'Tis the season to engage in the time-honored tradition of stressing ourselves out beyond belief while getting ready and traveling for the holidays. Social media makes it seem like everyone's houses are decorated perfectly and their families all love each other, while you couldn't get it together to get cards out and are in a rabbit hole of group texts with family who are throwing out their gift wish-list 2 days before Christmas (or maybe that's just me). But your phone can also help make the holidays go a bit smoother, and maybe, just maybe be more enjoyable. While there are many, many, many apps to choose from, I think there are 5 categories to think about and choose something that works for you: travel organization, targeted maps, random local trivia, meditation, and silly games.
A few notes about this list of apps that I use for holiday travel survival:
I have an Android phone- so the versions I'm talking about are for Android operating systems. They are probably also available for iPhones, because what isn't? This is not a peek into "in the know" apps from start-ups created by my friends in Oakland or Brooklyn. That's not how I roll and my friends in Oakland and Brooklyn are too old have too many children to be messing around in start-ups. This list may be basic, but hey, sometimes I'm a basic lady.
- A travel-organizer app. I've been using TripIt for several years now and like how it connects emails I get to my Google calendar to compile everything related to my trip, like flight tickets, rental car info, and hotel reservations. Like a nice crock-pot recipe, I treat TripIt like a "set it and forget it" app. Just make sure the emails you use for all this stuff match up and you'll be good to go! More recently, I've surrendered to the fact Google knows more about my life than I do and downloaded Google Trips. I like how you can search cities or towns and it gives you links to Google Maps for popular attractions, restaurants, and bars. Because Google sees all, it also picks up Calendar and email items related to travel and organizes them for you.
- A targeted map app. There seems to be a map app for most everything. I'll be using GasBuddy on my road trip tomorrow to find gas stations and WiFi Map is a great resource if you're looking to connect in an airport, bus station, or your aunt's house.
- A random local trivia app. Even wonder what the story behind the old building down the street from your Grandmother's house is or how these towns off the highway got their names? While it can be a little overwhelming, Field Trip shows you random tidbits of info near your current location or you can search near another address. It links to little articles about historical info, restaurant reviews, architectural significance, cultural highlights, and something called "cool and unique." A good way to pass the time and load up on dinner conversation when things get inevitably awkward.
- A meditation app. I've been trying to incorporate meditating more regularly into my routine and it has been a game-changer, especially during stressful times. It helps me feel more calm, focused, productive, and helps with my energy levels. And now it's easier than ever to get some help from your phone, whether you're waiting out a flight delay or gearing up for a day of family togetherness. I love Stop, Breathe & Think, which offers a bunch of free guided meditations (and some you can pay for), and if you're not sure which one to choose, there's an option to answer a few questions and get some suggestions. It also keeps track of your progress and has a very calming and easy to use interface. I've also used the Chopra Center's Meditation Experience app, which links to the free 21-day theme-based meditation programs narrated by Oprah and Deepak Chopra and a lot of purchasable content.
- A silly app. Self-care and taking a break for all the positive and negative stress that these weeks can bring is important. I love the cat-hoarding game, Neko Atsume: Kitty Collector, where you put out food and toys and wait and watch for a load of different cats to come to your yard, and well, act like cats. Don't ask me why, but I love it. It's endlessly entertaining and relaxing.
I'd love to hear about the travel apps you love and safe travels everyone!
Filed under: Travel