It’s that wonderful time of year when the weather gets warmer, the days get longer and people generally seem to be much happier. Yes friends, it’s summer time and we’re here to help you make the most of it. Over this series, we’ll take a look at how smartphones, apps and accessories can maximize your summer fun.
We’re going to tackle how your mobile devices can help you travel and enjoy your vacation, cook or BBQ, get the most out of a roadtrip and XYZ. Today, we’ll take a close look at traveling and vacation.
Planning your trip
There is something to be said about just hitting the road and spontaneously going on vacation but most of us need to plan these things in advanced in order to guarantee we can do what we want at the price that we can afford. The great thing is that it’s a snap to use your phone or tablet to plan your adventure.
If you’re looking to book a flight, it’s easy to use your iPhone, Android or BlackBerry device to find your trip with things like Orbitz, Travelocity and others. I’m a big fan of Hipmunk for travel search and its new iPad app is quite slick. If you have some extra bucks to spend and want something out of the ordinary, the JetSetter iPad app will grant you some relative bargains for more exotic locales.
If you’re looking for a place to stay, you can always use the apps of stalwarts like Hotels.com, Hotwire and others but there’s a new crop of exciting programs which help you find a place to stay while you’re visiting a new place. If you don’t mind staying in someone else’s place, the AirBnB app can help you find a place to stay that’s not a hotel and if you don’t care about where you stay, the Hotel Tonight app can get you a deal on the day you land.
It’s not just about having your flight and hotel though, as you’ll also want to know what you want to do when you get there and to keep track of your plans. We’re huge fans of Worldmate because it’s an awesome way to plan your trip and the Tripit apps are good ways to keep track of your flight plans and hotels without having to carry around a bunch of printed sheets.
Enjoying yourself there
Ok, so you’ve booked your flight, have a hotel or flat, so now what should you do there? You’ll probably have family you want to visit or have monuments that you’ve always wanted to see but there are plenty of apps which can help you decide what to do.
I love to sample the local cuisine wherever I go, so apps like Yelp are critical for deciding whether that hole in the wall is really a hidden gem or just a crappy restaurant. Things like Bizzy, Foodspotting and others are also very useful for finding a tasty dish in a new city.
The most important app for me when traveling has always been Google Maps. No longer do you have to be that annoying tourist walking around with a large map and this even includes public transit and walking directions. I prefer the Android version because it includes free, turn-by-turn navigation and the 3D mapping helps you get a better sense of where you are and where you’re trying to go.
I’m kind of a weirdo in that I have no problem going to a new city by myself and just exploring on foot or by public transit. While in Helsinki recently, I walked all over that city with nowhere in particular in mind. I can do this because I have good mobile music programs running on my phone, as MOG, Slacker and Pandora provide me with amazing background music for my explorations. What’s your favorite mobile music service?
If you’re traveling abroad, there may be a language barrier but don’t worry, as your phone can help you with that, too. Bing Translator on Windows Phone could help you get the basics of communication down and Google Goggles is a good way to to learn more about monuments and it can even translate menus for you. Bon appetit.
Of course, if you’re going to be using your smartphone a lot while on the go, you better be prepared to run out of battery life quickly. That’s why I love to use the Third Rail iPhone 4 case to get some extra juice. If you don’t have an iPhone, you can get an extra battery for your phone or go with an external battery charger from the likes of Energizer.
Sharing your experiences
Ok, your trip’s done, you’re recovering and getting ready to go back to work, so what do you do now? Well, if you’re like me, you like to share your vacation experiences. The Facebook and Twitter apps are great ways to update your friends before, during and after your trip and Instagram, Flickr and Lightbox are excellent ways to share your photos from the trip. If digital photography isn’t enough for you, feel free to check out Postagram, as this will use your favorite Instagram photo to send a real-life post card.
We definitely want you to enjoy the summer sunshine but be sure to let us know some of your favorite mobile apps and accessories for this time of year.
[image via Pagetx]