Apps revolutionize business trips and family vacations

jacobTraveling to an unfamiliar destination for business or leisure can be intimidating.
However, today’s smartphones offer a wide selection of apps to help travelers get around, eat well, and rest easy.

New apps are regularly being released, unseating popular solutions from just a few years ago. If you haven’t surveyed the travel selection in your phone’s app store recently, here are some suggestions for the summer travel season.

All of the apps are available for both Apple’s iOS and Google Android operating systems. Plus, they are currently free to download.

Drive like a Local: Waze
Your phone’s maps can get you from point A to point B, but there’s no guarantee you won’t be driving through major traffic or straight through speed traps. Waze uses information gathered from local drivers to help others fi nd the best routes, avoid construction, and buy the cheapest gas. It also has voice navigation like the GPS unit on your dash.

Find Some Wheels: Zipcar
Zipcar is a new take on car rental. After becoming a member (fees involved) and receiving a special unlock card in the mail, customers can reserve cars using their smart phones and simply walk up and drive away. Cars are stationed at convenient locations like airports. However, the service isn’t available everywhere, especially if you will be outside a major city. CarRentals.com is a more traditional tool that compares prices and car types from the major rental companies.

Call It a Night: Booking.com
There are lots of great apps that let users compare hotels. Booking.com gets the job done, and it’s easy to use. Hotels.com is another good choice. There are also new services springing up where local residents will actually rent out space in their homes or apartments to travelers. If that sounds interesting, check out the Airbnb app.

Take a Bus or Train: Transit App
In many major cities, you can leave the car behind and use public transportation.
However, schedules, routes, and fares are often difficult to discern. Transit App makes it easy. Users can plan a trip and—in many cities—see bus and train locations on a map.

Book the Flight: Hipmunk
While there are several great apps for comparing and selecting flights, Hipmunk is acclaimed for its simple design and fast results.

While most other apps allow users to sort flight options by cost, duration, and layovers, Hipmunk has a novel approach. The app rates flights with an “agony” factor, allowing travelers to more easily discern their best choices for a combination of both price and experience.

Grab a Bite: Urbanspoon
This app has everything travelers need and expect when looking for great local restaurants. Sorting by cuisine or by price is simple. The app also has user reviews and uploaded menus for local eateries. It’s also very easy to use.

Let the Locals Drive: Uber
Forget standing on the street and hailing a cab; your smartphone can do the work. Apps like Uber and Lyft are changing the business by allowing everyday citizens to become paid drivers using their own vehicles. Uber also has its own vehicles and works with local taxi companies. These services aren’t available everywhere, though. Traditional taxi services have apps, too. Easy Taxi is a great choice.

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