photo @ Business Week
I love to travel. It’s my absolute favorite thing to do. I’ve become addicted since the first time I stepped foot outside the country to do study abroad in 2009. This appears to be the first summer that I will not be traveling abroad due to my overly-expensive college tuition, but I can’t help but think about traveling. I am continually searching for ways to get cheap airfare and hotel, but until I find a cheap flight, I can only pass along the helpful and handy tools I’ve found to help others do what I can’t. Phones (particularly smart phones) are a double-edged sword when traveling abroad these days. They can be immensely helpful during your trip, but if not used wisely, they can also cost you an unnecessary pretty penny (I know this from experience. It’s one of the 30,000 reasons why I despise AT&T). So, I’ve compiled a list of my favorite helpful iPhone apps to help you plan and enjoy your trip at home and abroad.
This is my all around favorite travel app. This kept me from carrying 50+ pages in my backpack and losing my mind last summer in Europe. Trip It is awesome because it is easy to use and capable of managing every trip detail. To use it, firstly, create an account on Trip It. Once you do, you can add your trips to your account simply by forwarding your confirmation emails to email@example.com. That’s all it takes to get everything in your trip organized. With your flight, hotel, car rental (and all other) confirmation emails, Trip It will put your plans together in one cohesive, chronological trip. It will include all pertinent info from your confirmation email such as seat number, boarding time, check-in/check-out time, confirmation numbers, ticket numbers, departure/arrival times, price, address and more. It will also include contact information (phone, and email if possible) not only for the airline company, hotel, etc, but for the company you booked through (Kayak, Orbitz, etc) as well. And last but not least, on the day of your flight, you can use Trip to check your flight status and gate number. And when you arrive at your destination, Trip It has a map routing you from your landing spot (airport, train station) to the hotel you have listed. It’s the most helpful travel management app I’ve found and one of easiest apps to use. There are also more features for the paid pro account, but the free account offers quite a bit.
Yapta is necessary when buying flights. It is the most helpful money-saving site/app there is for airfare. Yapta tracks the prices of fights so you can save money before and after you buy. When you find a flight you think is decently priced, check it on Yapta where they will tell you if the price has fallen/risen and if it is projected to fall/rise. This obviously helps you find the right time to buy, but if you’ve already bought your flight, you can still save money! Many sites offer price tracking, but no other site/app offers ways to get money back after buying. Yapta makes it simple, too, because it knows the refund policies for many major airlines around the world. So, when you buy your flight (with or without consulting Yapta before buying), enter your flight info in Yapta and it will continue to track the price of your flight. If the price drops, you may be eligible for a refund. Based on the refund policies of your airline (which you can review on Yapta), Yapta will not only alert you if you are eligible for a refund, it will also help you claim it. Yapta is quintessential travel tool to help save money with the ‘traveler friendly’ loophole policies so many airlines claim to have.
Many cities offer a city pass to major attractions around their town. These can be pricey, though, and are costly because they usually encompass many, many attractions. So for those who only want to see and do a few specific things, GoSelect helps you build your own city pass. The more attractions you choose, the greater the discount you build up. You can even get additional perks from your pass, such as skipping the line. This is an incredible idea, but sadly is only available in a few major U.S. cities. So, if you are traveling in the US, check this out before you go out on the town.
Have you ever been in line at the TSA checkpoint and been told that you can’t bring something through security when you thought you could? Yeah, I hate that feeling. Using TSA’s official app, you can see exactly which items are allowed in checked and carry-on baggage. I’ve personally had TSA agents not certain of what was permitted (mace in checked bags and tweezers in carry-on bags) and there was no way I was throwing something away unless I was absolutely certain I had to. With this handy app, I win aaaaand sadly I know more about the policies than the ‘security guards’ in charge of national security in airports. Scary. This app also reports wait time to help you gauge your time in TSA lines at the airport before you arrive. And of course, if you have any questions about TSA policies, you can refer to the app for clarifications about ID’s, liquids and more. Last but not least, you can download maps of individual U.S. airports to help you navigate to your gate.
