Two quick facts about me, I’m a planner. I love planning and preparation, researching and list making, which is maybe a weird thing to love, and I’m not sure where it comes from–possibly my enneagram 1 personality (or my 9-5-3-3 kolbe index) but even when I’m being spontaneous, I’m prepared to be spontaneous.
I’m also pretty techie. I love all my apple gizmos and gadgets and I have them all. Don’t get me wrong here, I am not the person that looses her mind at the thought of being unplugged for any length of time– in fact I have a soap box about the way phones and social media are affecting our mental health (and have been for years), but that’s not what I’m here for today. Today, I’m here to share with you some of the tools I use and love to travel with, that make getting across the world even more pleasant and more convenient.
I’ve used TripCase and TripIt for years. I actually preferred TripCase to TripIt in the beginning. I loved building my itineraries in TripCase and their carousel view option, but TripIt synced with my firm’s travel planning systems for flights and conferences and eventually expanded in ways to sync across platforms, like my email and calendars–which I grew to love.
Then I discovered Wanderlog. Wanderlog is my new favorite travel app for trip planning and building itineraries. It combines integration with gmail to import travel bookings, like TripCase and TripIt, with an incredible mapping interface that optimizes daily itineraries. It also offer amazing features like Lists, the way I would save travel ideas with Pinterest; Exploration, the way I would find points of interest with Roadtrippers, Pinterest, and Yelp; and Budgeting, the way I would build customized spreadsheets to save for hotel, food, and activities. It also offers collaboration with trip-mates to customize itineraries, share expenses, and even allows you to download your trip details to access offline.
Have you ever packed for a trip terribly? Brought a bunch of stuff you didn’t need? Forgot a bunch of stuff you did need? Or worse, both? I have. I was seven years old, and had never been out of California the first time my mom let me pack by myself for a weeklong trip to Monroe, Washington to visit family in the Fall. I arrived with a suitcase full of shorts, spaghetti strapped shirts, and no underwear… oops. I think it rained more in that one week than I had seen in my entire life at that point.
This is a dramatic example, but I’ve made many mistakes packing for travel over the years, and just as vividly, I remember the solo trip I took to New York City when I realized I had the contents of my suitcase seriously dialed in. That was the first trip I had everything I needed, and nothing I didn’t. And I mean it when I say, I have a serious sense of pride when it comes to efficient packing. Checklists have become an integral part of my packing system that I live and travel by, and Packr is currently my favorite app for this.
Packr allows me to create a master packing checklist for myself or for my entire family. What I Iove is its user interface, and that it also allows me to customize lists for specific modes of travel, like road trips, flights or dive boats; and also for specific activities I may need to pack for, like fancy work dinners, photo shoots, scuba diving, and horse shows. Since its entirely customizable, mine also includes a to-do list before leaving the house, like water plants, lock doors, etc.
When it comes to restaurants, I set the bar pretty high. I want to experience great ambiance, great service, great cocktails, and great food. Luckily, I love planning and research, and I typically scope out my restaurant and food spots for all my trips beforehand. For this, I like to cross reference resources like Yelp, Thrillist, Pinterest, and Open Table for restaurant reviews and hotspots. But besides its photos and reviews, I love Yelp’s location search to find nearby restaurants when we don’t already have plans or are in the mood to be spontaneous (but maybe not that spontaneous). While spending a weekend in Big Sur shooting a destination wedding, my assistant photographer and I went to a restaurant recommended to us by a local, without checking it out on Yelp first–needless to say, I’ll never ever make that mistake again.
For Saving Money
Honestly, I debated including this app here, but if you’re looking for really great deals on flights, car rentals or hotels, it’s hard to find better than you’ll snag on Priceline. Most recently, I was able to book day before, round trip, direct flights, regularly priced at $800 for $320 on Priceline. The catch to booking great deals on apps like Hotwire or Priceline (both of which I use) is that bookings are non-refundable and you don’t know the details of your booking beforehand (like airline, flight itinerary, hotel, car rental company, etcetera). If you genuinely don’t care about the details and are just looking for a good deal, or if you know how to do some internet sleuthing you can decipher deals on Hotwire or Priceline before you buy, and then it’s seriously a great way to book your travel.
