Top 10 Travel Apps and Technology

Rice paddy trekking. Lisa Tufano, travel blogger. Sapa, Vietnam

Bai Tu Long Bay cruise on Dragon Pearl Junk - Halong Bay, Vietnam Eiffel Tower - Paris Travel Blogger Lisa Tufano
Lisa Tufano, travel blogger. Camel Trekking in Merzouga, Morocco. Western Sahara Desert Rice paddy trekking. Lisa Tufano, travel blogger. Sapa, Vietnam

One of my favorite hobbies is traveling, especially to more remote parts of the world where the land and infrastructure are less developed and the local population still engages in more intimate commercial activity and the family unit is still quite tightly knit. On these journeys I find that the less billboard advertising and Starbucks coffee shops the better, although the occasional flush toilet is much appreciated (especially when confronted with food poisoning, which regrettably has happened once or twice).

Throughout my travel across 4 continents and over 30 countries, I’ve picked up a few tips and tricks that make the whole process a little more affordable, efficient and enjoyable. This is not an exhaustive list, but some of my favorites are detailed below.

You’ll likely find these useful whether you’re planning a road trip across the continental US or hiring a camel caravan to trek the western Sahara desert.

Please do share any of your favorite travel tools, technology, or hacks in the comments below. Happy journeys! :)


Destination Planning

Maybe you have a budget of $2500 and know you want to travel in June, but you are open to exploring a brand new city or country. How do you decide? I’m a fan of using the tools and websites below for trip planning specifically when you’re flexible on the destination or just want to discover new places to explore.

Boss Lady Tip for Hotels —> Never underestimate the comfort, convenience or affordability of Airbnb both here in the United States and when traveling abroad. Use my link and you’ll get $25 off your first Airbnb booking.

That said, when booking traditional hotel accommodations, I typically use an aggregator site like Momondo.com and then I call/email the hotel directly to get the best rate. They will often rate match or beat what you see on sites like Priceline, Hotels.com, Booking.com, etc. and may even throw in a little something extra since they won’t have to pay a finder’s fee. You will also find that the cancellation policy will be more forgiving and your ability to get a room upgrade is enhanced when booking directly.

 

Adioso.com, (web only)

This site offers a flight search aggregator that I like better than what I typically find on Orbitz.com or Kayak.com. You can even explore options based on your travel interests by using the dropdown menu under the “Destination” field. This tool allows you to match your desire to experience the world’s “Best Music Festivals” or the “Best Waterfalls” or the “Best Cities for Active Couples” with your available travel dates.
 
Momondo.com, (app/web, free)

I love this comparison website for domestic and especially international flights and hotels/vacation rentals. IMHO, they do the best job aggregating real-time availability and pricing from travel providers and travel sites around the globe. They also offer a fun “choose your adventure” type Trip Finder tool which helps to narrow down potential destinations based on your budget, interests, and even time of year.
 
Google Flight Search, (web only)

What I love about this tool is the ability to explore and visually move around a global map to view the current flight pricing between your city and all the other major cities in the world.
 
Yelp, (app/web, free)

While I certainly enjoy using TripAdvisor to plan future adventures, I may actually rely on Yelp’s photos, recommendations and mapping features even more.

I find Yelp especially helpful when digging into a city for the best food, cultural highlights and local favorites. With content in close to 30 countries across the globe, Yelp is becoming a valuable travel companion, especially because I also use the app to map out walking/transit directions to local businesses/attractions.
 


Getting Around

 
Waze, (app/free)

How do I love thee, let me count the Waze… this is actually a killer navigation app for traveling in new cities as well as for use in your daily commuting at home. The idea behind Waze is that you can crowdsource traffic and road information in real-time, which according to the app’s creators ends up saving everyone time and gas money on their daily commute. It beats my car’s navigation system and Google Maps every single day.
 
HopStop, (app/free)

Will you be visiting a city with a vast mass transit system? In cities like New York, San Francisco, Washington D.C., Los Angeles, etc. the HopStop app will prove invaluable, because you can easily assess the best mode of travel based on the schedules, cost, and availability to you. Some of the app’s features include:

  • Get directions or find nearby subway stations and bus stops
  • Estimate travel time and cost for a taxi,
  • Find wheelchair accessible and stroller friendly routes
  • View transit maps and schedules

 
Uber, (app/free, but you pay a set rate for the trip)

Uber is a more affordable, better smelling taxi alternative that also eliminates the need to fumble for payment or calculate a tip at the end of your ride. This is especially useful in foreign countries where dealing with currency exchange (especially in smaller denominations) can be a source of anxiety. Uber is available in hundreds of cities around the world.

