Traveling can be stressful. What can you do? From apps to therapy dogs, I’ve put together a list of my favorite high- and low-tech travel tips for getting there, getting around, and getting a better travel experience.
- Beyond the basics travel apps. If you are a frequent traveler, you may already have these basic apps on your phone: Google Maps, Kayak and your airline’s app for mobile boarding passes and travel alerts. Beyond those, here are three apps that may help your travel experience.
Hopper: I used Hopper to track fares to New York City. It works and can save you money! Hopper’s best feature is fare prediction. The company claims it picks the best price for a flight 95% of the time. Enter the information about the flight you are interested in. Hopper will show you the lowest available price for these dates.
The color-coded calendar helps select historically cheaper travel dates, and a price tracker can notify you when it’s time to buy. Scroll down to see Hopper’s Price Predictions. Sign up for notifications when the price drops. The Hopper app is available in the App Store and Google Play store.
Mobile Passport: I haven’t used this yet, but the friendly folks at the airport were passing out information about Mobile Passport and encouraging people to use it. According to the website, Mobile Passport enables U.S. citizens and Canadian visitors to save time during the entry process.
This app submits your passport info and customs declaration electronically instead of the traditional paper form, which gets you into separate, expedited Mobile Passport lanes at 26 US airports and three cruise ports for faster processing.
Translate using your mobile phone camera: It’s all Greek to me – literally! You know Google Translate – but did you know it has a feature to let you take a photo of text for an instant translation? Exceptionally handy with restaurant menus or transit stations. One of the most powerful translator tools available, Google Translate has a massive vocabulary in 103 languages.
How does it work? You are at a restaurant or at the entrance to a museum. Oops, no English version. Google Translate to the rescue. Depending on the language, you may get a translation just by pointing your camera at the menu or sign from inside the app. Or, take a photo and scan it into the app. Voila!
Check out how to translate using your camera at: https://support.google.com/translate/answer/6142483?hl=en&ref_topic=7011659
Google Translate offers a website interface, mobile apps for Android and iOS.
- Really local city guides. Going to Lisbon? How about Vancouver or Podgorica? Try Spotted by Locals. I check to see if the city I’m going to is on their list of 71 city guides, so far. There is an app, but the desktop version is great for research to find favorite spots by locals beyond tourist highlights. The way it works, information from actual locals, called Spotters, is used to create the guides for their cities.
Tea in Podgorica anyone?
Skip the lines. You’ve been there. You want to get into your favorite museum in Venice and the line is a mile long. And it’s not peak tourist season! Musement to the rescue.
With some advance planning, you can skip the lines to book tickets to museums and attractions all over the world. Best of all, they feature locally sourced activity ideas like restaurants, bars and other nightlife, as well as museums, concerts, and special events.
You can use the desktop version, or download the app.
- Low(er) tech stuff. Finding electric outlets at airports and enough outlets in hotels to charge your devices is a challenge. Make instant friends at airports by traveling with portable power strip and surge protector. Wirecutter, https://thewirecutter.com/travel/, one of my favorite sites for travel gear reviews, recommends the Accel Home or Away 3-port surge protector or the Tripp Lite Protect It 3-port surge protector. Around $20, both options turn a single power outlet into three surge-protected ones. You also get two USB ports, perfect for charging phones or e-readers while you use another device. Also, don’t forget an outlet adapter, if you’re headed somewhere with different electrical outlets than here at home. Take several adapters. If you’re like me, you always manage to leave one behind.
Don’t forget to pack the really low-tech stuff like comfortable compression socks and a good sleep mask. If sleep masks don’t fit you or are uncomfortable, check out reviews of Nidra Deep Rest or the Alaska Bear sleep mask.
- Airport experiences. Check to see if the airports you will be traveling through have Apps. If not, download a map ahead of time. Check the airport websites ahead of time. Is there construction in the Denver airport? How will that impact you? What is the wait time at security? (The Denver airport has this information on their home page.) Where are battery charging stations located?
Check to see what services they offer. Locating the services ahead of time at that the airport offers and where they are ahead of time will help reduce stress.
Besides the basics, check for services to help alleviate stress like mini-spas and therapy dogs.
The Denver airport has the Canine Airport Therapy Squad, more than 100 dogs—and one cat— representing more than 40 breeds. They even have their own webpage complete with photos! So cute.
I hope you enjoyed these travel tips for getting there, getting around, and getting a better travel experience. What are your favorite travel tips? Share your tips in the comment section.
Diane White is a published author, an OLLI Connects contributor and a tech instructor. She also loves to travel and usually ends up helping people with their devices from the far reaches of the world.