All great travel apps have one thing in common: they all solve a problem you didn’t even realize you had. King & Whitson Travel has compiled a list of some of our favorite and most helpful apps that do everything from help you pack, book a private car, keep in touch with loved ones, find great restaurants and even figure out what kind of plug adapter you need.
Most of these apps are FREE and can be found either in the App Store for iOS users or Google Play for Android users.
PACKINGPRO Coordinating what you need to bring for both short and extended trips is often an exhaustive exercise in memory and attention. Luckily, this packing app helps take some of the preparation stress off travelers by allowing users to create packing lists and check items off as they’re packed. Not exactly sure what needs to be on the list of what to pack for a vacation in the first place? Well, Packing Pro also lets you to also view sample packing lists or templates built for a variety of common trip types. Lists from previous trips can be saved for future reference should you want to equip yourself in a similar fashion. From a practical standpoint, the application can be just as helpful for reminding users what not to forget when returning as it is for pre-trip organization.
PACKPOINT We hear you. “Another packing checklist? Really? “The PackPoint packing list builder isn’t just another checklist app — it generates a customized list of items you should pack. Especially useful for longer trips. Travelers enter some basic information: destination, date, length of their stay and purpose of the trip. Then users can specify their agenda — from “fancy dinner” to “international” to “baby” — and the app calculates what should go in the suitcase. Weather information is taken into consideration and shown on top of the list.
THE “APPY” WAY TO HAIL A CAB!
UBER When it comes to taxis, you simply can’t overlook Uber. It’s a car booking app that allows you to book a luxury car to pick you up from your exact location within minutes. When you open the app in any of the 100-plus Uber cities and order a car, the app will estimate the arrival time and send a text saying your driver is on the way. A small photo with the driver’s name and phone number pops up on the app, while a car icon on the map shows you in real time where the car is located. You also don’t need to worry about paying in cash, as the payment is all processed through the app and linked to your credit card. Both users and drivers can rate each other at the end of the ride using the app for other users to view. Sure, the Uber Lux cars (BMW 7 Series etc) might be slightly more expensive than regular cabs (the Uber X option can be dramatically cheaper than regular cabs though), but if you’re on vacation, you might as well roll in style!
STRESS FREE AIRPORT DELAYS!
FLIGHT TRACKER There is nothing more frustrating than making an hours-long commute to your airport only to find out your flight has been delayed for half a day or cancelled altogether. Well, the Flight Tracker app aims to make this a thing of the past. Now, you can track flights with amazing maps and receive real-time info on departure info, delays and gate assignments.
GATEGURU If you ever have a long connection through Chicago O’Hare, you’ll want to go straight to Tortas Frontera for sandwiches. At San Francisco International Airport, there’s a yoga room where you can decompress and stretch before your next flight. GateGuru is the best friend of those unfortunate souls caught with long layovers and delays. This app provides you with a map of the terminals as well as reviews of restaurants within the airport. However, the most helpful features might be the “tips” section and the average wait time at each terminal’s security checkpoint. Before and after the security check-in, waste no more time in the airport. Flight tracking notification alerts you about the crowds or unexpected delays. Prevent unnecessary problems due to gate-location confusion. No need to miss a flight (or a meal) because you can’t find your next departure gate or nearby tasty edibles.
MOVE OVER ROSETTA!
GOOGLE TRANSLATE When your Rosetta Stone education falls short, turn to Google Translate. This app can rapidly translate whole paragraphs of text or even the spoken word. Simply say a phrase in English, and Google Translate will repeat your words in the foreign language of your choice.
Amazingly versatile and instantaneous, Google Translate currently works with 57 languages, from Afrikaans to Yiddish. Really helpful for on-the-go spontaneity, it offers an immediacy 2nd best to a human translator. All you have to do is think it, and type it. See the translation, and hear the phrase in the desired language. In addition, a newer Google Translator Toolkit actually uses human translators aided by technologies like Google Translate to translate entire documents!
iSTONE Worried about asking for directions to the bathroom when you’re stranded in the middle of a shopping mall in Paris? iStone may be your savior. iStone is a translation app that is designed for travelers without any great linguistic skills. It records and translates into 12 languages and comes equipped with more than 300 useful phrases. iStone also features native pronunciation and requires no Wi-Fi. iStone basic version is free.
STAYING IN TOUCH
POSTAGRAM Sick of sending cliched touristy postcards? Travelers can surprise their special someone with a one-of-a-kind, personalized postcard of a photo from their phone, Facebook or Instagram. Postagram allows you to design your own postcard by choosing a picture and adding a message. Within days, the postcard will be mailed to the recipient’s (real) mailbox. Postagrams also come personalized with the profile picture of the sender.
WHATSAPP The smart phone era has forever added a second meaning to international travel: ridiculously expensive roaming charges and fees. Whether you’re studying abroad or going on a much-needed extended vacation, the fear of not being able to communicate with your friends and family back home without purchasing another cell phone plan can be overwhelming. Thanks to the messaging app, WhatsApp, you can communicate with anyone in the world without paying for SMS (text message) fees. All you need to worry about is your friend having the app as well. We love the group chat function as it lets you communicate with several people at once – ideal if you’re travelling with a big group on vacation.
Best of all, it’s free!
VIBER Viber lets you make calls over the internet to other mobile phones around the world – offering huge savings if you need to make international calls on the road.
HOW WILL I CHARGE MY PHONE?
PLUGS OF THE WORLD Do you know which plug and wall socket is used on your destination when traveling? This guide contains information about AC power plugs, sockets and voltage in over 200 countries and regions. This app features an easy to use navigation, free text search and option to save your favorite destinations. Every socket and plug patterns you will ever find traveling. Each electrical outlet is illustrated with clear sharp images that you can share with friends by e-mail. Don’t leave home without it!
GETTING AROUND LIKE A PRO
HOPSTOP Access all of a city’s transit maps using just one app with HopStop. The app also offers directions on how to get around the city by foot, bus, subway, rail, ferry or bicycle, offering several routes you can choose to get from A to B, plus public transport schedules so you can get there quickly.
A FOODIE’S BEST FRIEND
FOODSPOTTING Perfect for travelers in search of the best restaurants, this app is powered by users’ own reviews and pics, making it a foodie's best friend. For each city, users can browse the app’s selections alphabetically, by category, rank, and even neighborhood location, and you can also search for nearby restaurants on the list based on your current GPS location. Best of all, Foodspotting also lets you search by dish. If you want to try a specific dish that a city is known for, you can find local users’ recommendations on the best restaurant to try it.