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15 Must Have Summer Travel Apps

Compliments of iStockphoto.com

It’s summer and many of you will be hitting the road or the airways on your summer travel excursions. I figured it was time to update my “Must Have Travel Apps.” Realizing that some of you will travel by land, some by air and some internationally, I’ve divided the list up into those three categories.

Land/Sea Travel

Navigon USA

If you’re traveling by car whether you’re driving cross country or using a rental car at your destination, then you should check out my favorite Voice Turn-by-Turn GPS Navigation App. Navigon continues to raise the bar by constantly adding cool new features.

iTunes

Expedia

This is definitely one of the best apps for finding and booking hotels for the area that you’re traveling to. Great interface on iPad and iPhone.

iTunes

AroundMe

AroundMe is a must have for finding restaurants, ATMs, supermarkets, bars, pharmacies, gas stations, etc. This geo based App has been one of my favorites for a long time.

iTunes

Taxi Magic

Getting a taxi while you’re at the airport or hotel is pretty easy. However, if you take one to a meeting or shopping center, it may not always be easy to get one for the return trip. Taxi Magic allows you to book taxis right in the App. If you’re in one of their covered areas you are booking right with the dispatch system and you can even schedule one in advance. Once the ride is over you can even pay with the app.

iTunes

Ship Mate

While this App isn’t the official Carnival Cruise App, it’s probably the next best thing. You can learn all about your ship, see a schedule of activities and even communicate with other cruisers.

iTunes

Air Travel

Flightrack Pro

Flighttrack Pro is the ultimate flight management App. You can enter flights manually or sync with your TripIt account. You get push notifications of gate changes, cancellations, delays, etc. This app has saved my butt on more than one occasion.

iTunes

TripIt

TripIt for iPad

TripIt (combined with a free account on tripit.com) is the one place that pulls my whole trip together. All of my confirmation numbers, hotel contact numbers, addresses, directions, etc. are there in one spot.

iTunes

Gate Guru

Gate Guru has really come along way since it was first introduced. This app lets you know what amenities the airport you’re in/close to has and more importantly what’s near your gate. Connections can be tight and with Gate Guru you can quickly figure out what’s near by and what’s not.

iTunes

World Clock

World Clock will not only help you keep your various time zones straight, but it will even help you when scheduling meetings (conference calls) across multiple time zones.

iTunes

Your Airline’s App

Most Major Airlines now have their own App. This means that you can usually check in for your flight and display your electronic boarding pass right in the App. Even though I’m not a frequent flyer on American Airlines, I think they have the best one. C’mon Delta, yours could be so much better!

American Airlines, Delta, United, Southwest Airlines

 

International Travel

 

XE Currency

If you’re traveling to a different country one of the 1st things you’re going to want to check is the current exchange rate. XE Currency is one of my favorite Apps for viewing multiple currencies and doing calculations all at once.

iTunes

Tipping Guide

Here in the US tipping is pretty standard. In some countries tipping isn’t required/expected and in others it’s at different rates. Tipping Guide covers many countries and lets you know what’s customary.

iTunes

Skype

International roaming can be outrageously expensive and not everyone has an iOS device to do FaceTime. Skype allows you to make Skype to Skype calls for free and you can even make low cost international call.

Skype for iPhone iTunes

Skype for iPadiTunes

 

Travisa Visa

Of course you need a valid passport when going from country to country, but do you need a Visa? The Travisa Visa App answers that question in great detail. It also lets you know what’s required to get one. It’s one of the most important travel apps I have.

iTunes

Google Translate

Traveling to another country typically means also dealing with different languages. As much as I wished I spoke the language of every country I visit, the sad reality is that i don’t. In most tourist areas it’s usually not a problem, but once you go off the grid the chances of someone speaking English drop significantly. I use Google Translate at times when I need to get a few words vocalized in the native tongue.

iTunes

Expedia Hotels & Flights

Expedia – Book Your Hotel Rooms

As a frequent traveler, I’m always comparing hotel room costs. Even though I’m a frequent guest at Hiltons and Marriott Hotels, I often to travel to places where neither a Hilton or Marriott is the closest hotel, nor the least expensive. This is where an App like Expedia comes in. Before this App, I used Hotel Pal and the developer of that App has ceased development and now points people to download Expedia instead. I gave it a shot and I have to admit that I really like it better than Hotel Pal. The interface is better and faster. Not to mention that it’s a Universal App and Hotel Pal never was. The App works as you would expect. You can search your immediate area for rooms around you or you can search a specific location. If you find a room you want to book, you can book it right in the App. I also use the Hotels.com App and again i like the Expedia experience a little better from a User Interface experience.

