Summer is here, and many people are heading out of town or out of state for a little fun. As such, they are turning to the travel apps on their iOS, Android, and Windows smartphones to figure out where they want to go, what they want to do, and how they want to get there
As of March 2018, there were 2.1 million iOS apps available in the Apple App Store for iPhones, iPads, or both. Google Play is reported to have 3.6 million apps available in its virtual store. This means that there are more travel apps than I’d care to try to count.
However, as an iPhone user, there are specific apps for travel that I like to keep installed on my mobile device that can help me book and plan my trip in addition to serving as valuable resources while I am traveling.
Here is my list of the six best travel apps for when I’m going to hit the road or catch a flight during the summer (or any time of the year).
TripAdvisor is one of the best travel planning apps because it brings an incredible wealth of information to your fingertips. Tapping into its gigantic database, you can use the app to access user reviews about restaurants, hotels, activities, and other things to do in cities around the world.
The app is versatile enough to be filtered based on a set of variables and includes a variety of information such as:
- Types of cuisine,
- Contact information, and
- Navigation directions for how to get to a specific location.
Considering that 84% of people report that they trust online reviews as much as a word-of-mouth referral from a friend, it’s no surprise that the app includes a forums section where you can post questions, write reviews, and chat with others about their experiences at specific locations.
Citymapper is an incredibly useful transit navigation app that uses GPS technology for its navigation mode. With a rating of 4.3 out of 5 stars, it is considered one of the best travel apps, ranking No. 14 in the App Store’s “Navigation” category. This app provides up-to-date information in a variety of areas, including:
- Real-time departure schedules;
- Line status and real-time disruption alerts;
- Transit maps;
- Uber integration; and
- Live bike share and routes.
The drawback of this mobile travel app is coverage for smaller cities. This app provides incredible coverage for major cities in the United States, Asia, Australia, Europe, and Latin America, but information is less readily available outside of the larger cities in these regions.
The Viator Tours and Activities app brings information about more than 2,500 destinations worldwide to your mobile device. The app interface includes an interactive map that helps you to discover some of the best activities, attractions, and tours in your area. You can browse photos and full-screen local videos about different attractions to get a better idea of what to expect.
Furthermore, you can do more than browse with Viator — you can skip the ticket lines altogether and book your tickets through the mobile app instantly where they will be available that day. The travel app provides show-and-go paperless vouchers that will be stored in Wallet.
While the WhatsApp Messenger mobile app isn’t technically a travel app, it is still one of my favorite all-around apps that is incredibly useful when traveling. Using your phone’s cellular network internet connection (or Wi-Fi, when available), you can use the app to message and call your family and friends while traveling.
You can use WhatsApp to:
- Send or receive multimedia content such as photos, videos, and voice messages;
- Make free calls to friends and family using your phone number;
- Engage in group chat to communicate with multiple people at once;
- Access messages you received while offline; and
- Share your location with your contacts.
Using the app in lieu of your phone’s short message service (SMS, or text messaging) means that you won’t be charged international fees for every message or call when using it to communicate while traveling abroad. However, it is important to note that data charges may apply, and you can’t use the app to call local emergency services.
5. Smart Traveler
The Smart Traveler mobile travel app is an official app that was released by the U.S. Department of State. Downloading the app provides access to the Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), which provides assistance in emergency situations, such as losing your passport overseas, or finding yourself in the middle of a natural disaster or political unrest.
It enables users to search countries and specific areas for different types of information, such as:
- Descriptions of each different destination;
- Locations of embassies and consulates;
- Local laws and regulations relating to special circumstances;
- Visa requirements for entry and exits for different countries;
- Travel and transportation guidelines, alerts, and warnings; and
- Health-related resources.
The app also provides convenient access to the U.S. Department of State’s Consular Affairs Twitter and Facebook pages.
6. Google Translate
Traveling across the border to French regions of Canada or down to Mexico and don’t speak more than a few words of French or Spanish? That’s okay. There’s an app for that. Google Translate is a convenient way to translate between dozens of languages in a variety of formats. For example, you can translate between:
- 103 languages by typing;
- 93 languages by drawing characters;
- 31 languages using the app’s Conversation Mode two-way instant speech translation feature;
- 59 languages when the app is offline or when you have no internet connection;
- 38 languages using the instant camera translation feature, or 37 languages using Camera Mode.
Furthermore, the app includes a Phrasebook, which allows you to start and save translations for future reference in any of the included languages.
What other go-to travel apps for iPhone (or another smartphone or mobile device) would you add to your own list, and why? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.