CLOSE
iStock
iStock

10 Travel Apps for Trotting the Globe on a Budget

iStock
iStock

Travel can be an incredible, restorative experience—but it can also be crazy expensive. Flights and hotels are pricey enough, and on top of that you can add the less obvious travel expenses—everything from Wi-Fi to taxis—that jack up the cost fast. It helps to have an arsenal of apps on hand to help you get the most bang for your travel buck and stick to your budget. Here are a few of our go-tos. (Best of all, they’re free!)

1. FIELD TRIP

Field Trip, from Google's NianticLabs, lets you explore fun things to do in whatever city you're visiting. It uses geotagging to help you explore museums, restaurants, historic places, and more in your vicinity. The app also makes it easy to find cheap or free things to do around you, and they even include an option for “Offers and Deals.”

Find it: iOSAndroid

2. TRAIL WALLET

When you travel, you probably want to spend as little time as possible thinking about expense tracking and budgeting. Trail Wallet can help log your expenses so you have more time to enjoy your trip. The app allows you to organize your expenses by trip, set a daily budget, and take photos of your receipts as you go—it will then adjust your spending plan accordingly. You get a full, clear view of your spending in one spot.

Find it: iOS

3. METRO

Taking a cab or even a ride-sharing service like Lyft throughout your trip can get expensive. Many people shy away from public transportation, though, because it’s unfamiliar and confusing. MetrO makes it easy. The app helps you navigate public transportation systems in over 400 cities around the world, giving you step-by-step instructions for getting from Point A to Point B. It also helps you translate if you’re unfamiliar with the language. Install it before you visit your city, and you won’t even need a network connection to use the app.

Find it: iOS

4. WI-FI FINDER

Whether your hotel still charges for Wi-Fi or you want to minimize data usage on your phone, when you’re on the hunt for free web access, Wi-Fi Finder can help. It’s pretty simple: The app maps out all the spots near you that offer free wireless connection.

Find it: iOS, Android

5. XE CURRENCY

Currency exchange can throw a wrench in your budget. It’s easy to over- or underestimate the cost of purchases, which can lead to overspending if you’re not careful. XE Currency makes it really easy to do the math and convert currency when you’re abroad. Its simple interface lets you convert fairly quickly, too. Just add the amount you want to convert, the currency it’s in, and the app will tell you what the price is in your desired currency.

Find it: iOS

6. SMART LAYOVER

Smart Layover can help you squeeze even more fun out of your trip. If you have a flight delay or a long layover in another city, the app will tell you what you can do nearby based on the amount of time you have available. It includes discounts, deals on day-use hotels, and things to do if you have to stay within the airport. You’ll also get flight notifications and estimates of security wait times.

Find it: Android

7. SKYPE

Everyone knows Skype—you might even use it on your desktop at home. It’s also an awesome app for travelers, as it allows you to stay connected with friends and family back home. If you have a Wi-Fi connection, you can use it for free video chatting with your loved ones. If you have an unlimited phone plan, this might not be a big deal. For the rest of us, though, this strategy can help save on data and minutes.

Find it: iOS, Android

8. GASBUDDY

If you have a road trip planned, GasBuddy is a must-have app—it helps you map out the cheapest gas on your route. Download it before you leave to map out your gas stops before hitting the road, or use it on the go (pull over first or have a passenger help you out) by searching for your location's zip code. The GasBuddy website also includes a Trip Cost Calculator to help you estimate the total cost of gas.

Find it: iOS, Android

9. TRIPIT

Okay, it’s not a money-saving app, exactly, but no list of travel apps would be complete without TripIt. It’s the ultimate app for keeping all of your travel plans together. When you get email confirmations for flights, hotels, and car rentals, you can forward those emails to TripIt. The app will automatically create an itinerary for you to access whenever you need it. You can also add activities and points of interest to your master itinerary. Best of all, the app will notify you of flight delays or gate changes, which could save you the cost of missing a flight.

