Last year, I wrote an article, “Get your Verizon Droid or iPhone before July 7 (2011)” to urge new Verizon customers to act quickly. Now, they’re at it again! Last year, on July 7, Verizon ended the unlimited data plan for new customers. This year (we don’t know exactly when) they will end it for existing customers. Meaning, if you have an unlimited data plan now, when you upgrade your phone and sign a new 2 year contract, you will lose that unlimited data – there will be no ‘grandfather’ rights. They will be implementing tiered and family sharing plans instead. For more details, see this PCWorld Article.
It’s been rumored for quite a while that Verizon’s unlimited data plan for smart phones will be going away. I still can’t find anything official on Verizon’s site, their Data Packages page still states that Smartphone’s data plans are Unlimited, but this discussion on RV.net’s forum is pretty convincing that the unlimited plan will be no more as of 7/7/2011. It will be replaced with a 2GB limit for the same $30. If you’ve been considering this purchase, you should visit the store before the 7th.
Is Unlimited Data Important?
Your data plan is a separate line item from your phone’s voice plan. Your voice plan gives you minutes of talk time, your data plan gives you Internet usage measured in GigaBytes. If you just want your email, and some basic web browsing, and you only use your phone’s data plan for your phone, then 2GB may be sufficient. But, if you want to watch videos on your smartphone, or if you want to use your phone’s data plan to tether to your computer, then you’re going to go over that limit.
How do you know you’re going over? You can check your data usage at any time on your Verizon account. There is also a setting to have Verizon email you when you’ve used over 50%. The unlimited data plan means you don’t have to worry about it! And, heaven knows, we could use one less thing to worry about!
Do you want a Smartphone?
If you’re anything like me, you do! There is some learning involved but, the more you learn, the more you like! Rather than listing all its virtues, let me tell you a story.
One of the first things we learned how to do was to tether the phone to the computer so it could provide the Internet connection for the computer to browse the Web. It took a while for me to fully appreciate that my Droid *IS* a computer!
My Droid Traveling Story
We were driving north on I-95 in Georgia and it was about time to start looking for a campground for the night. I see a likely candidate on our Streets and Trips program, but I want to look at the website. OK, I need to find the cable so I can tether the Droid to my laptop computer and get on the Internet.
DOH! No I don’t! I can just search the web directly on the phone. The Droid *is* a computer with its own web browser.
Ok, so the website looks nice. Now I need to find pencil and paper so I can write down the phone number so I can call and see if they have space for us tonight.
DOH! no I don’t! I can just touch the phone number on the Droid’s screen and it will dial the number. The Droid is a phone after all.
Ok, they say they’re ready for us. Now I need to write down the address so I can feed it into the Garmin GPS …
DOH! No I don’t! Just touch the address on the Droid’s screen and it will start to navigate. The Droid is a GPS after all and it has its own Google map and navigation program.
That’s just one example. For every Droid, or iPhone owner you know, you can hear many similar stories of discovery. The more you use your smartphone, the more you’ll discover. And, the more data you’ll need!
Like I said, get your Verizon Droid or iPhone before July 7. And enjoy!
Geeks on Tour is a membership website with hundreds of Tutorial Videos on topics of interest to travelers, such as managing digital photos with Picasa, Route-Planning with Streets and Trips, and sharing your travels with a website using Blogger. Members can view all of the videos in the Learning Library.
A couple weeks ago I found myself on a flight from Las Vegas to Fort Lauderdale, Florida. This was a no frills flight, for meals you had your choice of peanuts or chips, and for entertainment you had your choice of the airline magazine or staring out the window. I lamented the fact that I did not bring a book along to read, and my Kindle’s battery was dead.
Then I remembered that I had downloaded the Kindle reader app for my Droid cellphone. I hadn’t used it yet, thinking it was just too small for a comfortable read, but since I had no other choice I fired it up and opened my downloaded copy of Girl with a Dragon Tatoo. and started reading.
Here — in no particular order (or rhyme or reason) — is a somewhat decent holiday gift guide for RVers, starting with three new products from the Fastway company:
Fastway Flip automatic jack foot
The new Fastway Flip automatic jack foot adds 6 inches to your jack instantly, and flips up and down automatically as you retract or extend the jack. The Flip jack foot eliminates the hassles of storing and stacking wood blocks, or finding a place to store a removable extension. The Flip jack foot puts itself away each time you use it. No springs, cables, or pins are required. The Flip jack foot installs easily using pilot holes in the foot as a guide; then a single bolt (supplied) mounts the Flip to the bottom of the jack. The Fastway Flip jack foot fits most tongue jacks round or square, with models to fit 2-inch and 2 1/4-inch jacks. Maximum tongue weight rating is 1,400 lbs. and designed for use on horse, RV, cargo, boat, and utility trailers. For more information call (877) 523-9103 or visit www.FastwayTrailer.com.
