5 Easy Summer Travel Tips

summer travel destination

With summer vacations starting and 4th of July around the corner, now is the time to venture out and enjoy the warmth and sunshine. Summer is regarded as the best season to go on vacation. It’s the best time you can spend traveling without having to worry about being in the midst of punishing weather. Vacations are supposed to be a fun and relaxing activity, not a disappointing and exhausting event. Whether you are traveling with your special someone, family, or your friends, you have to be well prepared. The best trips involve careful planning. Here are 5 summer travel tips to kick start your summer vacation plans.

 

1. Destination

What is your ideal vacation spot this summer? When deciding, consider your budget, the number of days of travel, and the number of people you will be traveling with. Collect a summer travel guide and decide your place of interest. Get familiar with the maps and tour books of that area.  The internet has a variety of resources – Fodor’s and Lonely Planet are good starting points.

Bay Beach

2. Accommodation & Prior Reservation

It is always a good idea to plan where you are staying well in advance. This will not only save you money but it also ensures that you get the hotel of your choice for your summer vacation. Booking in advance secures you with comfortable travel dates and often will allow you to be eligible for special offers. It would be an excellent idea to get customer reviews of the hotel and its locality.

accomodations

3. Documentation & Monies

Before you plan to travel anywhere within the country or abroad, it is absolutely necessary to collect all needed documents. Carry your travel documents like visa, identification papers, and passport if you are traveling outside the country. Do not forget to carry foreign currency, credit cards, and debit cards. It is very important that you have more than enough money for where you’re going. You don’t want to be stuck in unfamiliar territory because you are short on cash.

currencies

4. Basic Medicines

 Another absolute necessity when traveling for summer is to carry a portable first aid kit with the medicines associated with summer vacations – possible sore throats, diarrhea, summer boils, allergies, cuts, and scrapes. Pack medicines that are part of the family’s daily dose. If you have a history of any illness, carry the health related documents. Enlist your doctor’s number, the local doctor’s number, and the numbers of your emergency contacts.

going to bathroom

5. Shed Extra and Pack Smart

Avoid carrying unnecessary items and pack things that have multiple uses. Always consider the climatic condition of the place you are about to visit and pack your luggage accordingly. When traveling for the summer, it calls for careful preparation. Carry sun-glasses, an umbrella, lightweight cotton or linen clothes, and pleasing pastels. Avoid synthetics and go for sensible footwear like flip-flops or walking shoes. Don’t forget to protect your head by wearing hats, bonnets, or visors if you feel like re-living 1999.

n sync visor

You will surely have a blast on your summer vacation this year if you’re better prepared and organized. This does not mean that you have to give up on spontaneity. You can still do things that you may not have planned for but if you make a plan, it will be in a safe and responsible manner.  There’s always travel insurance and rental car insurance to protect you and your family in case of emergencies.

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5 Father’s Day Gifts for the Cool Dad

Michael KeatonIs your dad as cool as Michael Keaton?  If yes, then he’ll probably like these gift ideas.

 

Dads may be relatively easy to please, but that’s no reason to drop the ball on Father’s Day. A good father will wear that ugly tie until he retires, but he deserves more. We all love our dads, but we are never sure what a great gift would be for him. The best gift ideas for Father’s Day always take a father’s personality and style into account.

 

1. Tickets to the Game

Let’s be real – most dads are sports fans so this is an easy one. Get your dad good seats to the game or tournament of his choice, whether it be basketball, football, golf, or any other sport. To hit the ball outside of the park, buy him several tickets and allow him to invite friends and family. Heck, he might even bring you along!

father+son+baseball

After 35 neglected years, Larry King's stunt double took his son to a baseball game

2. Fitbit Flex Wireless Activity and Sleep Wristband

Help Dad stay in shape in the least activity-intense way possible! Fitbit Flex fits a small monitoring device inside one of two included silicone wristbands that tracks your activity including how many calories you burn during the day and your sleep patterns at night. With the assistance from a free companion app for your iPhone (or a separate Mac/PC app) that syncs with Fitbit’s website, it stores and visualizes the collected data, along with information you enter about your activities, food, water intake, and more. The best motivation Dad needs to get going is smaller than the average watch and looks cool too.

