepared for working with international clients or on international projects.

Examples of past GLC projects have included working on juvenile justice and oil regulations in Ghana, transatlantic relations in Germany and marketing for Marriott International. When I heard about this program I applied immediately! What a great way to broaden my international horizons and learn about other countries while also earning my degree. The nice thing about the GLC is that it is open to all majors and truly complements all majors, since at some point in time you will most likely work with other countries or cultures in some way or another.

With that being said, this summer I had the amazing opportunity to travel to Southeast Asia and work with the GLC in Vietnam for two weeks and then later travel to Thailand and Hong Kong. I can honestly say that going on my first trip abroad was an eye-opening experience that will greatly impact the rest of my life. I am now a 100% firm believer that everyone needs to have an international experience in their lifetime, especially if you are still in college. Here’s why:

1. You learn about different types of work ethic. In the US, we have a very fast paced go, go, go! work ethic where we don’t stop until the work gets done, even if that means working through lunch or staying late hours. In other countries that’s not necessarily the case. While in Vietnam, my teammates would always take breaks from our work for a 2-3 hour lunch break, in which they would also take a nap. Believe it or not, a lot of countries are like this! Naps, going home for lunch and “tea time” are very common around the world and that’s something to be mindful of when working with international clients.

2. Language barriers. There’s going to be a time in your life when you come in contact with someone where there is a language barrier. Luckily, if you go on a trip abroad you are more likely going to be comfortable with that situation and know how to handle it. You might even learn a little bit of a language by talking with locals and learn important words or phrases that you would need to use in a business setting.

3. Companies are going global. Most US companies are no longer just in the US. They are starting to spread offices and networks around the world to expand and grow their markets. For example, Google has offices in the US, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and different parts of Asia! Nike also has offices in Europe, the Middle East and Africa and well-known PR firm Weber Shandwick has 74 offices in more than 30 countries! With that being said, your company may send you on business trips or transfer you to an international office and it would be extremely beneficial to you (as well as making you more marketable) to have already had an international experience.

4. Maturity. According to a spokeswoman in a recent New York Times article, “Often global understanding indicates maturity.” When you travel to another country you open your eyes and perspective to other cultures and countries, which often times leads to a newfound maturity. Also, when abroad you are forced to navigate in a foreign place, adjust to local customs and gain independency, which is an important part of your college experience.

5. College is the best time to travel. When you’re in college you typically don’t have too many full-time commitments such as a full-time job, a spouse, kids etc. making it easier for you to travel. There are also tons of scholarships and grants available as well cheap flights and using hostels.

Overall having an international experience will make you standout in the workplace and impress employers.  You will gain a diverse skill-set and knowledge as well as internationally minded thinking. If you go to OU and you are considering a trip abroad check out the Ohio University Office of Education Abroad for more information! Don’t miss out on the chance of a lifetime.

-Cidnye Weimer is a junior studying strategic communications with a minor in business administration and a Global Leadership Certificate. Check her out at @CidnyeWeimer.