The other day I was tricked into resetting my iPhone, basically returning it to like-new status. Those who know about such things say a good hard reset from time to time is a good thing, much like restarting a computer when all else fails. Still, while I had the device backed up, the process required me to take another look at the home screen travel apps installed. Just off one international trip and preparing for another, I realized that were some travel apps I never used, some I couldn’t do without and others I wish I had. Here then is my updated list of must have home screen travel apps.
TripIt continues to be a solid foundation app upon which I rely on every single trip. Regardless of where travel takes me, TripIt is always on my home screen, easy to access, for a number of reasons. That Tripit counts the countries I travel to and the miles I put on the travel clock is a rarely talked about feature I really like. The ability to share my travel plans with friends, family and other concerned parties is nice too. Arguably one of the best features: TripIt updates flight plans and notifies me of changes, delays, arrival gates and more, often faster than the airline itself. The TripIt App is available everything too; desktop or any smartphone. Even better: Engage with TripIt and travel experts in their monthly #TripItChat, the third Thursday of each month. Details here.
Instagram has a permanent place on the home screen of my phone for one easy reason. It works, efficiently. Sharing photos, worldwide, seems easiest and most efficient with Instagram above other photo sharing apps. Continually updated, the Instagram app maximized what ever sort of signal might be available to send photos too. Back at the ranch, Instagram on my laptop makes for fast browsing of my photos and those of others. Favorite Feature: for those who work multiple social platforms (or want to efficiently), Instagram can simultaneously post to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr and/or FourSquare.
Airline Apps for any airline you might be flying on any given trip are a must. Most have the ability to be used as your boarding pass (although I always print one too), show where your luggage is at any given time and send alerts that validate what you already knew from using the TripIt app. While frequent flyer club information is handy, even those who fly rarely will gain from having the airline app on their device; many allow free limited browsing in the air. Like cruise line apps will let us browse shore excursions, the ship’s daily newsletter and more for free, Airlines are starting to let us shop duty-free, view in-flight entertainment listings and more.
A Booking App that you probably will not need but can come in handy when travel plans go wrong. I like the CheapOAir app for this, not so much for buying but for quick, efficient results. That’s important when traveling where roaming fees might be a concern so time spent to get those results is a priority. The CheapOAir app can find flight details from over 450 airlines. More important, the CheapOAir app allows me to save search results; a unique feature that can come in handy when waiting for information about a delayed flight to be updated and weighing options if that flight ends up being cancelled.
Financial Apps for your bank and/or credit cards need to be right up front where you will see alerts about any account while traveling. Not so obviously; the big trick here is to have SMS alerts enabled so you get those important push notifications. If traveling internationally and restricting messaging that uses cellular data to avoid roaming fees, this is one to leave turned on. Alternatively, or as a backup, have those alerts sent via email to you and/or a trusted friend or family member back home who can decide if perhaps calling you is a good idea. Bonus thought: send that friend a scan/copy of your passport to have on hand and accessible if your real passport is lost.
Mapquest or some other mapping/get-directions-when-lost app is absolutely a must for anyone traveling some place they are not familiar with. I like Mapquestt because it is easy to use, tags where I am automatically then gives audio and visual directions to where I want to be. I most commonly use this after walking directions from a human fail and it has probably saved my life on more than one occasion. Yes, it takes cellular data to work but when I use it, all else has failed and the price of directions is the least of my concerns.
Hotel Apps that will confirm reservations perform one very important function: Confirming Reservations. That might sound like a simple task and something not really needed all that much but it is. Like how the details of airline reservations change frequently, so can the confirmation of a hotel reservation. Putting access to confirmed hotel reservations on your smartphone makes verifying them from time to time easy and one of those things to do when killing time in line for something or bored in a meeting. I have the Best Western app on my home screen right now because that is the next hotel I will stay at. The BW app is also a good backup source of last-minute hotel availability since the chain has locations worldwide.
Here is more on the latest travel apps