Since phones got smart, we're travelling lighter with everything we need just a download away. Wherever you're heading and whatever kind of traveller you are, there's a plethora of apps to engage you. So unpack the maps and books and take a look at our selection of the best out there.
A local search application that really works, Poyntis great when you're wandering without a set itinerary and want to quickly find a restaurant, retailer or services nearby. For those who know what they want, specific searching is also an option. And if you're roadtripping the US, you can always find the next gas station. This app works best in the States, but has good coverage for the UK and Europe as well as Australia.
How much is this cocktail really costing me? XE Currencyis a beautifully simple app that gives live, up-to-the-minute conversions for over 180 currencies, so you know what you’re spending wherever you are. Download and keep those travel budget worries at bay forever.
myLanguage is an incredibly nifty little translation app. No more flapping wildly, reaching for phrasebooks or even downloading multiple tools for different adventures. The selection of languages here is phenomenal and evencaters to regional variations, ensuring your Mexican Spanish isn’t met with blank stares. 20 of the inbuilt languages (including French, Spanish, Hindi and Norwegian!) have audio translations too. So if you're reallyshy, you can let the phone do the talking.
The FREE app and myLanguage Pro are available for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. myLanguage Phrasebooks – the only multilingual single app phrasebook - comes with 11 preloaded languages you can use offline and is available for all the above and Android phones.
If you travel a lot or are on a round-the-world trip, Steam Heavy Industries' incredible Offline Wikitravel app could become your best friend. From the same people who brought us Encyclopedia (all of Wikipedia downloaded to your phone), this will store handy destination info for pretty much everywhere in the world. Instant guidebook-style essentials at your fingertips, without the hefty roaming charges.
The iPhone version is £4.99 ($7.99 in the US). The Wikitravel content is also available iTravelFree is available for both iPhone and Android. It won't store the whole database, but is great for downloading what you need for where you're going.
When you're hungry in a new city, just shake it up and put some fun into finding where to eat. The urbanspoonapp, with its slot machine interface is superbly straightforward way of choosing the best restaurant. This easy to use, early iPhone classic is now available for other smart phone models. Restaurant coverage is best in the US, but Australia and the UK are catching up.
Strictly speaking not a travel app as such, iFilesis perfect for the hyper-organised traveller who usually roams with a rucksack full of documents in plastic wallets. Copy in those travel documents, tickets, passport info and whatever else you need before jetting off and have easy offline access when you need them.
£1.79 ($2.99 US) for iPhone, iPod touch or iPad.
When you really need that info that's not on your phone, or just have to show off that photo to your Facebook friends, JiWire's Wi-Fi Finderwill seek out the hotspots. Duck the rip-off data charges by downloading the full database - and have 340,000 (free and paid) locations in over 140 countries - before you go.
FREE for iPhone, iPod touch, iPad compatible.
We're yet to meet anyone who really loves packing and we can all remember forgetting to pack something at some point. Uncomplicated but very versatile, Packing Prois a much appreciated helping hand and one of the most reliable list-type apps around. Depending on how organised you already are you can either start from scratch or lean on expert advice, with fully customisable sample lists and templates, tailored to different types of trip. Store and build on what you have and never leave anything behind again.
£1.79 for iPhone.
If you find airport experiences veer between aimless wandering and blind panic, GateGuruis definitely for you. With maps and reviews, you can now know instantly where the best food, drink and shopping is and, crucially whether what you want is pre- or post-security. The app currently covers all of the USA and Canada with a handful of UK/Europe airports. Expansion could see this become the traveller’s tool par excellence.
FREE for iPhone.
If style and comfort are your top priorities, StayHIPmay be your ideal app. Are luxury, chic and contemporary your keywords? Use any combination to search StayHIP's database of (only) cool accommodation around the globe. Find exact locations, compare and even book inside the app. And you’re ready to go…
A handful of our own helpful Virgin Atlantic apps are also now available for iPhone. Check out Flight Tracker, Jet Lag Fighter and Flying Without Fear - more info on the acclaimed programme in our post here.
Are there any awesome apps you just can't travel without? We're always on the lookout for tips, so let us know in the comments below.
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About the author: andrewAndrew Bowman
Andrew is an occasional contributor to the Virgin Atlantic blog. He lived in the Japanese countryside for two years until he could no longer resist the pull of London's galleries, pubs and clubs. He likes to pretend he can speak Japanese and also sometimes writes about music.