Good iPhone Travel Apps

By Nomadic Matt | Published November 25th, 2009

I’ve been traveling around with my iPhone for a few months now and playing around with the various travel apps to see which are worth using. To be honest, most suck. They don’t work well, they cost too much, or are too basic. Moreover, there are just too many redundant apps. How many apps do we need to track a flight or change dollars into Euros? It’s really a shame, too, because travelers are getting more wired, and useful iPhone applications would do very well.  While everyone has their own “best app” list, these apps have come in handy for me:

iphone appsWorld Nomads Language Guides– These language guides are free and cover about all the languages you’ll encounter on the road. While I wished they contained more conversational phrases, they were pretty good for the basics and make a handy conversation piece when you use them at bars.

iphone appsCurrency– Want to know the latest currency rates? This free application gives you all the currency exchange rates you need to know. There are so many currency apps out there, I’m not sure why anyone would buy one. This one needs wi-fi access to update the rates, though.

iphone appsTwitter– While not a conventional travel application, Twitter is a great way to keep in touch with people and other travelers on the road. You can use it to post pictures, get destination advice, and give people updates. There are a lot of Twitter applications out there. The three main ones are TweetDeck, Tweetie, and Echofon. I use Echofon because it is free and comes with Twitpic.


iphone appsKayak– Yet another free application, Kayak’s app lets you search for and book flights, hotels, and more. It’s pretty handy if you need to book stuff on the fly or contact an airline. This app needs an Internet connection.

iphone appsHostelHERO– If you need to book a hostel, this app works well enough. It’s not the best- it doesn’t get updated a lot, and the interface is clunky, but until Hostelbookers or Hostelworld create their own, this will have to do.

iphone appsGoogle Maps- Google maps is free with an iPod device and is a lifesaver. It has helped me find my way to hostels more times than I can count. The GPS works without being logged onto a 3G or wireless network, but the maps won’t load without a connection.

iphone appsSkype– A great way to stay in touch with your friends and family while you are away. In fact, Skype is great whenever you need to make a phone call. Skype doesn’t work when you are on a 3G network.

iphone appsTripIt– I like TripIt because you can forward all your email booking info to it, and it will keep track of them for your iPhone. Considering I often forget when and where I have to be (I just misbooked my hostel in Auckland), this program comes in really handy, though clearly, I need to use it more often.

iphone appsTextPlus– Texting your friends around the world can be costly. However, with TextPlus, you can text anyone in the world for free. It comes in very handy when you need to arrange meet ups around cities or want to stay in touch. This only works with American numbers.

iphone appsmTrip– This app is pretty cool. It allows you to plan your trip, find restaurants, see attractions, and even update the information if you find a mistake. There are also user reviews of locations as well as featuring the new augmented reality technology. Overall, I think it’s a good app for people who want all their trip details plus a mini-guide book on their phone.

iphone appsAround Me– This nifty app lets you find everything around you. From banks, to restaurants, to malls, to ATMs, to movie theaters, to parks- everything that is close to you shows up on the map. I use it to find stuff I need (like where the nearest ATM is) or find stuff to do when I’m bored.

iphone appsFoursquare– You may not think it but this location based social networking game is an amazing travel app. The program lets users put in tips and suggestions into the system and you can use those tips to find out what’s interesting near you.

iphone appsAny Travelfish App– Travelfish is an excellent site about Southeast Asia. It’s really the site for Southeast Asia. Their travel apps are the best travel apps out there. They provide all the information you could ever need on the destinations plus they don’t require an internet connection to view the maps. If you’re going to travel Southeast Asia with an iPhone, it should have these apps on them. They’re the best destination apps created.

While there are probably many more applications out there I have yet to discover, I have found that these have come in the most handy, work often without the Internet, or are just overall pretty damn cool.

comments 22 Comments

Great list Matt! I’ll add a few I’ll myself:
Lonely planet guide to a city; the entire book in your iPhone (for about the same price), with GPS integration for finding the best food/site nearby
Ultralingua dictionaries. I’ve used them in Portuguese and French and they are very extensive; as good as a proper full dictionary, but the size of a pocket dictionary in the form of your iPhone. Ultralingua is better than the competition in most cases
PDF reader. Extremely easy iPhone upload option – I use it to read various ebooks whenever I’m travelling for several hours. It’s surprisingly comfortable reading off the iPhone screen
Wikime. Wikipedia articles related to particular places (buildings etc.) are geolocated. So your iPhone can give you all the articles of historic and important buildings close by, based only on your GPS position. The articles go into nice detail of course, since it’s wikipedia.
If you search iTunes you’ll find all of these by the name I’ve given here.
After that most apps I have are quite silly :)


RE LP: I don’t want to pay 10 dollars for the app then for each guidebook i buy.

