Photo courtesy of http://www.fodors.com

Photo courtesy of http://www.fodors.com

By: Elliott Wenzler

We lovers of travel know that in order to fully experience a new place, we must keep our eyes peeled and our mind ready for new and budding experiences. Therefore, we often get turned off by the idea of using smartphones while discovering a new place. We look down at the travelers glued to their phones on iMessage or Candy Crush. How can they waste this precious time looking at a screen? I’m here to tell you a few minutes on your phone can make your next trip go from hectic-but-fun to well-planned and incredible! This new wave of travel apps is specifically designated to facilitate smart, safe and efficient travel.Each one in this section is specifically designated to assist in making your trip as safe as possible.

Companion, iPhone & Android, Free

This app allows concerned family and friends be a “Companion” to their loved ones on their walk home. Any time you are feeling unsure about walking alone back to your hotel or any other location, you can send a Companion invitation to a member of your contacts (even if they don’t have the app) and they will be able to virtually watch you as you travel from your starting point to your input destination. This is great for travelers if you’re staying in different parts of town than your friends or if you decide to head home earlier than the group. “If you start running, don’t make it to your destination on time, have your headphones yanked out or your phone falls to the ground, we will check in on you to make sure everything is OK. If you don’t respond in 15 seconds, we will automatically alert your Companions,” according to the app’s description. The app also has an emergency feature so that if the walker feels uneasy, they can call the police quickly and be connected to the closest dispatcher. This app was started by students at a large university who wanted to use technology to increase safety for students walking home alone from a party or the library, said an app representative.

Find My Friends, iPhone & Android, Free

find a friend

Photo courtesy of https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/find-my-friends/

Find My Friends is an app that is great to use at large events such as concerts and festivals. It’s easy to get separated from the group in hectic settings with a lot of people. Find My Friends allows you to request your friends to share their locations with you and you with them. A scenario where you lose a friend and want to meet back up, you can see exactly where they are and find each other without the hassle of phone calls and the attempt to find tall landmarks.

US Embassy, iPhone & Android, Free

Embessy

Photo courtesy of https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/us-embassy/

The perfect app for international travel, US Embassy provides the locations of all United States embassies and consulates of the world. An embassy is the go-to place for international travelers in situations all the way from a lost passport to extreme weather conditions to an emergency evacuation. “The U.S. Embassy is your 911 when overseas,” according to the app’s page. The app gives a map with exact location, including directions on how to get there, contact information, and hours of operation so you have everything you need to contact or find the embassy in the case of a dire situation.

Speak & Translate, iPhone, Free

Photo courtesy of https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/speak-translate-free-live/

Speak & Translate is ideal for those who don’t want to limit themselves to countries that they speak the native language. It’s the fastest way to have a conversation in an emergency or for something as simple as directions. According to Speak and Translate, the text translator “allows users to communicate effectively in any corner of the globe.” The app allows users to choose the language they’re speaking, and the language they want to translate to, making language barriers essentially non-existent.

Mobile Passport, iPhone & Android, Free

Passport

Photo courtesy of http://mobilepassport.us/

Plain and simple, this app is authorized by U.S. Customs and Border Control as a way to scan their passport and fill out information as they enter the country. Travelers can fill out their customs declaration via iPhone or iPad and skip the line on the way into the United States. Convenience is key for a safe and fun trip.