With a stampede of travel apps on the market, it’s hard to wade through the tide of pretenders to find the one or two truly special ones that you’ll actually use on the road. Now the International Travel Writers Alliance has compiled a list of stand-out apps, based on suggestions from its travel journalists and tourism industry members. Steve Madgwick picks through them to find 10 simple, do-one-thing-really-well apps that stand out so much that even hardened travel writers rate them.
1. Passbook – scan instead of print out your tickets
Passbook stores bar-coded tickets in your phone/device so they can be scanned directly from your screen at the other end (at the airport). Instead of carrying handfuls of printouts through check-in, boarding passes can be added from apps and emails or scanned in via your camera. Best when you have no check-in luggage. Free.
2. Trail Wallet – budgeting on the go
For those who prefer to keep an eye on their holiday expenses (or for those who need to). A mini accountant in your phone, Trail Wallet monitors your daily ins and outs – although you have to take time to input the figures. Big plus: being able to change between currencies when you are wandering inter-country. Free.
3. CamCard – for the business-travel networker
Saves a pocketful of business cards at the end of the night by being able to read each one and then saving it into your contacts. Then you can sync all your saved cards across your various devices. CamCard’s a bit too ‘new skool’ for those looking to show off their fancy embossed cards. Free.
4. Endomondo – just like dropping bread crumbs
An activity tracker that traces your time and distance when you head out for a jog, but it also has a travel application too. When you’re meandering around a new city Endomondo stores your path, meaning if/when you get lost, you can view the map and retrace exactly where you want to return to. Free
5. HearPlanet (Lite) – listen to your path
If you prefer your travel information to flow through your headphones rather than having to read it then this one could be for you. HearPlanet has a limited amount of information (from Wikipedia and its own database) on around “300,000 locations” worldwide (although no Australian Traveller content yet so…).
6. Speedtest – the ‘wi-fi worth-it’ test
Before you commit to a long afternoon of wi-fi access at your hotel or a comely coffee shop, it’s best to see just how fast it will be. Speedtest discovers your download, upload and ping speeds in just a few seconds.
7. Sunscreen – slip, slop, app
For long days at the beach, when time blurs, this app reminds you when to re-apply your sunscreen. Sunscreen detects the UVI rating of wherever you’ve decided to lay your towel and counts down to your next application of lotion (once you’ve input your skin type and cream factor).
8. Pano – iPanorama
For taking panorama shots with your standard iPhone camera, using up to 16 photographs. Pano includes a semi-transparent guide and alignment, blending and color-matching algorithms to help with apparently seamless panoramas of your fave travel landscapes. ($2.49).
9. JetLag Genie – is this the cure?
A cure for jetlag? Maybe… If you are of the school of thought that believes gradually altering your sleeping habits before a trip can be beneficial to jetlag, then you might want to try this app. JetLag Genie needs your travel dates, destinations and your normal sleeping times and it will spit out personalised alarms clocks to gradually alter your sleep patterns, in theory lessening the lag’s impact. $3.79 (Have you used JetLag Genie? Let us know if it helped by leaving a comment below)
10. iStone – found in translation
Heading overseas to a place where the language barrier may see you at an utter disadvantage? iStone is a translator app for those with rudimentary foreign linguistic skills. It records and translates into 12 languages, including Japanese, Chinese and several European languages, with more than 300 holiday-friendly phrases.