Modern Nomad is a weekly column dedicated to mobile gear, must-see world destinations, tips for life on the road, and traveling better through technology.
Some folks argue that our ever-increasing reliance on smartphones is ruining the travel experience. We say that’s only true if you let it. These four free smartphone apps alleviate the logistical headaches of travel planning so you can focus on enjoying the travel experience.
Most software overpromises on how much it can actually simplify your life. The TripIt app is the rare exception. Just register for free and link the app to your email account. It immediately starts monitoring your inbox for anything that looks like a travel itinerary, including flight, hotel, rental car, and tour confirmations. As soon as it locates a match, it instantly adds the details to your TripIt master itinerary. Here’s the rub: it actually works well! Other features include real-time flight monitoring, custom alerts for seat upgrades, and frequent flier mile tracking. The app is technically free, however, the long list of available features grows considerably with a paid Pro account.
It’s easy to travel the U.S. on plastic alone, but large swaths of the world map still rely on good ol’ fashioned cash. Pro travelers know you should never be without at least $50-100 USD stashed in your fanny pack. The free Allpoint ATM Locator app is a database of more than 55,000 ATMs around the world. The best part: every ATM in the Allpoint network is absolutely surcharge-free.
There are two extreme types of packer: those who “wing it” and those who obsessively list and catalog every last item that goes into their luggage. PackPoint is for the majority of travelers who fall somewhere in the middle: the average Joe who wants to be prepared, but can’t be bothered with time-consuming checklists. Just open the app, enter your destination and travel dates, then tick off your anticipated activities (e.g. “Swimming”, “International”, “Snowsports”, etc.). In a few seconds, the app checks the upcoming weather forecast for your destination and creates a customized packing list just for your trip.
Carrying around your itinerary, confirmation printouts, copies of your passport, etc. is so very 2009. Mobile scanner apps like Evernote’s Scannable now make it easy to digitize those reams of paper, freeing up priceless space in your luggage. Just scan your pertinent documents before you go and as you travel (think: hotel invoices, restaurant receipts, etc.), then scrap them. The app seamlessly integrates with many common cloud storage services, including Dropbox and Google Drive, so you can store all your important travel-related documents in one place.