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“Are We There Yet?”

Top 7 Traveling Apps to Keep You On Track

By: Christine Simmons

“Are we there yet?” It’s the most commonly asked question by casual travelers and globe-trotters alike. But to paraphrase Steinbeck, even ‘the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.’ So how do the best of travel planners steer clear of mishaps? Stay close to your smartphone…because when in doubt, there’s an app for that!

Below is a compilation of some handy travel apps that can give a plane hopper the shortest route to a destination; a novice traveler a few tips to packing correctly and even an app to help a globe-trotter quickly find the best dishes while traveling in another country:

  1. Pack it up and roll out!: Ever find yourself packing for a trip and thinking you’re forgetting something only to remember what it is when you get there? It happens to the best of us. Packing Pro has been reviewed on several top tech lists as well as travel pubs and is the best for providing travelers with the ultimate in pre-populated, travel-specific checklists items that are even categorized for couples, families, business and campers. Don’t forget to pack this app on your phone for only $2.99.
  2. ‘The agony and the ecstasy’ of traveling: For some people, putting together itineraries just aren’t their forte, and choosing the best plane reservations can cause the worst frustration before a trip. Hipmunk is a great travel search app that aims to take the agony out of travel planning. Flight results are presented in a visual “timeline” that allows people to select the best flight at a glance and shows hotel results in a destination with landmarks around them. The best part? It’s free!
  3. Have map will travel: Sometimes, the best part of traveling is discovering new places on your own, and what better way to roam than with a map app that doesn’t keep you tethered to a cell tower to transmit map images. Avenza’s PDF Maps app works anywhere that cell service doesn’t so it’s useful in mountain ranges, at sea and just about any place around world, without the high cost of data roaming fees. Features include the ability to measure distances and place placemarks on your map with images and descriptions of the places you’ve visited. This allows travelers to email their placemarks to any number of friends if needed. The app and a majority of the maps in the Avenza store are free, but others can cost as little as ninety-nine cents depending on the publisher.
  4. Airport gate-crashing: Airports are probably not known for being the happiest places on earth, but they can be easier to navigate once you know the best food options or gifts shops and deals –especially during an unexpected layover! The GateGuru app is useful in transforming the chaotic and unfamiliar airport environment into a more satisfying experience before and after flights. It’s easier when you know where to go for a quick bite or tall frothy drink pre or post security gates. You don’t want to get caught playing airport-restaurant-roulette and hoping for something better down a terminal!
  5. Staying ‘current’: No matter where you go in the world, people always understand the language of money so it’s best to keep a quick reference on hand to keep current with the going rates. Convert every world currency on-the-go with the universally optimized XE Currency app which features live currency rates and charts. It even stores the last updated rates so it works when the Internet doesn’t, because you never want to miscommunicate a price when haggling for a tchotchke in a foreign country!
  6. When in Rome…or any other city for that matter: One of the best parts of traveling is trying the local food-fare, but should you find yourself with a grumbling tummy in the middle of a food mecca with no real direction of where to go, check out the Foodspotting app. The social-networking-type app finds restaurants in your area using your iPhone’s GPS by filtering through the most reviewed, most popular, price, local and other criteria. The app focuses more on the dishes rather than the restaurant, so you’re sure to have a good meal --especially if you know the person that recommended the dish you could be eating right now!
  7. K.I.T. -The cost of texting while traveling: Phoning and texting home can cost a small fortune if you’re not careful, especially if you and your friends aren’t on the same carrier plan! However, WhatsApp Messenger is a cross-platform mobile messaging apps which allows you to exchange messages without having to pay for SMS. Available to all phones that can text, the app uses the same internet plan that one may use for email and web browsing so there is no cost to message and K.I.T. --or keep in touch with all your friends! Free for the first year, travelers can send photos and videos, too.