“There’s an app for that”. Chances are that if it is something you want for travel, there IS an app for that. There are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of apps to assist with all facets of travel. Here are just a few of them based on good user reviews, including many that I have used. I have an iPhone and iPad, so all of these apps are from the iTunes store; android smartphones and pads probably have similar apps available.
Driving anywhere whether it be to your destination or just the airport? I use my iPhone as my GPS with the app Maps that came with it, Google maps, or Where. Motion X GPS is an inexpensive live voice guide GPS. With OffMaps 2 you can download and store a city’s map which means you can access it offline. The GPS function works on the downloaded maps. Beat the Traffic gives information about traffic jams and road work with 2 hour predictions, as well as weather updates; INRIX is another traffic app. If you are so inclined, GasBook reports on gas prices in an area, while Gasbag shows gas stations in your area, along with current prices and an option to log your fuel usage.
When you park your car long term at Ft. Myers airport, the shuttle driver gives you a slip of paper with your parking section indicated; you may or may not find that reminder upon your return. With apps like Find My Car, Car Finder, or ParkBud enter your position when you park your car and find it easily when you return.
I use Trip It to keep track of all of my reservations and flight information. Auto Pilot does the same thing and syncs with Trip It.
At the airport, Gate Guru is a searchable airport guide for all major airports with maps, a list of amenities, and security wait time. iFly provides the same information plus ground transportation options and parking locations and rates. We’ve used it to research dining options at airports so we could decide whether to eat before or after going through security. Have a problem with your airline and want to know your rights? Rules to Know lists airline rules and options for most major US carriers. Live Flight Tracker tracks the real time flight status of any flightas does FlightTrack and FlightBoard.
Traveling by train? Try US Railroad Map for searchable train schedules.
There are numerous city and country guide apps available for download. Favorites are those from Lonely Planet which give very specific information on how to negotiate a city, NileGuide, and TripWolf which includes offline maps and an augmented reality viewer. CityWalks has good walking tours. There are various apps for our state and national parks that include maps, hiking suggestions, and tips.
With augmented reality (AR) apps, point your phone’s camera at a landmark and get internet based information about it, as well as information about nearby restaurants and other attractions. Wikitude, Google Goggles, Nearest Wiki, and the aforementioned TripWolf are the most commonly used AR apps.
Heading to Disney? A number of apps help you master the parks including Disney World MouseWait, Disney World iGuide, Disney World Dining, and Disney World Maps.
Want to find a restaurant in a new city or even your own city? There are restaurant guide apps such as Yelp with user reviews and Urban Spoon with recommendations based on critic reviews. The aforementioned Where finds local restaurants. Not sure about a restaurant (or hotel)? Before booking, consult TripAdvisor for user reviews. Make your dining reservations through the searchable OpenTable app. Once at the restaurant, unsure about which wine to choose? Cor.kz has an extensive wine catalog; you can even scan a bottle’s bar code to find out more about it. Other wine information apps include WinePh.D. and Pocket Wine.
Have some free time and not sure what to do? Goby lists more than 300 categories of events, activities, and places to see in various areas. In New York City, TKTS app gives real time listings of show tickets available at the 3 TKTS discount booths in the city. Want to catch a movie? Flixster has local listings. No TV guide in your room? Try iTV for listings.
Utilizing public transportation is easy with the many apps available to assist. In New York, HopStop app had us easily zipping all over the city on subways and buses and when we needed a taxi, we knew what the charge should be ahead of time. We are looking forward to using HopStop for an upcoming trip to Seattle. AllSubway HD and MetrO provide subway maps for world wide locations.
Need help with currency or other conversions? ACTCurrency, M-Converter, Currency Convert, Xe, and Converter Plus all do simple conversions. Hi Converter converts not only money but also shoe and clothing sizes and has a tip calculator. Converter also converts units such as meters to miles, celsius to fahrenheit, grams to ounces/pounds. I use Unitsfor conversions.
Need a restroom? SitOrSquat helps find public restrooms. Free WIFI Finder does just that.
Translation apps abound. Lonely Planet offers a series of phrasebooks. World Nomads has keywords and useful phrases for 25 languages. Shoreline Animation has a series of English to another language that says the phrase aloud with a native speaker, not a computer generated voice. Lingo has cartoon like flashcards that, when tapped, say a word or phrase as well as demonstrating it. Lingo downloads and stores on your device; you don’t need an internet connection to use it. Google Translate says typed in words or phrases aloud, as does FreeTranslator. iTranslate uses voice recognition, so you only have to speak a word or phrase for a translation. icoon is a global picture dictionary to help communicate your needs. Word Lens is an amazing app. Use a phone’s built in video camera to capture a sign or word and it is instantly translated. To date, only Spanish to English and English to Spanish versions are available.
Use apps to keep in touch with friends and family. With Skype, free or inexpensive calls can be made when connected to the internet. Send instant postcards using photos snapped with your phone’s camera and apps such as HazelMail, Postman, PhotoPostcard, go Postal, Sendit4Me, or Snapshop Postcard. Each postcard costs between $1-$2. SodaSnap uses a simple interface to email postcards at no charge.
There are some apps that serve as utilities when traveling. Flashlight and Mylight turn your device into a flashlight; I’ve used them to assist others in movie theaters or dark restaurants. Turn your phone into an alarm clock with Alarm Clock Free, Nightstand Central Free, Clock Pro Free, or iClock Free. I have a friend who uses the travel planner template from Numbers, the Apple spreadsheet program app, to list all her planned activities, construct a packing list, track reservations and contact numbers, and record purchases for customs declaration. Finally, Good Reader app stores PDFs on your device. I use it to store the PDF form of my camera manual so that it is always handy should I need to consult it.
No matter where you go or what your travel need, there’s probably an app for it.
Vickie is a former member of the Marco Island City Council and Artistic Director of the Marco Island Film Festival, and has been a volunteer for many island organizations. She is presently on the board of the Naples Mac Users Group. Prior to relocating to Marco, Vickie served as a school psychologist, Director of Special Services, and college instructor and also was a consultant to the New Jersey Department of Education.