It’s common for travelers to face a sudden change in plans; however, sometimes they may face situations far beyond their control. In these cases, their smartphone can be their best asset, as various safety apps have been designed to help even the most experienced road warrior out. Here are six of them.
Tip: For safety beyond apps I recommend grabbing some Clever Travel Companion Pickpocket-Proof Garments, which feature hidden interior pockets for valuables. Another recommendation is a Vigilant Personal Alarm, which you can wear like a bracelet. Simply pull the pin to have it blare like a fire truck when danger comes near.
1. Smart Traveler (free; iOS & Android). Created by the U.S. Department of State, this app provides specific government information about a foreign destination such as current travel warnings and alerts. It also gives contact information for U.S. embassies and consulates. Travelers that have signed up with the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) can also access their account through the app.
2. Emergency App (free; iOS & Android). Developed by the American Red Cross, this all-inclusive app serves as a “go-to” resource for what travelers can do in the case of 14 different types of emergencies and disasters within the U.S. Users can customize more than 35 emergency alerts based on their location and where their contacts live. The app also contains a kit of emergency first aid info advising on everything from heart attacks to heat stroke.
3. Sitata (free; iOS & Android). Focused on health and safety, the company behind this app monitors media sites worldwide for news on real-time events happening around the globe that can disrupt travel. Their alerts are displayed on a map alongside additional information and “what to do” advice currently in over 200 countries. The latest update to Sitata is a community board where travelers are permitted to write posts on their experiences on anything from a transportation tip to warnings about pickpockets.
4. SaferVPN ($5.99-$8.99/month; iOS, Windows & Android). Accessible — even free — Wi-Fi is great, but an open network can put travelers at risk for online identity theft. This app turns into a VPN (virtual private network), enabling users to connect to a remote server and direct traffic through a secure network, surfing the web with bank-level encrypted connection. They also can change their IP address to match their preferred location.
5. BlueLight ($19.99/year; iOS & Android). For travelers heading back to their lodging at night or en route to meet friends or somewhere solo, this public safety app is designed to provide their location to the closest emergency assistance or personal contacts. It has two main features. First, On My Way lets users enter in a destination and notifies selected contacts in their network when they get there. Second, Request Help dials calls and routes them to the closest dispatcher. As of this writing, BlueLight works only within the continental United States and some of Canada.
6. bSafe (free; iOS & Android). As another location app, this version lets users set up a network of friends, family and coworkers to share your location, but takes their level of contact much further. Its Follow Me feature operates by using the phone’s GPS to trace the steps of a person walking home so that their contacts can “follow” them in real time. A Timer Mode can be set to trigger an alert if the user hasn’t checked in, and a Guardian Alert button can be pressed to notify loved ones if you’re in trouble. And if you’re home, the “I’m Here” option lets who you want to know where you are.
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