Since my husband and I both travel so much for work, we’ve been using GasBuddy for years, but this is a free app I bet everybody could use these days. It’s a simple concept and simple to use. Allow the app to use your current location, and it will tell you the range of gas prices in your area. If I’m in my hometown, I’ll use the map feature to find me the least expensive gas in town, if I’m on the road, I use it to tell me where the nearest gas stations are and their current prices. The range will let you know judge for yourself if you’ve found a good price for gas or not.
I think most airlines have their own apps these days, but when you travel as frequently as I do it’s nice to have a single app for flight updates. But App In The Air goes above and beyond (pardon the pun) when it comes to delivering a seamless airline travel experience, including real-time flight alerts, family subscriptions, offline access, automatic check-ins and if you use the app to book your flight, they plant five trees. Something else that gives me the warm fuzzies, they track your tripd and give you achievement badges, like Audible, but for travel.
I want to preface this by sharing first, that I genuinely believe in the importance of investing in experiences–experiences in love, in life and in travel. Sometimes, when taking into consideration, all the kinds of experiences travel has to offer, “investing” in your experience isn’t isolated to things like champagne hot air ballon rides over Napa Valley, or night diving with ostracod in the dutch Caribbean. Sometimes, taking travel experiences into consideration means spending a few extra dollars to buy skip-the-line tickets, front-row seats or a more efficient flight itinerary, and when the dollar to value ratio makes sense, I’m all for it.
However, I do love a good flight deal, and buying heinous flight itineraries has allowed me to take trips I probably wouldn’t have otherwise. So let me tell you, I am no stranger to airports at 3am or long-looong layovers. In these instances, Sleeping In Airports and the Lounge Buddy app are my favorite travel resources. Both of which help travelers find a place to settle in when they’re in for a long layover.
For Keeping It Together
Tile was one of the best office party white elephant gifts I’ve ever
received stole. Since then, it’s become one of the ten travel essentials I never leave home without, and the tile tracker app has a permanent place on my iphone home screen. Initially I didn’t like having to replace it after about a year, but I quickly got over it, I’ve also upgraded to a small army of tile pros. Life is just too short to spend looking for your keys.
Whenever I’m traveling, I try really hard not to check luggage, but when traveling for work, scuba diving, or with children, it just can’t be avoided, and I have a tile in every single checked bag–a tool I’ve used multiple times to find missing bags, once to locate checked bags all the way in Seattle that didn’t arrive with us on our trip to New Orleans. I also put a tile inside every carryon. Once we arrive to our destination, these often move elsewhere, like on our trip to Walt Disney World, when I attached one to our stroller, and one to my toddler. The uses are endless.
Flying between timezones may not feel like a big deal if you’re only doing it every now and then, however, I would argue that the less frequently you do it, the more precious your time is in every destination. Alternatively, if you’re like me and do it often, and for work, overcoming jet lag is a necessity not only for performing well in your work, but also for your health (and also, your sanity).
This is why Timeshifter is such a gem. Tell Timeshifter where you’re going and when, and it delivers timely tips for acclimating to your next timezone sans jet lag.
One of my favorite things about travel is the time spent in what I call the “in-between”. Once you’re on the plane, it’s time to sit back and take the opportunity to enjoy something you don’t have time to otherwise. It’s why I have never traveled anywhere without a new book, and I can’t tell you how much more I can consume in my day to day living, having discovered audible. It’s also now one of the apps I never fly without.
For Getting Around
If you’re traveling to a foreign country, and, like us, are quite adventurous, you’ll probably find yourself offline more than once during your travels. In instances where I’m traveling abroad, across multiple counties, traveling alone, or traveling without internet, I always make sure to download maps and routes for out travels using Maps.me. Because there are definitely times when getting lost is absolutely not anybody’s idea of a good time.
It was years ago now, but I remember the night I discovered Uber, and it was my Dad who shared it with me of all people. Now, Uber is an app I use regularly while traveling, truly I’m really not sure how we ever got along without it before. For some trips, like our Las Vegas girls trip, I even use Uber exclusively to get around. Now Uber allows users to carpool as well as research vehicle options, travel times, wait times, and prices in advance. Depending on where you are, where you’re going, and who you’re traveling with, Uber may not be your least expensive or most convenient option, but even then, I love that it’s always handy in a pinch. Do keep in mind when using Uber, to always check the license plate of your driver, and never provide your name before the driver mentions it first to confirm your pickup.