Summer is in full swing, and while spending time in the Great Outdoors and high-tech gadgetry might sound like polar opposites, there are many hundreds of sizzling mobile apps to download for your favourite smartphone or tablet.
In fact, those planning a short getaway this season — whether it’s a road trip across the province or flight around the world — could benefit from several free travel-related apps.
Available at the App Store (for iPhone, iPad) and Google Play store (for Android devices), the following 7 apps are worthy of your consideration.
Quite simply, TripIt helps you organize your itinerary, and access it all from this one single app.
Forward all your confirmation emails to [email protected]—such as flights, hotels, rental cars, and such—and the service will “automagically” organize everything into a detailed summary, complete with confirmation codes, maps, and other info.
While free, there’s the optional TripIt Pro, a premium $49/year service with extra perks like real-time flight alerts, alternate flights (if yours is delayed or canceled), and much more.
2. Roadtrippers – Trip Planner
An ideal tool for road trippers in Canada and south of the border, Roadtrippers lets you discover millions of places along your route, whether you need a great restaurant, a recommended motel or hotel, national park, quirky roadside attractions, and other points of interest.
Plan, save and share your trip itinerary with family and friends through the app. And it’s always up-to-date since it’s synchronized between all devices (such as a spouse’s smartphone).
There’s no shortage of apps to save on hotels, but when it comes to discounted rooms and rewards, one of the oldest is still one of the best. Now more than a quarter of a century old (when they were a phone service), Hotels.com enjoys a clean and easy-to-use interface, huge selection of properties to choose from, maps and Uber integration, and support for smartwatches.
More importantly, perhaps, is a “secret price” feature for members, which shows deals on boutique hotels and chains, along with a great loyalty and rewards program (“stay 10 nights and get the next one free”).
To reduce the likelihood of fake reviews, all customers who rate or review a hotel must have stayed there.
If you’re planning a road trip this summer, GasBuddy helps sniff out deals on gasoline and diesel in Canada and the U.S. Using GPS, the app shows you which nearby stations have the lowest prices — for regular, midgrade and premium fuel — and provides maps if you don’t know the area. View gas stations by distance, price, company, or amenities (like car washes, restaurants, and washrooms).
Other features include a GasBuddy Trips feature (using your phone’s sensors, the app can show you events that are costing you fuel economy and dollars); price hike alerts so you can fill up before the increase; deals offered by local convenience stores; and an optional GasBuddy points program (and daily prize draw) to save even more.
Now owned by Google, Waze is a “must have” map app for drivers, as it can help you get to where you’re going as quickly as possible. How? By “crowd-sourcing” traffic and road data from millions of Waze users (“Wazers”), you get real-time info on the roads around you, including traffic congestion, accidents, and construction zones. What’s more, you’ll also see where there are speed traps — including police using radar guns — to warn you before it’s too late.
You can passively benefit from all this information or choose to be an active contributor to help others; simply say “OK Waze” and use your voice to report traffic, and more.
You can also stream your Spotify music playlists through Waze, as well as change the voice to one of many celebrities!
Craving a good steak while vacationing? Need to find a gift for your finicky nephew? Car needs servicing in a small town and you don’t know which mechanic to trust? Yelp helps you find businesses near you, via your device’s GPS, and lets you read more than 100 million reviews from others before you go.
Narrow your searches by neighbourhood, distance, rating, and price; make restaurant reservations via OpenTable; or use the app’s augmented reality (AR) feature, where you hold up your phone to see info superimposed on top of the real world around you.
7. TuneIn Radio
Road warriors, listen up.
While there are awesome music apps like Spotify and Google Play Music, be sure to download and play TuneIn Radio, which gives you more than 100,000 free radio stations from around the world, covering all genres of music and countries.
Yep, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, from light classical to heavy metal, it’s all here in this free app.
Along with as stations devoted to talk, news, sports, politics and religion, TuneIn Radio also delivers millions of podcasts you can subscribe to and stream on-demand.