Apps for a better travel experience

Apps for a better travel experience

There are thousands of apps out there to help you with a better travel experience. As spring finally decides to make an appearance, thoughts turn to warm weather, blooming flowers, baby animals—and of course, travel. It’s that time of the year when you can find great deals on airfare and hotels, and when favorite travel destinations are not overcrowded.

I’m a self-proclaimed travel-holic. As one trip winds down, I’m already planning the next. And helping me feed my travel addiction is my smartphone. I’ve planned short trips and long trips, booked hotels and downloaded boarding passes. With the aid of my smartphone, I can plan a trip while I’m on a trip. I can read reviews about the places I want to visit. With travel apps (most of which are free or modestly priced), you hold in your hand all you need to plan and enjoy your next vacation.

Whatever your travel goals, you’ll find an app that has exactly what you need. When searching for apps, use broad terms to get the widest number of choices. If, for example, you use  ‘flights’ rather than ‘airlines,’ you’ll find apps for not only individual airlines but also for travel search engines like Kayak or Expedia. If you don’t know how to download an app, ask one of your kids. They’ll know what to do.

Airline apps
Every airline has an app. Download their free apps, enter your frequent flyer loyalty number and voila! Every time you book a trip, the app will remember if you prefer aisle or window seats. It also tabulates your travel miles and sends you a boarding pass. While you’re at it, download the apps TravelTrackerPro  or GateGuru to get live information about flight delays. Individual airport apps help you locate the closest Starbucks or play areas for the kids. Apps like Skyscanner, CheapOair and Travelzoo, provide flight info for multiple airlines.

Hotel apps
Loyalty points for individual hotel chains get added with every stay once you input your membership ID. Preferences for feather pillows or upper floors are applied to your reservations. On the road, you’ll find which exit to take to arrive at the hotel, whether there’s a pool and how close the hotel is to attractions and restaurants. Hotels.com and Hotel Tonight cover multiple hotels and can compare rates and amenities.

Cruiseline apps
Set sail using your thumbs to navigate. There are apps that help you find a cruise: iCruise, Cruise.com, and apps for searching for last minute sales: MyCruiseSearcher and CruiseWizard. But most important, you can find and read reviews by other travelers. Individual cruise lines have apps that allow you to preview cabins, choose shore excursions and even schedule spa services!   

Train and bus apps
Amtrak has an app, and so do most foreign and domestic city subway services. Subway apps have maps and destination routes. If you want to relive your college days, check out apps for bus lines. It’s a cheap way to travel, particularly for short distances, like say DC to NYC. When you travel by bus or train, you also get a chance to see the countryside.

Also Read: 5 Tips for women to safely travel solo

Roadside assistance apps
Get help when you get a flat with AAA Mobile. You can also get maps, a digital version of the classic TripTik’s and of course roadside assistance. Look for similar apps with any motor club to which you belong. Find the cheapest gas with apps like Gasbuddy or FuelFinder. Grab food on the road with apps for your favorite restaurants. Apps like Hungry Now or Take Me Out Now will help you appease those hunger pains. You can even keep track of how many calories are in those fries with Fast Food Calorie Counter or Fast Food Nutrition. And be prepared: make sure to download your insurance company’s app.

Getting there apps
Look for GPS and map apps like the classic Google Maps and CoPilot GPS. Keep track of distances and gas used with apps like Car Logbook or Road Trip MPG.  If you need to know how far it is to the next rest stop, download Rest Area or TripStop, which will tell you just how much longer junior has left to bounce in the back seat. If traveling with Fido, download the Dog Park Finder Plus to keep your four-legged child comfortable.

Don’t-miss-a-thing apps
Useful apps like Roadtrippers or Get Outta Town put you in the know. Enter your starting point and destination to find restaurants, points of interest, historical sites and parks along the way. Want to see where your favorite movie or TV show was filmed? You’ll see it noted with these downloads. If you travel on two wheels, check out Best Biking Roads or Official H-D Ride Planner to find roads that are fun and safe for motorcycles.

The weather apps
From the Weather Channel to Weather Bug to Weather Underground, you’ll find a wealth of apps to help you keep track of the weather forecast in your area. NOAA Weather Alerts or Storm Shield send an alert if dangerous weather is close to your location.

Foreign traveler apps
Look for apps that ease foreign travel. iTranslate can help you figure out what those warning signs are really saying. Currency or Pocket Travel Currency Converter or iConvert will help you keep track of your spending. These foreign travel apps will also help you find subway and bus maps for the cities you’re visiting so you can get around like a native.

There are also museum apps and guidebook apps with shopping hints and ideas of where to find the best restaurants in any town you visit.

Carol Dundas

Carol Dundas is happily retired and has reimagined herself as a prolific writer. She enjoys sharing her views on midlife relationships and the experience of being an empty-nester. She can be spotted driving her brand new car and using her AARP discount to fix the occasional fender bender.