31 must-have travel apps for iPhone and Android
Do you sometimes wish you had a secretary on standby to take care of your itineraries and tickets, recommend the best restaurants and save your head space for what you’re going away for in the first place – a holiday?
Hold off on that urge to hire a virtual assistant on a different continent and tap into our list of 31 travel headache-relieving smartphone pills to help you make the most of your holiday.
Plan and organise
One of the hardest parts about travel planning is keeping track of all your airline, hotel and car hire reservations. This app lets you access all your itineraries on your mobile, tablet or computer wherever you are.
Email all your confirmation emails to email@example.com to automatically add them to your itinerary together with notes, photos and recommendations. Need more help? Share your plans with your social network for instant feedback and ideas!
Nothing gives as much comfort when booking a holiday as getting opinions and insights from other travellers. As one of the most established travel review services online, chances are that if it’s out there, it will have a review on Tripadvisor.
This app lets you browse 75 million something reviews, view photos and find hotels and restaurants nearby. Highly recommended.
XE Currency Converter
This app shouldn’t need much introduction. With over 180 currencies (and metals) to choose from with historical rates, price conversion and the ability to track 10 different currencies at the same time you will never do those dreaded guesstimations again.
The world’s most popular notetaking app also provides indispensable functionality for travellers. Save your itineraries, web bookmarks and photos of things you will need to remember and quickly re-locate them with Evernote’s brilliant search function.
But perhaps the best feature is the optical character recognition function, letting you search text in scanned travel articles and guidebooks while you’re on the road.
1Password (keep all secure information in one place)
Now you can conveniently access your internet bank details, paypal logins, and passwords for email accounts and social networks in one place without compromising security. Brilliant and convenient.
Book and save
It’s couch surfing with a twist, where everyday people host world travellers and give them an authentic insight into what it’s actually like to a live in a particular place.
To keep the service trustworthy, travellers and hosts can also write reviews for each other to ensure a happy experience for everyone.
Got lost sightseeing? Use the built-in map functionality to guide you back to your hotel safe and sound.
Kayak is not only an excellent all-in-one travel planning app, they also make hilarious commercials to go with it.
This app lets you find and compare flights, hotels, car hire through an intuitive and easy to use interface. Options for itinerary planning, flight tracking and access to airport information makes this app a keeper on our smartphones.
This app lets you compare and book hotels straight from your iPhone (unfortunately no Android version at the moment) and show your booking confirmation on your phone when you check in.
You can also save past bookings offline for easy access when you’re in areas without internet connectivity. Thumbs up.
Do you find yourself confused and exhausted just thinking about the jungle of airline options and their cryptic pricing systems? Then this app is for you.
Making flight booking easier than ever before, Skyscanner lets you search and compare prices between more than 1,000 airlines and 1,000,000 routes all over the world and share your plans with your friends.
FlightTrack allows you to track any flight worldwide in real-time and turn your phone into a pocket arrivals board. It also provides other useful information on delays, cancellations and gate numbers to make sure you’re always in the know.
RACQ Roadside Assist
Nothing ruins a good holiday like your car breaking down in the middle of nowhere. Luckily, Australia’s favourite roadside assistants have an iPhone app to get you out of trouble and back on track.
Use the built-in trip planner to lay out your next road trip, log a service call from the road or get directions to the nearest pit stop.
Learn and Understand
Word Lens ($4.99)
Language is a beautiful thing. It connects people and creates friendship, understanding and bonds between cultures. But if you don’t know it, you can easily find yourself in trouble.
This nifty app uses optical character recognition to translate everything from street signs to restaurant menus. Simply point your phone’s camera towards the text you would like translated and let Word Lens work its magic. Pretty amazing stuff if you ask us.
Foodict Food Dictionary
Sometimes it’s comforting to know what the French and Italian words on the restaurant menu actually mean. And usually the more expensive the restaurant gets, the more complicated the words on the menu.
Foodict is a pocket guide to international cuisine equally useful for those who would like to impress with their worldly knowledge as well as everyday picky eaters.
Simply point your camera at a landmark or building and let the app do the rest!
Travelling with technology can prove more expensive for some than others. If you’re like this author and constantly misplace your phone in weird and wonderful places, then this app is for you.
