When traveling, the only time it’s socially acceptable to be glued to our phones is when we’re posting an obligatory Instagram Story of a cute sloth, or using an app to facilitate existing in — or making it to — a brand new city. From a social network for like-minded travelers to a map of every airport lounge, these travel editor-recommended apps will help you find your footing on your next trip.
1. Magic Hour
For Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon, a Miami-based Caribbean travel expert, a day on the road doesn’t start until she sneaks in a run, and Magic Hour makes it all possible. “This app gives me the exact times for sunrise and sunset wherever I am. Most people don’t realize that sunrise is a process, not a moment, so this app tells me exactly when sunrise starts, when the sun is at the horizon and when it finishes, which means I know my exact 35- to 45-minute window to run before it gets too hot,” she said. “And it ensures that I get the best sunrise photos.” She uses the free version, which calculates the “magic number” of your current location, but the paid version gives you insight into anywhere in the world.
Mobile Passport, officially authorized by U.S. Border Control and Protection, expedites entry into 26 major U.S. airports like JFK, LAX and SFO, as well as three cruise ports. “I have global entry, but a few times all the kiosks at MIA, my home airport, have been down. So I’m glad I also have the Mobile Passport app, which also allows me to avoid waiting in line for an immigration agent,” said Greaves-Gabbadon.
Lounges are such a luxurious way to spend a layover, it’s not unheard of to miss your connecting flight as you doze off with a pair of cucumber slices over your eyelids (that’s what people do in lounges, right?). But with some airports the size of small cities, it can be a major waste of time (and hassle while lugging around heavy carry-ons) trying to find them yourself. Greaves-Gabbadon said a major benefit of her American Express Platinum credit card is access to the Priority Pass network, which grants you access to over 1,200 airport lounges, along with a plethora of dining, retail and spa discounts.
“When I’m in an unfamiliar airport, I always use the Priority Pass app to check which lounges are available to me and where they are, because I’m all about lounge life,” she said.
Solo travel can be a daunting experience, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the destination. Kate Webster, travel editor at Captured Travel, uses the social network platform Travello to meet up with other travelers in the area or connect with like-minded travelers for upcoming trips.“I’m normally traveling by myself, so I like to get a bit social. Even before traveling, you can join groups for that destination and discuss tips and advice so you are ready to hit the ground running on arrival,” Webster said. When you return home, you can continue to stay in touch with folks you connected with on your travels by uploading photos and videos of your adventure.
If you’ve ever returned from a trip only to completely black out and forget everything you experienced, there’s an app for that. David Barrett Graver, senior editor at Cool Hunting, uses Swarm by Foursquare to catalog each destination so he can provide better recommendations to fellow travelers. “Also so that I can remember what I did in the quieter moments,” he said.
6. Fly Delta
If you’re a frequent Delta flyer like Barrett Graver, it’s time to do away with the clunky screenshots of your flight reservations in your photo library. Your Delta app houses all your information in one place, allowing you to track the whereabouts of your incoming aircraft, pay for seat upgrades and checked baggage (and track their location), and book canceled flights. Opting in for airline SMS notifications is anecdotally unreliable, so you can count on the Delta app to send you alerts for any itinerary changes. “[I use it for the] sheer amount of organization present and instant updates,” said Barrett Graver.