From saving your relationship to saving your social media reputation, this year’s best travel apps will help you boldly go where millions of other people have gone before.
Are you a tourist with a heart of gold? Do you long to see a new country while simultaneously saving a handful of its local residents on your week long vacation? Then this Sean Penn-endorsed app is for you, you business-class hero. EmpathyAbroad matches you with volunteer opportunities ranging from teaching sassy orphans how to dress for potential job interviews to planting the seeds of democracy through exemplary hygiene and well-timed political humor. Earn EmpathyElite status after 100 acts of American-designated heroism and your next trip to a country recovering from a natural disaster is on us!
Preparing your kids for the real world is hard. SurvivorKid is here to help by turning your little ones’ next summer vacation into a fun-filled survival challenge somewhere they’ve never laid tiny, trusting eyes on. Browse stats like “how many dingoes have eaten babies in the Outback” and “number of hours before Appalachian Trail bears track the scent of Johnson & Johnson” before sending off your tot on the trip of a lifetime! This app is for the savvy parent who understands vacation days are nothing more than extra time to prepare for impending resource wars — when those dark days come, little Sophia and Brayden will be more than ready.
You’ve prepped all 94 of your social media accounts with teaser status updates about your impending trip. You’ve confirmed your destination has Wi-Fi in the hotel, restaurants, and all major tourist attractions. You won’t miss a moment of capturing this trip, but all that work will be wasted if you’re headed somewhere even a good Instagram filter can’t make gorgeous. That’s where InstaEnvy comes in. Our ratings will guide you to stunning locales our 13-year-old experts have screen-scoured for traits like “most snappable snacks,” “selfies-with-strangers friendly,” and “your friends will literally hate you for being here.” So get ready to hashtag the shit out of your awesome new city. #picsoritdidnthappen
Sometimes you just want to get away without being overwhelmed by actually being somewhere new. After all, what if no one speaks English? What if you accidentally encounter poverty? These are the kinds of risks smart travelers no longer have to take. CouldBeAnywhere spins the globe for you, then automatically books your trip to an all-inclusive resort exactly like all the other ones in the world. If you didn’t have to go through immigration, you’d barely even know you left home! And more exciting news: We’re currently beta testing a sister app, AirportAnywhere, which will secure you round-trip flights through the world’s trendiest airports, giving you an insider’s guide to posh lounges, free Wi-Fi, and artisanal cocktail bars—all without ever having to leave the terminal.
Has it been a rough year for you and your partner? Maybe you long to whisk your boyfriend to an exotic Caribbean island where he’ll forget all about your recent adultery, or spirit your wife off somewhere she’ll be too distracted by ancient ruins to remember you forget to take out the recycling every goddamn Thursday. Well you’ve come to the right app. Our algorithms are dedicated to finding the perfect spot to renew your commitment to one another—at least for the four days you’re spending without homophobic in-laws and insomniac babies. Because we know discerning folks want more than just a relationship—they want a vacationship.
You’re a total news junkie with smart, pithy opinions about world events, but it’s all just NPR hearsay from your safe stool at the local Starbucks. No longer thanks to PolAdventure, which allows you to join high-energy, anti-government protests anywhere in the world. Uprisings can be filtered by time commitment, number of armored vehicles expected, and potential Twitter popularity. At the end of your vacation, you’ll return to your stable democracy ready to sign every online petition emailed your way.
From the accommodation geniuses behind Airbnb comes Scarebnb, a new appshowcasing the best haunted spaces around the world. Want to spend the night with Thomas Paine’s ghost in Manhattan or locate the creepiest abandoned asylum in Prague? We can help! Since most of our properties aren’t actually open to tourists, you’ll get tips and tricks for sneaking in and out as well as a run-down of your destination’s local trespassing laws. The monthly subscriber fee is a mere 1/10 of your soul based on a sliding income scale.
Rachel Friedman is the author of The Good Girl's Guide to Getting Lost: A Memoir of Three Continents, Two Friends, and One Unexpected Adventure, and has written for The New York Times, McSweeney's Internet Tendency, BUST, and more.