by Tee Morris
July 30, 2009
It feels great to be back with AppAdvice. If you were wondering what had happened to me, take a look at my review for TravelTracker; but in a nutshell, I took a Hobbit’s journey. I had been invited this summer to talk in New Zealand on Social Media matters, so at the end of May I packed my bags and took off on Air New Zealand Flight 5 for Auckland. Seeing as I had never traveled this far before, I was working hard my "Travel Planning Fu" in trying to make all of my bags and carry-on's maximized in what they could hold. Prepping and packing for a trip like this also made me tap into the full potential of the very apps you’ll see me reviewing in my next few posts. Your iPhone, with the right tools and the right approach, can serve as the ultimate carry-on luggage; so before setting on that road or casting off on a sea cruise, take a moment to consider how your iPhone can help you make the most of your trip. The first thing you should do is start shopping for solid travel applications. You will want to track your flight and while there are widgets available for your computer’s desktop, it is a good idea to find one for your iPhone. There are two applications that offer an all-in-one flight planner and To Do list, Trips with TripIt (from Unitconvertr) and TravelTracker with TripIt (from Silverware Software, which I have reviewed). These apps will import your itinerary and provide any flight updates and (most importantly) weather changes directly to your iPhone. Much like car salesmen, politicians, and Social Media experts, weathermen are not to be trusted blindly. Atmospheric patterns can change on a dime. With up-to-date information accessible anywhere, you might find your stress levels exponentially lower with these apps on call. You can keep an eye on your flight as you travel between home and airport. You can also plan for unexpected mad dashes to connecting flights if a delay turns a one-hour layover into a five-minute sprint. Another fantastic attribute of both Trips and TravelTracker is that both will give you the ability to input more than just your air travel itinerary. Heading to Vegas? Maybe you’ve got tickets already in hand for Penn & Teller or Cirque du Soleil? (I recommend “O” — that’s a great show!) If this is a business trip (because in Vegas it’s always “business time”...), you might have a meeting scheduled, a presentation to give, or a client that insists the best place to talk is on the back nine. Trips and TravelTracker allow you to organize your out-of-town events, and even send reminders to you (either via email or from the app itself) of when it’s close to “Go” time. You can also keep your hotel and car reservations on call, just in case you’re told on arrival “I’m sorry, but we don’t have you listed staying with us.” These apps will have in a few taps your reservation, confirmation number, and your Preferred Member status, so you are covered on all fronts. You will also want to shop for some good games or maybe a pleasant distraction in the way of television or movies. On my flight from Washington to L.A., I was given the choice of either Bride Wars or…well, that was it. Fortunately on my iPhone I had downloaded and synced up a few video gems, one of them being “Mirror, Mirror” from the digitally-remastered Star Trek: The Original Series. It not only looked great on my iPhone, it also saved me from United Airlines' Chick Flick for the Flight. Now that you have the apps you need, you will want to prep the phone for your actual travel. If you’re road tripping, there will be little to no preparation involved. Air travel is another matter all together. Before stepping on board your flight to destinations coast-to-coast or abroad, pull up the Settings of your iPhone and run down this quick checklist:
- Under WiFi, is your iPhone’s WiFi on or off?
- Under Mail, Contacts, Calendars, is “Fetch New Data” set to “Push” or is it off?
- Before the flight, is Airplane Mode on or off?