When it comes to minimalist travel, there’s no other electronic gadget in my opinion that has made it so much easier to travel light than the smartphone. I reminisce on one of my first major trips in my early 20s roaming around Europe with a huge camping backpack that must have weighed about 40 pounds and think about how much lighter my pack would have been if iPhones were around back then. Instead of taking a separate camera, film, guidebooks, CD player, CDs, spare batteries, international phone cards (remember those?), wristwatch, and flashlight, I could have replaced all of it with a single pocketable device that weighs a fraction of a pound. For people who traveled with a portable DVD player or a laptop computer, neither of which I ever packed, it’s even more of a convenience. Excellent times we live in for light travel nerds like myself.
To make my very useful device even more useful, I’ve got a handful of apps that have a permanent place on my iPhone.
Uber & Lyft – Unless your driver is drunk, it beats the hell out of taking a taxi. I honestly don’t have a preference for one or the other and use whichever is the cheapest at the moment. Both apps have Location Services set to “while using” because I don’t want these people tracking me after I’m done with my ride.
Fly Delta – It’s easier using this to check in to my flights than using the mobile site. Also a very solid app compared to a shit app like the one made by American Airlines. Most of the flights I take out of our tiny local airport are either through Delta or American, so I don’t bother with the apps of any other major airlines.
Overcast – This is a really good podcast app that is free with minimally intrusive ads. I didn’t have any need for a third party podcast app until I upgraded to iOS 11 and discovered that Apple had completely ruined the podcast app that comes standard with the phone. Seriously, it’s straight garbage compared to the nice, simple interface that preceded it in iOS 10 and before. Until this gets fixed, Overcast is a great substitute.
Flightstats.com (bookmark) – I’ve found this to be a great website to keep track of delays and gate information. I tried the official flightstats app and actually prefer the mobile site, so I keep a bookmark of flightstats.com in my Safari app Favorites. Just type in your flight number for up-to-date tracking info.
Google Maps – still better than Apple’s native maps app that comes with the phone. Gotta have this if you’re directionally challenged like me and can’t find your way out of a paper bag.
And that’s it. I try to stay off my phone as much as possible when I’m vacationing, so I keep the apps to a minimum and download only the tools that I use regularly.