For those who want to navigate airports and highways during the holidays, tackle a midyear military move or plot a weekend getaway, planning is key. Not long ago, that would have meant breaking out guidebooks, maps and child-friendly games. These days, smartphone apps and the latest gadgets have replaced most old-school accessories.
If you are moving, the Moving Day app for iPhone and iPad can help you stay organized and digitally catalog items as you pack. "There are so many apps for use on a smartphone that will assist in having a successful move," says military spouse Stephanie Boyd-Walker, who credits the Moving Day app with aiding her move from Hawaii to South Carolina. "Task lists and checklist apps galore. Moving Day helps you inventory your packed boxes and creates labels with QR codes, so upon delivery you can scan everything quickly and inventory damages."
This app, designed for the military community, is an alternative to classified advertising sites like Craigslist. Call Dibs for iPhone allows military families, veterans and Defense Department civilians to buy and sell items online. Military spouse Erica McMannes, promotions director for Call Dibs, says the military-community centered network may give families a "sense of trust" when exchanging goods. "Just by the default of being a part of the military community, you feel safer," she says. Call Dibs is expanding with an iPad app and Web version, McMannes says.
Members can use the USAA Mobile App for iPhone and Android to access USAA Home Circleand find properties to buy or rent, seek guidance from a network of USAA-preferred real estate agents, and save searches and photos just as they would at homecircle.com. Members now can use voice assistant to complete many banking, investment and insurance chores. "The first-generation voice assistant is focused on making it easier for members to accomplish basic tasks on the USAA app: get balances, pay bills, find information and navigation," says USAA's Neff Hudson, assistant vice president, emerging channels.
If you need to make last-minute reservations for your move, this mobile app provides access to 150,000 hotel listings worldwide. "We drove from Texas to South Carolina, and it made the physical driving part of the move much easier because I could pull off the road and find a place to stay if weather conditions were getting bad or we were tired of driving,” says military spouse Jodie Cain Smith. "The technology gave us flexibility we didn't have in previous moves."
Once you settle into your new home, consider the added security of a home-monitoring system. USAA members can qualify for ADT basic monitoring discounts. With the ADT Pulse home automation service and app (sold separately), customers can monitor the status of their home security remotely via their mobile device.
This app translates words and phrases for more than 65 languages. Best of all, for many languages, it will speak your phrases and the corresponding translation, allowing you to bridge language barriers from Albania to Wales.
Swap guidebooks and maps for this travel app that brings to life cities and sights all around the world, offering information on tourist destinations, restaurants, weather and foreign phrases. The app stores detailed info on your device so you can use it offline. "We really don't use much beyond Triposo anymore," says Mariana Greene, a military spouse whose family is stationed in Germany. "We still pick up paper maps included in free brochures, but that is mostly out of habit. Triposo is becoming our go-to app."
With its long battery life and one-button emergency dialing, the SpareOne mobile phone may be an essential safeguard when traveling internationally. Help avoid expensive international roaming charges by carrying a SpareOne and buying a local SIM card with prepaid minutes. SpareOne can provide up to 10 hours of talk time, can hold its charge, if unused, for up to 15 years and includes a 24-hour torchlight. Learn more at spareone.com.
Roll twice the amount of luggage with half the effort through airports, hotel lobbies orparking garages using this ingenious lightweight device. Attaches two rolling bags together, leaving you with a free hand to take hold of a child, talk on the phone or carry plane tickets. The luggage-stabilizing device fits into most suitcase pockets and is available in black or pink from trainreaction.com.
Road Trip Apps
Service member Anthony Hatala discovered the need for an all-in-one source for military base information after spending 20 minutes unearthing the phone number for base lodging in San Diego. "After finally finding the right one," he says, "I realized we needed a dynamic, up-to-date and portable directory that members from all military branches could use." His app now covers 29 USOs and 269 bases, providing contact information for everything from child development centers to barbershops.
This app finds parks, playgrounds, restaurants with indoor play areas and other child-friendly places in 28 metro areas.
This app can direct you to the cheapest and nearest gas station. "We use it absolutely everywhere," says Erica Pena-Vest, founder of guidetomilitarytravel.com. As long as you have cell service, she says, the app should find your phone and tell you how far you are from your next pit stop.
Tablet: If you are traveling by train, plane or automobile, an iPad, Kindle, Nook or other tablet may be your best bet for entertaining young children, finding a hotel, discovering new restaurants or navigating a city. On a whirlwind train trip between Germany and Amsterdam with a toddler in tow, Greene says her iPad was a "lifesaver." "It's magical," she says, keeping her son "entertained with everything from movies to Angry Birds."
Headrest Mount: Prevent a backseat battle over who holds your tablet by installing this accessory in your car before taking off with the family on a long road trip. It includes a cord that will charge an iPad using the 12-volt car outlet.
On-the-Go Power: Ventev's Dashport r2200 is a dual USB universal charger that can rapidly charge two devices at once using the 12-volt car outlet, eliminating road-trip arguments over whose phone, tablet or other device gets recharged first. Dashport r2200 is sold with a micro USB or Apple 30-pin cable. (Apple Lightning cable is sold separately.) Go to ventev.com or call 800-305-9772.