GeoVisions Blog

You Say Goodbye And I Say Hello (Part II)

Posted by Randy LeGrant on Thu, Jan 16, 2014

Image of someone saying goodbyeOn March 5, 2007, I wrote a Blog post entitled "You Say Goodbye And I Say Hello."  I was on an airplane when I wrote the post, and it was all about how difficult it is to say "goodbye" to those we love when we travel and at the same time, how exciting it is to be headed to a new place.  When you volunteer abroad for a few months or teach abroad for a year ... saying goodbye is different than leaving for a 5-day cruise. Imagine my shock the other day to find that since writing that post, 5,893 people have read it.  It is the 4th most popular article we ever published, and our Blog is in its 7th year.

A few days ago I was lucky enough to stumble upon a post I really liked.  It was on the National Geographic Blog, Travel With Heart.  The post I liked is entitled, "Dreaming of the Devil: The Joy Of Going Back".  It was posted by Ben Long on January 10, 2014.

Mr. Long begins his piece with, "It’s not true that travelers have a “list” of places to see and, once they’ve checked off every box, hang up their knapsacks. When you’re traveling, you’re constantly adding to your list. Every casual conversation with fellow wayfarers introduces a world of possibility when your life is strapped to your back."

I had just written a post at the end of December about my Travel Patty awards and the dubious things people do with travel.  One was "country counting."  You know, those people who want to see every country on the planet and the only reason is to say they were there.  Maybe just a stop over on their way to somewhere else.  But they can honestly count that country.

I take issue with that practice because at the very least, we always want to leave something better than we found it and saying you were in a country for 24 hours really isn't doing that.  It's basically telling me how far you can pee, and challenging me to pee further.  As I get older, it is crystal clear to me ... it is never about the quantity, it is always about the quality.

So ... there are some places I've been that are places where I want to return (many times).  Perhaps I'm interested in how the place has changed.  Or I want to see if I can capture the feeling I remember when I was there the first time.

But Mr. Long's article got me to thinking about those "Country Counters" out there and all those people who keep moving forward without taking some real quality time to take a few steps back.  Not that everyone should lead their life the way I lead mine ... God forbid.  But you can go home ... even if for a very short time.  Yes, it's true ... you say goodbye and I say hello!

Here is my top five list of places I want to wander again.  If you don't mind, would you use the Comments section below to put a few of the places you want to return to, or have?  I'd like to publish a long list of the places where others have said goodbye, but where you want to say hello (again).

  1. Dingle, Ireland
  2. Boscastle and Tintagel, England
  3. Beirut, Lebanon (and while I'm in the area, I'd love to visit Damascus, Syria again)
  4. Steinach, Austria
  5. Kyoto, Japan
Take a look at Mr. Long's article while you're at it, please.  He presents several great reasons to return to those places where you've traveled ... to say "hello."

Tags: Travel Ideas, Destinations

Packing For Europe

Posted by Randy LeGrant on Wed, Jan 08, 2014

Unfortunately, 75% of our participants choose Western Europe as their destination of choice for their GeoVisions program.

I write "unfortunately" simply because we have other amazing options, like Jordan, and Turkey and SE Asia.  And of course our programs in Europe are also amazing ... we just like to see people get a little feisty with their plans and locations.

So before I get myself into trouble, I wanted to share a very cool Blog post I ran across over on the GoAbroad.com Blog site.  It's entitled, Basic Packing Tips For Your Trip To Europe.  It was actually a guest post by Andy Steves, of Weekend Student Adventures.

travel walletAndy reminds travelers that the first rule is not to forget your Passport!  He suggests that it gets packed first.  After 39 years of professional travel, I'm going to disagree to the point that I use a travel wallet ... the size where I can fit my credit cards, airline and hotel cards and my passport.  It actually looks a little like the photo here.

This thing is appropriate for women or men, students or old geezers like me.  If you fly a lot you will realize you're going to need your tickets/boarding pass and your Passport together all the time.  It's a great place to store your luggage receipts if you check a bag or two or three.  And because I'm typically going 100 mph on my travels ... I like to know all of my travel docs that I simply cannot do without are in one place and that I don't accidentally pack them in my luggage.  This one piece stays with me at all times.

