Travel apps to help you plan ahead

  • By Myscha Theriault McClatchy-Tribune News Service
  • Thursday, June 13, 2013 1:22pm
  • LifeTransportation

Has a last-minute travel emergency left you frustrated with logistics such as ground transportation or airport navigation?

Do you stress about storm updates when traveling by car? Perhaps an unexpected flight delay has previously left you stranded and bored.

Take a tip from the smartphone set and embrace these savvy travel apps.

Weather: It’s all well and good to check the weather before leaving home, but what about unexpected storm developments occurring when you’re already on the road?

Retiree Ruth Arnold and her husband are embracing the RV lifestyle as part of their retirement dream. Tracking storms from the road plays a crucial role in her travel planning efforts.

Arnold’s answer? A free app called MyRadar. Says Arnold, “It shows the storms all over the country, and when we get on the road it will notify my phone when we enter any warning or watch areas.”

Readers should be aware that while the app itself is free, the phone notification upgrade costs $3.99, according to the iTunes website.

In my opinion, this seems like a small price to pay for receiving crucial information precisely when you need it.

Airports: Navigating strange airports in a rush can be stressful. Especially when you’re not sure if walking the length of the entire terminal will even result in finding what you need.

Restrooms, executive lounges, good coffee and access to a bar make my short list of layover needs.

Enter, GateGuru. With a listing of major airports, and amenity information for each terminal provided, you can easily learn what your shopping, service and dining options are.

It’s a free app that also integrates with other popular travel apps such as TripIt.

Transportation: Another airport navigation stressor is interfacing with ground transportation. One helpful app is TravelNerd.

Developed by the folks at NerdWallet, it lists shuttle, bus and taxi information for roughly 70 airports in cities throughout the world, including Chicago, Los Angeles, Hong Kong, Toronto, London, and Tokyo. offers helpful app downloads for travelers visiting destinations around the globe.

Options include one that helps travelers interact with the Washington State ferry system, a rail service app featuring stations throughout the United Kingdom, a Halifax metro app and a New York City subway app to name just a few.

Entertainment: When you’ve read all your books and are caught up on work, it helps to be able to be able to unwind with a fun flick.

That’s where the free Netflix app for streaming video customers comes into play. Available for the Windows Phone, Android and iPhone as well as the Kindle Fire, this app allows customers to stream online content while waiting for their next flight.

Not enough time for a full movie? No problem. There are plenty of television series viewing options, as well as a healthy selection of TEDTalks.

Myscha Theriault is the co-author of the book “10,001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget,” and founder of, a website for independent travelers.

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