It's the most wonderful time of the year - unless you're traveling
Get the car’s oil changed and print those boarding passes out in advance, because it’s going to be a wild holiday travel season. According to the Weather Channel, flight delays at major airports are expected thanks to snow and rain that could hit parts of the U.S.
In a rush to beat the traffic, you might forget to pack your toothbrush or travel pillow — but there’s zero chance you’ll leave your smartphone behind. So before you leave home, make sure these seven great travel apps are downloaded and ready to go.
App In The Air
A one-stop information shop for all your air travel needs, this app breaks your trip up into four stages — check-in, boarding, take-off and landing — providing fantastic tools throughout the journey. For instance, a pre-flight checklist reminds users to pack dental floss and plug adapters, while the app can be configured to automatically send text updates of your flight (messaging rates apply) to people who are expecting your arrival. If you have wanderlust, App In The Air can also track your travel statistics — including countries visited, aircraft ridden in, and airlines frequented — improving your status in the app’s community of flyers.
While most airlines don’t allow in-flight cell phone conversations, unfortunately, they can’t ban talking altogether. So if your seat lottery lands you next to a Chatty Cathy, turn on the Ambiance app and tune out. Though it’s been around for nearly as long as Apple’s App Store itself, this is a solid ambient noise app loaded with a wide variety of sounds that have been rated by thousands of people. Birding fans can pick among sweet songstresses including the Fan Tailed Warbler and the Black-Capped Chickadee, while white noise fans can choose from a range of statics (yes, apparently there are more than one). And there’s one for travelers who want to check out but still be in the “now” — it’s called “Airplane Cabin.”
Thanksgiving may be a family holiday, but all too often, man’s best friend gets the cold shoulder — and there’s not even any turkey on it. DogVacay, an online service that helps dog owners find pet sitters, has a iPhone app that can do everything from book overnight stays to get daily photo-updates of how your four-legged friend is faring. Each dog watcher has different rates and accommodations, so be prepared to pay. But for some pups, being in a home surrounded by people is a much better deal for their overall health and well-being.
DogVacay is available for free on the App Store.
With the price of airfare always climbing, there’s a good chance you bought a bargain basement, three-leg plane ticket that has you routed through two different hubs. Gate Guru has all the details on various airports, letting you know where to eat, where the restrooms are, and what other shopping and services are available. Ideal for infrequent travelers, the app can have you navigating the terminals like a pro, avoiding the sketchy Chinese food take-out and opting for a tidy, fresh-made sandwich instead.
Listen, there’s going to be traffic on Thanksgiving. Sure, you know all the back roads, can zip around that maddening highway interchange like a cab driver, and have all the lights on Broad Street expertly timed, but none of that matters when you arrive to cold mashed potatoes. Don’t hold up dinner — instead, keep the hosts informed to your expected arrival time with Glympse. A GPS-enabled app that shares your location with anyone you choose, Glympse is easier — and safer — than sending text alerts from behind the wheel. Just put in your end destination and recipients phone numbers, and the service determines how long it will take to get there, even calculating for traffic delays, because again: there’s going to be traffic on Thanksgiving.
Planes, trains, and automobiles — and don’t forget lodging! — travel sure takes some coordination these days. Channeling the spirit of the AAA Triptik, this app creates an itinerary of your journey, pulling information from your confirmation emails and neatly arranging them into an easy-to-follow timeline. Turning your smartphone into a modern-day travel folio, it includes all the phone numbers and addresses you need, while cutting down on carry-on bag bulk. Its free-to-use service is great for casual travelers, but high-powered features like flight status text-message alerts and fare refund notifications can make Tripit’s pro-level service pay for itself.
We may be decades away from smart roadways that report their own traffic snafus, but this GPS-enabled app lets drivers take data into their own hands. By driving with the app open, users relay realtime traffic information to the service, which then updates all the other users as they drive. And if you encounter a road hazard, from an accident to a detour, you can report it with a hands-free prompt. But most importantly, you can also use Waze as a turn-by-turn navigator to get you to Turkey Day dinner in time for the first round of appetizers, no matter what the roads throw at you. Because, don’t forget, there will be traffic on Thanksgiving.