fitbit

Fitbit tells you how many calories you burned using chopsticks

3. GoPro HERO3 White Edition Camcorder

This is the company’s most advanced GoPro camera to date. You can mount the waterproof (up to 197 feet) camera on just about any piece of gear and capture video up to 1440p resolution. Additionally, it takes 12MP photos for ultra high resolution action shots! If your dad has an active lifestyle, a resilient HD camera is exactly what Dad will need to make a digital copy of his memories. This device will capture all of Dad’s exciting experiences, whether it is underwater swimming with sharks, climbing to the top of the Himalayas, or spelunking in a cave in search for guano.

guano go pro

If this dad had a GoPro, he wouldn't have to put his face in bat guano

4. Ryobi One Plus Ultimate Combo Kit

One of the best features about the Ryobi One+ 18-volt Lithium-ion Ultimate Combo Kit is the can’t-miss canvas bag, Dad will be able to spot it no matter how dark and cluttered the garage gets. When he needs power tools, they’re all right there – all 6 of them. The drill alone is compact and powerful enough to handle about any job on Dad’s project list.

ryobi family

This father built a treehouse using a Ryobi drill and his bare hands

5. A Driving Experience

Dads and cars are like Kool-Aid – a homogeneous mixture! Give your dad a Father’s Day gift he’ll never forget by booking a driving experience in a Porsche, Ferrari, or Lamborghini. Participants can really test the car’s limits on a closed race track. Hitting 200mph in an exotic car is like overdosing on testosterone and adrenaline. Furthermore, you could rent your dad’s dream car for a day and let him drive it to the office and gloat about it to his friends. This gift will make him feel like an alpha male like Vin Diesel in The Fast and Furious!

Vin-Diesel

Vin Diesel is so alpha, he once broke up a fight while holding a baby

Just remember that these are only a handful of ideas that you can opt for when choosing the perfect first Father’s Day gift. What you want to remember is that the gift you pick should be memorable and fun! To further make this experience worthwhile, give Dad the gift that keeps giving – an electronic device protection plan.

 


 

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Closecall Post Accident Phone Protection – Fast Phone Replacement

Broke your phone? No insurance? No problem!

 

Closecall Post Accident Phone Insurance - Phone Replacement

Introducing Protect Your Bubble’s latest protection plan – Closecall.  With Closecall, we’ll replace your damaged phone with a refurbished one and have it shipped to you overnight despite your lack of phone insurance or warranty.*  You will also have the option to insure your new phone with us moving forward to make sure you’re protected if you find yourself in this situation again.  It’s the closest thing to jumping in a time machine and traveling back in time to prevent your phone from getting damaged.  Closecall covers phone damages like cracked screens, water damage, drop damage, and more.  For the full details on this phone replacement plan, check out our Closecall Post Accident Cell Phone Insurance.

 

Happy man with cell phone

*Your replacement phone is a high-quality refurbished device and has undergone rigorous testing and quality assurance to ensure it will last. Replacement phone purchase requires eligible installment agreement and qualifying credit. Your monthly price covers your quality replacement phone as well as sales tax. You cannot cancel the monthly replacement phone fees. Call Preferred Warranty Services at 855-852-7383 for questions regarding the interest-free financing contract.

 

Overnight delivery applies to phones ordered before 2PM EST Monday-Thursday. Orders placed between 2PM EST Thursday and 2PM EST Friday will be delivered on the following Monday. Orders placed between 2PM EST Friday and midnight EST Sunday will be delivered on the following Tuesday.

 

 

In Florida, accidental damage and mechanical breakdown coverage are provided by an extended service contract through United Service Protection, Inc

 

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The Rising Cost of Identity Theft

id theft

It has become common to hear about identity theft practically every day. In the last decade, cases of identity theft have been all over the news. With such wide spread media coverage and new technologies that aid in id theft protection, you would think that this type of crime should be less prevalent. But the truth is, cases of identity theft are still on the rise.

 

Identity Theft Statistics

 

The latest statistics from Javelin Strategy & Research’s 2014 Identity Fraud Study reported that a new identity fraud victim was hit every two seconds in America in 2013, with the number of victims climbing to 13.1 million over the year. This is an uptick of more than 500,000 victims since 2012. Javelin’s report was conducted for the past 11 years and drew on responses from 5,634 consumers to identify the impacts of fraud nationwide.

