American Nomad Blog
About this blog
American Nomad covers the best of U.S. travel—from vacation deals to festivals, weekend getaways, travel tips, and more. A seasoned traveler and Moon author, Laura is the perfect guide to help discover new gems when traveling domestically.
- A Southern Girl's Wintertime Adventure in Yellowstone
- One Novelist's Odyssey Across America
- Gearing up for a Family Camping Trip
- Mint Juleps and More at Oak Alley Plantation
- Avoiding Identity Theft While on Vacation
- Money-Saving Travel Tips from Nomadic Matt
- Fashion, Fun, and Convenience for the Modern Traveler
- In Search of Irish Museums Across America
- The Inspiring Journey of a Solo Kayaker
- Getting Fit for Treks in Yosemite and Elsewhere, Part 2
- Getting Fit for Treks in Yosemite and Elsewhere, Part 1
- Experiencing Yosemite with YExplore
- Two Travel Contests Worth Mentioning
- A Word About the TSA's No-No List
- A Reader's Advice About Airport Security
An Array of Helpful Mobile Apps for Travelers
With summer officially here and the Fourth of July holiday just around the corner, road trip fever has spread far and wide. Over the past few weeks, for instance, fellow travel writer Jamie Jensen, author of Road Trip USA, has explored an array of road trip ideas, including favorite road trip movies. In addition, the press releases that I receive each day have lately included an inordinate amount of helpful tips for those planning to hit the highway. In particular, I've discovered several free mobile apps, which have proven useful to a road-tripper like me.
So, in honor of road trip season, I've decided to take a break from my ongoing series about America's best small towns and share these helpful apps with you. After all, few travelers seem to go anywhere nowadays without a smartphone of some kind – filled with their favorite movies, songs, books, games, and other apps. In fact, it's hard to remember a time when most domestic travelers didn't have immediate access to GPS-enabled maps, up-to-the-minute weather reports, satellite radio stations, and varied restaurant, event, and destination guides – not to mention the ability to use the Internet while on the road.
That said, it's difficult to believe that I've only devoted one previous post to a travel-related mobile app, the free Oh, Ranger! ParkFinder – which is why I plan, in future posts, to explore an assortment of useful apps for travelers. As for today's post, it's more than possible that you've already heard of the following 10 free apps, but just in case you haven't, be sure to download them soon.
Similar to Facebook, this fast-growing global network enables you to meet local residents in each stop along your journey, whether you're traveling across the United States or around the world. Hence, it might help you feel a little less like a tourist. Conveniently, you can log into the app by using your Facebook account.
While you might not like to consider the possibility of a major medical emergency while traveling, the fact is that such situations can happen anywhere, at any time. To help you prepare for a “worst case scenario,” this easy-to-use app allows you to store important medical information (including medication needs), upload copies of your passport and identification documents, share such information with selected friends and relatives, and access a free 24-hour emergency response center to aid you during a crisis.
As the name indicates, this handy app allows you to translate and learn how to pronounce words in roughly 65 languages, from Spanish to Arabic to Haitian Creole. While this might seem like a more appropriate app for those traveling abroad, you never know when you might encounter someone who doesn't speak English – even in America. Essentially, this app will ensure that a language barrier won't keep you from meeting someone new.
Live Cams Free
Via the EarthCam Network, this app offers access to streaming video cameras from all around the world. While traveling across the United States, you can utilize this comprehensive webcam search engine to see live views of beaches, parks, eateries, and other places along the road ahead, which could even allow you to gauge local weather, traffic, and crowd conditions before you reach your destination.
Photographers will especially appreciate this app, which permits you to capture the entire setting of a given destination by creating 360-degree panoramas from a series of images. Once you've created a new panorama, you can easily share it via email, Facebook, Twitter, Bing Maps, and Photosynth.net.
With this app, you can design keepsake picture postcards from your own travel photos. I should note, though, that while the app is free to download, it will cost you a nominal fee to send each postcard that you create.
If you decide not to rent a car while traveling in America, you can use this app to book and schedule taxi pickups in more than 45 U.S. cities, ensuring that you won't be stranded without transportation while exploring a new place.
Besides helping you to plan your itineraries for future trips, this app also enables you to network with fellow travelers and track your frequent flyer accounts.
For travelers who prefer a bit of spontaneity, this app provides suggestions on where to go – and what to do once you get there. From the monuments of San Francisco to the museums of Washington, D.C., this comprehensive app offers a slew of destination guides pertaining to places across America – and around the world.
YP – Local Search & Gas Prices
Instead of having to lug around a stack of Yellow Pages phone books, this app allows you to search for restaurants, movie theaters, and other nearby establishments throughout the country. Additionally, you can look for specific menu items, local deals, upcoming events, and, even better, the cheapest gas prices.
Now, in my household, we have both an iPhone (mine) and an Android (my husband's), so as far as I know, all of the above apps are available on both iPhone and Android devices, except for Photosynth and SnapShot Postcard, both of which are only available to iPhone users. Of course, if I'm mistaken, Android users, please let me know!
In the meantime, what are your favorite apps for travelers – free or otherwise?
As always, I’m open to ideas for future posts. If you have any suggestions, burning questions, or destinations that you’d like me to explore in greater detail, please comment below or contact me via laura [at] wanderingsoles [dot] com.
Disclosure: While I occasionally accept free or discounted travel assistance when it coincides with my editorial goals, my opinion is never for sale, which means that everything written in my American Nomad blog and Moon travel guides is my unbiased reflection of the things that I see, do, and experience while traveling across the United States.
Photo of Michigan woods / Text © 2012 Laura Martone