Your Smartphone is a precious 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, including COVID-19 risks.
This is the app I use to keep track of flight status and it’s advantageous 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. For example, if my incoming plane is delayed because of weather, I can track the plane and stay in the lounge to get some work done instead of waiting at the (very loud and crowded) gate area, waiting to hear updated information. Of course, you need to remember that in cases like this, flights can also become un-delayed.
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. I’ll often 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 the 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 beneficial to sort places within walking distance or 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 want 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 one 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.
I know that Uber has its issues, but I find they provide a service I want/need when I want/need it. Their app is easy to understand and works almost everywhere worldwide (in fact, one of the first times we ever used Uber was in, of all places, Sydney, Australia).
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.
Currently, prices for ridesharing services are through the roof, so it pays to check if you might do better with public transportation. It may even be cheaper to take a taxi (and who would have ever thought we’d be saying that.).
Other Apps You Should Download
If you’re anti-Uber, you can always use Lyft as an alternative.
I’d also recommend getting the apps from the companies you have reservations with on your trip. All 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.
I have more that I use occasionally but these are the ones I look at on almost every trip. If you have an iPhone, remember to change this setting to ensure all your apps stay on your phone.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary
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The ones I can’t live without while traveling are: Delta app, AirBnB, Booking.com, and of course Google Maps. I recently started using TripIt, so I haven’t decided if I can live without it our not. I may have to add TripAdvisor.
Other critical apps that are not really trip related: Bank/CC apps, in case you run into issues, music apps and Audible.com. Hook the phone to bluetooth and listen to a book while driving!
Did not know about the white noise app. That could definitely come in handy in some of the janky hotels we stay in. 🙂
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What’sApp is the other indispensable one for me, if I’m traveling overseas.
CityMapper is head and shoulders better than Google Maps. It’s not in every city but where they have it, it’s amazing. I use it in many European cities and it’s seamless and works great for walking, subways, buses. Always accurate.