When I travel, I rely on my iPhone to keep me organized, on schedule and informed. Below are my top 12 travel apps for iPhone (many are available for Android as well).
Note: When I travel internationally I purchase an international unlimited data plan for my iPhone. This allows me to use all of these apps without concern about excessive charges.
Tripit is a free travel service that organizes all of your travel arrangements. When you receive a confirmation email from an airline, hotel, car rental company, etc, you forward the email to Tripit and the information is organized chronologically for you. I have used this for years and it works beautifully. My favorite feature is that you can have your arrangements sync automatically to your Apple calendar. I haven’t had to manually type a flight number into my calendar for years. Their iPhone app is free as well. (Unfortunately their free plan does not provide flight status updates, so I use Flight Track Pro for real-time info. See below.)
2. Seat Guru
Seat Guru displays detailed seat diagrams for any commercial flight. This is especially helpful for international flights, when you might want to see location of power plugs, seat pitch, distance from restrooms, etc. I use this when I choose my seats after I book airline tickets, and then sometimes at the airport when there is an opportunity to change to a better seat.
Evernote is basically a place to take and store notes of any kind. I use Evernote as my digital file cabinet for nearly everything, so of course I use it to collect travel information as well. I forward all travel confirmations to both Tripit and Evernote. Tripit syncs all basic info to my calendar but if I need to see more detail, I can always look it up in Evernote. Having everything available in Evernote at any time means I can go to the airport with just a boarding pass in my hand rather than a folder full of paperwork.
4. Flight Track Pro 4
This is my most used app on travel days. It syncs with Tripit and imports all my flights. Then it provides real time flight status updates, push notifications and gate numbers. It even shows airport terminal maps and airplane seat diagrams via Seat Guru. If my flight is delayed, I can instantly pull up alternate flights so that I know what my other options are. (Note: Flight Track Pro 5 was recently released. Although it looks more modern and has been updated for iOS7, they have not yet been able to integrate Tripit sync, so I have not used it yet.)
5. Gate Guru
Gate Guru lists and rates all shops and restaurants at every airport. When I am about to land and planning to have a meal at a connecting airport, I open up Gate Guru to see what the options are and help me pick the best one. Listings can be sorted by gate number or rating. Perfect for finding the nearest Starbucks or a sit-down restaurant.
I’m a frequent Yelp user even when home in St. Louis… when I’m on the road I use it daily to find restaurants and coffeeshops. One of my favorite features is bookmarking: I can bookmark restaurants or attractions on my laptop at home before I travel. When I am at the destination I can view a map of my bookmarks on the app in relation to my current location.
7. Google Translate
Google Translate is an easy and free translation app. The best feature is that after you type something and translate to the language you need, you turn your phone to a horizontal position and the translation is displayed in large text. This allows you to simply show someone the phone if you are unsure about pronunciation.
8. Google Voice
Google Voice is a suite of phone related services. I use one feature of Google Voice all the time: handling of voicemail messages. Once you get it set up (which is a little tricky), all of your voicemail messages are routed to Google Voice. Messages are transcribed into text and emailed to you to read or listen to. This is especially useful when traveling internationally… when I receive a call, I can let the call go to voice mail and respond via email rather than answering and paying for expensive airtime. I also use Google Voice for free texting when out of the country, as this uses data rather than SMS. (Google Voice allows texting to any cell phone, not just Google Voice users.)
There are many apps available for currency conversion but this is my favorite at the moment.
Hipmunk is my favorite app to research flights on my phone, especially if I just want a quick idea of what something will cost or what kind of flight itinerary is available. As a flight aggregator, it includes all major airlines except Southwest.
11. Individual Airline Apps
I’ve found that it’s a good idea to download the app from the airline you are traveling on, especially for international travel. If my trip is going smoothly I use only Flight Track Pro for flight status, but if there are problems or delayed flights I will sometimes check the airline’s own app. My assumption is that the information will be updated on their own app more quickly than third party apps.
12. Lounge Buddy
This app collects information about airline lounges in each airport, along with access terms and costs.