Travelling in the United States can be both exciting and confusing. The key to make sure you don’t get lost in the endless list of tourist destinations and payment methods and booking options, on top of preparing your personalized budget and itinerary, is to make sure you have the things you need when you need them.
In the Information Age, a friendly note is that if it comes in app form, drop it. This is the case for maps, notepads, and even flashlights as long as your smartphones can deliver. Make sure to include the following apps and gadgets on your next travel to the USA.
1. Gadget: Universal Plug Adapters
While the United States is your destination to be, you are better off by remembering that not all power outlets are created equal. Some outlets are recessed, which would require and extended plug adapter. Some outlets feature a mix of male and female contacts.
Universal Plug Adapters significantly reduce, if not totally eliminate, the chances of you having to stare at a power outlet figuring out how to plug your phone or your laptop in. Also, most universal adapters nowadays also include Universal Serial Bus (USB) ports for easier charging of your portable devices.
2. App: Google Maps
Wherever you are in the United States, nothing beats the confidence of a handy pocket map right at your fingertips. With a click, find the nearest lodging, restaurants, and tourist destinations from your exact location. To address the worries of ending up in a location with weak or no mobile service, you can also download the map in advance and view it offline, on the spot.
While you can access google maps through your web browser, having the app ready allows you to flag location and therefore, plan your trip for the day.
3. Gadget: USB Drive
Universal Serial Bus Drives, or thumb drives, are small pocket-friendly storage devices with memory capacities from 1Gb to 1Tb or more. Prepare this additional storage device to make room for your phone or camera or to easily transfer files to your hotel concierge or local law enforcement for assistance in the event your passport or documents are lost or stolen and you have a backup photocopy.
USB Drives also come in on-the-go (OTG) configurations, with one end using a type A bus, for laptops and computers. Meanwhile, the other end uses a type C bus or port, designed to be directly connected and read by most smartphones.
4. App: TripAdvisor
This is a “by the community, for the community” kind of application, which will definitely come in handy, especially for people comfortable in asking advice or feedback from fellow travellers. TripAdvisor offers background information about the location you plan to visit, as well as reviews of hotels, restaurants, museums, and other destinations. This feedbacks are also from the members of the community. You can even view photos uploaded by other members as well as browse through their recommended itineraries or even find tips and tricks when visiting particular places.
Another advantage of keeping the TripAdvisor nearby is that the app is also linked to booking aggregates and apps. After checking the reviews for your prospective hotels, you can easily book and reserve them afterward.
5. Gadget: Power Bank/ Portable Phone Charger
Regardless of whatever type of power outlet awaits at your room, seeing your smartphone dim and blink with the battery low notification has to be one of the worst letdowns in the middle of travelling. Good thing that the recent years have borne witness to the sometimes bulky portable phone chargers. They come in different shapes and sizes, with the charging capacity usually display in milliamp-hours (mAh).
For frequent travelers, or for those who simply work outdoors, a portable phone charger is a worthwhile investment. Take, for example, a standard 20,000 mAh power bank can charge your phone about four to five times before requiring to be recharged.
6. App: TripCase
You can now do away with those sticky notes and notepads when organizing your itinerary. TripCase, the free app available on both Android and iOS, will be your planning buddy. The app allows you to schedule your activities over your defined timeline – this includes flight and travel plans, accommodations, rental transportation vehicles, restaurant reservations, and schedules for most tourist destinations.
To allow the app to manage your reservations, you forward travel or booking confirmation messages (usually e-mail) to TripCase, and the app does the rest and sorts your reservations chronologically. Moreover, you can add notes or reminders on your itinerary entries for a personalized getaway.
7. Gadget: Noise-Cancelling Headphones
If you wish to enjoy an evening walk without getting distracted by the noise from your surroundings, or if you need an uninterrupted sleep during your next flight, these headphones will only provide you with the tunes of your choice and nothing more
While most brands of noise-canceling headphones fetch quite a price, you will definitely appreciate every last dollar spent when you realize how noisy humming engines and chatting passengers can be. Also, nothing says “do not disturb” like a pair of headphones and the look of dazzled peace.
8. App: Uber
It might surprise you but Uber operates around the world, and it uses the same app wherever you may be. The same can’t be more true here in the United States, where Uber remains one of the top ride-hailing apps for years now.
Uber manages to be a traveler’s friend for a variety of reasons. First, it allows you to book rides even if you do not have the local currency on hand. Second, the app bridges the communication gap between you and your driver by simply illustrating the pickup and drop-off point, as well as the calculated fare. If anyone disagrees, either party can simply cancel or ignore the booking.
For travelers with quite the experience with Uber, or if you simply prefer to use another ride-hailing app, you can do your assignment and check what other apps or services operate in the place you will be visiting.