Did you miss us? We just got back from the beautiful island of the Hispaniola, and with vacation came a little time away from the blog and social media. It’s always great to return to the DR and be pampered by the hospitality of the Dominican people. Our first leg of the trip started in Puerto Plata, where we stayed at Iberostar Costa Dorada. This is our favorite resort in the area, where we also got married last year. After a five night stay, we headed to Santiago to spend time with family and friends. When we travel, maximizing our enjoyment while keeping an eye on FI is the name of the game, and technology plays an important role in achieving that.
Had an awesome Hibachi night with Kelvin, our energetic Iberostar chef, posing for Enchumbao.
Technology is great, when used in moderation. My wife and I take advantage of a few apps to enhance our traveling experience, therefore, saving us time and hassle. Some of these apps aren’t free but that doesn’t mean we paid for them. Spending our life energy paying for apps is not the Enchumbao style. Whenever I see a list of paid apps that are free for a limited time, I browse through it and get any apps that are worth downloading. That’s how I discovered 5Coins, iPacking, World Lens and Conversió. And what makes these apps worthwhile? Drum roll please…
iPacking is a travel items checklist app. We started using this one on our most recent trip. What’s cool about it? It has a nice clean design and you can keep multiple packing checklists. If there’s a place that you frequently visit, you can save the list for future use. It also has preset lists to get you started. With iPacking, no more forgetting your flip flops, hat, or worse, your passport!
2. Trip It
TripIt is the best app for trip planning, in my opinion. You can access an itinerary of your trip at a glance even when you’re offline. When you book a flight and get a confirmation email, as long as your email is registered with TripIt, you can forward the confirmation to firstname.lastname@example.org and it automatically adds the flight information to your trip. It does the same with hotel, car rental, and other types of reservations.
You can also add anyone as a viewer. This is a nice safety feature when you go abroad. Let’s hope this never happens to you, but if you were to go missing, at least someone has your trip information and can provide your expected whereabouts to the police.
TripIt has a free and a paid version – TripIt Pro at $49/yr. We upgraded to the paid version through our employer at no additional cost to us. The following features make the paid version worthwhile:
- Flight updates – TripIt also provides you with flight updates, such as gate changes or delays. It’s not fun to drive all the way to the airport and then find out upon arrival that your flight has a major delay! You could be relaxing some more wherever you are.
- Seat tracker – With this feature, TripIt notifies you when better seating according to your preferences becomes available, such as a window seat or a more leg-room seat.
- Point tracker – This feature tracks your points and rewards program once you input the frequent flyer/member information once. It is quite handy to keep an eye on points that may expire, so you can do something in time to save them.
- Flight refunds – You will get notification when you’re eligible for a flight refund. At one point, a Southwest flight went down in price a few weeks later after we bought it, so TripIt sent us a notification. And what did Mrs. Enchumbao do? She rebooked the flights and got us a nice refund in the form of flight credit.
We’ve been using TripIt for four years and have been very happy with it!
You must have heard about Uber by now–the app that you can use to get a ride from a private driver. Uber is not in the Dominican Republic yet, so our trusted cab drivers were our Ubers. Whenever we travel in the States, Uber is our go to app before catching a Yellow cabby. We gave them some business while visiting Miami this spring. All the drivers were very friendly, and in the melting pot of Miami, you get to hear interesting immigrant stories. One nice feature of Uber is that you can rate your driver, and we make sure to rate everyone. It’s a two way street, as the driver can rate the passenger too, so behave and don’t throw up in the backseat after a night out. It’s not nice and you’ll get charged for any property damage! You can get an estimated wait time, estimated cost of ride and you can also see the numbers of available drivers nearby. If you would like to try it for the first time, here’s the link to get your first ride free. (For full disclosure, we get a referral bonus when you use this link. We only recommend products that we use and believe in. Once you sign up, you can send your own referral link to friends, and you both get one free ride when they sign up and travel using your link.)
4. Google Maps
I’m impressed with how well Google Maps works outside of the U.S. Before, when I used to drive in the Dominican Republic, I had to depend on physical maps or directions from locals. Now I can open the app, put an address and confidently move around and about in the country. Of course, many times we like to be driven and be able to enjoy cold Presidentes while sitting by the Monument in the city of Santiago, so we call our trusted cab drivers. What’s also cool about Google Maps is that you can save an address while using data and then follow directions with the cellular data off.
5. World Lens
Going into a restaurant abroad and seeing a menu in a language that you don’t understand can be very frustrating. Add hunger and dietary choices to the mix, and you’re in for an errupting volcano that can lead to divorce thoughts and make up sex, all within an hour. Oh yes, my wife and I can be a bad combination of “hangry” (hungry + angry) if we allow ourselves to reach that point. We’re very aware of it now, so we try not to get to that stage. This is where World Lens can come to the rescue. All you have to do is point your smartphone camera at the menu and World Lens visually translates what’s in the image to the language of your choice.
Conversió is the most complete app I’ve seen for conversions. It comes with all the bells and whistles. We primarily use it for currency conversions. It’s also helpful for converting the temperature. If you’re not that familiar with Celsius vs. Fahrenheit, this helps when cooking abroad to keep consistent oven temperatures or with setting your air conditioner to the right temperature.
7. Trip Advisor
TripAdvisor is an awesome app for when you need to find a place to eat or lodge, things to do or a even find a flight. We love the fact that it has plenty of reviews for favorite places in the areas we visit. The fact that it has a lot of user-generated content, such as detailed reviews, pictures, and other tips, makes the reviews more helpful and trustworthy.
No, we didn’t spend 300 dollars on flowers! These are in Dominican pesos!
We feel that tracking expenses is essential to reach financial independence. If you don’t know how your money is currently being spent, how could you predict how much you’ll need to reach FI? When we travel abroad, we use the QuickSilver from Capital One for all credit card transactions, since it doesn’t charge a foreign transaction fee. Then, there are times when we inevitably have to pay with local currency. And how do we track those cash expenses? This is where 5coins comes in handy. With 5coins, you can track your daily expenses by adding your transactions in the app by category. When we return from our trip, we sum up all the transactions within the same category and convert it into dollars. Then we add them to Mint. We only use it to track spending in the local currency. NOTE: I learned this the hard way – if you’re switching sim cards, make sure that you back up the data prior to doing so. The apps refreshes when sim cards are switched and the data gets erased! 🙁 Aish, Pushok!
That’s it for our list!
What apps do you use for traveling?