Whether it’s by plane, train, car, bus, or bike, the holidays are a time of year many of us will be traveling somewhere. And there’s rarely a time when we’re more thankful for our magical little devices than when we’re stuck on the runway or killing time on a long bus ride. Smartphones can be our guide to unfamiliar places, our distraction from boredom while sitting still for hours and even our connection to home when we’re far away. We asked five well-traveled tech influencers how tech has made their travel lives easier.
Caroline Moss, senior tech correspondent, Business Insider:
I always make sure I travel with a Wi-Fi hotspot -- you can’t rely on there being Wi-Fi, not even at coffee shops. Whether it’s a stand-alone hotspot or just using your phone (I use my phone), having a hotspot has saved me more than once.
I use Waze when driving, more than other apps like Google Maps. Even if I’m on public transit, there have been times when I’ve showed Waze to a bus driver for a better route, which didn’t make me popular but got us home faster. It’s a social driving app, so you’re relying on other people, and people take it really seriously. It’s really up to date.
Liz Eswein, executive director at Laundry Service and creator of the popular @NewYorkCity Instagram feed:
I bring my Canon 5d along with my little Canon G16 and of course my iPhone! I shoot with all of them, but at the end of the day, the iPhone is a powerful little camera and often times the most convenient. I love editing with VSCO and Snapseed -- it's a mobile editing room in the palm of your hand!
Casey Johnston, culture editor, Ars Technica:
TripIt is a pretty basic app to have for travel – set it up and it can scan your e-mail account for reservations and tickets and assemble them into one clean interface, so you don't have to dig through your inbox to get your flight information number or mentally calculate your layover time. If Google has full permissions throughout your account, Google Now can also present this information a similar way.
Otherwise, just Googling the area you're visiting plus the word "apps," as it turns out, can get you some great apps. This is how I found the official Visit Paris By Metro app for my trip to Paris. It stores offline interactive maps and can figure out routes and travel times between stations. It’s also how I found the Velib' app, which also works offline and shows you the location of public bike rental stations. A translation app, like Google Translate, or one that stores short useful phrases in various languages, like DuoLingo, also comes in handy.
Joe Bernstein, deputy editor, BuzzFeed FWD:
I use the Amtrak app to book tickets home to DC via the Metroliner, which is the train that runs up and down the East Coast. Taking Amtrak is much better than driving on I-95 in the holiday crush. The app is convenient and it's way better than using Amtrak's website.
Stan Horaczek, senior online editor, Popular Photography:
Funny enough, one of the most useful pieces of tech I have for traveling is an old iPod classic. I use Spotify for most of my music, and my phone is typically jammed with pictures and videos. So I can't save songs locally, and I don't have data on a plane -- and overseas data costs a billion dollars. I also always bring at least two pairs of headphones with me when I travel. Traveling without headphones is ridiculous and they're impossibly fragile.
Data usage applies for app download and use.