The possibilities for free time in cities like Rome seem endless. Travelers on a group trip with downtime could tour an ancient church, shop for hand-painted ceramics, dine at a local restaurant or wander the streets in search of gelato.
Unfortunately, some travelers instead might never leave their hotels.
Group travelers either love or hate free time, often depending on how comfortable they are exploring a location on their own. As their group leader, you can help your members make the most of their free time with easy-to-use travel apps.
Although international travel has paused for many groups, you can take the time now to become familiar with these travel apps for future tours. Plus, many of these apps relate to domestic travel as well.
Recommending these apps before members begin their trip can prep them for future fun. Keep guidebooks, maps, dictionaries and on-the-road resources at your travelers’ fingertips with these top travel apps.
For those with no innate sense of direction, navigating an unfamiliar city can feel like a nightmare. To prevent your members from becoming lost during their free time, advise them to preload some apps to their phones.
For example, Google Maps allows users to download specific cities or area maps ahead of time. As long as users have a GPS, they can track where they are in a city on foot, on public transportation or driving. The app also allows travelers to discover nearby attractions like museums or restaurants with simple searches. With internet, users can also click on links to any of these attractions and find out details like hours, price and availability.
Citymapper is another app that can direct users to the best public transportation options. You can peruse subway and train times offline, as well as set an alert for when you need to get off a bus. A wheelchair-accessible section is available for some locations. Though the service is available in major cities around the world, double-check if your city is included before recommending it for a tour.
Some older travelers stress about locating a public bathroom while they are roaming the streets. Flush Toilet Finder removes that worry by chronicling more than 190,000 public bathrooms in its database. The app reveals which restrooms are accessible, free or require a key.
Another way to encourage traveler independence is with a ride-hailing app like Uber of Lyft. The simplicity of these apps allows users to enter a pickup or drop-off location from their phone. The app then matches them with a driver who delivers you promptly to your destination. You can even leave a tip from the app. Other ride-hailing apps include Grab, Cabify and Taxify.
Most shoppers love seeing free time on their travel itinerary. To help them make the most of their shopping time, you can suggest XE Currency Converter for international currency rates. Users can access the latest currency rates offline to help keep track of their expenses.
Technology has also overcome the language barrier with apps like Google Translate. Users can translate 103 languages, including 60 languages even when they’re offline. Camera translation in 37 languages allows you to point your camera for an instant translation. To facilitate conversations, two-way instant speech translation is also available in 32 languages.
TripLingo assists travelers in fitting in with the local culture. Before heading to France, a user could download the country pack. That traveler would then have access to voice translation, an image translator, a selection of key French phrases and a Wi-Fi dialer to make calls from abroad. A section on tipping, safety and cultural norms allow travelers to feel like a local.
Groups traveling within the U.S. are more worried about where to eat than how to communicate. Plenty of apps address this problem, including OpenTable. OpenTable helps users locate local eateries with search filters that include neighborhood, cuisine, price and rating. Diners can view menus, photos and reviews before deciding where to spend their evening. From the app, travelers can then make a reservation on the spot.
Travelers that don’t know what to do with their free time can first consult an app like TripAdvisor. The site includes not just hotels but also most attractions.
You can help your members fill their free time by filtering a search for the top attractions in their destination. Travelers can then decide what piques their interest and read reviews to see if the attraction will match up to their expectations.
Instead of lugging around a heavy guidebook, many travelers use Triposo. The app offers offline guides complete with maps, attraction recommendations and background on the city. Users can read about the weather, safety tips and recommended activities for more than 50,000 destinations.
For a more guided experience, Detour contains GPS-guided audio walks for an immersive experience in 17 cities around the world. Each tour is narrated by a local familiar with the city and its lesser-known facts.
AllTrails provides easy access to natural areas with more than 50,000 trail maps. Each trail comes with reviews and photos from a community of outdoor enthusiasts. Reviews often point out the most scenic spots and the most difficult stretches to prepare hikers before they head out.
Although these apps offer a broad appeal, sometimes the apps that work best for group travelers come customized to the destination. Many convention and visitors bureaus have developed their own local apps that reflect the region. For example, the Mississippi Gulf Seafood Trail allows anyone visiting the state to dine on authentic seafood from the state. Other regional tourism apps include audio tours, shopping recommendations and insider information that only locals would know.
Whether traveling to Rome or Biloxi, Mississippi, travel apps can help travelers turn free time into a highlight of the trip.