It's been a month since I promised to start posting on a more regular basis. So here is "hobby" number one.
I'm very lucky that I get to travel as a part of my job. This helps itch the need of my travel desires while saving lots of money in the process. When you travel quite a bit you pick up on lots of tips and tricks that make the process easier for yourself and others. I'm here to try and impart some of my knowledge in the hope it'll not only help you while traveling, but selfishly, to help others (like me) as well.
Let's talk Apps first and foremost. We all have smartphones running our lives these days (I'm actually typing this on my iPhone while enjoying breakfast in Dublin, Ireland) and they are certainly useful traveling tools. Never has navigating a foreign land, be it country city or town, been so easy.
The very first app you should have is Citymapper. This app is amazing in so many ways. I just wish it was available in all cities but it does cover the major cities quite well so odds are it'll be available where you're going. There are many write ups on this app but just know it'll calculate time and cost wherever you'd like to go whether by taxi, public transit or Uber.
The next app you should have is by whichever airline you're flying. These can be super useful in allowing you to check in, change reservations, update information or book travel. Once you get status with an airline you can even change seats or request upgrades on the fly.
The same pretty much goes for the hotel you're staying at as well. Download the app and see what advantages they give you. Hilton allows you the ability to check in and choose your room. SPG you can check in and use your phone as your room key. They are each making improvements and helping to streamline the hotel experience.
The next couple apps are users' choice. Tripit and Tripcase essentially do the same thing in slightly different user experiences. They will aggregate all your travel into a nice itinerary and remind you when to check in to you flight or hotel. Some of the time this can be repetitive if you also have the apps mentioned above but it is nice to see all of your travel in one place. These pull in your information from emails received and you can also update manually if something isn't there or is incorrect.
For business travelers who need to track expenses the best is Expensify but it's only useful of your company pays for their services. If your company, like mine, uses something else then you should download Genius Scan. You can take pictures or import your receipts, clean them up, make notes and track them while you travel. This will make your receipts easy to sort through once you complete your trip and need to submit them.
Needless to say the well known apps that people love and most likely have already but are still handy include Yelp, Google Maps, Uber and Lyft.
What good is all that traveling if you can't get something in return for it? Well there are people who've made their career about this very thing (ThePointsGuy for instance) but I won't go into as much detail since you can spend days reading up on your options.
I will say, at the very least, sign up for any and every membership that is offered when it comes to hotels, airlines and car rentals. They are free to join and right away you can start acquiring points and even in some cases free wifi, bottled water and other perks. There are multipliers for points once you reach certain levels of membership but you can't get there if you don't sign up. Also, if you're trying to earn points on a particular airline and you fly a partner airline of theirs, make sure to enter your airline membership number in which you want to accumulate points at the time of booking and not for the airline you're actually flying.
Why care about points? Points get you free flights, free hotel rooms, and free car rentals. (YAY we all love free stuff! Don't we?) This can save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars while going on vacation.
There's certainly more we can delve into around travel but I'll let you digest what's here and cover more at a later time.