Despite our best efforts, sometimes circumstances out of our control force us to change our plans. Anybody who has ever found themselves without a place to stay as the sun sets in a foreign city knows the value of good advice or a travel guidebook. Likewise, a last minute business or family trip can force us to book the easiest hotel and rental car, or eat the most accessible and obvious meal, despite better and lower cost alternatives nearby.
Fortunately, the digital world is leveling the playing fields. With a smart phone in your pocket or tablet in your bag, a number of easy-to-use apps are making it possible to enjoy first-class amenities without prior planning AND on a budget.
If you’re often on-the-go, add these apps to your handheld arsenal:
Reno Tahoe USA
When a travel app is valuable even to locals, it’s worth downloading, and the official Reno Tahoe app certainly makes the cut. With all the entertainment constantly coming through town, the app will keep you up-to-date, in addition to offering daily snow reports, lift statuses, and even golf course green fees. When you’re walking around town, use the onboard map to locate restaurants that fit your palate. There may even be a corresponding coupon you can use in the app to save a few bucks on your bill.
As simple as it sounds, this free app for Android and iOS specializes in last minute hotels. Each day at noon in the time zone for a particular market, that day’s deals are announced, based on availability at partner hotels. If a place is completely under-booked, they’ll often mark the prices down to 70 percent off. At most any city in the U.S. and throughout Europe, you can count on at least 20 percent off, just by waiting to commit until the day of your stay.
Billed as a “living, breathing travel guide”, Triposo is working hard to corner the market on up-to-date travel info by outcompeting paper books that may quickly contain outdated information. Their database already includes 200 countries and 8,000 destinations, so chances are that your next stop will be covered. Perhaps best of all, the guides update themselves while you’re connected, but you don’t need internet or wireless coverage to access the guides and maps from your Android or iOS phones and devices, so you’re good-to-go even when you’re off-the-grid (provided you keep that battery charged).
Although plenty of apps exist to find great places to eat, Foodspotting might just be the most fun (which is also why OpenTable recently scooped it up for $10 million). Let’s say you’re in Memphis, but you’re not in the mood for BBQ. Foodspotting pulls up a map of the area, but instead of the names of restaurants, you get photographs posted by other users, pinned to the location of where you can get it. An hour later, you’re sitting at The Elegant Farmer, enjoying their Vegetable Plate, instead of at the chain spot next to your hotel.
Just in case you had any doubts about the small world we live in today, VerbalizeIt is here to connect you anywhere you go. This app doesn’t work like a traditional phone or internet translator, which often provide awkward translations and can be tedious to use. Instead, this iOS and Android app hires human translators who are available 24/7 to translate between English and Spanish, Hindi, Mandarin, French, German and Portuguese. The founder was inspired by an emergency trip to a hospital in rural China where nobody understood him. With the app used on a phone with the speaker setting, a live translator instantly helps two people communicate their exact words. Usage is sold in time increments per language, and the only downside may be that cell service or Wifi is necessary to access the translators.
Flight search engines may be a dime-a-dozen, but for constant travelers, Milewise is worth knowing about. With airlines constantly consolidating and combining their rewards programs in new and confusing ways with their partners, it can be tough to keep track of which flights are eligible for reward travel. With MileWise, all of your accounts are kept in one place, and any flight you search for where you can utilize your miles will be highlighted (as well as those that will help get you to the next benchmark in your miles accumulation). They’ll also give you a heads up to avoid letting miles expire and will estimate the actual value of your rewards, helping you get the most out of your hard-earned miles. Finally, you can set price alerts just like most other search engines so you get the best possible deal.
Has an app ever helped you out of a bind in an unfamiliar city or foreign land? Which of these apps (or others) do you recommend?
Written by guest blogger, Joe Laing
Joe Laing is the Marketing Director for El Monte RV Rentals, your nationwide source for RV rentals. El Monte RV also sells used motorhomes through eight different locations across the United States. For more information on purchasing a used motorhome see http://www.elmontervsales.com/.