Andy goes on to provide a list of what to take and what to leave at home.  One more thing that I disagree with on his list to leave at home is a Baseball Cap.  I don't go across the road to get my mail without my Red Sox cap.  Not happening and in all honesty ... Europeans really do want to see Yanks in their baseball caps and sneakers.  It feeds their stereotype and we all like that monster fed as much as possible.  Europeans are not offended by your sneakers and caps and don't let anyone tell you they are.  Yes!  Fit in.  No! Don't change who you are.  And it's great to see travelers make cultural adjustments as they travel.  As you learn, you change.

Probably the best part of the post is choosing a travel bag.  Andy provides some great choices.  So if you have 5 minutes, take a look at Andy's post on the GoAbroad site and take it to heart if you're flying soon.

contact lens caseLastly ... I saw a great packing idea on another site and I don't remember where it was.  I recently took a trip with my youngest daughter and I was shocked that her makeup bag was the size of her suitcase.  That's CRAZY and I spent the entire trip telling her that.  Want a great idea that will help?

Yep ... there on the left.  No!  Your other left.  And what does a contact lens case have to do with makeup?  They are small.  You can carry a dozen of them in the space of 1 or 2 bottles of something.  They are made for contacts and lens solution ... they don't leak.  You can fill them with creams, liquids and mushy solids.  And they cost maybe $4 at the most and even then you can get a full set of them.  So if you need to travel with liquids, gels or creams, try the contact lens carrying cases.  In that one quart zip lock bag, you can get at least a dozen of those little guys in there.

Enjoy Andy's post and if you have other ideas that would help our participants pack lighter please feel free to use the Comments section below and share.

Tags: Travel Ideas, Packing, The Well Prepared Traveler

Peek Travel App - Book Amazing Activities

Posted by Randy LeGrant on Wed, Dec 18, 2013

So ...

You're in the middle of Conversation Corps-France, living in Lyon, and your host family has told you it's fine to take a 3-day weekend to Paris.  You text your friend who is on the same program in a small town nearby.  It's a perfect opportunity to get to Paris by 10:00 a.m. on Friday and return to Lyon by 8:00 p.m. Sunday night.  And you have a travel buddy.

So what are you two going to do?

Ah ... you check the online GeoVisions community and chat with people who are already in Paris (or who have also spent a 3-day weekend there) and you check in with our office and your local coordinator about things to do.

Peek AppThen your friend takes out her iPhone and taps her Peek app.

"Peek is your one-stop shop to discover and book amazing activities! The New York Times called Peek 'a site you want to visit again and again', and TIME Magazine selected it as one of its top travel tools. Whether it’s going swimming with sharks or eating your way through a local culinary walking tour, Peek has selected the highest quality activities at the best prices guaranteed. "

When you first open the Peek app, you’ll take a quiz to discover your travel persona. Then you’ll receive personalized activity recommendations, handpicked by Peek just for you! 

This app is the perfect companion to a GeoVisions program.

Don't have an iPhone?  If you have any tablet or laptop while your're traveling, this link will take you to the desktop site and you can use Peek there.  In Paris already?  That's OK.  Book activities on the go.

CEO Ruzwana Bashir was named one of Fast Company's Most Creative People in 2013.

Only London and Paris is listed as cities abroad right now.  Peek has focused on areas of the US for its launch. Give them a little time and more International sites will be available.

What other areas would you like to see Peek add?

Tags: Travel Ideas, The Well Prepared Traveler, Destinations, Travel Apps

19 Travel Abroad Resolutions For 2014

Posted by Randy LeGrant on Wed, Dec 11, 2013

A volunteer on a mountain in Jordan.Where I really let myself down on New Year's resolutions is what I'm eating and how much I weigh.  Ugh.  By the end of August I had lost 10 pounds and right now I've put it all back on again.  So I guess the good news is I don't have to worry about gaining more weight if I make a resolution to lose that 10 pounds I recently found.

