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Smartphone apps on your travels

by Nikkita Dixon

Before Smartphones, travellers spent their time with their noses in translation books, frantically searching for an online café to check their flight details or writing about their experiences in a steadily disintegrating journal.

As with most other aspects of life, Smartphones have stepped in to make our lives just that little bit easier. When you’re already lugging around a heavy backpack, it helps to have all the answers in one little device.

Here’s the lowdown on some of the best Smartphone apps to take with you on your travels.

FlightTrack

If you’re one of those people who likes to watch the minutes tick by as you get closer to your destination, get your hands on FlightTrack. It’ll show you live and zoomable maps of your flight in progress, how the weather is going and what your baggage is up to. You’ll be the first to know when your flight is delayed or canceled and the app will even go one step further and help you book an alternative flight. If paperwork is not your friend, save your itinerary into FlightTrack and use it to send your travel details to friends and family.

XE Currency

Simple and effective, XE Currency can convert every world currency while on the go. You’ll use it mostly to calculate your dollars to pounds, yen or any other currency you might need. It also keeps a history of currency charts and keeps track of the rates on precious metals – not that I’ve ever used it for that.

Translator

Those travelling through countries where English isn’t the dominant language will find Translator very helpful. How many times have you had to thumb through your translation book to find the right sentence? All this app requires you to do is pick which language you’re translating to and type in what you’d like to say. It’s also pretty entertaining when you’re whiling away the hours on a long flight.

UrbanSpoon

Just like its online counterpart, UrbanSpoon gives you the lowdown on restaurants from around the world. You can locate fine dining according to suburb, types of food served, how pricey the restaurant is and whether it does anything special like happy hour or live music. To make sure you’re well informed, UrbanSpoon also delivers all the necessary details including opening hours, menus, photos of the interior and customer reviews.

Off Exploring

This website is a travel bloggers dream and now it is available on your iPhone. The free online blogging app allows you to log your experiences as they’re happening – even if you don’t have an Internet connection. Take your friends and family on your trip with you by sharing what you’re up to and photos you’ve taken. You can also map out your travels by geotagging your location as you complete your blog for the day. If that wasn’t enough, you can even book yourself some budget accomodation with this app – a bit random, but helpful nonetheless.

OffMaps 2

Navigating a foreign country can be tricky at the best of times. It’s even harder when you can’t rely on an Internet connection. This is where OffMaps 2 shines. So long as you download all the maps you might need on your travels while you’ve still got an Internet connection, you’ll stay well informed. As you travel, the map will locate points of interest and give you detailed information. Better yet, you’ll get all of this important information without the data roaming charges.

With a collection of the handiest travel iPhone apps in hand, you’re set to make sure things are planned to a tee. Although, there’s something to be said for a travel adventure with a little spontaneity. Don’t let yourself ruin the experience by spending the whole trip with your nose in your Smartphone. Go on, live a little. And when you need help, these apps will set you back on track.

7 comments

  1. Graham says:

    I eagerly await the Android version.

  2. Aaron says:

    I have found massive use from TripIt (www.tripit.com and assorted smartphone apps) which basically formats and organises your trip purely from setting up a free account and forwarding your itinerary to them. If you have the app installed on your iPhone, iPad, Android, or WP7, it’s automagically sent through to it in an itemised manner, complete with all the details that were in the itinerary. It’s a wonderful demonstration of technology = magic and I would have been lost without it on my last few trips. Worth checking out!

  3. Mez says:

    Links would be handy.

  4. JP says:

    Nice list. I have always been a big fan of “Measures” http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/measures-unit-currency-converter/id287918318?mt=8 instead of XE. It offeres heaps more units converstion as well. So when shopping you can compare international shoe sizes and so on. Also handy in the USA for metric conversions.

    One question though how well does flight track work in airplane mode. Does it work while you are on the plane?

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