As global travel becomes the rule rather than the exception, gone are the days of hand-written holiday packing lists and dog-eared language phrasebooks. Savvy jet-setters travel light but well equipped with their smartphones and tablets loaded up with useful and interactive mobile applications.
Preparing for a holiday or weekend break abroad can be fun, especially if you're looking forward to getting away, but it can also be time consuming and even sometimes adds to the pre-travel stress. This is especially true if you happen to be a busy professional whose schedules don't allow for much downtime until you actually get on the plane and have the chance to switch the email responder to "Out Of Office". Fortunately, time conscious programmers and software developers have also spotted the need for virtual assistance and they have come up with a range of practical, fun travel Apps that not only prepare for the trip, but also make life easier while away and let you share tips and experiences with friends and family when you get home.
Here are 5 smart travel companions to take with you on your next villa vacation, all available in the iTunes store.
If you are used to opening your suitcase on arrival only to realise you forgot that outfit, book, or even worse, a camera you bought especially for the holiday, then this may be just the App you need. For less than the cost of a (forgotten) toothbrush or flip-flops (not mention the hassle of replacing them), this iPhone/iPad App can become your very own personal packing assistant.
Features include 100% customizable packing lists, an easy interface to build lists quickly with multi-item selection, an editing function if you change your mind, and even ideas and suggestions from included sample lists such as typical male, typical female, light and super light. The master catalogue includes categories, types and items, plus you can keep a running tally of total items per category and monitor how many of them are checked off. A particularly useful addition for those of us with tendency to overpack is the TOTAL function. You can also list by items, weights and values, by bag, by person and by category. What's more, if you want to make sure your partner is also on the same page, you can email your packing lists straight form the App.
Learning the local language is always a good idea when you travel, and with TripLingo on your smartphone or tablet you can overcome communication barriers quickly and easily. Learn essential phrases, translate your own voice, talk to a live translator, and even take a crash course in local culture. With TripLingo, you'll be impressing your friends and the locals in no time as you learn to talk like you've been living in your holiday destination for years.
The Apps include more than 1200 phrases per language (including slang), with a 10,000 word offline dictionary, built-in flashcards, over 2000 high quality audio files per language and tips to familiarise you with local customs and etiquette. The free version of TripLingo comes with the basics in: Spanish, French, Italian, German, Portuguese, Mandarin, Japanese, Korean, Hindi, Hebrew, and Castilian Spanish. You can also purchase full language packs that provide access to all 1200+ phrases per language and more languages are being added fast.
If you like to share travel experiences or often get asked to recommend places you have been on holidays or business trips, the Everplaces App is the perfect mobile tool because it helps you easily to create your own collection of favourite places, save, and find them later. You can make collections on-the-go and you can either share them instantly or using the photos on your phone after you get back home. And, of course, you can also use the App to get recommendations from friends and local insiders for your next travel destination. It's becoming a favourite mobile tool for foodies, urban travellers and design lovers, so there is already plenty of first-hand tips available from more than 90 countries around the world.
Most people agree that the best places are not in the guide books, you get those from friends or people who have lived and travelled extensively in the location you are heading to — that's why blogs like this one are such a good source of information. It's those insider tips that Everplaces is built to make easy to save and find. The Application is full of interactive features to help you organize and personalize pages with your own images, notes and collections. It also features an easy web interface, which means you can develop your own maps and guides for friends or to share with the world online.
ICE is an Android App and stands for "In Case of Emergency". Although you may not want to consider such things on holiday, it makes sense to store important information for first responders and hospital staff to use should the unexpected happen.
Useful and potentially life-saving features included in this Application include a list of people to call in case of emergency, with links to the contacts on your phone that can be called directly from the App. It also stores insurance information, including your full name, blood type (if known), and insurance company contacts. Your primary doctor's name and number can also be stored with 'press to call' access and you can list as many allergies and medical conditions as you feel necessary, along with as much info about each one as desired.
For travellers on specific medications, the name, dose and frequency for each medicine that you take can be listed for easy reference and any special instructions or other information you wish to provide can be included for those not familiar with your condition or medical needs.
App of the Day
With over 900,000 iPhone, iPod touch and iPad Applications in the App Store, it can be a little tricky to find the ones that are a.well made and b. match your needs and interests. Search functions and reviews such as this one obviously help, but there may well be an App out there that you haven't even thought of, but matches your personality and lifestyle perfectly.
App of the Day solves this problem by featuring quality paid Applications, reviewed by experts and users that have the Apps' developers have agreed to make it free for 24 hours. You get a daily notification every time a new free App becomes available and can download it straight to your smartphone or tablet to try out and explore. If you don't like it, you can simply delete it. After all, it didn't cost anything. You also get to keep a tally of the money you've saved by downloading Apps that would normally have incurred a fee. Beware, however, it's a little addictive and you can easily end up with a home screen full of Apps you never use, so try and be selective.
by MAX VEE