Take the Hassle Out of Your Travel with These Travel Apps
by Mike Anderson, WTA Staff Member
With all of the new technology that is available at our fingertips through the use of smart phones and similar devices, I decided to see what was available to make my travels easier. I was pleasantly surprised to say the least. Since I have an iPhone, my search was for apps that I could use with that device, but I think most are available for Android and other devices as well.
The most pleasant part of the surprise was that the apps I found most useful were free. That’s right, free. The ones that I paid for were not nearly as useful and functional as the free apps that I found. So, here is a quick trip through the apps that I found to help take the hassle out of my travels:
Kayak (Free): This may be the most useful and full featured of the travel apps I found. Search and book flights, hotels, and rental cars from among several choices. Kayak compares and sorts by price based on your preferences. It also finds restaurants, tracks flights and provides a currency converter. All this in one simple to use and free app. Note, tho, that when working on my travel plans from my computer, I use, and highly recommend, WTA’s Online Travel Booking Service. It’s one of WTA’s terrific member benefits that lets me shop and book flights, hotels, rental cars, cruises, and vacation condos at deeply discounted prices (with the exception of airfare).
Wi-Fi Finder (Free): This app uses your current location to find the nearest wi-fi spots and designates whether they are free or pay spots. You can also search locations in advance to plan out your access points. With almost 500,000 free and paid wi-fi spots in over 144 countries you should always be able to find a place to access the internet. Priceless to the wired traveler, but free to download the app.
Urbanspoon (Free): This will find the closest restaurants and usually provides user ratings and reviews. You can search by type of cuisine and cost. It provides phone number and address and users can even use their camera to upload the menu. Call first to make sure the restaurant is still open (this is a user driven app), to check availability, or to make reservations.
Whistle (Free): When you set up a Whistle account you are assigned a phone number in your local area and you can use that phone number account to call anywhere in the world from any Wi-Fi hotspot. It allows free phone calls in 20-minute segments. Over 20 minutes costs a minimal amount, but I never found out how much because they give you ample warning to end the call before the 20 minutes is up. Just call back to start another 20 minute call. Sound quality can be sketchy based on the strength of the wi-fi signal and usage, but hey, you get what you pay for and it can save a bundle over cell phone international roaming rates.
Skype (Free): Also provides access to free and cheap calls from anywhere you can find a Wi-Fi hot spot. As long as you are connected to the internet you can make free calls to any other Skype user or calls to landlines for 2 cents a minute. As with Whistle, sound quality can be shaky based on the internet connection.
Flight Track ($4.99): There are so many free apps it takes a standout to make my list as a paid app. Flight Track may be that app. It keeps up to the minute info on all flights, delays and even a map to show where the flight is. If a flight gets canceled it can assist in finding an alternate flight. If you are a frequent flyer this app may be worth the cost. If not, the flight tracker in Kayak is serviceable and will do the same things, just not as elegantly.
GateGuru (Free): This is a must for those long delays between flights. For over 100 airports, it will give you detailed information about the gate you are stuck at like the closest food by type, bars for a cold beer, shops, shoe shine, even the rest rooms. And, all of the options are within walking distance of your gate.
HiConverter ($0.99): While a paid app, this one will convert anything - currency, gas prices and volume, tip calculator, clothing sizes, temperature, electric current, and a ton of other things. It will even convert butter by weight into stick measurements. How can you beat that for 99 cents?
Inn Touch (Free): Provides a list of bed and breakfast inns by proximity to your location or by location entered. Contains user reviews and contact info.
Sit or Squat (Free): This quaintly named app will tell you where the nearest rest room is and map it out for you based on your location. You laugh, but for those times when you need it, you’ll be glad you have it.
Wikihood (Free): Provides information on points of interest and historical background based on your location.
GasBuddy (Free): Finds the cheapest gas on the go and maps it out for you based on your location. A community of users works to keep gas prices updated. Users earn points for updating gas prices and the prices reported have the update times noted.
iTalk Recorder (Free): This app allows you to record sound and voice on your iPhone. It makes high quality recordings in an easy to use program. Record anything you want to remember and you can even email it to someone or download it to your computer. I can’t wait to use it to record Bob Sheppard announcing Derek Jeter at Yankee Stadium.
Google Translate (Free): Use to translate words and phrases in more than 50 languages. Some languages will even allow you to speak the phrase and hear the translation spoken back to you.
Yelp (Free): Use this to search for a wide variety of places to eat, shop, drink, relax or play. Read reviews from an active community of locals that keep this info updated.
Armed with this arsenal of travel information and resources you can venture forth with a level of confidence that you can find what you need when you need it, making your travels more hassle-free and enjoyable. If you know of others we should be including, just email them along to us at email@example.com. Bon voyage!!