Smartphones have become “de rigueur” travel tools in the 21st Century. Their apps are invaluable to help with emergencies, travel planning, and reservations of all kinds, while at or away from home. They can help guide travelers to their destinations while walking or driving via their GPS capability. They can be used to research destinations, maintain critical travel records, and much more.
Business Insider reports that by the end of 2013, 1.4 billion smartphones will be in use: 798 million (57 percent) running Google’s Android, and 294 million (21 percent) running Apple’s iOS.
Over the past few years, I’ve tested thousands of travel apps. Here are some of my top travel apps for both Android and iOS which I’ve personally reviewed, and all of which I use regularly.
I’ve been a fan of TripIt (Android iOS) (Free) for some time, and the company continues to improve its app. I use TripIt Pro, which is an annual subscription costing $49 per year. As a frequent traveler, keeping my travel itineraries and reservations carefully documented and easy to access while in transit is important. Tripit continues to be my top smartphone travel app.
The TripIt app lets you fully edit your itineraries, and add new plans to them while traveling. One of the best features of TripIt is its ability to automatically add reservations you’ve made online by forwarding your confirmation emails to TripIt, instead of having to manually add the information. TripIt makes it easy to share travel plans with family and friends. Coupled with the “Pro” subscription, the app will receive travel alerts, such as flight changes and delays, and track most reward program memberships.
TravelTracker Pro (iOS only) ($9.99) is both a great stand-alone app and can import TripIt itinerary data. The app is an all-inclusive personal travel assistant. It will store all essential information for your trips, including every kind of reservation or scheduled event imaginable. TravelTracker includes live flight status, and can display live flight map tracking for US flights.
TravelTracker is a great complementary app to TripIt since it integrates TripIt data via its automatic import ability.
FlightTrack Pro (Android iOS) ($9.99) is the ultimate flight tracking app for smartphones. With this app you can get push alerts, real-time flight itinerary updates, weather forecasts at departure and arrival airports, and live flight status with live flight map tracking.
Like TravelTrackerPro, FlightTrackPro is fully integrated with TripIt and is therefore a great complementary app.
iFly Pro gives you terminal maps, US airport status, a list of the airports’ restaurants, cafes and stores with terminal locations, Wifi coverage, terminal services (ATMs, business centers, etc.), ground transportation information and more.
Food is an important part of any trip, and finding good food, at any price, isn’t easy. Open Table’s restaurant reservation system and guides have become one of the top guides for home and travel. Open Table (Android iOS) (Free) is currently my premier restaurant app for cities in the US, though there are up and coming app/Internet sites which bear watching such as CityEats (app currently available on iPhone only).
With the OpenTable app you can easily make restaurant reservations in the US and some other countries. I use it often while traveling in the US.
Traveling internationally? XE Currency Pro (Android or iOS) ($1.99) is simply the best currency converter app I’ve found. There is a free version of the app which displays 10 simultaneous currencies, while the pro version displays 20, but I don’t think that matters very much. I switched to the pro version to stop the pesky advertising in the app.
The app automatically retrieves daily exchange rates for 180-plus of the world’s currencies and precious metals. It lets you calculate exact equivalents of your home currency through its exchange calculator. It’s accurate and extremely easy to use.
This app is absolutely invaluable while shopping, so you’ll know what you’re actually paying in your home currency, before you make your purchases.
Trip Advisor has become the worlds most popular hotel review travel site on the Internet. The Trip Advisor app (Android iOS) (Free) makes it much easier to access Trip Advisor’s hotel and restaurant reviews while traveling than using your smartphone’s web browser .
Of course, when using this app you must take the same precautions as when using Trip Advisor’s website.
It’s very helpful to understand how the Trip Advisor “Popularity Rating” works, but even more important, in my opinion, you must rate the written opinions of the reviewers before deciding on a hotel or restaurant.
I look for reviews from travelers whose home is in my home geographical area, who would more likely share much of my point of view. I look for concrete examples in reviews of why travelers liked or disliked a hotel. I typically throw out the best and worst reviews. Finally, I review the reviewers. I look at all their reviews, and if I see they’re all wonderful or all lousy (many reviewers are consistent that way), I toss them out.
(Note: While I personally use an iPhone daily, I test apps for both Android and iOS use regularly.)