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Apps for travellers dreaming of their next trip

National
Park Service

From Acadia
to Zion, at long last there’s a single official park service app for America’s
more than 400 national parks. Created by National Park Service staff, the app
puts practical information — such as fees, hours, directions, webcams, where to
find food and restrooms, park news and events (walking tours, talks, volunteer
opportunities) — at your fingertips. Search for parks near you, or search for
them by name, state, activity (like horse trekking, caving, dog sledding) or
topic (African American heritage, climate change, volcanoes). According to the
app, a visit to Alaska is in order if you want to go dog sledding through
national parks and preserves, although if horse trekking is more your speed,
there are dozens of national sites from which to choose. Download park details
for offline use on mountain trails and other spots where you don’t have cell
service, and keep a running list of the parks you’ve visited. Cost: free.

HearHere —
Road Trip Companion

When
contemplating a road trip, any number of images might come to mind — and Kevin
Costner probably isn’t one of them. That may be about to change. The actor and
director is a co-founder of HearHere, an app that uses your location and
interests to play audio snippets (some narrated by Costner) about the history,
culture and natural wonders of the places you’re driving through. There are
morsels about the things you see (like landmarks) and the things you don’t,
like the people who walked the land before you. The app, which rolled out in
2020, more recently announced an expansion, blossoming from road trip stories
set on the West Coast to more than 8,700 stories across the United States,
including details about the early history of Portland, Maine; the burning of
Washington by British troops in 1814; and the first racially integrated housing
in Philadelphia. Available only on iOS. Cost: free for the first five stories;
after that, $29.99 for 30-day unlimited access; $35.99 for a one-year unlimited
subscription; $69.99 for three years.

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Bublup

Bublup is a
cloud storage service where you can save and organize all sorts of content
(photos, videos, documents, links, PDFs) in eye-pleasing folders and, if you
like, share them with others. For example, say you’re planning a trip to
Vermont. With a few taps, you can create a vacation folder and choose from the
app’s templates to add a packing checklist and a note about things you want to
do. You can easily forward flight or car rental confirmation emails, import
inspirational photos and videos, and add links to travel articles and potential
bed-and-breakfasts. One of the things that makes the app (and desktop version)
delightful for visual planners is that you can choose the colours of your
folders or even use your own photos on the front of them and as background
images inside. Each type of content you add to a folder (be it a link or photo)
appears in its own tidy box, which makes scrolling through information less
like work and more like, well, vacation. To get started, try Bublup’s “vacation
planning” template, which has handy folders for flight information, food and
beverages, location, lodging options and must-see sights, which you can then
customise. Tap “invite” to enable fellow travelers to view or collaborate on
your trip planning by adding and editing content. For more ways to use the app
for vacation planning, check out Bublup’s blog. Cost: free for three gigabytes
of storage; more storage and features from $2.99 to $9.99 a month or, if paid
yearly, from $27.60 to $94.80. Pricing details: Bublup.com/premium-features.

The Points
Guy

The Points
Guy website, known for demystifying the ever-changing world of loyalty points
and airline miles, has an eponymous app to help you earn, use and keep an eye
on your hard-won travel awards. A points wallet allows you to enter your
airline and hotel loyalty program information, receive notifications about
using your miles and points before they expire, and see just how close you are
to scoring a trip. There’s also a place to enter your credit card information
and track bonus offers, as well as see how you might spend to earn more points.
Tap the “award explorer” icon to learn about redeeming points and miles, and
search for estimated award trip prices. A news feed puts the latest travel
developments about airlines and airports, deals, destinations and COVID-19
requirements in your pocket. Available only on iOS. Cost: free.

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Una Travel:
Smart Trip Planner

Currently in
public beta, this app asks about your travel style — like the sorts of places
you prefer to stay (Beach hotels? Green hotels?) and the cuisines that make
your mouth water (Mexican? Italian?) — before offering itineraries and
recommendations of things to do. The app’s creators have emphasised responsible
travel by including plenty of outdoor activities like hiking, cycling, camping,
visits to parks and landmarks, and meals at restaurants with al fresco seating.
And you can plan and collaborate on that camping or cycling trip with friends
and family, too. Cost: free.

Welcome: A
Smart City Guide

Founded by
creators of Cameo, a mobile video app that was acquired by Vimeo in 2014,
Welcome has come out of beta and is aiming to help users swiftly discover
places to go and things to do. Follow travel publications, travel experts and
friends. The app will provide recommendations based not only on your
preferences but also on real-time considerations such as the time of day,
weather and holidays. (Note: You have to enter your phone number to sign in to
Welcome.) Available only on iOS. Cost: free.

Elude App

Some nascent
travel apps don’t have many reviews on Apple’s App Store and Google Play, but
since they are free to download, you can give them a try before deciding
whether they deserve a place on your smartphone. For instance, if you’re
itching to go somewhere and want a bit of direction, Elude App suggests
destinations based on your responses to questions like “Crave or hard pass?”
(with accompanying photos of food such as a charcuterie plate, sushi rolls and
dragonfruit) and “Try it or skip?” (with photos and descriptions of activities
like “learning to cook like a boss,” “attempting to salsa like a local” and “shhh…visiting
a quiet architectural spot”). You can then search for itineraries by entering
your total trip budget and the city from which you’re departing. Available for
iOS only. Cost: free.

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And others …

Of course,
nowadays there’s so much evolving travel information, it’s not easy to keep up
with the latest rules about where you can go and when. Wandry: Travel Planner
aims to help by gathering details from different government portals and putting
them in one place. Find out where you are and aren’t allowed to roam, and see
requirements for COVID-19 tests, vaccinations and quarantines. Cost: free.

You may also
want to revisit familiar apps like Hopper, Skyscanner, TripIt, and Tripadvisor,
which have updates, including COVID-19-related requirements and health
information. App in the Air, where users book and keep track of their trips and
loyalty programs, introduced a digital “health passport,” which was recently
updated so you can add both a PCR test and a vaccination certificate before
traveling. Cost: free; memberships with additional features like flight status
updates are available from $9.99 a year to $49.99 for a lifetime membership.

Meanwhile,
on the ground, an update to the free Google Maps app may be useful for getting
around outdoors. Its bike and scooter share information has been expanded to
more than 300 cities worldwide. Consult the app to find stations around you
and, in places like New York and Barcelona, see how many bikes are currently
available. If you’re among the many people these days exploring closer to home,
an update to Trivago, which helps travelers score deals on accommodations, may
be of interest. The free app introduced Trivago Weekend, a new way to discover
nearby experiences and trips. Just set your current city or town and then tap
the “weekend” icon to peruse places to stay and getaway ideas for 2022 that
don’t necessarily require a boarding pass.

© 2022 The
New York Times Company

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