The industry and practice of travel have both changed drastically thanks to the Internet and smartphones. If you are still vacationing “the old way” and not taking advantage of online travel resources, you’re living in the previous millennium. The following is a list of a few apps and programs that can improve your travel experience, no matter where you’re off to.
1. Last minute
Especially if you have a big piece of free time ahead of you, or even just a long weekend, one of the most fun ways to travel is spontaneously. Last minute travel decisions can be fun and adventurous, as well as extremely discounted. Apps like GTFO (Get the Flight Out) – from flight data company Hopper’s – will help you find cheap, last-minute fares for the upcoming 12-hour period.
Folks who are willing to wait for the last minute to book flights will probably also need a hotel reservation. Hotel Tonight is one of a growing genre of apps that help travelers find last-minute accommodations at significant discounts. If you’re on a smaller budget, Hostelworld can help.
2. Feed the beast
Great food can make or break a vacation. If you want an advantage over the typical clueless tourist, there are a few apps which give plugged-in travelers an upper hand. Urban Spoon and the more graphic-oriented Foodspotting both find restaurants around you, based on your GPS location in the world.
Getting to know a new city can be tough on one’s own. Here to start? What are the most important sights to see? That said, lots of folks don’t enjoy guided walking tours and prefer to head out on their own. That’s where apps like HearPlanet or Wikitude come in, listing nearby important historical and cultural attractions.
4. Local products
If you’re a true adventurer and you have no fear of landing a new neighborhood with only a comfortable pair of shoes and your sense of adventure, the all-purpose app Around Me will help you find whatever you’re looking for: hotels, ATMs or museums, in your immediate radius, anywhere.
5. My word!
Any traveler knows that even a few words in a local language can go a long way if you find yourself stuck in a bind, or simply want to show people that you’re interested in their culture. The app Google Translate’s Word Lens allows you to photograph a sign, page of text or menu with your smartphone camera, and then produces a translation.
6. Roughing it
Even if you’re the type of person who prefers a vacation in the woods with only a tent a few supplies, travel technology can help. The SAS Survival Guide app will give you all the information and instructions you need to enjoy a survival weekend in the great outdoors, including video tutorials and photo guides to everything from animal tracking to berry collecting.
7. My museum
Museums have been on the frontier of adapting to the new reality of social media and smartphones, changing how they let visitors experience their art collections. Search individual museums for the apps that they feature.
8. Send regards
Most people don’t write letters any more. And who needs to? These days, there are plenty of apps that combine e-mail and instant messaging with holiday visuals for a unique, cool vacation greeting. Apps like I Am Here allow you to share your exact GPS location on social media. Postcard on the Run lets you use your own photos to design customized digital postcards that can be instantly sent to your contacts.
9. Modern-day Darwin
If you are a survivalist or biology lover, you’ll be able to share your most interesting outdoor discoveries with Project Noah, an online community where you can upload documentary photos of the flora and fauna you find during your excursions.