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Best Travel Apps

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  • Best Travel Apps

    Get Free (or Cheap) Wi-Fi Worldwide

    When you’re desperate for Internet access,1 Free Wi-Fi Finder points you to the nearest hotspot (Android, iPad, iPhone; free). Free Wi-Fi can be slow and unsafe, though, so consider renting unlimited mobile *Wi-Fi for your next trip overseas. Rent for a flat rate of just $15 per day and you can use the following apps as much as you want without having to worry about international roaming fees.

    Send and Receive Messages for Free

    Does your phone service provider charge for text messages when you are traveling outside the United States? You can avoid those fees by installing 2 WhatsApp Messenger . Have friends, family members, or anyone else you want to stay in touch with download the app, and you can text with them—and send photos and audio notes back and forth—from wherever you are, gratis (Android, BlackBerry, iPhone, Nokia, Windows Phone; free for the first year, then 99 cents).

    Score a Luxe Room for Less

    If you’re in a U.S. city or London and need lodgings at the last minute, 5 Hotel Tonight offers steep discounts at a thoughtfully curated selection of luxe and hip hotels. A recent search in London turned up Belgraves—A Thompson Hotel for $189, marked down from $529, and Blakes for $378, down from $604. Rates are *announced no earlier than noon the day of check-in. Since rooms sleep just one or two people and you can’t request a specific bed type, this app works only for solo travelers and couples. Many hotels let you stay multiple nights at the discounted rate (Android, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch; free).

    Last edited by conofvis; October 21, 2012, 05:48 PM.

  • #2
    Organize Your Itinerary

    The TripIt app puts them all in the palm of my hand. I forward my flight, hotel, and other confirmation e-mails to [email protected], and TripIt combines them into one organized itinerary, adding information such as weather, maps, and driving directions (Android, BlackBerry, iPad, iPhone, Windows Phone 7; free).

    Know Your Rights

    If your flight has been canceled, you’ve been bumped from an oversold plane, or the airline has lost your luggage, FlyersRights tells you what the carrier legally owes you (if you’re in the *United States) so you can demand your due. When you’re bumped from a domestic flight and arrive at your destination more than two hours late, for instance, the app will tell you that you’re owed 400 percent of the one-way fare (up to $1,300). Most of the information can be accessed without Wi-Fi, making the app easy to check when you’re stuck on the tarmac or at baggage claim, but there’s also a collection of links to airline rules that would be hard to find if you were searching for them on a computer (iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch; 99 cents).

    Find the Closest Whatever

    Looking for the closest gas station, parking lot, ATM, restaurant, hospital, hotel, or just about any other business? AroundMe lists your options in each category, tells you how far away each is, and gives you a map showing how to get there (Android, iPad, iPhone, Windows Phone; free).

    Save Time in the Subway

    Visiting a city that has a complicated subway system? Punch your origin and desti*nation, as well as the day of the week and time you’re traveling, into MetrO and it will find the shortest ride. Say you’re taking the London Tube from your hotel near Kensington High Street to St. Pancras Station. There are several ways to do it, but *MetrO will tell you that the shortest is to change at Paddington for an eight-stop, 25-minute ride (iPad, iPhone; free).

    Convert Foreign Prices into Dollars

    Even when your brain isn’t fogged by jet lag, it’s easy to stumble up to an airport ATM with no clue how many pesos or rupees to withdraw. Fire up your XE Currency app to calculate dollar values instantly, using real-time exchange rates (Android, BlackBerry, iPad, iPhone, Windows Phone; free).

    Save Time Getting a Dinner Reservation

    When you’re in a resort area with a limited number of restaurants that are in high demand, and you’ve got no concierge to call ahead on your behalf, OpenTable comes in handy. It immediately shows you which restaurants have availability for your party at the hour you want to dine. Click to reserve your *table, then forward the confirmation to TripIt so that the reservation and restaurant details get added to your itinerary (Android, BlackBerry, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Kindle Fire, *Windows Phone; free).

    Find a Map Anywhere, Anytime

    Carrying an iPhone or iPad means always *having a map in your pocket . . . until you’re in a spot without Wi-Fi or a 3G signal and your map *vaporizes (say, in a *national park) or you’re overseas and you opt not to pull one up because of the hefty international roaming charges. These problems disappear with two must-have map apps. City Maps 2Go lets you access maps for thousands of cities, provinces, regions, and islands when you have no Internet connection (iPad, iPhone; $1.99).

    Maplets provides maps for everything else: national parks, ski resorts, subways, college campuses, rail systems, and much more. Download the maps when you have a free Internet connection so you can pull them up later when you don’t (iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch; $2.99).


    • #3
      Virtual Tour Guide

      Next time you’re passing through a place you know little about, open up Wikihood and you’ll get a ton of *information, culled from Wikipedia entries, about the place’s noteworthy sights, culture, history, beaches, parks, university, famous *people, and more (Android, iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch; free).

      Take Super Snapshots

      Download Camera+ and you can leave your point-and-shoot at home (don’t ditch your SLR, though). It gives your iPhone or iPad greater zoom, a self-timer, a stabilizer for sharper photos, and white balance controls, and—very helpful if you’ve been shooting *inside dark museums and churches where flash is forbidden—it can add flash after you’ve shot the photo. You can even add flash and clarity to photos you took before you downloaded Camera+. And when you can’t remember where in the world you shot that photo, the app can tell you—and map it (iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch; 99 cents).


