Mobility

Five free apps to help you feel at home in an unfamiliar city

Business travel has gotten more convenient and less stressful thanks to apps like these.

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Image: iStockPhoto.com/Alija

Between speaking at dozens of IT events each year and my personal trips, I probably spend more time traveling than I spend at home. One of the challenges of traveling to that extent is being able to function efficiently while in an unfamiliar city. Here are five apps that can help anyone who travels to cities they don't know well.

Note: This article is also available as a photo gallery.

1: Hungry Now Fast Food Locator

Hungry Now Fast Food Locator (Figure A) helps you locate nearby fast food restaurants. While this capability might not be unique, Hungry Now Fast Food Locator does a particularly good job.

Figure A

Figure A

I especially like that you can specify your preferred restaurants. For example, I am a vegetarian, so knowing the location of the nearest McDonald's or KFC doesn't do me a lot of good. However, I can use the Preferred Fast Food setting to zero in on Subway (which serves veggie subs) or Burger King (which serves veggie burgers).

Hungry Now Fast Food Locator is available for Android, iOS, and Windows Phone.

2: Find Me Coffee

Find Me Coffee (Figure B) does exactly what the name suggests: It finds coffee. And it doesn't limit you to searching for one specific coffee franchise. It lists a variety of coffee houses that are close by.

Figure B

Figure B

The app features a one-touch search feature or you can enter a specific location and search for coffee near that location. For example, before a recent trip to Dallas, I used the location search to find out in advance what my options were near the hotel where I would be staying.

The one thing that would make this app perfect would be a coffee franchise filter that would allow you to give preference to the coffee shops you like, while hiding results for ones you don't.

Find Me Coffee is available for Android, iOS, and Windows Phone.

3: Easy Taxi

Although I try to walk whenever I can, sometimes there is just no getting around the need for a cab. Easy Taxi (Figure C) locks onto your location and displays your address (which you can edit if necessary). You can then request a cab by tapping a single button. The application requests rides only from licensed taxicabs.

Figure C

Figure C

Easy Taxi is available for Android, iOS, and Windows Phone.

4: Poynt

Poynt (Figure D) is similar to the Windows Phone's Local Scout feature, but it's more intuitive. It helps you find things that are nearby, such as restaurants or gas stations. It can also show you upcoming events for the area you're in.

Figure D

Figure D

One thing that I really like about this app is that it also shows you the weather for your location. Although there is no shortage of weather apps, it's nice to have a single app that includes both location services and weather. The app also includes yellow page and white page listings for the area.

Poynt is available for Android, iOS, and Windows Phone.

5: World Explorer

World Explorer (Figure E) also shows you nearby locations. But while apps such as Poynt tend to focus on food and events, World Explorer shows you nearby towns, attractions, and features. For example, when I was trying out World Explorer, it displayed Lake Wylie, which I would expect, since it is directly behind my home. Oddly enough, it also displayed the nearby Catawba Nuclear Station.

Figure E

Figure E

Although this app is free, you have to upgrade to the paid version to gain access to features such as search and mapping.

World Explorer is available for Android, iOS, and Windows Phone.

Also read...

    Other recommendations?

    What apps do you rely on when you're traveling to an unfamiliar location? Share your suggestions with fellow TechRepublic members.

    3 comments
    levinsa
    levinsa

    I don't know where the author travels, but Easy Taxi is neither Easy nor is it working well for many users according to their reports. It appears that some people in Asia and South America do find it useful, but unless you are going to one of the few areas that is supported, it is a waste of phone memory. 

    Poynt is suffering from being out of date as far as their restaurants, at least. By out of date I mean years out of date. I found several restaurants and coffee shops that had the same address and were no longer there. What was worse the current restaurant wasn't listed at all. This leaves me wondering whether the author even uses these applications.

    NickNielsen
    NickNielsen moderator

    @jonathan.moo  

    They aren't duplicates.   They share a subject, but the formats are different.  One is an article with in-line images, the other is a photo gallery.