Every traveler would agree that one of the miracles of the 21st century is that travel is easy, comfortable, and cheap(er)! However, this doesn’t necessarily translate to every vacation unless travelers actually plan how to make their experiences as smooth, cost-effective, and memorable as they have dreamed. But now, you are just some travel apps away from making your dreams a reality!
DESTI – Mapping Your Travel
As travel becomes cheaper, and much more sought after, hotels are springing up like mushrooms. Doubt might be plaguing you at every step, but worry not because Desti can help you dispel them. Desti is a SRI child. A program that searches for reviews about your destination, and if there is a review, Desti will find it and bring the best of them to you, making sure your planning is just as efficient.
The uniqueness of Desti is that it has multiple search fields, for instance, price, number of rooms, proximity of landmarks or oceans, which Desti searches in more than 14,000 U.S cities. This can be quite helpful when you have a limited number of search engines that require long searches. In the end, it will give you your result in reviews, for instance ‘Guests love the free breakfast’ or alternatively, ‘The breakfast is mediocre, according to most reviewers,’ says Desti CEO, NadavGur.
PACKING PRO – Packing Lightly and Sufficiently
Experienced travelers know the importance of double checking their bag before heading out, yet still they are prone to mistakes, and sometimes miss things which could have been quite useful. Packing Pro is a ludicrous-yet-helpful-extensive-list-maker that does exactly what it says.
Packing Pro was founded in 2008 and has seen its fair amount of ups and downs, competing to be alive and active. Now, it is available with a new feature which allows users to sift through a list by bag or person (or both as well). The lists are recyclable, and multiple users can view and edit the same list through iCloud auto-sync; thus eliminating the worry to make a list from scratch every time.
$2.99 may seem a bit too much for an app like this. However, it helps you save by not having to buy stuff again and again after you’ve forgotten to pack something. Another plus side is that if your bag is lost or stolen, you will have the list of its contents down to the last toothpick.
Lastly, if you’re feeling lazy to make the list yourself, or you like some recommendations, then the app’s “Expert List Generator” makes a list for you based on the particulars of your travel such as, number of days, temperature, and so on.
GATEGURU – Planning Your Travel Door to Door
Booking and boarding airplanes is quite difficult especially if you cannot afford to be delayed and just don’t have the extra cash to make it all work, but TripAdvisor’s latest app – GateGuru – is there to help with the situation. It was founded in 2009 and ever since then has been developing itself and gaining popularity. As of now, the app covers 214 airports in Asia, Canada, Europe, U.S. and ten in Australia.
Its feature, FlightBoard, will provide you with real-time information of the airport you are flying to or from, which means you can find flight delays and avoid them.
Community Manager of GateGuru, Zachary Einzig, is himself an active user of the app and speaks of personal experience, “I was on my way to the airport once and was browsing the Flightboard. I knew my departure gate because I was tracking my flight… I took a look at Arrivals on the Flightboard, found my gate, and I saw that the flight coming into that gate, which I assumed was going to be my plane, was delayed. I immediately called Delta and although they hadn’t posted a delay for my flight yet, they too saw this situation and I rebooked my flight.”
Of course flight data is not the only thing it helps you with. It also provides information on cheap dining places, discounts on merchandise, and car rentals. Furthermore, the deals and airport maps are pre-downloadable, thus saving both time and money.
SMART LAYOVER – If You Have Free Time; You’ll Have Fun Too!
Flight layovers can be quite dull and nerve-racking sometimes. Worrying if you have time until your flight arrives to go exploring just a little bit can be daunting and risky sometimes. However, with Smart Layover, finding activities like day-use hotels, sightseeing, and dining become easier. Just a few taps is all it requires to make the most out of your layover.
Smart Layover offers a wide range of activities for you to choose from and takes care of everything for you as its CEO Sam Makaryan explains, “We only display activities that people will have time to do during their layover window, and we build in enough time to go from the airport to your destination via driving or public transportation, do the activity, and get back to the airport and through security with plenty of time. We also provide security wait times for all major U.S. airports so there are no surprises when you return from exploring.”
If you would prefer not to go too far, then Smart Layover provides deals with InMotion electronics stores, restaurants, and retail stores where you can purchase a tablet to read, rent DVD’s, or have a quick bite. It requires a payment of 10 percent of the deal up front via the app, and the leftover price at the store via QR code.
