Travel Essentials ($0.99) by jRuston Apps is an app that will help you consolidate all of your vacation data in one convenient place.
It’s a new year, so I’m sure that many of you are already planning vacations for the coming months. But isn’t it a hassle to have your flight information, hotel check-in data, and spots to see all over the place? Indeed, and that’s why Travel Essentials was made.
The thing that caught my attention with this app is the simple, yet intuitive interface. Everything is laid out in a manner that is simple to understand, yet has room for everything that you would need, and then some.
The first step to using the app is to have a vacation plan. To add a vacation, you will need to go through the “Vacation Wizard,” which will help you set everything up. The Basics screen will ask you for your departing and arrival location and time. The next screen, Flights, will ask for flight information. If you already have booked a flight, you can enter the departure and arrival flight numbers. If not, you can book them through their affiliate, Expedia. After flights, you will be asked about the hotel. If you already have a room booked, you can enter in the hotel name, check-in date, number of nights, and you’re done! If nothing is booked, you will again be taken to an affiliate to get one (this is through Hotel.com).
You can repeat this process for as many vacations you are taking — I look at you with envy, I really do. To view a specific vacation, just tap on it from the main Vacations screen. I like how Travel Essentials will display the flag for the destination spot in the list, in case you are traveling globally, you can see what their flag is (in case you didn’t already know).
When viewing specific locations, you will first see the Dashboard view, which shows date of vacation, current weather, flight status, number of days left, and the local time. The bottom of the screen is divided into a total of five tabs: Dashboard, Flights, Hotel, Places, and Weather.
Flights will show the current status of your flight, as well as scheduled and actual departure and arrival times. For the hotel, you can see its location on a map, check in and out times, directions, features, and address.
Places will have a list of spots that you should see during your visit, complete with address, photos, tips, and directions. You can even change the distance radius to get more spots, center it to your location or center of city, filter the types of sites by category (by default it’s on weather dependent, so you can visit sites that are suitable for the current weather). Weather will give you the current temperature, as well as forecasts for the next four days.
Thanks to iCloud, all of your saved data will be synced across multiple devices if you are logged in with the same iCloud account.
While Travel Essentials could be a great tool for your travel plans, I did encounter some glitches. Sometimes, if you do not add the flight or hotel information right away (you can add them later), the app will get an error and lose your progress. Then it will look like any other previously saved vacations you have in the app are lost, but they will (if you’re lucky) come back if you quit the app and re-launch it. This became a bit annoying, but I hope that the developer can address the bugs in the app.
I also noticed that when you try to change the distance radius in the Places view, it is set to kilometers. While I understand that this is the global unit of measure, I think it would be nice to add a miles option for Americans. You can change the temperature (in the iPhone Settings.app) to be either Celsius or Fahrenheit, so why not distance units as well?
The app can refresh data manually, or you can set it to update information in timed intervals. However, to do this, you have to exit the app, and go to your iPhone’s Settings to do so. I would prefer to see the app’s settings within the app itself, as it is just so much more convenient for the user.
There’s definitely a lot of potential with this app, but it needs a bit more polish and stability before you should rely on it for all of your travel needs. If you already have everything set, then I don’t think this app will have any problems for you. But if you are still in the process of making plans, then I’d be a bit wary.
Currently, Travel Essentials is on sale for $0.99 until Jan. 24, at which it will go back to the normal price of $1.99. You can get it in the App Store for your iPhone here.