The world of traveling has vastly changed with the advancements in technology. Flights, hotels, good restaurants and navigation are all at your fingertips, if you know how to make technology work for you. Over my travels, I’ve learned strategies for using your phone both with cellular and without. I’ve also tried *many* phone applications and found a few that I cannot take a trip without. These apps will -without a doubt- make everything about your travels more convenient and stress-free. Let’s get started!
TripIt is my holy grail of travel apps. It organizes everything in the most genius and well-thought way. As you book your hotels, flights, and activities, you received a zillion emails confirming the separate bookings. When it comes time to check in, you have to dig through all of your emails and hopefully find the one you’re looking for, that’s if you haven’t accidentally deleted it. The other option is to print out each confirmation email and lug a folder around in 2020, thus receiving weird looks from everyone around you. TripIt is the solution. As you receive your multitude of confirmation emails, you forward the email to email@example.com (once you’ve downloaded the app and created your account). The next time you open your application, all of your bookings are there (confirmation and reference numbers included) in a digital itinerary. When its time to check in, simply pull up the app and all of your information is there. One of my favorite features is that the appropriate airport maps from your flight are listed under your flight details. This is a lifesaver if you have a close connection because you can see what terminals you are coming into and departing from and plan your route accordingly.
I could not navigate anything if it wasn’t for Google Maps. For each trip, I create two lists: one of attractions and where I’m staying and one of restaurants I’ve been recommended. Pulling up the app, you can see all of these places on the map in relation to where you are. I use the app to give me public transit directions, suggestions for pharmacies in the area, and plan my days around the smartest route. Another great feature, for those running on wifi-only travels, is that you can still see your location on the map and use it navigate like a new world compass (best analogy I could think of). Believe me, trying to navigate Rome with a paper map was *much* more difficult than I anticipated, use Google Maps.
I tend to book things through Expedia (given that the price is lower or equivalent to booking direct) because it allows me to accrue points that can be redeemed on other Expedia purchases. My account is set to use my Expedia points first, having me pay the remaining balance. With the Expedia app, I can book last minute hotels, flights and excursions in seconds. It’s nice to have this option ready on my phone in emergency situations as sometimes the Safari app doesn’t always cooperate.
While not everyone has Global Entry, everyone can have Mobile Passport. Have you ever noticed the Mobile Passport line while waiting to clear Passport Control? You probably thought that line -with not a single person in it- was for special preferred travelers. Nope. Downloading Mobile Passport on your phone allows you to use this line. When you land and turn your phone off airplane mode, simply input all your information on the app and head to that line. The app basically has you answer all the questions that you normally answer on the little screens (that scan your passport and take your picture) on your phone instead, so no need to wait in line! This could be a major time saver and help you make that connecting flight!
Depending on your phone plan, it can be very expensive (or inexpensive) to use your phone abroad. No matter which side your plan falls on, the best way to stay in touch with those back home is through WhatsApp. The application (once downloaded) allows you to message, call and FaceTime your friends back home through wifi or cellular data if you are not connected to wifi. Where this application really comes in handy is if you are communicating with people without iPhones – or are using android yourself. While iPhone to iPhone texts via iMessage are able to be sent without cellular, any messages sent between android requires an SMS message which depending on your phone plan, could be minute or costly. Utilizing WhatsApp is the best solution to securing that your phone bill doesn’t skyrocket, especially if you’re only using it while connected to wireless internet.
Thanks for reading!