holidaytravelThe travel journalists behind MapQuest today unveiled a series of tips for surviving the busiest travel period of the year, which unequivocally falls during Thanksgiving week.  These tips cover off on air, rail and car travel tips to decrease costs, increase convenience and efficiency, and deliver travelers more easily to their destinations.

“Most of us have experienced the challenges travel can create any given day, but the time around Thanksgiving introduces inclement weather, larger travel crowds, greater variety in travel fluency and increased costs can cause greater chaos and uncertaintly,” said Michael Yessis, editor-in-chief, MapQuest.  “MapQuest has always tried to eliminate the worry from wayfinding, and our tips address the primary pain points of travel during peak times.”

 

Busiest Time of the Year to Travel

Some of MapQuest’s heaviest traffic falls prior to Thanksgiving Day when folks are determining bigger vacation itineraries for the holiday season or last-minute plans for smaller getaways and overnights over the Thanksgiving weekend.  The editorial team responds to inquiries MapQuest has received from its community, as well as issues they’ve experienced in their tenures as travel journalists. Though not an exhaustive list, top tips are below:

 

Charge and Prep Devices

A delay can sneak up without warning, and coveted outlets are not always readily available at airports or train stations.  Charging a phone or tablet, and also inputting numbers for the customer service line of the airline carrier can serve displaced travelers well.  Portable chargers are another good idea.

 

Use Twitter as a Travel Resource

Twitter is increasingly becoming the go-to place for travelers to resolve issues that arise during their travels. Some airlines are responding by stepping up their presence in the social sphere. American Airlines, for instance, will be adding extra resources to its Twitter team around the Thanksgiving holiday. Need help with a missed connection? Can’t locate a checked bag? Need to rebook? Travelers may want to consider Tweeting at their carrier.

 

Have Alternative Routes and Travel Options Ready

Those affected by a cancelled flight won’t likely find an agent with time to spend researching re-booking options.  The savvy traveller will take screen shots of other potential itineraries and note local or regional airports as backup destinations.  Having that information at hand can provide travelers with greater flexibility and a greater likelihood they will arrive sooner.

 

Keep Overnight Items On-person in Case of Delays

Many tips stem from the possibility of a delay, which can be even greater at certain airports; but nobody wants to be stuck without a toothbrush or contact lens fluid during a delay that extends into the night. Those small personal items can make travelers more comfortable while waylaid without baggage. With the 3-1-1 rule at the airport, though, all liquids must fit in a container of 3.4 ounces or less.

 

Plan with the MapQuest App

The MapQuest app provides alternate routes and can direct travelers around trouble spots. Should the vehicle need a tow, run out of gas, lock out the driver, MapQuest’s free navigation apps on iOS, Android and Amazon provide integrated, on-demand roadside assistance via Urgent.ly.  Now travelers can find local, reliable roadside service providers, connect with them via the app and track their arrival to the car in real time.

 

Gas Up in Advance

Lines are inevitably long the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Nobody wants to add a gas station pit stop to what will probably be an already long and stressful drive.  Gassing up early in the week can provide shorter lines, better prices and a streamlined start to the holiday weekend.

 

Board Early Using Amtrak’s Red Cap Baggage Service

Red Cap agents can carry a passenger’s bags to the train early and, in doing so, deliver that passenger to the train and even to her seat before general boarding. It’s a free service, though tipping is recommended. Red Caps are available at 12 major stations, including New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. Note: Passengers will need to ask an agent to help. Red Caps can’t solicit work.

 

Stock Up on the Kids’ Stuff

Charge their devices. Stash extra batteries in the glove compartment. Download a favorite movie onto a tablet. Leave a new game or toy in their seat for them to discover when they get in the car. Pack lots of snacks. And the experienced guardian will also invest in kid-friendly headphones.

 

Use a GPS Luggage Tracker

To operate, travelers can place a GPS luggage device inside luggage to always know the location of their belongings. If the bag fails to arrive at the destination, travelers can let the airline know exactly where it is, whether that’s inside the building or on another continent. Engadget points to Trakdot ($49.99) as one option.