Fastway ONEstep tandem axle wheel chock
The Fastway ONEstep is the fastest and easiest tandem axle wheel chock. The ONEstep wheel chock eliminates common chocking hassles like ratcheting, pinched fingers, bending or kneeling down, splintery wood chunks, and stuck wedges pinched by trailer movement. The ONEstep chock sets quickly in place by simply stepping down on the scissor arms, and removes easily by pulling up on the cable handle, even when wedges have been pinched under a tire. The ONEstep chock is adjustable from 16 inches to 24 inches to fit most tandem axle trailers. It works great with horse, RV, boat, cargo, utility, and farm trailers. An XL model that reaches up to 30 inches is also available for trailers with “wide track” type axle systems. The ONEstep is made from solid steel wedges and arms, with zinc plate and powder coat finishes helping it look great for years. For more information, call (877) 523-9103 or visit www.FastwayTrailer.com.
Fastway Zip breakaway cable
The Fastway Zip is the new, fast and easy way to protect your breakaway cable. With the Fastway Zip there are no frayed ends or cables dragging on the ground. The unique coiled cable of the Zip easily stretches to your tow vehicle and clips right on with the included carabiner. There is no looping over and around the trailer tongue to keep the cable out of the way. It is faster and easier to use than the standard breakaway cable. The Zip quickly replaces your current breakaway system with its coated high-strength coiled cable, split ring, and easy to use carabiner. The Fastway Zip breakaway cable is available in 4-foot and 6-foot cable lengths, and is offered as a universal replacement cable only, or a complete set with a cable and switch. For more information, call 877-523-9103 or visit www.FastwayTrailer.com.
For those who want a microwave when camping, but not anything larger than necessary, the iWavecube measures just one-cubic-foot — plus it has all the electronic controls and safety features you would expect, and it plugs in anyplace that has a standard outlet. It’s quiet, super-energy-efficient, and measures just 10 inches by 10.5 inches by 12 inches — weighing only 12 lbs. It features a built-in carry handle and view-through door. The product is available in red, black, and silver. Perfect for a dorm room, camping trip or just at the office. For seeing the different ways campers are using their iWavecube check out this link.
The Perfect CampfireGrill
I have the Perfect CampfireGrill original grill and I have given them as presents. I love mine and recommend them to anyone who cooks over a campfire. The Perfect CampfireGrill original grill ($60), launched in 2005, continues to be popular for its large 20-by-25 inch grilling surface that can easily hold 24 strip steaks, 70 hot dogs or 30 large burgers. The Rebel ($40) fits easily into bicycle and motorcycle saddlebags. It can be used over the campfire or as a charcoal grill where campfires are not permitted. At 10-by-12 inches, The Perfect CampfireGrill Rebel is the smallest of The Perfect CampfireGrill products. The Explorer ($30) with its folding legs can be set up at any campsite on the beach, in rocky terrain or at a conventional campsite. The grill provides 12-by-18 inches of grilling surface. When its legs are folded, its 1 1/2 inch thickness makes it easy to transport in most backpacks and gear bags. The Pioneer ($40) provides a circular 18-inch diameter grilling surface that is perfect for weekend getaways and family outings. It is easily packed into smaller vehicles. For more information, go to www.campfiregrill.com.
REI Camp Mini Kitchen
Stow your cooking and dining essentials in the REI Camp Mini Kitchen ($69.93 on sale) so you’re always ready to hit the road! Staying organized in camp helps keep the fun factor high. Features include: Aluminum roll-top table holds most 2-burner camp stoves or other gear up to 60 lbs.; Ripstop polyester storage compartment provides dedicated spaces for a 2-burner stove, fuel bottles, plates, utensils, spices, wet sponges and more; Frame has integrated carry handles. Note: the photo at right shows items not included. For more information, visit: www.rei.com/product/798433
RV Handbook, 4th Edition
Completely Updated – the New RV Handbook, 4th Edition ($29.95) is a 299-page How-To Guide with handy checklists, helpful photos and easy-to-follow charts all designed to keep you on the road and enjoying your RV. This 4th edition of The RV Handbook from Trailer Life Books is known as the “RVer’s bible” for the RV road warrior; it’s a “no-fluff” comprehensive guide for both novice and seasoned RVers. Packed with checklists; photos; schematics and charts, as well as plenty of sound, user-friendly technical advice. Features hundreds of proven RV tips, tricks and techniques to save you time, money and maybe even your sanity! You simply won’t find this level of detail covered in any other RV book. If you are looking for a complete resource that answers all your RV-related questions, the latest edition of The RV Handbook from Trailer Life Books is exactly what you are looking for. Click here for more information.
Although this product is marketed toward kids who can use them after gym class at school, I think these would be a great addition to anyone’s RV. QwikShower Wipes – from a company that calls itself My Kids Stink, LLC — are large, moist, single-use disposable cloths with a subtle scent and economical price point. QwikShower Wipes are appealing for many reasons:
• Convenient. Each wipe is individually wrapped for portability and to ensure it never dries out.
• Effective. With a large 10-inch by 12-inch dimension and a resilient cloth-like material, QwikShower Wipes are big and study enough to clean the entire body, also leaving a slight fresh scent behind.
