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Would you like to pull a personal tour guide out of your pocket on your next National Parks visit? Me too. But because holograms are not yet an option, here’s “Just Ahead.”
This latest entry in the universe of handy travel apps is – well, handy. Like, it fits in your hand, on your smartphone, and calls up half a dozen (and growing) virtual “destination guides” of landmark attractions; the focus is on natural wonders like the Yosemite, Death Valley, and Grand Canyon National Parks.
Each tour includes plenty of points of interest within the parks, and many hours’ worth of narration about the sites provided by award-winning travel journalists. (I guess my invitation got lost in the mail. Um, alongside my awards.)
The audio guide offers advice on where to turn and what to do, but also adapts to your route if you just wheel around exploring. And each program can be downloaded (alongside its map) so it doesn’t matter if you lose GPS capability because your smartphone’s signals are bouncing around on them thar canyon walls.
Travel Tech / Passports / Tech Travel / ATL / MIA / Travel Apps / → All Tags
Automated passport kiosks aren’t anything new, and in fact they continue to pop up here, there, and everywhere to streamline the customs clearance process. Well now there’s another technology tidbit joining the process, as Custom and Border Protection is now offering up a mobile app to help keep things moving along.
Available in both Apple and Android flavors the Mobile Passport App helps you enter details in advance, and in theory will do its best to expedite your return back into the nifty fifty. Basically the app eliminates the need for some of the traditional forms, and you’ll be able to tap, swipe, and enter your passport information electronically.
If you find lipstick marks around the tailpipe, please notify a FlightCar representative.
For many people, joining the “sharing economy” is sort of like entering an open relationship. It sounds like a good idea at first — enjoy stability, plus fringe benefits! But once you actually see a stranger peel away in your car, or find a stray hair left behind in your Airbnb-loaned bed, the reality of letting someone else manhandle your precious possessions suddenly feels unsettling.
On the other hand, what you don’t know can’t hurt you.
Such is the premise behind FlightCar. This smart-sounding service lets drivers make use of the hundreds of autos that sit idling in airport parking garages while their owners are out of town.
Want to make some extra money while you’re traveling? Agree to share your car via FlightCar, and when you drop it off (for free parking) at one of 11 partner airports FlightCar will hook it up with a pre-screened (read: responsible) driver to use it while you’re gone.
You score easy cash, and the car is back waiting for you – like nothing ever happened! – upon your return.
You’re hungry. You’re indecisive. You shirk unnecessary human contact. Don’t worry, now there’s an app for that--it's called Reserve.
Jared Leto, Jon Favreau, and Will.i.am are among the celebrity investors in this mobile dining app — or rather, "digital concierge," per its website — which lets foodies in Boston, Los Angeles, New York City and San Francisco secure seats, and automatically pay the tab, at over 100 different restaurants. (Chicago: you’re up next.)
Reserve users enter the size of their party and specify a window of time in which they’d like to dine; the app notifies them when the seats are locked down. It’s not readily apparent what distinguishes this process from the old-fashioned method of calling ahead, except for removing all that pesky immediacy. It is helpful that restaurant options are limited to a “curated” selection of quality spots, rather than overwhelming users with every Yelp-reviewed eatery around.
More intriguing is the payment system, which takes a cue from Uber. (One of that ride-hailing app’s founders is also behind the scenes on Reserve.)
Travelers looking to discover lesser known outdoor adventures in Colorado should worry not - there's an app for that.
Gociety, a Denver-based startup, is a social network for adventurers. The free site allows members to share and connect with the rest of the Gociety community about outdoor sports, such as rock climbing, skiing, mountain biking, and hiking.
Users can get recommendations from locals or join in on already planned outings with other members. Aka - you can meet up with locals who might be hiking or climbing in an area that you would not have discovered otherwise.
Cruises / Travel Apps / Apps / Cruising / MSC Cruises / Travel Technology / → All Tags
How you remotely toured a cruise ship in 1989: Go to the mall, find the temporary “ship deck” installation by the escalator, sidestep some inflatable Mylar palm trees and procure an informational pamphlet from a cruise line salesperson in a sailor hat.
How you remotely tour a cruise ship in 2015: Download an app.
