Technology really has changed the way we travel. It’s barely even 5 years ago that we wouldn’t have left home without a Lonely Planet or Michelin Guide. These days the thought of lugging something so heavy around is considered passé as most of us eschew the printed books. The street vendors in Vietnam and Thailand who sold fake versions of the guides at a quarter of the price must have long gone out of business. Same for the CD and DVDs. It’s still possible to pick up some dusty pirated copies in Bali or Thailand but most of us who are that way inclined just download movies and songs from the internet these days.
Results of the TTFN Travel February 2014 client survey show smart phone penetration amongst TTFN Travel clients is over 80% and the majority of them take the devices when they travel. What is interesting is the use of apps and how it differs between corporate and leisure travellers. Some of this difference may come down to the cost of communications overseas (as corporate travelers are more likely to have their data and phone roaming paid for by the company as opposed to their own pocket) but also it most likely comes down to the age of the user, with (on average) younger, more tech savvy corporate travellers using the apps to a much greater extent than our leisure clients. Corporate clients are much more frequently using communication apps such as Skype (75% for corporate versus 33% for leisure), What’sApp and Viber. Both groups showed strong use of XE currency.
According to the Apple iphone app store, there are over 250 apps specifically designed for travel. Not all of these have much traction and not all of them are particularly useful but some, once you find out about them, are game changers when you find yourself in a foreign land trying to speak a foreign language. One of our personal favourites is WordLens which uses the smartphone camera to translate and show you anything written (such as a menu or sign) into your language and present it in the identical font that the menu is displayed in. It’s one of the more expensive apps but really quite magical when you see it in action.
In cities, travel apps like Sit or Squat can help you find the nearest toilet (particularly useful in places like Amsterdam where public toilets are few and far between), find the best coffee shop (definitely necessary in France and Turkey), good bars and restaurants (Trip Advisor, TimeOut city guides). On the go apps such as TripIt, TripCase and GateGuru can help make your trip a lot smoother. The best way to discover new apps and how they can benefit you is to talk to other travelers or your TTFN Travel Confidante. There are so many benefits to be discovered so head to the app store and start downloading. Most of them are free or only cost a dollar or two. It’s worth the small investment.
Article written by Nicola Billens
Nicola Billens is an experienced traveller, having visited all the continents (except Antarctica) over the last 20 years. She’s lived in France, England, Austria and New Zealand and spent many years and many dollars experiencing what this wonderful world has to offer.