Jul 31, 2013 (07:07 AM EDT)
10 Must-Try Travel Apps
Read the Original Article at InformationWeek
Even with all the shortcuts available today, travel requires a tremendous amount of preparation. Trips abroad introduce extra complications such as longer flights and currency exchange rates. Details including the times you choose to visit certain attractions or directions for navigating unfamiliar territory can make or break your day.
Your smartphone can eliminate a good amount of your travel woes. Whether you need to book a last-minute trip extension, eat well during a three-hour layover or message your family back home, a smartphone app stands ready to help you become a smarter traveler.
For the early stages of your journey, download Kayak. This mobile travel app by Kayak.com helps you find hotels, price car rentals and browse flight options. With Kayak's price comparisons, you will know whether you're getting the best deal for each service. The app is free for iPad, iPhone, Android, Nokia and Windows Phone.
The filters in Kayak's search option allow you to browse according to specific criteria such as where you prefer to have a layover. In the category My Trips, your travel itinerary is at your fingertips.
It's important to note that although Kayak is a useful research tool and can be used to reserve hotel rooms and car rentals, it cannot be used to book flights. The app can be used to find the best available price, however, and will direct you to a page where a flight can be purchased.
In the latest version of the Kayak app, you can receive price alerts on your iPad for discounted flights, hotels and car rentals. Searches for cities and airports are now saved as well, so you can easily book future trips to favorite locations.
Kayak's website has been around for eight years, but the company recently switched its focus to mobile. Now, instead of using its website to influence its mobile app, Kayak designers are doing the opposite.
"I got to the point where I actually liked [the] iPhone app better than our website, I thought it was more aesthetically beautiful," said Paul English, co-founder and CTO of Kayak, in a statement to Gigaom. The app is easy to navigate, a quality that Kayak hopes to replicate on its website.
Travel and hotel reservations mark only the beginning of a traveler's journey. Take a look at the rest of these travel apps. A quick download could lead to less stress during your next trip.
If you're traveling abroad, exchange rate calculations can be a hassle. XE Currency features an easy-to-use currency calculator for determining price values in foreign countries. It offers live rates for every world currency and updates every minute. The app is free for iPhone and iPad, Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone.
Isn't there a Starbucks around here somewhere? GateGuru knows. Download this great tool for frequent fliers and enter your itinerary to receive your terminal and gate, arrival and departure information, estimated wait time for TSA security checkpoints, and real-time flight status updates. If you have a long layover, the app also features maps and tips for navigating unfamiliar airports, as well as food and amenity options that are customized according to your arrival and departure terminals. GateGuru is available for iPhone and iPad, Android and Windows Phone.
Whether you want to extend your vacation or need a place to crash for the night, Hotel Tonight can help you out. The app offers quick and easy same-day hotel room bookings (until 2 a.m.) in 12 countries and more than 100 destinations. You can stay for one night or more, and with a best-rate guarantee you'll know that you are paying the lowest price. Take note, though, that these deals aren't available until noon on the day that you want to book. If you like your accommodations, you can take pictures and add them to the app using the "Snap Your Stay" feature. Hotel Tonight is available for Android, iPhone and iPad.
Cut your international communication costs with WhatsApp Messenger. The app uses 3G or Wi-Fi (when available) to keep you in touch while abroad. Anyone you want to contact needs to download the app to be able to send you text, audio and video messages. WhatsApp is free on iPhone and iPad, Android, BlackBerry, Nokia and Windows Phone for the first year, then costs 99 cents a year after that.
With the Viator Tours & Activities app, you can discover more than 15,000 activities in more than 800 global destinations. Viator offers suggestions for tours and activities complete with traveler reviews and photos. It uses your location to pinpoint which are closest. The app also features a low-price guarantee, so you can do as much as possible on your travel budget. Note that to receive the benefits of Viator, your location must be in the app's list of cities, regions and countries. The quality and quantity of discounts might also vary according to location. Viator is available for Android, iPhone and iPad.
Hungry to try something new? With Foodspotting, you can discover popular local dishes. The visual guide provides images and ratings from other users and food experts. See which dishes look good and bookmark the ones you want to try. Share ratings and pictures after your meal to help future diners. The app's selections can be filtered alphabetically or by category, rank or location. Foodspotting is available for iPhone and iPad, Android, BlackBerry and Windows Phone.
Camera+ improves on the qualities of the built-in iPhone camera with 6x digital zoom, self-timer, stabilizer and white balance controls. For museums or other places that forbid flash photography, the app allows you to add flash and clarity to photos after they are taken. It also provides information such as image size, dimensions and location. Camera+ is available for $1.99 on iPhone and iPad and for free on Android.
The Packing app allows forgetful travelers to create and edit unlimited customizable packing lists and check off items during packing. As you create each list, discover new ideas from sample lists. The app also allows you to create a pre-departure to-do list. The latest version features the ability to filter lists by bag, person or both, as well as separate checked and unchecked bags. The app is available on iPhone and iPad for 99 cents -- less than the price of a forgotten toothbrush.
Sometimes your built-in weather app doesn't provide the information you'll need throughout the day. Weather+ gives current conditions and a five-day forecast for global weather stations. You also receive information such as wind direction and speed, humidity, precipitation, pressure and visibility. The app also features a flip clock and world clock, so you can flip between your current and selected locations. It's free on Android, iPhone and iPad.