10.1.12

It's an App World

So today's post is dedicated to technology. As a 21st. Century traveler, my world got better thanks to technology. The Internet, smartphones, digital travel guides, ebooks, devices with built-in cameras, you name it: technology has saved us a lot of luggage space. Imagine my carry on bag a couple of years ago: camera, travel guide, book, map, mobile, travel documents, passport, etc. and imagine my carry on today: my Galaxy Tab & my passport!
I love my Samsung tablet, I can use it as a phone, e-book reader, computer, etc. and I can store lots of apps useful for my travels. It has an Android operating system (I'm not an Apple fan), built-in camera and external SD card for storage.
So here's my top ten of the best free apps that you can download for your Android:
1. Google Maps: this one actually came with the device, it's good when you have an internet connection, otherwise it won't detect your position or load any maps.
2. Trip Advisor: I don't book anything before looking it over on Trip Advisor so the app is a must. It features almost everything that is on the website: reviews, forums, etc.
3. Kindle for Android: I love to have something to read on planes, trains, hotel rooms, etc. so being able to bring even 10 books without adding a gram to my carry-on is one of the many things that make me happy. Kindle doesn't need an internet connection but be sure to load your books before leaving home.
4. TripIt:  (free version) you can keep your travel itinerary, booking codes and even maps and weather forecast for your destination.
5. Skype: If there's wi-fi around you, Skype is all you need to keep in touch with family and friends (and if you have Android 2.3 or higher and a front-facing camera, you can even show them where you are)
6. Booking: one of the best websites for hotel bookings I know. Even if I normally book my hotels well in advance, it is useful when I'm planing them.
7. Memoires: to keep track of the places I visit.  It's kind of a travel diary.
8. Skyscanner: like Booking, I mostly use it for travel planning, when looking for flight routes and prices.
9. Trains Timetable IT: Best train timetable app for Italian trains
10. Guidepal travel guides: I haven't tried many but they have the essential info a travel guide must have, including offline maps.
*Bonus: Evernote: I use Evernote for everything, even grocery shopping. What I normally do is create documents with all the useful info I'll need (addresses, explanations, opening hours, images and maps) before leaving, and Evernote keeps it there. And if (G*d forbid) I run out of battery, I can access it from any computer through the website.
Also, depending on where you are headed to, you can use more location specific apps, for instance, this autumn I've visited some European countries and I found an app that had metro, street and rail maps of all the cities I visited and even timetables, the app is called Öffi, have a look, it's great. You can of course find all these apps in the Android Market.
The only bummer is that for most apps you will need internet connection so you might want to use wi-fi to avoid huge roaming charges, keep that in mind!

Update: It's news of these days that a man supposedly crossed the border to Canada by showing a copy of his passport scanned on his iPad... I wouldn't try it now but hopefully in the future we'll also have e-passports!