 

Javelin-identity-theft-victims

While the number of victims increased year over year, the amount of defrauded money decreased by $3 billion to $18 billion compared to 2012. “In 2012, we had a big spike in new fraud with a high average fraud amount,” said Al Pascual of Javelin Strategy & Research, “but in 2013, that was pushed down with criminals shifting into existing card fraud.” He also gave credit to the progression in the financial industry, because of the improvements of detecting new instances of fraud there was a noticeable drop in compromised funds as criminals have had a harder time creating new fraudulent accounts.

 2014_Identity_fraud_research_javelin

Identity Theft Growing and Becoming More Costly to Victims

 

According to recent figures from the U.S. Department of Justice, credit card data theft skyrocketed and increased 50% from 2005 to 2010. An estimated 16.6 million people, representing 7 percent of all persons age 16 or older in the United States, experienced at least one incident of identity theft in 2012. The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) released an eye-opening report finding identity theft cost Americans $10 billion more last year than all other property crimes measured by the National Crime Victimization Survey. Losses for household motor vehicle theft, burglary, and property theft totaled $14 billion whereas identity theft cost Americans a staggering $24.7 billion in 2012.

 

identity-theft-BJS

The BJS’s also reports the most common way victims discovered the identity theft in 2012 was when a financial institution contacted them about suspicious activity on an account. About 2 out of 3 victims did not know how the offender obtained their information, and 9 out of 10 did not know anything about the identity of the offender. People whose names were used to open new accounts were more likely to experience financial hardship, emotional distress, and even problems with their relationships, than people whose existing accounts were manipulated.  In addition, Americans who were in households making $75,000 or more were more likely to experience identity theft than lower-income households.

 

 

Penalties for ID Theft Conviction

 

The Identity Theft Penalty Enhancement Act has been in place for more than 7 years. This law passed in July 2006 increases existing penalties for the crime of identity theft, establishing “aggravated identity theft” as a criminal offense, defined as using stolen identity to commit a crime. This adds two to five years of prison time to the penalties depending if aid and assistance was given to terrorists or terrorism groups.

 

identity-theft-credit-card

In the last 10 years, transactions over the internet continued to be one of the top cases of identity theft. College students have become particularly vulnerable due to the use of unsecured wireless networks. ID theft isn’t limited to the internet however. A large number of cases come from people responding to fraudulent phone solicitations and mail fraud. Theft of personal information from company databases and POS devices have also lead to an increase in identity theft fraud, such as the ones from Target and Neiman Marcus.

 

The best option to shield yourself from identity theft is to use a specialized identity theft protection solution with comprehensive coverage and monitoring.

 


 

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7 Video Games You Should Be Playing This Summer

Transistor Game

With the recent launches of the next gen systems, this will be the inaugural summer of next gen gaming as highly anticipated titles for the PS4, Xbox One, and Wii U are scheduled to be released. Prepare your thumbs and mind for an exhilarating summer full of nonstop rofl-stomping.  Here are 7 games you need to be playing this summer 2014, listed by release date.

 

1. Transistor | PC, PS4 | May 20, 2014

From the creators of critically acclaimed Bastion, SuperGiant Games brings its latest game to the PC and PS4. Transistor places you in the role of a female protagonist aptly named Red who conveniently carries around a behemoth, living sword with a big Red eye.  This sci-fi action rpg has it all, from the stunning hand drawn art style set in a not so distant dystopian city to its tight gameplay mechanics. Transistor is the Hideki Matsui of video games – Amazing!

 

2. Watch Dogs | Multi-platform | May 27, 2014

Contrary to the game’s title, Watch Dogs is not a competitive doggy daycare simulator. It is, however, an open world action-adventure game with eerie real life overtones.  Set in a fictional and technologically connected Chicago, you play the role of an adroit hacker who can access protected electronic systems that control different aspects of the city and a to a larger extent, the world. It is developed by Ubisoft Montreal, the same team that brought you Far Cry 2 and Shaun White Snowboarding! Actually forget Watch Dogs, I want to play Shaun White Snowboarding!

