Tech Watch: Best Travel Apps
It's almost vacation season. These apps will help you navigate your way through airports and cities while discovering the local hot spots.
Best Travel Apps
With the unusually warm March weather that we have been experiencing in Erie, I have one thing and one thing only on my mind: summer vacation.
Last year the average employed American earned 14 vacation days, but only took 12 of them, according to a survey by Expedia. That's almost the same number of days they left on the table in 2010. Even though two forfeited days of vacation don't seem to be a lot, it certainly can add up, since collectively, Americans gave up 226 million unused vacation days in 2011.
How can vacationing become easier to those who are using their time off? Mobile apps. After all, the last activity that anyone wants to partake in during a vacation is working. These apps will help you navigate your way through airports and cities while discovering the local hot spots.
Google Maps Navigation beta for Blackberry, iPhone, and Android (free) - If you're in an area unfamiliar to you, chances are you might make a wrong turn. You can avoid that situation by using the Google Maps app. It's free and incredibly accurate; don't risk getting lost in a foreign location because you're too proud to ask for directions.
AroundMe for iPhone and iPad (free) - This app takes Foursquare to the next level and is perfect for the tourist exploring a new city. AroundMe allows you to find out information about your surroundings very quickly. After identifying your location, this app let's you choose the closest Bank, Bar, Gas Station, Hospital, Hotel, Movie Theater, Restaurant, Supermarket, and Taxi company. AroundMe shows a complete list of businesses in the chosen category with the distance from your location. Every listing shows you its location on a map and a route from your current location, and it also includes a share button to send to your contacts.
Urbanspoon for Blackberry, iPhone and Android (free) - Can't decide where to eat? Shake your smartphone and the Urbanspoon slot machine will choose a restaurant for you to dine at. You can also view menus, browse restaurants near your location, make reservations, and view ratings and reviews from bloggers, newspapers, and fellow eaters. This app can be used all over the U.S. and Canada, as well as large metro areas in U.K. and Australia.
Instagram: iPhone, iPod touch and iPad(free) - Serving as a mobile Photoshop application, this app can change your vacationing photos into a real work of art. Instagram can give your photos an antiquated, artistic, or professional look, and it is very easy to share these photos on social media networks so your friends and family can see how much you're enjoying your vacation.
GateGuru: iPhone and Android (free) - GateGuru will have you navigating through terminals with ease, as it shows the shops and services within each airport terminal, which can help cut down on time so you can get your latte and still make it to the gate on time. Some of the shops and restaurants offer check-in specials or discounts.
Gas Buddy: iPhone and Android (free)- Gas Buddy helps locate gas stations with the best prices at the pump. The app lists gas stations that are closest to your current location, and the prices that the stations are currently selling fuel at. The prices and stations can even be sorted by fuel type (regular, midrange, premium, and diesel).
Packing (+TO DO!): iPhone and Android ($0.99) - Have you ever reached your destination only to find that you forgot to pack a necessity? This application helps take some of the preparation stress that travelers develop by allowing users to create packing lists, checking off items as they are packed. Packing provides templates built for a variety of common trips.
Google Translate: Blackberry, iPhone and Android (free) – With over 60 languages, users can translate text between 63 languages, receive verbal translations in 15 languages, and display translations so they are easier to read.
XE Currency: iPhone and Android (free) – Convert every world currency onthego with this app. With features such as live currency rates and charts and a currency calculator, this app is a necessity when traveling abroad.
TripIt: Blackberry, iPhone and Android (free) - Trip It Travel Organizer will make sure you never dig through your printed, paper itineraries again. TripIt links to your email and gathers every confirmation number from your inbox. All flight, hotel, and even dinner reservations that contain a confirmation number are organized into an itinerary, all in one place.
For your upcoming trips, browse around for apps promoted by tourism boards and councils. Be sure to take these apps with you on your much-deserved vacation so you can look less like a tourist and more like a local.