As avid travelers, we want to share the best travel apps we have found useful before and during our journeys worldwide.
A tour around Wrigleyville in Chicago, led by a diehard Cubs fan. Photo Credit: Detour
Walking tours anytime by local experts
, is a cool new app for people who hate conventional walking tours (meeting with large groups at an appointed time, having to follow along at the tour guide’s pace, etc.). Detour lets you walk around a city’s most fascinating neighborhoods guided by notable people from those communities, or with renowned experts of the community, available anytime you want. The GPS guidance pinpoints your location so it’s as if the person is walking right next to you, pointing out features and telling stories related to your surroundings, and moving at your pace. And the unique synching feature allows you to take the tour with a partner (great for dates) or small group, all listening at the same time. We like it because, when you take a Detour of a city, you get a local’s perspective of the neighborhoods that define the city, but are often overlooked by most tourists.
For example, among the new tours in LA, New York and Chicago, are a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, guided by iconic filmmaker Ken Burns (who’s first film was on the Brooklyn Bridge), or a tour of LA’s Venice Beach area led by pro skateboarder Eric Tuma Britton.
Trip Planning Apps
app (notice the double ll in the word "traveler") is a great tool for you to expand the network of people you know in the world and connect instantly with nearby travelers. Browse through numerous profiles and instantly message the people you want to meet. Results can be filtered by age, gender and location. Available on GooglePlay
or at the App Store.
Safety First. A customized, location-sensitive personal security app.
GeoSure is powered by a highly sophisticated analytical engine that combines information from hundreds of renowned and trusted sources like the CDC, WHO, United Nations, State Department, Interpol and local authorities. We’ve got you covered on everything from political threats and cyber concerns, to health risks and environmental hazards.
Last minute Hotels and Overnight Deals
Overnight, the mobile-forward travel app connecting last-minute travelers with local hosts for same-day stays, Check out Hotels.com and Hotel Tonight where you make your reservations after noon for the same day big discounts. Don't forget that your AAA membership will net you a discount too.
To Keep You Organized
Tired of sifting through your email inbox for flight information? TripIt connects to your email accounts to compile your travel information automatically. It will even grab confirmation numbers for hotels, rental cars and restaurant bookings.
Find The Cheapest Gas
Before you go check out: GasBuddy - Find Cheap Ga
Research Where to Stay, What To Do.
Check out TripAdvisor or for ideas of where to stay, eat, and what to see what other travelers rate at the top ten things to see or do. Disregard the over-the-top and complainer-bottom reviews and read the middle ones.
For Last Minute Hotel Deals check out Hotels.com and Hotel Tonight where you make your reservations after noon for the same day big discounts. Don't forget that your AAA membership will net you a discount too. Overnight, the mobile-forward travel app connecting last-minute travelers with local hosts for same-day stays,
Traveling Across Different Time Zones?
Try Sleep Cycle. I always struggle with jet lag when I travel overseas; to Asia or Europe. No one wants to wake up groggy when they are traveling. A change in time zone, sleeping in an unfamiliar environment or the exhaustion of a long day of travel can disrupt your sleep cycle and leave you feeling lethargic. The Sleep Cycle alarm clock uses the accelerometer in your smart phone to monitor your movement and determine which sleep phase you are in. Using a 30 minute alarm window that ends at your set alarm time, the app will wake you up when you are in your lightest sleep phase. It helps you wake up in a natural way so you are ready to take on your day.
XE Currency is a very popular app because it allows for very quick currency conversions and is capable of performing multiple conversions at the same time. The currency rates refresh every 60 seconds meaning that you have the most up to date rate available at your fingertips. You can also program the app so that it automatically tracks the performance of a number of different currencies over time, great for expats with investments in a variety of locations.
An oldie but a goodie. Gate Guru offers information on services, retailers and restaurants in hundreds of airports, including reviews from fellow users and frequent travelers. The app can also be used to check in, check your flight status and gate changes.
TripAdvisor Offline City Guides This app
is great for finding good suggestions for restaurants, shops and tourist attractions. You can easily download offline maps for cities as well.
Uber or Lyft
Upgrade yourself from a taxi to a black car service without the costly rates using Uber or Lyft. each service uses your phone’s GPS to find the driver nearest you—even if you don’t know the address. You can track the driver as they come to pick you up and will receive a text when they arrive. Since the app stores your payment information, you don’t have to worry about carrying cash, and they will even email you a receipt. No more grungy cabs!
This app helps you to sort through hotel and flight searches. It really excels in its ability to break down searches and display them in an easy-to-read, color-coded chart. View flights by number of stops, duration, or service, and hotels by categories such as business, luxury, or romantic. By including non-traditional accommodations like Airbnb and HomeAway, Hipmunk sets itself apart from other flight and hotel aggregation apps.
To Help You Pack
The perfect app for list lovers. Packing Pro helps you remember what to pack for your trip and comes in handy as evidence of what you’ve packed in case your luggage gets lost. The app can also send you reminders for things like watering the plants before you leave. In addition to helping create multiple packing lists, it also helps you create "to do" lists. Check out my packing tips too.
Find local restaurants reviewed by locals. Our favorite food apps are:
Lost? To Find Your Way.
MB: Maps by Google to get directions, distances, time for travel and even traffic conditions.
TW: Google Maps also has a download offline maps function, but it only works for driving directions. To access this function, open Google Maps and search the city you need to know where to drive, then tap the bar at the bottom of the screen with the name of the place you’ve just searched for and hit the button that says “download.” Google will show you a map of the area and ask if you want to download it. Just hit the download button again and start driving.
