Review of the best smartphone apps for travellers

I have been trying to convince my better half to go travelling for ages! It is not that he does not want to or does not see the joys of travel. It is simply the issue of a very busy life and too many commitments and responsibilities…the main problem of our time.

A few weeks ago, he finally relented and now, I am supercharged with all the wonderful ideas of where we could go and what we could do! Naturally, I have done some research into the useful smartphone applications. I have certainly found some that can become travellers’ best friends.

These are the apps that will make your holidays easier, add a bit of fun to the waiting around that you will inevitably have to do, or just effectively waste your time. The best travelling apps can let you do anything you can do online or with a guidebook, but a lot quicker with the added advantage of being able to do those things on the move.

You can now use apps to search for flights, book accommodation, find the exact geographic location of your point of interest and check out its street view. You can even talk into a phone and let the app translate your words!

Here are some of the best travel apps that I found in my search. And yes, I have downloaded ALL of them! Enjoy!

Google Earth (Available for Android, BlackBerry, iPhone/iPod Touch, Nokia at no cost)

This one is known to everyone and works pretty much like its online cousin. It lets you “fly” to their holiday location for a quick look  with a bird’s-eye view. That is how I decided I was not going to Vietnam. I have nothing against Vietnam in general, but those roads with those scooters are just not for my fragile disposition.

Berlitz Cruise Guide (Available for: iPhone/iPod Touch and iPad)

This is a nice looking and well designed guide to cruise ships. Ahhh, how I would love to cruise around the Mediterranean on a beautiful ship …. The app provides Douglas Ward’s no nonsense reviews and a useful (for those of us not in the know) categorization of ships by size and suitability.

Kayak (Available for: Android, BlackBerry, iPad, iPhone/iPod Touch, Windows Mobile at no cost)

This is one of the first searching apps and it is still very good. The creators clearly know what they are on about. The information is clear and quick. You can look for flights, hotels and car hire. The app also allows for booking on the spot!

Tripit (Available for: Android, iPhone/iPod touch and BlackBerry at no cost)

This is a one-stop-shop application that collates all of your holiday and flight confirmation emails into one travel itinerary. I can see how this one will be a lifesaver for me! I am usually in charge of keeping us organised when we travel (anywhere…even to the shops)…which is a real challenge for the least organised person on the planet!

Wikitude Android (Available for: iPhone/iPod touch at no cost)

This is an “augmented-reality” app. It lets you point your phone’s camera at your selected surroundings and then provides you with notes on local accommodation, restaurants and sites. Very nice if you are lost for what to do!

Google Sky Map (Available for: Android, iPhone/iPod Touch at no cost)

This one is good if you are new to the skies above your head. All you have to do is point your phone at the night sky and it will show the planets and other celestial objects. It is also very good as a prep for dates, if you are a boy or am I being too old-fashioned here?

Off Exploring (Available for: iPhone/iPod Touch at no cost)

This one is for the blogging souls among us. It lets you type up a blog, add a location and photographs and post them on the web. If you ask me, I am looking forward to blog free time, so I will definitely not be using this one on the road.

Spymesat (Available for: iPhone/and android)

It notifies you when an imaging satellite could be taking your picture, provides on demand access to the latest commercial satellite imagery, the SpyMeSat Satellite Imagery App allows users to task high resolution satellites to take a new picture. 

Conde Nast Traveller City Guides (Available for: iPhone/iPod Touch)

This is a city guide for New York, Rome, Barcelona and Paris. It is bright and stylish and has a very clever looking to-do-list.

Time Out (Available for: iPhone/iPod Touch; an Android version is launching later this year)

This a condensed version of a London guide. It offers magazine style listings, reviews and sharing and rating tools.

Lonely Planet (Available for: Android, iPhone/iPod Touch, iPad, Nokia)

What can I say, Lonely Planet is still my travel Bible. I was true and loyal to it ten years ago when I was first exploring the world and it looks like I will remain true to it now. This app offers the best breadth of content, with over one hundred easy-to-use city guides and phrasebooks. Definitely, get this one as it is worth every penny!

Footprints (Available for: iPhone/iPod Touch; an Android version launches this year)

If you are an intrepid traveler, this is the app for you. Their choice of destinations is exotic and adventures. There are 51 destinations that include Havana, Hanoi and La Paz. The app also features attractive photography.

XE Currency (Available for Android, BlackBerry, iPhone/iPod Touch at no cost)

The app is self-explanatory and utilitarian, but I do not need anymore from it. It is simple, and fast. I will use it.

Earworms (Available for: iPhone/iPod Touch)

These are based on the science that once would have been called ‘new age’. They use “revolutionary” language-learning apps, which are basically 70-minute audio files that rely on mesmerising music and repetition to boost your memory….I have met people that found these to be weirdly effective and some totally useless. I belong to the latter group.

Lonely Planet Audio Phrasebooks (Available for:  Android, BlackBerry, iPhone/iPod Touch, Nokia, Windows Mobile)

These are fairly easy-to-use and comprehensive phrasebooks. The best thing about them is how they are organised. Very intuitive.

Google Translate (Available for: iPhone/iPod Touch, Android at no cost)

I am in love with this application! I now speak fluent French!!! All I need is to type or speak into my phone and it instantly translates! This app has 15 languages. You have to make sure you speak clearly unless it is your intention to offend the waiter.

Over and out

Mobile Geekette

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