The purpose of technology is to make our lives easier. With that in mind, smartphones help every traveler spend less time planning and more time enjoying the trip and making memories.
Here’s a list of apps and smartphone functions that can make your travel easier:
Apple Maps: This app is built in to the iPhone and is proprietary to the Apple device. For other phones, Google Maps is a good alternative. Each will map out point-to-point directions and guide you along your route.
Gas Buddy: This app and others like it use the location service on your phone to track your whereabouts and tell you the cheapest gas prices nearby.
Insurance: Most insurance providers offer apps that let you carry your auto insurance on your phone. It’s a great time-saver when you need to present up-to-date coverage information.
I default to the Wikipedia app to update information. I love its encyclopedic format and the way it uses GPS location to suggest local articles. It’s a great way to research the local history that makes your trip more interesting.
Use your camera app for general photography because smartphones are as good as point-and-shoot cameras. GPS-enabled smartphones can geotag your images so you know precisely where they were taken. It’s a great way to preserve the memories of a trip.
There is a ton of information online to learn how to become an accomplished smartphone photographer. An especially helpful website is verizonwireless.com. Type “nick-lavecchia-morningcoffee” in its search field and get tips from a professional photographer.
Hipstamatic: This phone app uses your built-in camera and adds cool, artistic embellishments to the photos. I love the way it gives my images a vintage feel, and I take most of my on-the-road images using this app.
Super 8: When I shoot video on my smartphone, I often use the Super 8 app, which takes my high-definition phone camera footage and makes it look like it was shot by a Super 8 camera from back in the 1970s.
Journaling and social networking
Notes is an integrated app on my Apple iPhone with which I can type up random thoughts while I’m out of the car. What’s really cool is that I can talk to the phone and it transcribes my words into text.
Social networking sites have apps so you can post your adventures on the go. With Instagram, you can cross-post to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr and Foursquare. So instead of wasting a lot of time posting to multiple accounts, you can post to one and you’re done.
Food and lodging
Yelp is a great way to discover local eateries. Using real user reviews, Yelp rates restaurants. Using the geolocation services built into your phone, Yelp determines your location and makes recommendations on where to eat.
The hotels.com app finds a place to lay your head. Like Yelp, the app provides prices and user ratings, and it allows you to book your hotel immediately.
Consider having games — Angry Birds or Minecraft Pocket Edition come to mind — and playlists of songs your children like at the ready for the times when the kids get antsy in the car.
Finally, you need to keep your phone charged. Use your car charger when possible. If you get away from your vehicle — on a remote camping trip, for example — consider using a portable solar panel or a battery extender to help you keep your charge.