Is travel on your 2019 to-do list?
It should be, because each year becomes the best time to travel. Why? Because as technology evolves, there’s always a new range of ingenious apps that deliver more information than you ever had before.
Last spring, I rounded up some of my favorite travel apps. As the New Year kicks off, here’s a few more to try out before your next airport check-in.
Google Translate’s new update, released in October, could prove to be a traveler’s best companion.
A new feature now allows travelers to snap a photo that features text, highlight it , and then translate it into English. (Previously, you could translate English into other languages but not the other way around.)
The new update allows translations of Arabic, Thai, Vietnamese, Hindi, Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Malayalam, Marthi, Nepali, Punjabi, Tamil, and Telugu, among others. This can be especially helpful when it comes to street signs, menus and store signs. Available for both iOS and Android, there is also an offline translation feature, a talk feature for conversations and writing option.
Ciao! Drops is an app that turns learning language into an audio-visual game, with vibrant colors and easy-to-follow illustrations. The app features over 30 languages and dialects, including Arabic, Icelandic and Mandarin and offers daily scheduled lessons that will enhance your next trip.
It’s free to use within daily time limits, but a premium subscription allows for unlimited access to the app, its full range of topics and its mix of languages.
Use it in the month ahead of your next trip and you’ll saying obrigado with the best of them.
App in the Air
Like TripCase, App in the Air aims to be your one-stop app for all things travel, including loyalty programs, boarding passes and departure times. The real lifesaver comes when the app shows you in real-time how long the wait is at security, check-in and baggage claim.
How you know you’re in the future: The app, which you can connect to Siri, allows you to measure your bag using augmented reality to see if it will fit in your plane’s overhead bins.
Elk Currency Converter
A currency converter is one of the apps, along with maps, that you’ll use multiple times a day during your trip, starting with that morning coffee. So it’s essential that a currency app should be simple to use, but also easy to read.
Enter Elk Currency Converter, one of the best-looking converters out there, and one whose design serves a distinct purpose: to thwart sticker shock when traveling abroad.
There are many conversion apps, and you can even rely on Google to quickly calculate how many Brazilian reals equal one U.S. dollar.
But where Elk shines against the competition is its clean, no-clutter design. When you type in one conversion, you also get that value times ten, with numbers listed in big text on one screen, so you can quickly judge how much one croissant costs, or if you can splurge on two.
Everyone wants to travel with that chatty friend who has the insider’s tips on the local hangouts and things to do. Culture Trip publishes over 1000 short articles each month, across a range of topics like art, film and culture, that aim to give travelers a quick immersive dive into the city of their choice.
Create a wishlist of cities you want to explore, and Culture Trip will serve up everything from hotels in Tokyo to bike trails in the U.S. to a primer on Cambodia’s craft beer scene. Use it for inspiration before and during your trip, for unexpected and fresh looks at cities beyond the usual tourist traps.
Access to an elegant lounge, especially ahead of a long trip or during a long layover, can make all the difference in the world.
Lounge Buddy loads up all the lounges near you, including photos and lists of amenities, and offers access to them via one app. Book ahead when you know you have a layover, or open it up when you arrive. When lounges are not accessible, the app will explain restrictions so you can avoid wasting your time.
On-demand lounge access starts at $25.
At Your Gate
Every traveler knows this story: You arrive at your terminal a bit hungry but none of the options seem great. Wasn’t there a Shake Shack in the other other terminal? What if you could go there instead?
At Your Gate is a new app that functions like Uber Eats or Seamless, but inside an airport and with security clearance. The app is not just for food, it offers a look at all the retail options. You can browse product lists, pay, and wait for delivery.
Currently available only at five U.S. airports, including JFK, Newark and San Diego, this is an app to keep an eye on.
That said, At Your Gate, which launched last fall, is still adding amenities and retailers, even within airports. For example, it’s currently only available within JFK’s Terminal 7, and it doesn’t link to the food options in Terminal 4 (where Shake Shack is). In San Diego, however, you can order M.A.C. lipsticks along with your Panda Express.
While the app doesn’t offer everything yet, it’s worth checking out before your next flight. It could mean the difference between going hungry or indulging in your favorite burger just before takeoff.