Believe it or not, summer is right around the corner, which means it’s time to get down to business in terms of booking trips on what remains of our non-wedding-allocated vacation days. Here, some of our favorite apps for enabling an escape, though be warned that some may cause your wanderlust to hit unprecedented heights.
Depending on who you talk to (and likely how old they are), Instagram has already become a passé way of sharing your experiences with friends, family, and followers. Snapchat, on the other hand, is only increasing in popularity for these purposes, and it can be a great tool for inviting others along on your adventures. Snapchat is also a great discovery tool for travel, as bloggers dedicated to wanderlust have migrated in droves to the platform. Some such accounts we recommend following include: @theblondeabroad, @MyLifeIsAMovie.c, @gettingstamped, @crazyintherain, @expatedna, @krista_simmons, @adventurouskate and @travelbreak.
If you’re less of an over-sharer but want to keep track of your trips digitally nonetheless, Bonjournal is a great tool for doing so. It allows you to create beautiful albums that include text entries accompanied by up to 3 photos each. So, if you visited the Taj Mahal for example, you could create an entry just for that event, or some portion of that event, transcribing the experience and importing photos from your phone to accompany your description of the day. You can then selectively share the URL for your album, e.g. “My India Trip”, with friends and family if you so desire.
LiveTrekker is another journaling app, only this one actually tracks your steps and plots them on a detailed map in real-time. You can add video, photos, and text as you go. This app is great for those who can never seem to remember where they’ve been once an experience is over.
Hopper was named the best travel app of 2015 by Apple. It’s alleged to predict the best time to book a flight (price-wise) with 95% accuracy.
If you’ve been saying for years that you want to take a cross-country road trip with your girlfriends and yet it somehow never seems to happen, RoadTrippers might motivate you. It fills in the gaps on your journey, informing you of the points of interest that might not be obvious or mainstream between your trip’s main destinations.
If you travel for business frequently, you’ll want to download Expensify immediately. Use it to snap your receipts, track your mileage, and create custom expense reports (thereby forever eliminating the frustration of all those lost, work-related taxi receipts).
If you’ve ever embarked on a group trip, you know how difficult it can be to keep track of who owes what to whom in the aftermath. This video demonstrates how easy it can be to actually get reimbursed for the expenses you covered using Splittr.
We’re obsessed with Duolingo for everyday language practice, but Bravolol is great for use when traveling to places in which a language you aren’t exactly aiming to learn in its entirety is spoken. The app includes phrasebooks in a variety of categories (including romance, ooh la la), and when you tap on a phrase, the app will speak it out loud to give you an understanding of how it’s pronounced.
This app is hoping to reincarnate the concept of travel agents in the form of an easy-to-use, $25 app-based service for trip planning. TripScope’s Destination Specialists will handle the logistics of your trip for you and be on hand via the app anytime you need them while traveling (sort of like a personal concierge).
Cost: Free to download, $25 per itinerary
Especially useful for trips that include multiple flights and cities, TripIt organizes your confirmation e-mails (hotels, flights, etc.) into one concise itinerary. TripIt Pro does the same but also includes tons of other features. It'll send you alternate flight options if your booked flight is delayed or canceled, let you know if a preferred seat opens up on one of your flights, keep track of all your mileage points, notify you when you're eligible for flight refunds and offer you VIP savings with various travel partners.
Cost: TripIt is free; TripIt Pro is $49/year.
Booking a flight can feel like risky business. If your plans change, you can be stuck with crazy fees. Plus, there’s always the feeling you might get a better price if you keep checking … and checking … and checking. For a small fee, Options Away holds a flight for up to 21 days. If the price goes up during that time, you’ll pay the fare you locked; if it decreases, you’ll pay the lower fare. If you decide not to travel at all, the app simply releases the hold on your flight. Note: The longer you opt to hold a flight, the higher the hold fee and the more you stand to lose if you decide not to book (the hold fee is non-refundable).
If you’re the type of person who throws everything but the kitchen sink into your suitcase for fear of being stuck without critical items (God forbid an on-the-road accessory emergency), Packing Pro may save you money and back pain by helping you organize the contents of your bag based on your destination and the duration of your trip.
Entrain uses scientific data to help your body clock adapt quickly to a new time zone, minimizing jet lag. Just input your normal sleep patterns and desired wake and sleep times, and the app customizes a plan for adjusting seamlessly as you travel.
Onavo works quietly to reduce data charges on your phone while you travel and provides you with detailed info on which activities and apps are using the most data so you can adjust your usage accordingly.
The best way to see any city is with a local. This app is the next best thing to having a cool friend showing you around. It sources recommendations from locals that tend to be more specific than you might find on Yelp. Right now, Localeur only has US cities. For intel on cities around the world, sign up for the Daily Secret e-mail—it’s the best source for underground recs worldwide, but the company hasn't yet launched an app.
Want to learn more about a landmark, painting, sculpture, etc.? Use Google Goggles to take a photo, and if Google finds the image in its database, it'll provide you with more information about that place or thing on the spot.
There's nothing worse than getting the bill and realizing you're not sure whether or not to tip. Tipulator helps you determine what's customary, so you don't end up playing the part of the rude American abroad.
Replicate the experience of listening to a museum audio guide—at hundreds of thousands of locations around the world. HearPlanet offers points of interest in your area and provides details pulled from various online sources, which you can listen to in real time as you explore.
File under: "Don't Leave Home Without It." TravelSafe Pro compiles local emergency numbers, embassy details and other such potentially lifesaving information. You can even lock certain data into the home screen of your phone to enable easy dialing in a crisis.
This app is one to watch, as it’s currently only available in a small selection of cities and is not yet available on iOS. The concept is so cool, however, that we couldn’t resist sharing. 6Hourly allows you to book hotel rooms for small chunks of time, so that you’re not paying an overnight fee when all you really want to do is take a quick nap or shower between flights (as an example). Los Angeles, where we live, is so sprawling and traffic-dense that this concept would probably makes the most sense for us to use at home, so we’re hoping they’re launching stateside soon.
Cost: Coming Soon