When I travel anywhere; on an international flight with many connections or just down the street to a close-by Florida theme park, a travel app is part of the process, and why not? Today’s smartphone travel apps combined with ever-improving technology help insure worry-free travel, leaving much of the guesswork in the dust. But knowing that and having those travel apps at the ready when traveling are often two different things, thus this travel app packing list to jog my memory and the reasoning behind each one.
This one is a great example just how fast technology is improving. Just a few years ago when I started using TripIt, one of the big features was the ability to forward airline confirmations to Plans@TripIt.com. Once there, TripIt read the confirmation and loaded it into a Trip plan I had defined online. No entering all the flights, times, airlines and dates, TripIt did that for me. Forget cruise itineraries, TripIt was just not set up to do that. Today, those confirmations from airlines, hotels, car rental companies and even cruise lines are being read and received by Tripit with far greater accuracy. I also sync TripIt with FlightTrack Pro which provides additional redundancy; important when flights are delayed and gates change.
Whatever airline you fly, download their app and know how to use it prior to leaving home. In addition to electronic boarding passes, a backup source of travel delays, gate changes and a real-time upgrade waiting list, it serves as a backup to TripIt which usually seems to have the latest news first. As inflight technology improves, look for these apps to do more too, allowing travelers to browse inflight magazines, duty-free shopping or watch whatever is being played on the aircraft movie screen. Apple watch users, you won’t find a better one than the American Airlines app, except maybe Delta, both of which allow tracking of bags and changing flights.
The GoGo Inflight Internet app is a great example of why we need to plan ahead when traveling. Setting this one up and creating an account on land makes connecting on GoGo-enabled flights a breeze as soon as the aircraft reaches 10,000 feet. With a variety of plans, connecting is reasonably priced for a short flight as well as a full day of travel ($16). Buy in advance while still on land and save up to 42% too. Right now, GoGo has a deal to promote inflight entertainment, offering a discount code for 50% off the price of any single movie or TV show. New to Gogo, the GoGo Entertainment app
The new Gogo Entertainment Player brings the magic of the movies and TV to the sky and onto your iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch. Use the Inflight Entertainment service to watch the latest movies and hit TV shows in flight. Just make your selection, download the player, and enjoy the show!
Perhaps not thought of as a travel app per se, it’s the social photo sharing app that I have the best luck with right now, world wide. Maybe it has a bit better technology than other photo sharing apps or maybe Instagram‘s features suit what I am trying to do better, but it works and does so quickly. This one is a good example of the importance of playing around with several different apps to see which works best with your particular smartphone. Make it part of your pre-travel ritual to explore posts like this one and find out from those who the same equipment you do, what works.
I was looking for a good radar app that tapped local sources, combined them with an accurate map source and showed me weather headed my way. For domestic use, this is it. It will not work abroad. Still, sitting on the tarmac wondering if the big storm headed our way will prevent our international flight from taking off, this one provides some good data. Not that one of the pilots is going to come back and ask for my opinion, but if they did, I would be prepared.
Bank And Credit Card Apps
There are very few apps I allow push notifications from when traveling internationally, these are some of them. Staying up to date on financial information with apps from your financial institutions can catch an unauthorized transaction quickly. Adding ‘check bank and credit card apps’ to a travel app checklist prior to traveling also prompts me to give them a call or go online and define where my travels will lead. That avoids a declined charge when security protocols (a good thing) prevent a charge going through from Rome (a bad thing) because Italy is not someplace I usually go for groceries. Today, most banks and credit cards allow us to add a travel alert, letting them know where we will be traveling.
Travel to Vienna and ask a cab driver where the nearest Starbucks is and they are likely to give you a look like you are out of your mind. Still, when traveling through airports around North America, there are a lot of Starbucks around and all can be paid with the Starbucks app. That’s significant for a couple reasons. First, any opportunity to NOT pull out my wallet and display it open with credit cards and/or cash showing is a personal security home run. Add that preloading funds on the Starbucks app can reduce the amount of cash or credit cards needed on the road is a win also. Finally, like prepaying gratuities, beverage packages or other items in advance on a cruise vacation, buying something as simple as a cup of coffee this way helps insure staying on budget while traveling.
Living Earth is a live, 3D simulation of our planet with weather, forecasts and a world clock for cities around Earth. I like that it also serves as a great alarm clock with a beautiful spinning globe that provides something familiar in the often unfamiliar world of overnight travel, anywhere. Living Earth allows me to watch the sunrise and sunset as it is happening. An auto-lock feature override keeps the display on while docked for a nightstand or desktop clock too.
Take your pick of a variety of mapping apps available on the market today and find one that works for you. I like MapQuest over Apple Maps but Google Maps is currently the most accurate by far. The updated app is faster and more responsive with simple and easy to use features. This I found out first hand not long ago looking for an Apple store in downtown Boston. Originally following verbal directions from my hotel’s concierge, I found out quickly that he had sent me in the wrong direction, watching myself walk the wrong way down the right street.
Regardless of the apps chosen, be sure to have them handy and on your homescreen before leaving home. Also important: update apps only at home and never while traveling. Internet systems on cruise ships can be slow and insecure. The same advice applies to updating smartphone software while traveling as well: don’t do it.
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