Between planning your flights, booking your hotel, finding food, and learning the local customs, travelling abroad and even domestically can be quite the hassle. Luckily, your journey can become a lot simpler (and much more fun!) by using some of these travel apps.
If you are bit of a workaholic, like me, and like to mix business and pleasure, or if you simply wish to stay in touch with your friends and family back home, then the following two apps apply to you.
Both TextMe and WiFi Finder are free applications available to the iPhone and Android that allow users to text internationally as well as find wifi hotspots for free. No matter where you are on the planet, you can text friends and loved ones back home with TextMe. Don't like roaming or international data charges? Not a problem with these two apps! The only down side is TextMe messages do not appear with your old number -- rather a random phone number is assigned to the messages you send. Last time I visited the states, I was assigned an 807 area code; Thunder Bay, Ontario and had to tell all my friends that it was me and not some stranger from Western Ontario.
Need to take photos on your trip, but don't want to lug out the camera and tripod? Both Instagram and iPhoto offer convenient alternatives to your camera and even let you upload images to the web immediately. On top of that, Instagram lets you follow other users so you can see what the celebs, friends, or family is doing while you are away. Although iPhoto does cost more (Instagram is free to download for Android or iPhone), if you are a dedicated Apple user then it easily syncs with your Mac, iPad, iPod, and iPhone. That is not to say that Instagram is not compatible with Mac users; in fact, for two dollars, users can download Instamap, an extremely convenient and easy way to organize and view all of your Instagram photos on your iPad and iPhone. Keep in mind, though, that these applications still need Internet to upload all of your new photos online (this is where the free wifi finder comes in).
Not a huge fan of all of these applications? Need an all-inclusive application to go with your all-inclusive vacation package? That's where apps like iFly and Tripit soar. Originally solely a flight status and tracking application, iFly has since expanded to allow users to explore airport amenities, track flights, and view local transportation options. Normally I wouldn't recommend an app that was based off a website (www.iFly.com), but the new 4.0 version has worked out a lot of the layout clunks that the website has yet to resolve and is very convenient especially if you find yourself in megahubs such as Dallas-Fort Worth, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, and even Toronto's Pearson. No need to go searching for the ATM in the terminal when iFly can provide you with the closest one to your gate.
If you are truly looking for everything in one application, then TripIt is your ultimate go-to application. This free application will organize all of your travel details into one easy to read itinerary for your trip. It will even include weather, maps, and directions for each leg of your journey. However, there is a catch. You must enter in all of the information, and let's face it folks -- that is a lot of typing to do -- whether it is on your computer or your mobile.
Lastly, have you ever heard of Google Now? If you haven't, don't worry; it's still relatively new.
Google Now is one of the most amazing all-inclusive travel planners on your smart phone. Like TripIt, Google Now can incorporate your travel plans in one app, but unlike TripIt, you don't have to lift a finger. That's right ladies and gentlemen: Sometimes, the less proactive of us and procrastinators are actually rewarded. Don't have time to enter in your flight information or hotel? Not a problem. The itinerary automatically pops up on your phone in the form of digital cards.
How does Google do it? (I mean, what is this -- only the 20th amazing thing Google has come up with?!) The app syncs with all of your accounts as well as Google search engine history, and retrieves information that it presents in cute little digital cards. It even gives you live traffic feeds, directions, and weather -- all without entering any information. The more you use different Google features, the more it presents to you. Every new Android phone now comes with Google now. Scary? Perhaps. Useful? Most definitely.