I'm just getting back from a quick vacation. When I travel for pleasure one of my objectives is to travel as light as possible which usually means only taking along an iPhone and iPad and having those devices serve many needs on the trip. Here's a list of five Apps I couldn't have made it without:
Free for basic use, $5 per month or $45 a year for Premium
Evernote is an obvious choice but it was invaluable. Prior to travel I copy all of our travel documents, tickets, itineraries and other pertinent information for each of the travelers. I kept everything organized in a notebook specifically for this trip. As we traveled, we collected more bits of paper information. Boarding passes, luggage claim tickets, schedules and the like. I simply used Evernote's camera to snap an image of the document and save it in the appropriate notebook. No paper, no folders, no mess.
While traveling, Wi-Fi and even cellular access can be spotty in places. Unfortunately with a standard Evernote account if you don't have network coverage you can't access the contents of your notebooks. However, one of the benefits of becoming an Evernote Premium subscriber is the ability to mark a notebook as a favorite which means it will be saved for offline access. This means no matter where I am or the state of access, I have access to my documents.
Because Wi-Fi can be scarce in new surroundings I use my cellular data connection more than normal when traveling and for data-intense activities I usually reserve for Wi-Fi. This included uploading photos for backup, retrieving days worth of email and attachments, downloading my favorite podcasts and more. With a capped data plan, I have to keep a close eye on my usage. My network provider offers an App and web site to monitor usage, but it's usually delayed in reporting.
DataMan will monitor your network usage and provide you with a forecast of whether you're likely to stay within your limits for your billing cycle and warn you to avoid overages. DataMan Pro will go further and tell you which apps are consuming your data and where data is being consumed so you can monitor trends and adjust your behavior.
Without DataMan I would have no doubt blown past my data cap and found a nasty bill when I returned. Thankfully that was avoided.
I normally sleep with a fan in my room that provides a soothing sound that drowns out other noises. When traveling, I didn't have that luxury. Also some places I stay don't have a bedside clock. I can't stand waking up in the middle of the night and not knowing what time it is. WhiteNoise solved these problems.
The free version of the App includes ten looping ambient noise sounds such as airplane engine, waves crashing, oscillating fan, thunderstorm and more. It also includes an on-screen digital clock with adjustable brightness. While I found the free version suitable for my needs, the Pro version includes more than 40 sounds and advanced alarm and timer controls.
FlightTrack Pro - $9.99 In the past few months I've been on four different airlines. Unfortunately, missed and delayed flights happened. I've tried various apps for monitoring flight status and keeping track of gate changes and arrival and departure times, but after trying several, FlightTrack Pro is the best I've found.
There's a free version of FlightTrack that will provide you with basic gate and baggage claim information for most flights covering more than 1,400 airlines and 3,000 airports. The standard version of FlightTrack costs $4.99 and adds features such as weather radar overlay, the ability to find alternate flights, sync flight information with your iOS calendar, seating information from SeatGuru and flight delay forecast information.
The Pro version costs $9.99 (or a $4.99 in App purchase from the standard version) and adds push alerts for flight updates which I found invaluable in the airport. I just didn't have time to remember to constantly check an App for flight status information. When our returning flight was delayed, I found my iPhone notified me with a push notification well before the airport displays were updated. Additionally, if you use Tripit to organize your travel information, FlightTrack will pull in your flights automatically
A full comparison chart showing the differences between the versions is available on the developer's site. I've probably spent well more than $10 trying several lesser quality apps. I wish I had saved my money and just bought this one to start.
Plans vary, starting at $1.99 a month
When traveling, we have a tendency to jump on any public Wi-Fi network we can find to try to save our precious data. The problem is, public Wi-Fi is notoriously unsafe. That is, unless you're using a VPN. Cloak offers service plans starting at $1.99 a month for 5 GB of VPN access that can be shared across all your devices. I have it installed on my Macs, iPhone and iPad. Higher bandwidth plans are available for heavier users but for my occasional travels and trips to the local coffee shop I find 5GB more than adequate.
Configuration was simple. There's a free companion App available for iOS devices in the Mac App store and when you launch it will walk you through the process of installing the Cloak profile with a few taps. Once installed, you can enable VPN from the iOS settings menu and you'll see the VPN icon in your menu bar to confirm you're connected and can browse securely. I felt much better about corresponding on public Wi-Fi with Cloak enabled.
A version of this article first appeared in the September Issue of ScreencastsOnline Monthly Magazine. ScreenCastsOnline monthly magazine is packed with hints, tips, articles and links to streamable versions of ScreenCastsOnline tutorials and delivered monthly via Newsstand on the iPad. You can find out more at http://www.screencastsonline.com/magazine/