With travel, though, it "should" be easier.  We travel with a purpose, even if the purpose is to have fun or simply get a tan.

I saw an article entitled 21 Travel Resolutions for 2014 in the Huffington Post.  I could only find 19 resolutions in the article and I went over it twice.  So I'm listing them out for you here and inviting you to get us to 21 (or more)!

These 19 are great, and worthy of anyone's attention.  But the one that resonated with me the most was to stop using Yelp.  If travelers only knew "behind the scenes" of reviews.  These are the bane of my existence.  Travel reviews cheapen the experience because some of the things you like, I'm not going to like.  And there are simpletons out there who will only follow the crowds and shun an establishment (any establishment) that doesn't have a great rating on Yelp or a very positive review online.  If you are a travel pro, get a travel show on CNN.  Otherwise?  Keep your opinions to yourself, please.

  1. Work less, play harder.  Written by the guy who's writing this at 3:30 a.m.
  2. DON'T over pack.  I actually am having a contest with myself to pack less and less on each trip. I wrote a Blog post about some new packing apps last week.
  3. Overcome a fear.  Any fear.  The photo that comes with this resolution in the original article is of someone bungee-jumping.  I won't do that, but I will overcome my fear of not drinking enough wine in France.
  4. Take at least one de-stressing break, even if it's only for a day.
  5. Combine your talents, i.e. painting with a local charity that helps construct homes in a place you want to go.  GeoVisions has 75 of those available, by the way.
  6. Get lost.  I did this in Manchester, England of all places.
  7. Vow to learn a little.
  8. Take better pictures and create better keepsakes of the moments.  To this I would add, limit yourself to upload only one photo a day to Facebook and Instagram, stop checking in every place you walk in to, delete 95% of your travel photos after a trip and stop taking photos of the food on your plate at every meal and posting them online.
  9. Start a conversation with a local.  I did and was invited to an artist's apartment in Venice. A lasting memory.
  10. Read something on the history of your destination before you get there.
  11. Stop being all Type A and let someone else handle the planning details (at least a few of them).  My 15 year old daughter is going to live in France this summer.  We're letting her lead the way in airports and train stations to get her better prepared.
  12. Be spontaneous and open to straying from your itinerary. The best meals, the best photo opportunities, the best memories take place when you least expect it, and when it isn't on the itinerary.
  13. Stop obsessing over Yelp reviews and going to the "best" place.  To this I would also add never, ever write a review or read one again. Ever.  Ever again. Ever. Not ever. Nada.
  14. Be nice and helpful to tourists...which, yes, contradicts everything we ever say about tourists.  I was in Istanbul and I had to share a taxi with 2 other Americans. Incredibly they only had American dollars for the taxi. Doesn't everyone on planet Earth want US Dollars?  I ended up paying ... in Turkish Lire of course ... and remarkably, I was nice about it.
  15. Travel within your own hometown.
  16. Use all your vacation days and use them wisely. Take a buffer day to recuperate. I have actually started departing on Friday and returning on a Friday to have the weekend to learn how to feed the dog all over again.
  17. Create a travel piggy bank and make a habit to add to it.
  18. Pick out one specific location you've always wanted to go and research how to get there, save up and GO.
  19. Don't put off to tomorrow what you can book (and enjoy) today.
You can read the article from the Huffington Post here, and if you find all 21 resolutions let me know.  If you have your own to share, please do so in the Comments section below and we'll post them.

Tags: Travel Ideas, Make Something Happen, Travel Humor

Travel Abroad With A New Packing App

Posted by Randy LeGrant on Fri, Dec 06, 2013

New Packing Planner AppI have one full screen for my travel apps on my iPhone.  I have so many, I even put them into groups like Air, Hotels and Navigation.  I use these apps all the time when I travel abroad and just before I head to the airport.

If I'm going abroad, I check out my destination on Smart Traveler and make sure everything is fine on that end and that where I'm going is considered safe rigt now. If it's a country where I've never been, I open up Cultures and read about where I'm going to make sure when I hold up 2 fingers it means I want 2 of something ... not that I'm offending anyone.

