10 Best Apps For Frequent Travelers
Travel App

When you’re on the go, your best friend and resource can be your phone. With so many apps to choose from, how can you really know which app is the best? If you’re a frequent traveler or getting ready to travel, we have narrowed down the best travel apps that are a must-download.
With the holidays coming up too (yes, summer is sadly coming to an end,) we did a little extra research to nail down the most essential and reliable travel apps.

TripIt

First and foremost, TripIt is FREE. This travel app ranks at our number one spot because it allows you to be your own travel agent and plan every detail of your trip. From car rental to lodging to restaurants—you can construct custom itineraries by hand, or simply forward the email confirmations of your flight, rental car, train tickets, and hotels to plans@tripit.com and watch TripIt construct the itinerary for you. If you’re looking to go the extra mile with TripIt, try TripIt Pro.

TripIt Pro does way more than just organize your travel plans. It also alerts, monitors, notifies, tracks, and shares — so you're always in the know, on the go. Sure, you might be able to find some of these features in other apps and sites, but with TripIt Pro you get them all in one place so you can snag the best seat, find flights, track your points, get real-time flight alerts and notifications. There is a TripIt Pro cost which is $49 a year and the first 30 days are free of charge. For a more detailed comparison chart on TripIt vs TripIt Pro, check it out here: https://www.tripit.com/pro/comparison

Swackett

Swackett is a great app for checking the weather prior to traveling. This trendy app opens with a standard current local weather page that has the basic information, current weather warnings, and seven-day forecasts. If you swipe your finger to go to the next panel, you'll see that report interpreted in several fun ways: fashion (featuring current weather-appropriate wardrobe recommendations), lifestyle (indices that tell you whether it's a good day for fitness, driving, stargazing, sailing, and more), health (indices for allergies, sinus headaches, migraines, asthma), and trivia (world weather records). This app not only gives you the weather but health and lifestyle suggestions too making for a great combination.

Receiving a 4/5 star rating, Swackett is also free and was recently featured as a Best New App on iTunes and on the TODAY Show (NBC)

Wikihood

Not only is Wikihood fun to say, it’s one of the highest rated apps in the iTunes store, and blows away many traditional travel guides by organizing and displaying all of the Wikipedia information for any place in the world. Simply start the app, enable geolocation and it creates a stream of historical buildings, famous sites, public transit, noted bars, restaurants and parks which are sortable by distance, relevance and ratings.

Wi-Fi Finder by JiWire Inc.

No matter where you go – whether you’re travelling for business or for pleasure, chances are you could benefit from being able to find the nearest Wi-Fi hotspots, and fast. Wi-Fi Finder is just the app you need, delivering easy to read maps of your area, with every available Wi-Fi source labeled and filterable by paid/unpaid, type of locale, etc. Over 30,000 people have reviewed Wi-Fi Finder and provided a solid 5/5 star rating.

GasBuddy

For those travelers hitting the roadways, GasBuddy will be your closest friend. Cut your travel costs with this app to find all of the cheapest gas stations close to you. GasBuddy actually displays a map of your area, with the gas stations clearly tagged, and even displays the cost of gas per gallon for each one. This free mobile app has been reviewed highly with 4.5/5 stars and users love the chance to win $100 in free gas every day. With every reported fuel price, you earn 200 points. Exchange 1,000 points in the app for an entry in GasBuddy’s daily draw for $100 pre-paid gas cards. Sounds like a pretty good deal to us! 

Sit OR Squat Restroom Finder

Road Warriors- how many times have you been in a strange, unfamiliar place and needed to find a restroom, and pronto? Any traveler who’s had this experience knows that finding a place to squat can either make or break an outing. Using Sit OR Squat by Charmin, you can:

-Search and view public restrooms near your current location on a map or in a list. Map results with an interactive, location-based map.
-Register using Facebook Connect to Rate, Add, Upload Pictures, and Bookmark bathrooms.
-Rate restrooms by choosing “Sit” (you enjoyed the bathroom) or “Squat” (it could be better) and provide your relevant experience and honest opinions, including pictures.
-Add public restrooms to the database by entering basic location information and optional details like pictures and features.
-Filter results by choosing specific features such as Open Now, Sit-or-Squat Rating, Family
-Bookmark your favorite locations or map out locations for an upcoming trip.