Shaun White - Samuel L. Jackson

Samuel L. Jackson reluctantly approves of Shaun White Snowboarding

 

3. Mario Kart 8 | Wii U | May 30, 2014

It’s a me, Mario!Mario Kart 8 is the latest rendition of the beloved Nintendo racing series, dating back to the SNES days when moderately offensive ethnic stereotypes were still acceptable. It brings back some sweet features from the previous installments like motorbikes, hang gliders, and underwater racing! A new feature is anti-gravity racing, which allows for racing along walls and ceilings.  Talk about insane! Get hype for Mario Kart 8 and ready your blue shells to do battle against your friends.

 

4. Ultra Street Fighter IV | PS3, X360, PC | Jun, 2014

It seems like there is a new Street Fighter game every year. I would not be the least bit surprised if the developer, Capcom, were to release something like Super Hyper Ultra Combo Street Fighter IV.V next year. This is the fourth rendition of the Street Fighter IV series.  This time around each character has one extra costume color! But seriously, this version has tighter gameplay mechanics, five new characters, and six new stages. For you diehard fighting gaming enthusiasts, Ultra Street Fighter IV will be your go-to fighter this summer. For you casual gamers, I suggest you go home and be a family man.

 

Go home and be a family man

 

5. Valiant Hearts: The Great War | Multi-platform | Jun 25, 2014

This game looks sweet.  On a scale of sweet to super sweet, I would rate Valiant Hearts: The Great War cinnabon-sweet. The art style has a really indie feel to it and is a bit reminiscent of Metal Slug. More importantly, the gameplay mechanics are tight like jean shorts in the 90’s. I dare you to watch the trailer and tell me it doesn’t look tight!

 

6. Madden NFL 15 | Multi-platform | Aug 26, 2014

john madden brain

Mr. Madden! That's not a football you're holding!

Here comes the annual Madden game, this time with more dementia.  Our dearly beloved John Madden is 78 years young, but that hasn’t stopped him from making awe-inspiring video games like Madden NFL 15. The most recent Madden game has updated rosters that include 2014 NFL draft players like Johnny Manziel. Here’s your chance to simulate his upcoming season and achieve realistic stats – 584 YDs, 3 TDs, 19 INTs, and 7 fumbles! Go Football!

 

7. Destiny | Multi-platform | Sep 9, 2014

Destiny is a Destiny’s Child simulator, allowing you to immerse yourself as Beyoncé and overshadow the other neglected members. Experience real-life past events like rudely interrupting Kelly Rowland as she applies for a title loan or abruptly cutting Michelle Williams in line as you queue for movie theatre concessions.  Just kidding, this game is actually much more jubilant than Destiny’s Child’s history – it involves the slaughter of xenophobic aliens in an interstellar blood bath.

 

And there you have it folks. 7 games you need to be playing this summer. Subscribe to the blog below or get at me via Google+.


 

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#OopsAwards – Have a Travel Accident Story? Share it for a Chance to Win an iPad Mini!

Travel Oops Awards

Oops Story

 

Have you had an “OOPS!” moment while traveling? Accidents DO happen. Whether you’re on a business trip or a family vacation, travel accidents can be a painful experience.

 

So share with us your travel accident story. Perhaps you were traveling abroad and lost your luggage or missed a connecting flight by mere minutes.  Maybe you slipped and fell at the buffet line at a beach resort and fractured your leg. Whatever the mishap, we want to hear how you a travel oops moment!

 

Share your story about an unforgettable “Travel ‘OOPS!’ Story” via the Post Kudos submission form below for the chance to win an iPad Mini. Whichever story gets the most votes wins!

 

Submit Your Story in 4 Easy Steps

 

1) Share your story in the Post Kudos section below (give your story a fun title). The entry has to be in video format either recorded or uploaded below via Post Kudos. Video content is open to your imagination as long as it is a real experience - it can be a video testimonial, a cheesy re-enactment, or an actual recording of the accident. The more creative it is, the better chance you will have to win! Videos must be 30 seconds or less to be eligible for the prize.

 

2) Share this link and encourage people to vote for your story:
http://us.protectyourbubble.com/blog/oops-awards-2014-travel-accident-story/

 

3) Friends, family, and fans of your story will vote below through Rafflecopter. Please input the TITLE of the video you want to vote for.  Furthermore, Facebook likes and Twitter follows add an additional entry each.

