Technology and travel go together like a cup of espresso and an Italian piazza; like a frosty hefeweizen and a Munich biergarten; like the grape and Burgundy. As one evolves, the other follows suit, and these days often at lightning speed. So why slow our roll? Keep up with what's going on out there with these new choice apps and sites made to inspire, connect, and bring a little more convenience to your next travel experience.
So you've just used up the last of that fantastic hand cream you brought home from France and aren't interested in finding some lesser version. What to do? Simple. Log on to mmMule.com and request it from a France-bound traveler.
The site connects people who want things to people who can get them (in a completely legal, non-black market, non-cartel kind of way). Request your hand cream from someone in France who's coming your way, and when they arrive, goods in hand, pay them for the item and then offer a reward—something like tips for getting around your city or a drink at your favorite watering hole. It works the other way around, too. Need some information on a new destination? Get in good with a local by bringing an item they need or want. It's bribery in the best possible sense. There is also an option for non-profits looking for much-needed items, which goes under the name AngelMule, available on the same site.
If you're tired of wading through the complicated world of hotel deal-hunting, have we got a stripped down, no-frills treat for you. DealAngel allows you to search for hotel deals by city and date. That's it. Once you put in your destination and your arrival and departure dates, it does the rest–pulling up a map and list of hotels by price. You can also organize your results by "four stars and up" and deals under $100 per night. Once you click on a hotel, the frills come out to play–photos, amenities, a map, links to booking sites, and even a "Deal Rank Analysis" so you have no excuse for getting ripped off. Isn't it nice to have someone looking out for you?
(Available for Apple and Android for free)
There's no question that review sites like Yelp and Chowhound are invaluable services to those seeking information and opinions on restaurants in our area and abroad. But the fact remains that, were you to ask us to choose between a Yelp review and, say, Mario Batali's, we'd choose Batali's every time.
And just like that, we herald the arrival of the Chefs Feed app. The folks at Credible, Inc. have put together a dynamic and portable hub of restaurant knowledge and opinion here. Choose your city on the app, and Chefs Feed delivers you a wide range of restaurant and even specific dish reviews by high-profile professional chefs. We're talking both Davids (Burke and Chang) here, as an example.
There's even a "Feed Me Now" feature which lets you find chefs' favorites wherever you are, and a "Live Feed" where chefs connect and make announcements about their restaurants. Currently the app supports Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, Washington, DC, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Austin, and Seattle, with Houston, Portland, Las Vegas, Dallas, Miami, and Atlanta on the way.
(Available on iPhone for $2.99, available separately for iPad)
Apple made Flight+ its App of the Week last week, and we can see why. This real-time flight tracker lets you follow flights around the world and get crucial information including terminal and gate number, arrival and departure times, delays, the works, with a constantly updated flight board. Search or browse for flights by airline and airport.
Playing chauffeur for out-of-town relatives? Don't be stuck waiting at the airport if their flight is delayed. Add their flight number to the tracker and get the information you need. Now if it could only tell us where to get the best price on a giant duty-free Toblerone bar, we'd make it App of the Year.
(Available for Android and Apple, coming soon for Blackberry)
So you've arrived at that out-of-town destination for your business meeting and have settled into your hotel. Now what? Put down the Pay-Per-View remote, and get your face out of the mini-bar. LobbyFriend has developed the first temporary social network for hotels and their patrons.
Guests can login to the LobbyFriend network via existing social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn and connect with each other and their hotel. Make plans to grab a drink with some like-minded guests, snag a third-party deal offered by the hotel, or get tips about the neighborhood. When you check out of the hotel, you're logged off the network, keeping your level of effort to a minimum, which is good, since you've used up all that energy socializing.
Photo credits: Chefs Feed app courtesy of Chefs Feed; DealAngel courtesy of DealAngel