Saving Money in the Airport

    travelTraveling can get expensive really fast. Between getting to the airport, checking your most likely overweight bags, and the flight in general, your bill has already grown quite a bit before you even get off the plane for your vacation. I have been traveling around the world since I was a child and have traveled professionally as well. Since my personal and professional travels have ramped up in the past few years I have come up with a few tips on how to save money in the airport whether you’re going on your vacation or you’re returning. The list below should help you and your wallet so feel free to share with everyone else.

    Pack Snacks & Empty Water Bottles:

    Let’s face it, buying food at an airport is expensive when it’s just you traveling and even more expensive when you’re traveling with others. The prices are much more inflated than anything I have ever seen and there’s all the temptation in the world to buy a burger or something delicious because it’s all right there and there’s a ton of options. My best tip for you is to pack snacks and even pack empty water bottles. The snacks should keep you full until you get more free snacks on the plane and the water bottles allow you to fill them up for free from the water fountains at each terminal.

    Check Credit Card for Extra Perks:

    Make sure to check with your credit card company to see if by being a loyal customer you are entitled to certain perks. You may or may not be entitled to any perks but it’s definitely worth a try because it could mean an upgrade to first class, saving money on checked bag, or even free food. This is a definite must in my opinion and something I do each and every time I travel.

    Use Coupons:

    If you absolutely have to buy something at the airport make sure you bring coupons. A lot of the stores and restaurants in airports are chains so most likely they will honor a coupon you have with their establishment. Before leaving for the airport make sure you check online which stores or restaurants are at your airport and check their pages for available money saving coupons.

    Bring Entertainment With You:

    Something I always make sure to do when traveling is packing entertainment and not buying it at one of the magazine huts or convenience stores. Make sure to have your laptop, tablet, phone, or other technology completely charged and already preloaded with television shows or movies incase you get bored, your flight is delayed, or there is no on-flight entertainment. I also bring a magazine or a book in addition to my technology just incase I want to unplug from the world of electronics. If you are a parent I strongly suggest you bring coloring books for the children if they’re young, just to keep them busy.

    Thinking ahead of your travel will save you money and ensure that you dont become fixated on costs that could have been avoided. Hope you enjoyed this article and be sure to check back again soon for more travel pieces.

    Thank you for reading!

    William Mungall


    Digital Wallets & Traveling

    Iwilliam-mungall-digital-wallet tend to travel a lot. When I say a lot, I mean a lot. Whether its for work or pleasure I feel I am always on the go. When I am traveling there’s a lot to keep track of and not lose. Where’s my wallet? Wheres my passport? There’s too much to keep track of sometimes. One thing that is helping travelers from each and every country, is the digital wallet. A digital wallet is exactly what it sounds like, a technologically advanced and secure way to keep your cards and information all in one place without carrying around a wallet in your back pocket or your purse.

    The world is evolving and becoming more and more advanced and technologically dependent. It only makes sense to make your wallet part of the future. There are tons of apps out there that allow you to input your credit card information and make cash a thing of the past. More and more people are adopting this new trend and I for one am excited to see it grow. According to a recent survey, more than 3,800 travelers from Australia, Germany, Brazil, Mexico, Canada, the U.K., and the United States who took 4 or more trips a year, stored their wallets information on their smart phone.

    Although some people are still hesitant to put all their personal information on an app or their smartphone, the numbers are growing little by little. The global average at this moment is around 22% in favor of using the digital wallet as opposed to their leather one. Since Apple Pay’s launch and the Google Wallet’s inception more business travelers are using these technologies as they are backed by reputable brand name companies. The numbers are highly expected to grow in coming years.

    Take a look at the graph pictured below to get a better idea of how the digital wallet is viewed among other countries across the world.


    With new technology coming out each day to make phones run longer, more efficiently, always have service or wifi, and be more protected among countless other factors, the digital wallet will become a staple product for everyone. I for one am extremely excited about the evolution of this industry and can’t wait to see how the landscape changes in coming years.


    Thank you for reading!

    -William Mungall


    Brand New Travel StartUps

    william-mungall-traveling-startupIn today’s world a new startup becomes public knowledge every 5 minutes. It’s a very exciting time in the world when a young and innovative company comes out of nowhere and disrupts all kinds of industries and levels out the playing field. The innovative solutions to life’s most frequently asked questions and necessary products/services have truly become revolutionary. I love to travel and regularly keep up with new products or information on how to travel better, smarter, more efficiently, and save as much money as possible all while maximizing relaxation and fun. The companies listed below are brand new and definitely set to make some pretty big waves in the travel industry.


    Absoludata is an analytics based service that provides hotels offering products for customers and various analytics related to their marketing such as research and gathering all the data needed to visualize their marketing efforts. The company aims to help hotels increase non-room revenue and determine the best possible mix of digital and traditional media investments.

