Ease your way through foreign destinations with these apps that deliver information at the tap of a screen.
“Travel and change of place impart new vigour to the mind,” said the Roman philosopher Seneca. True as that may be, he had never been stuck at an airport, his flight delayed, and unable to get useful information.
Travelling for business can be enjoyable, however, and there are plenty of apps available to mitigate the pain when your schedule goes awry.
They enable you to rearrange your plans quickly via your phone, tablet or laptop, knowing your information is stored safely on your device rather than on a piece of paper, somewhere in your bag.
Most of these apps are available for Android and iOS devices and almost all are free, with the opportunity to upgrade to more sophisticated versions.
Below are 10 apps that can help make your business trip a smooth one.
1. Organise your travel documents
Tripit allows you to store your travel plans and documents so you have airline and hotel bookings and meeting details in one place on your phone. You can easily share your travel details with others and sync them to your Google calendar.
An upgrade to Tripit Pro will give you more services, including telling you if your connecting flight is on time and which departure gate to use. This can be valuable when travelling in the US.
2. Track your flight
It’s always useful to know before you leave home if a flight is on time, or what other flights are scheduled if yours is delayed or cancelled.
There are a number of different apps with flight tracking functions but FlightAware remains a popular source of information.
3. Stuck at an airport and need a lounge?
Your flight is delayed or there’s no point in leaving the airport between connections.
If you don’t have access to an airline lounge, LoungeBuddy will tell you if you can buy a pass to one for the day.
Australia has a couple of offers, at Sydney and Brisbane, but elsewhere travellers have a range of choices such as at Singapore’s Changi, London Heathrow and John F. Kennedy International in New York.
It’s worth remembering that some credit cards also offer free lounge access. These include cards offered by American Express, Qantas and a number of banks.
4. Petrol station, bank, hotel or sightseeing? What’s nearby?
Visiting somewhere new and need a place to eat, the weather forecast, nearest bank or even somewhere to kill time between meetings? Try AroundMe, a one-stop concierge that will find and direct you to services in your vicinity.
5. Find a carpark
Save yourself the frustration of driving in circles looking for a carpark in an unfamiliar place.
In Australia, Parkhound will give you options for daily and longer-term parking. There are versions for other places.
CPA Q&A. Access a handpicked selection of resources each month and complete a short monthly assessment to earn CPD hours. Exclusively available to CPA Australia members.
6. Keep in touch with the office and home
Use Skype to video-call the family via your hotel or other free Wi-Fi spot to avoid using your data. Skype for Business charges a monthly fee which allows you to hold or join meetings via video conferencing.
Travellers to China should note that the Chinese-owned WeChat is more popular there and, as someone who regularly communicates with China, I find WeChat is more stable than Skype, which can freeze or misalign the picture of the speaker with their audio.
7. Currency converter
Look out for an app that saves rates for offline use when you are out and about and don’t have internet access.
World Currency Converter for iPhones, available from the iTunes App Store, allows you to set a default currency when the app opens and to build a favourites list and easily invert the equations.
8. Manage your expenses
Concur allows you to photograph receipts on your phone and then store, review and submit them. Don’t miss out on reimbursement because you’ve lost a scrap of paper.
The app can be customised to your organisation, enabling staff to use it to book travel, accommodation, taxis or ride sharing. It also links to Tripit.
9. Store your business cards when travelling
How many hundred business cards have you collected on your travels?
Camcard enables you to photograph cards, add them to your contacts and sync them across all platforms and devices. It recognises a number of languages, including Japanese, Korean and traditional and simplified Chinese.
This is the app for people attending trade shows and conferences.
10. Keep working while away
Google Docs allows you to store a work document, spreadsheet or presentation in the cloud and invite colleagues to read and edit the document.You can use it on a laptop or desktop as well a smaller device and it enables your team to continue collaborating when you are travelling, so that absences and different time zones don’t stop work flow.
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