Travellers with smartphones are now equipped to be their own travel agent, tour guide and (temporary) local. Mobile phone apps abound, with the most savvy hotels, restaurants, museums, car hires, etc. creating free information sites for both iOS and Android platforms. Not all go the distance with GPS-driven notifications—some just offer the basics similar to that which can be found on websites. Others though give mobile users fantastic tips to help them get the most for their money and limited time.
Most world-class destinations have hopped on the mobile app bandwagon. The best of them offer extensive information for local attractions and events. Many individual businesses offer free apps, as well. But for an all-encompassing view, TripAdvisor is the site that looks to dominate in terms of hotel, car hire, tour excursions, etc. App ratings are generally favourable, though when any software changes components there will be naysayers. Some users mention TripAdvisor’s (great in theory) traveller review system and how easily info can be skewed by planted positive or negative contributions. Still, this is one of the most widely used programmes in the world and there’s got to be a reason for it. Plus arriving too early for a flight is now a thing of the past since the organisation acquired GateGuru, an app that provides real-time information on flights.
Seeing the Sights
Time Out is a weekly magazine that features food, shopping and entertainment listings specific to individual cities throughout the world. The London mobile app is free and offered for iphone models on iOS, Android and Windows 8 platforms. Reviews are mixed, with many users looking for more of an interactive experience instead of listings. Still, restaurant reservations can be made on the spot in some locations and there’s a calendar feature users can update to keep plans in order.
Smartphones have changed shopping, too. Many apps make the most of users’ GPS tracking to offer the best nearby deals for everything from lunch to theatre tickets to petrol prices. Chances are if you have any particular interests, someone has made a mobile app specifically geared to you. And don’t forget the deals! Last-minute hotel cancellations can mean great savings for more adventurous travellers who are comfortable winging it.
Getting a Deal
Even if a preplanned hotel is more your thing, deals of the day at restaurants, museums and shoppes are great incentives to try out the latest apps. Hoping to beat jet lag? Simply search for a two-for-one massage and brunch deal to have you up and running again. Another bonus is that users are often able to adjust notification settings to send weekly or daily advisories, so don’t worry you’ll be inundated with more messages than you’d like.
In addition to discount deals, shoppers with mobiles can also download a barcode scanner to help ensure the best price is found. And if vintage and antique items are of interest a simple online search can advise if a steal’s at hand. Granted the downside is that most market vendors have a much easier time finding out how much their goods and potential purchases are worth. Such technology makes finding “something for nothing” a lot more challenging, but the wins are are the sweeter for it.
Before You Go
The happiest travellers are often the most insightful ones. Even before researching the best deals and funkiest places to shop, remember the great resources at hand for learning about specific cultures including specific customs and languages. Your phone’s always with you, right? Though printed travel books aren’t necessarily a thing of the past but electronic downloads are greatly popular because they’re often free or low-cost, filled with valuable information, and take up no more room than one’s mobile.
The world has changed in many amazing ways thanks to modern technology. Mobile travel apps can help save you money, time and aggravation. With a few clicks, you can find all the best there is to see in your chosen destination.