The holidays at long last are upon us. While Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, and the like can be times of joy and celebration, they can also bring on the stress. Indeed, for many of us, the holiday season is the most stressful time of the year. So if the thought of spending too much money on gifts, braving long lines at the airport, or sitting down at the table with relatives still emotional about the recent presidential election has you stressed out, you are not alone. Fortunately, we have a new ally to help lower our holiday-induced stress: technology. Here are four great smartphone apps that can lower the stress during the holiday, and might even make it fun.
Travel Apps: Waze and Flight
Travel is one of the top stressors during the holidays, and these two apps can help lower your travel-induced angst considerably. Waze, a free smartphone navigation aid, is a must-have for anyone planning to brave the interstate this holiday season. Waze allows its community of users to provide real-time updates of travel conditions, and the software will even re-route you to help avoid traffic and other hazards. Flightcaster, another great app, does for air travel what Waze does for your road trip. The app (which, at $7.99 is a bit on the high side, but nonetheless worth every penny) displays all of your flight information and then, using past records and available information, can predict whether or not your flight will be delayed. The app can then help you find connecting flights, so you make it to your destination in a timely manner.
If travel makes you anxious during the holiday, gift shopping can put you over the edge. You never know how much you are going to spend, or whether or not you are getting ripped off. ShopSavvy can take the edge of holiday gift shopping, though. The app turns your smartphone into a barcode scanner, which enables you to comparison shop for identical items online; more often than not, it will help you find a better deal on the item you are looking at and save you some holiday cash. ShopSavvy also sends information about sales and discounts too, which can further help lessen the hit your wallet takes over the holidays and all the stress that comes with it.
Mobile Pay and Wallets
Leave your wallet, your credit cards and your cash behind when you hit the roads this holiday season. These days, more people than ever before are turning their smartphones into mobile wallets, and putting all of their purchasing power and IDs into their smartphones. There are many different options once you decide to go mobile wallet. Google Wallet, for example, utilizes Android pay to let you transfer money and make payments instantly; the app also is striving to replace your physical wallet as well, replacing your identifications, insurance cards, etc., with digital replicas. If you are a Samsung user, Samsung Pay is a great choice to ditch cash and credit cards and go mobile. The app uses the same magnetic verification that most credit cards do, making it available at a wider array of locations than many other mobile pay apps.
If you do find yourself stuck in the airport, or in heavy traffic, or you need to get away from overbearing relatives, makes sure you have got a great video streaming app to entertain you. While Netflix is great (documentaries about rice notwithstanding), you might want to broaden your options a bit more with HBO Now. The on-demand app, HBO’s venture into cord cutting, costs $14.99 per month after a free trial, and requires no cable subscription. It gives you unlimited access to all of HBO’s movies and original content. If you order it now, you’ll get a 30-day free trial, and can catch binge watch Westworld during your holiday break.