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28 April 2016

Personal App Picks for Travel

Yesterday I posted a few links to articles about using Evernote for travel. Today I'm posting some links to the apps I'll be using when I travel next week. WARNING: these are my personal picks, they are not a comprehensive list and are based on the exact trip I'm making. If you are a seasoned traveler (maybe that's why you're an Occasional Genealogist), you probably have your own picks for travel apps. If you don't get to travel a lot or haven't tried using apps for travel, maybe you'll find something useful.

#1 Packing List Pro by QuinnScape
My top recommendation is an iOS-only app, Packing List Pro (see its website, here and get it on the App Store, here). I so wish this was also available on Android but it's easiest to use on my iPad, and that usually travels with me, anyway. "Wait!" you're saying, "you've mentioned keeping packing lists in Evernote." Yup, and I do keep certain types of packing lists in Evernote, they are really templates, though. This app can do what Evernote can for packing lists, check boxes and templates (in Packing List Pro there are real templates or you can just copy an existing list). It goes beyond that, and that is why I use it despite it being a paid app (currently $2.99 and worth every penny) and despite it not being available for Android.

Packing List Pro is built on a database, not just a list. It comes with a default "catalog" you can customize. That means the items you want to pack are listed under categories. This can be more than some people want but I like being able to go through a category and make sure I've thought of everything. If you can't guess since this is my number one pick, I need a packing list because I forget things. You can download and upload a catalog or list (in the form of a spreadsheet) which gives another, potentially faster way to customize.

For me, the major selling point is the ability to include the "bag" you will place items in. This keeps me organized ahead of time and allows me to find something once it's packed. The big advantage for me is it allows me to pack a smaller bag (like a cosmetic bag) so I can check off those items. I then list the cosmetic bag as an item to pack so I'm sure it makes it into my actual luggage. This applies to purses and wallets where I might stash something well in advance of the trip, too. Also, because I have left for a trip without one of my bags, I list my bags as items to be checked off. You can even specify the car as a bag for items that just get put straight in (say, pillows, or kids entertainment items). For major family trips, especially if we need to pack food or linens, this is a huge help. My husband doesn't have an iOS device where he can share the list, but since I can check off what has been placed in the car, we pretty much never forget anything (if it made it onto the list, of course).

Why I love this app for "genealogy" trips is because of how I can use it to get organized in advance. Should I want to pack certain items days (or even a week or more) before a trip, it will keep me completely organized, so I don't forget that bag or wonder if I've packed those items. I have items I take on a research trip that are used only on a research trip---so I can pack them as early as I want. I can define the bag (literally describe it) so I can just grab it for final packing. You could have a "research bag" category or a research trip template.There are additional features I'm not as familiar with like photos (a newer addition) and reminders you might also want to use.

#2 Evernote
I won't go into a lot of detail, but I rely on Evernote when I travel because it syncs across all my devices. I use the camera to digitize paper (receipts, book pages, flyers) as well as other "things" I might need to remember. This applies before and during my trip. You can read yesterday's post to get links to more specific ideas. When appropriate, I use the most common suggestions, so I'm not going to rehash them here.

#3 Fly Delta App
I'm flying Delta (no surprise since ATL is my primary airport). I do find using the app helpful. It's much faster to check flight related information and usually helps me reduce the number of items in my hands at the airport (particularly while preparing to board).

#4 TripAdvisor App
I don't usually use TripAdvisor before a genealogy trip unless I need hotel advice. I do usually use it on trips if I'm in a touristy area. This includes near conference centers. On genealogy trips, I mainly use it for dining recommendations. For non-genealogy trips, I also use it for ideas about what to do or reviews of activities (and before the trip for hotel reviews). At home, I usually use the TripAdvisor website, but the app is faster and shouldn't use as much cellular data if I don't have wi-fi available.

Possible #5
This is an app I'm about to purchase so I don't know if it will work they way I intend.
Stylebook: this is another iOS-only app. It is for organizing your clothes/closet. I find I do need some outfit organization when I travel (more on that in a moment). This app has consistently gotten good reviews but wasn't updated for a long time which is why I hadn't purchased it. It received an update in January and still has good reviews. I advise reading them before you purchase as some of the issues may be a big deal to you, and it is labor intensive to set-up.

Why do I consider this a travel app? If I am traveling to a wintery destination (usually Salt Lake City, for me, which is genealogy related) I often have issues fitting everything in my luggage and having enough warm clothes (I live in Georgia and work from home, I don't need a lot of "real" winter clothes). That means I pack very specific outfits. Not everything will work together because of my limited choices. An app that will allow me to pick out outfits with the minimum number of pieces and record what goes together on each day is important. In the past, I've just taken photos in Evernote once I choose the outfits. That's another option if you don't need so many features.

I will use other features of this app "for travel," though. Our house is nearly 50 years old, and that means small closets, just one (reach-in) in the master. Most of my clothes are stored elsewhere in the house. If my trip involves clothes, I'm not wearing currently (out-of-season) many are packed up in boxes. The added advantage of organizing my outfits without physically finding the clothes is a huge time saver. From what I see, Stylebook will also allow me to go directly to where the needed outfits are stored, so I don't waste time digging through multiple boxes.

So those are five very personal choices for travel apps. Do you have travel apps you can't live without or that you find helpful for genealogy trips? Leave a comment and let everyone know about them.

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