Travelling can be quite stressful what with all the research and planning that goes into each and every trip we embark upon. Mobile apps have made our journeys significantly less stressful with the advent of these top travel apps. Use them to plan your trip, pack your suitcase, navigate a vast airport, and ease your way around cities and towns you're otherwise unfamiliar with. These apps were designed to make our lives considerably easier, and we have to admit that they've done their job well! Never before has travelling the globe been so hassle-free.
TripIt (Apple & Android), FREE
This handy little app allows you to organize all of your travel plans in one convenient place. Once you've downloaded the app to your mobile device, you can begin storing your travel documents by forwarding all travel-related confirmations to firstname.lastname@example.org From there, the app will automatically create a customized daily itinerary for each trip you've got planned. This means your airline documents, hotel reservations, and car rental confirmations will be plotted onto a scroll-enabled timeline that you can consult any time, any place. If you ever need to look back on a travel document forwarded from a previous trip, you can access the app's archived information and look up any details you need. Another unique feature of the TripIt app is its network tab, where you can see who on your contact list is close to your present location. This means you can connect with people you may rarely have the chance of seeing at home on a regular basis. Want to catch up with a family member who lives in Europe while you're there? No problem! Just look them up on the app's network tab and it will tell you how close they are to you. Lastly, for time-sensitive travel plans, there's an alert feature that you can program at any time to keep you on track and punctual!
"I use this app every single time I travel,"
says Angelo, a frequent business traveller.
"My favourite feature is the alert function because it keeps me updated on not only my schedule, but if there have been any changes made to my itinerary. There have been a few times when the airline has changed the flight time and the app automatically sent me an update on my phone."
Hipmunk Hotels & Flights (Apple & Android), FREE
If you're the kind of person who likes to use one service to search for both airfare and hotels, you're in luck because this app does it all! Use it to search for the cheapest airfare by entering your travel details in the search engine. When you're ready to book, select your flight and you'll automatically be directed to the airline's website or any major online booking engine where you can book everything straight from your mobile device. Searching for and making a hotel reservation works the same way! It's also worth pointing out that this is one of the only travel apps that includes listings from both Airbnb and HomeAway when you search for lodgings (these two sites allow travellers to forego booking pricey hotel rooms in favour of renting local apartments and houses). This app is perfect for travellers who are in a hurry and wish to make their travel reservations all in one place, without having to use the services of many different websites or online travel agents.
The only fault we found with this app was that it could get a little confusing with so many programs and windows opening at the same time. If you need to make a booking, you're automatically directed to the airline or hotel booking website on another page. If the user ever needed to look back at a quote that was given through the Hipmunk app, they'd have to close the booking window and re-open the app screen. Apart from that little hiccup, the app works wonderfully well and is very convenient for travellers who are looking for a great deal.
Packing Pro (Apple), $2.99
Have you ever arrived at your destination only to discover that you forgot to pack enough pairs of socks before you left? Well, that will never happen again as long as you begin using the Packing Pro app! Its users can create custom packing lists for each trip they embark on. You can make your packing lists as simple or as detailed as you like, formatting them to your specifications and ticking off items as you pack your suitcase or carry-on baggage. The interface is extremely user-friendly and allows you to adjust settings like colour themes and font. Aside from packing, you can also use this app as an alert system, creating to-do lists before you leave your home. If you need to be reminded to water your plants before setting out on your trip, add this task to one of your customized lists and check it off once it's been completed. Packing Pro offers a host of sample packing lists for users who are a little unsure of where to begin or what they will need once they leave home.
"For someone who is as detail-oriented as I am, this app is a godsend!"
enthuses Vanessa, a self-described "packing fiend" who travels to Europe at least once a year.
"I really can't afford to be forgetting things — not when I'm travelling on a budget — because that would mean that I'd need to buy whatever it is I forgot as soon as I arrived at my destination. This app really helps me keep everything organized and accounted for. The only gripe I have with it is that it's not free! But, in the end, it's so useful that I don't mind paying the initial $3 download fee. It's worth it."
Airports by TravelNerd (Apple), FREE
This app was designed to help its users navigate the hectic hustle and bustle of almost any airport in the world with complete ease. Begin by searching for your airport and selecting it from the list of air hubs that TravelNerd keeps on record in its vast database. Once you've selected your location, the app will upload detailed maps and images of each terminal and public space within the airport. You may use these maps to search for airline locations, amenities, restaurants, shops, gates, ground transportation hubs, and taxi services. If, for some reason, you don't know the name of your airport, the app will go ahead and automatically search for the ones in your area using your mobile device's location signal. Once you choose one from the list that's generated, you're all set! The Airports by TravelNerd app also offers a flight tracker feature that allows its users to track all in-coming and out-going flights at their chosen airport. This proves useful not only for the traveller, but also for anyone sent to the airport to pick up family members, loved ones, or work associates upon their arrival to the terminal.
Although there's a great list of major airports that the user can select from, some of the smaller international airports aren't in the app's database. We suspect that as the app grows in popularity, the developer will eventually expand its current list of locations to include the smaller, less-frequented air terminals of the world.
City Maps 2Go by Ulmon Pro (Apple & Android), $2.99
This is one of the only travel apps you can use offline. Before you set off on your holiday or business trip, search for your destination using the app's vast database of international cities and towns. From there, you can download as many maps as you need for your travels and use them to navigate your way through your destination's roads, highways, and even hiking trails! You can use all these maps when your mobile device is offline, making it extremely convenient for those who don't own an international mobile plan or SIM card. The app will track your movements and plan your route for you using local wi-fi signals and hotspots. You may also search for points of interest (like shops, restaurants, parks, and even hospitals) and get immediate directions should you become lost or overwhelmed in a new city. Keep an eye out for app updates when you're using City Maps 2Go. Ulmon is constantly updating and amending its collection of maps, and storing the newest version on your device is highly beneficial.
"This is like having a travel guide for every major international city in your pocket,"
raves Angelo, our business traveller.
"There have been a couple times that I've gotten lost in a city I've never been to before, and all I did was whip out my phone and load the app. It automatically brought up my present location on the city map and, using that, I found my way back to my hotel. It was fairly late at night and most of the shops and restaurants were closed around me, so I'm not sure what I would have done if I didn't have this app with me on my phone. I'm sure I would have found my way back eventually, but this app saved me a lot of time and worry."
Now that you've got some of the mobile world's best travel apps working for you, you're all set to venture out into the unknown! Never worry about travel documents, packing lists, or airport terminals ever again and just relax knowing that everything's been taken care of and organized to your liking. All trips, whether they're for business or pleasure, should be enjoyable!
Title photo by: Frederic