my favorite travel apps

Posted by susan on February 3rd, 2011. Filed under: travel tech.

There are millions of travel apps out there that I have yet to try or even download. The thing is, I want to be tech savvy and have the latest and greatest app for my Droid so that when I travel I am always prepared. But the truth is, I just don’t. What I do have are a bunch of apps that everyone knows about, even me!

Recently though, I’ve had the opportunity to really put these familiar apps to the test, and I  discovered that I had been taking them for granted and not using them to their full potential. It wasn’t that I didn’t necessarily know about the many features that sometimes come along with one particular app, I just never took the time to try them – or I never put myself into a situation where I didn’t prepare, and therefore, didn’t need to rely on said feature.

I thought I’d share some of my little discoveries, in case you’re like me and you just never gave your apps a chance…

Use the Yelp app when you travel even if you don’t Yelp.

While I take advantage of it’s many helpful reviews, I don’t Yelp. It’s not because there’s anything wrong with Yelp, I’m just too busy blogging. I bring that up because despite that fact, I still find value in the Yelp app on my phone. Why?

Because with the power of GPS, and the tap of a finger, you can pull a list of nearby locations and narrow down your choices by restaurant, bar, coffee shop, drugstore and more. A friend of mine also recently introduced me to an amazing  little feature called Monocle. If you haven’t used Monocle yet, go try it, it will blow your mind.

When you click the Yelp Monocle, whatever is in front of you pops onto the screen, as if you just turned on the camera mode. But in the top right corner is a compass and nearby locations dot the screen. Point your phone North and the locations in that direction appear. Turn around and you’ll see new ones slide onto the screen. Conveniently, each listing gives you the Yelp rating, the number of reviews it has, how far away it is from you in mileage, and whether it’s closed or open! When you see one you like you can just click it and it pulls up the regular listing with more information.

yelp monocle

Yelp is also a fun app for road trips. On our last trip to Philly, what started out as a quick search to learn what Yelpers thought of a particular restaurant, became an extended judge session in which we verbally “Yelped” all the Yelpers we could find. It can really get addicting. To get you started, the reviews that begin with “I really wanted to love XYZ restaurant…” [insert pretentious voice even if it wasn’t intended] are gold.

Foursquare helps you even after you check-in.

Foursquare isn’t just about checking in. After you check in, Foursquare kindly shows you who else is in that location (which is pretty creepy, but can also turn into a fun game in which you try to find the stranger that shares the same affinity for Foursquare as you – though it’s more fun if you actually know the person!). I also like Foursquare because once you check in, it shows you tips. Yes, I know there are plenty of apps that tell you about a location – I just went on and on about Yelp – but I like that Foursquare offers this because let’s face it, it’s rude to be staring at your phone all day. Sometimes you just want to satisfy an addiction that has your friends asking you if you are checking in every time you take out your phone check in, read a quick tip and then put the phone away. Foursquare lets you do that.

Foursquare App

Tweet your travel questions.

This one is no surprise, but I wanted to include it because it has really become a big part of my travel planning. Even before a guide, I go to blogs to find out about locations I want to visit and other travel tips. I read them on a regular basis. I have a personal connection with them and therefore, I trust them. But in a more instant way, you can tap your social community with questions that are as general or specific as you like. If you need advice quickly, Twitter always comes to the rescue, no matter where you are.

Twitter Advice

What are some of your favorite travel Apps?

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