Six Best Apps for Your 2013 Spring Break
Spring break is right around the corner so now is a good time to arm yourself with the best apps to make your travel safe, fun, and memorable. I’ve surveyed a group of savvy recreational and business travelers to locate some of the best apps for road warriors like you. Whether you’re a student who’ll be heading south for some wild and crazy fun or a family taking a low-key vacation, these road-tested apps will better prepare you for the trip and make your experience more enjoyable.
1) LifeTopix – 99 cents for a limited time
LifeTopix is a personal productivity app that manages your notes, shopping lists, travel plans, projects, to-dos, reminders, documents, health and fitness, finances, education, bookmarks, and more. What’s unique about it is you can replace many of your travel apps that just do one thing, such as your packing app or your to-do list app, with LifeTopix. It’s essentially a Swiss Army Knife for travel and life management.
It includes a “life topic” built specifically for travel (Travel + Places). With it, you can organize information for your trips and the places you frequent or that you just want to remember. It even includes a specific Trip Calendar so you can view information that’s only related to your travel. Moreover, within LifeTopix, you can create your vacation shopping lists, record a travel journal, use location services to plan your routes, create packing lists, make to-do lists, organize your photos, collaborate with your travel companions, and view your entire agenda. You can also store and manage travel documents such as insurance cards, brochures, receipts, or itineraries. With Bookmarks, you can easily find all your travel-related websites and store your usernames and passwords for them.
2) OpenTable – Free
One of the challenges of travel is finding a restaurant that meets your requirements and making sure that you get a table. OpenTable is a concierge in the palm of your hand. If you’re traveling in the US and Canada, OpenTable includes a network of more than 20,000 fine dining restaurants and it allows you to instantly book reservations.
OpenTable automatically detects your location and allows you to narrow down your selection by neighborhoods, cuisine, and price. Are you looking for wild game in Santa Cruz, California or Tapas in Austin, Texas? You can find it with this gem of an app. You can also search restaurants by name, location, and availability. And you can earn dining points that will allow you to pay for meals at restaurants in the OpenTable network.
3) Skype – Free or upgrade option
If you’re not familiar with Skype, it’s a free or subscription service that allows you to chat or make voice or video calls on your computer, smartphone, tablet, TV, or from a landline. All you need to use Skype is a device with a webcam, a tablet, or a smartphone; a Skype account; and a Skype application.
What’s great about Skype is when you’re traveling outside of your country; you can avoid the roaming charges that normally go hand-in-hand with international calling and data roaming. Tip: When you travel internationally with your device, turn off Data Roaming from your Settings so you don’t accidentally end up with an astronomical bill. You can also turn off Cellular Data to avoid the charges of voice calls and text messaging. Or, contact your cell phone carrier to learn about international data plans.
Before you embark on your journey, install the Skype app, and then make sure that your travel companions and friends back home install the app as well. Add your mom and dad, your emergency contacts, pet sitters, or other important contacts to your Skype contact list. Then, when you’re traveling, over Wi-Fi you can make calls with the Skype app without the international roaming charges.
4) Taxi Magic – Free
Recently, I was staying at a hotel and I requested that the valet find me a taxi. After waiting 30 minutes, not seeing a taxi, and being late for my dinner reservation, I wish I would have known about Taxi Magic. When you’re traveling in the US and you’re in an unfamiliar city, Taxi Magic makes it easy to find and book a taxi. It’s an online taxi booking service that’s integrated into the taxi dispatch systems. You don’t even need to make a phone call. You just tell it where to pick you up and you can even watch the taxi while it’s in route to you. No cash — no problem — you can add your credit card information to pay the driver instantly.
5) iTranslate Voice – 99 cents for a limited time
Have you ever been traveling internationally and you’d like to be able to communicate at shops, hotels, restaurants, or even during an emergency? If you’ve chosen an international data plan then iTranslate Voice will help you strike up a conversation with the locals with ease. This app makes pocket-sized dictionaries and expensive handheld translators a thing of the past. With iTranslate Voice, you can speak into your phone or type words, and the app will translate it into the chosen language. It supports over 30 languages and dialects, including Chinese, Danish, Dutch, French, Spanish, and more.
6) EveryTrail – Free or $3.99 for Pro version
One of the most difficult things about traveling is finding places for outdoor activities that the locals know about such as the best hiking and running trails, fishing streams, and boating areas. With the EveryTrail website and mobile app, you can find and review trails, create and share your own trail guides, and map trip routes. There’s many ways to find exactly the type of trail for you. You can search near an address or your current location, specify any distance from a location, choose an activity, and enter keywords to further narrow your search. And EveryTrail supports many areas internationally. In fact, there are over 350,000 outings from travelers all over the world. You can find trails in Europe, Asia, Australia, North America, South America, and more. What’s really useful is if you upgrade to the Pro version, you can save maps for use offline in case you don’t have cell phone reception in a remote area.
Marilyn Rogers is the Marketing Director at LightArrow, Inc., the maker of LifeTopix, a complete productivity app for personal organization available on the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. She is a regular contributor to the Life Blog from LightArrow, which is a blog dedicated to sharing tips and tricks about personal productivity, time management, organization, and getting things done.