Best Travel Apps: Booking & Planning
If, twenty years ago, you’d have told the average tourist that soon their most valuable travel companion would be a talking telephone, they would most probably have dropped their atlas in laughter. Today, however, such a future is looking ever more likely; and it’s all down to the rise of the smart phone app, with hundreds, no make that thousands, available to cover every one of your travelling needs.
Of course, to download every single one of these, useful as they are, would be absurd, and, what’s more, would leave no room on your smart phone for Flappy Bird imitations. So we’ve narrowed the list down to fifteen – five for before you leave, five for the journey, and five for use on the trip itself. And don’t worry if you use iOS or Android – this is a non-discriminatory list, and all apps are available for free on both operating systems.
To begin, then, here are our top five travel apps for planning your trip:
World Travel Guide by Triposo
One of the best all-rounder apps on the list; a kind of IMDB for travellers. This app works by collecting information from a variety of sources on almost any destination you can think of. It lists museums, cultural excursions, tourist hotspots, as well as many other attractions, all of which come with a great deal of photographs and background information to show off with. There’s also a handy phrase dictionary for the language of your chosen destination. Furthermore, this information can be downloaded for use off-line, creating a great compact replacement for your cumbersome, outdated guide book.
Well we had to put it in, didn’t we? While Triposo may give you a good grounding of information for your chosen destination, though, it’s still good to hear what others think. And this is where TripAdvisor’s app is particularly useful. With thousands of reviews on pretty much every hotel, restaurant, or attraction you’d ever visit, the risk of accidentally booking a hotel next to a sewage works is minimised. Furthermore, all entries can be listed in order of popularity, so you’ll never be stuck for somewhere to eat or stay.
So you’ve just arrived at the airport in Buenos Aires, only to realise you don’t know a single word of Spanish. “Darn, if only I’d installed a free language tutorial app before booking,” you’ll no doubt be telling yourself. At least, that is, if you haven’t already made use of Duolingo’s free service. On the list of most generous apps, this one, with its tutorials in French, Portuguese, German, Italian, and Spanish, has to be near the top. Not only does it teach you the basics of these five languages, but also goes into great depth, with levels of increasing difficulty. With speaking, listening, reading and writing tests, you could practically learn the language through the app alone. And, if you’re a quitter, the app will provide gentle reminders to carry on practising. Considering the price, this is a fantastic app, and beats many paid-for tutorials.
Street View on Google Maps
Whilst everybody has heard of this function of Google Maps, it’s still frequently used for spying on one’s own house and very little else. Street View, however, is a perfect tool for examining the area you are to visit. The ability to use this app to ‘take a stroll’ through the high street of your chosen destination is a great way of getting a feel for the place, and can make all the difference between travelling to a cultural paradise or somewhere with more Pound shops than Picassos.
TripIt Travel Organizer
So once you’ve got everything planned – flights and hotel booked, excursions sorted – it would be useful to have somewhere to put all this information and to create an itinerary. And this is where TripIt is a particular help. All you need to do is forward your booking information to the app, and it’ll create an itinerary with all the information you need, perfectly organised for the trip and saving you the need to constantly shuffle through a filing cabinet’s worth of details every step of the journey.
So, there are a few travel planning apps to help you through the planning and booking process pre-travel. For the next feature we’ll cover the journey itself. Stay up-to-date @averagejoesblog