HOTEL TONIGHT – Last Minute Deals Are Never Good, Until Now
Hotel Tonight is one of the highly sought after last-minute hotel booking apps which has made a major splash with its user-friendly app that discloses discounted bookings from the cheapest to the finest selections of hotels at high noon every day, even in some of the highly congested and contested places like cities hosting the Super Bowl. Of course, the deals are not as good. However, it’s good to have an option.
As Jared Simon, COO and Co-Founder of Hotel Tonight says, “Just recently, we had hotel rooms in New York selling for under 100 bucks over the Fourth of July weekend. Similarly, we sold $99 rooms country-wide on New Year’s Eve in 2011.” Currently the app reaches 12 countries in Western Europe and North America.
TRIPADVISOR’S CITY GUIDES – Plan Less, Travel More
TripAdvisor has been here since 2000, and it just keeps on growing. One of their most sought after apps, City Guides provides you with offline access in exchange for a lion’s share of your memory space, but with the extensive list of hotels, shopping, tours, historic places with TripAdvisor’s signature ratings and reviews. It also saves you from spending needlessly on roaming fees.
And there’s more: You can send virtual postcards via Facebook, text, or email using the app’s Instagram-like filters, with pre-made and customizable templates, look up recommended itineraries and see public transportation information.
Launched in 2009, Jibbigo is the first offline speech translation app. It started off with only English/Spanish, but has since grown to incorporate 20 languages which can be translated via voice or text. The free version requires a WiFi connection. However, if you can afford Jibbigo Plus, you can use it offline. The price ranges from $2.99 to $4.99 for any language pair such as English/Tahi to regional packages (Asia, Europe) for $9.99. For $25, you can purchase the world package. It even has some other languages like Esperanto and Pashto.
The app is still experiencing some Siri-like bugs with the voice translator, but you can tap the spoken text and edit it to make sure it is correct. Also, there is the option to share the translations via social media if a particular translation happens to catch your eye. Here’s a quick fact, Facebook admired the company behind Jibbigo so much that it bought it.
Elizabeth Criss, Communication Coordinator of Jibbigo says, “I can’t tell you how many customers write to tell us how the app saved them on a travel adventure. When you are in a foreign land, you don’t have WiFi, and you don’t know the language, Jibbigo is your best friend.”
PICFARI – An Amateur Photographer? Worry Not!
If you have a photo-craze, then Picfari is perfect for you (if not, then it’s still perfect!) Picfari is a photo hunt app that allows you to seek out the best places to get shots of just about anything that catches your fancy, though mainly it focuses on landmarks from Atlanta to Istanbul.
If you’re the type that likes to plan ahead, then store Picfaris before you start traveling (no WiFi needed), or be spontaneous using the Around Me function, which leads you to sights nearby. Sadly, you cannot push the photos to social media through the app yet, but it’s one of the future updates that Picfari has planned.
Professionals who are interested in knowing more than how to point and click, the app has Exchangeable Image File data with each photo, which includes shutter speed and whether if a flash was used, etc., to provide experienced photographers information which would help them choose a lens for their cameras. Later, at your computer, upload your tour to Picfari and share your best shots with others who are using the app.
As the app’s co-founder, Scott Herr explains, “It’s like scouting a location that professionals do when shooting a movie or planning a photo shoot. Depending on the time you have in a place, you can choose an Express Picfari—the four to six best shots of a location — up to the longer, more comprehensive All-Star Picfari, 10 to 15 shots.”
EATER – Looking for a Place to Eat?
This shows you the most sought after restaurants along with the reputation of being updated on the openings in major metropolitan sites in the U.S. You’ll no longer have to scratch your head over where to eat – and at 99 cents, this app is a steal!
To get more information about a particular restaurant, just tap it, and you will get a photo, a short review, directions, and the phone number of the restaurant. It makes sure you know what to expect and pulls no surprise punches.
EVERNOTE – “Remember Everything for Your Life’s Work”
Cost: Free (Basic)
Evernote is great for a lot of things, and it really shows what it is capable of when used for travel purposes. More often than not, it’s difficult to exactly remember what you did and how you went about it, even more so if you have multiple devices at hand to use and organize.
Anytime you travel, this app is handy to map out your travels in real time since every note you make is recoded with the location, date, and time in which it was made. Everything, from gift cards to Atlas maps, can be uploaded as mementos, showing pictures and while weaving a tale of which trail you took or where you ate at a particular café or restaurant. Additionally, these documents become searchable once they are in Evernote. It also offers the use of audio and visuals to craft rich notes for intensely original moments, such as a photo of a beach with the waves crashing in the background.