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Travel Technology at a Glance

Apps and smartphone functions that can make your travel easier

Smartphones can help every traveler spend less time planning and more time enjoying the trip and making memories.


Apple Maps: This app is built into the iPhone and is proprietary to the Apple device. For other phones,

Google Maps is a good alternative. Each will map out point-to-point directions and guide you along your route.

Gas Buddy: This app and others like it use the location service on your phone to track your whereabouts and tell you the cheapest gas prices nearby.


Most insurance providers offer apps that let you carry your auto insurance on your phone. It’s a great time-saver when you need to present up-to-date coverage information.


I default to the Wikipedia app to update information. I love its encyclopedic format and the way it uses the GPS location to suggest local articles. It’s a great way to research the local history that makes your trip more interesting.


Use your camera app for general photography because smartphones are as good as point-and-shoot cameras. GPS-enabled smartphones can geotag your images so you know precisely where they were taken. It’s a great way to preserve the memories of a trip.

There is a ton of information online to learn how to become an accomplished smartphone photographer. is an especially helpful website where you can get tips from professional photographer Nick LaVecchia.

Hipstamatic: This phone app uses your built-in camera and adds cool, artistic embellishments to the photos. I love the way it gives my images a vintage feel, and I take most of my on-the-road images using this app.

Super 8: When I shoot video on my smartphone, I often use the Super 8 app, which takes my high-def cameraphone footage and makes it look like it was shot by a Super 8 camera from the 1970s.

Home Security

The Nest app connects to my Nest home thermostat so I can control the air and heat while I’m away. The house is at the perfect temperature when I arrive home.

The “connected home” is not the name of any specific app, but it does describe the incredible technology that’s available. With a smartphone, you can use apps to control security cameras in your home, lock doors, check garage doors and even set your digital video recorder.

Journaling and Social Networking

Notes is an integrated app on my Apple iPhone with which I can type up random thoughts while I’m out of the car. What’s really cool is that I can talk to the phone, and it transcribes my words into text.

Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: These social networking sites all have apps so you can post your adventures on the go. With Instagram, you can cross-post to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr and Foursquare. So instead of spending a lot of time posting to multiple accounts, you can post to one, and you’re done.

Yelp is a great way to discover local eateries. Using real user reviews, Yelp rates restaurants. Using the geolocation services built into your phone, Yelp determines your location and makes recommendations on where to eat. This app finds a place to lay your head. Like Yelp, the app provides prices and user ratings, and it allows you to book your hotel immediately.


Consider having at the ready some games—Angry Birds or Minecraft Pocket Edition come to mind—and playlists of songs your children like, for times when the youngsters get antsy in the car.


Finally, you need to keep your phone charged. Use your car charger when possible. If you get away from your vehicle—on a remote camping trip, for example—consider using a portable solar panel or a battery extender to help you keep your charge.