9 great tools for on-the-go lifestyles
I’m slightly ashamed to admit this, but even in my daily life, my iPhone is attached to my hand. It’s my personal connector to restaurant reviews, reservations, gym schedules, flight deals, etc. To Apple’s credit, there really is ‘an app for that’. ‘That‘ being just about everything in the world. With all of the apps on the market, it definitely takes a bit of trial and error to find out which are the most user-friendly and which provide the most value to your everyday life.
There are loads of great apps for travelers: from the booking side to the experience. Here are 10 apps for a variety of platforms that make a traveler’s life a bit easier.
Make booking easier
SkyScanner: SkyScanner has consistently made an appearance on my phone since it helped me score an amazing deal on my Vegas tickets earlier in the year. The app scours all airlines to show you all available rates for your tentative flight schedule. After accepting the fact that I was going to pay $150 each for tickets from SFO to LAS, I found them on SkyScanner for $74 a piece. Score! [Score a deal here.]
Trip It: The TripIt app easily organizes your upcoming bookings (hotels, flights, rental cars, etc.) in one, easy-to-use app. Just by forwarding your emails to your TripIt account (or syncing your emails), the app will pull your reservations and automatically organize them in an easy-to-navigate interface. [Organize your life here.]
Know your surroundings
Yelp: Yelp is my daily go-to. Restaurants, nail salons, wine bars, dentists — you can find reviews for almost everything on Yelp. Granted, it’s primarily used on the East and West Coasts, and you’ll have mixed reviews in terms of quality, but it’s still a great place to get some insight from friends and peers. We Yelp (yes, it’s a verb) every restaurant before we visit to double-check that it’s worth a stop and to get some insight into what order should be on our agenda. [Get Yelping here.]
XE Currency: I’m kind of loving this currency converter. It’s by far the slickest interface I’ve seen for currency exchange apps and it’s customizable based on your personal preferences. When you’re traveling throughout a mixed batch of countries and interacting with different currencies, it’s helpful to be up to speed on exchange rates — this makes it 1000% easier. [Download it here.]
TripAdvisor: Much like Yelp, TripAdvisor allows you to access reviews from trusted peers (it links with Facebook so you can see what your friends have to say about a place). The TripAdvisor app is especially awesome though; the interface is super easy to navigate and gives you some great information in a format that makes sense. It’ll pull info on your current location (or you can input a specific locale) and it will pinpoint restaurants, hotels & things to do nearby. Unlike Yelp, TripAdvisor has an incredible international presence, making it a great go-to for world travelers. [Get advice here.]
WiFi Finder: I know I’m not the only one that goes through connection withdrawals! Free wifi is a Godsent, but finding spots with free wifi can be a bit of a pain. Enter the Free Wi-Fi Finder app. With over 100,000 free public wi-fi hotspots, you’ll be a happy camper. [Get connected here.]
Capture & share your experience
Instagram. Yes, it’s November 2012 and we’re all familiar with Instagram. I jump back and forth between
periods of severe overuse and periods where the app sits idly on my mobile. Still, it’s an app that will forever stay on my phone. I’ve tried other photo apps (I used to love Hipstamatic), but Instagram’s integration with other social platforms makes it killer for sharing your experiences across your networks. Plus, their filters definitely give you your fill of artsiness for the day. Capture your experiences and share them with friends and family while traveling. Plus, with all of the Instagram-affiliated businesses out there (e.g. Stickygram and Casetagram), you can be sure your photos won’t go to waste.
Trip Journal. This is the only paid app that’s listed ($2.99), but I wanted to include an app for journaling and I like what this app has to offer. Trip Journal allows you to track your routes, take photos and videos, and manage your notes. It also integrates with your social platforms to allow you to share your location via Twitter, and export media to Facebook and YouTube. [Get journaling.]
Postagram. I haven’t yet used this app, but I’m holding out for just the right time to claim my five freebie postcards. This app is awesome because it allows you to share physical postcards, using your mobile as the interface for generating and perfecting your masterpiece. Take photos from your mobile and turn them into real, deliverable postcards from your travels (way better than store-bought). [Make a postcard here.]
Those are a few of my personal favorites. I’ve tried a number of other apps, but many of them don’t stick for the long haul. With so many people accessing the internet through mobile, many organizations are creating apps (or mobile-friendly interfaces) to keep up. The problem that I’ve found is that only some of these companies are doing it well. For every great app out there, there’s a slew of sub-par apps that don’t provide a ton of value.
Now for sharing time: what’s your favorite travel app and what makes it awesome?