Showing posts from March, 2019

Dear Japan Olympic and Tourism bureaus: please enable offline Google Maps

One of the great tips for traveling internationally is to download an offline Google Map of the area you're visiting so you can find your way even when you don't have cellular or Wi-Fi access. Japan has blocked this feature for years. I have no idea why, but I have a lot of awesome conspiracy theories, most of which involve competing map products' CEO's belonging to the same country club as Japan's Google liaison.

But we're in the big run-up to the 2020 Olympics and all signs point to the fact that Japan is attempting in earnest to make things easier for visitors – expanding Wi-Fi access, adding more English/Chinese/Korean signage, standardizing the buttons on their famous toilets... So why the f&*k is this super-convenient feature still being blocked?

As an alternative, I've used Here maps. I've also heard many folks praise Navitime and Citymapper are also super useful for navigating Tokyo.
Furthermore… While I'm on the topic of unso…

T-Mobile's "Canada and Mexico are considered domesic!" isn't really true.

Most American cellular companies now offer data and calling plans where Canada and Mexico enjoy a special roaming status not bestowed on other international destinations. If you read the ads, you're generally led to believe that usage in our two nearest neighbors is considered "domestic" – even at full LTE speeds. For most one- or two-week vacations, this is effectively true.

I'd heard rumors online that people on longer visits had their service throttled or completely cut off by T-Mobile if the majority of their cellular usage in a single billing period is Canada/Mexico roaming. Well, I just got that dreaded text today, March 14th. For the record:
My billing cycle resets on the 22nd of each month.
I got to Mexico Jan 26th, and have been back in the states since March 4th.

Now, at this point, I don't care if they throttle my Can/Mex roaming for the rest of this billing cycle because I'm back home, but I am curious what would have happened if I'd been the…

A great little tool for optimizing Wi-Fi usage

A while back (when my laptop chewed through my entire ANA data plan in like 4 minutes) I lamented the fact that laptops don't have the sophisticated data-throttling controls that smart phones do. One of my readers told me about a cool tool for MacOS and Windows that enables these types of controls for your laptop (or desktop) computer. It's called TripMode.

It's US$8, there's a free trial, and you can pay by several means, including Apple Pay. Installation is simple, and once it's launched you have a task bar item that lets you selectively enable internet access for various applications and services. You can completely disable TripMode whenever you want. One cool thing I like about the preferences is that you can tell it to speak every time it blocks something (e.g., "Application Calendar was blocked"). This gives you a great sense of how many things are silently sucking bandwidth when you're not even thinking about it.

While I've been loving JetB…

And the first official churn of 2019 is...

....a Marriott Bonvoy Visa from Chase – definitely not something I would have predicted a few months ago, that's for sure. Before I go into why, here's our current points situation:

Here's why:
I have a large, no bonus category, reimbursable expense coming up that will easily put me over spending threshold for the bonus ($5,000 for 100,000 miles). The vendor I have to pay doesn't take Amex any longerBoth my husband and I currently have 100k+ Marriott points bonuses thanks in part to churning the SPG Amex prior to the Marriott + SPG merger. It's always easier to book rewards when you have one big pile of points versus having them scattered across several programs. I debated getting an Alaska Airlines card or a Korean SkyMiles one, but we don't have any big travel plans beyond what we've already booked for this year, so I'd really prefer to have any new bonus points in a flexible, transferable currency than in a specific airline's program.

Mexico City

Mexico City feels like Paris and Los Angeles and New York all at once. We've been here several times and this month-long visit was our longest so far. Yes, parts of it are overrun with English-speaking hipsters, but don't let that discourage you, it's a beautiful, delicious, and welcoming place.
Before you go 📅 Luckily for you, Mexico City (aka CDMX or DF "day effay") pretty much has the same weather year-roundwarm and pleasant with low humidity. Spring is slightly warmer and muggier than the rest of the year, but not unbearably so. In winter it can get a bit cold at night so bring a jacket. I've basically never seen an adult local wearing shorts here, so choose your own adventure on that front.

Check the national holidays list so you don't plan something when everything's closed. Also check to see if there's anything cool you might want to make sure you're in town for – we went to the Zona Maco and Material art shows and loved them.