Here at TiAR we are constantly surprised and amazed at how technology, especially of the mobile kind, has improved so many mundane tasks and impacted our lives. One of the areas where it has added convenience and efficiency is in the way we travel, and prepare to travel.
With the summer of 2015 upon us, it is certainly worth some time to see what apps can help us in our quest to make the process easier and, hopefully, make the actual vacation more enjoyable.
It’s no secret that you can use Google, Bing, or DuckDuckGo to get an almost endless supply of information on vacation destinations, flights and accommodation practically anywhere in the world — it’s hard to imagine how anyone managed to travel back in the bygone days prior to the mid-1990s. Can you say maps, pamphlets and travel books?
Sure search engines are great but the next step is to use the right assortment of mobile apps for smartphones and tablets. These little wonders make checking out your neck of the woods, or a foreign country, as simple as planning a weekend getaway.
Of all our favorite apps for traveling, here are the top 10 that we think will make planning for, and taking, your next vacation easier and more enjoyable. You’ll find more app suggestions by checking out our popular Travel Category.
Hipmunk – Free, iPhone & iPad
Hipmunk has been around for awhile and, while not as well known for its travel booking service as say, Travelocity, Priceline, Trivago, or Orbitz, its app has a clean modern design and is extremely easy to use to book flights and hotels.
You can use it to find hotel deals near you, browse hotels by city, and search for flights, and easily find those flights with wifi.
What we love about the app is the ability to sort results based on the least amount of hassle involved.
When hunting for flights you can sort your search results with a its Agony filter that lets you see itineraries with the least amount of layovers and hassles first, followed by longer trips that may be less expensive.
You can also create fare alerts for a particular search and the app will let you know when there’s a deal on flights.
Last Minute Travel Deals – Free, iPhone, iPad
Last Minute Travel Deals, an incredibly handy travel app for iPhone and iPad, is perfect for last minute plans or that quick get-away and features deals on airfare, car rentals, hotels, and attractions. It’s incredibly easy to navigate and works very quickly.
While there certainly isn’t a shortage of travel apps on the App Store, many of them tend to be hit or miss. Plus, quite a few of them don’t even include deals; they’re only meant for finding accommodations.
This app goes above and beyond what you get with most travel apps by not just showing listings, but by sifting through accommodations to provide users with great deals.
Flight finders, hotel apps, and car rental apps are all over the place, but it’s rare to find a travel app that also includes attractions. Last Minute Travel Deals features a database of over 10,000 activities and over 4,500 cities.
Packing Pro – $2.99, iPhone and iPad
Once you’ve created you trip entry, the rest just falls into place. Add everything from pre-trip preps to meds to every item of clothing you’re going to need, just by choosing each item from an exhaustive list they provide.
If the item you want to add is not already on the master list, you simply add items to the database it will be there for you to use on every subsequent list.
We like how it works so well whispering in your ear not to forget things. Attributes such as “Priority” and “Need to Buy” really help you get everything organized and done.
It provides over 800 items and keeps things organized by category so for example, the pre-trip planning section reminds you that you might need to get or update your passport and other things that you might forget if you weren’t checking your trip list.
TripIt – $0.99, iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch
Making sure your precious 2 week vacation goes off without a hitch is about a lot more than just packing all the right stuff. It’s also about managing all the information and receipts associated with your trip.
TripIt organizes all that information into an interactive itinerary that you can pull up on your iPhone or iPad during your trip, when you need it most. What’s great is how simple it is. Just forward your confirmation emails from airlines, hotels, car rentals, and other travel services to TripIt and the app takes care of keeping you abreast of what’s going on.
The app has been around since 2006 and at this point it is quite a robust and mature service providing tons of valuable information in one place. From flight and rental car reservations, to directions to your hotel or items on your itinerary, such as Universal Studios, it’s all there.
ShutterBee – Free, iPhone
While traveling is enjoyable in and of itself, the enjoyment doesn’t end when the trip ends. ShutterBee gives you a great way to create your personal trip diary and share it with your friends. It’s the perfect app for any adventurer traveling around who wants to keep friends and family in the loop, providing you with a convenient way to keep a record of your journey and update friends/fellow users on your travel adventures.
