With over 1.5 million apps available on app stores, it can be easy to get lost in all the options. We’ve curated a list of some of the best apps that make life easier for travelers.
FLIGHTTRACK (Android/iOS, $4.99)
With over 100,000 commercial flights taking off around the world per day, you would need to be an air traffic controller to keep track of them all. Alternatively, you can get the Flightrack app and keep tabs on your flight from the comfort of your smartphone. Search for flights by airport, route, flight number or destination, and receive real-time updates of how things are going. You’ll receive push notifications as soon as your flight is allocated a departure gate, and the status of your aircraft is updated with helpful color-codes – green for early, blue for on-time, amber for delayed and red for cancelled. You can even coordinate with groups of friends or family coming into a destination on different flights from different parts of the world; the app will keep you updated about when they left, where they are and when they’re due to arrive.
PACKPOINT (Android/iOS, $2.99)
I’ll never forget the day my family and I were waiting in line at the check-in desk, and my Dad, with a weary sigh, said that he’d wished we’d bought the television with us. My Mom asked him why that was, and he replied: “Because I left our passports on top of it.” Fortunately, Packpoint is here to make things right. Just enter your destination and how long you’ll be staying, and this fully customizable app will prompt you to gather the right number of socks and shoes. Delve deeper into things, and you’ll find suggested lists for various activities, such as business meetings, spending time at the beach or more robust outdoor activities. It will even suggest an umbrella after having checked the forecast to see if one is necessary.
ENTRAIN (Android/iOS, free)
Finding yourself in an unfamiliar country, surrounded by strangers and in a culture very different to your own can be an exciting, but also very disorienting, experience. Jetlag increases this disorientation dramatically and can be a real problem, eating into your vacation time or causing stress because you need to be alert for a business meeting. Developed by the University of Michigan, Entrain is designed to help you manage your sleep patterns between time zones by incrementally changing your sleep schedule until you are in synch with the new time zone. With graphs and user-shared information, it’s a truly crowd-sourced solution to an awkward problem.
WORLDMATE (Android/iOS, free)
Worldmate is a one-stop-shop for travelers on the go. With flight tracking and alerts, hotel recommendations and car reservations, every aspect of your journey can be planned out in advance, right down to a detailed map of directions from the airport to your hotel. It will even inform you if there’s a hotel offering a better deal than the one you are currently considering. This is a must-have for business travelers, 10 million of whom have downloaded and use the app at present.
GOOGLE MAPS (Android/iOS, free)
Having mapped the world from just about every conceivable angle – from the sky, satellite and streets – Google Maps are one of the best-used resources that can be found online. Get up-to-the-minute travel updates, information on businesses (from opening hours to contact numbers), detailed directions and a host of other information. And thanks to a recent update, you can now access Google Maps without a data connection. Just download the map for the region you are visiting, and you’ll have all that information available offline (with the exception of satellite images and traffic reports).
ACCUWEATHER (Android/iOS, free)
The weather used to be a much simpler thing. Someone on the television would display a map of a country or region with half a dozen county-sized icons displaying sunshine, cloud or (worst of all) a mixture of both. And that was all you got for the day. Fortunately, things have changed dramatically since then. Now, not only can you get up-to-the-minute weather reports, you can help create them yourself. This is the work of Accuweather, which provides a huge amount of information, including humidity levels, visibility, wind speed and sunrise/sunset times. It even has a feature that cuts through the sterile facts and figures, cross-checks temperature and wind speeds to tell you what the weather feels like. All this, and the ability to tell someone that the rain will stop in the next two minutes, will make you feel more in control.
GOOGLE TRANSLATE (Android/iOS, free)
Back to Google for another of their excellent innovations. Google Translate will deal with all of your language issues, detecting languages automatically, two-way translated conversations and the ability to recognise pictograms that you draw with a finger. If you take a photo of a sign or notice that you can’t read, the app will superimpose the translated text over the top of it.
XE CURRENCY (Android/iOS, free)
With over 20 million downloads, the XE Currency converter is a must-have tool for anyone abroad. See live rates for every currency on earth, and historic charts of currency movements so you can see how things have moved recently. You can calculate prices in real time and if you’re not online, it will store the latest dates until you are connected again. You can even check the prices of all precious metals around the world, just in case you want to pick up some platinum while you’re buying postcards.
JT TRAVEL APP ( Android/iOS, free)
If you’re using one of our prepaid international SIM cards (and why wouldn’t you?), the JT Travel App is the perfect companion. Access your phone records to see exactly what you’ve been spending and when, use the app to top-up your account and check your phone numbers. You can also find local weather details and a currency converter.