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Going on a senior trip? There's an app for that
As graduation ceremonies come to a close, many high school seniors are preparing for their senior trips. Whether they are headed to big cities, sandy beaches or overseas, smartphone apps can help young travelers navigate their grand adventures.
First and foremost, remember checked luggage has a weight limit of 50 pounds. As a chronic over-packer, I long for a smart phone app that can weigh my luggage. Until one is developed, though, you will have to use the bathroom scales or purchase luggage scales for around $15. If, like many Southeastern travelers, you are catching a Delta flight, you can track your luggage with their mobile app found at http://tinyurl.com/deltabaggage.
If you have already forgotten everything you learned in high school language classes, consider using Google Translate (http://tinyurl.com/googletranslateapp) to express what you want to say in the native language. The app is free, but you will need to have an Internet connection to use it. Another free, useful app for iPhone users is WordLens, which lets you use your smart phone camera to translate signs. WordLens can be downloaded from the iTunes store at http://tinyurl.com/wordlensapps. This app can be used without an Internet connection.
There are several apps that can be used to figure out currency exchange rates. Just remember that there may be additional fees if you use a credit card or traveler’s check. Oanda has a free mobile app that shows the most current exchange rates. It is available at http://tinyurl.com/oandaexchange. If Oanda has a bit too much information, consider Currency Banknotes for 99 cents. It is a visual app that shows you both the currency conversion and a picture of the money.
Taking public transportation in big cities can save a bundle in taxicab fare, but figuring out the maze of connections can be tough. Download HopStop at http://tinyurl.com/hopstoponthego. Select your location and your destination, and wait for HopStop to calculate your route. Most major cities, like New York City and London, have developed their own app for their subway, such as http://tinyurl.com/newyorksubwayapp or http://tinyurl.com/londontubemapapp.
If going underground is not on your list of fun things to do, the taxi companies are offering apps for your convenience, too. You can download the #Taxi app for your phone at http://www.poundtaxi.com/download-app. It uses your GPS coordinates to locate a taxi and place a call to the taxi company.
If traveling overseas, consider enrolling in the U.S. Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) online at: https://step.state.gov/step/. This allows the State Department to assist you more quickly if you lose your passport or if there is a natural disaster in the country you are visiting.
Knowing the location of the U.S. Embassy in the country you are visiting is a good idea as well. Download the Smart Traveler app from http://tinyurl.com/smarttraveler from the State Department to find embassies and receive travel alerts.
Last but not least, there are numerous apps designed for safety. There are apps that give you the ability to make a safety call or apps that call you so it looks like you are talking on the phone to someone. One app to consider is the Bluelight app, available at http://www.bluelightapp.com/, which notifies friends and family when you do not arrive at your destination by a designated time.
Seniors, as you pack your bags and hug your parents goodbye, remember to keep safety first. Be alert. Travel in groups or pairs. Your parents and teachers have equipped you to survive in this world. And remember, you’re from Mississippi: no matter how old you are, you should always call your mother to let her know you are OK.