Around Me to find gas stations, restaurants ATM machines hospitals, hotels and more.
To Know What the Weather Will Be
Weatherbug is a great app to save, and track, the weather conditions in up to 20 locations throughout the world and offers live webcam views of the weather in action.
Another app you probably have on your phone is The Weather Channel app. It’s labeled “Weather” and isn’t as fancy as WeatherBug. No live cams, but if you’re in a spot where you can’t download apps, check to see if you have this one already.
To Help Get You Out of a Tight Spot
Emergenseeapp transforms your smartphone into a free personal security system (aka personal bodyguard). With just a click of a button, you can transmit video, audio and GPS to your selected friends and family so that they can hear, see and track what’s going on. They can alert authority if you can’t. http://www.emergenseeapp.com/
MB: Call A Taxi: This app finds the closest taxi companies in your area. Let's say you are stuck in the middle of a city that you are not familiar with and can't find a taxi, this app will connect you to the closest taxi station.
To Stay Informed
PressReader: With PressReader, you browse and read full digital replicas of over 2,200 newspapers and magazines from 97 countries just like you would in print regardless of where your travels take you. You can download, disconnect and read the world's most popular full-content newspapers on your favorite Android operated device, BlackBerry, iPad, iPhone or Smartphone. pressreader.com/
To Stay Fit And Healthy:
Calorie Counter Pro by MyNetDiary: It's always so difficult to eat healthy while traveling and to stay in shape. This app is so far the best one on the market. It tracks everything you eat, how many calories you lose exercising, and gives you advice to reach your fitness goals. It also syncs with the website www.mynetdiary.com. If you are trying to shed a few pounds or just stay motivated, it is a must have!
MindBody: This app lets you find a gym class near you. Many of us miss our usual yoga, spinning, or Zumba classes while traveling. Mindbody is an app that finds the closest classes based on your location. Unfortunately, not every fitness center or gym is listed, but it's a start.
Gym Finder: This app will help you find a gym or fitness center near you! If your hotel gym is too small you can see which fitness centers are near your hotel.
To Travel Like A Local
All Subway: This app contains subway maps from hundred of cities around the world!
iMetro: is a handy app that provides metro/underground transport maps for 28 cities throughout the world. Each map is scalable and you can manipulate the screen to zoom in and find your way.
Google Translate: This app will not just translate your sentences, but it also speak them so you know how to pronounce the word as well. One word of caution: some translations are not perfectly accurate — particularly long sentences — but this is one of the best apps in its genre available.
iMetro and All Subway will show you maps, but make sure you know your stops and transfers before you start or you’ll have to refer back to the I’m Lost! section. Google Translate works well, but not if the language you’re using has non-Romanic characters such as Japanese or Chinese.
Just For Women
Period Tracker: This app reminds you when you will get your period, the moods you may be feeling, and when you are the most fertile. It will also help you not to forget to pack tampons for your next business trip as finding them in other countries can prove difficult.
The Pill: This app reminds you when to take your birth control pill. It's really convenient, especially when you travel in a different time zone.
This is an app you should have regardless of whether you’re traveling or not. Most of my friends have this app. Download one of these now to help avoid an unwanted pregnancy.
To Stay in Touch with Friends and Family with Free Phone Calls
What's App, a cross-platform mobile messaging app for iPHone, BalckBerry, Android, Windows Phone and Nokia. Sent text, video, images, audio for free.
Viber allows iPhone users to make free phone calls to fellow iPhone users no matter where in the world they are. Providing you and the call recipient both have iPhones, then international calls using Viber or Wi-Fi are completely free of charge.
To Convert Measurements
Can’t quite get used to the measurement systems in place abroad? HiConverter is a very handy app that quickly converts measurements from one system to another. Temperature, shoe sizes, distance, currency; you name it, it can convert it. The app also has the added advantage of being integrated with Tiptulator, an app that allows you to calculate the tip on a restaurant or bar bill.
For Audio Walking Tours, Places of Interest Nearby
Tourcaster Walking Tours
For travelers who are interested in exploring on foot without being armed with an attention-grabbing tourist book, the Tourcaster audio walking tours app offers walking tours in popular destinations throughout the world. Load your virtual map and follow the onscreen instructions to explore the city and learn more of its history. Each tour is categorized according to difficulty, length and distance so you can fit your tours in around your schedule and explore at your own pace.
Triposo: Do you still pack a bulky guidebook? The Triposo App offers you a way to find places of interest nearby. The app automatically takes in to account the time of day, the weather, your location, and the opening hours of nearby places, and then suggest a plan for you. For example, if open the app at 10:00 a.m. on a rainy day, it may suggest a nearby museums that are open as well as cozy cafes. Find it on Apple, Android; Free.
Category: Best Travel Apps, Travel, Packing Pointers, Featured
Marybeth Bond, National Geographic author, writer. Twelve books, explored overed 100 countries on 7 continents. Featured guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show and founder of www.GutsyTraveler.com She has been featured over 1,000 times on TV, radio and print. She is a Contributor to National Geographic, Yahoo Travel, Travelgirl Magazine, CNN, CNN Airport Network.
Speaker, spokesperson, author, travel expert, Marybeth, the Gutsy Traveler walks the talk. She's an adventurer; biked 3,200 miles, two months across the USA, traveler to over 100 countries. Media travel expert for CBS News, CNN, ABC, NBC, NPR and National Geographic.