As the newbie owner of a smartphone (Yes, I know. How have I managed to live without one?) and a frequent traveler, one of the first things I’ve done is research and download travel apps. If apps on my smartphone can make my travels less stressful and help me to be more organized, the extra monthly cost of a data plan will be well worth it!
Here are four travel-related apps—all free and all available for iPhone (iPad, iPod), Android, Blackberry and others, in some cases—that I would put into the “essential” category while the fifth is a great idea for post-trip home decorating projects.
Besides getting real-time status for flights and itinerary push alerts, TripTracker offers live weather reports, route maps, hotel information and car rental information.
This app promises that you only need to go to one application to quickly check-in for your flights anywhere in the world (supporting 210+ airlines). This is the free version of Check-In Companion World. You can try it out then choose to buy one of the paid versions. There is the World version and individual versions for specific regions of the world, including Americas, Europe, Asia, and Middle East/Africa. The World version sells for $2.99.
If you have ever had a long layover (planned or unplanned) and promised yourself you would never again spend 8-24 hours in the airport reading a book or wandering aimlessly, SmartLayover can help you:
• Seek out and find best rates for a Day-Use Hotel Room.
• Find sightseeing tours and activities in more than 140 countries.
• Get flight alerts so you’ll know when to head back to the airport.
• If you stay in the airport, the app will get you discounts on food and gifts at airport shops and restaurants, provide an airport terminal map and even check security wait times.
TripIt is a free app that I am really excited about! Just think of all the travel information we have to keep track of and find a place to keep with us. Hotel reservation confirmations, car rental information, and even boarding passes can all be kept in one place. Just forward the confirmation emails from these venues to email@example.com where the information is then integrated into a travel itinerary that can be accessed from your smartphone, with or without WiFi access. You can also ask it to notify you of upcoming events during your trip, provide directions to all of your destinations and more. TripIt is available on the iPhone, iPad, Android, Blackberry and Windows Phone 7.
OK, now this one is for those of us who return from a trip, inspired by a photograph of a flower, the ocean, or a “to die for” hotel room, with a longing to re-create that colorful environment in an area of your home. Maybe I want my bedroom to be the exact shade of blue of that beach in Anguilla. Benjamin Moore Paints’ Color Capture app allows you to find the right shade of paint to re-create that atmosphere once you’ve returned from a tropical paradise.
I'm still discovering great travel apps and finding that there are almost as many apps as there are places in the world to add to my bucket list! Let me know in the comments below if you have a favorite travel app that I should check out. Happy travels!