10 Favorite Travel Apps

10 Favorite Travel Apps

Take the stress out of your next family trip with these travel apps.

By Eugene C.

Many years ago, I used to travel with printed maps and my Lonely Planet guide. I felt like I had everything I needed to know about a country and how to get around in my backpack. Today, the knowledge base has exploded with the Internet. We live in a world where crowd-sourcing has replaced the single author model of travel information. TripAdvisor. Waze. Twitter. Travelers are contributing to online content by sharing their experiences in real-time. Not only can you find opinions and information, you can do all of your travel booking from the convenience of an app. Book a hotel room. Make a dinner reservation. Call a taxi. There is truly an app for whatever you need. I’d like to share 10 of my favorite apps that our family of four uses for both domestic and international trips. Happy travels, everyone!

GateGuru: If you spend any amount of time at an airport, you’ll appreciate the ability to look up restaurants and stores at airports from this app. I like to dine at specialty restaurants when we travel around the country like Rick Bayless’ Tortas Frontera in Chicago O’Hare, Salt Lick in Austin-Bergstrom International, Shake Shack in New York JFK, or Yankee Pier in San Francisco International. For the pro traveler, you can even download the Tortas Frontera app and place your order from the tarmac after you land and have your meal ready for pick up by the time you get there. Bon appetit!

Amazon Prime: We love Amazon.com and as Prime members, Amazon travels with us. We watch downloaded videos on iPads on the plane and stream movies in the hotel room. This only works in the United States, though. When we celebrated our 20th anniversary at the same hotel of our honeymoon, I had Amazon ship an anniversary gift in advance. One phone call to concierge and a tip later, it was prime time in room 942.

FetchMyWay on Android and Rome2Rio for iOS. I like to compare prices between public transportation and taking Uber. For our family of four, it’s often the same price and much more convenient to take a taxi service like Uber. For example, FetchMyWay on Android says the cost from LaGuardia airport in New York to New York Hilton Midtown is $28 with Uber or $9 a person by public transportation. No transfers. No walking. No brainer. Get off the plane and head straight to your hotel in less time and for less money. I’ve used this app around the world.

Google Maps: You probably use this app around your own hometown. We recently rented cars while on our family vacation to Turkey, Jordan, and Israel. I had no idea where I was going but no matter. Google Maps delivered us to our destination. In countries like Jordan where I did not have cellular access, I downloaded Google maps before we left for our trip. We drove two hours to Petra with no voice directions but the ability to see where we were on the map due to GPS. When we take taxis, I turn on Google Maps. It keeps the driver honest. This might be my favorite travel app.

Camera App: The humble camera app is my most used app. The first thing I do when we arrive at our hotel room is to take a picture of the room number on the door. On a five-city trip in China, I could hardly keep track of which city I was in not to mention remembering our room number. When driving, I like to take a picture of my parking spot at the airport. Once, the rental car company wanted to charge me for a large scratch on the bumper of our car. I pulled out my phone and showed him the picture of the scratch with the time-date stamp when we picked up the car.


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GasBuddy: I normally get my gas at Costco, but when we are on the road, I turn on this app. It shows me the nearest gas stations and the price for gasoline. If you are driving down a highway, you can also see the distance of the next station. Alternatively, you can enter a city and see the prices before you get there.

Wanderu: Want to take the train or bus between cities? Check out this app. It compares bus and train routes including Amtrak, Greyhound, Megabus, BoltBus, and more. Our family of four took the two hour trip on a BoltBus from Manhattan to Philadelphia for $38 total. It’s cheaper, faster, and more convenient than renting a car.

Google Translate: Have you traveled to another country and could not make out the menu? Here’s a fun one. This app allows you to take a picture of the text, and it translates it for you. Download the language before you leave the country. Beware: The translations are often more humorous than useful. In foreign countries, I usually take a quick walk around the restaurant to see what others are eating and order the one that looks good. No need for menus or translations.

TripAdvisor and Yelp: Finally, you probably use these apps in your own hometown for restaurant and hotel reviews. They are even better for trips because with your GPS locator on, you can see the highest rated restaurants nearest you. Personally, I trust the pictures of food more than the reviews. Look for the most recent posts!

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Eugene C. writes for Hilton Mom Voyage and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. He and his wife have taken their two children to over 10 countries for work and vacation. Eugene is a Pastor by day and trip dreamer by night. For fun, he has been a volunteer consultant (mystery diner) for a national restaurant consulting company for the past 10 years.

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