Handy Apps for Easy Travel

Not so long ago we had to take printouts of all our documents and tickets when we travelled. Now we travel with smartphones and tablets and with the abundance of travel Apps now available it’s never been easier to carry all travel itineraries and important documents in the palm of your hand.

There is one potential downside to having all your documents stored on a smartphone…you need an internet connection. But many airports now offer free WiFi and to remain connected we always purchase a local data SIM card if we are staying at a destination for a long period. For smaller stays of a few days we don’t bother if WiFi is available at our hotel or if there is plenty of free WiFi around town.

Our main app for keeping our itineraries in order is the TripIt travel organiser. This handy organiser stores all our flight details, hotel bookings, car rentals, maps and directions. We upload our plans by forwarding our bookings via email straight to the app and it automatically generates our master itinerary.

It keeps all our confirmation numbers, maps and destination weather information. It syncs with our online and mobile calendars so we never need to carry paper printouts of bookings. We have used the TripIt app for the past couple of years and it has never let us down.

A major challenge when travelling is working out different currency exchange rates. Of the many Apps available we find the XE Currency Converter to be one of the best, and we use it as our main guide.

Keeping in contact with family and friends while travelling is important for us. To save money we never call directly over global roaming. We use a variety of Apps which allow us to call via the internet and talk as long as we want for free. The main messaging Apps are Facebook Messenger which is popular in Australia and the U.S. and WhatsApp which is popular in Singapore, the U.K and Europe. There are others but we find most people we call have one or the other. Not everyone has a smartphone and we have relatives that still have a landline, so to call them we use skype and add a small amount of credit which allows us to call landlines back in Australia. It’s much cheaper than global roaming and we find that $20 credit lasts a long time.

Many airlines now have their own Apps which means you can have the boarding pass on your smartphone instead of a paper boarding pass. We always check with our airline and, if available, opt to use that instead of paper passes. There are occasions when this isn’t possible, such as having to manually check in for a flight at a counter or kiosk, but we find it’s increasingly available.

We book hotels online. Many of the major hotel chains or booking companies have their own Apps, which we always use for a physical record of the booking.

Other Apps such as Uber and Airbnb are useful depending on how you like to travel. Google Maps is one that we find invaluable for directions and locations of nearby restaurants and facilities. If we hire a vehicle, we use Google Maps on our smartphone instead of the rental company’s GPS, which usually costs extra. Most smartphones now have built-in GPS so downloading maps prior to travel makes it easy to use even if you have no internet connection.

Image: © iStock.com/Poike

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