Tag Archives: traveling

It’s a coffeehouse bonanza. How do I choose?

Biggby Pumpkin Spice Latte - A Michigan company
Starbucks, Biggby, Caribou, mom and pop shops, the coffee house options are limitless now. When driving you see the blue signs on the interstate telling you what’s at the next exit. A coffee house or two is usually included. When you’re in a city there seems to be a coffeehouse on every corner. Whether it be doing work, freelance, writing, processing photos, surfing the web and/or just passing by while on a day road trip, the coffee house is a second home to me. It got me wondering. Why do I choose to go to some coffee houses and not others? What catches my eye when I’m on the road and need to satisfy my caffeine and social media fix?
Freeway food signs - Coffee Houses included

The basics. Let’s get those out of the way first. Usually having my phone, laptop and camera on me, it’s extremely important that there are adequate electrical outlets. There is one near where I live that has only two, which is unbelievable considering it’s highly trafficked and near a lot of businesses. Everyone usually bows to the person with the power strip in these cases.

At least it has the high volume going for it. I look for coffee houses that are busy which means they’re popular. If they don’t have free Wi-Fi in this day and age forget about it. Starbucks did a great thing by changing course and providing free access a few months back. Starbucks also scored big in my book with their Foursquare mayorship promotion back over the summer. I enjoyed quite a few discounted frappuccinos over that period. It was great introducing the workers to FourSquare in more detail too.

The layout and type of seating is also important. Sometimes I like to people watch or sit on a couch and a coffee house that has those possibilities definitely gets an A in my book. I rarely have headphones on so the music playing in the background is important too. No matter if it’s Top 40, country, local tunes or someone playing live, it definitely has to make the mood more relaxing.

What about the beverage selection you ask? Sure I love mocha drinks, anything with vanilla and this time of year the pumpkin spice latte, but in the end I’m usually just looking for caffeine or something to quench my thirst. I haven’t really come across a coffee house where I’ve consistency received bad drinks. I guess I’ve been lucky.

All of the above criteria are important and play a factor for sure, but ultimately it’s the view that determines my feelings towards a coffee house. Nothing else matters. Boy it took me longer then I thought to reference Metallica.

The number of window seats or outdoor seating definitely increases the odds of getting a good view. I love sitting by the window or being outside wherever I am at. If someone could point out a coffeehouse anywhere that has an open view of the water or other amazing scenery that would be a place I’d have to check out. A good coffee, amazing scenery, out on the road, all my tech gadgets and social media tools open and good company makes for the ultimate coffee house experience.
Inside a Starbucks

Of course you can’t always have an ocean view and sometimes the weather is lousy so the scenery inside is equally important. What am I looking for inside? Artwork, color schemes, lighting, the style of the furniture, a loft ceiling it all plays a role in having a good view.
Biggby Coffee - A Michigan company

If you follow me on various social media outlets you can tell the coffeehouses that I would give a great score too. Out and about and looking to find a coffee house? Go to Google Maps of course. I just did a quick search for Biggby Coffee’s in the Detroit area, a local chain.

Have an iPhone? Check out the myStarbucks iPhone App. No matter where you’re at, you’ll know how close you are to a Starbucks. If you use a location based service to check-in like FourSquare you can always see if there is a coffee house nearby. If the coffee house is tagged appropriately you will see a coffee cup next to the location. Checkout Finding Coffee as well.

Those are my two cents. What are you looking or not looking for in coffee houses you go too? I’d love to hear.

A travelers thoughts on checking-in.

Foursquare. Gowalla. BrightKite. Yelp. Your reading about these terms, you hear people talking about them, but what are they? Basically these are social technologies that allow you to (check-in) let people know where you are and in the process your winning badges, smack talk rights, points, sometimes even promotions from places that you visit. This phenomenon is still relatively new so both individuals and businesses are still figuring out how to most effectively use these technologies.

I’ve used Gowalla a little bit, but Foursquare is my choice because it’s the most well-known, popular and I find it easy to use.

How am I using these technologies? As people that follow me on Twitter and Foursquare know, I tend to check-in a lot more when traveling then when at home, sometimes going overboard. Why do I do that? What is my goal? Basically to showcase what a certain place has to offer. I’ve “somewhat” lost interest in the day-to-day checking in a lot around home and gathering mayor ships. Believe me, I still check in and give shout outs to great places around home, but I’d rather have a variety of check-ins in different towns, states, even countries just to highlight great places to check out. I’m sure no one is interested in my daily gas station, fast-food, grocery and errand habits anyways.

New York Welcome to Sign - I-90 North

When traveling my favorite check-in spots include welcome to signs, coffee houses, tourist attractions, sports stadiums, unique restaurants/bars, parks, river fronts, piers, anything around water for that matter. Just checking in at these places is not enough. I love adding a water photo shot, a great meal tip, something special that will make someone else want to experience the same thing.
I’ve definitely got the parks, stadiums and water shots covered in the Foursquare screen shot below on a recent trip through Tennessee.

Using Foursquare when traveling.

The day road trip. My staple. On these, I’ll check-in usually only on the way to a destination. I find no reason to check back in at the same places, trying to collect mayor ships unless there is more to see. On a recent day venture I checked in at the same park in Cleveland to and from because I wanted day and night photos.

When traveling, contrary to my statement above, I will check-in at a gas station or fast food joint, especially on long distance trips. It’s to let followers know where I’m going and passing through. Sometimes I’ll drive through a whole state and that’s my only chance to give them a shout out.

How about when flying? Airports are a must. They show your on the move, ready to travel. I check-in at the airport itself and usually a restaurant within. I just laugh at all the gates, bathrooms and seats that have been checked in at. Do people really to be that specific with their check-ins?

So next time I’m out on the open road, I’m sure you’ll see me checking in a lot, shouting, tweeting while taking photos. Maybe I’ll see you out there.