    Nueva Hospitality:

    This new company is “an all-in-one suite” of cloud based solutions designed for small hotels. Yes, the smaller hotels still need to compete against the bigger players in the hospitality industry. Nueva Hospitality helps hotels integrate with online travel agencies and other search sites to provide a solid platform for guests to research and book their time.


    UpsellGuru sells a proprietary software to hotels to allow guests to bid for room upgrades and book reservation add-ons prior to their check-in. The company has implemented a strong email based information system to allow users to know what is going on in their intended hotel during each week. It sounds like a new and interesting way to interact with customers before they check-in and make for a more communication based business. It will be interesting to see how the hotels take to the bidding process for additional amenities.


    Tengwirth allows hotel employees to better receive, record, and respond to hotel guest’s various requests. The system appears to be rather advanced as it also helps employees to learn waht certain guests do and don’t like. Tengwirth seems to aggregate a ton of information so that employees have the most up-to-date information for guests at all time to enhance the time guests stay at the hotel.


    There is Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and now HelloTel, the social network for hotel guests. For the first time hotel guests can communicate with each other a lot easier with digital assistance. HelloTel allows hotels guests to interact with each other through various means and also allows for nearby hotels to engage in conversations and events as well. Although it seems like a lot of this information could be found via Yelp, Facebook, and more it will be interesting to see how HelloTel differentiates itself and grows.


    Thanks for reading!

    -William Mungall


    Best Gadgets for Travel

    With the weather warming up and prime vacation time approaching, everyone need a few techie gadgets for the travels. Whether you’re going to the beach, the mountains, or the rivers in-between the gadgets you’ll learn about below will help you where you need it most.

    BlueTooth Speaker:

    Invest the small amount of money on a reliable and energy efficient portable bluetooth speaker. Bringing music with you on your adventures will definitely liven things up and it sure to keep you excited. The connectability between devices and bluetooth electronics nowadays is really fantastic and is definitely something to look into if you love music.

    Noise Canceling Headphones:

    Noise canceling headphones are an absolute must when it comes to traveling. The last thing you’ll want when you board a plane is to hear a screaming baby, and that’s the beauty of noise canceling electronics. No longer will you be forced to hear anything you wish not to and you’ll be able to focus on whatever movie JetBlue is streaming or catch all the z’s you can before arriving in your new location.

    USB Battery Pack:

    Now these come in all shapes and sizes and are amazing. One of the biggest and best players in the game is Mophie and they make amazing products. Having another battery that is 100% portable and will charge up your most important devices is critical when it comes to connect-ability with the rest of the world and the ability to share your latest Instagram post. Pick up one of these devices at your local Best Buy or Walmart for a great value.

    USB Car Adapter:

    For all the cross country trekkers and road warriors out there, this one’s for you. Ever have your phone die on you mid-drive? I sure have and it’s no fun when the music shuts off and you cant call your friends. A USB car adapter will allow you to keep your phone juiced up the whole drive so you can rest assured you’ll have a full battery when you need it.

    Go Pro:

    These wonderful, small cameras are some of the favorite gadgets for today’s action sports stars and have come a long way since their inception and first model. Go Pro’s will allow you to film all of your adventures and remaster them into a cutting edge, Spielberg-esque travel film. Your family and friends will love to see first hand footage of you cliff diving, four-wheeling, or even bungee jumping, if you’re into that kind of thing that is.

    Thanks for reading!

    -William Mungall


    Travel Trends of 2015


    Each and every year with the dawn of new companies, new offerings, and changes in industries, travel changes among many other things. People are traveling and experiencing the world in new and exciting ways that are unlike anything before now. The good news of this ever changing landscape means that more exciting things are bound to occur and interest people from all around the world. Below you will find some of the most news-worthy trends that have already taken shape in 2015 when it comes to travel.

    Rental Properties or Hotels:

    Its getting harder and harder to tell if the rental property you booked is part of a large hotel company or chain. With the massive surge of AirBnB and other residence renting services people are able to rent out apartments, lodges, vacation sites, etc. for less than hotels while offering more amenities. It has become much more affordable to rent out a beautiful beach home right on the water rather than staying at the Marriott 4 blocks away from the beach’s parking lot. The competitive landscape is ever shifting and it will be interesting to see what comes next.

    Sleeping Better:

    New and innovative apps are hitting the digital markets each day and provide users with tailored solutions to help them track and modify their schedules both awake and asleep to maximize their energy levels as well as overall health. User now know when they can take a nap and for how long without risking grogginess and wasted time. There have also been breakthroughs in furniture, like beds and chairs, all the way to wearable technology to shut you off from the world, just for a little while

    Increasing Your Phone’s Abilities:

    Your phone will sooner than later consume your wallet and include all your credit cards and information that you’re generally keep in your back pocket. Apple Pay is on the upswing, Google Wallet is available, and Apple’s Passbook for iOS serve as great examples for the digital transformation of the leather pouch that used to carry tangible currency, business cards, and more.

