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I’ve been travelling a lot over the past 3 weeks. Being a dataphile, in the last 3 weeks specifically, I’ve:
- spent 6 nights at home
- caught 8 flights
- slept in 8 different beds
- and drank a heap of coffee (but that’s pretty standard for me, nothing to do with travel).
While a couple of the days away were for pleasure, most of the travel was for business, and I also had to continue working on some projects. I’m pretty used to working remotely now, including days working from cafes or hot desking at other people’s offices, so use a number of tools to stay connected. They include:
However this recent travel also highlighted several other digital tools that simply made my travel much easier, and I would like to share them with you…
(While the apps are linked to the Apple iOS versions, many have Android options as well).
I’ve used TripIt for a few years now, and I love it.
It’s basically a travel itinerary management tool, I use mainly the app version, but it’s available as a website as well.
With an account, you can forward (or manually enter) your travel itineraries to it (e.g. flights, accommodation) and it automagically collates them into a complete itinerary that you can then access via the app or website.
I love it specifically for flights, as it stores all departure and arrival times, confirmation numbers etc, making them much easier to manage and access than printouts or individual emails.
There is a paid version that also allows you to integrate frequent flyer details and other features, but I’ve found the free version suitable for my needs.
The free version also allows you to have contacts (who also have a TripIt account) that you can share your travel plans with. Very useful for partners, friends and colleagues.
Don’t be deterred by the name, as Virgin’s Flight Specials app also allows you to check in to your flight via your mobile, which is what I used it for.
This was especially useful for the first part of my recent travel-athon when I was running 4 workshops in 4 cities in 4 days. I had only carried on baggage with me, and was constantly taxiing between the airport, accommodation, workshop venue, back to airport, and the Flight Specials app allowed me to easily check in on the go, then save my digital boarding pass into my…
This was the first time I’ve used the Passbook feature on my iPhone, and I also love it.
As mentioned, the Flight Specials app (along with other online ticketing tools) includes an option to save your digital boarding pass in Passbook, so use it!
You then simply show your phone with the pass displaying at check-in for the attendants to scan as they would, a usual printed boarding pass.
They then also sometimes give you a simple print out to show to staff on board the plane, and presumably if required when in the air and your mobile is switched off.
While it is pretty commonplace to use Google Maps these days, I don’t see many people using it to save their own maps, associated with their Google account. I have to admit I’ve only used this a few times, but will do so more from now on as it’s much easier than repeatedly searching for the same place.
Before leaving on my workshop trip, I plotted the best route between my accommodation and workshop venue in each city, saving the “on foot” time option, and created a “My Places” group for these maps that I could then access via the Google Maps app on my mobile. You can choose to make your places public or private.
Another useful tip for using Google Maps when overseas and limited to wifi use only, is to display the map on your phone when connected to wifi (either at your accommodation or a cafe etc) take a screenshot of the map/s.
With iPhones, this is done by pressing the on/off button and home button at the same time.
This way you can easily refer to the maps without access to wifi.
And finally my favourite travel tool… Yelp!
I’ve started using Yelp more and more over the past few months, and am still exploring all of its options behind the simple check-ins and associated “gaming” that it offers with badges etc.
Specifically for my recent workshops trip, it was super useful for finding good places to eat nearby.
As I was travelling alone, and staying alone in hotels, I had no real life recommendations.
I’m also pretty fussy about my coffee, so used the Yelp app’s “Explore” feature to find food and coffee recommendations nearby.
In most cases after comparing the reviews and tips, there was a clear stand out for each, and I had some great meals in places that were ones I would have missed if I simply went to the closest place, or ones I could easily see.
As I was so grateful to other people’s reviews and tips for helping me find good places to eat, I have now made a point of adding my own reviews and tips to hopefully help others.
Check out my Yelp profile here.
A couple of extra techy travel tips from me to you…
Grouping “travel” apps on your mobile
I group all of my “travel” apps together on my iPhone.
Not sure if this is organised or OTT, but it works for me.
This app is not useful for the person on the plane, but it is for the picker-up-erer or just curious people.
It uses crowd-sourced information to show where flights are, and you can see when they land. Amazeballs.
So they are my top travel tools!
Do you use any of these?
Are there others you would recommend?
Please let me know in the comments…