      The video-calling service gives mobile users all the same great functions as the computer version. Make video calls and send instant messages to fellow Skype users for free over 3G or WiFi. Use the program’s Skype Credit to make reduced rate phone calls, especially long-distance. Free; for Android, Blackberry and iPhone/iPad.

      Google Translate

      What works well on the web works even better as an app. Translate phrases by typing into a small word box, or use the speaking option to say a phrase. Google’s impressive selection of languages (from Afrikaans to Hindi to Yiddish) lets you translate 58 languages in text and hear 23 languages worth of converted phrases. Free; for Android and iPhone/iPad.

      Word Lens

      Though only available for English and Spanish translations, this innovative app is kryptonite to foreign-language signs and menus. Hold up your iPhone to any printed item (handwritten notes won’t work) and watch as the text is translated in a flash. A less-than-perfect translation is sometimes delivered, but this app is worth the money if for nothing else than as a quick way to verify exactly what you ordered. Free to download, but $9.99 to purchase a translation pack; for iPhone.

      Packing Pro

      If you’re the type of person who always forgets something at home, this is the perfect solution. Create lists of what to pack from scratch or from a set template (male, female, family, business, camping and more) and have a preset collection of reminders—with adjustable quantities—to buy travel insurance, lock up valuables, include socks and, of course, to remember the oft-left-behind phone charger. $2.99; for iPhone/iPad.

      Lookout Mobile Security

      Never again lose your Android phone—or the information on it. Lookout regularly backs up your phone’s data and let’s you access it in the cloud. It also scans your device for phishing scams and malware, and it even has a tracking feature that can be accessed via the web. With the app’s premium version ($2.99), you can remotely wipe out all the information on the device, from photos to contacts to SD card, in the event your phone is stolen. Free. For Android.

      Help Call

      For travelers constantly on the go, one of the last things you probably think about is emergency services. Help Call auto-detects your location and immediately pulls up one-touch access to local police, fire stations and ambulances in 126 countries. If for some reason you can’t see well enough to press one of the four large buttons within the app, it also gives you the option to simply shake your phone to make an emergency call. It’s a must-have for iPhone users traveling alone.99¢; for iPhone.


      The app lets you access your bank accounts, credit cards, investments and other financial data all in one place. It can help you plan to set aside money for a trip or create a budget and track your spending while you are traveling. Worried someone can access your information? Money can’t be moved within the app itself and data is protected by the same 128-bit encryption that banks use every day. Free; for Android and iPhone/iPad.

      Sit OrSquat

      This aptly named app means never having to worry about finding a nearby restroom again. With almost 95,000 bathrooms listed worldwide, this service tells users whether a toilet is open, closed or has unknown hours at the time of viewing. Listings often include miscellaneous data like whether bathrooms have hand dryers, stalls or single rooms, as well as handicap access. The service is also available on the web. Free; for BlackBerry and iPhone.


      • #4

        The all-knowing travel site’s data is now available in app form, with a compilation of hotels, restaurants, flights and points of interest with access to all the websites ratings, reviews and recommendations. You can even book restaurant reservations using the app’s partnership with OpenTable. If you love to have your voice heard, the review function makes rating and commenting particularly easy, and even lets you submit photos straight through the app. Free; for Android, iPhone/iPad, Palm and Windows.


        Do you know how much to give a hotel porter in Tuvalu or a waiter in Bermuda? Don’t worry: it’s optional, according to this app’s tipping advice for more than 200 countries, from Afghanistan to Zambia, which make it the most comprehensive of the global tip calculators. Speaking of which, the app includes one, which will factor in tips by percentage and divide the overall bill by number of diners.

        Score a Private Room or Apartment: AirBnB

        Now in 181 countries, Airbnb offers 110,000 owner-rented apartments, houses, and rooms—often for less than you’d pay for a hotel. Each property gets a slideshow, and both rooms (and guests) are reviewed by users. If for any reason you’re not pleased, you can get your money back, since payment isn’t made to the host for 24 hours after you check in.
        T+L Tip: Rate hosts after each stay—it will raise the status of your profile and make you a more attractive candidate.

        Keep Busy During a Long Layover: iFly

        The most comprehensive airport guide online offers advice on what to do while you’re waiting, whether you’re looking for dinner, a manicure, or a quick tour of your locale. It also has parking information, ground delay updates, and hotel listings for nearly 700 airports around the world. Downloadable maps mean you don’t have to worry about accessing plans while roaming internationally. (Android, iPhone/iPad)

        iTranslate - free voice, word, sentence translator

        By combining voice recognition, machine translation and voice output iTranslate is the first app to make the legendary SciFi dream of a Universal Translator reality. Translate words, phrases and even whole sentences into over 50 languages. Dictionaries with additional translation results, meanings and suggestions! Listen to high-quality voices in most languages. Simply speak and instantly see your translation! Available for many languages. iPhone, iPad and Android


        Evernote is an easy-to-use, free app that helps you remember everything across all of the devices you use. Stay organized, save your ideas and improve productivity. Evernote lets you take notes, capture photos, create to-do lists, record voice reminders--and makes these notes completely searchable, whether you are at home, at work, or on the go. Any computer, iPhone, Android.