Scan the map to locate your phone and lock or wipe it remotely from your computer or set off a loud alarm to pinpoint the perpetrator.
Where’s my Droid
This is the Android way to relocate your lost smartphone. Similar to Findmyiphone, this app allows you to remote wipe, de-activate and track your precious via GPS.
If you forgot to turn the app on, it can be activated online or via a landline. You’re welcome.
Download: Google Play
You’re probably not surprised to find the site that started the check-in craze on this list. And rightly so. Apart from the addictive game elements of points, badges and check-in rewards, Foursquare can also be a treasure trove for crowd-sourced tips on what to do in a new city.
Simply open the app and trawl through other travellers’ reviews and tips on the best places nearby to eat, drink and relax.
There’s nothing like Australia
There’s nothing like Australia’s official smartphone app. Packed to the rafters with videos, journals and interactive content, this app is the ultimate inspiration source for anyone travelling Down Under.
Explore interactive imagery and videos, and use the built-in itinerary planner to plan your way through the most beautiful country in the world (yes, we’re biased). You know you want it.
This app puts you in touch with tourism operators all across the sunshine state and helps you plan and map out your holiday on your phone.
Search the map for nearby attractions, events and accommodation or view the most popular hot spots from around the state. No matter where you end up, the official Queensland app will add a bit of sunshine to your holiday.
The best part of travelling for many people is food, but we also tend to make the worst decisions when we’re hungry.
Yelp is an excellent pocket restaurant guide that takes out the guesswork. With a strong community of passionate foodie reviewers you can be sure that if it’s open for business, you will find a review for it on Yelp.
Windfinder offers swell, wind and weather forecasts for sailors, surfers, kitesurfers, paragliders and windsurfers.
With over 15,000 spots covered using data from more than 4,000 weather stations presented in customisable units, this is a must-have app for water sports fans.
You can see more stars in Australia than in any other place in the world. GoSkyWatch helps you make sense of it all with an augmented reality overlay of the night sky.
Point you camera towards the sky and let the app guide you across stars, planets and galactical constellations.
Star Chart ($2.99)
Another astronomy app for both Android and i-devices, Star Chart offers similar functionality to GoSkyWatch but without the augmented camera view.
Other cool functions include the ability to manually set your location to see what the sky looks like anywhere in the world, and a poweful zoom function giving you a more detailed view of the starscape above you.
This photo sharing app has quickly become a social network in its own right. Snap, crop, and share your photos on the fly and share your moments with your social networks as you experience them.
With powerful filters and editing functions, there’s never more than a couple of finger taps between snapping a photo and the final vintage style masterpiece appearing in your photo stream.
This award winning photo app does just what the name says: takes seamless panoramic pictures with your smartphone. Snap 360-degree panoramas with up to 16 photos blended together to truly capture the breathtaking views you encounter while away.
Trip Journal (Android)
On longer trips it can be good to have a way to organise and share your thoughts and impressions as you go.
Trip Journal lets you track your journey with photos, videos and geo-tagged notes while you’re on the road and share it across your social networks. The end-result is a hand-crafted, Google Earth integrated travel journal to share with friends and family.
Keep in touch
As more and more travellers are taking their smart devices with them, WiFi connectivity is more or less considered a basic human right these days.
But, don’t despair, connected traveller – with WiFi Finder’s 550,000 free and paid public spots across 144 connections, you will never miss a tweet again.
Even ET phones home once in a while. Go mobile with Skype’s Android and iPhone app and never lose touch with your loved ones back home.
The mobile app provides all the functions you’re used to from your computer, including video calls and the option to top up your Skype credits for dirt cheap calls to landlines and mobile phones all over the world.
On the surface, Viber is just another Skype clone dressed in less sexy colours. Under the hood they’re also very similar, but Viber does offer some interesting functionality not found in its beautiful, blue competitor.
Like launching the app automatically when you receive a call and auto syncing the contact list with your phone contacts. Smart thinking, we say.
This app taps into your phone book contacts and lets you use your phone’s data connection to chat with your friends from anywhere in the world.
Since the phone uses your existing phone book contact as unique IDs there’s no need to sign up for yet another account. Just install the app and off you go.
Did we miss an app that’s vital to your travels? What are your favourite apps to use while on the road? Leave a comment below and let us know!