Are You Using These Top 5 Travel Apps?

Because of my public speaking, I spend a lot of time traveling. In just the past four weeks I have been to Charlotte, San Diego, Richmond, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Detroit, Mobile, Dallas, Tulsa, and Denver.

My Top 5 Travel Apps

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/scanrail

In some ways traveling has never been more stressful—more delays, more canceled flights, and more crowded flights. But technology eases the burden and makes it manageable.

Here are my favorite travel apps and how I use them:

  1. TripIt. This is “command central” for my travel details. My assistants and I use it to maintain all my transportation and accommodation information. When they book a flight or a hotel, they forward the information to TripIt.

    travel-apps-01

    The program parses the email and creates neat records with all the details. It tells me when flights are delayed, the travel time, my seat assignments, confirmation numbers, and whether or not the flight provides wireless Internet service. It gives me similar information about hotels.

  2. Basecamp. I have lots of paperwork surrounding every speaking engagement: contracts, “Event Detail Forms,” slide presentations, speaking notes, background research, etc. We used to store all this in Evernote. However, recently, we moved to Basecamp for this kind of information.

    travel-apps-02

    While I still use Evernote for nearly everything else, I prefer Basecamp for travel. I think of each trip as a “project.” It has its own set of to-dos, discussions, files, milestone dates, and team members. Basecamp is perfect for this. When the project is over, we archive it. When we book a new engagement, we begin with a project template.

    travel-apps-03

  3. Expensify. I used to hate doing expense reports. Over the last 30 years, I think I have tried every system known to man. But I love Expensify. It is simple to understand and easy to use.

    travel-apps-04

    I start by creating a report with the beginning date of the trip and then the name of the engagement. When I incur an expense, I take a photo of the receipt, add the metadata (or use SmartScan to parse the receipt), and then discard the receipt.

    When the trip is over, I submit the report to my booking agent, so he can request reimbursement from the event sponsor. I also submit it to my accountant, so she can make sure I get paid. Once I hit “Submit,” I am done.

  4. Google Maps. I have used GPS since it first became available for cars. It eliminates the stress of having to figure out how to get to where I need to go. For years, I used Hertz NeverLost. It served me well.

    But then I discovered I could use an iPhone app, and save myself some money over the long haul. I bought the TomTom app and it worked great. My only complaint was that it was slow to load.

    travel-apps-05

    However, I switched to Google Maps a few months ago and haven’t looked back. The app is easy to use, beautiful, and accurate. Best of all, it’s free. I have also begun experimenting with a social mapping program called Waze that looks very promising.

  5. Uber. This is a special-purpose app that does one thing: it allows you to book limousine (black car) service from your iPhone. Before you dismiss this as “too expensive,” check it out. I find it is often much cheaper than a rental car.

    travel-apps-06

    I land in a city, and before getting off the plane, I load the app and book a car. From my phone’s GPS, it knows where I am. It also knows where the closest drivers are and who is available.

    Once I book the car, I get an almost instant notification back with the name, photo, and phone number of the driver who has been assigned to pick me up. It also has his five-star rating. Literally, by the time I get to the curb, the driver is there.

    Unfortunately, Uber isn’t available in every city. It’s also strictly on-demand; you can’t schedule a car. But it is a clever solution to a common problem—getting a ride. I’m sure we will see more of these kinds of networking solutions in the future.

If you have followed my blog for even a few months, you know I go through apps faster than an eight-year-old through Halloween candy. So if you have discovered something I should consider, I’d love to hear from you.

Question: What are your favorite travel apps? What have I missed? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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  • Philip Nation

    Due to the amount of time I spend in airports, I rely on Gate Guru. It gives a list of all the restaurants, snack stands, and shops in the terminals of most airports. Very helpful to know what
    your options are whether you have a quick turnaround or a long time in
    an airport.

    • http://danblackonleadership.com/ Dan Black

      That’s sounds like a great app to have. Thank you for sharing it.

    • rybomedic

      I just downloaded this app. Looks pretty good. I will use it on my next business trip. Thanks!

    • Dan

      I also have been using Gate Guru and find it very helpful

  • Jamie Chavez

    You’ve done it! I quote you frequently in my professional blog about the publishing industry, but now I’ll be quoting you in my personal blog—which is about travel. Thank you for this very useful information.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Jamie!