 

4) The person with the story with the most votes – by June 30, 2014 – wins an iPad Mini

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Testimonials collected with Post Kudos

NO PURCHASE OR PAYMENT OF ANY KIND IS NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. PURCHASE OR PAYMENT DOES NOT IMPROVE YOUR CHANCE OF WINNING. Open only to legal residents of the 50 United States and the District of Columbia, who are 18 years and older (19 or older in AL and NE). Contest ends June 30, 2014. Subject to complete Official Rules.

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Has Google Glass Gone Too Far?

Google Glass

Is Google Glass racist?

 

From my experience, the answer is a resounding yes!

 

With the onslaught of new technologies today, humans from all backgrounds have voiced their displeasure about the extreme prejudice and insensitive encounters they have experienced with high-tech devices.

 

racist camera

The Struggle is Real

A cute feature of Google Glass is the ability to message a friend or perform a Google search purely by talking to your device – no physical interaction is needed throughout the whole process, which ironically does not save time as you spend minutes trying to correct the speech to text errors.

 

Below is a video demonstrating the outcome of Google Glass’s voice recognition software by emulating people of various backgrounds as they attempt to speak English with different accents.

 

 

As you can see from the video, Google Glass is indeed racist.  The Australians, Irish, and Chinese have the toughest time.  The real question is will we humans just stand there and become slaves to our blatantly discriminatory tech overlords?  In the Terminator series, John Connor was wrong when he said there was nothing worse than SkyNet – a racist SkyNet.  Disclaimer: This is satire.  If you didn’t realize that, I feel bad for you son – you got 99 problems and satire is one.

 


 

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How To Get Cheaper Rental Car Rates

 

rental car lotMany travelers often have the misconception that car rental rates are pretty much the same across all companies. The truth is rates can vary quite a bit between car rental companies and destinations. Car rental deals can be hard to find, especially if you’re only searching in a few places. Here are 4 tips on how you can get cheaper car rental rates:

 

1. Book Early

 

Booking early is a good practice, particularly if you need a car during peak travel seasons. It’s no secret that during the holidays, prices for rental cars can get unpredictably high. It is always a good idea to book early or play around on you rental dates. Like airfare, the further in advance you book, the more money you can end up saving. If seasonality is not an issue, just plan a trip to Detroit.  Their car rental prices are always near rock bottom!

 

happy family rental car

This family saved $5 by booking 3 years in advance

2. Know Your Providers

 

Not all car rental companies are the same. It’s important to understand how each company differs from the other and how they can serve you best. Some of the things to consider when shopping for a company include available car types, locations, and service fees. You need to first consider which of these factors are important to you. For example, if you’re after price, it would mean that you may have to sacrifice luxury. Also, you might be able to score a good deal by going to a rental car place located in the sketchy part of town. If the local title loan stores have wrought iron bars covering their windows, then you know you are in the right area to get a deal!

 

run down rental car parking lot

If the rental car lot doesn't look like this, keep driving

3. Online Rental Deals

 

Search through online travel sites such as Orbitz, Expedia, Travelauto, Kayak, and others. These major online agencies often negotiate with various car rental companies to offer competitive rates. To get better pricing, try using flexible dates which allows you to compare the car rental rates of different companies. When appropriate, search for “Flight and Car” together or better yet “Flight, Hotel, and Car,” you’d be surprised with the number of vacation package and bundled discounts that come up on the searches. These can be both compelling and competitively priced. If you are unsatisfied with the quotes given, just give their customer support a call and express your disappointment with pathetic, desperate sobbing and they will surely give you a discount.

 

william shatner priceline

I would fight Priceline's William Shatner for a 5% discount

4. Discount Programs, Codes, and Coupons

 

Discount programs are often available through reward programs from various credit card services. Most of them either have miles, points, or discounts that you can earn. Because these companies compete for your business and loyalty, they always have new offers and rewards save you money. You can also find discount codes and coupons online from sites like Retail Me Not. Remember to always check if your coupon is still valid before you attempt to use it, you might be surprised at how quickly a coupon’s expiry date arrives by the time you plan to make your booking. It can be very discouraging to have your coupon code denied, but you should be able to find one if you keep looking hard enough.  If you still can’t find one after 2 hours of searching, just give their customer support a call and receive a discount by expressing your disdain with inconsolable, faint weeping.

 

crying for a discount

The coupon codes have expired

 

So get out there and rent a car! It’ll be fun even if you have nowhere to go. If you’re a reckless driver like myself, I would suggest getting rental car insurance.

