Travel apps and essentials: tools we can’t live without
I’m a travel rat. If the boss man said to me, “Groves, go home and pack a bag, I need you in London by tomorrow morning,” I’d go willingly. However, the amount of traveling we do at Raven comes at a price: keeping up with the daily workload and staying organized is a tightrope walk. Here are some of my favorite tips, tricks, hacks and apps to get me from one side of the country to the other, while keeping up with regular Raven life.
There really is no other. TripIt singlehandedly keeps me sane. This next-to-perfect web app (and mobile, too!) keeps track of all of the main aspects of any trip for you: air travel, hotels, rental vehicles, etc. If you’re like me and love to make restaurant reservations before you jet off somewhere, it will store those for you, too. Not only that, but we at Raven travel in packs, and TripIt stores all of our travel information in one place. It would be over dramatic to say I couldn’t live without this app, but my life would be far more frustrating without it.
Pro tip: Forward your itineraries to firstname.lastname@example.org and TripIt will instantly either create your trip for you, or tack those plans onto an existing trip. Like magic. Bad ass magic.
While TripIt does most of the heavy lifting, there are a few things it doesn’t quite handle yet, such as checking in for a flight. That’s where airline apps come in. I fly American and Southwest exclusively, and both of their apps are great for doing what you need to do to make sure you can get from point A to point B without losing your mind in an airport. Which is a horrible place to lose your mind.
Pro tip: The American Airlines iPhone app is particularly great. One of my favorite things is to watch and see how quickly my frequent flier miles are posted to my account after the flight lands.
Sprint 4G Hotspot
Seriously, I have no idea how I got ANYTHING done before having one of these hotspots. “But Alison, you could tether your phone!” Yes, yes I could. But then it would be AT&T 3G data, and that’s so 2009. With trade show vendors charging one-semester-at-college type prices to obtain the internet at your booth, we have taken to using this one hotspot for all of our demos stations, and it works like a champ.
I also used it just last week while on a New Jersey Transit train to answer emails as I was going from one place to another. Airports, hotel rooms, convention centers, trains—even offices when the internet goes down—this thing is worth its weight in gold. And with unlimited 4G, I can stream the hockey game in my hotel room after a long day on the trade show floor. Happy.
Pro tip: This bad boy will connect up to eight devices at once, so if you want to watch the hockey game on your iPad while playing Words with Friends on your phone and sending emails on your laptop, you’re totally covered.
One of my biggest rules when traveling is that we absolutely cannot eat at any restaurant we could eat at in Nashville. But where on earth do we get good Chinese in midtown Manhattan that isn’t Ruby Foo’s? Enter Yelp. With just minimal knowledge of where you are, and the type of food you’d like, you are one crowdsource away from an awesome meal. It also helps to see photos of the place (looking to see if the restaurant has a bar?) as well as hints as to how much your non-Nashville meal is going to cost you. As much as I’d love to eat at Morimoto, I’m pretty sure those four dollar signs would not be appreciated on my expense report.
Pro tip: Not exactly sure where you are? Use the Yelp app on your phone to find places nearest to your location.
When traveling, I try and stay as much on routine as possible . . . I get up at the same time, work out, watch movies and TV, and carry my briefcase just as if I was at home. Here’s what I use to keep home with me at all times:
Netflix and Hulu: I’m so thankful for both of these apps to help me keep up with TV during the week on my own time. They’re also an escape when I’m staying at those hotels that only carry all 12 ESPN’s and The Weather Channel.
Timbuk2 Messenger: I may love this more than anything else. There’s nothing worse than the business man in front of you who has to take off his shoes, his belt, his watch, his five laptops, his BlackBerry and all that other nonsense to get through security. With the Timbuk2 bag, I just unzip the laptop compartment, lay it flat on the conveyor, and I’m off to the races. On the other side, it just zips back up, and I’m not left there to get dressed and repack my bag whilst pissing off everyone behind me. I can’t recommend this bag enough if you do a lot of flying . . . it may sound trivial, but it will make your life that much easier.