Traveling today can be a headache. The tight security, overcrowded flights, and baggage restrictions can often come together to form a perfect storm and destroy a vacation. Two summers ago, I flew cross country and I had to pay $40 for my checked luggage, got lost on the way to the hotel, and I had to eat a $14 cheeseburger because I couldn’t find the restaurant that I needed to meet my brother at. It was a nightmare. This summer, I took the same trip and the whole vacation was much smoother. It wasn’t that I had my act together; it was because I had my iPhone 3GS.
Traveling with my iPhone made a dramatic difference. I didn’t have to pack my laptop or a travel router; I had the perfect ubiquitous computer with me that had 3G, high speed, Internet access the whole time. Also, I had the perfect mix of iPhone apps that supported my travels and helped me out more than once. There are five iPhone apps that I would not dare travel without.
Five iPhone Travel Applications
Co-Pilot Live [iTunes Link]
The iPhone 3GS, with its built-in GPS can easily and conveniently be used as a turn-by-turn GPS device with the right software support. Some GPS applications, such as the AT&T option cost hundreds of dollars over the life of the product, and others like the TomTom App is $99. My choice however is Co-Pilot Live. It has many of the rich features like text to speech, turn-by-turn directions, a strong point of interest database, and very nice maps. I have found the Co-Pilot app easy to understand and very loud. There are a few places I have needed that were not in the database, but Co-Pilot has a 45 day promise to add map points to the database.
The application does not have iPod App controls which is a slight drawback, but if you start the music before you load Co-Pilot the music will continue to play. Also, if you receive a call, your iPhone won’t go back to the Co-Pilot App automatically. I can easily forgive these shortcomings because the Application only costs $34.99. It is nearly a third of the cost of the TomTom app, and it costs less than four months of the AT&T application. It is the perfect GPS application.
Evernote [iTunes Link]
Evernote, while not specifically a travel application, should be on every iPhone – especially when you travel. Here is how I used Evernote on my last trip:
1. Before I left I put my flight confirmation, hotel information, and rental car information in a note. I didn’t need a single document with me, so I had nothing to lose and nothing to forget.
2. When I parked the car, I took a picture of the parking sign I parked near, and the text from the sign was automatically indexed and was searchable.
3. I had my electronic boarding pass stored as a note, and it scanned flawlessly.
4. While sitting in the airport, I brainstormed a list of questions I needed my wife to answer back home, so I put them in a note and shared them with her. When I landed, she had already answered them.
Needless to say, Evernote was essential. When you are traveling, there is absolutely no room for forgetfulness or disorganization. Evernote is the simplest tool imaginable to keep me from being forgetful and disorganized. The best part is that Evernote and the Evernote service are absolutely free.
The Weather Channel [iTunes Link]
There are few things that can affect a vacation as dramatically as the weather. Making sure your plans and what you pack match the weather is so important when preparing for a trip. While the iPhone comes with a decent Weather app, it is nowhere as powerful as The Weather Channel offering. The Weather Channel iPhone App provides you with current conditions, hourly predictions, a 36 hour forecast, and a 10 day forecast. With The Weather Channel app, you also have access to real-time radar, severe weather warnings, and a video stream of the forecast from the Weather Channel. It is a great travel tool.
There are two versions; the free version is ad supported, and the premium is not. I have been fine with the free app, but the paid version is $3.99, and it might be worth the investment to dump the ads.
Where To? [iTunes Link]
If your trip is going well, and you might have the luxury of being spontaneous. Unfortunately, spontaneity in a new city can be risky. Where To? is the perfect iPhone Travel application that can help you find things you might be looking for in your destination. Where To? features over 600 categories of events, destinations, and points of interest, and they are organized beautifully in a simple interface. Where To? makes finding what you are looking for very simple. For example, if you are interested in a particular type of food, simply dial up restaurants, then the food choice, and then your choices will display on a map. Everything from gas stations to museums are indexed at your finger tips.
Where To?, by FutureTap is a paid iPhone Travel application; it costs $2.99. The time it saves you and the freedom it provides on a vacation are worth every penny.
Pocket Sherpa [iTunes Link]
A new travel application for the iPhone that I have not fully tried yet is Pocket Sherpa. I am dying to have an adventure worthy of it soon, but for now, I have only used it for research. Pocket Sherpa features 25,000 travel guides, and 30,000 experts at more than 7,000 destinations. These experts are available to answer questions, provide tips or hints, and in some cases, they are available for services such as driving and guiding. Pocket Sherpa also features question and answer boards and newspapers for thousands of destinations so that you can check out the local information, track events, and even look for bargains.
I am not sure if I would ever use Pocket Sherpa to arrange for services or to hire a driver; there are some privacy risks that I am not sure I am ready to take, but I will certainly ask the locals of a city for the best Italian restaurant or BB-Q joint. I can also see using Pocket Sherpa to locate discounts for events and attractions. Pocket Sherpa is a free iPhone travel application.