Top Travel Apps You’ll Actually Use
Have mobile device, will travel! But which of the seemingly endless number of travel apps will actually help you on your trip?
Many apps are free or inexpensive, but which ones add value to your trip? We scoured the internet to see what travel experts and users alike had to say. Here are some popular picks.
Originally a web-based service, TripIt wisely made the move to mobile and continues to receive accolades from travel and tech experts alike. Think of it as your personal travel assistant. Simply sign up for an account and forward all of those email confirmations you receive to a designated email address. TripIt then compiles the information into an itinerary you can view online or print.
Experts say the app is especially useful for juggling multi-stop journeys or planning multiple trips at once. You can manually add details as needed, and the service also integrates with social networking sites to let you share.
Requirements: You’ll need a computer or a device with internet access to use TripIt online. The mobile app is available for most major devices — including iPad, iPhone, Android, Blackberry and Windows Phone 7.
Cost: Free, but you can purchase an ad-free version for $1.19.
Want the scoop from other travellers? Since its founding more than a decade ago, TripAdvisor has become the go-to website for reviews on hotels, vacation rentals, vacation packages, attractions and restaurants. The app offers the same useful information in a simpler interface, but also ups the ante with a “Near Me Now” feature to discover places wherever you happen to be.
Requirements: The app is available for the usual suspects: iPhone, iPad, Android, Nokia and Windows 7. While TripAdvisor adds Palm to the mix, Blackberry users will have to rely on the mobile website instead.
XE Currency App
Wondering how much that hotel deal or fabulous souvenir will really cost you? Most of us don’t have current currency exchanges in our heads or want to tackle mental math in the middle of an airport or market. While popular currency website XE.com now has a mobile currency website, its XE Currency App is getting rave reviews from travellers for its ease of use
While the app is surprisingly robust — it lets you track up to 10 currencies and view historic charts for over 180 currencies worldwide, for instance — the real boon for travellers is the Universal Currency Converter. Simply punch in the price of the item and local currency and it will convert it to the currency of your choice — like Euros to Canadian dollars.
Requirements: Available for iPad, iPhone, Android, Blackberry and Windows Phone 7.
While Google Earth for mobile can be a little slow, it offers you much more than a map. You’ll get the same features as the desktop version — including satellite images, road maps, pictures and clickable information about popular places – which you can access anywhere that has wi-fi.
Requirements: These apps are available for iPhone, iPad and Android devices, though Android users have access to more features. However, any mobile device can access the mobile version of Google Earth or Google Maps for mobile via a web browser.
Cost: Free, but be aware these services aren’t meant to be GPS.
Top app lists tend to flip flop between the Weather Channel app and AccuWeather, but most agree it’s handy to know what to expect on your travels. You’ll get useful information for planning outdoor activities or what to wear and pack — and it’s guaranteed to be in English while local TV and radio might not.
If you’re travelling in Canada (or just planning some outdoor fun), the Weather Network app may be a better fit.
Requirements: The Weather Channel Standard app is only available for iPhone and iPad and The Weather Network app also serves Android and Blackberry devices. If you’re using Windows 7, you’ll have to opt for AccuWeather.
While not a travel app per se, the WebMD app offers a lot of health information at your finger tips – like its Symptom Checker, which lets you look up whatever symptoms you’re experiencing and learn about possible causes. If you’re travelling in the U.S., it can look up the nearest clinic or hospital and give you directions.
Another boon for travellers is the First Aid Essentials which offers a handy guide for everything from bee stings to broken bones. Best of all, you don’t need an Internet connection for this feature – it’s available offline.
Requirements: This app is only available for the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad (with iOS 3.0 or later) and Android. However, the iPhone app is the only one to include the newest feature which lets you store information about your conditions and medications.
1000 Places to See Before You Die
Not sure where to go in the first place? Like the book of the same name, the 1000 Places app is part eye-candy and part inspiration — all with an interactive twist. Veteran travel journalist Patricia Schultz takes you on a tour of world wonders — searchable by region and interests, of course. (Think Sacred Places, Beaches, Idyllic Towns and more.) Beware: you’ll need a tablet-sized screen, sufficient memory on your device and plenty of free time to get lost in the beautiful photos.
And here’s the interactive part: users can tag places they’ve been and places they want to go, and compare their adventures with friends and family. You can also upload your own photos and tips — rather like a travel journal — and trade with other users in the 1000 Places community.
Requirements: So far, this app is only available for the iPad.