One of the Apple iPad‘s best uses is going to be as travel companion: It’s lighter than a laptop, more fun and intimate to use, and great for wasting time on a plane or train.
So it’s no surprise that many of the first iPad apps are focused on travel, extending the huge collection of great travel apps for the iPhone.
These range from flight trackers to mapping apps to travel guides and references. Most are inexpensive or free.
Browse Lonely Planet's 1,000 top destinations and experiences, with lots of photos. Topics include 'Top travel boasts, myths, and legends,' and 'top tourist traps worth the crowds.' Looks gorgeous, but pricey.
This may be a little more intense than the casual flyer needs, but it's a nice (and visually appealing) way to track flights, stay on top of delays, gate changes, etc. This is a Universal app that will work on both the iPhone and iPad, so you only need to buy it once.
There probably isn't much utility to this app when you're on the road, but as far as getting excited about travelling, or coming up with random places to visit, we can't imagine a more inspirational map. Sure to take up hours of our lives with childlike wonder.
The iPad's built-in maps app is nice, but it doesn't work if you don't have a network signal. These offline street maps work anywhere, and are available for several cities, including Paris, New York, Buenos Aires, etc.
The iPad isn't the best phone in the world. But a VoIP calling app like TruPhone could be much more convenient than dealing with international pay phones and calling cards, assuming you have access to a wi-fi hotspot. (You will need a set of earphones with a mic; the standard iPhone earbuds work fine.)
Free; calls extra
You're inevitably going to take photographs on your trip. But why not make a few paintings, too? Brushes is your virtual canvas, and it's good enough that illustrations made with it have graced several New Yorker covers.
The incredibly popular iPhone game is now on the iPad. Take control of an airport control tower while you're waiting for your plane, and get an early start on the vacation vibe. Might be a little creepy to play on the plane itself.
Apple's iBooks e-book reader and iBookstore will open the doors to plenty of published travel content, ranging from travel guidebooks to foreign-language dictionaries to travelogues. Plus, you can use it to read novels or other books while you're travelling, so you don't have to lug those around.
Free; books extra
Apple's implementation of Google Maps is still the best in the world. And it's super helpful for travelling, with public transit directions in many cities. Tip: If you won't have Internet access where you're going, take screenshots of maps in advance. (Tap the 'power' and 'home' buttons at the same time.) Then you can look at them anytime.
We actually LIKE watching obscure foreign TV shows when we're travelling. But maybe you want to settle in with a movie or TV show on your iPad. Beyond Apple's iTunes video store, Netflix's iPad app could also make that happen.
Free; requires Netflix subscription
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