By Daniela Harrison
Thanks to technology, we have some amazing apps to make our everyday life – and our travels! – more enjoyable and much easier. Here are a few apps I always recommend to my clients for their travels.
- Postagram: This app lets you create postcards with your own unique image. You take a selfie or a picture while traveling and upload it to the app, which creates a virtual postcard. Just add your text, connect it to your address book and hit “Send.” The app will charge your credit card for porterage and print actual paper copies to send via USPS. Postagram is super-fun and creates a unique, very personalized image/keepsake. And who wouldn’t love getting a postcard from you showing how much fun you’re having on your vacation?
- Word Lens: A genius app that’s a must-have for international travel. If you’re going to be visiting a country that speaks German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, or Russian, you must download this now! Simply open the app while traveling, line up the camera with any printed sign or text and click “Translate.” The app automatically translates the printed text in the image into English. Also works in reverse! Word Lens is not only fun but also very helpful, especially when translating restaurant menus. (Editor’s Note: See our previous review of Word Lens here.)
- GoSkyWatch: Think of this as Word Lens for constellations. Simply point it at the night sky and read the constellation names off the screen. GoSkyWatch helps with orientation at night, and lets you impress your fellow travelers with your knowledge of the night sky. Especially when crossing the equator, the stars are very different. Just be warned: This app can lead to a lot of late nights.
- LoungeBuddy: A fun app that identifies lounges at any airport around the world. Simply enter your trip information with airport codes and the app will pull up lounges, restaurants and much more. It also tells you how much each lounge costs or if a special membership is required.
- WhatsApp and Viber: Both are communication apps. If you and the folks back home have the apps installed on your phone, they work just like your address book. They’re super-simple to use: Just pull up a contact and you can either text or make phone calls via Wi-Fi. If you have free Wi-Fi at a hotel, it totally beats using your phone minutes. On longer conversations, the apps can cut out and have you redial, and depending on Wi-Fi speed there can be a spotty connection. You can send messages and even make phone calls via Wi-Fi, as long as you and your desired contact have the app installed. If you’d rather have a more tried-and-true solution, the Facebook Messenger App lets you do the same thing.
- Pocket Travel Consultant: What a great app! PTC provides full destination guides free of charge. You can pull up maps, recommended restaurants, must-do sightseeing, shopping and much more. You download the desired city/cities onto your phone or tablet before you depart; after that, you can access it without Wi-Fi during your trip. PTC also provides destination must-knows, like currency used, holidays and much, much more.
- Airline Apps: The app of the airline(s) you’re flying is a must-have. Not only can you use it to complete your online check-in, but it’ll also save your boarding pass and inform you of flight delays and gate changes. I don’t know why anyone would travel without their airlines’ apps. I have gotten notifications of gate changes via the app before they announced them in the airport. You can add your flights into this app as soon as they’re purchased. Any seat, routing, time, or flight-number changes are instantly sent back to your phone or tablet and you’re always in the know!
There are plenty of other travel apps to choose from, but these are my go-to favorites.
Looking for more apps? Consider itinerary apps such as Tripscope or Axus. Personally I use Axus. It lets me to upload an entire itinerary, sorted day-by-day, with confirmation numbers, phone numbers and websites of the tour operators and hotels, and it lets me add an e-ticket version of all travel vouchers. Travelers can also add any services they arrange in-destination. For example, if you make a dinner reservation, you can add it to the app and it will slot into that day’s activities. It offers a chat feature for travelers, family members, the travel consultant and more. Other apps do much the same thing, but I like Axus.
As with all apps, it’s important to be comfortable with them and know how to use them before you depart. Just remember: The app only knows the information you feed it, so be patient and play with it for a while before you rely on it exclusively.
I hope these tips will help you ease your travels and lead to a happier experience on the go.
Daniela Harrison has been a travel consultant since June 2010. She works for Avenues of the World Travel, Flagstaff, Ariz. For more information please contact Daniela at 800.230.3322 or Daniela@avenuesoftheworld.com. For travel inspiration, visit www.avenuesoftheworld.com.
Editor’s Note: Here’s one more app for you: The Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection app lets you buy coverage, check flight and claim status and more, all on the go. It’s available on the App Store or from Google Play.