Here are some best Smartphone Travel Apps. In this digital age, what traveler wants to lug around 5 kilograms of guidebooks when they could simply download applications onto their smartphone?
There are many useful travel related applications out there for iPhones, BlackBerries and other smartphones, if you know where and what to look for. In fact, it seems there’s an app for just about everything, from translating apps to help you speak foreign languages, to apps that pinpoint the closest public toilet in foreign lands.
And with free wifi available in many places around the world, you no longer need to look like a tourist, struggling with maps or thumbing through your dog eared guidebook – just stop in a Wi-Fi zone, log-on, fire up your app and find out everything you need to know, from the nearest spot to get a hot dog to the best place to find a bed for the night.
Some apps are free, others can cost up to $15 or more, so it’s worth knowing which ones will be worth your time (and money). To save you the hassle, we’ve tracked down ten interesting (and useful) smartphone apps that are specifically designed for the world traveler.
Provides real-time flight status updates, with scheduled departure and landing times, as well as actual takeoff and projected landing – ideal for keeping track of flight changes and cancellations before you leave your snug hotel bed for the airport waiting lounge.
There are literally dozens of translation apps out there, from apps that can record a voice, translate it and then repeat it back in a foreign language, to apps that translate photos of signs (useful if you driving in a foreign land). As a basic and affordable option, Babelingo is one of the better options, with 300 useful phrases and words in 11 languages.
A very nifty Google Maps powered application, Where finds local points of interest using your current location. It pinpoints on a map the nearby Starbucks, Zipcars parking spots, hotels, gas stations (with prices), local concerts — and even friends who are in your network.
CurCon Currency Converter (0.99 $)
Why struggle to convert currency in your head, when you could simply tap the price into your keypad and get an instant accurate currency conversion? CurCon covers 107 currencies, and it also regularly downloads currency rate changes, which is handy.
Do you like learning about the places you visit, and then putting your new knowledge to the test with pop quizzes? Then LocoTrivia is the app for you. It uses geolocation to figure out your location and then asks you trivia questions about the places of interest closest to you. It even allows you to submit your own questions, and there’s a global score board so you can show off your prowess to the world.
WorldMate creates an itinerary for you based on your flights, hotel bookings and car rental service, and it even provides pre-trip reminders about weather and flight info, a greeting when you land with directions to your hotel or meeting, and much more. We suspect it probably even produces a digital lei when you land in Hawaii.
Navita Translator ($5.99)
This is one of those nifty smartphone translators that does the speaking for you. Struggling with your pronunciation? Don’t worry! The Navita Translator understand more than 50 languages and is capable of speaking languages including English, Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, French, German and Russian.
A very useful application when trying to decide where to eat while traveling, Urbanspoon identifies restaurants and fast food spots in the US, UK, Canada and Australia, and also runs on iPhones. Free, small and easy to install, it’s definitely a must have application for anyone traveling in the aforementioned countries.
Winner of the award for ‘Best Travel Application’ in June 2009, TripCase features flight updates, hotels in your vicinity (with prices, description and photos) and car rental services. Even better, it can connect with hundreds of travel websites, such as travelocity.com, to create the perfect itinerary.
Don’t laugh – if you’ve ever been caught short in a strange land you’ll appreciate just how useful it would be to have an application that directs you to the closest water closet. SitorSquat records bathrooms around in the world – the on-site ticker is currently recording 97,772 found facilities – so no matter where you are there’s always a place to go nearby. Whether it works as well in Mozambique as it does in Manhattan is up to you to find out.
The majority of these applications work offline as well, handy if there’s no Wi-Fi in sight – and even if you haven’t joined the smartphone wielding hordes yet, there are heaps of online travel apps that you can take advantage of to make your travels easier and safer. If you’re taking your phone along anyway, why not make it earn its keep?
So dump the guide book library and hook yourself up with some handy travel related apps the next time you head to a new city. If nothing else, they’ll give you something to do while you wait for the plane/bus/train/taxi.
Guest author Christian Arno, is founder and managing director of Lingo24, global translation service. Launched in 2001, it now has over 130 employees spanning four continents and clients in over sixty countries. You can also guest post here.