Ah travel. The unavoidable nonsense that accompanies business in this great country. Some love it, most loathe it, but to all of us it’s at least bearable if it goes according to plan. So, here are a few apps to smooth away the turbulence…
A personal itinerary builder on your phone. A list of everything in one place. Whatever you call it, TripIt is an essential for anyone travelling anywhere. It will scan your inbox, collate all the details of a trip and string it all together, even working out routes from the airport to your hotel. It’s number one in our travel essentials.
It doesn’t get much simpler than this. Before you choose your seat, check on SeatGuru and it will cover everything from proximity to the bathroom, to partial windows, to non-reclining seats. There are traveller pics and it will also find your exact flight, not just an approximate aircraft.
Finding flights is usually done direct with the airline on their website or through someone like Expedia, right? Wrong. Well, it’s wrong if you want to get a complete picture. OnTheFly accesses the same Matrix software that travel agents use and will offer more options than Jelly Babies have flavors. It’s particularly good for multiple stops.
So you’ve got your seat, your flights are all set and you’re at the airport. The tex mex chain’s burritos look like they’d survive a nuclear winter and the cheese on the fries is creating a yellow glow on the ceiling. So where do you eat? Check out Gate Guru for the answers. It’ll also set you straight on the map for the terminal if it’s a rabbit warren (yes, we’re looking at you O’Hare) and also provide recommendations on other shopping options.
Finally you’re on your way but on the plane’s Wi-Fi you decide to check out any better hotel options. You know you can cancel yours before 4pm local, so what’s available. Hotel Tonight releases a limited number of rooms across differing status hotels at great rates. It’s essentially last minute availability so you’ve gotta be quick, but you could find yourself in boutique hotel heaven instead of motel madness.
Having picked up your rental car, you need to get where you’re going. Hertz will have installed a GPS system that has clearly been ripped out of a Humvee and you’ll need a masters degree in military route finding to use it. And don’t even bother with the vehicle’s own GPS. By the time you’ve worked it out, the freeway will be anything but free. Waze is everything Google Maps is but with crowd sourcing on the traffic flow. It’s incredibly reliable. If it says take a right when you know you’re going left, don’t argue, just do it. You will get there quicker.
Finally, an app that we’ve been waiting for since the Babel fish brought instant translation to us in The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. Ok, so it’s not quite universal translation, but you speak into it, choose the language and it chats right back ‘atcha in said foreign tongue. Party game potential is practically unlimited!