Right now I'm testing 2 packing apps:  Packing Pro and Packing Planner.  Truth is, I normally throw things into a bag and head to the airport.  I'm hoping one of these apps will help me plan what I'm taking better, so I can start traveling with a smaller bag.

Packing Planner is essentially a digital packing checklist app for your device that allows you to create customizable to-pack (or to-buy) lists from a selection of hundreds of various items. You can categorize them (clothes, tech, toiletries), then once you’ve packed that item, check the box and move on to the next one. Simple as that.  You can do that with Packing Pro as well.

My iPhone Travel App Screen

Want the app to take on Skynet-like control of your packing? You have the option of setting the app to remind and nag you to pack or buy certain items prior to the trip. You can also email off the list to your traveling partners and print out a copy in case you need a backup.  This is a cool setting that Packing Pro does not yet have.  And I need to be nagged constantly, so I'm going to enjoy that part of the app.

Here is a screen shot of my iPhone travel app area.  I'm a real nut job, huh?

I guess I'm going to rely on you to tell me if I've missed anything.  And if there are travel apps you highly recommend, please let me know and I'll give them a try.

For more information about Packing Pro and Packing Planner ... and more information about the Cultures and Smart Traveler ... I've provided those links for you in this post.

And on the subject of Smart Traveler, always remember that it's a great idea to always register with the State Dept. so in case of a dire emergency, someone in that country is going to have a record of you.

Tags: Travel Ideas, The Well Prepared Traveler

10 Reasons You Should Take A Gap Year

Posted by Randy LeGrant on Mon, Dec 02, 2013

Gap Year students in PeruIn an article I saw on the Huffington Post by Suzy Strutner, I was interested in why students should take a Gap Year.  Suzy lists the 10 Reasons You should Take A Gap Year in her post.  And at the end of the post she gives the top 10 destinations for a Gap Year.

Reason number one is college performance.  US News writes that "College admission officials have become more accepting of the gap year over the past several years. Some even encourage their admitted students to take one. For more than 30 years, Harvard's acceptance letters have included a suggestion that students take time off before enrolling."

Reason number two is that the Gap Year might help you decide what you want to do with your life or what you really do want to study in college.  Academic Advising at the Univeristy of Oregon suggests that "Many students are undecided about their majors when they enter college - and many who are decided change their minds more than once before they graduate (an average of three times)."  Think of all the time and tuition money you will save if you take a Gap Year and realize what you want to do before you start your first class.

Anyway, Suzy lists out eight more reasons to take a Gap Year in her post.

If anyone is interested, here are the top 10 destinations for Gap Years.  We added the programs we operate in each of the countries, where applicable.  A $ symbol indicates participants earn a salary or stipend during the program:

Thailand
  Conversation Corps
  Internship 
  Paid Teacher  $
  Summer Camp Counselor  $

Australia
  Au Pair  $
  Environmental Issues 

USA

South Africa
  Lion Conservation
  Protecting the Cheetah 

Peru
  Conversation Corps
  Health and Wellness
  Kindergarten Community Work 

Vietnam

Brazil
  Conversation Corps
  Keeping Children Off The Streets 

India

New Zealand
  Au Pair  $
  Protecting The Environment 

Fiji


Read Suzy's article on the Huffington Post

Tags: Travel Ideas, Destinations, Gap Year

What Is Your Ultimate Travel Destination?

Posted by Randy LeGrant on Thu, Nov 21, 2013

travel mapWhere do you want to go?  Where have you been?  Have you read 1,000 Places To See Before You Die by Patricia Schultz?  Did you find yourself adding destinations of your own?

I just looked at my profile over on Where I've Been, and I was shocked to see that I've only been to 8% of the world.  I'd think on my bucket list would be a goal of 20%.  And even then ... to see only 20% of the planet on which I live?  How disappointing.

I was fascinated to read a post on National Geographic entitiled The Ultimate Travel Destination: Home.  In the post by Robert Reid of Reid on Travel in Travel with Heart on October 11, 2013, he makes a case that the ultimate destination is ... home.