    Give a Vacation:

    There have been new companies recently that are partnered with existing and established travel companies that put some of your dollars, used on your vacation to use to help provide others with a nice vacation as well. Other companies take the money you used for your travel plans and re-invests it into local communities by helping fund local projects, donate school supplies, or run charity drives. If that isn’t a reason to book new travel plans today, then I don’t know what it.

    Thank you for reading,

    William Mungall


    Phipps Center for Sustainable Landscapes

    In a world where the West Coast is experiencing record drought and the East Coast is going through one of the coldest and longest winters on record, it’s hard to not think about the effect we’re having on the environment. As architects, we’re seeking new ways to use materials that not only fit within a given environment, but either leave no negative influence on the surrounding environment, or better yet, give back to the environment in which it is built.

    In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the Phipps Center for Sustainable Landscapes does just that. Not only is it a masterfully-designed site, but is the only structure to be given the four highest sustainable building certifications in the world. They’ve received WELL Building Platinum certification (the only site to receive it), LEED Platinum certification, Four Stars Sustainable SITES Initiative™ certification and has been certified a ‘Living Building’ by the International Living Future Institute (one of only four in the world!).

    Phipps Center for Sustainable Landscapes Mungall

    Phipps Center for Sustainable Landscapes

    One of the most impressive feats of the center is that it’s net-zero energy, meaning that it produces just as much energy, or more, than it uses. Using sustainable sources of energy like solar (photovoltaic cells), geothermal (geothermal wells) and wind energy, they can passively harvest naturally-produced energy that would otherwise go unused. They have even designed the land to grow native vegetation that naturally filters their water without harmful chemicals or expensive filtration systems.

    Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Garden

    Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Garden

    The building is the first of its kind, providing a wondrous example of how we can create something beautiful and sustainable. It’s a fitting addition to the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, which is the home to a beautiful Victorian glasshouse that does a great job of connecting its visitors with nature. The welcome center, built in 2005, was also built with energy efficiency in mind, as it is built partially underground.

    It’s an exciting time for architecture. We’re finding new and cheaper ways to use technology that leave less of a negative imprint on the natural world. Ultimately, they help us blend buildings with the surrounding environment both naturally and aesthetically.

    Read the full story at inhabit.com


    Snow Load’s Effect on Architecture

    Record Precipitation

    While the West Coast is mired in what could wind up being the worst drought in 500 years, the East Coast is experiencing its own share of abnormal precipitation, albeit to the opposite effect as here in California. Those on the opposite coast and their homes are bearing the full brunt of one of the coldest Februaries of all time. The only problem is, some of their houses are buckling under the weight of heaps of snow.

    Boston Snowfall Suburban Road William Mungall

    Bostonians are getting weighed down by snow in 2015.

    Snow Accumulation’s Architectural Consequences

    A recent article in Architect Magazine detailed the full extent of the damage that Boston has sustained through over a full month of heavy winter weather. Both municipal and residential buildings have suffered from the weather, with heavy loads of snow causing roofs to leak and cave in. The article estimates that over six feet of snow have been dropped on Boston since January (eight feet total this winter). The possibility for roof damage was so prevalent that schools like Somerville High School closed at the mayor’s behest.

    The natural response is, of course, to remove the snow when it accumulates to a level deemed unsafe to the integrity of the roof. However, there are more factors that should be taken into account, including the roof’s angle and material, the type of snow currently resting on the roof, its distribution, etc. One of the biggest threats to the integrity of a roof is when snow accumulates unevenly across a flat roof, putting extra weight in certain places and creating more of a risk for collapse than evenly-distributed accumulation.

    William Mungall Heavy Snow Load Roof Collapse Boston

    An unlucky homeowner woke up to a roof collapsed under heavy snow load.

    To try and avoid this problem of rooftop snow buildup, there are certain measures one can take. Although it might not be possible in certain areas, finding/building a house with a steep-pitch gable roof, especially one designed with a smooth, non-abrasive material, will make it easier for gravity to pull snow off of a roof before it freezes and starts to catch additional snow. An angle of 30˚ or more should do the trick.

    For more tips on guidelines for snow safety, check out FEMA’s Snow Load Safety Guide.


    The Future of Sustainable Architecture

    Population Growth & Rapid Urbanization

    Protesters urging new leader Leung Chun-ying to step down crowd a street in Hong Kong

    As the world’s population continues to skyrocket (total population jumped from ~1 billion in 1804 to over 7 billion today), space will remain at a premium. The combination of less space for expansion and the new challenges presented by cities’ having to support larger populations will require us to find new and innovative ways to improve the functionality of our buildings. Not only will we need to maximize the space inside the buildings and reduce their impact on the environment, but now is the time to start thinking about how these buildings can both serve its tenants and the surrounding community.

