Saturday, April 9, 2016

Family Tech: Apps make travelling easier - April 8, 2016

My wife was selected more than a year ago as a Fulbright Distinguished Teacher. She is in Israel for four months to study how they educate young children with autism and share her knowledge of the subject. The week of spring break, my adult son and I flew over to visit her.

Of course I used technology to make the trip easier and also learned a lot about technology in Israel. What I learned is useful for domestic trips as well. Lessons learned from our whirlwind trip will be inspiration for the next few columns.

I created a folder on the front page of my phone for apps I needed on the trip. The first one was TripIt.

Tripit is a “freemium” service, meaning it is free but with a paid level giving you more features that track your itinerary for you. Once you setup a TripIt account, you simply forward any emails you get from airlines, hotels, rental car companies, etc. and Tripit maintains your itinerary for you. You can track it in its smartphone app. It makes it easy to remember your flight times, gates and other information.

I also added the app from the airline we would be flying. These seem to be constantly improving. We flew on United and its app kept us up-to-date on flight changes and even held our boarding passes for us.

Once in Israel, my wife introduced us to the Moovit app. It turns out that some of the best travel apps are created by Israeli startups. Many of us probably already use Waze, a driving direction app that also allows other drivers to share information about the road, where there are accidents, police and obstacles. Waze is now owned by Google, but it was created by an Israeli team and their offices are still in Tel Aviv. We passed the Google, Microsoft and Intel offices north of Tel Aviv on one of our tours.

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