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:
World 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.
Currency- 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.
Twitter- 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.
Kayak- 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.
HostelHERO- 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.
Google 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.
Skype- 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.
TripIt- 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.
TextPlus- 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.
mTrip- 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.
Around 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.
Foursquare- 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.
Any 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.