Last week, MSC Cruises announced the launch of their mobile app that lets smartphone users, and prospective cruisers, take virtual tours of the fleet’s 12 ships. The free download lets you explore the nooks and crannies of each ship – from staterooms and restaurants to spas and theaters – while offering a litany of other features: like cruise itineraries, background info about destinations and ports, global positioning features that let you track the movements of the fleet, and even live onboard webcam feeds. (Which is really the cheapest way to travel, when you think about it.)
Overall it’s a pretty solid idea from MSC, which cruises year-round in the Mediterranean and seasonally throughout other worldwide waters. Download the app here to start cyber-surfing in preparation for your next cruise IRL.
Travel Apps / Google / Bike Sharing / Car Sharing / Public Transportation / Travel Tech / Android Travel Apps / iPhone Travel Apps / → All Tags
Booking a plane ticket to a new city is, for the most part, fairly easy. It's the arriving in that city which can be a headache, figuring out how best to explore and get around. Fret no more, because that's all RideScout's specialty.
This newish mobile app, available for both Apple and Android devices, helps travelers get from point A to point B faster and smarter using some GPS technology and an easy-to-use interface. RideScout gathers together all the ground transportation in the area and presents it as simply as possible, including directions, estimated cost, and arrival times, ensuring that you get where you need to go by cab, public transport, car-sharing, or biking.
Picture it: You and your friend are seated aisles away from one another on a plane. The devastation sets in. How are you going to pass the next few hours? The stranger to your left seems uninterested in your running commentary on the sub-par in-flight movie options and relative attractiveness of each flight attendant. This is serious.
By now, we’re sure most of you are familiar with Shazam, the smartphone app that can listen to and identify a song by artist and title. The audio recognition technology is absolutely amazing, helping us name that tune whether it's playing at a bar, in a hotel lobby, or during the climax of a movie.
The concept might seem most useful for the partying and nightlife crowds, but as fate would have it, the technology has slowly been making its presence felt in one of the travel industry’s most quiet, observant segments: Bird watching. Outdoor enthusiasts have harnessed the power of audio recognition software to begin creating apps that identify animal calls, specifically birds, in the same way that Shazam recognizes a song.
Travel Apps / iPhone Travel Apps / Red Bull / Red Bull Air Race / Aviation / Video Game Travel / → All Tags
With milliseconds to spare before the end of the Red Bull Air Race 2014 season, much as in the actual heats themselves, Red Bull delights with a surprise up their sleeve. In this case, it's today's release of a free Red Bull Air Race app for both iOS and Android.
Okay, so it's not so much milliseconds before the program of high-performance stunt flying races endsthere's still Las Vegas on October 11-12 and Kunshan, China on November 1-2but the bulk of the Air Race events have been decided and their elite pilots showered in champagne many times over. Still, it's never too late to join in the virtual action.
Your first play of AIR RACE throws you right into the scenic course at Rovinj, Croatia. Clear a few of those gates with one thumb on the throttle and the other on, well, every other control with a single button, and the game deems you worthy of the full story. From there, it's an introduction to the 12 "Super License Pilots" of the real Red Bull Air Race. In order to follow in their
footsteps smoke trails, it's off to "secret Pilot Camp in Brazil" on the route to your own Super License.
Travel Apps / Google Play / Flight Delays / Delays / Travel Delays / Travel Technology / Android Travel Apps / Travel Tech / → All Tags
Flight delays and cancellations suck. Period. But since the U.S. government has levied guidelines on how airlines compensate travelers who experience flight disruptions, the situation has improved. Still, those strict rules and guidelines for payouts can be very confusing, and it's no wonder the casual flyer still has no clue what's due to them.
Luckily there's now an app for that.
Enter Claimair. This handy mobile app is basically the perfect flow chart if you have a cancelled flight, excessively delayed arrival, denied boarding, or facing lost baggage. So next time you're blood pressure is rising, step away from the gate and tap on this new app.
Start by choosing your flight inconvenience, then input flight details and answer a few questions directly in-app. ClaimAir will then display a result of what is due to you options on how to go about claiming it.
We cover a lot of smartphone applications that help make life on the road a little easier. And, without question, these products of technology in our pockets allow us to take shortcuts with our trip planning that were not possible in the past, from driving directions and virtual guidebooks to researching hotel prices from a café.
In that sense, the smartphone has eliminated the risk of “getting lost” while traveling, ensuring we always have a safety net at our side. They also double as our cameras, and have eliminated the need for casual travelers to carry two pieces of equipment.