  • Dwight Bain

    Michael Tripit saves my life every trip. A great app- And basic version is free!

    Seat guru is another valuable travel app.

    I will try your other suggestions in a week on the way to Nashville for the AACC World Conference on Christian Counseling and Coaching with Max Lucado, James Dobson, Tim Clinton, Mandisa, Mercy Me, Henry Cloud and 100 other speakers. Will you be there?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I just downloaded Seat Guru and will give it a shot. Thanks.

      I’m afraid I won’t be at the AACC Conference. I would love to speak there some time.

  • Neville Sarkari

    I’ve been using Tripit for several years and I agree it is excellent. Just having the information in one place is so helpful.

  • http://www.chrisjeub.com/ Chris Jeub

    I have a folder in Evernote called “Travel,” and I drop all screenshots and data into that folder pre-titled with a common phrase for each travel “project” (yes, I treat each trip as a project, too). Expense reports are done in a P&L spreadsheet I keep in Google Docs. Seems to work well.

    Now I feel like a hack after reading about these apps. Thanks for the pointers, Michael…I’m going to get these and implement them for next year.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      The main thing is to find the workflow that works for YOU. Thanks, Chris.

  • http://www.learndifferently.com/ Kathy Kuhl

    For foreign travel, I use GlobeConvert, iTranslate (though the new GoogleTranslate app looks good), & Tripit. HopStop is excellent for NYC and other cities’ transit systems. Planning travel, I use TripAdvisor, SeatGuru, and Bedbugs, because even great hotels can have tiny problems. Kayak makes flight tracking easy when I’m picking someone up at the airport.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Can you give me some more information on the Bed Bugs app? I see several apps with that name. Is it the Bedbug Registry? Thanks.

      • http://www.learndifferently.com/ Kathy Kuhl

        Yes, the site is bedbugregistry.com. Of course, you have to read reports thoughtfully. One report doesn’t make me rule out a hotel. I look for evidence of a grumpy customer or former employee, and I also look to see if the hotel has responded to the report and how. But if a place has multiple reports, I look elsewhere.

  • Yvonne Ortega

    Mapquest has a free app for the iPhone that is voice-activated.

  • http://www.lincolnparks.com/ Lincoln Parks

    I would have to say that google maps and my google calendar are musts for me. I created a short cubic onion my desktop for my calendar and I live by it..

  • http://www.learndifferently.com/ Kathy Kuhl

    I’m glad GoogleMaps app has worked for you. I love having voice guidance while driving: the only safe way to use a nav app solo. But to my surprise, I find it a serious flaw that GoogleMaps doesn’t tell you when you’ve missed a turn. Much as I dislike how sulky my Garmin sounds when she says, “RecalcuLATing,” I discovered that silence is worse. On a scenic route, GoogleMaps didn’t mention a turn and silently let us head 7 miles down the wrong road, which then suddenly got way too scenic, a narrow windy farm road. It would’ve taken an extra 30 miles to get back to the highway, when turning around made much more sense.
    Also, occasionally GoogleMaps has told me to take an exit off a highway 0.1 miles before the exit, not enough time to get in the correct lane. Is it just me?

    • Laura

      I had same problem with Google Maps on my trip to DC recently. Traveling alone, I needed more warning for my exit and whether it was a right or left exit. Notice was less than adequate on Northern VA spaghetti roads around Pentagon and DCA.

  • Ernie El Lansford

    I use Around Me when traveling. The iPHONE app shows me restaurants, coffee shops, gas stations, office supply stores etc listed closest to farthest in feet to miles from my current location. The search function allows the user to enter specific needs too. I like sushi. I type sushi into the search window and all of the sushi restaurants appear closest to farthest from my current location. Nice app. Cheers–EL

  • Jim Shaffer

    I fly a gazillion miles a year and like FlightTrack, AroundMe, TravelAppBox, AirportZoom and SeatGuru.

    For GPS I like MotionX and Telenav. I just tried Google Maps and found it to be less intuitive. I couldn’t find such basics as where you start the guidance or delete a location. I’m sure they’re there because others use it. I’ve been sailing with GPS since GPS arrived on the scene and haven’t found a GPS as cumbersome as Google Maps appears to be on first use.

