How to replace your paper travel guide with some help from apps and the Internet

Rest in peace, paper Frommer's.

Google was poised to put an end to the legendary travel guide Frommer’s printed version, marking a brilliant new frontier of electronically-abetted travel. Plenty of apps making friendly locals more accessible sound like every traveler’s dream. The Internet has tools on how to get the most of your vacation itinerary, taking you far beyond the paper tour guide. 

Still, be warned. When you’re traveling somewhere with rampant roaming charges and spotty Wi-Fi, Internet apps can improve your experience up until, “Oh crap. Was it a right or a left at the intersection?” 

And fittingly, recent news says that Arthur Frommer, the creator of the series, seems to be buying the rights back from Google and keeping the print around (while also maintaining a website and selling eBooks). 

While no tool is a cure-all for travel pains, plenty of apps offer access to locals and customizability not available in the standard paper guide. All it takes is a little planning ahead.

Plan your activities   

Plnnr generates itineraries based on how many days your trip is and what your interests are
Plnnr generates itineraries based on how many days your trip is and what your interests are

Instantly generate itineraries based on your interests, the length of the trip, and desired activity-level with Plnnr. It’s like a more personalized version of the itineraries travelers turn to Frommer’s and Lonely Planet for. While the attractions err toward typical tourist-favorites, it’s a good place to start and then supplement with food and drink picks from the likes of Spotted by Locals (mostly useful for trips to Europe, but there is some availability in the states), or local tips from Time Outs for cities globally. 

Sidetour connects local historians and other experts with visitors or just the curious. It’s currently only available in New York, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., and Chicago but is expanding quickly around the U.S. With one-of-a-kind experiences like a fish fry accompanied by jazz in a Brooklyn brownstone and making pizza with the food editor of the Washington Post, these are worth waiting for. 

How to meet locals is a pretty ubiquitous travel question. Old standbys like Couchsurfing (which organizes events for travelers as well as finding them a place to stay) and Meetup are as great as ever, if a little overwhelming to peruse the options at times, but great food-oriented alternatives are Grubwithus and Dishcrawl. With organized, pre-fixed meals around a variety of themes like meals for vegans, runners, 90s wrestling fans, and even recent transplants, Grubwithus makes it easy to find a table and a delicious meal with people you’ll have a lot in common with too. And Dishcrawl offers a lot of excitement for the palette. Like a pub crawl but with food, it’s the perfect answer for when you’re in a great culinary city like San Francisco and just can decide what to eat. 

How to meet locals? Grubwithus makes it easy to eat with them too.
How to meet locals? Grubwithus makes it easy to eat with them too.

Mind the details 

You’ve planned the trip, now it’s time for the details. Packing Pro is an app that make it easy to create a packing list based on the the length of the trip, kind of trip you’ll be going on (family, business, camping), the expected temperature, whether the trip is domestic or international, and who you’re packing for. Plus, Packing Pro syncs with iCloud to make your information easily accessible anywhere.

And to make sure your trip there and back is as pleasant as can be, SeatGuru is still the go-to when it comes to finding out if your airline seat won’t recline because of its proximity to the emergency exit before you sit down … or you know, other seating details.

If you found tipping to be hard with four people on one bill at the bar around the corner, imagine having to do it in a foreign country with its own currency and customs. Tipping Guide offers all the advice Rick Steves’ tour books would have about Europe at your fingertips. And all translated into the local currency. 

Keep it all together 

TripAdvisor offers a variety of offline-accessible city guides.
TripAdvisor offers a variety of offline-accessible city guides.

When roaming charges are an issue, a little early planning is necessary. While TripAdvisor, Afar, and all offer recommendations as to what to do and where to eat, these apps are also often short on details like what kind of food is served and what prices may be. Those details are easy enough to find when you have Internet access, but if not, things can get a little haphazard. Definitely have one of these on hand if only just for the offline-accessible maps, but do know that when you’re desperate to impress and without a clue, these apps are not the cure-all. 