The wikime sounds great though!

Hi Matt

Some new iPhone apps for me to pay attention to. Many thanks. My personal favourites are

For Your Eyes Only – a password protected program that lets me log in all kinds of private information. I keep track of all my various login strings (urls, usernames/pwds), my passport info, my credit card info (including emergency phone #s), my driver’s license info, etc., etc.

Lifecards – fun little app that let’s me create e-postcards I create from photos I take, then e-mail to friends/clients/colleagues – I create at will then send when I hit a wi-fi zone.

Headspace – a mind-mapping s/w (both free and paid for versions) because travel seems to stimulate lots of ideas for books, articles, projects for me and I like to capture as many details as possible while the going is good

Voice Memo – a fun little app that allows me to interview people and/or capture the sounds of a location right onto my iPhone

Sol Free – a Klondike/Spider type solitaire game that has kept me sane for hours when stuck in an airport or on a plane that isn’t going anywhere!

Most you have to pay a small fee for, but even a self confessed ‘cheap bastard’ like me found it painless and has reaped lots of rewards for the very small costs involved.

Two features built-into the iPhone that I had no idea I would use so much when I travel are

Notes – I keep to-do lists, lists of great wines, duty-free allowance limits, names of people I meet (esp wait staff in restaurants I know I’ll return to), great Port vintage years, recipes/food tips I discover, etc., etc.

Clock – I seem to always be setting the timer -when I want to take a nap and don’t want to oversleep; when I’m cooking stuff; when I have a firm cut-off time to remember while I’m out sighteeing or having fun; to wake me up for an early morning flight (or to offer my clients a guaranteed wake-up call); when I’m on-line and have time-limited service access. Using the timer this way lets me fully engage what I’m doing, knowing that I can rely on my wonderful iPhone to pleasantly alert me when the time has come.


I use lock box for the password stuff but I like the headspace app

Hi Matt,

Oh so many apps out there. Should I switch from BB to iPhone? He he!

By the way, I have a giveaway that you or your readers might be interested in: a Lubitel 166+ camera package. Hope you can help me promote it. Thanks!

-Jen from Folie à Deux


Email me about it

Good list. Agree there is some rubbish there — especially in the travel field — and a lot of duplication.

Benny, which PDF Reader app are you talking about? I searched and there’s about 30 different ones.

The one I have is simply called “PDF reader”, but I can see that it can be called “PDF reader pro”. It can be recognised by the icon here.

A few more for you

FlightTrack Pro – email your itinerary to trip it and this will keep track and notify you of flight changes

Lingvosoft Speaking language dictionaries

Antimosquito – seems to really work

Instapaper – for reading links later

Kindle – for reading books

Read it later – for reading rss feeds offline

WhatsApp – free IM and text client worldwide

WunderRadio for keeping in touch with your fav radio stations back home

NPR News

QIK for streaming live video (jailbreak iPhone only)

Dopplr – for broadcasting your whereabouts

Dropbox – for easy access to your files back home

Correction: QIK now available in Appstore not just jailbroken iPhones


I have NPR news. I love it except it shuts off my music even if i just want to read the stories


I want to advice the language courses for iPhone or iPod Touch! That´s the 13th travel App wat you need.


A great list of travel apps there. You could add “Nearest Tube” and the London Bus timetable/map if you were considering a visit to London. Very handy UK iphone apps.

Check out MetrO by Kinevia. A free app, too.
You can download full transportation route planning via metro/bus/tram/rail for over 400 cities. What’s most important to us is that it works offline. We’d like to follow your lead and post some of our favorite travel apps on our site, it’s great to learn about something new and useful like this.

Yay, I like your post. I downloaded Skype, Twitter, Google Maps in my Iphone last week and it works perfectly.

Matt, great list. I live by the Currency app and have used the World Nomads Lessons. Not much of a lesson, but great phrases for many situations. I do have the Lonely Planet app, but it only provides information for MAJOR cities, not one I have been to yet.


No one has mentioned iXpenseIt… best budgeting tool out there by far!

cool list, matt! thanks so much.

Here is another great app — My Room helps you track your room number and the room number of those staying with you – check it out:

Another iPhone app which I hope you may check out is My Vacation. It lets you create a travel journal on you iPhone. See


Great list. You should also check “25 things to do in” by Rainbow Riders. It’s a line of destination specific app available for Boston, Amsterdam, and Milan. But, I think the developers are adding new destinations. You can check “25 things to do in Amsterdam” here:


Another free app to track flights and explore airports: App in the Air

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