The 11 Mobile Apps You Need for a Small Group Vacation Posted October 20, 2017
As smartphones and the internet have connected most of the world, traveling has only gotten easier. There are apps and websites to solve almost every issue that might crop up before or during your trip to a foreign land. But therein lies a problem: with so many helpful apps out there, it can be hard to decide which ones are right for your particular travel plans. For example, if you’re not planning to rent a car during your trip, you will have no use for Waze, one of the most popular apps for navigation and avoiding traffic jams.
With that in mind, allow us to offer our insights on 10 of the best mobile apps for small group travelers.
Preparing for Your Trip
The gears of government grind slowly. That’s why you should use ItsEasy the next time you renew your passport. This appropriately named app simplifies the renewal process by allowing you to fill out all the necessary forms in the app and snap a photo using your device. They even provide you with a FedEx shipping label so you can send your old documents in. From there, the experts take over, and your new passport will be sent to your front door when it’s ready. The app is free, though there is a fee for the renewal process.
As we discussed in an earlier blog post, Mobile Passport makes returning to the U.S. a breeze. This free app lets you access a much shorter, mobile-only passport line upon your return to the country. All you have to do is enter your basic passport information and answer a few questions about your trip in the app, then skip that long wait and enter the Mobile Passport line.
Packing for an international trip is a daunting task, and Packpoint aims to help you tackle it. By entering the dates and locations of the places you’ll be traveling to, as well as the types of activities you’ll be engaging in (hiking, fancy dinner, etc.), Packpoint generates a packing list that you can check off as you pack each item. You can also add items and edit the list as you go, and email your list to your traveling companions with a few taps.
Kindle or Nook
Whether you’re faithful to Amazon’s Kindle or the Nook from Barnes and Noble, make sure you download their apps before leaving for your vacation. The mobile versions of these popular e-readers have all the capabilities of the handheld devices, and automatically sync up your downloads and page stops across all devices. Also, having the app on your phone or tablet means leaving your e-reader at home – one less thing to worry about.
Getting Your Bearings
When you’re shopping in a foreign country and want to know how much that silk scarf will set you back, you don’t want to ask the clerk to run a conversion for you. That’s where the XE currency app comes in handy. After you download the app, select the currency of the country you’re visiting (or currencies, if you’re heading to multiple destinations). Then, when you have a question in a store or restaurant, simply type in the local currency and the USD equivalent will pop up (or vice versa). The app is easy to use, and the conversion works whether or not you are connected to the internet.
Why use the TV forecast or the included weather apps on your phone when you can have access to Dark Sky. This hyperlocal forecast engine provides up-to-the-minute notifications of weather patterns in your area. The interface also includes a beautiful map feature and, although the app is only available for Apple products as of now, the same technology powers Arcus Weather and WeatherCaster, which are available for Android as well.
Google Maps or Maps.Me
One of the best parts of visiting an unfamiliar city is exploring it on foot, and these two apps can help you do just that with ease. Google Maps (available for Apple and Android products) and Maps.Me (Apple and Android) provide slightly different user experiences, but are both wonderful traveling companions. In addition to its stellar turn-by-turn directions, Google Maps is excellent at finding nearby attractions or restaurants, while Maps.Me offers an incredible level of detail where every street, path, and landmark is mapped nearly everywhere in the world (it also offers great offline maps as well).
Moovit is the most comprehensive transportation app on the market. When you’re navigating an unfamiliar bus/subway/train system, Moovit is an invaluable resource. You can check schedules and delays, download transit maps to use offline, and receive notifications for what stop you need to get off at, so you don’t ride right past it while you’re scrolling through the photos you’ve snapped so far.
Tripadvisor or Yelp
Word of mouth. It’s the key to finding the best restaurants/bars/shops/activities, and avoiding those tourist traps that are nothing but time wasters. With Tripadvisor (Apple and Android) and Yelp, you’ll be able to find reviews on virtually everything in a particular location, from an Amsterdam coffeeshop to a Johannesburg flea market. You can also search by location and write reviews from the apps.
Uber or Lyft
Both of these ridesharing services are available in most cities across the world, and provide a safe, fair-priced alternative to local taxis. Simply download the free Uber or Lyft app, enter your credit card information, and hail a cab to your location right from your phone. You can also schedule a pickup for a time in the future, and split the price with your traveling companion in the app.
Staying in Touch
Staying in touch with your family and friends while traveling is important, and there are a bevy of ways to do it. But for anyone with a Facebook account, Messenger is the easiest and most efficient. Provided you’re connected to the internet, Facebook Messenger allows you to text, call, and video chat with anyone else with a Facebook account all across the world for free. It doesn’t get much better than that.
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