Of course, I find it very cool that Mr. Reid is from my home state of Oklahoma.  Tulsa to be exact, where I'm going to be spending my Thanksgiving week.

As Alain de Botton put it in The Art of Travel“The pleasure we derive from journey is perhaps dependent more on the mindset with which we travel than on the destination we travel to.”  Reid goes on further to write, "That’s a mindset that can only form abroad – like a muscle built from exercise — and that finds its greatest purpose once back home."

Read more from the original post...

What do you think?  Do you agree that the ultimate travel destination is home?  What is home, exactly?  What is your ultimate travel destination?

Tags: Travel Ideas, Travel Is Transforming, Destinations

Teach English In Thailand - A Woman's View - Part II

Posted by Randy LeGrant on Mon, Jul 15, 2013

Carla Gott has been teaching in Thailand with GeoVisions for more than five months. For more information on a woman’s perspective, living and working in Thailand, please email Carla at: gocarla1@umbc.edu

Carla Gott in Thailand with her students

Fears sensibly put in their place, let's get down to the packing. I graduated, packed three suitcases and I was gone. With one terrible mistake and that was the three suitcases. Within a week or two, I had given away half of my clothes.

Thailand is in the tropics which means sunshine, lots of it and often humid, sticky weather. And sometimes gorgeous cool breezes. 

That means you need a few T-shirts or other light tops, and two or three easy-to-wash trousers, dresses, or skirts - they will dry overnight. Don't bring dress suits and three pairs of high heels. Do bring comfortable shoes for walking. 

When you need more clothes, you can have fun buying stuff as you need it at unbelievably cheap markets and road-side stalls.  

Personal accessories - obviously take what you need from day one. But don't overdo it - Thailand has most everything you will want, unless you are in one of the smaller villages. Even in the smallest town, you will see the same brand names that you use at home. One exception and one useful tip: If you use tampons, pack a few boxes of them. They can be difficult to find in Thailand.  

But above all, remember - if you pack it, you carry it. And in the tropics, that can be hot work, especially by the time you add some souvenirs to bring home. So pack light, travel light, and enjoy the experience.

Once you've arrived, is it all plain sailing? If only… I've had good times; I've had bad times, but overall I have loved my experience. 

So what's not to love? 

We all react differently to tropical weather. Your skin can glow - or break out in spots; your hair can decide to shed itself more than is usual - or not. If it does, don't panic - it is called acclimatization. The climate forces some changes, eating exciting new foods brings others. 

One common change - new eating habits mean many of us lose excess weight.   Another plus - except for special occasions, I no longer wear makeup because I soon sweat it off, sometimes almost as soon as it goes on. Who said with travel comes freedom?

Then there are the basics: toilets. Standard Western-style toilets are now common, but squat toilets are still the default type, particularly in trains and public conveniences. Your hotel might have either - or both. Squat toilets can call for a bit of unfamiliar balancing at first - but you soon get used to them. It's good idea to keep a bit of toilet paper and hand sanitizer handy. 

When you have found wherever you are staying, and before you head out into the great unknown, ask your landlord to provide you with your address in Thai. It will be handy when you are taking a cab back to your place. (Yes - I've seen more than one person telling a cab driver - try this road, try that, I'll recognize it soon…) For this reason, keep your landlord's phone number on speed dial.

Now you can get to know your surroundings. Familiarize yourself with your neighborhood. Walk around your apartment building, guesthouse, or hotel and take mental notes. How many blocks to the nearest 7/11? Are there any traffic lights or other easy-to-remember signs that will guide you back to your hotel? Plenty of folks can speak rudimentary English, but helping yourself first makes sense.

An early purchase is likely to be a sim card for your phone - or buying a new phone if you left yours at home. Getting one in Thailand is the easiest thing on the planet - and cheap. You can either buy a dumb phone or use your smart phone. Simcards (and top-ups) are available at 7/11s (you will have no trouble finding one), or from numerous other street outlets. If you want internet on your phone, pay a fee of 300 Baht (10 US dollars) and have unlimited access for a month. If you don't want to unlock your smart phone, you can buy a dumb phone and use your smart phone just for WiFi. 

