Photo: Xhanatos via Flickr
Whether you want airline tickets, read a hotel review, find a Wi-Fi hotspot or translate a storefront sign in a foreign country, there are thousands of travel apps that you should pack for your trip.Or download in your favourite mobile device, that is.
The following are 10 favourites and you may have countless others to add to this list, depending on your own tastes and travelling habits. Unless detailed, these apps are available for most prime-time mobile devices and operating systems.
Hotel and Car Negotiator App: Priceline’s iPhone app enables you to select the neighbourhood and star level you seek and bid for a hotel room, naming your own price. Airport rental cars, including exclusive iPhone-app-only discounts, are in the mix, as well. Priceline’s Android app doesn’t yet offer cars, but will over the long haul.
Hotel Tonight: This newbie iPhone app streamlines the steps necessary to search and book a hotel room down to a minimum. The app assumes the mobile phone owner is making the booking and because you can only book a room for that night — and for one night only – this app is a quickie (meaning you can book a room fast). The downside for now is that the app currently features hotel rooms in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York City only.
World Lens: This iPhone and iPod touch app from Quest Visual makes linguistic sense. You can point your built-in camera at a sign in Spanish, and the app will instantly translate it into English. English to Spanish works, too. It makes you feel real smart, too.
Yelp: If you want to get the local take on restaurants, bars, places to shop, or things to do in a city, the Yelp app has tons of reviews. You can narrow the search by restaurant type, the distance from your location and price etc. There are plenty of maps and there even is augmented reality for some businesses, where you can point your phone at a business and view lots of information about it. You can add tips on your favourite dishes, too, for the heretofore misguided.
OntheFly: This app comes from ITA Software, the airfare gurus which Google is trying to buy for a cool $700 million. The app facilitates a comprehensive look at flight choices, including alternate cities and airports, where the fare may be cheaper. OntheFly works with the iPhone, iPod touch and on Android phones. A Blackberry app is on the agenda in 2011.
TripAdvisor: If you are looking for travellers’ opinions about hotels, attractions and restaurants – or you want to chime in with your own – you’ve come to the right app. Despite all the controversy about fake reviews, TripAdvisor is still pretty reliable as it takes into account the wisdom of the masses. The app also provides driving and walking directions, and advice on how to get from point A to point B on public transportation. The app is available for iPhone, Android and Nokia phones, and not for the Blackberry at this juncture.
Kayak: Not for boaters necessarily, but the app from the travel metasearch company enables users to search and book flights, hotels and cars; track flights; create trip itineraries and even view those annoying baggage fees. And, if you need to call your carrier, the phone numbers are handy to do that, too.
TripIt: If you booked your flight, hotel, car or restaurant reservation from disparate sources, the TripIt app enables you to keep it all organised in one itinerary with all of the information at hand. You can also share your plans with business colleagues, family and friends to make your travels more social.
OpenTable: Hungry? The OpenTable app enables you to find nearby restaurants, search for dining spots by name and view whether they have any tables available. And, oh yeah, you can reserve a seating and earn dining points, too.
Google Maps: With the My Location feature, the maps know where you are so there’s no need to mess around entering your whereabouts. Scan the satellite views of your location, search for local businesses and attractions, and click to call to get someone from that business on the phone. And, driving directions and alternate routes in the event of traffic tie-ups usually get you from here to there. Turn by turn navigation in the Android app keeps you on track.