21 essential apps that will change the way you travel

Gone are the days of over-burdened tourists drowning under maps and translation books with cameras strapped around them. These days all you need to get the most out of your travels is your mobile phone.

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If you’re travelling in 2015, these travel apps are must-haves in your arsenal.

1. TripIT
Price: Free
Device: iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Windows
Purpose: Itinerary

TripIT

Make the pain of the last-minute rush to find your flight departure time or hotel booking confirmation a thing of the past with this app. You can forward it your flight, hotel or restaurant emails and it will log an itinerary for you that can be accessed at any time (even offline).

2. Travel Safe
Price: £1
Device: iOS, Android
Purpose: Emergency assistance

travelsafe

Pre-program your emergency contacts and this app will ensure you can make emergency calls and texts anywhere in the world. It auto-detects your location and can send GPS co-ordinates with any texts you send to emergency contacts.

3. Day One
Price: £3
Device: iOS
Purpose: Journaling

DayOne

This journaling app makes keeping records of your trip a breeze. You can add photos, update straight from the menu bar if you’re in a hurry and it will even remind you to post. It automatically adds your location and current weather at the time of the post and all entries can be backed up to iCloud and DropBox.

4. Google Translate
Price: Free
Device: iOS, Android
Purpose: Translation

GoogleTanslate

Whether you’re struggling to read a street sign or can’t work out what someone is saying, Google Translate’s mobile app can help you in over 30 languages. It can read non-Latin scripts (like Pinyin) using your phone’s camera and includes a voice input function to translate spoken words.

5. TripAdvisor
Price: Free
Device: iOS, Android,
Purpose: Trip planning

TripAdvisor

Plan the perfect trip through user reviews about your destination. Explore restaurants, hotels and flights sorted by your personal preferences and add your own reviews or photos.

6. Uber
Price: Free
Device: iOS, Android, Windows
Purpose: Transport

uber

Active in 54 countries, Uber is a popular transport option in many places that don’t have public systems in place. Book a ride using the app and pay with your credit card. You don’t even have to know where you are: Uber can use your phone’s GPS to find you and send a driver to get you. You can enter your destination for a fare estimate before booking to avoid any nasty surprises.

7. Waze
Price: Free
Device: iOS, Android, Windows
Purpose: Navigation

waze

Avoid missing your flight because of traffic or getting lost due to out-of-date maps. Waze is a community-based traffic and navigation app that lets drivers in an area share real-time traffic and road info.

8. Airbnb
Price: Free
Device: iOS, Android
Purpose: Accommodation

AirBnB

Sometimes the best way to experience a place is through the eyes of a local. Steer clear of the typical tourist scene and book a stay with a host in over 120 countries. Airbnb offers an immense variety of accommodation, ranging from caravan homes in Portland to luxury villas in Barcelona.

9. Foodspotting
Price: Free
Device: iOS, Android, Windows, BlackBerry
Purpose: Food

Foodspotting

Find the exact food you’re craving or explore a map of nearby locations. You can also browse through pictures taken by other diners before you order to prevent unpleasant surprises.

10. Hipmunk
Price: Free
Device: iOS, Android
Purpose: Travel planning

Hipmunk

This app focuses on being quick and simple. Type in where you want to go and immediately see all the various flight or hotel options for that location visually summarized.

11. Wi-Fi Finder
Price: Free
Device: iOS, Android
Purpose: Travel planning

wifi finder

Avoid expensive mobile data roaming charges. This helps you find a free or paid Wi-Fi networks nearby for you to use.

12. Packing Pro
Price: £2
Device: iOS
Purpose: packing assistance

packaging pro

Perfect for scatter-brained travelers, this app will help you remember everything you need to pack with customizable lists, suggestions and alerts.

13. Entrain
Price: Free
Device: iOS, Android
Purpose: Fighting jet lag

entrain

Use this app to quickly adjust to new time zones and schedules. It uses research from the University of Michigan to advise you on when to sleep and how much light you should be exposed to.

14. Evernote
Price: Free
Device: iOS, Android, Windows, Web, Mac
Purpose: Document storage

evernote

Store all your digital documents in one place, accessible everywhere. It can store notes of every type, from lengthy research to hand-written scrawls, and can search them all.

15. GateGuru
Price: Free
Device: iOS, Android, Windows
Purpose: Travel assistant

Gate guru

GateGuru aims to take the stress out of travel by keeping track of the latest flight information and keeping a real-time eye on any delays or schedule adjustments. Unfortunately it’s only available in a few countries at the moment, but it provides a wealth of information on the airports where it is active, including tips from fellow travelers.

16. Spyglass
Price: £3
Device: iOS
Purpose: Outdoors adventure

spyglass

Spyglass is a GPS toolkit for off-road exploration. It has a variety of compasses and sensor systems and uses an augmented reality display to give real-time GPS information on distances, sizes and angles.

17. Tipulator
Price: Free
Device: iOS
Purpose: Tip calculator

tipulator

Make sure you don’t offend the locals and find out how much to tip in a variety of countries.

18. AroundMe
Price: Free
Device: iOS, Android, Windows
Purpose: Local search

aroundme

If you’re in an unfamiliar place it’s difficult to know where to find what you need: be it good food, an ATM or even a petrol station. This app will use your phone’s GPS and show you a variety of nearby locations and then give directions through augmented reality features to find your way there.

19. Find my medicine
Price: Free
Device: iOS
Purpose: Medication search

findmymedicine

If you’re on prescriptive medication, or find yourself unexpectedly sick in a foreign country, this app will help translate the medicine names into your local version.

20. WunderWalk
Price: Free
Device: iOS, Android
Purpose: Trip planning

wunderwalk

The tagline says it all: create your ultimate day out. This free app lets you add your interests and then formulates a route through the city you’re in, highlighting local destinations that might appeal to you based on your preferences.

And finally…

21. Ringcredible
Price: Free
Device: iOS, Android
Purpose: Cheap international phone calls

ringcredible

As much as you may love travelling, sometimes you need to connect with someone back home. This app lets you phone home using Wi-Fi and pay much less than calling using a mobile network or Skype. Contacts from your phone are automatically added and they don’t need to install the app – your call will come through like it usually does, even displaying your usual number.

Do you agree with our list? Let us know in the comments if we’ve left out any of your favourite apps.

If you enjoy travel, come join us at the TNT Travel Show in March.

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  • Alex

    I have used iArrow for two years now and find it very helpful and very effective app. It works offline and helps to save my waypoints to navigate precisely to them later, displays detailed GPS info and does a lot lot more. Very simple and clean interface but doing a lot of things. https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/iarrow/id626748307?mt=8