Are you eying a vacation or a business trip either soon or some time “down the road”? Well, being at your desk isn’t always the most convenient place to do your trip planning. You might want to sit at the kitchen or dining room table, or on the living room sofa instead, comfortably managing the details of your trip from your Apple iPad. Here’s a roundup of apps that can help you out.
You’ll find apps below that can let you make airline and hotel reservations, check out the weather at your intended destination, look at it on a map, figure out currency exchange rates, find restaurants and other points of interest in the local area…and even decide whether to get to them by cab, bus, or subway.
Let the trip planning begin!
TripAdvisor combines a flight-finder with hotel/restaurant/Things To Do map-and-detail listings for destination cities and areas. You can either specify a destination address or select Near Me Now.
The flight-finder is clear and clean. Some of the listings are identified as coming via Expedia. You probably want to use at least one additional flight-finding tool, but TripAdvisor is a reasonable choice for one set of suggestions.
The Things To Do listing combines a map (Microsoft’s BING) with map “pins” associated with entries in the left column. Tapping on an entry brings up information which includes details, photos and reviews.
From the map, you can filter within Hotels, Things To Do, and Restaurants.
For example, you can filter Things To Do by Attraction Type, Neighborhood, and more. Attraction Types include Landmarks & Historic Sites, Museums/Zoos/Aquariums, and Factories/Wineries/Breweries, for instance.
Oddly, TripAdvisor runs only in landscape mode. But that’s not a big deal; it’s just odd.
Speaking of additional flight-finding tools, Kayak is a good one to try. This software, which lets you search for and book not just flights but hotels and car rentals, too. This app also includes a Flight Status Tracker.
If you register with Kayak, the app will track and manage your itinerary details. It can look up baggage fees, as well.
It suggests some deals and destinations, and it also gives you airport information.
The well-known Yelp app finds restaurants, bars, cafes and other eateries very simply and quickly. First you enter the location and then you select from either a scroll list or map pins.
Yelp entries include basic info and lots of reviews. The app also offers Get Directions links which take you to Google Maps. For some reason, though, it doesn’t provide many menus online.
Also on the down side, there’s no obvious way to search for a listing for a specific restaurant if you know its name — and the scroll list isn’t sorted in any kind of obvious way. But no app is perfect, right?
The OpenTable app lets you find restaurants in a number of ways: within an area, by proximity, through map selection, or by selecting from the geographical areas listing. You can then refine the list by cuisine, price and other filters.
Once you’ve found a restaurant, you can make a free, instant confirmed reservation. After you specify the date, desired time, and how many are in your party, you see what’s available, time-slot-wise. And you can invite others to join you by email.
Currently, over 25,000 restaurants in the U.S. and Canada are “OpenTable-enabled.” (If you’re in the UK, you can use TopTable instead.) For each restaurant, you see descriptions, reviews, and (if available) menu information, often via a link to the restaurant’s web site.
You don’t have to register with OpenTable to make reservations — you can simply register as “guest” — but joining means you get redeemable Dining Rewards Points (good at any OpenTable restaurant).
Since OpenTable only lists participating restaurants, you’ll want at least one additional restaurant-recommending app, such as Yelp.
One medium-sized criticism: “Find By Name” doesn’t seem to work, even when typing in the name of a restaurant that OpenTable is already showing me on-screen. Tsk!
TripIt is one of many available itinerary-managers, letting you aggregate all of your flight, lodging, meal and other activity details.
It gives you the options of synching the details to your calendar and/or online at TripIt.com. Or you can enter all the details manually, if you want.
Alternatively, you can use Auto-Import to get the info sent to email@example.com. According to its developer, “TripIt instantly recognizes reservations from 3,000+ booking sites including cruises, restaurants, concerts and more.”
Part 2 of this multi-page has five more travel-related apps for the iPad.
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