  • Lisa Pippus

    I like google maps as a general rule, but have to admit that I don’t always trust it. More than once after following directions, it has insisted that I’ve arrived at my destination, when I hadn’t. Several times my destination was still 5-10 minutes away, and I was left to rely on my knowledge of the city I was in, and sort of wander around in my vehicle until I found where I was actually supposed to be.

  • http://connect.me/users/dawnnicolebaldwin Dawn Nicole Baldwin

    My favorite travel app list mirrors yours (Never though of using Basecamp for travel though… excellent idea)

    One more you may want to check out is Gate Guru. Lists restaurants/shops, etc by gate for all of the major airports and includes star/$ ratings, as well as reviews. Very handy.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Thanks. I downloaded Gate Guru this morning. I can’t wait to give it a try.

  • http://www.NickPalkowski.com/ Nick Palkowski

    Great tips Michael

    I never thought of Basecamp!! I’ve been using a combination of Evernote and TripIt, and Dropbox to handle all of the speaking engagements.

    Would you be willing to share the template you have for your trips in Basecamp?

    I’m excited to try Expensify. I’ve been using Evernote and sending to the VA so this will be a great step up in efficiency.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Sure. Here’s a screenshot of the template.

  • http://danblackonleadership.com/ Dan Black

    Thank you for sharing the apps you use while traveling. I’m going to bookmark them and come back to them when I start traveling more. Hands down, Evernote is the app I use on a daily basis.

  • Nathan Dunn

    Thanks for the recommendations. I’ve already downloaded Uber and will be putting it to use.

    For GPS/navigation, I’ve tried several apps — Apple Maps, Google Maps, Motion-X GPS Drive, Scout, and Waze — but the app I’ve come back to is Scout. I like the fact that when I enter a destination, it shows me two to three optional routes. I also like that when I’m driving, it regularly gives me not just the next turn, but the turn that will soon follow that one. Nothing like being told to “stay to the left” at the next intersection, only to find out that you have to then turn right within 100 feet. Good luck crossing traffic like that. :-)

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Scout sounds awesome. I am installing it now. Thanks.

  • http://www.200churches.com/ Jeff Keady

    You are a funny man Michael Hyatt! You do love apps, don’t you? 50 years ago you would have written “My Top 5 Kindergarten Apps!” :)

  • David Ryan

    Cashtrails is great for tracking expenses too.

  • Nathaniel Hudson

    Definitely great resources. I agree with you on the GPS, except that I also use GPS Drive as it is more robust than Google Maps. It is free unless you want the voice guidance and that is only $10/year. I figure over 10 years I’ve still only spent $100, cheaper than a cheap GPS unit. Additionally, this stay updated and it provides the speed on whatever road you are driving which comes in real handy when you are in unfamiliar territory.

  • Zach

    Use to use Tripit, but moved to Kayak, more full featured, automatically puts trips on my calendar, txt me with gate chg, flt delay etc. also has Gate Guru built in.

    Absolutely love Expensify

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Trip It also texts me with gate changes, delays, etc.

  • Dorie

    Costs can run up keeping in touch with family when we’re traveling so, we use WhatsApp for free texting when we’re out of the U.S.

  • Kevin

    For maps and driving in major cities (especially those more tech savvy) nothing beats Waze. The live user data on traffic speed, accidents etc is extremely valuable when you don’t know the city and time is tight catching a flight or making a meting.

  • Brian Buonassissi

    I fly weekly and while Google Maps and Uber are in my top 5, I thought I’d list a few others that you may not have heard of that have been amazing for me.

    Airbnb
    This is my new favorite travel app. You can search any location in the world and get an entire apartment (or sometimes house) for the same rate as a hotel and not have to pay the parking or valet fees. I use this one all the time. There are reviews on the places (like Yelp).

    Gasbuddy
    This app finds the cheapest gas station via GPS to where you are. If you rent cars a lot, this is a MUST HAVE.

    Roadninja
    If you drive a lot on interstate highways, this app is must. It tells you what is coming up at the next exit (restaurants, gas stations, hotels etc.)

    Free Wi-Fi
    Via GPS, it will tell you where the nearest free wi-fi spots are. This was a total lifesaver before I got my own hotspot.

    OpenTable
    The majority of quality restaurants are on this app. It allows you to make reservations without having to call the restaurant and get a guaranteed reservation time.

