App technology has advanced rapidly in recent years, allowing you to take advantage of a vast number of clever options when planning your vacation. You can do everything from checking travel arrangements, including flight, train and bus schedules, to locating the best hotels and other accommodations and choosing places to eat out or to find local entertainment. With your tablet or smartphone on hand, planning your vacation has never been so easy or so convenient.
Thanks to mobile technology our devices can now gain access to the worldwide web when Wi-Fi isn’t available. In effect, your smaller handheld devices are just as powerful as a laptop or desktop and can read the same data and perform the same Internet functions. There are many new apps now in production as well as regular updates being issued almost daily; all of this means that travel planning apps have really arrived as essential tools for preparing for your best ever vacation.
Among the most popular tools for preparing your itinerary is TripIt – using it feels like having your own personal travel agent. This app can help you to organize car rentals, accommodation and where to dine. Once you get email confirmations for any reservations you make, for example, for your flight, hotels, rental car or train tickets, you can forward them to email@example.com and the app will automatically construct the itinerary for you to follow. Even better, the app is free to download and compatible with both Android and iOS systems.
The mapping apps
For both Android and iOS systems, great mapping apps include the ubiquitous Google Maps, with stage by stage navigation, complete with voice guidance, live traffic info and Street View. There are indoor maps for major airports, hotels and stores, and the more you travel and interact with the app, the more it tailors information and data to your preferences (image by Ryan J. Nicholson).
Navfree has the added advantage of allowing you to download route maps before you start a journey, so there is no need to access a data connection when you’re actually on the road. Also, the various routing options provided by Navfree, include walking routes and automatic redirection instructions should you take a wrong turn, a feature also found on Google Maps. Navfree is open source software and therefore constantly in development.
A great little app if you want to know what the weather is like at your vacation destination, Weather+Free gathers information on your chosen geographical locations and translates it into English. You can find out about the local temperature, wind speed, visibility and humidity, as well as other key factors to help you decide what to pack and what to wear before venturing outside when you’ve arrived. It is available for Android and iPhone and yes, the +Free means there’s no charge.
One great bonus for travelers who will encounter a foreign language on vacation is the advent of some superb translation apps. Among the most popular are Babylon, Talking Translator and Google Translate. Babylon works on a Mac or Android system and enables you to check words, phrases and sentences as well as longer paragraphs quickly and easily. Talking Translator is suitable for Android systems and has the added benefit of being able to offer pronunciation guidance. Google Translate can very quickly translate the spoken word as well as complete paragraphs of text. You can ask a question or say a phrase in English, and your words will be repeated in the foreign language you choose (image by lily a).
The free XE currency app is easy to use and efficient. It is also supremely accurate as it uses live currency rates that will keep you up to date with any changes in exchange rates. This means you can plan your expenditure before you go and keep an eye on those exchange rates while traveling and after you reach your destination. Available for Windows Phone, iPhone, iPad, Blackberry and Android, this is definitely worth having on board if you are taking a trip to a foreign country.
It’s clear that the growth and rapid development of mobile technology has made the whole travel and vacation planning experience much easier and more user friendly. No longer do you have to wade through weighty guidebooks or turn to inadequate phrase books when making your preparations. A glance at the scope and range of developments by companies such as Worry Free Labs services, which creates for both iOS and Android platforms, indicates that skilled engineers are continuing to refine and improve existing travel apps, the better to enhance your experience as a user.
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Feature image by Mr.TinDC