One day, I decided to search for a mobile app to help me edit photos. When I opened the Apple store on my iPhone, the first thing that popped up - before I even started my search - was a Travel App suggestion! In fact, it was an entire curated selection of Travel Apps.
I say curated because I'm pretty sure there was a little AI (Artificial Intelligence) going on in Algorithmland for those Travel Apps to be the first thing I would see.
And the thing is, once I saw them I had to check them out. And once I did - I had to put these Apps out here for the world to see. I never did search for the photo editing App I wanted to use.
But the coolest thing I learned - the most important thing I want to share with you - I've saved for the end. You'll want to keep reading for that - it's the coolest.
Four More Great Travel Apps
First - FYI - I've downloaded these Apps and already tested two. I'll let you know which ones down below. The other two I've downloaded but have NOT tested yet. I'll explain in a minute.
App In The Air - Similar to Tripit, this App goes into your email account and looks for emails with flight information. It then compiles it and lets you sort between your flights and other people's flights. For example, I had a few emails with flight information for relatives visiting in the next couple of months. Those flights were added to my queue, and I easily sorted them to "People." You have three sorting options: My, Delete, People. (I deleted all the old flight information it found.)
I don't think this App will take the place of Tripit for me. Tripit has so much more to offer under the hood on the Pro version ($49/annual subscription.) Here's what you'll find on the Pro version.
Hitlist - Bucket list - meet Reality! I downloaded this one immediately. Hitlist is an app that lets you capture all of the wonderful places in the whole wide world that you dream of visiting. AKA - your bucket list. Ok - so what? If you're like me, you've got lists and lists of those cities, and countries plastered all over your Language Arts PeeChee folder in cursive, block letters…(Never heard of a PeeChee folder? Can't help you.)
But here's the kicker with this App. You make a list, pick your home airport, and Hitlist starts to monitor airfares to the places on your list. According to the App, it will tell you when there are good or great fares for your wishlist destinations. You'll be one step closer to making those dreams a reality and my advice, if you see a great fare, is - pull the trigger. Take the trip and check your bag! (I know...blah blah blah. It's for your own good, People!)
Tile - I have one of these! Well, to be clear, I'm married to a car key loser and he has one. But since I'm the traveling bag checker, I'm going to download this App (have not done this yet), take his physical Tile (they cost $23 for one pack and $49 for a four-pack) and put it in my suitcase. Then, if my bag doesn't come riding off the carousel when I arrive at my destination, I can use the Tile App to ping and help locate it.
However - there are distance limitations, so check out their website here. What caught my eye was the Community Find feature on the App. It's why I'll be trying this out on my upcoming trip to New York. You can enhance your ability to locate lost luggage even if you're not close to 'the item,' with the Community Find feature.
When you activate Community Find, any Tile user close enough to your item (suitcase) will automatically transmit the info, and you'll see the location on a map on the App. In other words, a network of other people using the Tile App will automatically connect you. Maybe you'll even find your luggage before the airline can alert you!
ParkWhiz - If you're taking a road trip into a major city in the US and plan on parking your vehicle, get this App. It helps you find and pre-pay for parking before you even get to the city. I can tell you from experience - if San Francisco is one of your destinations, or maybe even Seattle, this is an app that you'll need. Or you could end up circling and circling.
It's free - your time is not.
It’s a Siri(ous) Trick
The real trick I learned when I opened the App Store on my phone - is only available for iPhones. I don't know if there's a similar function for Android phones, so if you have that type of Smartphone, you can stop reading now. Or keep reading and then go find out if it's out there for Androids. Email me if you find it!
I know. Everyone’s not a Siri user or lover but keep an open mind. Maybe, just maybe, you didn’t have a good enough reason to use Siri before now.
If you have iOS 12 or later versions, you have something called Siri Shortcuts on your phone. Here's the link to the how-to information on Apples' support site. I wish they did a better job of pushing this information out to users proactively. Or maybe I wish I did a better job of receiving their notifications? Do they exist? Hello?
Be that as it may (favorite old school phrase), you can set up shortcut commands to use these apps, and others, via Siri. I followed all the instructions and now have a command in Siri that goes like this:
"Yes?" (Says the male, Australian accented voice set up on my iPhone)
"Give me flight status."
And Voila' - he reads me the information on my flight and when it's scheduled to leave. I have a shortcut command to tell me hotel information, baggage carousel (I absolutely HATE standing around trying to figure out the correct baggage carousel), connecting flight, and gate information. All the features that come with the Tripit Pro version.
How'd I do all this? The Apple support site gives you the steps, but here they are (save time):
- Open up Settings
- Go to Siri & Search
- Go to All Shortcuts
- Choose an App and select the + sign
- Press the red dot at the bottom of the screen and record a short phrase (short - or you'll forget!)
- Hit Done and it's added to the My Shortcuts list
Don't worry - if you do forget what you recorded, go into the My Shortcut lists and see what phrase to use with Siri.
Hack With an App
Finally, whether you use the iOS or Android operating system on your smartphone, head over to the App Store. Now search for 'Travel Apps' and scroll through what comes up. Many of the Apps have been mentioned on this blog here and here. But it's a constantly changing landscape. Apps are created and Apps are retired/abandoned. So keep watching the App store - you might find the one cool App that will transform your travel into the Easy Travel experience we (I) crave.
Ok - game on. I'm using my Siri shortcuts on my next trip. I love step saving hacks, and not fumbling through multiple screens, pressing and swiping (while walking through a crowded airport?) sounds like a slice of heaven to me.
I added one for Weather reports too. Umbrella out or in the Tote?