• Green. Environmentally friendly, QwikShower Wipes are non-aerosol and emit zero fluorocarbon emissions unlike popular body sprays. This also ensures the scent won’t invade the personal space of others or overwhelm the small space of a camper.
• Economical. Starting at just 49 cents each coupled with the company’s free shipping policy, QwikShower Wipes are very affordable.
• Versatile. QwikShower Wipes are great for use after sports practices and games, a day at the beach, or an impromptu restaurant outing with the family. Also a stellar solution for adults, the wipes are perfectly suited for boaters, campers and fitness enthusiasts. They are also a must for emergency preparedness kits in the event of water outages.
For more information about QwikShower Wipes visit www.QwikShower.com.
State Parks gift cards
Quite frankly, a state parks gift card or gift certificate is just about the perfect gift to give an RVer. A State Parks gift card is an appealing choice for anyone who likes to play outdoors or unwind in comfort. Gift cards can be redeemed for camping, getaway rentals, cottage rentals or overnight stays in state park campgrounds, and some are good for use at state park lodges. Many states allow them to be used used at State Parks’ public courses, boat rentals at some state park marinas, or for food and merchandise purchases.
“Drives of a Lifetime” from National Geographic
Fall vacations conjure up images of cozy fireplaces, mugs of warm apple cider and drives through gorgeous foliage, rich with the changing colors of the season. National Geographic provides details of hundreds of scenic fall drives and more in “DRIVES OF A LIFETIME: Where to Go, Why to Go, When to Go” ($40 hardcover). Following on the success of National Geographic Traveler magazine’s popular Drives of a Lifetime series, this sumptuously illustrated gift book will appeal to all who have a yen for the open road and for every magnificent sight along the way. Click here for the Amazon.com page for this book.
Duraflame Gold Firelog
Sick of the high cost of firewood? Sick of buying firewood at some campgrounds that’s little more than bark? How about trying the Duraflame Gold firelog for your next campfire. Packaged in chic gold and black, the Gold firelog is ideal for a great weekend fire, and burns longer with brighter with larger flames. The Duraflame Gold firelog is the first 7-pound firelog that burns for over four hours without tending, and is made from 100 percent renewable resources and burns 80 percent cleaner than wood. Available in a four-log pack for a suggested retail price of $24.99 or sold as a single log for $5-6/log. For more information visit www.duraflame.com.
“Winnebago Man” documentary on DVD
The outrageously funny, critically-acclaimed documentary “Winnebago Man” ($29.95) is available on DVD by Kino International. Following its much-publicized U.S. theatrical release in over 100 markets, as well as Jack Rebney’s national television debut as a guest on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, the DVD is one of the most talked-about documentaries of the year. Click here for the Amazon.com page for this DVD.
Bananagrams ($14.95) is a fast and fun anagram game that drives players bananas! Requiring no pencil, paper or board, Bananagrams comes in a small portable banana shaped pouch and is perfect fun for kids from 7 – 97 years-old, at home or on the go. Bananagrams is available online as a free Facebook Application and on the iPad, iPhone and iTouch as well as in a series of books. Bananagrams recently launched in Spanish, French, Norwegian and German as well as in a larger version – DOUBLE Bananagrams, the big banana for the larger bunch (for 16+ players).
Cascade Sleeping Bag from Peak Camping
I’m not one for mummy-style sleeping bags, but for those who are then jump in and snuggle up for a long rest with this best-selling High Peak USA Cascade Sleeping Bag. With a temperature rating of +20, -5, and -15 degrees F (ladies bag is available in +20 and -5), you can be assured a restful sleep outdoors even during the most frigid nights. The Thermolite Quallo insulation is a special fiber technology that promotes warmth and easy packing and maintains resilience and high loft. The Cascade also features an insulated chest collar to keep cold air from sneaking in. The shell is made of 310T/210T nylon. Dimensions: 31 inches by 79 inches by 21 inches (footbox).
“Along Interstate-75″ book
Since 1992, Dave Hunter (and his wife and travel partner, Kathy) have acquired hundreds of friends and travel industry contacts along the I-75 corridor, who share their “local knowledge” of roadside secrets, local restaurants and ways to save money. “Along Interstate-75″ is published by Mile Oak Publishing, Inc. and is available in bookstores, at AAA in OH, by phone at 800-431-1579, online and at www.i75online.com. Useful travel information to help anyone driving this popular interstate from Detroit to the Florida border and back.
So there you have it. Granted, it’s not the most comprehensive list in the world, but these are things I’ve come across that I thought might catch your eye as well.
From the personal blog: I continue to post information on great getaways to many popular Midwest destinations, including Traverse City’s Winter Wow!fest, as well as great tips on how to protect yourself from the cold. Another pretty cool post was the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds recent announcement of the 32 campgrounds and RV parks that received an ‘A’ grade.
Gr8LakesCamper celebrates the world of RV Camping in the Midwest. Gather around the campfire and share tips, ideas and stories on RVing, camping and travel destinations. Follow Gr8LakesCamper on Twitter, Facebook and the personal blog.