Your Smartphone is an extremely valuable tool to help you when traveling. To maximize its functionality, you need to have the right apps installed and make sure they’re updated before you leave. Here’s a list of apps I use all the time when I’m out of town and I couldn’t imagine traveling any other way.
I’ve written about how I use this program to organize my travel plans. The Tripit app gives you access to all that information at an instant. Need the address to your hotel? What about the dinner reservation you made, what time was it for? Tripit also will suggest nearby restaurants, bars, ATM locations and convenience stores. They’ll even tell you the safety level of your travel location.
This is the app I use to keep track of flight status and it’s extremely useful during flight delays. One of my favorite things about this app is the ability to easily find out the status of your incoming flight (the plane you’re going to be getting on). If that plane isn’t due to arrive until 2:30 PM and you’re still scheduled to board at 2:15 PM, you’re going to hear an announcement that your flight is delayed. We had that very issue on one of our recent flights when our incoming plane was delayed because of weather. I was able to track the plane and we were able to stay in the lounge and get some work done instead of waiting at the (very loud and crowded) gate area, waiting to hear updated information.
I use TripAdvisor when looking for hotels before my trip but I also like to use it to find local attractions when traveling. If I have a few hours to spend, I’ll open up the app and see what things are nearby. Often times I’ll find a museum or historical location I had no idea about that’s usually less crowded than the major sights. You can also read reviews and tips from people who have visited and the comments can range from very helpful to the not-so-helpful.
I find this to be the most helpful of the map apps out there. Besides being great for driving directions, it can also give walking directions and even links with Uber to give you estimated prices of a ride to your location. However my favorite thing about Google Maps is its ability to give you public transportation information. Here’s the description I followed when getting from JFK to Manhattan on the subway.
Knowing what train to get on (including the end of the line stop) and all of the stops on the way makes traveling on an unknown system much less nerve wracking. It will even tell you the times the train is expected (not that the NYC subway runs on any schedule I’ve been able to determine) but that’s more useful to tell the train frequency. There’s a big difference between a train running once every five minutes or once every thirty minutes.
I use Yelp to help me find places to eat when I’m out of town. It’s really helpful to sort places within walking distance or that are in between your location and destination. It allows you to filter only places that are open at a particular time (no use going to a great place if it’s only open for lunch) or what the vibe of the place is (you don’t want to be at a loud bar when you’re wanting to have a quiet night out).
Do you need to sleep with the fan on to give you some background noise? The White Noise app has over 40 ambient sounds you can listen to like “Rain on Car Roof” or “Clothes Dryer” You can even mix your own playlist.
Now, this wouldn’t have helped in our last hotel where we had one of the loudest air conditioner units ever. To make things even better, it turned off every once in a while for twenty seconds and then cycled back on.
Now, I know that I may get some flack for this one. Uber has gone through some trouble at a corporate level but as a customer I find they provide a service I want/need when I want/need it. Their app is easy to understand and works almost everywhere around the world (in fact, one of the first times we ever used Uber was in, of all places, Sydney, Australia). I also get a $15 credit every month from my AMEX Platinum card so my first ride or two is/are free.
We use Uber to get around major cities when it’s too far to walk and public transportation is not available. In some cities like Los Angeles, Chicago and New York, taking an Uber has become a regular way for locals and tourists to get around the city. I’ve never waited more than five minutes for a car and it sure beats having to try and flag down a taxi.
If you haven’t signed up for Uber before, you can use my link and your first ride will be free. (If you sign up with my link, I receive a free ride after you take your first trip. This will help support the blog and we appreciate that!)
Other Apps You Should Download
I’d recommend getting the apps from the companies you have reservations with on your trip. All of the major airlines have their own apps that send you notifications about flight delays and gate information. The hotel chains have apps that allow you to select your room in advance (not always a good idea if you are looking for a better room) and the apps from Marriott and Hilton will allow you to use your phone as your room key at certain hotels. Car rental companies have apps you can download to keep track of your reservation. If you rent a car with Silvercar, downloading the app is necessary because you need to scan your car to unlock the doors and begin your rental.
I have more that I use occasionally but these are the ones I look at on almost every trip. Are there any smartphone apps that you can’t live without when you travel? Let me know which ones.
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