My recent trip to Japan elevated my respect for technology to a new level. The information I could obtain back in 2009 using 7 hard copies of Rick Steve’s guides crumbled up in my purse can now be accessed with a single click on the phone. With the right apps to address your needs on-the-go, you can optimize your convenience and comfort on the road at the same time alleviate the every-day hassles which tend to slow you down. In my Japan Guide 101 published a couple of weeks ago, I highlighted a number of apps such as Waygo which made our communication in Japan so much easier. After my trip, I set out on a task to uncover as many travel apps I could possibly find to ease the load off but more importantly, add a thick layer of excitement to my future travel plans! I was amazed at what & how much is out there I wasn’t aware of. But first I needed to be sure these apps were (1) reputable, and (2) user-friendly, hence making them (3) download worthy. After a thorough selection process, I chose several to share with you. Hopefully you weren’t as clueless as I was!
The Booking Phase
Hopper (via BGR) – Hopper uses historical data to try to tell you when you should book your flight. It also provides a timeline of exactly how to expect prices to trend. Other similar apps to try are Airfarewatchdog and Yapta.
But If Shit Happens…
Roomer (via Buzzfeed) – What do you do when you run into last minute change of plans or an emergency to attend to but your hotel booking is non-refundable? You pay cancellation fees! But if you use Roomer, you can list your room and wait to hear from someone who wants to take over your reservation — so no extra fees out of your pocket!
The Planning Phase
Google Calendar (via Fast Company) – Google Calendar‘s redesigned functionality automatically sucks in upcoming flights, concerts or reservations from your email into your schedule. Other similar apps are TripCase and Tripit.
CityMaps2Go (via Buzzfeed) – If you’re traveling outside your country and have to depend on Wi-Fi for internet, it’s smart to download all the maps you’ll need in advance at CityMaps2Go. They’re stored offline so you’ll avoid roaming charges. Other similar apps are Citymapper and Maplets.
The “Painful” Packing Phase
PackPoint (via Quaintrelleoquist) – PackPoint is a free packing list app which helps you organize what you need to pack based on length of travel, weather of your destination, and any activities planned during your trip. Their motto: Never forget your _____ again!
The Airport Phase
My TSA (via Buzzfeed) – My TSA allows you to look up how long the security wait times are at your airport so you’ll be sure to arrive early enough to make your flight. For help on navigating the airport, also check out GateGuru and Flight Aware.
Roadtrippers (via Buzzfeed) – Roadtrippers is a must-have for anyone planning a road trip in the United States. You enter where you want to go, make selections depending on what you want to see (natural wonders! weird stuff!), and the app will create a customized map for you. Similar apps include WunderWalk, AroundMe and Fieldtripper.
iExit (via Baltimore) – iExit pinpoints your location/direction via GPS, it tells you what lies ahead exit by exit (up to 100 of them) so you can plan gas stops, bathroom breaks, meals, lodging, and other road-tripping necessities.
Track My Tour (via Buzzfeed) – Track My Tour allows your loved ones to “join” you on a trip from the comfort of their homes. They “follow a breadcrumb trail of your tour by visiting the link you sent them,” while you document the most exciting spots you visit as you go. What3Words app delivers a slightly similar experience.
Parkopedia (via Rough Guides) – With the help of Parkopedia, locate parking spaces near you using GPS services, see parking availability in real-time and check prices, payment methods and opening times – before you even get behind the wheel.
But If Shit Happens…
Rain Alarm (via Telegraph) – Rain Alarm app warns you against approaching precipitation like rain or snow within your selected radius using (almost) real-time data. A useful assistant for everything outdoors like cycling, biking, hiking, gardening, BBQ, picnics, dog walking, home improvement and more.
Wi-Fi Finder (via pcmag) – With 320,000 locations in 140 countries worldwide, Wi-Fi Finder does just what it says, helps users find nearby Wi-Fi locations. And thankfully, locations can be downloaded for use when you’re not online, smart!
Pocket (via Rough Guides) – Pocket is a hugely useful app that lets you save web articles and videos to your your device for offline reading at a later date – perfect for that long train journey or 12-hour flight. The best part is that it’s compatible across devices, meaning your saved articles will synchronize across all of them when connected to the internet.
LogMeIn (via Buzzfeed) – It’s a horrible moment when you realize that you need a file stored on your home computer when you’re 700 (or even just 30) miles away from it. LogMeIn allows you to access (and control) your home computer from anywhere.
The Wine-n-Dine Phase
OpenTable (via Baltimore) – OpenTable is your mobile concierge to help you make dinner reservations anywhere. Search for restaurants by location or name, browse top and trendy dining spots, and then let OpenTable search for available dates and times. When you’ve chosen one, book it with one tap. The app instantly confirms the reservation, sends you a reminder in advance and invites your friends on your behalf. To enhance your dining or other city-cruising experiences, be sure to check out TV Food Maps (guide to restaurants featured on Chopped and Diners, Drive-ins and Dives), Flavour, Unlike, 12hrs, Spotted By Locals and Trover.
The Language-Disconnect Phase
Google Translate (via Time) – Google Translate recently launched “Conversation mode.” Simply open the app, hold the mobile device between two people speaking a different language, and listen as it translates a conversation live. Other awesome apps to kill the language barrier are Waygo, iTranslate and TripLingo.
The Facebook-Status-Update Phase
Hyperlapse (via uncrate) – Hyperlapse from Instagram lets you shoot time lapse videos that can be played back at up to 12 times the speed you shot it, allowing you to show a day’s worth of action in just 30 seconds or less.
Shift (via appadvice) – Shift by Pixite just took photo editing to a whole new level. It gives you complete freedom to make your own personalized photo filters. In other words, when it comes to photo editing, the sky is the limit. Here’s how the app works. Time to give oldies like Vibrance, VSCO Cam, Litely and Camera+ a break.
The Track-Your-Expenses Phase
Expensify (via Tom’s Guide) – If you’re a business traveler then Expensify is your Bestie for life! It allows you to manually track your expenses. You can photograph your receipts, have it read by computer and automatically generate as an expense. In addition to receipt scanning, Expensify offers input options for travel mileage, time and rate based expenses, as well as automatic currency conversion.
Cost Split (via Rough Guides) – Cost Split lets you set up a budget for each trip with the names of the people splitting the costs, so you can keep track of who spends what. When you’re ready to settle your debts at the end of your trip, you can run a report which tells you who should pay what to whom. Splitwise is a similar app to try.
The Back-To-Reality Phase
The Bragging Phrase
…And If You Are Planning A Trip To Disney Land…
What To Expect In 2015
Bluesmart (via Telegraph) – Bluesmart is going to be World’s first smart connected luggage. The app will allow you to lock and unlock your luggage, weigh it, track its location and be notified if you are leaving it behind. You can also charge your phone 6 times over with a built-in battery. No more lost luggage!