By Tracey Dowdy
Planning a Spring Break trip can be equal parts excitement and dread. The promise of relaxation and getting away from it all can be overshadowed by the reality of expenses and scheduling. Whether you’re traveling alone or with family and friends, these apps can help you plan, stay within your budget and make the most of those days away.
TripIt is a godsend for planners and laid back travelers alike. By pulling all your reservation information from confirmation emails, TripIt takes all those flight details, rental car agreements, hotel addresses and so on and creates one streamlined itinerary. Best of all, TripIt is fully functional offline which is ideal if you’re travelling abroad and roaming isn’t available. (Free – iOS, Android)
App in the Air
App in the Air acts as your flight concierge. TripIt integration means you won’t miss your flight, as any delays, gate changes or updates are sent to you in real time. The app makes it easy to manage your time by breaking each trip into 4 stages – check-in, boarding, takeoff, and landing – and creating a countdown so you know how much time you have to grab a snack before boarding. If you’re traveling with a group, you can track their flights as well. Once you’re back on the ground, links to local cabs are available to get you to your final destination hassle free. (Free but with in-app purchases – iOS, Android)
Mint makes sure your vacation regrets are limited to bad karaoke and questionable sushi by helping you stick to a budget. Few things can ruin a trip faster than realizing you’re spending way more than you intended. Set a spending limit before you leave and Mint will track your expenses in real time and let you know when you’re getting close or surpassing your limit. (Free – iOS, Android)
Google Translate may seem like an odd suggestion but the most recent update lets you have conversations in real time via Conversation Mode. Open the app, select the two languages you’d like to converse in, tap the microphone and speak. You can also translate street signs, menus and other text by using your phone’s camera. Simply hold the camera over written text and Word Lens immediately translates the text into English. (Free – iOS, Android, Windows)
XE Currency takes the guess work out of “How much is that in dollars?” You can convert over 180 currencies at up-to-the-minute exchange rates. The app works off line as well by storing the most recent rates. (Free – iOS, Android, Windows, Blackberry)
WhatsApp is a smartphone messenger that uses 3G or Wi-Fi when it’s available to exchange messages across platforms and is a great alternative if you’re only traveling for a week or less and don’t want to change your phone plan. Just switch from SMS to WhatsApp to exchange messages, pictures, videos or audio clips with family and friends. (Free – iOS, Android, Windows)
Viator is ideal for making the most of your trip while sticking to a budget. Whether you like to explore or are just looking for an alternative to the beach on a rainy day, Viator helps you find and book the best deals on local attractions, museums, tours or even popular local hangouts. (Free – iOS, Android)
Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Toronto, ON. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances and researches on subjects from family and education to pop culture and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.