Take a ride of the modern side as we introduce nifty gadgets and apps to use for travellers that enjoy the open road of going on a road trip. Put on your seatbelts because cross country traveling on four-wheels has never been this easy.
Say what you will about technology, but there’s no denying how much of a step-up it’s given to those of us with an imperishable sense of wanderlust. With Wi-Fi and handheld devices, formerly complicated processes like booking flights, looking up cheap accommodations and planning efficient itineraries have become simple – anyone could do it. Oh, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. More and more apps and gadgets have popped up over the last 5 years, aimed at the independent/nomadic traveller. Here are some of the top gadgets and apps that have stepped up to solve the most common conundrums faced by most road-trippers, whether amateur or seasoned:
Billed as a ‘wearable translator’, Ili aims to eliminate one of the biggest barriers known to anyone who travels – language, by translating your sentences into ones that can be understood by the locals. Better yet, it doesn’t rely on Wi-Fi, as all your sentences are translated using a pre- installed software that has been programmed with an extensive library of common travel phrases. Ili covers phrases in areas such as dining, shopping, directions and greetings.
Currently, Ili can translate sentences in either English to Mandarin, Japanese or Spanish, or Mandarin to English or Japanese. Users may customise their device with more languages in the future.
PRICE: $199 ($249 once pre-order sales end)
If you’re especially forgetful, TrackR might just be what you need. It’s a Bluetooth-enabled, coin sized tracker device that can be attached to virtually anything (e.g. keys and wallet), and helps you find them through a connected smartphone app. Alternatively, if your phone’s the one that is missing, you can also press a button on your TrackR to ring said phone, even while it’s on silent mode.
If your item has been lost outside of your phone’s Bluetooth range, TrackR can still detect it, thanks to the Crowd Locate feature. The app is programmed to record the last known location of your item, and once another TrackR user comes within Bluetooth range, that new location will automatically be updated in your app. There are said to be millions of TrackR users already, so finding your item this way should be a cinch.
PRICE: $29.99 ($89.99 for a pack of 5)
SHIPS TO MALAYSIA: Yes
Google is a household name no doubt, but not many may know that they actually came out with an app just for trips in 2016! Aimed at simplifying trip planning, Google Trips is a one-stop for viewing flight and hotel information, customising itineraries, figuring out how to get around and getting updates on the local weather and opening hours.
If you’re travelling to one of the top 200 most popular cities in the world, one of Trips’ most useful features is ‘Day plans’, which maps out your whole day by suggesting the city’s most hyped about attractions, markets, museums and many more. Once you’re connected to Wi-Fi, the app can even suggest changes in the itinerary depending on the time of day and weather (e.g. indoor activities when there is a forecast of rain).
Much like Google Maps, Trips also works offline. As soon as you get a cellular connection, you may save essentials like maps, itineraries, and flight info for later access at a Wi-Fi-less location.
AVAILABLE for iOS and Android PRICE: Free
One of the most daunting things about a road trip is having to determine how to get from Point A to B by yourself, but with HERE WeGo, it doesn’t have to be. The app contains public transit information for a whopping 1,300 cities (and counting), and lets you weigh your options depending on price, journey time and transportation type. With a cellular connection, the app can also factor in real-time traffic updates to bring you the latest and most efficient routes. HERE WeGo has friends in high places to give it a leg up as well, partnering with other traveller favourites like Expedia and TripAdvisor to provide suggestions for nearby places of interest like pharmacies, ATMs and taxi stands.
Of course, a travel app these days is not complete without an offline feature, and HERE WeGo brings its A-game with access to offline maps for more than 110 countries. These maps are not your run-of-the-mill store-bought variety either, as they include floor-by- floor details of mainstream indoor venues like shopping malls and airports.
AVAILABLE for iOS and Android PRICE: Free
Words by Rachel Fong