Happy Hours

The true travel bargainer’s dream come true. That is, if you love to find the best deals on a cocktail or appetizer. The app displays the best food and drink deals going on near you at any time each day. You can filter results in a number of ways including by day, time, location, type of cuisine and special features like free wi-fi and outdoor seating. Each city is sponsored by a local zine, for example New York is powered by Village Voice and Austin is powered by GoTime. (Only in the U.S. for now.)

Yelp

A more popular app that you may have already heard of and hailed by some as the best travel application out there, Yelp is a user-generated database of restaurants, bars, gas stations, cobblers, blacksmiths, and more. Search for nearby vendors by type, distance, price and hours of operation. The app lets you browse reviews, add photos, quick tips and draft reviews, which can then be finalized by logging onto their website. Yelp is undoubtedly the largest and most accurate database of local restaurants operating in the U.S., Puerto Rico, France, Germany, Ireland and the U.K.

Currency

For those that love to travel abroad or are traveling abroad for the very first time, Currency is a great app that you WILL want to download. Currency has been the #1 currency converter for iPhone since 2008, launching as one of the first 500 apps in the App Store. Providing up-to-date exchange rate information for over 100 currencies and countries, you can see why it’s fantastic for watching foreign markets. 

Packing Pro

For the organizer at heart, Packing Pro is a mobile app made for list makers. It helps you remember what to pack and can also serve as evidence of what you packed if your luggage were ever lost. It has plenty of sample lists of items to pack for different types of travel, or you can create your own and tick off items as they go into your luggage. The $3 app may seem like overkill to those who have packing down to a science already, but it can be an excellent tool for parents who are packing for multiple family members before leaving on vacation.

 


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Every year we witness cutting edge technology and a wave of new gadgets, but which ones are essential to travelers? From the mother of all suitcases to a device that can jumpstart your car, mobile devices, and easily fit in your backpack or purse, here are our top five gadgets for 2015 travelers.

1) The Smartphone Selfie Stick

By the end of 2012, Time magazine considered “selfie” one of the top 10 buzzwords of theyear. Quickly sweeping the world, “selfie” has become common enough to be monitored for inclusion in the online version of the Oxford English Dictionary. This opened up the doors for tech companies worldwide to create products such as The Smartphone Selfie Stick. This telescoping pole works with cell phones and cameras allowing you to capture photos of everyone in the selfie including scenic background images that otherwise may be harder to fit in a manual selfie shot.

2) Prynt

Remember when Polaroid cameras let you print photos immediately? A France-based company, Prynt is helping bring back those memories by developing a smartphone case that can instantly print your snaps. With smartphones continuing to advance their technology in HD lenses, it’s becoming increasingly popular to keep the bulky, digital cameras at home and rely on smartphones to capture your memories instead. Designed to support 30 sheets of paper and printing in less than 30 seconds, Prynt offers a new, revolutionary way to print your vacation or day-to-day photos quickly and most importantly, in a high quality fashion.

3) GoPro

Although GoPro isn’t new this year, its popularity has greatly increased and has become America’s fastest-growing camera company. Highly differentiated from what a smartphone can do, GoPro is making sharing life easier than ever. GoPro has changed the way travelers document their adventures and the company’s informative blogs now provide helpful GoPro travel tips to capture better photos and footage.

4) Cobra JumPack

Venturing on a road trip? The Cobra JumPack is the easy to fit in your palm, handy gadget booster that will rescue you when your car, motorcycle, boat, or other vehicle’s battery is dead. This tiny gadget will also charge your smartphone, tablet, camera, or other mobile device rapidly. The Cobra JumPack will charge devices multiple times in one charge making it perfect for emergencies like a power outage, traveling, or anytime your slowly wasting cell phone battery decides to give out on you. The Cobra JumPack includes jumper cables and two different re-charging methods, a wall charger for home and a 12V car charger. For $129.95 you can protect your travels and have portable power on the go.

