Whether you are traveling the Paris to visit the Louvre, or are headed to Beijing for a business meeting, there are a number of new tech gadgets and apps that can make the travel experience easier and more enjoyable.
From tools to keep all of your travel documents in one place, to apps that help you learn or translate a foreign language, travelers who invest in a few tech gadgets will be able to better connect with their surroundings.
This article reviews five of the most helpful types of tech gadgets and apps that travelers should consider using on the next trip.
1. Keep travel details in one place with an itinerary manager
The last thing anyone wants to deal with is a misplaced hotel confirmation email, or boarding pass while on the road. To help travers keep all of their important documents in one place, a few companies have recently launched travel apps to keep confirmation messages and other important content in one place.
Google Trips is a free app that stores important travel documents, provides users with maps (that even work without access to the internet), and suggests activities based on location and interest. Those who already use Gmail, or Google Inbox will find this tool particularly useful, since it integrates well with Google’s email products.
A great alternative to Google Trips is TripIt. This freemium app hosts important travel documents, and builds a helpful visualization of the traveler’s itinerary. It also makes it easy for travelers to share trips with others to ensure friends and family have visibility into the traveler’s whereabouts at all times.
2. Master a foreign language with a smartphone app
Learning a language can be challenging, but apps like Duolingo can help those interested in learning a new language before a trip to get familiar with the basics. One study found that those who used Duolingo were generally successful in learning the basics of a language. The study concluded that using the app for about 34 hours was equivalent to completing one semester of a language course in college.
Rosetta Stone, HelloTalk, and Babbel are alternative language learning platforms that work similarly to Duolingo, and are widely considered to be helpful.
Alternatively, those who do not have the time to learn a language but still want to speak with locals can try Google Translate. The app can provide real-time translation through most smartphones. Soon, travelers will also be able to use Pixel Buds to translate languages via a new pair of Google headphones that are slated to be released soon.
4. Find the best hotel with an aggregator
Thanks to a few new hotel aggregators, travelers don’t need to rely on the hotel promoted via Facebook advertising to find a good deal on great accommodations. Travelers hoping to find good deals on rooms at the last minute should consider using Hotel Tonight. Hotel Tonight has formed relationships with thousands of hotels to offer travelers great deals on last minute accommodations.
Those who are searching for a great hotel in advance should consider a tool like Kayak, Trivago, or Expedia to find deals on well-priced hotel rooms. Of course, those who prefer a trip with more local flair, can use tools like Airbnb or Home Away to find a room in a home or apartment.
4. Access the internet safely with a VPN
Depending on where you are going, there may be risks to accessing the internet. For example, business travelers in China are often warned by company IT teams to take special precautions in order to protect company secrets from China’s cyber espionage apparatus.
On a less serious note, travelers may lose access to certain content while traveling abroad because of international copyright laws.
A virtual private network (VPN) can provide travelers with cyber protection, while giving them the ability to access the content they would otherwise be able to reach while at home. Opera VPN is a browser (like Safari or Firefox) that features a built in VPN for safe and convenient browsing while abroad.
5. Track your luggage with a Bluetooth chip
The good news about lost luggage is that the airline industry is getting better at properly handling suitcases. The number of lost luggage items was down 12% year over year. On the other hand, who wants to run the risk of losing a cherished item like Taft Clothing shoes, or a Prada purse?
Enter Bluetooth tracking chips. Devices like Tile and TrackR allow travelers to track their items via a small chip and a paired smartphone. Alternatively, travelers can opt for an Away suitcase, which comes with built in Bluetooth tracking in every travel item the company makes.
Traveling has never been easier that it is today. Thanks to a suite of new tech tools, it is possible to maintain an organized itinerary, speak seamlessly with others (even if you don’t know the language), and find a well-priced hotel room. Technology also helps travelers to safely access the internet, and to keep tabs on luggage anywhere on earth.