Safety is a constant concern when traveling, whether you’re hopping in the car for a weekend getaway or backpacking across Europe. Besides being unfamiliar with a location, language barriers can also make communication difficult. Cue new mobile security app, React Mobile.
Free to download for iOS and select Android systems, the app allows you to create a list of emergency contacts (friends, parents, doctors, etc.) that will be instantly notified if danger strikes. Just tap once to “activate your shield” and GPS coordinates of your location will be sent to members on your list, with an option to link your Twitter and Facebook accounts. Have a serious problem? Send a message to police directly from the app. React Mobile has world-travelers covered, with availability in 39 countries and four continents including the U.S., Canada, Mexico, European Union, Australia, China, Japan, Israel, Jamaica, Philippines, Thailand, Brazil, and Argentina.
Clearly we’re not the only ones obsessed with globetrotting pets. This week, Virgin Australia launched a new program for its furry fliers, making them the second airline to offer frequent flier miles to its four-legged jet set (JetBlue, with its JetPaws initiative, has been offering miles for a few years). Miles get added to the human handler’s account—Peaches sure isn’t carrying her own status card—and members can expect a minimum of 300 points per pet flight. Now if only the flight attendants could pass out some kibbles along with those pretzels…
Nikki Ekstein is an Editorial Assistant at Travel + Leisure and part of the Trip Doctor news team. Find her at on Twitter at @nikkiekstein.
Procrastinators, rejoice! There’s a slew of new apps aimed at snagging a last-minute hotel deal. Here, our tech expert’s road-tested favorites.
HotelTonight(Android, iOS): The pioneer of same-day booking apps, HotelTonight features staff-vetted properties in more than a hundred cities around the world, with tags like Hip, Luxe, or Charming to guide your search. Expect trendy boutique hotels and even some splashy new openings—but don’t get too attached to any one spot. Deals change daily and can be reserved only from noon onward.
Looking for the nearest ATM in Paris and rusty on your French? These tools—all road-tested by T+L ensures you’ll never be misunderstood again.
Most Comprehensive: Google Translate(free; Android, iOS) In addition to having 64 languages for typed and spoken translations, Google Translate is particularly savvy when it comes to brand names, knowing not to suggest the literal “équipe du ciel” when you’re asking about the nearest SkyTeam lounge in French, for example. The data-dependent app offers the best results, but Android users can get exclusive language packs that cover the basics and can be used offline.
Best for International Travel: Jibbigo Translator(offline language packs from $4.99; Android, iOS) Data connections aren’t required for Jibbigo’s thorough, vetted language packs (with more than 40,000 words each), which have set the standard for the past five years. Currently, it offers easy-to-use typed translations for 20-plus languages and spoken translations for 13; more are being rolled out soon. Especially useful are its customizable glossaries, which let you add terms you know you’ll need ahead of time.
Best for Signs and Menus: S Translator(free; only on Samsung’s Galaxy S4) and Word Lens($4.99 per language; Android, iOS) Point your smartphone’s camera at any word or phrase, and these apps give you its meaning. We love S Translator’s handy pronunciation tips and its ability to read simplified Chinese characters. Other Android and iPhone users can try the similar but more limited Word Lens. It offers help in French, Spanish, Italian, and German—no data connection needed.
Best For Longer Conversations: Verbalizeit($10 for five minutes of translator talk time; Android, iOS) Wish you had a native speaker in your pocket? With Verbalizeit, you can locate and call a live translator with the push of a button—ideal for technical conversations, such as seeing a doctor abroad. The app may require a little patience: depending on demand, it can take a few (unbilled) minutes for a translator to become available, but each one is tested for proficiency and ability to meet travelers’ needs.
Coming Soon If you need to make restaurant reservations by phone in Mandarin, a pocket app may not cut it. But new technologies are addressing these 2.0 needs. The innovative, though still-being-refined Lexifone app(free; Android) lets you call through its interface and will translate as you speak. Microsoft, meanwhile, is working on perhaps the coolest translator yet: it promises to convert your speech into a translated audio file that sounds just like your voice.
Q: With so many sunscreens on the market, I’m overwhelmed. Have a favorite? —Janet Bakes, via e-mail
A: We took an informal poll, and the cheekily named Supergoop! SPF 50 Antioxidant-Infused Sunscreen Mist($19) is a T+L editor pick. It’s infused with vitamin C (touted by dermatologists as a damage preventer), plus it’s paraben- and fragrance-free, hence easy on your skin. Soleil Organique($42) makes similar mists in varying SPF’s, with a green-tea scent. For daily use on the face, we prefer lightweight and long-lasting Kiehl’s Super Fluid UV Defense SPF 50+($38) and emollient-rich La Prairie Sun Protection Emulsion Face SPF 30($95). Hailing from Norway, Restørsea Rejuvenating Day Lotion SPF 30(pictured; $150) contains anti-aging enzymes and moisturizing algae, though it may be worth the splurge for its pretty packaging alone.
Mimi Lombardo is Travel + Leisure’s style director. Packing is rarely easy—we’re here to help. Send your question to email@example.com.
The one gadget that makes every hotel a workstation: CB2's ultra-compact Universal Travel Adapter($23). It's half the size of its competitors and has one simple switch that toggles between built-in plugs for virtually every destination around the world. It comes in four bright colors, making it easy to find in your suitcase.
Nikki Ekstein is an editorial assistant at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter at @nikkiekstein.
A new website is making it easier for Americans to get the local scoop on international destinations. Webflakes, launched in May, uses its growing team of volunteers (currently at around 200) to translate foreign blogs into English, a major boon to anyone who’s ever been frustrated at the lack of English-language, international posts in the blogosphere.
The site compiles posts from over 60 hand-selected bloggers who hail from France, Italy, Japan, Spain, Argentina, Peru, and Switzerland. That list of bloggers and home-countries is set to grow, with German and Chinese blogs predicted for the near future. The posts cover traditional lifestyle topics including travel, design, architecture, relationships, fashion, wine, and food & dining.
Despite travelers’ obsessions with being plugged in on the road, only 38% of domestic flights—and less than 1% of international flights—offer WiFi on board. Change is coming, with over 2,400 domestic and international flights rolling out Wi-Fi in the near future, but even then, in-flight web surfing will be far from ubiquitous, says data by flight engine RouteHappy. So here’s what the study suggests you do to make sure you stay connected in the skies:
T+L has got you covered when it comes to hiking guides in rugged locales like the Dolomites, the Andes, and Zambia, but we love to trek around urban areas too. That’s why we’re thrilled at the completion of a project transforming 1.4-miles of roadway into a pedestrian riverwalk along the Seine's Left Bank in Paris's 7th arrondissemont.