 

Don’t Be That Stressed-out Traveler

With so many extra errands and activities to facilitate during the holidays, travelers may want an extra hour or two to get to the airport or train station as to not feel harried. Not only will they feel less stress, but they can benevolently reduce other travelers’ stress by stopping to help pick up the toddler’s fallen toy or by stepping aside to let someone through a doorway. Planning ahead can make stressful situations better for all.

 

MapQuest editors spend every day writing about travel, reading about travel and, yes, actually going on trips. We want to help you travel better, so we’ll be sharing our favorite tips, secrets and discoveries from the road in this Editors’ Column.

Have comments or questions? Find us on Facebook or Twitter!

MQ_Urgently_BLogMillions of people think a roadside assistance membership is a necessary annual expense. But what happens to your hard-earned money if you don’t need a tow?  With its national integration of Urgent.ly‘s on-demand roadside assistance, MapQuest becomes the first navigation app to provide free access to these help services so you only pay as you need it. 

MapQuest users across the U.S. can now seamlessly connect with emergency roadside help through our free mobile apps.  It’s the first time people in need of tow, tire change, fuel delivery, jump start or lock out services can contact nearby and available roadside help through Urgent.ly’s on-demand platform and extensive, nationwide roadside assistance network without the inconveniences and inefficiencies of traditional memberships or clubs.

The nationwide, exclusive Urgent.ly integration also gives drivers the ability to locate, track and communicate with nearby roadside assistance vehicles, as well as pay for services needed – all without leaving the MapQuest app.

How It Works

Urgent.ly offers flat-rate pricing and only charges drivers for services they actually use.  Drivers who find themselves in need of roadside help need only:

  • Open MapQuest’s free navigation app (available in iTunes,PLAY or the Amazon App Store)
  • Tap the “Roadside Assistance” item in the MapQuest menu bar
  • Seamlessly connect to Urgent.ly through a unique HTML5 experience that does not require a separate app download

After receiving vehicle information and a description of the problem, Urgent.ly locks in on your location and connects you to a nearby service provider – all within the MapQuest integration.  You can track the service provider’s progress on a map, along with its estimated time of arrival, and you are charged via credit card only after the service is completed to your satisfaction.

If you haven’t heard of it, Urgent.ly is the new, trusted source for roadside assistance. A unique part of the growing on-demand mobile economy, Urgent.ly provides a timely, safe and cost-effective roadside assistance experience without a subscription or membership. It offers two-tap, transparent service; clear, flat-rate pricing; and cashless, reliable help for motorists in need of a tow, tire change, fuel delivery, jump start or lock-out service.

As you gear up for holiday travel and the winter season, I hope you consider using the MapQuest app for all your navigating needs.  And though the best scenario is that you arrive at your destination without any troubles, we know the Urgent.ly features will serve you well if the need arises.

Download the MapQuest app or update to the latest version today!

Introducing Commute by MapQuestStuck in the morning rush hour and missed that first meeting?  Freeway a parking lot and missed your kid’s soccer game?  We’ve all been there.  It’s no fun.  And since your commute sets the mood for what happens after you arrive, wouldn’t you want to know before you go?

That was the thinking behind MapQuest’s new standalone app, “Commute,” that hit Amazon, iTunes and PLAY app stores today.  “Commute” by MapQuest simplifies the daily drive and delivers more convenience to your everyday route. 

It’s the simplest app for information about your daily routine: Commute monitors route conditions and proactively alerts the user to travel times or impactful incidents to better lay expectations for the drive to and from work, school or a daily drive. 

Commute is a mobile app for folks interested solely in getting accurate real-time information available on their commute pushed to them every day.  And while Commute serves a specific experience, we also continue to invest in our free navigation apps across all platforms, recently launching enhanced traffic and alternate route features.  These and other features from our comprehensive navigation apps complement the standalone Commute experience. 