 


 

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5 Toddler Travel Tips For Super Parents

Traveling with toddlers

Who says your travel plans have to stop when you have kids?

 

Traveling with kids is a great way to educate them on the world and to make lifelong memories. So pack your bags and hit the road! A little prep can go a long way in making the trip smoother.

 

With Memorial Day Weekend coming up, travel plans are in full gear. Below is a list of considerations to help you make the most of your trip.

 

1. Travel, in itself, is an adventure for the kids.  Think of the trip as less of a stressful chore and more of an exciting experience!  Your attitude will set the tone for the journey.

 

Happy Family Travel

Look how happy these paid actors are

2. Tell your kids what to expect.  Two of my favorite children’s authors have books about the airport – Bryon Barton’s Airport and Richard Scarry’s A Day At The Airport.  Granted they are slightly outdated, but they still convey the basics of air travel.

 

Byron Barton Airport

Byron Barton's Airport - the definitive children's book on flying

 

3. Can you rent or borrow baby equipment when you get there?  Lugging around car seats, strollers, and pack & plays can require an army.  If you are visiting family they likely have what you need or can borrow items from their friends.  If you are staying at a hotel, use one of their cribs.  If you are renting a car, investigate also renting car seats.

 

Packed Car

Instant child equipment regret

 

4. Don’t assume a late flight is off limits.  My kids tend to sleep well on flights if they are tired.  So you could put the kid in their PJs and let them sleep on the flight.   If the kids are sleeping, that’s less time that you have to entertain them in a confined space!

 

sleeping toddlers

Sleeping children is best children

 

5. Don’t overdo the toy bag.   The more things you have, the more likely they are to fall down, roll around, and get lost.  Pack entertainment strategically.  A single notepad, with a sticker book and a pencil will go far!  A tablet with a variety of games and movies is a great use of space.   Plus there are games like I Spy that require nothing at all!

 

Electronic Doodle Pad

An electronic doodle pad can keep a child entertained for an eternity

 

Remember to pack your Travel Insurance –it protects from when your getaway gets away from you!

 


 

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7 “Look Up” Tips for Smartphone Addicts

 

 

Gary Turk may not have know how far reaching his video would be when he wrote, performed, and directed it, but the message that he communicates is definitely resonating with those that remember life without a smartphone.  I have personally felt the same concern for my children who knew how to use a smartphone and tablet as early as 2 years old.

 

Growing up in the 80s, my parent’s had similar concerns about video games.  I could play Super Mario Brothers, Contra, Super Tecmo Bowl, and Street Fighter all day long.  At the same time, my buddies and I would disappear on our bicycles for hours at a time exploring the neighborhood, woods, or whatever felt adventurous to us at the time.  But smartphone addiction is different than a gaming addiction.  It is much harder to separate ourselves from a device that people expect us to have on us at all times.

 

Then it happens.  We get to a point where we actually fear being away from our phones.  We fear that we are missing something or that we may have to wait in line or in a waiting room with no way to tweet, email, or snapchat how bored we are waiting for something.  At Protect Your Bubble, we see it all the time as someone has their device lost, stolen, or damaged.  They will file a claim, and we will overnight a device to them.  But even in that short turnaround, there is a huge sense of urgency from our customers as they experience the mental anguish of being disconnected.

 

Gary Turk also did a great job of conveying the danger of our phones becoming our primary or only means of connecting with others.  Even to the point where young people have a harder time communicating with others in person or by phone.  Aside from communication proficiency, some of the funniest moments in my life were spent sharing a movie with friends, sitting around a campfire sharing stories (that no one had already seen on Facebook), or adventures that we went on in response to being a little bored.  Those deep connecting moments are the ones I remember.  I don’t remember any funny moments I’ve shared over social media.  Even 15 year later, being 1000s of miles apart, I can still call or go visit old friends, and we relive those moments, and it is literally like we never moved apart.  That’s a real connection and worth the effort of “Looking Up”.

 

Here are a few tips if you are trying to Look Up and connect better:

 

“Park It”

Your phone may need a break from you too!

