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Saturday, June 9, 2012

App-Happy Travel 6.9.12

Are you attached to your smartphone? Do you take it everywhere you go? Refer to it before committing to anything? You aren’t alone and your smartphone can only help enhance your travel experience. As long as you’re willing to put it away and actually enjoy your trip by looking around you and not staring at the screen all day, you can use some available apps to help you travel more easily and maybe not plan everything down to the minute (or at least have a back-up plan if you already do that).

There are millions of apps in the world and there are a good percentage of them that are completely useless or, at the very least, not all that all that helpful at even keeping you occupied for more than a few minutes. (Anyone else have that bubble-wrap app?) So, how can you weed out the gazillion travel apps and only download the ones that are useful to you? How about I start you with a list of awesome ones and you can decide if you might need others to supplement? Okay!

One of my favorite apps is ArounderTouch. You can sightsee from your couch! Okay, don’t do that, but it can help you see if an attraction will be something you like and would actually pay money for. It sucks when you get all excited about something and then waste time going there and find out it is really uncool or boring. You can add to the app with your own video taken with your phone or just enjoy the 360 degree interactive views that have already been uploaded.

Do you ever lose someone in a crowd and need to call them to figure out where to meet up? Save your minutes – and roaming fees – with Voxer. It’s not a phone call and it’s not a text. It’s a walkie-talkie app for your phone! Make sure your travel companion(s) downloads it, too, so you can use it and keep track of where everyone is. Perfect for theme parks, cruise ships and even the grocery store.

Going green or want to eat more veggies and healthier? With InBloom find all the nearby restaurants and stores that are vegan, vegetarian, eco-friendly, local food only, raw, gluten-free and more. Yes, you can lower your carbon footprint by visiting earth-friendly establishments, not to mention eat better, too! The app covers New York, Austin, LA, San Francisco and Chicago, with more planned to be added as quickly as possible.

Get healthy! Want to keep up a fitness routine or at least make sure you are expending more energy than you’re putting in your body at all those delicious restaurants and food carts? Don’t get off-track with your diet, just because you’re on vacation. Download MyFitnessPal. Use the app to monitor your progress and make your goal by adding in your current weight, your goal weight and logging your workouts and meals. Perfect for those of us that totally give up regular exercise and food rules when we travel.

Find food you love wherever you are. Use Ness to find nearby eateries based on the cuisine and what you’ve rated before. Sometimes a plan just doesn’t come together and you find yourself nowhere near where you thought and are hungry. Need suggestions for wherever you are? Then this handy app will steer you toward a restaurant that will suit your appetite. The more you use it, the more intuitive it becomes. It syncs with Facebook and Foursquare to give you friend recommendations, too!

Looking for more unique apps to help you travel better? Check out the five I wrote about in my FareCompare post for making your travel time more efficient and less stressful.

Do you have a favorite – or several – travel app? Please share!

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