A great travel app should make your life easier, whether you’re camped out under a beach parasol in Martinique or backpacking between B&Bs in Slovenia. There are countless — really, I lost count — apps available for day-trippers and world adventurers to help you prepare a trip, and once you’re on the ground, make the most of the places you’re visiting. I’ve narrowed it down to ten basic apps that will help you save money and time, and avoid headaches. At least travel headaches. What you do after hours when the bar opens is your business.
Top 10 Travel Apps
The site, and now its mobile apps (of which there are several: TripAdvisor, SeatGuru, GateGuru, thefork) offer travellers the ability to get a feel for a destination, hotel, or restaurant before getting there with reviews, maps, and photos. Keep in mind that while it’s a great resource, the reviews are subjective and what someone hates you might love.
TripTracker provides real-time flight updates, including cancellation and baggage claim info, which is a lifesaver when you’re on a tight schedule. But it’s so much more; it’s a one-stop app for hotel and car rental information, route maps, and lets you see your entire itinerary in one place.
If you like to live dangerously and fly into Venice during Carnival without pre-booking a room (You know that’s crazy, right?), or your hotel burnt down the day before your arrival, or you’ve ended up someplace you hadn’t planned on — we don’t judge here — then this app is for you. It’s a last minute hotel-booking app and could save you from sleeping under a bridge in Paris.
This one needs no justification, unless you want to come home to a bill for $1000s of dollars. Download it now.
Maybe it’s a Canadian thing, but how is it possible to travel without some idea of what the weather is doing or planning on doing? The Fresh Air weather app is clean, easy to read, and personalized for your plans.
Still the most comprehensive map app, Google Maps gives turn-by-turn directions, but please use common sense and if it looks like you’re being led into a pond, STOP! For real, this has happened to people. Another great app that gives real-time help input by other drivers is Waze. It not only helps with traffic updates, but provides updates on fuel rates, saving you money for more important things like food.
This is a GPS-enabled travel app that maps your hiking or walking route as you go. You can share photos and tips from your phone, and follow tips and trips from other travellers. It’s a useful resource if you’re tempted to explore, but aren’t familiar with local routes or terrain.
Get a local’s perspective on where to eat and drink, what to visit, where to shop, and what to avoid. It’s a great resource for some of the major cities around the world. Gogobot is another great app — with a heavy social influence — that gives info on cities and towns around the world and customizes its data based on your past searches and personal interest.
You’re going to want to make yourself understood, and unless you’re adept at learning every language, a translation app will help. Be warned that these apps are not always 100% accurate — I’ve seen some scary things come out of Google Translate — but at least it’s a starting point, and if nothing else a belly laugh is a good way to break the ice with a local.
Hands downs still my favourite photo app, and what’s a trip without hundreds of photos to remember it by. Camera+ takes great quality phone pics with built-in grids, shooting modes, and exposure control, and it allows for decent photo editing (but try Snapseed if you want more features).
There are so many others I could have included: local museum guides, best places to shop, restaurant to try, train trackers, journaling apps, metro station maps, and SO MANY MORE, but at the risk of overloading your phone, keep it simple. Find the apps that work for your trip or travel style and download the ones you need. After that, pull out a notepad to record sketches or thoughts, enjoy yourself at your pace, and don’t worry so much about timelines and must-do lists.