“A man travels the world over in search of what he needs, and returns home to find it.” — George A. Moore, Irish writer.
Unlike some of my colleagues, I’ve always believed in using travel time to get ahead on my business work. That way, when I get home I don’t have to play catch-up; instead, I can spend more time with my friends and family. I’d rather rest from the rat race in my own living room.
In my constant search for ways to save time while working, I’ve investigated or tested dozens of mobile apps that help me complete my work more easily. Most do a good job, but some stand out more than others. Here are four superbly helpful and productive travel apps I urge you to try if you haven’t already. (Now that the Wi-Fi is available on some flights, they’re more useful than ever.)
1. Yelp. Have you ever wandered around a strange city, looking for a decent place to eat? Don’t waste time looking or eat a bad meal—just consult Yelp. Our fellow travelers will have reviewed just about every eatery in town, from high-class establishments where I can meet with clients to local burger joints that serve great food at low prices. Create a free account to get all the bonuses, and you’ll never have to hunt haphazardly for good food again.
2. PackingPro. I write about productive packing fairly often, because even a little disorganization in this department can slow you down. If you can’t seem to keep up with the dry cleaning and your iPad’s charger, download this app from iTunes. It costs $2.99, but once you’ve set it up, it’ll remind you to pack everything from clean underwear to your meds and electronic accessories.
3. TripIt. Track logistics information with TripIt and access your itinerary right on your phone: no more printing and pulling hardcopies. It’s by far my favorite productivity app! I forward confirmation emails to email@example.com, and it automatically populates my itineraries. Then I can access the details for my travel either online or from my mobile devices.
4. Evernote. Evernote is a crowd favorite. If you use only one, choose this one. How they managed to pack so much into a single app—FREE unless you use gobs of data—boggles the imagination. You can take photos of receipts with it, and later upload them into accounting programs. Taking notes is easy, and storing them by keyword even easier. It’s a snap to search for them later. You can even search for handwritten text in a photograph (great for snapping photos of whiteboard notes for later transcription). You can get Evernote versions for just about every smartphone or tablet. The best part? You can not only store a huge amount of data in almost any medium—audio, video, photos, text, etc.—you can synchronize your account across all devices. For maximum productivity, read Brett Kelly’s witty, ever-expanding Evernote Essentials. It’s fun and instructive simultaneously.
Around the World in Four Apps
It won’t surprise you to learn you can tap into literally hundreds of travel apps nowadays, if not thousands. But we all need a place to start when overwhelmed with an embarrassment of riches, and I’ve suggested these four because business travelers tend to find them über-helpful. That said, just consider this your jumping-off point, and don’t hesitate to try other apps. They may work better for you than these—and inevitably, as technology advances, new apps will take their places. You never know: thought-driven apps like the plane in the Clint Eastwood movie Firefox may come online any day now.
What are your favorite travel apps?