5) Trunkster

What does the luggage of the future look like? Meet Trunkster, the world’s most revolutionary luggage which features zipperless entry for fast access, includes a removable battery with USB port, and has a built-in scale and GPS. With a fancy sliding door, high-tech travelers who are desperate to ditch the traditional zipper suitcases will be in luck. Beyond the sliding door, Trunkster comes with a built-in digital scale to help you avoid overweight luggage fees. The built-in battery allows you to charge your phone and mobile devices right from your luggage. For an additional $40 fee you can activate the bag’s GPS service and never worry about finding lost luggage again. For the frequent traveler who prefers fast and easy access to their belongings, and true convenience of powering up smartphones before a long flight, Trunkster is for you.

 


For what its worth, I genuinely appreciate you taking the time to not only read this blog, but also reading this ALT text! I hope you enjoyed this look back at my big stories of 2013. And hopefully, you'll come back for more misadventures in 2014! Ack!2013 was a rather incredible year in the world of travel, wasn’t it? During this year we saw some of the best – and worst – that comes with taking the roads, the skies, and the seas. We’ve seen companies come together, passengers divide on how to get to their destination, and storms that have twisted and snarled traffic across the United States. Personally speaking, my 2013 has been a rather successful campaign in retrospect: nearly 28,000 miles traveled in the air, with 46 total flights – which turns into the equivalent of three days in the air.

In looking back at the year, there were a lot of stories that really stuck out to me for many different reasons. Here are the stories that topped my list of big events in 2013:

In 2014, may our travels be safe, healthy, and may we all get to see much more of the world than we have before. What were your biggest travel stories of 2013? What would you include on this list? Let me know in the comments below!


IMG_1555The final day of Star MegaDo 5 saw our very own charter flight take wings over North America. If you’ve never experienced something like this, let me put it this way: imagine flying on a fully-catered flight with 130 of your best friends and fellow travel enthusiasts, all the while exchanging tips and tricks about how to make the most of your travels. The flight itself was an absolute blast – even though I did get stopped at Customs for a brief amount of time (Pro traveler tip: when asked “Do you have any food to declare…” on your customs form: popcorn and chocolate counts - even if you brought it from the United States), the flight and airport experience was an absolute blast! This will be a flight I’ll be talking about for quite a while to come.

Our travels took us from Toronto to Tuscon, Arizona, where we were treated to a tour of the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group – otherwise known as the place where military aircraft goes to retire. The tour was an awesome experience, and allowed us to stretch our legs before hopping back on the airplane to our final destination: San Francisco.

At San Francisco, we were treated to a one-of-a-kind hangar experience with United (our public charter carrier), and got to go behind the scenes with their aircraft repair operations. United sees and repairs aircraft of all kinds at the San Francisco facility – and not just mainline aircraft! Many pieces and parts were stripped for our inspection at the hangar – with many specialists there to explain how it all works!

At the hangar, we learned all about how aircraft are kept safe and sound, starting from the ground up. New technology allows for new ways to keep passengers and crew safe at 30,000 feet above the earth. Here’s some of the ways aircraft crews are making sure you stay safe at cruising speed:

Regular maintenance isn’t just for engines and moving parts
When an aircraft comes in for maintenance, it’s not just the moving parts that get inspected. Advanced technology allows for the continued testing of everything from avionics to in-flight entertainment. And in the event that something is detected as malfunctioning, or comes up questionable, maintenance facilities make sure that testing equipment is available, and prepare backups if necessary. This allows them to switch out the bad gear for testing and repair, and keep you flying as scheduled.

Making sure only qualified parts make it to the airplane
Everything on an airplane – from wings and flaps to landing gear – has a finite operational life. So how do they make sure everything runs safe and secure throughout that life? In the case of landing gear, at least two full landing gear assemblies are kept in stock at all times. This ensures that parts are available as needed, and full landing gear can be replaced. With this stock available, maintenance crews can pull apart old landing gear, and replace or rebuild as needed. In the event that a part has reached the end of the road, that part is pulled and destroyed, so that it can’t end up as a compromised part in another plane. Many of those parts can then be recycled into something new.