Travel updates can be made with just tapping a few buttons, and an automated check in option also exists for added convenience. Four different styles of posts can be made; these options feature different combinations of different sizes/styles of photographs with various styles of captions.
Local weather and current location information can also be posted to your updates as well, allowing fellow travelers and friends alike to keep updated on your current conditions.
Google Translate – Free, iPhone, iPad
We loved this service when it first appeared online and love it even more as a standalone app.
This app covers you across 90 different languages and 4 modalities; voice, camera, typing and handwriting. If you’re in a foreign country and are struggling with the language, Google Translate can make you feel much more at home.
All you have to do is speak what you want translated, select the language to translate to, and touch the microphone icon. The app will show you in your language what it heard and then very quickly (immediately?) begin speaking your phrase in the other language.
This lets you and someone speaking another language freely converse with Google Translate instantly speaking the text in the other language. Just place your iPhone or iPad on the table, fire up Google Translate, set the languages and begin talking. It stays on listening for each language and translates what it hears. Truly amazing.
As if that’s not enough, the Word Lens feature lets you use the camera to take a picture of a road sign, menu, document or whatever and have it instantly translated, even without a data connection.
If you like to explore your surroundings when traveling, Roadtrippers is definitely an app to check out. For U.S. travelers, it lets you type in your starting point and your destination, then suggests places to eat and awesome things to do along the way. With over one million points of interest, it has plenty to offer including diners, scenic spots, attractions, and hotels.
You can filter if you just want nature or entertainment or historical sites. You can filter for hotels and add unique places to your trip on the go. It’ll even give you driving directions. Best of all they have a section on their site for ready to go trips such as classic USA roadtrips, Route 66, RV Roadtrip, Roadside Attractions USA, Filming Locations, and more.
If you’re looking for a little inspiration you won’t be at a loss.
XE Currency – Free, iPhone, iPad
If your travles include going to a country with a different currency, this app is a “gotta have”. Simple and straight forward, you know you need, so make sure you have it.
Sure you can ask Siri or do a web search but having the exchange rate right there in the app, even if you don’t have internet access, is priceless. Knowing the exchange rate on foreign soil is almost as necessary as knowing how to order a beer in the local language. This app allows you to quickly calculate prices on your device and stores the last updated rates, so it even works when you’re offline.
Consider this app to be one of your essential traveling tools.
The Perfect Traveller website has been around for years providing audio tours for four Italian locations; Florence, Rome, Venice, and Tuscany with a focus on arts, culture, food and wine, and just walking around. You can now take their tours with you with their new app. It’s a new virtual tour guide app on iOS, featuring audio tours, museum guides, and more.
The app not only gives you access to the audio tours but also includes a “Stories” section and an “Art Guide” section. The latter one is quite expansive covering Europe, Americas, Asia Pac, and Africa. We like how it makes it so east to bring up-to-date information and news with you to listen to as you walk around various key tourist attractions.
Their tagline, “Making you the Perfect Traveler”, seems to sum up well what they’re all about.
TripAdvisor – Free, iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch
Let’s face it, when you’re traveling you need as much information as possible about flights, hotels and restaurants that you might need to use. And certainly not just what the company who runs the service provides. You want the skinny on these things from others who have actually been there and done that.
With millions of traveler reviews, you can be sure that you’re not being scammed by one, or even a handful, of bogus or paid reviews. What’s great is that it’s for more than just flights, hotels and restaurants. It’s also for fun things to do in just about any destination.
It’ll work regardless where you’re at so this is a great one to have on your iPhone or iPad for virtually any type of trip. And now with the addition of support for the Apple Watch, this app remains one of the top travel apps around.
Just remember, all the benefit you derived from it was based other travelers taking the time to write reviews. So after you’ve experienced something great, crappy or in between, pass the word to other travelers so they can benefit from your experience.
Top 10 Apps for Your Summer Vacation Published by TheiPhoneAppReview.com