Have a place in your home where you park your phone.  A place were it can charge and be away from you.  Give your phone some space.  Change the ringtones for important people in your life and only go check if it rings with those tones.  It will help you engage better in your home and to ignore the unimportant noises that grab our attention if the phone is always in your pocket.  I even have a buddy that keeps his work phone in the garage so that he doesn’t even hear it after hours.  It has a nice parking spot in the garage where it can rest for the next busy day.

 

“Look at the Phone, Pick up the Tab”

Taking your phone out for dinner?

If you are at dinner with friends, you can each put your smartphone on vibrate and leave them on the table facing up at the center of the table.  When someone calls, emails, etc, the phone will light up.  The goal of the game is to not get caught looking at the phone at all.  The first person to do it, or the person who looks the most, has to pick up the tab for dinner.  Make a big deal about it when you catch them sneaking a peak on the sly too.  If you are at home with the family, that person has to do the dishes before they get their phone back.

 

Engage People in Real Conversation

Many a great stories are told fireside

How good are you at engaging people?  More than tweet-sized texts and small talk about weather, sports, etc.  What are fun things do you like to know about people?  Instead of stalking them on Facebook, engage them in real life.  Put together a list of questions in your mind that you want to know about others.  My wife and I have a list of questions we ask our kids at the dinner table – like what animal or super hero would you be – and the responses are hysterical.

 

People love to talk and laugh about themselves – they just need a prompt.  It could be as simple as asking someone to tell you their story or how they got to where they are today.   Ask them dream level questions…what they love to do if they had all the time and money in the world to do it, what would their dream job look like, what is the funniest thing that has ever happened to them, what adventure would they like to go on, etc.   Learn what questions engage people and go looking for opportunities to use them.  People will be less likely to check their vibrating smartphones when you have them engaged in fun conversations.

 

Pay Attention & Be Polite

Get off your phone - come back 3 years!

The smartphone has become a refuge from talking to people in stores, on elevators, and in line, but prioritize being polite over getting 5 extra seconds of screentime.  If the message can be sent by your phone, it can probably wait for you to open the door for someone or to acknowledge the hostess at a restaurant.   Its usually not intentional, but staring at our phones can come off as rude and obnoxious to those that need us to be responsive in the coffee line.  Most of us would keep our eye up if we knew that others thought we were being rude or obnoxious.

 

DWT – Driving While Texting

Pay Attention!

If you have a tendency to check your phone at red lights or as you approach intersections, watch the sidewalks.  There are tons of bikers, runners, and others on the sidewalk or on the edge of the road whose lives depend on too many people looking at their cellphones while driving.  I run a lot, and the number of people looking down while driving is jaw dropping.  My friends and I have countless stories of close calls and many of them involve a cell phone.  According to Textinganddrivingsafety.com, 1 out of 4 wrecks involve cell phones and that you are 23 times more likely to have a wreck when looking at your smartphone’s screen.  Just keep in mind that not everyone is protected from you by their vehicle and pay attention when the phone lights up.

 

Explore Now, Tweet Later

Better than a retweet!

Go somewhere where the messages on your phone seem trivial.  Go hiking and listen to nature.  Go for a run or a walk in a peaceful or scenic place.  Go to a sporting event or a concert soak up the experience.  I’m terrible about seeing the sites when I travel for business, but hate sitting in my hotel room.  Going for a run in a new place has become my mainstay, and I’m amazed at how much of a city you can take in when running around it.  Even if you don’t run, just go explore.  You can take pictures, but tweet them later in the day.

 

 Turn off the Things that go Ding

"Ah, need to get this one..."

Your phone probably doesn’t need to make as much noise as it does.  Turn off the alerts and dings for non-critical apps or messages.  I laugh when the generic Apple SMS ding rings and 10 people pull their phones out.  If it doesn’t need your immediate attention, it doesn’t need to ding.  It is also great to customize dings and rings for the top people in your life so that you know when they are trying to reach you and when the rest of the world is pressing.  You’ll have better restraint to keep it in your purse or pocket if you have a better idea of who is contacting you.

 

And finally, as you walk down the street, sit at a restaurant, and talk to people, notice how hard it really is for us all to Look Up.  Laugh at how bad we are at it, and make mental notes about where you should look up in your life.  Good work Mr. Turk.  There may be someone out there that meets someone special because of your challenge to Look Up.  These devices are great and important, but the connections and the level of engagement we have with the world around us is much more important.

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