Recording safety is priority one
In addition to the moving parts and pieces that are managed and rebuilt, the “Black Boxes” (which are now orange, entertainingly enough) get regular maintenance and rebuilding as well. Made out of an incredibly durable construction (so that they don’t get destroyed), the boxes are regularly serviced and switched out as well, to make sure they record what goes on in flight properly. The “Black Box” unit is actually comprised of two units – one that records two hours of cockpit voice communications, and one that records 20 hours of flight mechanical data. In the event of an emergency, these two items can give valuable insight on what went wrong – and how to fix it for future flights.

Going behind the scenes at United gave a lot of insight as to how everything operates at a major airline maintenance facility, and gave me new respect for what it takes to keep hundreds of flights in air every day. Have you had a flight safety experience that was mitigated by ground crew? Let me know your experiences in the comments below!

(Ed. Note: No compensation nor incentive was given to mention any product or service in this blog. Travel Insurance Services and its affiliated companies do not endorse nor guarantee any product, service, or brand mentioned in this or any blog. However, we sure would love to hear about your experiences with them!)


This is an original Rimowa case built in the 1940's - while showing it's age, the structure and functionality of this case remain the same.Day one of Star MegaDO could not have come soon enough. The anticipation of nearly half of a year came to quite a start on Wednesday. The morning turned into an impromptu meet-and-greet in the lobby, as we waited for our (fashionably late) buses. It was incredible to talk about favorite places and destinations with other well-seasoned travelers of the world! In just the hour we waited for the buses, I was entertained with stories of broken lights in first class coming home from Australia, to the splendor of Southeast Asia during the rainy season. I’ve added at least a dozen new destinations to my list!

But the big excitement of the day came in our exclusive tour of the Rimowa North America factory. Known for producing high-end luggage from Germany, Rimowa has also opened a facility outside of Toronto, in order to better serve the North American marketplace. Not only do they make luggage there, but warranty and service repairs also go through this facility as well!

While we couldn’t get pictures inside the facility, we learned a lot about how new luggage is made, and how baggage loss and baggage destruction is being dealt with before a suitcase sees a tarmac – back at the factory.

Better Materials, Better Durability, Less Baggage Loss
As a general trend in the luggage industry, better materials are being put into place in manufacturing to give a suitcase a longer life. Your grandparents’ luggage may have been made with small wheels and hard plastics – which would need to be replaced in a matter of years. Now, suitcases are being made with bigger wheels (think office chair wheel size), and much stronger exteriors: such as polycarbonate, aluminum, and ballistic nylon. This gives the suitcase a much longer life – especially when they’re beaten and battered on the line at an airport.

Better Technology, Less Baggage Delay
It’s not just the materials that are changing. Multiple bag manufacturers are finding new ways to use technology to keep bags with their owners. One manufacturer has begun barcoding their bags for tracking, in the event they get lost from their owners – one call, and the manufacturer can help the owner find the bag wherever it may be. And Rimowa, in collaboration with Airbus and Germany’s T-Systems, is experimenting with “smart bag” technology – a bag that’s equipped with a computer that allows the bag to check itself in, be tracked with a smartphone app, and even give a delivery address in the event that it gets lost along the way. These technologies are keeping baggage delay and baggage loss at a minimum – and helping owners keep moving from point A to point B.

Even with these technologies, baggage delay and baggage loss happens to even the best travelers. But these new methods of making bags with better technology and more durable goods are a strong first step in stopping the problem before it has an opportunity to become a problem. And if baggage delay or baggage losses are still a major concern, many Travel Insurance Services plans offer a baggage delay or loss benefit. Just in case you’re traveling with something you can’t afford to lose.

Are you excited about the new technologies that are changing the way we travel? What do you look for when it comes to getting new luggage? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below! 

(Ed. Note: No compensation nor incentive was given to mention any product or service in this blog. Travel Insurance Services and its affiliated companies do not endorse nor guarantee any product or service mentioned in this or any blog. However, we sure would love to hear about your experiences with them!)