The holiday travel season is here, and millions of Americans are getting ready to descend upon airports and highways across the country. Crowds on the road or at airports are inevitable this time of year, but there are some tech tips that may help ease the pain of traveling.
1. Back up your data before you leave
Organizing for your trip ahead of time can save you time and money, but in our wired society, preparing your electronic devices before travel may also prevent a disaster. Whether your mobile device or computer is lost or stolen, it can be devastating to lose precious photos and videos. Back up your data before leaving on a trip to prevent the loss of those irreplaceable moments.
2. Aggregate travel information
TripIt offers a central place to track travel reservations online and via its mobile app. Once travel information is loaded, the service will email reservation information and even flight delays and gate changes. TripIt is available on iOS, Android, Blackberry and Windows Phone 7.
3. Gather emergency information
EmergencyLink is a service that lets your link all of your medical, financial and insurance information. Emergency information will be stored online and on the mobile app. EmergencyLink has an emergency response service that can be set up from your mobile device. The mobile app is available for iOS and Android.
4. Organize what you pack
GasBuddy is a popular mobile app the finds the cheapest gas station in the area. The mobile app is available on iOS, Android and Blackberry devices.
6. Find a last-minute place to stay
Airbnb, the vacation rental matchmaking service, has a feature that lets users browse last-minute rooms or apartments for rent. Airbnb's mobile app is available on iOS and Android devices. Hotel Tonight lets users book last-minute hotel stays via its iOS or Android app.
7. Check in to your flight from home
Most airlines let users check in and print boarding passes from home. If you have bags to check, some airlines also have separate lines for baggage drop-off. Don't forget to check TSA.gov for additional information, like what you can take on an airplane or acceptable forms of identification.
Shareporter (iOS) is a ride matchmaking service that lets users search for people making similar treks to the airport, to split the costs of taxi rides.
9. Find free Wi-Fi
Several airports in the United States offer free Wi-Fi. Google and Boingo recently announced the addition of 4,000 sponsored Wi-Fi hotspots, including 15 airports. Visit an airport's website to find out if it offers free Wi-Fi. Those out of luck may want to purchase Boingo Wi-Fi pre-pay credits for about $2 per hour. Take precaution not to transfer sensitive information over an open Wi-Fi network. Keep it to casual Web browsing.
10. Translate foreign words
Apps like Google Goggles (Android) or Word Lens (iOS) actually uses your phones camera to translate words before your eyes. Google Goggles is free and can read and translate several languages. Word Lens is a free app, but users must purchase a language pack for about $1 per language.