By Sarah Kohl, M.D., Pediatric Alliance — Chartiers/McMurray Division




Top 3 Phone Apps


Summertime and the living is easy… really?

I’m stuck in airports, I can’t read the signs, I’m hungry, and I’m not sure how much things cost.  Fortunately my phone can make things a lot easier!  Here are three of my favorite phone apps that solve these immediate problems when traveling… and only one needs a connection to work.


1.  Where are you staying (and how are you getting there)?

TripIt — This is my go-to app for keeping all the little details organized: What time does my plane leave?  What is the confirmation number for the car rental?  How do I get to my hotel? Since it requires a connection to load the data I usually load the page for the day before taking off for the airport.  Then I can open it even if I don’t have a connection.

How do I use it?  Our whole family is connected privately on Tripit so we can see when we are coming/going and if anyone is delayed. (No one else can see the information.)  I also connect Tripit to my calendar so that the details populate my daily feed.

How do you know whether you got the best fare?  Upgrade to TripIt Pro.  The app keeps track of how much you paid for your flight, how much the flight costs now and whether it’s worth it to incur the change flight penalty to get the new fare.  And, you don’t have to spend hours on the web trying to figure this out yourself — time saved, money saved!


2.  What are you saying?

Word Lens — This is my new favorite.  Download the app (for now it’s free) and the languages of your choice in a wi-fi environment. Select which language you want to convert, hold your phone in front of the phrase/sign and, voilà — it appears in English!  It works in reverse too!  Right now it is limited to Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Italian, Russian, and English, but Google Translate just bought the company, so I expect a lot more languages in the future.

Did I mention it works in airplane mode too?  This is especially helpful since you don’t want to incur international roaming charges.


3.  How much does it cost?

eCurrency, XE Currency Converter, or GlobeConvert — These apps help figure out your costs.  Each has a slightly different interface but works equally well.  Personally, I prefer the eCurrency interface the best.  Used in airplane mode, all three will calculate conversion rates between any two currencies of your choosing.  The apps use the exchange rate from the last time you opened it in a wi-fi environment.  I don’t find this to be a problem since most currency exchange rates don’t fluctuate much on an hourly basis (and international roaming charges are super expensive).


Well, there you have it.  My top 3 favorite travel apps to make your summer travels easier.

Which are your favorite apps that you use when traveling?  Drop me an email ( or type your response in the comments box below this post.  I’d love to hear how you use them and why you like them.



(Dr. Sarah Kohl is a pediatrician at the Pediatric Alliance — Chartiers/McMurray Division and specializes in travel medicine.  Dr. Kohl is a member of the International Society of Travel Medicine.)