June 1, 2020
Due to travel restrictions, plans are only available with travel dates on or after
Due to travel restrictions, plans are only available with effective start dates on or after
Welcome to the summer travel season that’s been two years in the making.
Whether you’re simply kicking the vacation you booked 13 months ago down the road or scrambling to put together a last-minute trip, now is the time to get prepared.
Your summer travel boot camp might involve tightening the bolts on the rooftop luggage rack. Or re-reading the fine print on how to redeem your travel credit card points. Here’s one more box to check: making sure you have all the needed travel apps to ensure a safe and sound trip. Because while summer travel is definitely back, there’s no denying that something is different.
We’ve taken the time to create a list of apps to consider downloading before you go wheels up or fire up the family cruiser. Some of these are built for today’s strange new world. And others are included so we don’t forget the basics of being street smart when we’re on a street that’s hundreds or even thousands of miles from home.
When it’s been a year-plus since you’ve hatched an escape plan outside your ZIP code, the last thing you want is to watch your summer travel excursion veer off the tracks that you plotted so carefully. TravelSmart, the free travel app from Allianz Global Assistance, can keep your trip on the rails by helping with the following:
…And the list of summer travel-friendly features and functionality features goes on. Download TravelSmart when you’re packing your bags so you have it ready to go at the first sign of trouble. You’ll be glad you did.1
Even before the pandemic, travelers were choosing to distance themselves from big crowds. They were traveling off-season, visiting popular spots outside peak hours, and even altogether avoiding destinations wrestling with overtourism. When the pandemic hit, escaping crowds become more about maintaining health and wellness than enjoying the sights without throngs of tourists mucking up views and lengthening lines. And TripAdvisor took notice, creating a web-based platform to help folks avoid crowds in public areas and businesses. The CrowdFree beta provides crowd “heat maps” based on daily crowd indexes to help you choose where you’ll visit and when you go. Sometimes, you simply can’t avoid people, but you can be smarter about how you time your visit to avoid bumping into big packs of your fellow tourists.2
While Crowdfree can help finetune your itinerary, perhaps the best place to start planning domestic summer travel — if you’re concerned about avoiding potential COVID-19 exposure — is at the Mayo Clinic. Here you’ll find a web-based Vaccine Tracker offering a real-time look at where states stand with vaccine progress. A recent look showed wide-ranging vaccination rates, with some states in the 30%-range and others above 60%. Remember, these numbers don’t account for tourists like you.3
In today’s evolving travel environment, it can be easy to forget about threats to our personal well-being. Solo travelers abroad are especially vulnerable to the criminal element that’s operating on its familiar home turf. The bSafe app provides a wide range of safety nets and lifelines, from a voice-activated SOS alarm to Follow Me functionality, which allows invited “guardians” to follow you live and notifies them once you’ve arrived at your destination. There’s even a fake phone call feature, which you can use to ring yourself to diffuse uncomfortable situations.4, 5
The siren song of free Wi-Fi can be hard to resist when it’s been a few days since you’ve checked your email — and the Internet café you just stepped into seems friendly enough. But every time you connect, your banking info, social security number, and other valuable data are at risk. Why take chances when VPN providers such as ExpressVPN are just a click away? Available in 90-plus countries, the VPN software encrypts your data and masks your IP address so that would-be data pirates are forced to pillage another poor traveler’s laptop. ExpressVPN was named the No. 1 VPN by British consumer technology review site TechRadar.6, 7
By downloading these suggested summer travel apps right here and right now, you’ll be able to troubleshoot tricky or even dangerous situations down the road — or avoid them altogether. Simply having easy access to them provides the peace of mind that lets you focus on making your first real vacation of the 2020s memorable for all the right reasons.