5 Essential Travel Apps to Make Travel Easier


Mobile Apps

Travel apps are a dime a dozen, but when you find one that you like, you feel like you’ve found the Holy Grail! How did you ever live or travel before without it? Well, you did… but now life is better. When I travel, I prefer to use wi-fi. I stay focused on my trip and my travel experience. Buying data and roaming is costly (of course there are apps for that), so I’ll jump on a wi-fi network when I can and do updates, posts, e-mails etc. Here my 5 favourite travel apps:

1. Hailo

This neat app hails taxis and uses your phone’s GPS to make a cab come to you – and it tells you how soon the cab will be there. My first use of this app was in Dublin, Ireland. I stood in my hotel lobby, used Hailo and had a taxi pick-up in five minutes. You can pay your taxi directly or open an account with a major credit card. Only problem – Hailo is currently in 11 cities: Toronto, Boston, Chicago, New York, Washington, D.C., London, Cork Dublin, Barcelona, Madrid and Tokyo. But it’s expanding to more cities all the time and it’s available on iPhone and Android for free.

2. Viber

Viber gives you free texting and long distance phone calls. Have I got your attention now? This is a free app that requires a wi-fi connection for you to get free texts and phone calls. When you use Viber on a 3G network you might incur operator data charges or internet access fees. One catch – you “viber” between others who have Viber. It works very well and I’ve made calls from Jamaica and Ireland and texts from Poland, England and around the world – all for free.

3. WorldMate

The closest thing most of us will ever have to a personal assistant but without the attitude is WorldMate. Simply send your confirmation emails for flights, hotels, hire cars and restaurant bookings to trips@worldmate.com and the app generates a detailed itinerary covering all parts of your trip. If you upgrade to the premium version, WorldMate will generate alerts for delayed flights and/or gate changes. It’s available in iPhone and Android.

4. Wi-Fi Finder

Assuming you’re on wi-fi when you boot up this app, you’ll continue your mission to avoid data roaming charges. The GPS finds nearby public wi-fi (free and paid) spots at over 545,000 locations worldwide. You can also search for wi-fi worldwide before your trip or for your next destination. The offline mode means you can download maps before you go and avoid those data bills. It’s available for free on iPhone, iPad and Android.

5. Private Wi-Fi

The problem with Free Wi-Fi is the potential for being hacked. A few years ago, I jumped on a wi-fi network in Amsterdam and lived with an inordinate amount of spam for six months. My e-mail address was grabbed but it could have been much worse.  This app creates a personal VPN connection so that you don’t get hacked. While it does slow your internet connection down a bit, it’s well worth it for the added protection from wandering hackers. It’s available on iPhone and Android.

Of course, this list is changing and these five apps are just the tip of the iceberg, with plenty of competitors for each listed above. But my review is based on my real experience with each of them (and I was not paid to say that). There are also apps for weather, transit systems, cities, airports, airlines and more, and any of these could be very handy for your next trip or just getting around your own city.

This guest article was published in August 2013 by AsiaRooms.com

Toronto skyline from the rooftop of the Thompson Hotel

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