By Myscha Theriault
June 23, 2013
Has a last-minute travel emergency left you frustrated with logistics such as ground transportation or airport navigation? Do you stress about storm updates when traveling by car? Perhaps an unexpected flight delay has left you stranded and bored. Take a tip from the smartphone set and embrace these savvy travel apps.
Anticipating weather: It's all well and good to check the weather before leaving home, but what about unexpected storm developments when you're already on the road? Retiree Ruth Arnold shares this same concern. Because she and her husband are embracing the RV lifestyle as part of their retirement dream, tracking storms from the road plays a crucial role in her travel planning efforts.
Arnold's answer? An app called MyRadar. "It shows the storms all over the country, and when we get on the road it will notify my phone when we enter any warning or watch areas," Arnold says. Although the app is free, the phone notification upgrade costs $3.99, according to the iTunes website. This may be a small price to pay for receiving crucial information precisely when you need it.
Navigating the airport: Getting around strange airports in a rush can be stressful, especially when you're not sure whether walking the length of a terminal means you'll find what you need.
Restrooms, executive lounges, good coffee and access to a bar make my short list of layover needs. Enter GateGuru. With a listing of major airports and amenity information for each terminal provided, you can easily learn what your shopping, service and dining options are. It's a free app that also integrates with other popular travel apps such as TripIt.
Transportation: Another airport navigation stressor is ground transportation. One helpful app is TravelNerd, developed by the folks at NerdWallet.
It lists shuttle, bus and taxi information for about 70 airports in cities throughout the world, including Chicago, Los Angeles, Hong Kong, Toronto, London and Tokyo.
Things can get even more complicated with regards to a city's public transportation. Citygoround.org offers helpful apps for destinations around the globe. Options include a rail service app featuring stations throughout the United Kingdom; a metro app for Halifax, Canada; an app that helps travelers interact with the Washington State ferry system; and one for the New York City subway system.
Taking the train: Amtrak may not be the first thing you think of, but it could be with its app of the same name. It lets you check schedules, change tickets, check out stations and see whether there are delays. It also lets you use it for your ticket — no more paper tickets. The app is free and available for iPhone and Android phones.
Keeping the details together: WorldMate, TripIt and TripCase allow you to aggregate the million details of travel. When you book your hotel, forward the email confirmation to the app and it arranges the itinerary. All three have free versions but upgrades are available for the first two that keep ads at bay, among other things. All three are available for iPhone and Android; WorldMate is available for BlackBerry.
Entertainment: When you've read all your books and are caught up on work, it helps to unwind with a fun flick. That's where the free Netflix app for streaming video customers comes into play. Available for the Windows Phone, Android and iPhone as well as the Kindle Fire, this app allows customers to stream online content while waiting for their next flight. Not enough time for a full movie? No problem. There are plenty of television viewing options, as well as a healthy selection of TEDTalks.
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