Friday 23 Nov, 2012

The 7 Best Travel Apps (You Need These!)

There is no shortage of extremely useful phone apps for no matter what you’re doing. There is literally an app for everything, including anything travel-related you can think of. Having trouble speaking the language? Download a translator. Need help using public transit? There are apps to get you anywhere you need to go very efficiently. Here is a list of 7 great travel apps that will make your trip a breeze. 


Download HearPlanet and you’ll feel like you have a professional tour guide with you at all times. Learn about landmarks, cultural spots, historic sites, famous buildings, nature areas, sports venues, recreation areas and more in over 300,000 locations around the world. This app turns your smartphone into an audio tour guide.

HearPlanet does require Wi-Fi, so be careful when and where you use it or you could end up with pretty high roaming charges when you get home. The nice thing about this app is that you can save content and download it for offline use if you don’t have access to an internet connection. Your saved content will even work in airplane mode, so you can learn about your destination on the way there. 

Packing Pro

For those of you that like to be organized and make a packing list before you take a trip, this app is for you. Packing Pro lets you create unlimited, customizable packing lists so you won’t forget anything essential. If you need a little inspiration, the app includes recommended lists full of suggestions for what to pack based on the type of trip you are taking. You can save lists from previous trips or use the sample list templates for future travel. You’ll be able to check off the items as you pack them and even edit details like how many of each item you should bring, the weight, or how important the item is. If your friends and family aren’t as organized as you, you can email them your packing list and help them out. 

Translator with Speech

A translator is probably one of the most useful apps you can download if you’re travelling to a place where you aren’t fluent in the native language. The Translator with Speech app does more than most pocket translators – it will actually read out your phrase in almost 40 different languages. You can easily type in an English phrase to be translated, or you can use the optional speech-to-text function. Simply record your text in English and convert it into the language of your choice. It remembers your earlier translations and can play them back at any time without an internet connection. 

Google Translate is another great (and free!) app that translates between 64 languages. It too can deliver audio translations in 24 languages, or you can use speech-to-text in 17 languages. You can save your favourite translations and your history for easy access. Both of these functions are available offline. Google Translate may not always get the translation exactly right, but it’s pretty comprehensive and very easy to use. 

OffMaps 2

Relying on your smartphone’s map app can lead to some expensive roaming charges. OffMaps 2 lets you download and save maps on your device to be used for offline browsing. You can also access searchable maps and any bookmarks you have saved, even without an internet connection. Famous landmarks, buildings and sites come with Wikipedia images and short write-ups posted directly on the map. You can also find restaurant menus and recommendations. It can get pricey if you want unlimited maps ($5.99) but you get two maps free if you want to try it out. 


If you’re travelling to London, you should definitely download TubeExits. Just type in where you’re headed and this app will find the best place to board the train so that your exit is as efficient as possible. If you’re in a rush or if you’re travelling at peak times, this can be really useful. TubeExits tells you which carriage to board so that you always arrive adjacent to the platform exit you need.

TubeExits also gives you the quickest route to your destination (and the shortest transfer). This information is available for all Tube, DLR and London Overground stations. Some other handy features include a journey option calculator that shows you alternative routes and full access to the London Tube map (even offline). Your favourite and recent journeys are always saved, along with your recent entries and directions for a reverse trip. 


If you don’t have an e-Reader or a tablet, you can easily download Amazon’s Kindle app and still have access to the more than 900,000 books in their store. Download books, newspapers, magazines and PDFs before you leave for your trip and you won’t have to worry about using an internet connection abroad. The app does everything the actual e-Reader does, like let you adjust font size, page colour and page orientation. You can even highlight words, bookmark them and look up definitions. This minimizes the amount of gadgets you need to pack; your phone can do it all. 


Instead of only posting your photos to social media or emailing them to friends and family, send them a postcard. Postagrams turns the photos you take on your smartphone into real postcards. The app itself is free, but each postcard costs $1.99 (or $0.99 if it’s an address in the U.S.) The postcards are printed on thick, glossy photo paper and delivery only takes 2-5 business days for North American and European destinations. 

Each postagram is personalized by adding a profile photo of the sender that kind of looks like a stamp. You can include a 180 character message, but this is optional. The pictures can come from your phone’s photo album, or your Instagram or Facebook account. You can also take a photo using the app itself. When someone receives a postagram, they can pop the photo out of the postcard and keep it as a 3×3 inch print. 



Flickr photo (iPhone) via Yutaka Tsutano

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