When traveling in the United States or other parts of the world, information is the key to getting around, seeing more and using your limited time more efficiently.
To help you in that regard, there are an endless supply of apps, most which are free, that can help you plan your trip, organize your itinerary, find all of the local spots worth seeing, find a nearby restaurant, keep you in contact with family back home and in general, have a better experience.
When I travel, I like to feel like I am in control to some degree and having access to the right information with the ability to interact or alter your plans on the spot allows me to relax and actually enjoy what I am doing.
Best of all, most apps have versions for both Android and iOS devices so you are not bound by your choice of smartphone or tablet.
With that in mind, here are 30 of the most useful in my opinion. Unless otherwise stated, all of them are free to download and use.
Apps for Organizing Your Itinerary
This app is good for a business traveler because it arranges your accommodations and itinerary based on your business affairs by finding local hotels near your business meetings or locating nearby restaurants or shopping centers nearby using its heat map feature.
Searches more than 1,000 airlines and 1 million routes to find the cheapest flights, then redirects you to that site to book the flight.
This app tells you what the carriers in the USA legally owes you in various situations so you can demand it at the time of incident.
Allows you to combine all of your trip information into your account with Tripit providing a one-stop database for everything from flight info to car rentals.
Offers up ideas for things to do in areas around the world.
This app create a lists of what to pack based on gender and the type of trip you are going on such as business, beach vacation or camping trip. Cost is $2.99
Give up-to-date flights times, terminal and gate numbers and terminal maps. It also provides ratings of your seat on the plane by interacting with Seat Guru. FlightTrackPro is a bit pricey for an app at $4.99, but if you are a frequent business traveler, I can see where it would be useful. Get the company to pay for it.
Amazon Price: $40.00 $23.05 Buy Now
(price as of Jan 1, 2015)
Allows you to search for places to eat by location, by name, or by price, then reserve a table.
This free app connects to taxi drivers in 60 cities in the United States so you can reserve one before you land and watch the location of the cab on a map moving toward you.
Provides a guide for over 110 cities around the world. You can access things like weather, news, traffic feeds from cameras, the location of gas stations and the nearest parking.
TouristEye helps you build a wishlist of destinations where you would like to travel and experiences you would like to have.
Check into locations and find information about the area that others uploaded to the site such as photos etc.
Accesses a directory of over 25,000 listings for budget hotels around the world with reviews of each.
Apps for Communication
WhatsApp was purchased by Facebook in early 2014. Those of us that have been using it for a while are just hoping they do not mess with it too much because it is already a very solid app. The service uses Wi Fi or connects through your cell network to send messages to other WhatsApp users all over the world. Right now, it is free for the first year, then 99 cents each year after that. Facebook will eventually integrate it into the page somehow and hopefully they will not fill it with ads (it has none right now) and raise the yearly cost.
Skype for mobile has all of the features of free video calling and instant messages to other Skype users as the desktop version. It is also useful when you want to call back home from an international location to a landline or cell number, although that requires you buy Skype credit to use on a per minute basis.
Tired of typing text into an app and having it translate it for you? Well, this one allows you to speak anything in English, Portuguese, French, German, Italian, Japanese or Spanish into your mobile device and it translates it into one of those other languages that you choose.
This app translates anything you say into the mic. However, although the app is free to download, it does work off credits you have to purchase and there still is no Portuguese for Brazil lovers.
If you do not mind typing into your phone, this translator is one of the best and has really taken over in the last 5 years. This one does have a speaking option, but honestly, I have never used it. Unlike Vocre, this app will translate from or to just about any language you can think of on the planet.
Amazon Price: $34.95 $22.36 Buy Now
(price as of Jan 1, 2015)
Apps for Emergencies
This app uses your GPS in your mobile device to locate the nearest police or hospital in your area in 126 countries. The cost is 99¢ for iPhone.
Pocket First Aid & CPR from the American Heart Association
Offers a step-by-step guide for dealing with emergencies from burns, snake bites and other serious medical conditions. Cost is $3.99
This one is for a non-life threatening emergency, but one none the less. It uses your GPS location to find the nearest bathroom. Enough said.
Oanda Currency Converter
Real-time currency converter for more than 190 currencies in the world.
Amazon’s mobile reading app gives access to the e-book marketplace allowing instant downloads of books or magazines.
Detects the UVI rating of your current location and also has a timer to tell you when to reapply sunscreen.
Offers weather reports from over two million locations or regions in the world.
Perfect World Clock
Provides access to the local time in hundreds of cities around the world.
Listen up surfers, this one provides information on tides and weather conditions for many of the world’s biggest surfing spots.
New York Subway
Provides maps and route planners for the New York subway system.
Locates public transport information in at least 68 of the world’s largest cities.
PinPin ATM finder
Finds the nearest ATM in your area in over 220 countries.
Points you to the nearest museums in your area based on your GPS location.
Those are just a fraction of the many apps that are useful to the domestic or international traveler. Most apps that you find online are free to download and use, while others have an upfront or recurring cost for each use so be sure to check into that.
Either way, some are bound to pay for themselves with just one use and could actually keep you away from or get you out of a potentially dangerous or life threatening situation.
Amazon Price: $30.00 $19.64 Buy Now
(price as of Jan 1, 2015)