    Hopstop
    Traveling anywhere that requires you take public transportation (NY, Los Angeles, Chicago, London, etc). This is a must have app. Anyplace that has subways, buses, etc., it will give you multiple options and updates if there is “servicing” happening on certain lines.

    Yelp
    Most people know of this one. But have you used the “check in” special? Great deals (sometimes half off meals, etc.). One location in NYC gives you any drink free (there’s some high priced wines) with your check-in. Totally worth it.

  • Peter Kremzar

    From my experience Nokia Here collection of navigation applications is the best of all that I have ever tried or saw. One of the best things is that they can be completely offline. If you go to UK for example you just download the UK map. Available for free of course. But you don’t need to download the maps. In this case you’ll pay for roaming.

    Nokia Here Drive+ is a voice-guided drive navigation.

    Nokia Here Maps is for when you don’t travel by car. No matter how you choose to travel, it shows you the way across town. It also integrates LiveSight for augmented reality. You just point you camera phone to an area and you can see tags on the buildings.

    Nokia Here Transit is great for when you’re in a city like London without a car and you have to travel from one point to another. It has all of the bus, underground, etc. Timetables and it shows you the options with exact times that you select. For example.

    When I was in London last time it told me to take EasyBus to the Baker street and at what time I should be on the bus station. When in the city it told me to walk 147 meters to the nearest underground. That was all on the map. And then it told me to take the Metropolitan towards Aldgate, City of London, etc. And so on.

    Nokia Here City Lens. This is an augmented reality application. It shows you on a map or your phone camera display where to find McDonalds for example, in case you are searching for it. Or any place where you can eat if you’re hungry. But you can also search for any other categories like Accomodation, Shopping, Sights, etc.

    These all application are designed to work together so you can easily switch between them when you need an information that the other app offers you and then you can go back. So this is what I call an ecosystem. I mean that applications coexist together and they support each other. I think it’s wrong to use ecosystem for standalone applications even when you have thousands of them.

    • jasen barbera

      HIdden Vine is the wine bar that I don’t even need to tell people as you can tell.

      They have a superb atmosphere with the amazing decor.

      It is hideaway and intimate, usually it is not packed crazy.

      You feel like you are in the chilled, stylish and comfortable living room with comfortable sofas and chairs.

      They also have a small patio outside so that you can take advantage of the warm day in SF. Their private dining space suitable for 10-15 people looks chilled as well. Their service is friendly and helpful.

      I have been debating whether I ought to share my favourite spots here, but sharing is caring…

      I am liking coming here before dinner for my glass of wine accompanied with their cheese plate.

      Great place for a date or for a small group girls night to enjoy the intimate feel.

      Highly recommended for chilled wine lovers. http://www.coffeepurecleanseus.org/

  • http://flatcreek.com/ Allen Fuller

    Michael, this isn’t travel-specific, but since you mentioned Basecamp and since you love apps, have you checked out Podio (www.podio.com)? It’s really the next evolution of Basecamp-style project management because you chan setup your own apps and workflows in it. So instead of making your travel planning fit within a Basecamp project, you could just set up an Event app with the fields, information and workflow specific to that activity. You could also use it to manage podcast planning, a contacts directory, etc.

    One of the best parts is you can easily attach files and images from Evernote, Dropbox, Box, Google Drive, and your computer.

    The iPhone and iPad apps are very clean and powerful as well.

    Hope that helps!

  • Brad Poel

    Thanks for the practical post, Michael. For mapping, I prefer Mapquest over Maps–mostly because I have an iPhone 4 (no Siri), so Maps doesn’t talk to me, and Mapquest does. The voice navigation is invaluable in helping me avoid looking at my iPhone while driving. I have also been trying Waze a bit. Yet, while the real-time traffic reporting is amazing, I often can’t help but think it’s simply reporting what I already know yet can do little about–I’m driving in wall-to-wall traffic. My favorite travel tool is my iPhone ear buds, allowing me to easily toggle from audio books and podcasts to a phone call with a single click!

  • http://rootshq.com/ Allen Fuller

    Michael, this is not travel specific but since you mentioned Basecamp and you love apps, have you looked at Podio (www.podio.com)? It’s the next evolution of Basecamp-style project management. The benefit is that instead of making your workflow fit within a Basecamp project, you can build your own Events app with the specific fields, workflow, and information you need for that activity.