If you don’t want to live off scraps of paper tied together, TripIt makes it easy to keep everything together from flight information to dinner reservations. Plus, everything is stored in the cloud, so it’s easily accessible. 

Bon voyage!


Leave the laptop at home, the iPad Pro is the travel buddy to take on vacay

The iPad Pro is a powerful tablet that's perfect for creatives and professionals. How does it fare when traveling with it as a laptop replacement? We took it on a two week trek in Japan to find out.

Give Rachael Ray a run for her money with these 13 recipe apps

You don’t have to be Gordon Ramsay to make a killer meal, you just need an easy to follow recipe app. We’ve compiled our 13 favorite cooking apps for Android smartphones and iPhones, including countless recipes to suit any taste.
Home Theater

Anker’s micro projectors get an equally small price in time for the holidays

Looking for a great deal on a tiny video projector? Anker has some tiny prices on three of their smallest devices. With features like Android 7.1 and designs as small as a can of soda, these projectors make the perfect travel companions.
Emerging Tech

This unusual nature-inspired robot is equally at home on land or in the water

This intriguing, nature-inspired robot may look unusual, but it's impressively capable of moving on both land and water without problem. Heck, it can even travel on ice if necessary.
Smart Home

LG will announce partnerships at CES to help give you a smart kitchen

LG is announcing a number of partnerships that will help make kitchen appliances even smarter. It is working with Drop, the makers of Kitchen OS, to create a unified kitchen experience that will make cooking easy.
Smart Home

Starbucks teams with Uber Eats for delivery from 2,000 of its U.S. stores

Starbucks has teamed up with Uber Eats to offer customers deliveries from almost a quarter of its stores in the U.S. The major expansion launches early next year, making life even easier for fans of the coffee giant.

Amazon Fire Deals: Tablets, TVs, and TV controllers in stock and ready to ship

Last-minute shoppers, and anyone seeking good deals on Amazon Fire products, are in luck. There's still time to order Fire Tablets, Fire TVs, and Fire media players, Fire CVRs, and Alexa-voice-compatible Fire remotes for Christmas delivery.
Smart Home

Best Walmart deals on Keurig and Nespresso coffee makers, espresso machines

The days till Christmas are slipping by, but these Walmart deals on Keurig and Nespresso coffee makers are prime candidates for last-minute gift selections. All four coffee makers ship for free in time to arrive before Christmas.
Smart Home

Ring, Amazon’s smart doorbell maker, explores technology that alerts police

Smart doorbells have been using facial-recognition technology to mark friends and family but a pair of patents filed by Ring could lead to doorbells that automatically identify suspicious persons and notify police.
Smart Home

These activists are hacking housing problems in NYC using apps and data

There are 1.2 million people living in "deficient" housing in New York City and now these coders are making easy-to-use, intuitive apps designed to give tenants a fighting chance against unscrupulous landlords.
Smart Home

Holiday shopping: Here are the final dates for Amazon’s free shipping promotion

If you're shopping with Amazon this holiday season, then time is fast running out if you want all of your gifts delivered before December 25. Here are the dates you need to know ...
Smart Home

Ward off porch pirates with the best outdoor security cameras

Worried about porch pirates stealing your packages, or intruders entering your home? Always be in the know about who or what is on your property by installing one of these outdoor security cameras.

Save up to $200 on Roomba and other robot vacuums before Christmas

We've found the best discounts on robot vacuum cleaners on brands such as Roomba, Shark, Eufy, and Ecovacs Deebot. Whether you're buying Christmas gifts or just need a little help around the house, these fourteen deals can help you save.
Smart Home

Here are the smart home gifts peple actually want this year

Looking for a smart home gift to buy for someone on your list? It's not too late! Of all the gadgets we research and test, these are our picks for the best last-minute smart home gifts for 2018.