Technology doesn’t just help us pass the hours while traveling — it can actively help us get where we’re going in a faster, easier and more comfortable way, even during the busy holiday season. From crowdsourced traffic updates to cutting-edge travel sites to more efficient booking options, our tiny gadgets have the power to help significantly cut down our travel time. Here are five ways tech can help you get where you need to go — fast.
Google Maps is a great, free option for anyone using a smartphone for turn-by-turn navigation. But there are other apps that do more. Waze, also free, interprets data from its users to provide the best directions possible, with second-by-second traffic updates. Need to know if there’s an accident or detour up ahead? Waze is the app for you. It can even tell you when there’s a speed trap coming up!
2. Google Now
We can’t all afford a personal assistant, but if you have an Android device (or an app for iPhone), you can get the next best thing. Google Now is a service that gives you the information you need without you even having to ask for it, which can come in handy while traveling. You don’t need to look up your hotel or flight info if you’ve already booked it: just pull up Google Now, and it’ll give you to-the-minute updates on the status of your flight, hotel room and anything else you need to know while on-the-go. It’ll even show you the weather wherever you’re heading, so you’ll know whether to pack a sweater or flip-flops.
3. Virgin America’s Site
Virgin America recently scrapped their old site and rebuilt it from the ground up to be simpler, friendlier and quicker to use. Now, it’ll figure out where you are and offer you popular fares from your current location to other spots. The buttons are big, navigation is clear and the whole site is done up in pretty purple and red gradients. You may never have thought “Wow, that’s a great site” about an airline’s site before, but Virgin’s is just that good.
4. Olaf Suitcase
We’ve all been there: you show up to the airport with but a few minutes before your flight is to be called. (Through no fault of your own, of course.) You burst through security as fast as you can and leap into a full sprint, luggage bouncing along after you, as you race to your gate. The Olaf suitcase, which was recently funded on Kickstarter, could provide a slight edge during those panic-inducing few minutes: it has a skateboard which folds down from the suitcase, and the suitcase’s handle turns into handlebars, so the whole contraption works like a scooter. It’ll help you make that last desperate sprint toward your plane.
5. Kayak’s App
There are plenty of apps that help compare prices for flights, hotels, car rentals and anything else you might need on your trip (Expedia, Priceline, Orbitz). But our favorite is Kayak. Kayak’s app is incredibly clean and easy to use, has handy options for keeping track of the trips you’ve already planned, and even has an alerts function to let you know if a trip you’re thinking about has a sudden price dip. It’ll give you that slight edge when you’re trying to book a trip to Barcelona, Budapest or Boston on a budget, and buzz your phone to tell you that a new cheap fare is available. It’s free and available on every major platform.
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