Guidebook? Who needs a guidebook!
In this age of digital mania where many of us consider our smartphones as another appendage, it makes sense to use them for more than just a local chit-chat device. If you’re planning an OS jaunt in particular, there are literally hundreds of travel apps out there that offer everything from itinerary planning and language translation to maps, communication tools and how to make sure you don’t get sunburnt in a country outside of Australia. And some of them are awesome – as long as you don’t forget your charger.
Flights and airports
If you’re keen to bag a great deal on flights, check out SkyScanner, which compares prices across a million and one flights and hundreds of airlines, both domestic and international. If your flight’s already sorted, GateGuru, LoungeBuddy, App in the Air and FlightTrack Pro can give you heaps of info pre-departure on weather, flight status and a host of airports’ facilities. And Seat Alerts will give you the heads up on seat availability, so you can bag that aisle seat on a long-haul flight.
Itineraries, accommodation and other stuff
Embrace a virtual travel agent, with WorldMate and TripCase that provide itemised itineraries that will cover your entire trip. Apps like Hipmunk and Kayak can help you source last-minute hotel deals, TripIt can organise hotel reservations and rental cars and TripAdvisor is a great all-round app that allows you to access millions of reviews on accommodation, restaurants and attractions world-wide.
If you’re after a more unique overnight experience, Airbnb will allow you to search for everything from castle accommodation (what the?) to private apartments across more than 34,000 cities and if you’re on a budget, Hostelworld can help you source lodgings on the cheap.
Before you go
Ever arrived overseas and unpacked your case only to find you’ve made a total balls up of it? Plug in your trip profile and apps like PackPoint and Packing Pro will provide a useful list of travel essentials and a customised checklist of other must-haves based on where you’re travelling to and for how long.
If you’d like details of the weather conditions of over two million locations, WeatherPro’s your go-to and to bypass the dreaded jetlag, check out Entrain which will give you sound advice on how to adapt your circadian cycle in advance, so you’ll arrive as fresh as a daisy.
And if you’d like to connect with some like-minded besties, apps like Outbound and Travello can you help you form connections, share experiences and even hook up a rendezvous or two before you go.
Find your way when you get there
Google Maps have the upper hand here offering everything from public transport details and traffic updates to 360-degree street views, but Citymapper’s not bad either and a little more playful, giving you cycle routes and Uber integration and even updates on how long your journey will take via jetpack (if you’re stuck in traffic and need a little cheering up).
CityMaps2Go offer expert guides for the world’s top cities and down-loadable maps for over 7000 destinations, Maplets offers fantastic orientation towards iconic landmarks and HERE Maps covers a variety of transportation modes and even gives you indoor maps for a range of public buildings. If you’re driving your way around, take a look at Waze, an app combining navigation with social networking, where other users will offer you tips for the quickest route to your destination.
Explore your location
The definitive winner at the moment, Time Out gives you an in-depth summary of stuff to do in your destination of choice – restaurants, clubs, bars, events, concerts, festivals, attractions … the list goes on.
YPlan will note your location and offer suggestions for upcoming events, Musement offers suggestions that are more arty in focus and FourSquare has a social networking twist, where you can check out what other like-minded travellers are discovering in a location near you.
For the funsters – download HearPlanet, which is an audio-based guide that you can listen to whilst traipsing haphazardly about town.
Keep in touch
You’re having a fat time OS – want to really rub it in? There are heaps of apps that can help you stir up the green-eyed monster in those back home. WhatsApp is a cross-platform messaging app that includes sound clips and videos and LiveTrekker captures it all digitally, but tracks you as you go (great for adventure travellers).
Touchnote allows you to arrange your holiday pics into a slideshow (complete with soundtrack) and Photosynth will help you do justice to those just-can’t-capture-it-properly vistas by converting them into breathtaking panoramic shots.
If you’re a little more serious about the video side of things, iMovie can elevate you into the visual platform of the next Martin Scorsese, or if you’re a wordsmith at heart, Bonjournal will allow you to capture memories with the touch of a button or two.
And finally, if you’re simply far too busy having an awesome time but have an attack of the guilts once in a while, get back to basics and WhatsApp message or Snapchat your way out of trouble.
Communicate with the locals
iStone Travel Translation and Bravolol are a couple of the basic language translators available, but Google Translate probably takes the cake, enabling you to make sense of a million and one day-to-day words (in over 58 languages) you’ll come across. The Word Lens tool is particularly valuable – just point your camera at a menu or street sign and it’ll be translated within seconds.
For an entertaining twist, Duolingo allows you to practice your skills (well suited to the gamers out there) and Swearport will give you a hilarious catalogue of international expletives you can practice on any would-be trouble maker you come across in your travels.
Show me the money
For a basic currently converter, download the Oanda Currency Converter, although hands-down the best out there is XE Currency, offering detailed exchange rates and pricing in just about every national currency there is worldwide.
Other useful stuff
Just a few among the many for the wandering foodies, Foodspotting allows you to satisfy those cravings for a host of treats – from an American burger to a Madrid paella and Chefs Feed will give you top chefs’ recommendations for must-visit restaurants and must-eat meals.
Mint can help you track expenses so you can enjoy a night out, Perfect World Clock will ensure you meet up with you travelling buddies on time and Tipulator helps sort out the awkwardness of splitting the bill. When it’s time to head off, Uber will help you get there safely and Allpoint will highlight any nearby ATM’s if you’ve realised you’re cashless on the way home.
If you’re the outdoorsy type, iCampsites gives you access to 9000 campsites, MSW Surf Forecast points you in the direction of the world’s biggest surf spots and Sunscreen ensures you’re not burnt like a crisp while you’re at it.
Treksters will love PeakFinder Earth which identifies potential summits (including gently undulating hills for those just needing to stretch the legs), AlpineQuest GPS Hiking is a comprehensive orienteering app for the fitter ones amongst us and for ski bunnies, The Snow Report or OnTheSnow offers, yep, ski-type info. Prefer just a layman’s spurt of exercise? WalkJogRun gives you a selection of the safest running routes in more than 1.6 million cities worldwide.
And finally, to ensure you take care of you, download TravelSafe, a database of emergency service numbers for just about every country you’d care to name, keep your medical details on hand with ICE and download Pocket First Aid and CPR – an app that’s been proven to have saved hundreds of lives in an emergency.
Please note: Some of these apps may not be applicable to the particular destination/s you’re traveling to and the type of phone you have and many of them aren’t free. But research is all part of the fun right? Download away!