Find it: iOS, Android

10. BESTPARKING

Driving in a big, unfamiliar city almost always means overpaying for parking. Most of us have been there—you’re not sure where there’s a cheaper option, so you go ahead and pull into the $15 lot. BestParking makes sure you find the cheapest and most convenient parking. You can use it on the go or in advance in over 100 cities: Simply select your city, add your location, and the app will map out nearby parking options and their prices.

Find it: iOS, Android

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
technology
Design Firm Envisions the Driverless School Bus of the Future
iStock
iStock

Engineers have already designed vehicles capable of shuttling pizzas, packages, and public transit passengers without a driver present. But few have considered how this technology can be used to transport our most precious cargo: kids. Though most parents would be hesitant to send their children on a bus with no one in the driver's seat, one design firm believes autonomous vehicle technology can change their rides for the better. Their new conceptual project, called Hannah, illustrates their ideas for the future of school bus travel.

As Co.Design reports, Seattle-based design firm Teague tackled both the practical challenges and the social hurdles when designing their driverless school bus. Instead of large buses filled with dozens of kids, each Hannah vehicle is designed to hold a maximum of six passengers at a time. This offers two benefits: One, fewer kids on the route means the bus can afford to pick up each student at his or her doorstep rather than a designated bus stop. Facial recognition software would ensure every child is accounted for and that no unwanted passengers can gain access.

The second benefit is that a smaller number of passengers could help prevent bullying onboard. Karin Frey, a University of Washington sociologist who consulted with the team, says that larger groups of students are more likely to form toxic social hierarchies on a school bus. The six seats inside Hannah, which face each other cafeteria table-style, would theoretically place kids on equal footing.

Another way Hannah can foster a friendlier school bus atmosphere is inclusive design. Instead of assigning students with disabilities to separate cars, everyone can board Hannah regardless of their abilities. The vehicle drives low to the ground and extends a ramp to the road when dropping off passengers. This makes the boarding and drop-off process the same for everyone.

While the autonomous vehicles lack human supervisors, the buses can make up for this in other ways. Hannah can drive both backwards and forwards and let out children on either side of the car (hence the palindromic name). And when the bus isn’t ferrying kids to school, it can earn money for the district by acting as a delivery truck.

Still, it may be a while before you see Hannah zipping down your road: Devin Liddel, the project’s head designer, says it could take at least five years after driverless cars go mainstream for autonomous school buses to start appearing. All the regulations that come with anything involving public schools would likely prevent them from showing up any sooner. And when they do arrive, Teague suspects that major tech corporations could be the ones to finally clear the path.

"Could Amazon or Lyft—while deploying a future of roving, community-centric delivery vehicles—take over the largest form of mass transit in the United States as a sort of side gig?" the firm's website reads. "Hannah is an initial answer, a prototype from the future, to these questions."

[h/t Co.Design]

nextArticle.image_alt|e
NBD Photos, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0
arrow
technology
Google Home Is Finally Able to Multitask
NBD Photos, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0
NBD Photos, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

The hallmark of any great assistant is a talent for multitasking. Now, CNET reports that this ability is now a part of Google Home. The voice-activated device can finally process and execute two tasks that are said in a single command.

With earlier versions of the software, if you wanted to ask Google Home to cancel an alarm for a certain time and set a new one, for example, you would need to speak the first command, wait for it to be completed, and then say the second. The new feature allows you to string together both requests without pausing. This is the case for tasks that are related, like playing a song and turning up the volume, as well as those that are unrelated, like checking football scores and asking for cake recipes.

To save even more breath, you can combine this tool with Google Home’s Shortcuts feature. Shortcuts lets you assign short phrases to more complicated commands (like replacing “play workout playlist on Spotify” with “workout time”). Now you can use Shortcuts to have Google tackle multiple tasks at once by saying just a couple words.

The home assistant’s new ability is limited: Three tasks is still too much for it to keep track of, even if you’re pairing a two-task shortcut with one straightforward command. So after asking for a time and weather update, you’ll have to be patient before asking Google the answer to the universe.

[h/t CNET]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios