I fell in love with some new apps this week as we traveled in Mexico. It also reminded me of some old faithful apps I’ve relied on for years. These free apps are amazing – what knowledge we have at our fingertips!
Wow, what a game changer Mobile Passport is. Upon entering the U.S., complete questions on the app and literally head straight to baggage claim. Skip the kiosk and other passport control lines. It’s even faster than Global Entry.
This only works for holders of U.S. passports and is available at some cruise ports too.
Tip: The first time I tried this app, it didn’t work for me. Download app and submit passport information at least a few days in advance of traveling. Complete app questionnaire as soon as you have cell service upon landing. (Questionnaire expires in 4 hours, so no need to complete before departure.)
Thanks to blogging girlfriend, Kris, travel is simplified with her TripIt tip. This app compiles flights, hotels, car rentals and dining reservations all into one clean location. Just email confirmations to TripIt, and the app magically organizes all the pieces for you. Couldn’t be easier.
And as an added bonus, it notifies you when flights are delayed.
You may already have the TripAdvisor app on your phone, but in all our travels, this crowd-sourced travel guide rarely steers us wrong on hotel or restaurant recommendations. A favorite feature is the map which displays nearby accommodations, restaurants, and attractions.
Destination Guides are available for most major cities to assist with quick research. I scour the forum for niche questions. It’s a powerful little app.
Google Trips & Flights
Google Trips is a newer app for me. It seems to combine the itinerary bundling feature of TripIt with local suggestions like TripAdvisor. I’m trying it for my next trip, New Orleans.
My husband uses no-frills Google Flights to research our flights (no app).
Interactive maps burn through data quickly. Maps.Me provides an offline solution for navigating almost any city on the planet. You’ll need adequate storage space on your phone to download the map when online.
Provides walking, cycling or driving directions to your destination or indicates nearest gas stations, parking, or ATM.
It’s a head-scratcher how it tracks you en route when you are offline.
This is one crazy app. Place the camera lens over any text, and it will simultaneously translate into the selected language (above photo). Or speak into the phone for an immediate translation as text.
Translates 103 languages. Fun to try at the dinner table even if you have no exotic travel in your future.
Many weather geeks list this as a favorite app for checking current weather and forecasts.
Although I typically shy away from these specialized city travel apps, I think Gwyneth Paltrow’s popular lifestyle site, Goop, got this one right. G.Spotting highlights insider hip locations and foodie restaurants in almost 30 international cities. I’m excited to check out the Napa Valley and San Francisco recommendations soon.
A few more apps worth mentioning: Open Table (dining reservations), Lyft (on-call car transportation), Oanda (currency converter), Netflix (download movies before flights), Pinterest (‘pin’ inspiring travel photos and articles), and Instagram (research best angle to photograph landmarks). Which apps would you add to this list?
Related: Planning A European Vacation