Our Five Favorite Travel Tools

The other day we booked a flight in Myanmar by emailing with a rep at the airline, and agreeing to bring cash to pay for the flight. It felt so pre-2000, yet it got the job done. I started thinking about how much easier our trip has been thanks to the wonders of the Internet, and the great apps and websites that are available today. With that in mind, here are five of the most useful tech tools that have gotten the job done on our round-the-world trip. Each one of these tools is free to use.

Stay.com

What is It?
A simple way to put together a custom guide and map of a city.

How do we use it?
Stay.com really helps us in two ways. It provides a quick and easy starting point for planning. It’s great for seeing where we want to go in a major city. Once we have all of that on a map its easy to pick a place to stay near everything that we want to do. Then, once all the planning is done, we can download everything to our phone, and navigate offline without needing a data connection. The phone’s GPS and the downloaded maps keep us from getting lost.

http://www.stay.com/

TripAdvisor City Guides

What is it?
All of the TripAdvisor entries for a city, offline, plus a great navigation feature called “Point Me.”

How do we use it?
We use it like a compass. For example, one day we were wandering around Tokyo. It’s cold out, and we are trying to find the cat cafe we researched. House numbers are basically useless, and I know we are close. Pulling up the TripAdvisor City Guide entry to the cat cafe, I hit “Point Me” and an arrow points to the cafe and tells me how far away it is. Combined with the TripAdvisor listings for all the places in town, we can find a nice place to eat when we are out in the city. It’s also great for finding phone numbers and nearby transit stops for places that we want to visit.

http://www.tripadvisor.com/apps-icityguides

Wikivoyage

What is it?
A wiki-style travel guide for the entire world. It’s free to use and has more up-to-date information than a printed guide.

How do we use it?
We use the detailed Get In / Get Out sections the most. They describe how to get from the airport or train station to the city and vice-versa. Instead of just spending money on a taxi we can find out how to take the local bus or train to get into town.

http://www.wikivoyage.org/

XE.com Currency Converter

What is it?
A great currency converter and calculator in one.

How do we use it?
Since I’m pretty much incapable of remembering more than three numbers at a time, this lets me know exactly how much that entree or taxi ride will cost without having to remember conversion rates or do the math. Since it also has basic calculator functions I don’t have to switch out of the app to add things up. 

http://www.xe.com/apps/

SeatGuru

What is it?
A map to the best and worst seats on an airplane.

How do we use it
When we are going to be sitting somewhere for 5 plus hours, or even spending money to get a seat assignment, we want to get the best seat possible. After putting in our airline and flight number, SeatGuru shows us a nice map of the plane with the best and worst seats outlined in different colors. That way we can avoid the seats that are too close to the bathroom, or that don’t recline because they are near an exit row.

http://www.seatguru.com/mobileapps


What are the essential travel tools that you use? Let us know in the comments below.

Note: We aren't being paid to promote any of these, these are actual sites and apps that we use.