    Solutions in Architecture

    urban skyfarm william mungall

    There have been major and exciting developments in sustainable architecture over the last twenty years. The idea that a building could not only be aesthetically pleasing, but also have a positive environmental footprint is particularly appealing in a world where we regularly hear about potential environmental disasters resulting from climate change.

    An interesting idea for “sustainable architecture” is that of vertical farms, where, instead of floor after floor of offices in a building, you would have tiers of greenery that would synthesize elements of agriculture, architecture, and sustainability to create high-efficiency farms that take up vertical space rather than acres of ground-level space. According to a recent report in Fast Company, this is exactly what is pursued by Aprilli Design Studio, a U.S.-based design atelier, in their Urban Skyfarm project. Their proposed structure would be a complete, self-sustaining ecosystem, complete with wind turbines, hydroponic farming systems, solar panels, a natural rainwater filtration system. The structure would be built using lightweight decks and could host more trees than an urban park.

    According to architects Steve Lee and See Yoon Park, “Vertical farming is not only a great solution to future food shortage problems but a great strategy to to address many environmental problems resulting from urbanization.”


    Dubai’s Dynamic Tower

    William Mungall - Dynamic Tower

    Over the years, Dubai has built a solid reputation for itself in terms of revolutionary urban architecture. Home to the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa, Dubai is not unfamiliar with unique buildings dominating its illustrious skyline. Tourists and locals alike are now eagerly waiting for the city’s latest endeavor, the Dynamic Tower, a one-of-a-kind architectural marvel.

    The Tower is a staggering 80 storey structure designed to serve as luxury apartments for Dubai’s finest. What sets the Dynamic Tower apart from the rest of the many-storied luxury apartments is that this tower is a rotating skyscraper, the first of its kind. Rotating restaurants have been a global architectural fad for quite some time now, but never before has anyone ventured to apply it on such a mammoth scale.

    Designed by Italian architect, David Fisher, this 420m rotating monolith is expected to cost about 700 million dollars. It was expected to be completed by 2010, but as of now, the tower has not been built yet. Fortunately for Fisher, the delay does not steal much away from the fascination of architectural professionals.

    Attached to a central column, each floor of the building can shift to ensure it has no specific shape. All 80 apartments will be spinning a full 360 degrees (with one to three hours) with the use of 79 power-generating wind turbines between each floor. The building is designed to be energy self-sufficient and apartments come in the price range of 3.7 million dollars yo 36 million dollars (at the rate of 30,000 dollars per square meter).

    Fisher’s company has not sold any apartments yet and are also waiting to secure proper funding for this project, but claims that the skyscraper can be competed in merely 480 days. Meanwhile, Cayan Tower in Dubai Marina remains the city’s and world’s tallest rotating building standing 310m tall with a 90 degree twist.

    The Dynamic Tower promises to reshape the future of architecture, and the with a design so tantalizingly visionary, the architectural world holds it breath in anticipation of this rotating wonder.


    Must See Architectural Marvels


    The Pyramids at Giza are the only extant member of the elusive Seven Ancient Wonders of the World.

    If you love travel, architecture, or both, you should definitely check out this list the Smithsonian Magazine put together cataloguing the 28 Places to See Before You Die.  Many of the items on this list are natural wonders or ambitious art projects from history, but maybe the most amazing monuments to human ingenuity are those in the “Feats of Engineering” section.  For a full list and advice on getting the best out of your trip, take a look at the article.  Here are a few of the salient points.

    The Pyramids at Giza

    Most people know about the ancient Pyramids at Giza. Besides being the only surviving monument listed as one of the Seven Ancient Wonders if the World, Giza has also presented modern architects with plenty to discuss.  Experts believe they have a good idea of how they were constructed but all of the details have yet to be agreed upon.  What we do know is that the pyramids are made up of over 2.3 million meticulously cut blocks of limestone.  Besides the laborious cutting and constructing, the materials most likely were transported long distances, making the monuments one of the most amazing testaments to the scientific knowledge of the ancients.

    The Great Wall

    Sports pundits love to talk about unbreakable records.  With architectural techniques advancing at such a rapid rate, there probably aren’t too many records that are safe.  The Great Wall of China may be the exception.  In today’s world, organizing a concerted effort to construct a wall that spans over 4,500 miles is probably impossible.  For a bit of context, that means the Great Wall spans about the same amount of distance as Los Angeles to New York and then back to Chicago.  It may not be impressive at any single point, but the sheer scale makes it a must-see for any student of architecture or history.

    These are just a few of the amazing places Smithsonian has listed as must-visit destinations.  Check out their entries on the Taj Mahal and the statues at Easter Island for more incredible feats of architecture and engineering.