7 Favorite FREE Travel Apps

How did we ever travel without a phone and all the great apps that make the trip easier to plan and enjoy? After returning from NYC, I realized how many of these apps improved our time away from home.

Postagram – Use the pictures you take while away to create your own postcards. With this app, any picture on your phone can be sent as a postcard for only $1 and best of all you don’t need to find a post office or buy stamps. Select the image, create the postagram and message, include the address of the recipient, and friends or family members will receive the Postagram postcard in their mailbox in less than a week.

HopStop – Simply input your location (or let the app use your current location) and your destination and HopStop develops routes for walking, using mass transit, or a taxi. Routes, estimated time, and cost are provided for each route. For city travel HopStop is a must!

TripIt – This “all-in-one” trip organizer tracks reservations for flights, hotels, restaurants, or events to create a master itinerary that can be shared with traveling companions or those back home that you want to make jealous. I was amazed that my airline reservations automatically appeared in my TripIt itinerary. Someday when I become a world traveler, I may even upgrade to the paid version of TripIt Pro.

History Here  Perfect for a history geek. This travel guide uses your current location and GPS to locate nearby historical locations including descriptions, pictures, hours of operation, and admission price. History Here led us to Theodore Roosevelt’s Boyhood home, a National Park in NYC with free admission, guided tour, and lots of interesting information about the city and its history.

FlightAware – An easy way to track the status of flights including flight status, gate number, delays, cancellations, and live flight tracking. This may even be a better app for those picking up travelers at the airport.

Yelp – A terrific city guide to places to eat or shop or visit based on the experiences of others. With the help of Yelp we found Amici II, a great restaurant in Little Italy.

Zinio – This app with the free magazine collection available from the public library made for a better flight. Just download a few magazines before leaving home for hours of reading pleasure at the airport or on the flight. No more last minute trips to the airport newsstand!IMG_1718

I’m still looking for the perfect weather app. I’ve downloaded five, but I’m still looking. Any suggestions?

Florida Memory

Postcards are one of my favorite vacation souvenirs. Over the years I’ve used postcards to keep journals of our adventures. Instead of keeping a more traditional journal, I purchase postcards and then record the day’s events on them before mailing to myself.

When I arrive home from vacation the mailbox is overflowing with reminders of our trip and then throughout the next week we continue to receive postcards detailing the daily highlights.

Even now that I’ve switched to the more high tech Postagram version of the traditional postcard, I still enjoy recording vacation memories in this manner.

My love of postcards and the memories they evoke makes Florida Memory a favorite website. A division of library and information services, Florida Memory is a collection of photographs, videos, audio files, and exhibits that connect visitors to Florida’s past. I especially enjoy Florida Memory’s postcard collection since I remember looking through similar cards while vacationing in the Sunshine State years ago.

State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/157588
State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/163205
State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/161075
State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/160853
State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/163718

These postcards and many others in the collection remind me of trips taken as a child while vacationing in the state that would become our home.




Postagram – my new favorite app!

Sanibel sunset - first Postagram picture.
Sanibel sunset – first Postagram picture.

I recently read a list of “must have” apps. I’m not sure where I found this list, but I wrote the names of those that were free and decided to check them out. Postagram promised users the ability to make their own postcards that could be mailed to recipients…using real old-fashioned snail mail. Since I’m a sucker for postcards I decided this one I had to try.

Here’s how it works: Open the Postagram app. Select a picture from your phone. You can even move and scale the picture if needed. Next, you write your message, which can be up to 170 characters in length. Then, add the name and address of the recipient. Finally, you will be asked for your credit card information so that you can pay the $.99 charge for printing and mailing the postcard. (However, the first five cards can be sent for free.)

While in Sanibel Island I created my first postcard using Postagram. I wrote a quick note and attached it to the picture of the sunset I took earlier in the evening. The next week the postcard arrived as promised!

Best of all, the picture is perforated so that it can easily be removed and saved. The message is even printed on the back of the picture preserving the message as well.

No more searching the racks for postcards, hunting for a pen in the car, looking for a post office to buy postcard stamps, and then ending up with a bag of unwritten postcards when I return from vacation! Instead, I’ll create and send my own custom cards. I’m just not sure if this is something I should share with John. You know how he is with his pictures!