It’s time for summer travel tips. Early signs that traffic is getting lighter and a first glimpse of summer-like temperatures (after a brutally long winter in New England) has me thinking about summer travel. It’s almost time to pack your bags, so I compiled my top 10 favorite travel apps for summer fun.
Getting to and around your vacation destination
Google Maps – With its recent integration of Waze, Google Maps has gotten infinitely more helpful for the day trip or longer sojourn because it helps you avoid traffic snarls. Tapping into real-time feedback from fellow road warriors, you can choose your route based on up-to-the minute traffic reports. Find it in the iTunes store for iPhone or on Google Play for Android.
Seatguru – Color-coded airplane seat maps warn you if a seat is a bad choice because of seat pitch, proximity to a noisy galley or limited leg room.
Uber – Fabulous for getting around the city, Uber is now in 100 cities, including Beijing. For not much more than a cab fare, you get luxury sedan service all with a few taps on your smartphone. Reserve your car at the touch of a button, the driver knows your location and will keeps you apprised of how long it will take to get to you. You set up your account in advance, so your credit card is charged automatically and tip is included, so there’s no need to have cash on hand.
Wikitude – Wikitude is one of the cooler apps for helping you find your way around an unfamiliar area. Using your smartphone camera, it overlays a map featuring nearby restaurants and attractions and even weaves in Yelp and TripAdvisor reviews to help you choose where to go. It also includes a handy currency converter, if needed.
Best app for finding a hotel
Hotel Tonight – If you’re feeling spontaneous and want to get away last-minute or decide to turn your day trip into a whole weekend getaway, check out Hotel Tonight. Save up to 70 percent by booking nearby hotels last-minute.
Apps to help you fit in at your destination and find stuff to do
The Entertainer – Buy a hardcopy edition or better yet download the app for an electronic coupon book filled with offers such as hotel and restaurants discounts and buy-one-get-one-free offers for 80,000 outlets in 23 cities around the world. The Entertainer is a great electronic resource for saving money in the most popular destinations. You’ll find water parks, golf courses, museums and more in this must-have travel resource.
Tipping Bird – Especially handy for international travel where you may not know the local tipping conventions, Tipping Bird will tell you how much to tip (if at all) for specific services. In many parts of the world, tipping conventions are vastly different (lower) than in the U.S. Be in the know so you don’t end up the “ugly American” or spending more than expected. Unfortunately, it’s only available for Android users.
iStone – Another great app for foreign travel, iStone is a translation app that is free for the basic version. It translates English into 12 languages and provides quick access to the most common expressions in each language. Unfortunately, it’s only available for iPhone in the iTunes store.
Staying connected to home
Viber – For international travel, avoid costly data charges on your smartphone with Viber. You get free text, photo and video messages with location sharing and the best-quality VoIP calls using 3G or wi-fi. You can also call non-Viber mobile or landline numbers at low rates with Viber Out.
Postagram – Have your personalized vacation postcards mailed for you using your own vacation photos. You add a personal message and provide the addresses and Postagram will do the rest. The cost is .99 cents for U.S. and 1.99 each outside the U.S. For limited time, you get the first five free.
And my bonus suggestion for summer travel tips: don’t forget to check out Yelp to find a wealth of restaurants worldwide rated by real people. It’s easy to filter based on your location or search food genre or price range. It’s a handy resource at home or away.