The Latest and Greatest in Travel Apps

There’s no shortage of travel apps out there to choose from, all of them promising to make your travel experience better, cheaper, easier, or some combination of all three. But finding what apps are most useful, and what will end up merely eating valuable space on your phone, is a time-consuming task best left to the, ahem, professionals. With that, here’s a sampling of some of the top travel apps to arrive on the scene of late.

Instead of legging it miles through the terminal in search of a bite before your flight, Grab gives you all the details of eateries in your airport. Get a list or a map of restaurants with their menus and prices before you set out, while some places even let you to order in advance to pick it up on your way. The app is not yet comprehensive and currently only available in 19 U.S. airports, but has plans to continue adding locations and restaurants.

This may not be the use intended by the app’s creators, but GeoGuessr works great as a fun team-building game. Basically, this highly addictive app starts by showing you a semi-random Google Street View somewhere in the world. Players guess the location and the app shows you how close, or far off, you were, and rewards points based on the distance. The game has a pro version that allows you to build your own maps to use with other players in your group. Meaning you can customize it to locations at your meetings destination, and get creative by combining it with a scavenger hunt.

Trip Republic lets you search for flights, restaurants, activities and attractions at your upcoming meetings destination, while specifying the exact type of food (Italian, Thai, gluten-free, etc.) or activity (shopping, arts, nightlife) you’re interested in. Browse through recommendations from locals, save your favorites, have others weigh in if you wish, then set an itinerary you can share with your group.

Unless you’re a frequent international traveler, you may not need to use this app all that often. But if and when you do, ItsEasy is worth the price for all the time and headache you shave off the passport and visa application and renewal process. Print forms, mail them to ItsEasy, track their process, and charge everything through the app. You can even turn your phone into a passport photo camera.

Every planner could use a personal travel assistant and concierge at times. Mezi takes on that role by fulfilling your requests via text, whether you need some last-minute table arrangements from a local florist, dinner reservations at a nearby restaurant, or a token gift for your keynote speaker. The app’s agents do all the work for you, scouring the web for the latest deals, with a service fee added on to the final price.

In light of recent video of manhandled air passengers, AirHelp would seem especially timely. Input info from your canceled, delayed or overbooked flights, and the app looks up the amount of compensation you’re entitled to, which averages $450 in reimbursement but can reach as much as $680. It also enforces your claim with the airline, and can search flights you were bumped from up to three years ago.

Not everyone likes rolling the dice with ride-hailing apps such as Uber and Lyft. Wingz seeks to give riders that ease of mind by fully vetting its drivers – only 5% of driver applicants are accepted. The cost of your trip and your driver’s info are provided in advance, and specific drivers can be requested for future trips. The app is currently only available in select U.S. cities, but has plans to expand.

Have a VIP or small group you need to get from the airport to the hotel? Rideways lets you easily order up and pay online for a minibus or chauffer service with as little as two hours warning. Just enter your trip details and the type of vehicle you want, from a Mercedes E- or S-Class executive car to the V-Class people carrier. You can also add in notes for your driver, along with flight details. The Priceline-owned app serves more than 500 cities worldwide.

Photos: Sbutterstock.com

John Anderson

John Anderson

John Anderson is an award-winning journalist, travel writer and blogger based in San Jose, California. He has covered the meetings and hospitality industry extensively since 2008. Follow him on Twitter @jcax01

Leave a Comment