Twenty years ago, business travelers relied on travel agents, concierges and multilingual guides to navigate their way around the world. There were no text alerts for flight delays or apps to direct you to the best local café for a pre-meeting jolt. TripAdvisor wasn’t there to find you that unbeatable fare from SFO to London. And you had to trust the palates of your hotel staff for dining recommendations.
Fast-forward ahead a few (light) years. Here we are in the 2010s, the technology-powered decade in which our very survival hinges on our smartphone’s presence in our pocket. Ours is the era of the connected car, the connected in-flight experience and game-changing travel services such as Uber, Airbnb and TravelZoo. As a business traveler in today’s skies, you never have to leave the comfort of the cloud.
Technology and ubiquitous, 24/7 internet access have ushered in a new era in business travel: it’s now a DIY (do-it-yourself) affair. Your concierge is Yelp. Your travel agent is Priceline. And equipped with your smartphone and/or tablet, you get to be your own translator and tour guide.
But how can you navigate through the ocean of available apps to uncover the most useful ones for your travel needs? No matter where you’re headed this season, the following are sure to make your trip a bit smoother.
If your international travel involves flight, this is theapp for you. GateGuru is akin to having a trusted friend at the airport at all times to provide critical data about your trip: airport weather, which terminalto head to for check-in, the shuttle times to get to your terminal, the estimated wait at security, where to grab a snack or dine near your gate, andmuch, much more. GateGuru is a TripAdvisor app that receives high marks from frequent flyers for its real-time flight tracking, notifications andairport-specific information.
Another TripAdvisor company, SeatGuru is a complementary appto GateGuru that gives you the full scoop on the desirable and not-so-desirable seats aboard your aircraft. Equipped with these two apps, you’ll arrive at the gate stress-free, well-fed and prepared for the in-flight experience that awaits you.
Has jetlag sabotaged a mission-critical business trip for you in the past? The mind-numbing headaches, inopportune hunger pangs and constant sleepiness can plague you throughout your stay abroad, but with this app, you’ll get over the hump faster. Developed by researchers at the University of Michigan, Entrain uses your natural circadian rhythms and current time zone to create a custom light/dark program and sleeping schedule for you. By exposing yourself to light and darkness at the right times, Entrain steers yourbody’s internal clock to a new time zone more quickly. You’ll find that you’re able to remain more alert for that series of day-three afternoon meetings.
Did you get that room by the elevator again? Are you craving a more organic sound than your hotel ventilation system? Does pre-meeting stress keep you up at night? This top-rated white noise and alarm clock app is the ultimate tool for creating a relaxing and restful sound space so you canget those critical ZZZs. Select from or combine 100+ high-quality ambient sounds for the ultimate deep sleep inducing experience. Many users claim this app has cured their insomnia. And with Relax Melodies, you can fall asleep AND wake up gently—to birds singing, water trickling, crickets humming. Choose your own sound mix and volume level to ease into your morning and remain “zen” foryour business meetings.
Are you interested in impressing your Dutch business partners with a few apropos expressions in Nederlands? Duolingo is the trendiest language-learning app of the year. What’s the secret behind its raging popularity? It’s free. It’s social. It’s addictive. And it really works. In fact, many aspiring language learners who “flunked” Rosetta Stone found successwith Duolingo. And the best news is that the ease of this platform means youcan get started this instant speaking another language. All you have to do is create an account and select your language. You’ll master the basics in no time— and have an arsenal of useful words to make your stay abroad richer and more meaningful. Current available languages include: Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch,Italian, German, French, Danish, Hungarian, Swedish, Russian, Turkish, Polishand Romanian.
Are you preparing for a negotiation with today’s exchange rates? Do you want to know if your suitcase surpasses the weight limit at the Quebec airport? How should you dress for a 32-degree day in Frankfurt? Is that coffeehouse that’s two kilometers from your hotel within walking distance?
For these questions and more, The Converted has got you covered. With over 150 currencies and 50 units of measurement, this slick, location-aware app can take care of all of your conversions overseas, whether for currency, weight, temperature, volume, speed or area. And it functions on-and offline, so you can talk dollars, Euros or yen at that late-night meetingat the pub.
Photo Credit: Steven Lewis