To get started on all smartphone platforms, download the free Commute app and enter some basic information. You will then start receiving notifications 15 minutes prior to your scheduled departure, with information like an understanding of arrival time based on your preferred departure information, and what can be expected along this route based on the most current road conditions. 

Commuting outside of your scheduled times or wanting to add extra stops to your drive?  Link directly from Commute to MapQuest’s free navigation app for a more robust experience: alternate routes, voice-guided directions, customized routes to fit a to-do list or even recommendations for local discovery. 

To download MapQuest’s free Commute or navigation apps, visit iTunes, PLAY, or the Amazon Appstore to get started.

MapQuest and MLB.com’s original online video series, “Key to the City,” hosted by Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre comedian Matt Fisher, proudly unveiled it’s “New York Yankees” video today. From Little Italy to 30 Rock, the “Key to the City” series highlights the heart of New York with a Yankees gameday itinerary best experienced with the industry first, seamless MapQuest integration.

The new “Key to the City” online video series complements MapQuest’s original Gameday Guides, featuring articles created by MapQuest’s editorial team with area travel experts who know MLB ballparks and cities inside-and-out.  Check out http://gameday.mapquest.com/ for more info.

MapQuest Awards 199 Amazon Coins for In-app Purchases 

DENVER (June 16, 2014) – MapQuest, Inc., today launched a weeklong promotion offering 199 free Amazon Coins, Amazon’s virtual currency used to purchase apps, games and in-app items, to users who download the free MapQuest navigation app within the Amazon Appstore from a Kindle Fire or other Android  device, along with the purchase of an an MLB team kit.

READ MORE…

 

MapQuest and MLB.com have launched an original online video series, “Key to the City,” hosted by Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre comedian, Matt Fisher, that accompanies MapQuest’s completely customized ballpark content featuring “Gameday Guides” for all 30 MLB teams.

 

MLB.com “Key to the City” Online Video Series

The original video series, “Key to the City,” located at gameday.mapquest.com, features new custom content for MapQuest’s community of travelers and baseball fans.  Upright Citizens Brigade comedian and MLB fan, Matt Fisher, hosts the new video series offering a unique, 5-minute episode on what to do on game days in select baseball towns.  From iconic tourism attractions to local hangouts to hidden gems, the “Key to the City” series highlights the heart of each town with an itinerary best experienced with the industry-first, seamless MapQuest integration.

Feature cities include:

·      Denver: Today, Colorado Rockies

·      New York City: New York Yankees

·      Los Angeles: Los Angeles Dodgers

·      Chicago:  Chicago Cubs

·      Washington, DC: Washington Nationals

·      Boston: Boston Red Sox

 

MLB Gameday Guides

The new “Key to the City” online video series complements MapQuest’s original Gameday Guides, featuring articles created by MapQuest’s editorial team with area travel experts who know MLB ballparks and cities inside-and-out.  Each of the Gameday Guides features six chapters:

·      Welcome to the Stadium: History and key information

·      Before the Game: Get to know the best offerings near the stadiums

·      Inside the Stadium:  From gluten-free fare to exclusive micro-brews

·      Game on a Budget: When to buy, where to sit and the deals inside

·      Best Bets for Families: Make a child’s first visit memorable or get tips on the best experiences for families

·      After the Game:  From celebrating wins to drowning gameday sorrows, these places are worth the stop

This original content series is part of the MLB.com and MapQuest partnership to deliver MapQuest-powered mapping and directions through an exclusive app-to-app experience within the “MLB.com At the Ballpark” smartphone app.

Each year I look forward to Monster Help Day. It’s a great way to spend time with my co-workers while giving back to our community. This year was extra special, as I was nominated to choose the day’s activities and decided to return to the Denver Children’s Home for the 2nd year in a row. These kids have so little and the team’s rewarding experience last year made such an impact on them that they were excited to be a part of it again this year.