Yes, there is WiFi! You don't have to try to rely on WiFi cards from back home. You will have Internet at school, there are plenty of internet cafés, and numerous venues and hotels, restaurants and bars have WiFi.

Part III of Carla's adventure Teaching English Abroad in Thailand will be published next.  You can email Carla directly, or enter your comments or questions below.  We have embedded three videos you can watch about the Teach in Thailand experience with GeoVisions.  Two of those videos are by Carla Gott.

Tags: Teach Abroad, Travel Ideas, Travel Safety, Thailand

Teach English In Thailand - A Woman's View - Part I

Posted by Randy LeGrant on Fri, Jul 12, 2013
Carla Gott

Carla Gott has been teaching in Thailand with GeoVisions for more than five months. For more information on a woman’s perspective, living and working in Thailand, please email Carla at: gocarla1@umbc.edu

The idea of living and working overseas can be daunting. The rewards can be self-discovery, lifelong memoriesand friends. 

While preparing for my trip to Thailand, everyone in my family and in my small group of friends had something negative to say.  I understand and appreciate their concern, but what was my alternative? Stay home my whole life? No thanks.

My mom, who has never been to Asia, came up with a handful of questions no one could answer.  Friends told her different stories, and her worries only seemed to grow. ‘What if they kidnap you and take you to the Philippines?’ She asked, and, ‘Can you really trust people?’ Perhaps at the core of their worries, they pointed out: "You are a girl. You can't do things boys do.'' 

TripAdvisor, Lonely Planet and Yahoo! Answers do a fair job giving general advice to travelers, but as was the case with my mother she wanted more direct reassurance. I am a real person who took the big jump and now have real experience of Thailand. I can answer your inquiries and those your own parents might have. I am here for you.  Consider me your friend, your pen pal and your advisor to help you navigate Thailand - and hopefully to ease your mother's concerns as well.

So what's to be worried about?

Safety? As a 20-something woman who moved to Thailand alone and has traveled in other foreign destinations, I can say that that this is a remarkably safe country. Even in my home state, Maryland, I don't feel as safe as I do in Thailand. However, common sense helps here just like at home.  Don't walk around with $1,000 in your pocket when you don't have to. But we will get to the things to avoid in a bit.

Creepy crawlies used to top my list of things to be scared of, way ahead of meeting new people or having to stand in front of new students and grab their attention from the start of a lesson. Bugs? Uggh!  I was afraid I would see a snake in my room and I also feared spiders. And all those mosquitoes… 

Well, after several months in Thailand I haven't seen a snake so far - and I hope not to see one any time soon (if you do see one, just steer clear - they don't like the sight of you anymore than you like the sight of them. It will head off quickly enough). I have seen bugs the size of my pinky - but these have been slow-moving things and are easily avoided. And any spiders keep to where they belong - bushes and corners well out of most folks' sight. However when it comes to mosquitoes this is the one bug to give decent amount of consideration to and prepare for. Most of the day, they are not around. Come dusk on a still night, and they can be a nuisance if you are not prepared.

I have learned to carry mosquito repellent - everywhere. I recommend you buy repellant as soon as you land. It comes in all sizes of containers at any drug store, most corner shops and general goods shops such as 7/11s - from mega-sized cans for your bedroom to scented, pocket-friendly mini-sprays and sachets of cotton wipes that are great for use on legs and arms as the sun goes down. They're easy to spot - most carry a picture of a mosquito.  

The other big worry is who do you know? You are out there, all by yourself, and your family advice will almost invariably be:  Don't travel alone!

The fact is - sometimes you have to. But unless you are determined, it is almost impossible to travel solo. Wherever you go, there will always seem to be someone looking just as lost as you might feel and keen to meet up with a friendly face, share a bus or train ride, or test out a street stall loaded with unfamiliar goodies that are going to be your dinner. 

So don't be scared to come to this side of the world all on your own. Surprise! You'll soon have more friends than you had at home.  After a few months in Thailand, my circle of friends has widened hugely. My closest friends are from different parts of the world. Making friends here is easy - unless you decide to stay in your room the whole day.

