We take vacations to relax, get away from our everyday stress and reconnect with friends and loved ones. But sometimes the planning and prep for a vacation can feel like more work than it’s worth.
I believe one of the big benefits of technology is how much easier it has made travel. From planning a trip to keeping us entertained to helping in emergencies, the right apps and websites can take some of the stress out of your next vacation. And you don’t need to be a tech wizard to take advantage of them.
When it comes to planning travel, the Internet provides a plethora of sites to help find the perfect destination. Most likely your favorite travel magazines are available online at your fingertips.
Well-known travel guides like DK Eyewitness Travel, Frommer’s, The Lonely Planet, Fodor’s, AARP all have websites. The Internet is your resource for reputable travel blogs that can be filtered by age, travel as a single, couple, retired or family, destination and budget.
Specialty travel companies are readily accessible as well to help research and plan your get-a-ways, if you choose to get help for that dream vacation. Whatever your interest, price range, lifestyle or travel desires, you can bet someone is there to provide guidance.
Major publishers love making lists! One of the categories of lists is usually travel. Instagram is a haven for travel bloggers. Buzz Feed, Forbes and others annually publish a list of travel bloggers worth following. Sixty and Me has rich resources on all sorts of travel!
Once you settle on your destination and have all your flights and hotels booked, how do you decide what to do when you get there? There are many trip planning tools, but here are a couple of my favorite.
Google Maps lets you create a custom map under ‘Your Places’ where you can add your hotel, restaurants and sites you want to visit. Once you create the list, it plots everything on a map to give you a better perspective of places.
This is a great tool if you are visiting a large city and don’t know the lay of the land. Once you have the list created you can share it with your travel companions so you all have access to it.
This list syncs with the Google Trips app which gives you a unified panel where you can save your reservations, research things to do, and find top restaurants in the area.
Also, with a single click you can add things to your saved list. Additionally, it gives you suggested day plans based on how long you are there and what areas you want to visit.
TripIt is also a great app that helps organize your travel plans. With the free version, you can forward confirmation emails for your hotel and flights and the app automatically creates a master itinerary for you to polish off.
The PRO version gives you additional features such as notifications for flight delays and gate changes and alternative flights with open seats. It also tracks your points and miles in one spot.
There are other apps, like Kayak and TripCase, but in my experience, TripIt is the most reliable and has the best combination of features.
These travel planning and organization tools will help you enjoy your vacation instead of spending those precious days trying to figure out where to eat or what to do.
Once everything is planned and you are ready to start on your adventure, make sure you have all your tech ducks in a row. Technology can help keep you entertained, connected and safe during your travels, but it can also cause more anxiety if you aren’t prepared.
Here is a checklist of everything you need to help ensure a smooth travel experience:
Once you decide which devices you are going to take – do you really need your laptop, smartphone, AND tablet? – make sure you have the appropriate chargers. If you are traveling internationally, you may also need to pack standardized adapters.
A different plug isn’t the only consideration, though. A voltage converter will protect you and allow you to safely keep everything charged.
Load up your devices with entertainment to get you through your flights, layovers and downtime during your trip.
There are many options to help keep you entertained, such as downloading books to your Kindle app, or downloading movies and TV shows from Netflix right to your device so you don’t need to deal with Wi-Fi.
Public Wi-Fi is always a big risk when traveling. If you plan on being on Wi-Fi in the airport, on the plane, in your hotel or anywhere else, set yourself up with a good VPN service prior to vacation. This will protect you from anyone accessing your information over public Wi-Fi.
There are many options out there, including ExpressVPN, which is the one that I recommend. If you are not familiar with how a VPN works, you can visit my blog, “Do I Need a VPN Service?”
Make sure you have digital access to all your travel documents. Scan all paper items – or just take photos of them with your phone – to ensure easy access in case of emergency. You can also utilize apps like TripIt, to organize everything, including your flight schedule, passport and driver’s license.
Be prepared that your vacation may be extended for unforeseen circumstances, such as hazardous weather. If you have daily medication, travel with extra. Also, it is always a good idea to have photos of the pill bottles with dosage and prescriber information in your phone for easy access.
Another safety net is the Medical ID on your smartphone. Take a few minutes to set up your emergency contacts and medical information, so anyone would be able to easily contact your loved ones or provide the needed care in the unfortunate case of an emergency while you are traveling.
If you don’t know how to set up your Medical ID, check out this Tech Wizard blog post.
While I am a big proponent of using vacation time to disconnect, I always have my smartphone handy when I am traveling. It’s like having 24/7 access to a little travel agent right in my purse.
Are you a tech-savvy traveler? If so, what are some of the apps and sites that you think are the most helpful for travel? Please share your favorite travel apps and sites!
(This article was originally posted on Sixty and Me)