Planning a travel excursion, while very exciting, may sometimes be a bit overwhelming and darn right confusing. Now, if you’re at all like me, you’ve planned travel without relying on technology. However, I have recently learned, traveling without technological assistance is not the easiest or most efficient way to go. My “old school” thinking has been renewed to review applications (apps) that may assist with making travel life simpler.

VIBER, one of many excellent travel applications.

Photo: Screenshot of the VIBER app. FWT Magazine.

So, in effort to enter the 21st Century of travel, and be of assistance to you, I have researched several applications that may be helpful. These applications range from planning your vacation, easily contacting and sharing with your family and friends back home, finding intimate locations to stopover and rest your head, or communicating with the wonderful local persons you meet.

Just so you know, I am a user of both iOS and Android which allows me to be versatile, and also affords me the opportunity to research and test applications for general use.

APPLICATIONS TO HELP PLAN YOUR TRIP

I have always been one to contact airlines, hotels, resorts and car rental agencies directly. I now know there are more useful ways of making these arrangements. Hence, I have researched some well-known apps – three which offer many valuable choices.

TripAdvisor is a “one-stop shopping” app, extending many options to easily select where and how to travel. It provides reviews, opinions, videos and photos pertaining to myriad hotels, restaurants as well as comparing costs for accommodations and airfares. This app also provides a forum where you can review other travelers’ experiences. It is available at no cost for iOS and Android.

Kayak is the app known for its ability to quickly search and book affordable hotels, cars and flights, both nationally and internationally. Kayak allows for the creation of an itinerary, tracking flights and price changes for any of your arrangements. This app is available at no cost for iOS and Android.

Airbnb is an excellent app that has grown rapidly in interest and success. It is noted to store more than 450,000 listings in more than 34,000 cities. These listings provide an alternative and unique choice to the traditional hotel or resort. Listings include personal residences available for use. The listing may be used for overnight or long-terms stays. Airbnb finds the ideal stay for your adventure, securely books a listing, provides an itinerary and allows you to communicate with your host. This app is available on both iOS and Android at no cost.

GET CONNECTED

Being in an unfamiliar location may deter your ability to find a Wi-Fi network. We want to stay in touch, find local places of interest, and feel the safety of having an active internet.

Open Mobile Wi-Fi Finder automatically connects a smartphone to many public Wi-Fi networks. This app will find the quality hotspots, and connect you to the best Wi-Fi performance. It has access to worldwide Wi-Fi. It also displays a useful dashboard, tracking data usage. You may find this app convenient to use. While most smartphones have a built-in Wi-Fi scanner, it offers many other useful functions (i.e. charting locations, and determining signal strength).

Open Mobile Wi-Fi Finder is available for Android at no cost.

IN TOUCH WITH HOME

Viber – Last year, a dear friend of mine traveled to Turkey and Greece. We made an agreement to remain in touch. She suggested an application called, “Viber”. It is a five-star app that allows the user to send free messages, make free phone calls, send video and chat outside of your designated calling area. This is an iPhone only application that performed extremely well and is free to iOS users.

WhatsApp – Since we’re not all iOS users, I researched a similar communication application for Android fans. It is called, WhatsApp. This application is one of the best for overseas texting and claims use anywhere. It is free for the first year; however, after that, costs $.99 each year following. It allows the user to share locations on Google Maps, including images, and video. It informs you when your text has been received. Multiple-person chats are available and it has been rated best for location awareness.

LANGUAGE TRANSLATION

Assistance with translation and communication is not only helpful, but also demonstrates respect. The following app is the best I’ve found to translate many languages.

Google Translate is an application that is often appreciated because of its accuracy and ease of use. It is available for both iOS and Android and is free to download. This app translates 80 different languages and also offers audible translations as well as interpreting voice dictation. If you have a device capable of on-screen handwriting detection, Google Translate supports that, too. It is also notates favorite or often-used phrases for ease of continued use within your desired location.

HOW’S THE WEATHER?

Yahoo Weather is very easy to use and helps to prepare your adventure with accurate forecasts. Yahoo Weather is highly-rated at being committed to providing the best mobile experience. The app offers hourly, 5 and 10-day forecasts. “Flickr” photos are available to support the weather in your area. This app allows the addition of 20 cities for review as well as interactive maps which include radar and satellite. It is available for both iOS and Android at no cost.

CURRENCY

Being able to convert currency while traveling is a bonus. I have located two apps that convert currency at the touch of a screen as well as a button.

Easy Converter – Unit & Currency – this Android application will work with your cell-phone or tablet. Its features include automatically updated rates of exchange, many different units and currencies based on region, plus the acceptance of foreign symbols and names. This app is available at no cost.

Amount – Unit and Currency Converter – this iOS application claims to be the most “intuitive, lightweight and easy to use unit converter you’ve ever seen.” It converts units with just two taps of a finger, listing all of the results you’re seeking in one display. Its features include a graphic interface, real-time conversions, lists for specific units, and the ability to view your conversion log. The available currencies cover global destinations. This app is available to download for $.99.

APPLICATIONS FOR DIVERS

I am an experienced scuba diver. One of my greatest desires, visiting different locales like the Caribbean or Latin America is to “go down” – scuba talk for diving.

Finding a Scuba Dive shop while you are in either the Caribbean or Latin America is definitely not difficult.  Although, locating the shops that teach, accompany on dives and truly pay attention to your needs and well-being, may be nerve-wracking given so many choices. Researching user-friendly and helpful dive shop apps has been difficult; however, finding the shop that best fits your needs is very possible, as well as extremely important.

As Scuba travelers, I suggest connection with your guides, hotel management and travel assistants. Also, please use your instinct; it has produced my greatest experiences! Please, let me know if you find a useful app to locate dive shops. Also, if you come across the “instinct app”, let me know. I’m in.

I wish you the best in all of your adventures, and hope to have provided some ease. Happy travels!

(Please know these suggestions are not advertisements or endorsements; just me exploring technological ways to make things simpler).