Part II of Carla's adventure Teaching English Abroad in Thailand will be published next.  You can email Carla directly, or enter your comments or questions below.  We have embedded one of Carla's videos you can watch about the Teach in Thailand experience with GeoVisions.


Tags: Teach Abroad, Travel Ideas, Travel Safety, Thailand

8 Must Have Travel Abroad Smart Phone Apps

Posted by Alexandra LeGrant on Fri, Jul 05, 2013

Travel apps on iPhoneAre you one of those people who are glued to their smartphone?  Yeah, join the crowd, and just admit it!  The truth is (as sad as it might be) smartphones have become an integral part of our daily lives, including when we travel.  For example, traveling without music? I can’t even imagine the day … or not being able to instagram your meal the second it arrives?  How could one live? So, take a deep breath because I’m going to tell you how to continue to justify your habit while you travel with these incredible, must have, tech-geek approved apps!

Organizing Your Travel Itineraries

Tripcase keeps you from scrambling for those annoying confirmation numbers, flight numbers or hotel addresses that can slow you down from capturing a potential epic photo on your way to the airport or texting your friends about how crazy your cabbie is.  Keep everything regarding your trip details in one place and stay in the know about your trip with updates on flight alerts… pretty handy. You can also store as many future trips as you want, so you don’t even have to think about reminding yourself the next time you travel so long as you input the information, duhhh.

At the airport

GateGuru is the only app that provides all the info you need to manage your entire day of travel from your mobile devices. Not only does it have everything you need, but you can show- off your high flyer status and rank against others in a community with ‘Your Travel Stats’ within the app.  “Like, I’m so much cooler than you because I’ve checked into 41 airports, lol.”

App in the air Have a long layover? This savvy app features useful tools to find the best food in the airport, where to connect to free Wi-Fi and the best ways to spend free time; you can also share your flight status to keep your VIP friends updated. Talk about a life saver!

Location Based Services

GuidiGO allows you to explore a new destination like never before (but only if you are cool enough to have an iPhone 3GS or higher).  Basically, this app allows you to follow the steps of storytellers wherever you may be through an interactive guided tour, great for exploring new cities and museums. Wine tour and tasting in Paris anyone?

Wikitude is just as cool as it sounds, and is a tech/travel geek hybrid’s dream.  It has been voted “Best Augmented Reality Browser” by the AR community 4 years in a row. Wow, what does THAT mean? Simply, Wikitude allows you to see what’s around you by using your camera from restaurants to people and activities. Exploration is great, but if you’re looking to narrow down your search to a single interest this app has all the bells and whistles. Got a taste for Thai tonight? Use Wikitude to not only find Thai restaurants near you, but narrow in on user reviews and opinions. Depending on your search and the content provider, you can dig much deeper into additionally provided information.

Abroad Friendly

OANDA Currency Converter alleviates the headache of converting currencies in your head.  What makes OANDA unique to other currency converter apps?  Not only is it super sleek, but it has the intuitive ability to factor the typical ATM rate or credit card rate into the conversion.  Can we say cool beans?

Google Translate is always handy if you happened to be daydreaming in your foreign language class.  This app saves the day in a pinch and can rapidly translate whole paragraphs of text or even spoken word if you’re lazy. Google translate will repeat your words in the foreign language of your choice… Use this app for picking up foreigners at the bar at your own expense…

MySafe Travel (for iPhone only) might raise your paranoia level, but will provide you with updates on country-specific security threats and safety issues, give advice if you are traveling alone and for the first time traveler provides ‘cultural travel tips’ for each continent.  If you think you’re James Bond, pay a little extra fee to opt in for SMS alerts providing you with 24/7 updates on risks in over 200 countries in real-time. 

 

Of course, this is a small sample of the travel apps currently available for iPhone and Android, and these are just a few of my personal recommendations.  If you use an app for travel that is not listed above, please share in the comments section below!

Tags: Travel Ideas, The Well Prepared Traveler