The Ultimate App Tool Kit
These 24 all-star apps take on essential travel tasks, from finding the best flights for your buck to locating the shortest lines at Walt Disney World.
SURVIVE WITHOUT A PLAN So the museum you planned to visit was closed, and now you've got a free afternoon on your hands. Goby has you covered: The app searches events and activities near you—live-music shows, family-friendly outings, and outdoorsy pursuits—and plots them on a map with details and photos. Free.
RUB ELBOWS WITH REGULARS It's no easy feat to cut through the restaurant-of-the-moment hype in an unfamiliar city, which is where the no-holds-barred user reviews on Yelp's app come in. Using your GPS-mapped location, the app reveals the highest-rated places near you, as determined by the people who know best. Search thousands of dining options in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., and Ireland by price, neighborhood, or the handy "what's open now." Free.
SNIFF OUT CRITICS' FAVORITES If you're more interested in getting a recommendation on the spot, download Urbanspoon. The app makes a game of finding a restaurant: Search options are displayed slot-machine style, with neighborhood, cuisine, and price as the categories. Refresh with a simple shake of the device, or click off for critics' reviews and some menus. Bonus points for the spanking-new iPad format. Free.
MAKE DINNER RESERVATIONS Instead of calling 12 restaurants to find one that can seat your party of four, let OpenTable do the work. Search more than 13,000 restaurants in Canada, the U.K., and the U.S. by the number of diners and your desired reservation time, and then sort by cuisine, price range and neighborhood. And in about five taps—voilá!—you've got a reservation. Free.
SIP SMARTER With more than 750,000 bottles of wine from Chile to Cali cataloged, the Cor.kz app is like a pocket sommelier. Search by region or varietal, peruse an exhaustive glossary, or scan a bottle's bar code with your smartphone to call up expert ratings and tasting notes. $4.
GET THE SHORTEST LINES AT DISNEY The Undercover Tourist app is the savvy best friend of any Walt Disney World visitor, delivering accurate wait times for every ride in the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney's Hollywood Studios, and Disney's Animal Kingdom. At day's end, a built-in GPS helps you navigate back to your car. $4.
MAKE SENSE OF YOUR MONEY For up-to-the minute currency conversions, try ACTCurrency. It lists more than 190 exchange rates, updated with every tap of the refresh button. Tip: Turn off the auto-update feature while you're abroad to avoid sky-high roaming charges. $1.
SPEAK FOR YOURSELF Overcome awkward lost-in-translation moments with World Nomads. The 25-language translator app covers keywords such as please and thank you, numbers up to 10, and a few phrases useful for other travel conundrums (our favorite: "Those drugs aren't mine!") in easy-to-scan categories like Introductions and Travel Health. Most phrases have audio clips. Free.
FIND A PLACE TO "GO" Like it or not, Starbucks outposts have unofficially replaced service stations as America's favorite rest stops. Fortunately for travelers, both are mapped on the SitOrSquat app. More than 92,000 restrooms are represented (concentrated in larger cities in the U.S. and Europe), with details like hours, changing-table availability, and, of course, a "sit" or "squat" recommendation. Free.
SEND A PERSONALIZED POSTCARD Nothing says "wish you were here" like a good old-fashioned postcard—with your face smack in the center. For about $1 per note, HazelMail turns your photo into an actual paper card complete with a custom message and then stamps it and sends it off within about two business days, saving you the trouble of hunting down a local post office. Free.
DOCUMENT YOUR ADVENTURES It may have been invented for students, but Facebook's ubiquitous app has become an invaluable tool for all kinds of folks. Travelers can share crazy vacation moments on the spot, either in the live feed of status updates or in a mobile gallery where they can instantly dump cell phone pictures. Free.
FAKE PERFECT PHOTOS Fancy effects can turn even the most amateur photos into works of art. Use Photogene for iPad to add background colors, crop out mistakes, or just remove red-eye from that otherwise-flawless family portrait in front of the Eiffel Tower. $4, iPhone version $2.