You can sort your listings by Price, Popularity, Rating or Distance. You can also Filter by specific hotel names, ratings and price ranges. Best of all you can sign in with your existing Expedia account to make the booking go even faster. The biggest downside to an App like this is that it’s a one trick pony. It would be nice if it also allowed you to book air and ground transportation as well. Aside from that, there is definitely no reason not to have this App in your travel arsenal.

iTunes

Chrome - web browser by Google

Google Chrome Comes To iOS At Last

If you use Google Chrome on the desktop instead of Safari, you’ve probably been at a slight disadvantage when it comes to syncing your bookmarks, history, etc. to iOS devices. It was just last week that I reviewed “Chrome Sync Pro“, an app dedicated to syncing your Google Chrome bookmarks, history, tabs, etc. from your desktop to your iOS devices. While this utility is good, it’s a one way sync and the bookmarks open up in Safari. I was able to delete this App yesterday.

Google Chrome comes to iOS

While Apple allows developers to create web browsers, these browsers are really just skins on top of the iOS native browser. Apple is still pretty strict about letting developers truly create full blown browsers on iOS. This is why you won’t see Adobe Flash in a browser on iOS like it is in Chrome on the desktop. Nonetheless, I still appreciate having a Chrome look and feel and more importantly Chrome SYNCING between iOS and my desktop Chrome. Once you install the App you are prompted to log in with your Gmail user name and password. This is what ties it to your desktop version similar to how Apple uses your Apple ID to sync things. My bookmarks came over immediately, but more importantly so did my saved passwords! I went to hilton.com and my user name and password was already keyed in and ready to go (be sure to passcode protect your iOS device). Chrome also syncs your browsing history and open tabs. Speaking of tabbed browsing there is no limit to the number tabs you can have open. I’ll admit it’s kind of confusing in appearance on iPhone, but on iPad it looks and works great! Overall the browsing experience has been great so far. While it is fast, it will never be as fast as Safari on iOS because developers are prevented from using the Nitro Javascript Engine. I’ll accept this trade off for the other benefits though. Before Chrome for iOS, iCab was my favorite iOS browser offering what I think is most full featured browser for iOS. However, the one thing iCab doesn’t do is sync with Google Chrome. Even with iCab or Chrome the bigger problem is that Apple doesn’t allow you to change the default browser in iOS. This means that when you tap a link in another App, it’s still going to open up in Safari. Additional effort will always be necessary to use a different browser. Hopefully one day Apple will allow users to pick a different default browser for iOS just like they do for Mac OS. In the mean time I’ll be using Chrome as much as I can. It’s great having Chrome on both my iPad and MacBook Pro dock!

iTunes

Dropbox

Dropbox for iOS Adds Automatic Photo & Video Uploads and Gives you 3GB of Extra Space

Dropbox.com has updated their FREE iOS App to allow for automatic picture and video uploads. This is similar to what they had already done on the desktop side. If you enable this setting in the App you can now just snap away with your iDevice’s camera and know that those images/videos are being uploaded to the cloud as a backup and for sharing. Since dropbox syncs with your desktop those images/videos are going to be available to you on all your devices. When you enable automatic uploads you’ll have to option to upload all existing photos/videos on your Camera Roll or not.  This feature creates a new “Camera Uploads” folder right in the root of your Dropbox folder. As a side benefit Dropbox will give you up to 3GB of extra space (in 500MB increments as needed) for all these extra images/videos going into your Dropbox folder. They added 500MB of space to my account the minute I turned it on and snapped one shot.

I love Dropbox! They are facing stiff competition from Google and Microsoft. I pay for this service (100GB plan) and although the price is fine, I’m starting to feel like they should offer more space for the money to remain competitive. I do like how they continue to offer additional space perks for doing simple things like following them on twitter, referring people and telling them why you like the service. To date I’ve earned over 33GB’s of Free space!

iTunes

Travisa Passport and Visa Service

Travisa Passport and Visa Service App

I travel internationally for a living and therefore I need to know which countries require a Visa and more importantly the requirements. Keeping up with this information is next to impossible because it changes without notice. Luckily there’s a great App called Travisa Passport and Visa Service. Travisa is a company that specializes in Visa and Passport services and while you can certainly use their service, you don’t have to just to use the App. Recently I traveled to Brazil and I already had my Brazil Visa, but then I wondered if I’d need one for Argentina or Chile. A quick check of the App revealed that I didn’t. However, in the case that I did need one the complete information would be there including the necessary items required to apply and how to apply. If you do use Travisa’s services then you can also use the App to track the status of your Application. The App automatically checks for updates when you launch it and if there is an update it downloads right into the App so that you always have the latest requirement information.

It’s also good for US Passport info. If you are about to renew or add passport pages to an existing passport, the Travisa App can show you those requirements as well.

The App allows you to review requirements directly within the App or email them to yourself or anyone else that needs them.

If you travel internationally, this is a must have App! It’s a Universal App for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch.

iTunes

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