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World Tourism Day: Apps that Transform the Way We Travel

Each year on September 27, we celebrate World Tourism Day. This underrated, yet global holiday aims to promote, educate and celebrate the benefits of world tourism. This years’ theme, ‘Tourism and the Digital Transformation,’ will highlight the impacts technology has, and will continue to have, on our ever increasingly accessible world.

One of the most influential digital innovations that continues to affect the way we travel is the invention of mobile applications, AKA apps. These programs provide us with unlimited information and tools that streamline the way we research, strategize, and execute our travel plans. These apps have made what was once only accessible to travel writers and tour companies, available to anyone with access to the internet.

Not all travel apps are created equal, however. As someone who travels a fair amount and is a little bit of a ‘tech nerd,’ I’ve experimented with my fair share of apps and have compiled a list of travel applications that truly transform the way we travel.

Triposo – This app is a one-stop shop for planning your next vacation. Learn everything you need to know about your destination – from its culture and history to how to get there and what to do. You can also book tours and attractions, check the weather and convert currency all within the app.

Packpoint – Planners and organizers this is your app! Just enter where you are going, when, and what you plan to do. Based on the weather and the activities you choose, it will generate a packing list for you – amazing! From there you can add, delete, or customize your list.

TripCase – A.K.A. the ultimate vacation organizer. This app allows you to keep virtually all of your travel info in one place. Forward your email confirmations directly to the app, and it will upload flight, hotel, and any other reservation details. You can also manually enter hotels, activities, tours, etc., and it neatly organizes all of the information into a perfect little itinerary. Within the app, you can also get airport info, check in online, look up things to do at your destination, and much more.

FLIO – Planning on spending some time at the airport? This incomparable airport app partners with over 300 airports to let you track your flight with real-time flight updates, navigate through airport terminals, get access to over 300 lounges, and even receive special airport discounts. Hands down, the best airport app!

Mobile Passport – This is a must-have if you are traveling to the United States. Skip the dreaded customs line at 25 US airports and 3 cruise ports by downloading the app and uploading your passport information. Upon arrival, rather than filling out the printed Customs Declaration, you will enter the data into the app and submit it directly to the CBC. Once you receive receipt confirmation, follow the signs to the Mobile Passport line and enjoy cruising through customs.

Flight Aware – If you’re looking for a basic, yet effective flight tracker this is your app. Set up on a very user-friendly platform, Flight Aware makes it easy to track any commercial, private or charter flight. Enable notifications, and you’ll know exactly when to head to the airport.

Roadtrippers – Whether you are setting out on an epic cross-country adventure or a quick weekend getaway, the Roadtrippers app will be your new best friend. From national parks to wacky roadside attractions and everything in between, Roadtrippers will help you discover millions of places along your route.

TripAdvisor – Around since 2000, TripAdvisor is still one of the most used travel apps out there. The holy grail of reviews, this is THE platform to let the world know about your experience at a restaurant or attraction. Here you can view millions of reviews, view pictures, compare pricing and itineraries, and get destination tips from fellow travelers all over the world.

AllTrails – If you like exploring the outdoors, this mobile app is unmatchable. AllTrails has over 50,000 hiking, biking, and trail running maps, with more being added daily. From your hometown to far off countries, discover trails you never knew existed. You can just utilize the trails on the map, or you can contribute and upload new paths as well. Keep track of your location and distance with the hand-curated GPS and view your stats at a glance within this interactive platform.

Airbnb – The greatest travel idea of the century. Rather than lodging in a conventional hotel with all the comforts of home, Airbnb allows you to have a more authentic travel experience by staying in the home of a local. Depending on your budget and comfort level, you can reserve a private room inside the owners’ home (usually accompanied by the owners or other travelers), or if you prefer more privacy, you can book an entire apartment or home. One of the great things about this app is the numerous reviews and pictures from fellow travelers – this will help you decide where to stay, and make you feel more comfortable if you are uneasy about staying in someone’s home.

Hotel Tonight – This app is excellent for those who like to leave their travel plans open and not necessarily plan too far ahead. Hotel Tonight offers discounts on empty hotel rooms, helping you save not just on those last-minute bookings, but also future nights as well. It is worth comparing with other hotel booking sites such as Orbitz and Travelocity, as I have found many times it beats their prices.

DayUse and DayPass- Technically these are two different apps, but they both share the same function. DayUse helps you locate and book hotels offering rooms for a few hours at a discounted rate. So if you have a long layover and prefer to nap in a king size bed rather than the floor of an airport terminal, this is your app. DayPass gets you access into luxury resorts, pools, spas, and health clubs for the day, so even if you aren’t an overnight guest, you can still sunbathe in style.

UBER/LYFT – If you haven’t used either of these transportation apps yet, you are missing out. Cheaper and easier to use than taxis, these ride-sharing apps make it easy and quick to order a ride on demand. You can easily split the fare between riders, make pit stops, and share your ride details with friends. If you plan on heading to SE Asia anytime soon, be sure to download Grab – their version of Uber.

CityMapper – If you’re like me, part of what you enjoy about traveling is the journey. If you’re always taking an Uber, you aren’t really immersing yourself in the local culture, so it’s best to mix it up. With CityMapper, type in your location and destination, and a list of every possible way to get there will pop up – subway, bus, ferry, rail, bike, Uber, and any other available local transportation. The interactive app compares times and prices, gives directions, and helps you seamlessly get from point A to B.

Google Translate – If you plan on visiting a country where you do not speak the local language, Google Translate will be your saving grace. You can type, talk, or take a picture to translate foreign words. Easily communicate, practice, and save common phrases and you’ll be chatting with the locals in no time.

WhatsApp – Once you get the lingo down, you’ll need a way to stay in touch. WhatsApp uses your phones internet connection rather than your cellular plan’s data and minutes, allowing you to text and place international calls for free! This app is less popular in the United States, but if you are traveling abroad, you will find its one of the easiest and most common ways to stay in touch with those you meet along the way.

Viator – A TripAdvisor company, and noted “Favorite On-The-Road App” by National Geographic, Viator lets you book activities, tours, and attractions all over the world. Viator works with reputable tour companies, offers exclusive deals, and provides millions of user reviews and photos to ensure you pick the activity that is best for you.

There you have it, the best of the best of 2018. As technology continues to advance and new platforms become available, we can only hope that these innovations continue to bring people together and inspire curiosity to explore our world. With increased awareness and participation, World Tourism Day will not remain just another underrated holiday but become the day that inspired global innovation and unity.

I’m Sarah, and I love exploring our planet and learning from its many wonders. You can follow my adventures and insights on Instagram @sarahthewanderess and my blog Happy Travels and Fins Up!