Ajay Pattani is an Entrepreneurs' Organization (EO) member from Chicago and founder (and reigning ping pong champion) of Perfect Search Media, a search and social agency named to the 2017 Inc. 5000 list of America's fastest-growing companies. As a tech-savvy traveler, we asked Ajay what apps he uses to make traveling a more pleasant experience. Here's what he shared:
Travel not only "broadens the mind" as the saying goes; it can also broaden our appreciation of technology and its benefits in daily life. Recently, I had the opportunity to travel in Japan, exploring the country and culture. In my past visits to countries where English isn't widely spoken, I found getting around and communicating extremely difficult. This trip was different, and I credit technology for the win: I used Google Translate--and it totally transformed my travel experience.
This got me thinking about how technology impacts travel behavior and my various go-to travel apps. I'm always looking for ways to make traveling easier, and every time a new technological advancement is introduced, it shapes behavior and changes how we move around the world.
Here are my top five trip-changing travel apps:
1. Google Translate
As mentioned, I prepared myself for my recent adventures in Japan by downloading the Google Translate app. It's a game-changer. When I hopped in a cab and needed to tell the driver where to go, I simply spoke into my phone in English. The app translated my words and voiced them in Japanese so the driver could understand my destination. It made communication very easy--and everyone I used it with was amazed by the process as if I had performed some magic trick.
Google Translate made my trip a lot smoother, and using it also helped me realize that my translation requests probably qualify as some of the more than 1 billion voice search queries completed each month.
This is an airline booking app with a distinct benefit. If you're traveling from Chicago to New York city, Skiplagged will look up all flights that fit that flight path. What differentiates this app is that it will also find any flight from Chicago that stops in New York, even those that continue to another final destination.
Here's why this is a benefit: Often, a flight that stops in New York city en route to Boston, for example, is cheaper than a flight with New York city as its final destination. Keep in mind that if you choose this option, it means that you can't check any luggage, because it would go on to the flight's final destination even if you deplane in New York. And, be sure to travel light in case of a scenario in which the airline requires carry-ons to be checked.
By using this app, I've found affordable flights that I wouldn't have seen elsewhere.
I tend to book hotels at the last minute. HotelTonight helps me do this by showing open rooms in hotels and providing good deals. While Kayak has a large selection of hotels to compare, HotelTonight often has the best pricing for last-minute stays.
Keep in mind that you have to book a hotel before midnight if you'll be arriving late at night--so you can't be too spur-of-the-moment. Still, it's an easy way to find a place to stay, and it's simple to book rooms on the app.
I know many people have abandoned Facebook for Instagram, Snapchat or no social media at all, but I think Facebook is a great way to connect with people while traveling.
I don't post to Facebook often, but I always check in to a city when I reach my destination. Last winter, I checked in at a restaurant in Orlando. My cousin's wife saw it and told me that my cousin happened to be in Orlando that day. We met up, had dinner and spent some quality time together.
If not for the power of Facebook, I wouldn't have even known he was in the same city.
You may have heard of Skiplagged and HotelTonight--and I'm confident that you're familiar with Facebook--but you might not yet know about Tesloop.
It's a shared, city-to-city Tesla car transportation service--I think of it as a long-distance Uber--only available in southern California. Last year I got rid of my car and made a commitment to stop driving. I then found myself flying to Los Angeles to attend a conference in Palm Springs.
I considered renting a car, but then I learned about Tesloop. For $60, they picked me up from LAX in a Tesla Model X and drove me to Palm Springs. The service includes Wi-Fi, snacks and drinks. Plus, my trip had the bonus perk of sharing the ride with an interesting passenger who was visiting from Australia and offered good conversation. Our driver also tested self-driving mode on our trip, which was fascinating to experience in person.
The advent of new technology and apps has transformed how I travel. From how I communicate with cab drivers to how I book accommodations, it's easier than ever before to explore the world. What are you waiting for?