Vacations should be fun. Family gatherings should be about reconnecting with loved ones. Business travel should be efficient and financially rewarding, for your company if not for you in particular. Unfortunately, trips of all kinds can turn into stressful situations in a heartbeat if they’re poorly planned. And even the best planning won’t be enough if your flight is cancelled or your hotel is overbooked. It doesn’t have to be that way, however. The modern traveler has a supercomputer in their pocket. Smartphones can help you do a whole lot more than call home or pass the time in the airport with games or videos. Travel apps for your smartphone make it easy to plan your whole trip, from tracking flights to arranging for car hire. They can also help you deal with unexpected hiccups on the fly.
Value Rental Car has assembled a selection of ten must-have travel apps that will make your next trip less stressful. Don’t leave home without them!
We’ll start with Google Trips, and for good reason. If you only have one travel app, this one should be it. Google trips isn’t really a single travel app. It’s more of a Swiss army knife for travel. It’s as close to a personal assistant for your travel plans as you’ll find for your smartphone. It can even help you find local car hire services.
Google trips is great for consolidating all your various hotel reservations, car hire info, airline flight details, and other tour details. Google Trips is totally plugged in with other Google services, to it’s easy to grab details from Gmail accounts and maps and keep them in one place. One nice detail about the app: you can save your information right to your smartphone, so you can retrieve it even if you’re unable to connect to WiFi.
Google Trips for Android (Application no longer supported)
Nothing knocks the fun out of vacations like sitting in traffic. Traffic jams can also turn a lucrative business trip into an expensive waste of time if you can’t get to an important meeting. That’s why the Waze app is invaluable for every kind of traveler. After you’ve taken care of car hire, getting maps and directions to your destinations is only half the battle. Waze is great for up to date travel information that includes things like construction zones, speed traps, and plain old heavy traffic alerts. If it will keep you from reaching your destination on time, Waze will probably know about it.
In addition to regular alerts, Waze can also map alternate routes, find inexpensive gasoline stations, and calculate arrival times for you.
Lounge Buddy/Priority Pass
Let’s face it: no matter how well you plan, travel can be stressful. The secret to smart travel is to take every opportunity to relax along the way. The LoungeBuddy and Priority Pass apps are a great way to turn dreary layovers in airports into restful breaks from planes, trains, and automobiles.
Getting access to airport lounges doesn’t have to be expensive. Many frequent flyer programs and credit card rewards programs include them as extras. Even if you don’t automatically qualify, it’s usually inexpensive to buy a single day pass (see our rundown of ways to win at airport layovers for more info). LoungeBuddy and Priority Pass check if you’re already qualified, and they offer up a list of available lounges and prices if you’re not.
Small details can make a big difference to your trip. There’s no more important detail than weather. It’s important to be able to see weather anywhere on the globe where you might be traveling, including real-time summaries and radar maps. Accuweather has a great interface, and their forecasts can be personalized right down to a GPS location, with up-to-the-minute weather forecasts. Their long term forecasts also make packing the right clothing easier.
Reliable WiFi is indispensable for business travelers. It’s pretty handy for vacationers, too. Many data plans will empty out your wallet if you incur roaming charges, and it can be hard to know how much money you’ve spent until it’s too late to do much about it. WiFi Map is a simple app that sniffs out all the local WiFi hotpspots, and it collates all the available login details for each in one place. Users of the app can report their experience with any particular hotspot, making it easier to find reliable, safe, high-speed connections when you’re away from home.
Speaking of WiFi, security is always a concern whenever you use an unfamiliar hotspot. Public WiFi is convenient, but it’s not always safe. That’s why a tool like Encrypt.me comes in handy. This app isn’t free, but it’s well worth the money if it keeps you from having sensitive personal and financial info exposed at a public hotspot. The app encrypts all your data on the fly, and sends it via a virtual private network for the ultimate in privacy and security.
You might think you can do without an app for finding accommodations if you’ve already got a hotel or rental lined up. But what happens if your booking falls through? Airlines aren’t the only businesses that overbook. If your plans for a room don’t work out at the last minute, you’ll need help and you’ll need it fast. The Roomer app specializes in finding last-minute deals on hotel rooms and similar places to stay. The app also helps if you have reservations and have to cancel. You can use it to sell your stay to another user, and save money and aggravation on cancellation fees.
XE Currency is a simple app that can save you a lot of arithmetic. It allows you to keep track of any number of currencies, and it has up-to-the-minute exchange rates as long as you’re online. You can also use the app when you’re offline. The app has an old-school interface, which makes it easy to use in a hurry when you’re settling a bar tab or a hotel bill.
Google Translate is another free, essential app to include in your travel arsenal. It allows you to type in or dictate a word or phrase, and have it presented to you in over 100 different languages. It will even pronounce the word or phrase for you if you want. The app has recently been expanded to include translation of signage simply by using your cameraphone to take a picture of the text. The app even works when you’re offline, but the suite of services it provides is limited.
It’s not always possible to make voice calls when you’re on the road. Even if you can, it can be hard to determine if you’re going to pay a substantial roaming charge. It’s almost always easier to find a WiFi signal than a rock-solid cell signal, so it’s smart to have a messaging app like WhatsApp installed on your phone. WhatsApp is a lot more than a texting app. It allows you to send photos, recorded voice messages, and even make video calls without incurring roaming charges.
Related: How to move apps to an SD card to save space on your Android phone:
Remember, for the ultimate in convenience in car hire in the Los Angeles and Pasadena area, rely on Value Rental Car for the best rates on the best cars.