Denver Children’s Home (DCH) restores hope and health to traumatized children and families through a comprehensive array of therapeutic, educational, and community-based services. As the first non-profit in Colorado, Denver Children’s Home was originally created by Colorado’s founding families as the Denver orphan’s Home in 1876 to take care of the orphans building railroads, working in the mines, and the thousands of poorly housed homeless children.

Our day consisted of several projects including, cleaning up the garden, and painting the 2nd floor, deep cleaning and my favorite part–cooking lunch for the staff and kids (a total of 80 people). We made tacos and had a sundae bar with all the toppings–THEY LOVED IT! The kids were so excited and told us it was their favorite meal. It was great interacting with them and seeing first-hand how our contributions impacted their day. We were able to create a fun and friendly atmosphere, and with one boy in particular who was celebrating his birthday, a lasting and positive impression.

This experience with DCH is especially rewarding for me as I’ve prior experience working with abused children. Before I came to AOL, I was a social worker for 10 years at the Denver Family Crisis Center.  Working with kids on a day-to-day basis can be a challenge and leaves its mark—usually with frustration and exhaustion for those involved. As a mother I am grateful to have a wonderful family and be able to provide for them, so taking the time to pitch in to help DCH–weeding their garden, painting their walls a little brighter, and making their lunch a little tastier and fun—is just another way to make a difference.

I keep in touch with Denver Children’s Home throughout the year to see how MapQuest can help with supplies for the kids, whether its shampoo, body wash, clothes, head phones or other needs; we keep a box in the office and I take it over as it gets full. We even have interest from co-workers to continue to cook for the kids either once a month or on a quarterly basis so I will be organizing that soon. I love working for a company that allows us to do such wonderful things and has amazing values. We really are in the business of helping people. Period.

Travel is more fun today, isn’t it?  Travel is easier, more intuitive, more fulfilling and just plain better.  If you had asked the good people who founded MapQuest in 1996, I think they would have shared that their hope for this — the pioneer provider of online maps and directions — would be to do just that: Make travel better.

Nearly two decades later, that’s why we MapQuest folk get out of bed every day.  Our teams around the country and partners across the globe spend literally every second on the job working, yes, to improve travel, but also to expand your idea of how we can help make your DAY better.

As consumers, we look for help making 254,800 decisions each year.  It’s exhausting!  Just trying to decide what’s for dinner or where to take fido for a groom can spin the day in a sour direction.

But what if that didn’t have to happen?  What if MapQuest were there to help with the most remedial decisions required every day?

Friends, that day is here.  If you haven’t checked out the new MapQuest Local experience launched just last month, that’s a good place to start.

  • Taking Timmy to a soccer game and need to have dinner waiting when you get home?  Review menus and order online from hundreds of thousands of restaurants nationwide.
  • Did your favorite professional hockey team surprise everyone and make it to the second round?  Let us help you try and find last-minute tickets.

And don’t miss the myriad of other functionalities from booking an appointment and checking your flight status to finding a hotel or making a dinner reservation. It’s the beginnings of what we believe will be the best single source of local discovery and experience on the planet.

Though we find people appreciate printed directions and riding shotgun with them, millions have taken a liking to our free, re-imagined navigation apps launched late in 2013.  Our heralded iOS and Android apps focus on the three most important areas for our consumers:

  • Safety: Our upside-down mode means you don’t have to monkey with your phone to navigate the road.  Keep your hands on the 10-and-2, and we’ll flip things around for you.
  • Accuracy: Nobody in this business offers the plethora of algorithms we do to get you there, even if road conditions change and an alternate route is required.
  • Relevancy: Driving more than a few hours on your trip?  Drag and drop the map icon to find hotel options along your route.

There’s a lot to see and do with the new MapQuest these days, and while we hope you take a peek at these meaningful offerings, we’re not even close to being done with them.  Keep an eye on us these next few months as we continue to roll out features to make the every day better.  Because it’s what happens AFTER you get there that matters, isn’t it?

