Travelling is hardly ever a breeze, but with the advent of smartphones we don’t have to be helpless any longer. We’ve compiled the best of an entire category of apps that were developed to make your travel experience easier and safer, so give them a whirl for your next trip and feel the weight being lifted.
The #1 (free!) mobile travel app has all-inclusive booking for flights, hotels and cars with a price alert option. But this app goes beyond the booking by providing the user with useful features for use in transit and throughout your trip. There’s a flight tracker feature that updates you on any and all changes to your flight, an airline directory, an airline fee directory, and while you’re waiting the airport information feature (powered by the GateGuru app) tells you where everything is inside the airport. Kayak is considerate enough to include a packing list helper, and even a pseudo personal assistant in the app; just forward your booking confirmations from your email to email@example.com and they create an itinerary that can be seen in “My Trips”.
This app is worth way more than its price tag of $1.99. It allows you to bypass all the costs of needing to learn a language. All you do is talk into your phone in one language and set it to translate to the language of your choice out of the app’s 36 choices and bam! You hear what you just said in the language you selected. If you simply want to look up words and phrases you can do that, too, by using your voice. And if you happen to be having a interlingual conversation, you can use iTranslate’s AirTranslate feature to connect two devices together to easily converse. But in order to use this supremely accurate voice translating app, you need an Internet connection, which might not be an option for all those on vacation. Sorry, but you might have to stick to good ol’ Google Translate!
Clear Day Free
The most aesthetically appealing and accurate, free weather app out there, Clear Day Free is the app that was formerly known as Weather HD. Clear Day Free gets its data from NOAA radars and presents forecast details like humidity, precipitation, visibility, pressure details, wind chill, heat index and more, while showing you a real-time crisply gorgeous depiction of the weather right now! This is the weather app of choice for travel considering it has a QuickView that allows you to view the weather in more than one location at a time (with over 2.5 million locations covered around the world), an automatic current location detector, and a severe weather warning system to keep you updated no matter where you are.
XE Currency has every currency and precious metal conversion rate in its database, giving you the ability to observe the trends of up to 10 currencies at once. With the rates of exchange rates refreshing every minute, the usefulness of this app for the traveler barely needs to be explained. Besides currency conversion, XE Currency provides its user with thousands of historic currency charts in case they’re curious about past rates. XE Currency goes the extra mile to help the user by giving an offline use option, the app stores the last updated rates so you can convert prices without internet access.
TripAdvisor Offline City Guides
If you’re visiting one of the over 30 major cities listed on the app, you’ll definitely want to download TripAdvisor’s city guide. This app is amazing for a few reasons, besides its obvious lack of a price tag, it operates offline so all you need is the initial update to have access to your trip guide throughout your whole trip – which means no expensive data roaming! The app includes a map and all places (with all the reviews) listed on TripAdvisor.com for the selected city are included in the city guide. Once you have selected a restaurant or attraction, the app will guide you there using the super useful “Point Me There” feature. If you want to record your adventures once you reach your destination, simply Check-In (which can be done offline), take a photo and add a note for each location to automatically create your journal and travel album.
Once installed (at no cost to you!), this app drastically reduces the amount of data required to perform all your favorite smartphone tasks like checking your email or posting on Twitter or Facebook. This app is perfect for those who are not turning off their data while on vacation and need to stay updated, you can do all the work you need without a ridiculously inflated bill. Onavo operates by compressing all downloaded data over 3G/4G/EDGE/LTE and wi-fi, including images and texts. There is one shortcoming of this app, it does not currently compress streaming media or VoIP apps, like YouTube or Skype.
This app can help you find the cheapest place to stay in tonight that may not be available on all the other room-booking sites. The reason is because this app includes hostels, hotels, apartments, B&B’s and campsites when searching for a place to stay so the results can often be much less expensive than your average hotel booking app. You can view all your search results in a map view with pins for each place, and read reviews and ratings from previous guests to make sure your stay is pleasant and vermin-free.
Travelling often involves more travelling once you’ve reached your destination. Whether you’re travelling by mass transit, taxi, foot or bike HopStop has you covered in over 600 cities. Besides getting door-to-door directions like other directional apps, you can estimate the time and cost of a taxi (based on real-time traffic), and get schedules for buses and subways. Beyond those features is the Live! feature, where other HopStop users post live updates about commuting on certain train or bus lines, check any line to see what people are saying about it right now — who knows, maybe you’ll even change your route!
The usefulness of this app also goes without needing much explanation, when you’re travelling you’ll probably need cash and where do you get cash but at the beloved ATM. This app will provide you with a list of the most convenient ATM locations and their addresses. With one more tap of your finger, you can access driving directions to the ATM of your choice.
In foreign places, you can often tell the tourists from the locals by who is staring endlessly at signs and posters trying to gain a shred of understanding from the unintelligible information. If you download Word Lens, you do not have to be one of those tourists. Just snap a picture of the text in question and see the words written in a language you can understand. The app does not recognize handwriting or stylized fonts but for most signs and menus this app is extremely useful. Its best feature is that it works offline, so you’ll be in the loop no matter what.