“I wish there was an app for that…”
Apps of any kind make our days easier, solving many “life hacks” that we didn’t know we actually had. Travel-themed apps are the unrivaled hero of fun, creative technology: They help us travel safer, smarter, quicker, easier and cheaper — and who doesn’t want to lighten their load of travel stress?
Here’s a rundown of my 11 favorite travel apps.
Now there’s no excuse not to check in with your mom.
Skype and Whatsapp are the free go-to options for making long distance calls, video chatting and everyday phone needs. However, when you’re not near a WiFi connection, Rebtel lets you make affordable phone calls around the world without the need for Internet.
A simple way to write Grandma!
Now you can use your photos from Facebook, Instagram or your camera to design and write creative postcards online. Then type in an address and Postagram will print the postcard and mail it to almost anywhere in the world.
FREE, and the price of postcards begins at $1.99
An enjoyable way to challenge yourself.
Learn conversational basics for more than 23 languages, including Spanish, Swahili, French, Portuguese and Thai. The Duolingo app teaches basic and intermediate grammar, vocab and common phrases through speaking, listening, translation, and multiple choice challenges. Brush up on your bilingual skills or learn completely from scratch.
Are you a bit obsessive with planning and list making?
Pacify your OCD with this simply fantastic digital organizer. The handy technology behind Tripit links to your email accounts. It then gathers all of your travel confirmations, tour and flight information, car rental reservations and itineraries into one useful itinerary. While it makes organizing details a breeze for you, it’s also great tool for coordinating group travel and sharing plans.
Trying to chat with your seatmate in a foreign country?
With Google Translate, you can quickly translate common phrases and words into whatever language you choose using text, images, speech and handwriting (text characters). Don’t forget to save your translated words in the phrasebook for future use!
Which train will get you from A to B?
We know that planning vacations can be complicated and pull-your-hair-out frustrating. Problem solved! Enter in any address and Rome2rio shows you how to get there via bus, flight, train, ferry and automobile. It also displays estimated travel times, average fares and booking information, making your trip planning oh so easy.
Do you really need an umbrella?
This handy app builds a trip specific, custom packing list based on your interests and itinerary. Enter your destination, where you’re going, your time frame and what activities you plan to do, and PackPoint compiles a list of packing ideas and essentials, including suggestions on the best clothing fabric for the climate, vital first-aid kit items, and, of course, dental floss!
Cover your online footprint!
TunnelBear protects your personal information from hackers and advertisers by allowing you to browse privately using their secure VPN, or Virtual Private Network. The app hides your IP address and location by “tunneling” you to another location in over 20 countries. This lets you safety use public WiFi networks and other risky, untrustworthy networks without your information being tracked, stolen, saved or sold.
FREE version, then packages start at $9.99/mth
Using your Gmail account, Google Trips gathers and organizes all of your travel information, including your hotel reservations, car rentals and plane tickets. Based on your interests, the app maps out half- or full-day itineraries featuring popular destinations, useful information and local transportation options. (Good riddence to your heavy Lonely Planet guide!) And, it works offline to save you the trouble of searching for a WiFi hotspot.
FREE! (You need to have a Google account.)
10. Google Goggles
Forget your high school history lessons?
No worries. With Google Goggles, turn your phone into a mobile encyclopedia. Just point your camera lens at the subject (such as a building, monument, or piece of artwork) to pull up relevant information and articles. You can even take a photo of a product barcode!
Waiting until the last minute to find a hotel for tonight? You’re in luck!
HotelTonight finds last-minute hotel rates at discounted rates. Many of these properties — in a database of over 15,000 offerings — are high quality, first-class accommodations. You can even use the app’s functions to add extra amenities to your room and find things to do in the area.
Technology is constantly changing at a whirlwind pace. Tomorrow there will be a new set of travel apps to help put us on a path of satiating our wanderlust.
What’s your favorite travel app?