We’d love to hear from you!  Tell us what you think and what you want: @MapQuest or feedback@mapquest.com.

About the Author

brianmcmahon
General Manager, MapQuest

JFK Airport details on the new MapQuest Local

Want to know if your flight is delayed?  Need to find a quick grooming appointment for the family dog? Late night at an offsite and need to order-in dinner from someplace close? On the eve of its 18th anniversary, MapQuest today launched the initial phase of its desktop property reinvention — a completely reimagined experience for local discovery and a nod to nearly two decades of enhancing local experiences for millions of travelers. The new MapQuest Local is available on desktop and tablet website, delivering relevant details, handy functionality and valuable reviews from several trusted partners to create a single source for in-depth, local information.

Do More: What The Newly Improved MapQuest Offers Users

  • Order online or book a restaurant reservation
  • Book a wide-range of service appointments … even for a pet
  • Search and secure an event ticket
  • Book travel via MapQuest’s booking widget
  • Find airport delay information, concourse maps, and terminal information
  • Take advantage of great local deals
  • Find user reviews, ratings and tips

MapQuest partnered with top data providers and included publicly available government data sources to create the most relevant information set, including:

  • Foursquare: Providing venue tips*
  • GrubHub: Access to online and mobile ordering from more than 28,000 takeout restaurants
  • SinglePlatform: Menu information for nearly 500,000 businesses
  • Booker: Scheduling functionality for more than 40 business types including spas and salons
  • SeatGeek: Ticketing for more than 180,000 events at 50,000 venues
  • FAA (Federal Aviation Administration): Airport status information such as ground stops and average airport delays made publicly available by the FAA (Airports are the No. 1 queried search on MapQuest.com)

MapQuest leads the industry with patented algorithms that determine what information is pertinent and how it is served. These information sources complement MapQuest’s existing partners, including Priceline Partner Network and OpenTable.  

We believe we’ve created a truly intuitive one-stop shop for all relevant information a consumer may need – the right information, at the right time, in the right place.   This is a game-changer for current and new MapQuest users who are looking for that one resource to save them time and better empower their decisions.

*Foursquare tips to be integrated in mid-2014.

**MLB.com integration currently available; expanded content scheduled to debut in mid-2014.

Just in time for Opening Day, MapQuest and MLB.com announced an official partnership delivering MapQuest-powered mapping and directions through an exclusive app-to-app experience within the “MLB.com At the Ballpark” smartphone app, as well as integrated into MLB.com and all 30 MLB team websites.

The MapQuest integration into the “MLB.com At the Ballpark” app and responsive, mobile-optimized sites now make it easier for fans to find their way to games throughout the 2014 season.  As part of the official partnership, MapQuest created custom-branded MLB team experiences, available within its iOS and Android apps and developed original MLB content to enhance local experiences. MapQuest and MLB.com are also co-creating an original video series for MLB fans and MapQuest users alike, expected to debut in May 2014.

 

MLB.com + MapQuest Integrations

MapQuest traffic-influenced rerouting accommodates for game-day traffic to get game-goers there for the first pitch.  Available today, MLB.com and MapQuest’s integrations include:

MapQuest for iOS and Android Apps:  Super fans can customize their free MapQuest apps by upgrading to a premium team experience for $1.99:

*   Team Colors and Map Icons: Customized with team’s colors and four logo options

*   Baseball-themed Progress Bar: Customized industry-first ETAstatus bar with a baseball icon

*   Field Wallpaper: Background menu image

*   Team Start Screen: Team loading screen (Android Only)

 

 MLB.com: Optimized experience for mobile with MapQuest-powered mapping and desktop-to-mobile directions from the MLB.com “At the Ballpark iOS and Android apps.

 

Put some mustard on that app and download your favorite team’s experience.  And if you can’t decide where your loyalty stands, we’ve got 29 more team options to choose from.  Though we’re not taking sides, we do hope our Blake Street Neighbors make a run for Rocktober.

Click here if your mascot is of the domestic type.