Best travel apps and gadgets for a worry-free vacation

Thu, 09 Aug 2018

Travel Apps & Tech: 7 Tips for a Tip-Top Trip

Enhance your fun while you ease your stress.

You’re ready for a vacation, but not quite ready for a detox from your devices. Relax: All sorts of travel apps and technology are here to smooth your path, every step of the way.

  1. Use free travel apps to plan your itinerary, so you don’t miss wonderful experiences.

    You’re probably Yelp- and Trip Advisor-enabled. But have you tried to plan a day-by-day route to the hot spots and hidden gems? Tell this free app how many days you plan to stay in a tourist mecca: It will map out an itinerary to make sure you hit the highlights—including surprises you might overlook on your own. It also groups your attractions so you spend more time enjoying and less time crisscrossing traffic.

    Remember too that many cities and attractions have their own free apps that serve as guided tours—and can save you a bundle on audio guides. (For example, check out this content-rich app for Barcelona’s magnificent Park Guell.) Download them in advance; then use them without Wi-Fi.

  2. Virtual organizers help make sure important details don’t slip through the cracks.

    Plane reservations, car reservations, tour reservations, dinner reservations … all those details can give you reservations about leaving home at all. But tech comes to the rescue. Try Google Trips or Tripit, which capture and organize your can’t-miss and mustn’t-lose information—even street directions or that OMG restaurant tip from your BFF.

  3. Get acquainted with Google Translate, so language is no barrier to fun.

    You’ll find several handy translation apps available, including this trusty staple for international travel. It not only translates into 103 languages; you can use the camera to capture a picture of the text you need translated. It also features Conversation mode, to make two-way communication faster and easier.

  4. Use tracking devices for your most precious possessions so you worry less and relax more.

    You’ve cruised through the Everglades for three hours and suddenly—OMG, your wallet is missing! Don’t panic: If you’ve inserted a tracker like the Tile, you can locate your purse, keys and other valuables by app. It can also tell you the last time and place it saw your lost item. And if your smartphone is the lost item, pressing a Tile will make it ring, even if it’s set on silent. (For extra phone security, make sure to put a six-digit security code on your smartphone, rather than just four.)

  5. Tech gives you new tools to stay safe while you explore.

    Remember that pickpockets and thieves are at the top of their game, pretty much anywhere you go. They have their eyes on laptop cases, oversized handbags, and other telltale signs of ripe pickings. (Even the way you carry a pocketbook can tip them off that you’re a tourist.) On YouTube, you’ll find a wealth of videos on how to avoid their sticky fingers—often, with advice for specific destinations.

    Your personal information is likewise an easy target: Many places offer public Wi-Fi hotspots, but they’re hunting grounds for internet scammers. All your passwords, usernames and other personal data can easily fall into their hands. If the hotspot doesn’t require a password, that’s a tip-off. One easy solution: an encryption app, such as HTTPS Everywhere. It makes browsing more secure on Firefox, Chrome and Opera.

  6. Nervous about leaving home? Keep an eye out with Nest.

    Are the cats inviting neighborhood strays for a catnip binge while you’re away? Worried about fire? Or simply want to turn up the AC before you return? Nest cameras and alarms give you mobile-phone control of the home front when you’re a world away.

  7. Keep tabs on your spending while you spend your time at play.

    Can you afford that magnificent souvenir after that five-star dinner? Remember, your finances are as close as your mobile phone thanks to the latest mobile banking technology. With a few clicks, you can manage your money from a beach chair or a boat deck: checking your balances, depositing checks, transferring funds, even setting up alerts.

    “There’s an app for that.” How true that is—fascinating travel apps, making your vacation plans more convenient, less stressful and more secure.

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