Today’s theme for the 2013 WordCount Blogathon is “favorite apps” — which proved a bit challenging for me at first because, well, I don’t use many apps. I mean to but there are soooo many and as a writer, I carry my laptop everywhere. So I end up using all kinds of cool programs on the laptop and I use the phone mostly for calls and email and texting and taking/sharing pictures. You know, for communicating!
That’s not to say I don’t have some really great, use-all-the-time apps on my Android phone. These include a GPS tracker, Dropbox, and Google Voice Search. (Hey, sometimes you really need to know the closest icecream shop in a strange city!) But that’s about it. Well, except for 1 other that I’ll discuss further down in the story.
So how do I recommend 5 apps that will be especially helpful to fellow travelers? I ask around.
App #1 – FlightTrack Free
My good friend Meredith McNiece lives in the Orlando, Florida area and used to be a road warrior extraordinaire. She still travels a lot and recommends downloading FlightTrack because “it’s pretty accurate on arrivals and departure times. Plus it’s free!”
According to its descriptor, this app offers real-status for gates, delays, and cancellations for more than 3,000 airports across the world and for 1,400 airlines. And non-traveling friends and family can track your flight while you’re in the air by watching a nifty little plane icon moving over a map. For android and iPod.
App #2 – Any That Help Navigate Theme Parks
Meredith, who does a lot of video production work for Disney World, also contributed to this category, recommending apps from both Disney and SeaWorld Orlando.
Disney Mobile Magic is the official app for all of its parks and lists attraction wait times (so you know how many hours you’ll be waiting to ride Space Mountain or the Tower of Terror), a GPS-enabled park map, a real-time locator for your favorite characters, a menu option, and a section that lets you make dining reservations. It also includes several fun things for the kids, or weary adults waiting in line, such as trivia games and video clips.
The SeaWorld Mobile App includes most of these features, as well as performance times for the park’s various shows. It also has a really cool “car finder” feature for when you just can’t remember where you left your vehicle.
These made me so excited that I checked online and saw that almost every large theme park around the country now offers some type of in-the-park navigation app, including the park that’s located nearest to me — Silver Dollar City just outside Branson, Missouri.
The Silver Dollar City app includes a GPS-enabled park map, show times, shop listings, restaurant options, and even up-to-date information on their many events throughout the year, including their famous Bluegrass & BBQ Festival. Yep, this one is going onto my phone immediately! As a new season-pass holder for the park, I can see using this a ton. If only it could provide something to help out with end-of-the-day exhausted feet…
App #3 – GasBuddy
This free app has popped up on so many “best of” lists that I finally had to check it out for myself. It is very, very simple but works really well. Type in your zip code, town, or state and gas prices from various facilities in these locations pop up, letting you compare and then choose the lowest one. I just typed my zip code into GasBuddy and, after almost crying over how high prices are right now, I could clearly see which one was the best deal for me.
App #4 – Google Translate
With a whopping 450,000 reviews and a 4.6 out of 5 stars rating, this one is very popular with those traveling overseas. It is certainly not perfect (just like any computer translation program), but for simple words and phrases, the convenience can’t be beat.
As one user on the site wrote last month, “It’s good enough that the main gist of what you’re trying to say can usually get across to the other person.” That would have been a God-send on a recent trip to Vienna, Austria when I needed some cash fast but couldn’t seem to get across my request for directions to the nearest A.T.M.
App #5 – Euro Converter
This one has been on my phone since before the above-mentioned Vienna trip. I know figuring out exchange rates while shopping in another country is just simple math, but I also knew there would be plenty of long days of traipsing around that would leave me with “slow brain.”
Euro Converter does just what its names says. Just type in an amount and the app converts dollars into the current value of euros and vice versa. It really is just that easy.
Looking at all the apps listed, I’d say convenience and saves money are my top criteria for travel apps. What about you? Which apps would you never leave home without?