My friend Frankie and I depart on the 13th of December for our next adventure. We are taking an AMA Waterways cruise from Amsterdam to Basel. Last time I missed seeing Budapest because our flight was delayed, so this time I decided to arrive in Amsterdam a day early. I have never been there and probably will not get to see everything on my list, but I’m going to give it my best shot
I really enjoy seeing the various Christmas markets. They are so different from the commercialization here that it is great to wander around and see all the handmade gifts that I am sure to bring home. Last time I had to ship a box home, but maybe I will show more restraint this time. Probably not, though.
The cruise ends in Basel, but we’re taking a train to Lucerne to spend two nights. I am hoping to get up Mt. Pilatus. I even bought a coat, which is unusual for me. I hear it’s very cold in the Alps in December,
We are ending our trip in Paris, since that was the only way I could utilize my miles for a free ticket. We fly home on Christmas Day, or at least as far as Philadelphia. I couldn’t get a flight back to St. Louis until the next day, so hopefully there will be a decent restaurant at the hotel. I would love to try an authentic Philly cheese steak, but probably won’t find anyone open. I will just have to go back.
If anyone has been to Amsterdam or Lucerne and has suggestions for places to eat or things to do, let me know and I will pencil it in on my schedule.
I am not as good with the computer or my phone as my six-year-old grandson, but I am always looking at the newest apps for them, hoping against hope, that one of them will finally make me a part of the 21st century.
One of the websites I subscribe to is www.travelresearchonline.com where I find articles on all things travel and how to cope with modern-day conveniences. They gather information from lots of sites and this one on the newest and best apps comes from the Huffington Post.
I am seriously going to give some of these apps a go and see how I do. Let me know if you have experience with any of these or have discovered a favorite app on your own. I need all the help I can get.
Next to a suitcase, the most indispensable travel accessory these days is a smart phone. Whether you embark on a business trip, a weekend getaway or an exotic overseas vacation, phone apps exist to help make virtually every element of the experience far easier and more enjoyable. Travel apps have only been so robust in the last couple of years, but it already seems hard to remember how we managed to get anywhere without them.
In some instances, though, there are almost too many choices available. Dozens of apps exist for getting around, say, Europe, and many others are at the ready to help make a packing list. Want to monitor the status of a flight? You’ll need to select from a host of frustratingly similar apps first. Sifting through everything can feel more onerous that navigating the security maze at LAX.
Finding the right apps shouldn’t add stress to travel, so we identified ten that are intended to aid every stage of a trip. Before departing, Dcovery enables you to put together a personalized travel guide based on what interests you the most at your destination. ExpertFlyer.com’s Seat Alerts ensures that you get the seat you want on the way there. Once you arrive, LocalEats can point out the best dining options. And Travel App Box provides information on everything from public transportation to appropriate tipping.
These apps cover practically any travel situation, making your journey safer, smoother and more fun. Just remember not to leave your phone at home.
Remember postcards? Postagram brings back the old snail-mail staple, but with a high-tech twist. Take a photo with your smart phone camera (or choose one from your Instagram or Facebook account), type in a short message and enter the recipients’ address. A personalized postcard will appear in their (actual) mailbox within a few days. For IOS and Android; app is free, postcards 99 cents each for U.S. delivery, $1.99 for international addresses.
Organizing pre-trip research can be a challenge. Dcovery’s Place Finder browser extension pulls out the points of interest mentioned in articles and other relevant pages you find online, lets you categorize them and then adds pictures, maps and directions. Sync your phone with your computer and the app puts all the information together into a handy travel guide tailored to your specific interests. For IOS; $3.99.
Airports aren’t exactly known as fine-dining destinations, but GateGuru helps find the hidden gems in your arrival and departure locations. Upload your itinerary and the app lists food options—as well as shops and other services like ATMs—along with where to find them and ratings from other fliers. The app also provides estimated wait times for security lines and last-minute deals on rental cars. For IOS, Android and Windows; free.
Lots of GPS apps offer traffic updates and voice-guided, turn-by-turn navigation to help you get to your destination. Scout, however, helps find things to do once you get there. Choose local sights and attractions from an extensive catalog on its website and then sync your selections with the app for when you arrive. It also keeps up-to-date listings of recommended concerts, sporting events and other timely entertainment options so you’ll always know what’s happening. For IOS and Android; free.
Although it is probably the last thing you want to think about while traveling, having current and correct medical information is crucial if something goes wrong on a trip. ICE keeps your doctors’ phone numbers, details on specific medical conditions and insurance information all in one place, where it can be accessed even when the phone is locked. The app can also translate the stored information into ten different languages. For Android; $3.99.
iStone has just one function—translation—and it performs it extremely well. The app comes equipped with a list of more than 300 useful phrases—“How much does it cost?” or “I’d love a room on a higher floor”—that it can say aloud in any of 12 languages. Flip through categories, such as dining or directions, to quickly find the correct expression. And if you come across a new foreign phrase, you can record it to use later. For IOS; free for basic version, full versions of languages require in-app purchases.
A Google search will turn up plenty of restaurants in any given destination. But to narrow your culinary quest to those frequented by in-the-know foodies, you will need LocalEats. The app culls choices from dozens of cities in the United States and abroad to the essentials, all based on media reviews and diners’ recommendations. Browse by categories, such as cuisine type and price range. LocalEats will find what is best near your current location, provide directions and even let you book a taxi to get there. For IOS; 99 cents.
You could download a dozen similar apps and still not match the functionality that Travel App Box offers. Billed as the Swiss Army knife of travel apps, it is a flight tracker, currency converter, tip calculator and many other useful tools rolled into one package. It also features offline maps—including public transportation layouts in 40 cities worldwide—for when you are stuck somewhere without cellular or WiFi service. For IOS; $1.99.