    You can also pull in files and images from Evernote, Dropbox, Box, Google Drive, your computer, and your phone. The mobile / tablet apps are clean and powerful. After Podio was bought by Citrix (makers of GoToMeeting) last year, they’ve added some great chat and video tools that make collaborating with a remote team easy as well.

    • Peter Kremzar

      I checked Podio after I saw your comment and I think it’s absolutely great. Definitely much better than the Basecamp. And I especially like it’s design which is really very professional comparing to the Basecamp.

      • http://rootshq.com/ Allen Fuller

        It does have a nice, clean design Peter. They roll out regular updates as well, which makes it fun to see what’s coming next.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      I definitely want to check this out, Allen. It does look pretty amazing. Thanks.

      • http://rootshq.com/ Allen Fuller

        Great! I think you’ll love it, especially for the integrations. If I can help your team with setup, please don’t hesitate to let me know.

  • Barbie Lange

    Love your app suggestions, Michael! Thank you for taking time to share the best ones!

    One of my favorite apps is “SayHi” which I use to communicate with my Italian daughter-in-law. I speak into my phone in English and it audibly translates it into Italian for her; and vice-versa when she speaks to me. It isn’t always right be we always get a good laugh! It has really helped us to get to know one another better.

    There are many more languages within the app so I wanted to share this everyone. It is useful for traveling in another country or even when encountering someone who speaks another language.

  • At Peace 360

    I have just started using tripit and basecamp. I am very impressed with each. The one option I wish they did have with basecamp is to actually create a project on my iphone. Many times I get my ideas of a project when I am away from my computer and want to track all of my ideas immediately. Hope they start allowing this to happen. Great suggestions and love these apps. Thank you for all that you do on these podcasts.

    Pete
    atpeace360.com

  • http://rayedwards.com/about/ Ray Edwards

    Michael, I’ve been using Packing Pro and find it very helpful. It allows me to create different packing checklists for each type of trip. So if I’m taking an overnight speaking trip, I simply pop up that particular list and begin packing. This way I never forget important items. The app synchs across my iOS devices.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      Awesome, Ray. I will check it out now.

  • Suwandy Tjin

    Michael, thank you for sharing. I find it refreshing that you are both a very good author, and a great leader and also quite tech-savvy, perhaps even more than me, a self-proclaimed techie person myself. Kudos to you, sir =)

    I like using TripIt, although I haven’t been travelling as much that I need to use it so much.

    I saw the Basecamp app being featured on the App Store just recently and I didn’t give it a lot of thought then because I used a combination of Evernote and Dropbox for literally everything in my life, both professionally and personally. I will take a look at it since you recommended it.

    I am still a new starter in terms of being a speaker so I haven’t found a lot of use for Expensify yet, would you perhaps do a more extensive blog post on it in the near future? I track my spendings and earning in iExpenseIt app currently and I love it.

    Living in Indonesia, Google Maps isn’t very useful for me and perhaps many other of the less developed nations due to its lack of turn by turn navigation and its still missing some of the little known streets in its database. Waze is the perfect app for me due to its nature as a crowd-sourcing app. It also provides many other information that Google Maps aren’t able to provide. You and many other Waze users can tell each other when an accident happened nearby, or when a major traffic jam happened, or when there are police checks nearby. You don’t even need an address to find a place, as long as you know the name of the place. It harnessed the excellent database from Foursquare to help you search for the place.

    Thanks again.

  • Ellis Thomas

    Well based on the requirement and demand we basically prefer to use the apps that is cloud based and easily maintainable. Most of the apps I am not aware of but yes when the talk comes on for basecamp and expensify I am pretty familiar.

    We have even some more tools for the same purpose as we deals with variety of prospects. My favorite online tools which is quite an impressive and more demanding tool is the expense reporting tool from Replicon – http://www.replicon.com/olp/expense-reports.aspx which manages well the expenses in premise as well as on the move, I mean while travelling.

  • Dan

    I have been using WorldMate Gold. I wonder how it compares with TripIt Pro (which I could not find in the iTunes store–they did have TripIt for 9.99).

  • SeanCheng

    I think travel recording app TIMEGO-Travel Jounal is great. Now google map creates streetview at many places, so my trips become really vivid for me. (like this one at Venice: http://timegoers.com/home/!/trip/50a7a4abba44b52ae1000031/)

  • Alagusundar

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