I have been away from the keyboard for a while, but believe me, I have been traveling quite a bit and compiling lots of great experiences that will help you be a better, safer traveler. While I fully intend to be more active in 2017, I feel like this is the season for countdowns and top five lists, so I decided to compile my own list of travel related apps, websites, and gear that I use most frequently on the road.
Without further ado, my top five(ish) lists of 2016. These made the list because they are the tools I used most often in 2016 to get around, protect myself and my tech, figure out where I was and put a roof over my head in the event of overnight delays (which may or may not have been the direct fault of TAP airlines).
Top travel safety apps
- Geosure: Find the safety rating in various categories of any country before you travel.
- Sitata: Get travel alerts, medical and travel safety advice before, during and after any trip.
- Tripit: Super easy way of sending your itinerary to friends and family.
- Travel Recon: As part of the Travel Recon community, you can report anything suspicious via the app and view other users’ feedback as well.
Top travel gear
- PacSafe: Basically, anything they make will ‘up’ your travel security game. I rock the backpack and the travel safe almost everywhere I go.
- The Travel Bra Boxers: Yes, they make gear for men. Don’t worry about leaving documents or space credit cards in the hotel, keep them on you at all times. The Travel Bra Boxers replaced the money belt I gave to a homeless man in Houston whose pants were falling.
- Go2Products Travel Towel: I label this as safety gear because it allowed me to take a towel (an absolute necessity if you plan to stay in hostels) without forcing me to bring a suitcase. Also, doubles as a neck pillow or blanket on the airplane.
Master Padlock travel safe: A great option if you are checking luggage. This provides a bit of heft to your lock box in the event you do not trust the hotel safe (which you shouldn’t).
- Grid-It storage system: Organize your travel life; store all your wires, cords and batteries in one convenient place. The Grid-It also makes your trip through security easier as it keeps your wires and cords from sprawling out all over your carry-on, which looks super shady when viewed through an x-ray machine.
Top general travel apps
- Maps.me: I used this more than any other app on this list in 2016 – from Oslo to Rome to Boston. Downloadable maps for wherever you may be traveling. The amount of detail is incredible; it contains tourist spots, plus an amazing amount of restaurants and cafes – AND it will provide you directions / geo-locate you by using cell towers instead of Wi-Fi so you can get around town anywhere in the world internet free!
- Skyscanner: Find flights like a BOSS – an unrestrained, free spirited BOSS who is willing to go anywhere based on the available dates. It’s the flight search engine you wish YOU had created.
- Slack: I found myself using this heavily while I was traveling as an alternative to sending emails. Way easier to give short, to the point responses via Slack than to get into my emails and compose a note.
Top five unexpected layover apps
- Airbnb: While sleeping in an airport is do-able (See below); it is always good to have options. In the case of a last minute emergency, look for the ‘instant book’ properties, these locations are faster to book given that they do not require approval from the owner.
- Uber: No time to rent a car or figure out the metro system? Most airports overseas are now allowing ride-sharing drivers to pick up at the terminals.
- Sleeping in airports: This website is a repository for those stuck in an airport. Use it to find the best place to sleep, where to get free Wi-Fi and who has the best food in any airport. Their twitter account is also fun and interesting; I never miss a chance to tweet pictures of real-time airport sleepers to it.
- Flight Aware: When the heck is my flight arriving? You can track the inbound flight as well to predict or triage any delays before they happen.
- Twitter: Been sitting at an empty terminal for hours now and can’t find anyone at the counter? Send a tweet; you might get a response from corporate.
Top five tech security apps
- Kee Pass (Testing additional options – look for the reviews soon): The password vault that frees up brain space.
- Lookout: Addicted to Words With Friends or other apps that require a Stage Five Clinger access to your phone? Lookout goes beyond just virus scanning all the apps you have installed on the phone. Stay tuned for a full review.
- Private tunnel (link to full review) VPN to protect your data on public Wi-Fi – because the internet is dark and full of terrors.
- Prey (Read the full review here): Do you know where your phone is? Now you do. Recovery protection taken to the max.
- VeraCrypt (Full review here): File encryption technology is not just for spies anymore. Keep your private documents private with this app.
There you have it! The top apps, websites and gear lists for your next vacation, study abroad or business trip. These helped make my 2016 travel adventures safer, and better. While I never leave home without most of the items on these lists, I also look forward to seeing what new gear and apps will come out in 2017 to make our lives on the road just a little bit (or maybe a lot) easier.