All Access: Smartphones Make All Aspects of Travel Easier

The days of folding and unfolding maps, printing out directions, and typing itineraries are over. In mere seconds, you can have all of those items at your fingertips and without using a single piece of paper. Smartphones are no longer a luxury, but now a convenience, simplifying all areas of our lives, including travel. From locating public restrooms to providing turn-by-turn directions to organizing itineraries to booking hotels, smartphones are making every aspect of travel easier.

Smartphones aren't only making the act of travel easier, but also planning. Many of the trendiest new apps allow travelers to plan their trip from their computer using a desktop application or website and then sync it with their phone. One such application is TripIt, which organizes all of your trip details into one master itinerary. It's your own personal travel assistant, giving you directions, maps, weather, flight details, and alternate flights all in one central place. Travelers can then access it from a computer or smartphone.

Frequent traveler Britt Reints depends heavily on smartphone apps, especially TripIt, stating: "Not only does it keep track of reservations and contact information for airlines and hotels, but it stores times and addresses for any meetings, dinner dates, or tours. Plus I can easily share all the information with my husband so he knows when I'll be too busy to call home."

When it comes to apps that simplify your life while traveling, the world is in fact your oyster. However, do your research ahead of time to identify destination-specific apps that can help in ways that general travel apps don't. Destination-specific applications often provide local information in real-time that you can't find elsewhere. Travel writer Nancy Brown discusses how a San Francisco public transportation app helps her: "I rely on the iBART app to get me on time to the airport. The iBART app has a trip planner feature that tells me the train schedules and ticket cost. The advisories link is helpful if a BART station is closed."

These and many other applications and capabilities of smartphones are simplifying the way we travel. However, remember to set that smartphone down and enjoy the scenery.

Photo courtesy of Kirsten Alana