I’ve talked about this one a few times, but it’s still awesome and very useful when traveling. Gas Buddy finds gas stations nearest you using GPS. You can arrange the gas stations by price or distance, so you get exactly what you’re looking for. And once you choose one, you can use the app to map out directions to it. So, no more driving around areas you don’t know looking for a gas station, especially at night.
Have you ever been on a road trip and needed something really badly (bathroom, usually), but didn’t know what was at the next exit or if the next exit would even have any amenities (I’m looking at you, Utah)? That’s what Road Ninja is for. It finds the nearest gas station, food places, entertainment and more, so you know where to stop. It can display the info by distance or by exit number. You can alsonfollow along on the highway map and even claim promo deals offered in the app. It’s a handy app when road tripping, which my family often does between Los Angeles and Colorado.
There are many free internet-based texting apps available for the iPhone. They are all similar, so which one you choose is up to you. I personally use TextNow, because it gives me a phone number for unlimited texting, and allows me to place phone calls as well. You slowly accrue minutes to use as talk time as you text. I’ve always saved this for emergencies when traveling (and I always forget about it). Internet-based texting is helpful when traveling abroad to avoid high roaming fees. Just connect to wifi and you can keep in touch with everyone back home through text. This may not seem ideal, but when you’re in places that don’t have broadband internet, video chats and internet-based phone calls can be very difficult. Text message (that include photos) will generally work, though.
Best Travel Offline Maps
The greatest cause of data usage when traveling abroad is GPS. GPS burns through data and your money like no other and phone companies are more than happy to charge you all sorts of fees. I know this from experience sadly (thanks, AT&T). So, avoid using your phone’s built in map for GPS and directions as much as possible. This is very difficult when you’re relying on a paper map as opposed to a digital map that can zoom in/out, especially when you’re accustomed to it. So what do you do? Use Best Travel Offline Maps. With it, you can zoom in and out of the map to a great degree and also use their built in directory to find things such as banks, hotels, transportation, healthcare, restaurants and more. And if you really get lost, you can allow GPS to find your location within the map. Overall, this app should help you cut down on your roaming bill massively while still not getting lost or frustrated navigating through the city. Oh, and there are maps available all over the world 🙂
There are many translation apps available, but this is my favorite, because it allows for two-way verbal translation. So, if you’re talking to a Frenchman, you can say something in English and the app will translate it to French. And after reading this translation, the Frenchman can respond and the app will then translate what they said into English. And to ensure that the message isn’t lost in translation, what is said is translated into both languages on separate sides of the screen. It does what every typing translation app can, but with the verbal feature, this app allows you to have realtime conversations to truly break the language barrier.
Like other apps mentioned, Triposo is similar to other apps of its kind, but it’s better than most city guides. Most guides lay out attractions based on category, but Triposo goes a step further and organizes everything in a more helpful way. Everything is broken into attraction categories such as sightseeing, coffee and cake, family fun, markets, cycling and more. They’re also arranged by popularity, so you can figure out exactly what is worth seeing. Tours are also listed if it’s available in the category to help you plan your trip more easily as well. Each attraction is jampacked with tons of information including its history, notable events contributing to the city/country, as well as price, location, hours and more. Each city also has its own section, so you can learn every facet of it, such as history, transportation. phrasebooks and more. An extra bonus: you can keep a log of places you’ve visited and star your favorite spots so you remember where to return to. And of course, a map showing the location of each attraction to help you navigate between them.
Because I love you, and love helping you get the most out of your money, I have a bonus tip! It’s not an app, rather a website to help you buy flights with your rewards miles. It’s an awesome site called Mile Wise. On Mile Wise, you either connect your travel rewards account to the site or manually enter your available miles. Because Mile Wise knows the rules of most major rewards credit cards, it shows you which trips you can afford using your rewards miles. It’s pretty cool to see which vacations you can take and easy to see how many more you need for other trips. Right now, Mile Wise only shows flights available with rewards points/miles, but they are expanding and soon will have hotels, car rentals and more available. So, be on the lookout for that!
Whether you’re traveling at home or abroad, put these iphone travel apps to use and get the most out of your phone without any extra fees, so you can enjoy your trip that much more.