Updated: Sep 25, 2018
Smartphone apps in 2018 can be very helpful when you're traveling, but only if they're the right ones. The main reason for this is that these apps can take up a good amount of your device's precious storage space so you'll need to be selective with which ones you choose. My clients ask me all the time for advice on which travel apps are worth downloading and which aren't. My list for those worth downloading is way shorter - so here goes, these are a few of my favorite travel apps:
If you’re visiting a foreign land, the language barrier can be brutal. Not so much anymore thanks to this handy app - Google Translate lets you enter in words and phrases so you can communicate with the locals who don’t speak your language. It’s so clever, it even works offline (for up to 59 languages) so you’ll still be able to use it even if you have no access to WiFi. You can even take a pic of the text you want translated into (currently) 37 of the most popular languages with your phone’s camera!
I really enjoy using this free app when I’m out of the country and within range of WiFi. It allows me to be able to keep in touch with family, friends and clients. I find it works well for both Android and Apple devices to easily communicate in a simple messaging format. You can even use the video or non-video call option to make phone calls while you’re away. Photos and videos can also be sent back & forth between messages as well!
FLIO - Global Airport App
This app contains relevant travel information for over 3,000 airports throughout the world and gives you access to real-time flight tracking. By scanning your boarding pass, FLIO allows you to get info on the aircraft you’ll be flying on, any duty-free shops that are close by and airport lounges to make long layovers a little less boring. Other features include interactive airport maps, directions to the airport’s shuttle bus/taxi stations and flight trackers with updates on arrivals & departures. Keep in mind, it’s only available at select airports so be sure to check the list on the app's information page.
As a travel agent, I always advise my clients to get to the airport at least 2 hours in advance for domestic flights and 3 hours for international. I do this to give people extra time at the airport and not feel so rushed in the event of long security lines. MyTSA app helps get rid of some of these woes in US airports by providing airport security information as well as including a searchable database for what you can or cannot bring with you in your carry-on. You’ll be able to find out what current security wait times are from other travelers and check for any airport or weather delays as well. Clearly, this app will be useful to help gauge how busy the airport will be on the day of your flight which makes planning ahead a little easier.
Access the internet for free with numerous WiFi networks using the WiFi Map app. It boasts 100 million WiFi hotspots, passwords & comments from fellow app users. Sharing is caring, so you can also share information on WiFi networks via social media with other users if you choose to do so.
If you’re a Gmail user, try Google Trips to help keep your travel itinerary organized and in one place. It will import all of your necessary information to keep you on top of your schedule which ends up saving you a lot of time and unnecessary stress! Bonus - it even works when you’re offline! If you can't get ahold of your travel agent while on your trip, you can also search for last-minute sightseeing attractions and itinerary ideas to help make the most of your vacation.
If you’re using public transportation to get around during your trip, this is a great app to download. Simply plug in your desired destination into the search and it will give you the lowdown on the fastest route to get there - be it a bus, train, ferry, subway, taxi, car share or even by taking a walk! People swear by it when visiting NYC.
In addition to downloading the apps mentioned above, I always download the app of the airline I'm flying with and have my rewards program (AAdvantage, Delta SkyMiles, etc) number included in the reservation so that I can earn miles on the flight. Also, be sure to check with your cell phone carrier on what type of coverage you can get if you’re out of the country. Some carriers will provide coverage like global roaming in certain cities in addition to low-speed data at no additional cost to your monthly fee. Oh, and if you’re going on a cruise - be sure to put your devices on airplane mode the entire time to avoid getting a surprise bill! What are your favorite smartphone or tablet travel hacks? Is there a travel app you’ve used in the past that’s worth mentioning? Let me know in the comments!