I am organized to the teeth when I travel - the polar opposite of my bon-vivant, Serbian husband. It all works out in the end, though. I keep us from dying or spending time needlessly wandering around, and he makes us live in the moment and meet new people.
The digital age has drastically changed how I travel. I used to carry print-outs of everything I needed for my trip on paper (gasp). Now, just about everything I need can be kept in one place on my tiny phone.
The hubs, the kids and I recently went to Seattle and Vancouver for vacation, and here are some of the apps that made life easier, in no particular order:
TripIt: a little Big Brother, I admit, but also pretty cool. It reads the emails in your inbox (with your permission) and starts to automatically build an itinerary for you, complete with driving directions and confirmation numbers. Each section of your itinerary and the info you need automatically pops up as you travel.
PassportParking/parking apps: available in many major cities, it’s a way of paying your parking meter with your phone. Your phone tells you when your meter is about to run out, and you can add time remotely (but not go over the total allowable time). Some apps charge a convenience fee of 25 cents or so per session
Delta/Passbook: I added the Delta app to my passbook and was able to keep the whole family’s boarding passes on my phone. Way easier than rifling through papers while also keeping an eye on the one and four-year-olds. I didn’t even have to find it in the phone - passbook automatically puts your boarding passes on your lock screen for the few hours before your flight(s). Passbook will work with multiple airline apps.
GateGuru: Detects what airport you’re in (or you can also manually search) and gives you info like gate changes, security and flight delays, and where to find bathrooms and coffee.
Pack the Bag: the ultimate packing list app! Comes with a default library for all kinds of situations that you can tweak to meet your needs. When something is packed, just tap it, and you can view what’s packed vs. what’s not. Great to use on the outset as well as during the trip (if you go to more than one place) so that you don’t leave anything behind. Invaluable if you’re traveling with kids.
Here are some apps that are part of the usual suspects of travel fare and planning - you may or may not already have these, but they’re worth mentioning:
TripAdvisor: great for finding places to eat while on the road, as well as things to do and places to stay during the planning stages.
Lyft/Uber: I don’t use these hardly at all at home (because where we live, everyone drives), but when you’re traveling they can be very helpful.
Hotels.com/Hotwire: if your housing needs change for some reason during a trip, these can be a lifesaver. A few taps and you’re set.
And finally, here’s one that I came across when looking up all the links for this post, Mobile Passport. Apparently, you create a profile, answer some questions, and then instead of filling out those paper forms they hand you on the way back to the US and then waiting in line, you go to the express line and use your phone.