For today’s travelers, being well-prepared for a journey can be achieved with much lighter baggage than what the travelers of the past had to lug along. This is largely thanks to smartphones and the apps that can be loaded onto them, a convenient combination that allows users to fit many of the top accessories needed for a trips right into their pockets.
For digital denizens with a trip on the horizon, here are some of the top travel-related apps in the marketplace:
- Airbnb — This app connects travelers in need of lodging with homeowners the world over who have rooms, apartments, entire houses and other accommodations for rent. The wide range of accommodations available help ensure that travelers on nearly any budget can find a fit. Further, photos, descriptions and reviews of the rentals serve to guide travelers to the perfect ones for their needs. Airbnb is available for free download to iOS and Android.
- Drive Weather — While typical weather apps can provide reliable forecasts for a traveler’s destination, checking the weather along the route can be a much bigger challenge. But with Drive Weather, available for free from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store, travelers can easily see the conditions at all points along their drive via an in-app map that shows the weather conditions in each location at the estimated time they will be passing through. The app even allows drivers to compare conditions along different routes, helping them determine the safest path to take and the ideal time to start the journey.
- Flush — As seasoned travelers are well aware, finding a public restroom while on the go in an unknown locale can sometimes be tricky. But with the Flush toilet-finder app on their smartphones, travelers can easily find the nearest public restroom on a map even without an internet connection. The app’s database includes more than 200,000 public restroom locations worldwide and is available free of charge to Apple and Android.
- GasBuddy — Especially on longer driving trips, saving money on gas can mean extra dollars for vacation spending… And the GasBuddy app, available for free from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store, helps the cause by displaying nearby gas prices in either list or map format. Travelers can also use the app to report gas prices, track their driving habits and even earn fuel rewards.
- GlobeTips — For international travelers who love to dine, not knowing the local tipping customs can lead to awkward situations … and even angry servers. But with the GlobeTips app, available for free download from the Apple App Store, travelers can be aware of local tipping expectations and even automatically calculate the appropriate amount to tip on a meal in more than 240 countries worldwide.
- Google Maps — With the roads, businesses and attractions of more than 220 countries and territories mapped, Google Maps serves as one of the world’s most popular and trusted apps for easily accessing GPS-based driving directions. Helpful features of the app include real-time traffic conditions and ETAs, automatic re-routing when accidents and road closures affect routes, and street views for assessing locations. Google Maps is available for free download to iOS and Android.
- Google Translate — Another popular Google offering, Google Translate can be a huge help to international travelers who are not fluent in the local language. The handy help it provides includes quick and easy text translation (in 108 languages by typing), instant camera translation (in 94 languages by taking a photo of printed words with a smartphone camera), spoken-word translation (in 70 languages via the smartphone’s microphone) and handwriting translation (in 96 languages via drawing text instead of typing). Google Translate is available for free download from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.
- Headout — This app, available for free from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store, puts travelers quickly in the know about local activities around them, including tours and live shows in a range of major cities. And for savings-savvy travelers, Headout even offers exclusive last-minute discounts on exciting activities that can be booked and paid for directly through the app.
- iExit — Interstate signs have a limited amount of space available for telling travelers what businesses and services can be found at an exit, but those with the iExit app on their smartphones can get the full picture. Roadside offerings listed on iExit’s in-app map include gas stations (with gas prices listed), restaurants and hotels within 3 miles of an exit ramp.The app also provides information on nearby rest areas and Wi-Fi availability. The app is available for free download from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.
- PackPoint — Most every traveler knows the feeling of arriving at a destination only to realize that he or she forgot a vital item. bBut PackPoint, available for free download from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store, helps reduce this risk by asking a series of questions about where a traveler is going and what he or she will be doing there, then checking the weather there and providing packing-list recommendations. The app also allows users to check items off their packing list as they pack them, as well as share their list with fellow travelers for planning purposes.
- Roadtrippers — Travelers who want to discover interesting places to visit along the way can spend hours researching attractions along their route … or seconds consulting the Roadtrippers app, available for free download from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. The app currently provides details on quirky attractions, scenic points, local diners and parks along routes in the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
- Tripadvisor — Another great resource for trip planning, this popular app provides easy access to user-generated reviews for millions of hotels, restaurants, tours and attractions worldwide. The app’s search feature allows users to gain quick insights on an area’s range of various offerings or its specific attractions, and in-app bookings offer added convenience. Tripadvisor is available for free download from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.
- TunnelBear — Using public Wi-Fi connections can carry with it inherent risks of hacking and invasion of privacy. But with the TunnelBear app, available for free download from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store, travelers can do so both privately and securely via a VPN (virtual private network) that encrypts their web browsing and other online activities to avoid putting their data and devices at risk.
- Uber — As regular travelers know, renting a car can be a pricey endeavor (and paying for parking can make it even more expensive). But with the Uber app installed on their smartphones, travelers can summon rides from nearby drivers in locations worldwide, and even pay their fares without having to carry the local currency. The Uber app is available for free download from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.
- Zomato — A great resource for getting guidance on where to grab the next meal, this app provides crowd-sourced reviews of 1.5 million restaurants worldwide, and users often upload menu and dish photos to give fellow foodies a glimpse of the delicious options in store for them. Users can also order food for delivery directly within the app across 500-plus global cities, then track their orders in real time. Zomato is available for free download from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.
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