Anyone people-watching at a mall or while sitting in a restaurant can see that we have become attached (closer to obsessed, but I’m being nice) to our phones. Admittedly, it’s mostly for good reason – we want to stay in contact with loved ones, or check out the latest football score (I LOVE fantasy football!!), or check out apps like Instagram or Facebook. While traveling, this phone obsession may come in handy as there are a host of apps that I use when planning a trip or once I’m traveling that has proven to be quite helpful. I don’t get paid by, well, anyone, so I have no biases here; these are just my proven favorites. If you use an app that I have not listed – please share with us 🙂 I am always looking for something cool! Of course, there are apps for companies like Uber/Lyft, Airbnb, and Yelp, but given the popularity of those sites, I’ve decided to focus on other sites.
1)Skiplagged – Major shout out to my cousin Miko for putting me onto this one. Sometimes you may not have a destination in mind, but you know where you plan to leave from, and what your travel dates are. This app provides you with a list of prices for possible travel destinations from your home airport, once you indicate what your travel dates are. It’s amazing, because you may not even have a destination in mind, but if a city only costs $99 round-trip to travel to, you may give it a whirl, right? Essentially this app is perfect for those that have severe wanderlust, and down to try anything. This way, you don’t have to look up specific cities for an upcoming trip – you get to see all of your options!
2)Travelzoo – I love this site, and have subscribed to them for close to 10 years now. First, you list your home city, then they email you special deals for your city, including dining/massages, etc. It’s essentially like a groupon – but geared towards travel/experiences. Every week they publish a top 20 deal where they list the 20 best travel deals they found that week. These deals are usually amazing – I’ve seen trips to Alaska, last minute cruises, trips to the Great Wall of China, African safaris, etc. If you download the app, they send this list directly to your phone every Wednesday – definitely worth it! During the week, you can look up your city, or any U.S. city for that matter, and see deals specifically geared for that city. Most recently I received a massage valued at $365 for $115 – you can’t go wrong with this site.
3)ITA – This is software engineered by the brainiacs at Google. We use it before booking any flight…ever. This works best when you know your travel plans (ie: departure/arrival city and times), unlike with Skiplagged. It compiles the best pricing for airline tickets based on the information you provided. Based on what I’ve seen over the past couple of years using this site, it works better than Kayak, Expedia, Priceline, etc. I’m not sure how it works exactly, but you will become aware of the best pricing for airline tickets. You can also access this search engine on your computer too. You’re welcome in advance, haha.
4)Airline Apps (Jetblue/AA/Delta) – this may seem like an obvious one, but you’d be surprised how infrequently I see folks using their phone when scanning their boarding pass. Most airlines, particularly the 3 I mentioned above, have quite comprehensive phone applications. They permit you to check in, change your seat, and perhaps most importantly, will update you with any changes to the gate, or time of departure. I can’t tell you how often I will receive an update via the Jetblue app, which has helped me at the airport, before this news travels to the rest of the passengers (particularly with gate changes). Also, once you check in via the app, your boarding pass is on your phone, and you can go through TSA, and eventually onto your flight, without needing to stop off at a kiosk or gate agent for a paper copy. Between the ease of not having to keep track of that slippery paper boarding pass, and the added benefit of having travel updates on my phone in real time, I always check in via an airline app, whenever possible.
5)Mobile Passport – You all know that I’m in love with the GOES program. However, unfortunately it’s not available at all ports of re-entry into the United States. This is where mobile passport comes in handy. One prime example? You go on an awesome cruise, and return to the Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale. Unfortunately, they are not yet set up for the GOES kiosk. If you’re like me, you still want to avoid those crazy long lines – this is where mobile passport comes in handy. You need to spend about 5-7 min before you disembark, and put in your passport and travel info into the app for your particular trip. Once you get to customs – you’ll breeze on through with shorter security lines, and an abbreviated customs interview. It is definitely worth it to keep this app on your phone if you want to avoid crowds.
6)Royal Caribbean – I know it’s a large company, so you’re wondering why I’m including it. Well, it deserves a spot because it’s such a great app! I used it on my most recent cruise on Allure of the Seas, and it basically takes the place of the daily Cruise Compass that is left on your bed every night. The app provides you with the time/location of every event, and you can even add them onto your personal calendar so you don’t forget to make that comedy headliner! The app also tracks your luggage during embarkation, and permits you to book dinner reservations and shore excursions. From what I understand, the company made further enhancements since I cruised with them – most notably, you can now order alcoholic beverages via the app, and the waitstaff will triangulate your position so that it’s delivered right to you, plus you can now instant message your friends/family traveling with you – and you won’t need an internet plan. No more spotty walkie talkie conversations!! Apparently, this app will also replace the in-person check in process. I have not experienced this myself yet – but I am very excited about the prospect.
7)Google Maps – I know, it’s another global, multi-billion company, so they don’t need the shout out here…however, you need this info. As I indicated in another post, Travel Tips: 5 Items I Never Travel Internationally Without: http://www.lketravels.com/travel-tips-5-items-never-travel-internationally-without/, I always download my travel destination from Google Maps prior to my trip. Before you leave, download the map for let’s say the Cayman Islands. Then save the locations that you’re interested in. When you travel to your destination, pull up google maps, and you’ll be able to navigate to your previously saved locations. Even if you go off script, you can see the outlay of your city, without using wifi, provided you have gps capabilities. This has saved us quite a bit, particularly in cities like Phuket, where English is not widely spoken, so it would be difficult to get directions. If we travel somewhere that requires a passport, we are downloading the map off-line – no thinking required!!