How can you remain productive and connected while traveling for business?
Because you're never without your smartphone, inexpensive apps can help make a road warrior's life a lot easier while away from the office (and home).
There are many thousands of downloads available – regardless of your preference in smartphone platform -- and so the following are a few suggestions for those traveling for business or pleasure.
One handy app for keeping track of all your travel itineraries is the free TripIt for Android, iPhone/iPad, Windows Phone and BlackBerrys (not BB10 devices, though). Forward all your confirmation emails for flights, hotels, rental cars, and such, and TripIt will “automagically” organize them into detailed summaries with confirmation codes and other info. Once it's on your phone you can get instant access to all the trip info you need – including links, phone numbers and maps with directions to airlines, hotels, rental places and restaurants -- directly from your itinerary.
Another great app for travelers is Kayak Pro ($0.99 cents) for Android, iPhone/iPad and Windows Phone devices. Easily manage your trip itinerary; compare flight, hotel and car rental deals; track your flight status (with contact info for airlines); look up baggage fees so there are no surprises; and access airport terminal maps for over 100 airports. A free version is also available, but has advertisements and doesn’t contain the airport terminal maps. Or consider the free TripAdvisor app for Android, iPhone/iPad and Windows Phone.
A gem for those seeking good rates on hotels, the official and free Hotels.com mobile app can be used to find and book at nearly 200,000 hotels worldwide, plus you can access your reservations at any time (even when offline), manage your account (or book as a guest user), track and redeem "Welcome Rewards" credits to get free nights in hotels, and more. Available on iPhone/iPad, Android, Blackberry and Windows Phone (and in more than 80 languages and countries), the Hotels.com app also offers mobile GPS functionality to help you find the closest hotels with the best deals based on your current location.
Craving a steak while vacationing? Need to find a gift or the relative you’re staying with? Car almost out of gas while on your road trip? Available for free on Android and iPhone/iPad, Yelp helps you find businesses near you, via your device's GPS, and lets you read reviews from others before you go. Narrow your searches by neighborhood, distance and price; make restaurant reservations on OpenTable from within the app; find great deals offered by local establishments; and check-in to let friends or Twitter followers know where you are. An "augmented reality" feature lets you hold up your smartphone's camera to see business info overlaid on top of the real world around you.
Speaking of local business search, Google Maps is also a must-have app for travelers. Along with getting accurate turn-by-turn directions to a destination, the new Google Maps – also on Google’s Android devices (of course), as well as Windows Phone and older BlackBerrys – also offers human-like voice guidance, smart local searches (with reviews and ratings), a 360-degree Street View and the option to sync your searches and directions between your computer and your phone.
If you’re a stranger in a strange land and need help with the local language, the free Google Translate for Android and iPhone/iPad instantly translates between over 50 languages, with many supporting spoken words and phrases (let the taxi driver speak into your phone and you’ll see and hear the translation in English!). Samsung has a similar app bundled on its Galaxy S4 smartphone -- dubbed S Translate -- which can translate your typed or spoken text from one language to another.
If you're in search of some “fun” apps, perhaps to help keep the kids entertained, consider these awesome freebies: Toontastic (iPad) to create your own animated cartoons; “chase” games like Subway Surfers, Temple Run 2, Iron Man 3 and Rail Rush (Android and iPhone/iPad); Skype (all major platforms) for video calling with friends over the hotel’s free Wi-Fi; and Instagram (Android and iPhone/iPad) to spice up and share holiday photos.