You simply download the app, save your credit card details, and Uber will match you up with local drivers to transport you from point to point. One thing to consider is that you’ll need a cellular or Wi-Fi connection in order for the app to function. When in Paris, we simply located a free Wi-Fi hotspot (see below) and used that to order an Uber. It was a life saver when the Paris metro had already closed for the evening.

Use my code and your first ride is free (up to $20 value):

UBERJULIUSANDCHARLIE

 


Staying in Touch

 
Free Wi-Fi Finder, (app/free)

Wi-Fi Finder’s best feature is the ability to download a Wi-Fi hotspot directory to use offline. So download it while you still have Internet access and then once you’ve saved the map directory locally you’ll be able to search the database without having to be online. This is super useful if you need to find Wi-Fi hotspots while traveling abroad.
 
Viber, (app/web, free)

You can make free calls and send free text, sticker, photo, voice and video messages to other Viber users, on any device, in any network and country. With the recent update of Viber Desktop, you can even make calls to a friend on a desktop. IMPORTANT: you’ll need a mobile number to validate Viber; the access code is sent via SMS to your phone. This means you need to download and validate the Viber app BEFORE you leave the country unless you plan to upgrade to an international text messaging plan (and why would you do that, since the whole point of using Viber is to avoid having to pay to upgrade to an international text messaging/call plan).
 
Skype, (app/web, free but can pay to make calls to non-Skype users)

Skype is free when you message and call other Skype users, but for me it’s a great solution when I’m traveling internationally and need to make a call to an international number but don’t have an international plan on my phone.

For example, when in Costa Rica I suddenly needed to book an extra hotel and some excursions so I just found a free Wi-Fi connection and used Skype’s reasonable rate plan to call the Costa Rican business numbers and finalize my new plans. I’ve also used it to call friends and family members back in the States while I was traveling abroad.

I would highly recommend setting up your account with some Skype credit prior to departure. I usually keep about $10 credit in my account in case of emergencies. It takes a long time to use it up.

 

2015 Mother’s Day Gift Guide

Awesome Mother's Day Gift Guide by Lisa Tufano
1. This & That Tassel Bag / 2. Polaroid Zip Instant Mobile Printer (preorder) / 3. Acrylic Children’s Initials or Monogram Necklace / 4. Kate Spade New York: Things We Love / 5. Adorable Bear Face Reusable Coffee Cup Cozy / 6. Gourmet Chocolate Covered Potato Chips / 7. Luscious Lips Chip Clips / 8. Mother’s Little Helper Wine Glass / 9. Custom Embroidery Hoop Photo Art / 10. Dear Mom, I Love You More than Coffee / 11. New Mom Activity Book “Letters to My Baby” / 12. Abeego Beeswax Reusable Kitchen Flats

Mother’s Day is just a little over a week away so I thought I’d put together some fresh ideas for your May 10th shopping search. There are some creative options here whether you’re buying for a brand new mom (#11) or for a mom with many children already (#8). Most of these ideas are well under $50 with the exception of #2, which is a splurge for the tech savvy mom who loves to capture moments with her phone and would be tickled pink to receive this tiny mobile photo printer! Pre-order it now to receive in time for Mother’s Day!

My favorite picks? The chocolate-covered potato chips because they appeal to moms with sweet AND salty teeth, and it’s a little more creative than the usual mom candy options. This could also be an easy DIY gift — just buy the chips, melt the chocolate, dip, and dry!

BOSS LADY DEAL ALERT: I’m also loving the This & That tassel bag from Black and Jane. I discovered her shop via Instagram (turns out she is based here in Venice, California) and she makes the coolest tassel, crystal, and gilded mini antler key chains! TLABL readers will receive an extra 15% off their Black and Jane shop purchases from now until May 31st. Just use code BOSSLADY15 at checkout.

Black and Jane Tassel and Quartz Keychain


Like what you see but want even more gift buying inspiration? Check out my other gift guides:

15 Great Gifts for a New Mom

Bridesmaid and Bridal Party Gifts and Creative Bridesmaid Gifts Part II

 

Lucky Magazine Done Lost Their Mind

Tuesday, April 14, 2015 7 ,

The Problem with Lucky Magazine's February 2015 "Under $500" Issue, by Lisa Tufano | thinklikeabosslady.com
Put your party pants on, boss ladies, because tomorrow is Tax Day aka the last day to file your 2014 tax returns without an extension.

Unlike me, some of you may actually be getting a refund this year, so I hope you’ll use this as an opportunity to pay off any outstanding debt (especially those high interest credit cards!) instead of going on a spring shopping spree. On that note, I want to share a little story and officially put Lucky magazine in the time out corner for being a bit naughty in their February 2015 issue.