The Ultimate Guide to Travel Apps
Smartphone travel apps may be all the rage, but with so many to choose from, where do you even begin to look? This is your first—and last—stop in the hunt for the best travel apps on the market.
From booking flights to reserving a table to finding a clean bathroom, travel apps have the potential to make any vacation easier and more affordable—but with hundreds of thousands of options out there, it's hard to distinguish the essential downloads from the clutter. Not to worry. We've scoured the market and tested hundreds of travel apps to come up with the ultimate tool kit for the vacation-bound. Best of all, we're not stopping here. We'll be relentlessly evaluating the new arrivals across platforms (iPhone, iPad, Android, and BlackBerry) and regularly updating this list with our favorite travel apps—leaving you the time to, well, actually travel.
FIND A FLIGHT Kayak's website set the standard for streamlined searching, and its app delivers the same ease of use on the go. Simply enter your destination and travel dates, and the app spits back options sorted by price, time, or airline; a single click takes you to the corresponding booking site. Free. Download it: Android, BlackBerry, iPhone/iPad.
TRACK YOUR ITINERARY Forget paging through printouts of confirmation codes and terminal info. The TripIt travel app culls flight numbers, gate information, and even loyalty-program account numbers from e-mail receipts you forward. From these, it assembles a master trip itinerary you can access from anywhere. Free. Download it: Android, BlackBerry, iPhone/iPad.
MAKE THE MOST OF A LAYOVER Consider it Yelp for airports. GateGuru's app contains searchable directories for 98 U.S. airports (124 airports overall) and more than 25 international hubs. They take the guesswork out of finding an ATM, a decent cup of coffee, or a 10-minute massage station—wherever you happen to be delayed. Some locations even have user reviews, rankings, and photos. Free. Download it: iPhone/iPad.
CRAFT A CONTINGENCY PLAN For the frequent flier who has no time for snafus, FlightTrack Pro is an essential aid. In addition to storing and tracking your flights, FlightTrack Pro pulls vital info like gate changes and weather reports for 5,000 airports and 1,400 airlines. If your flight is canceled or delayed, it's easy to search for other connections while you're standing in line for the gate agent or even from 30,000 feet—you can access the app's route-maps feature offline when you're in the air. iPhone, iPad (FlightTrack Pro), $10; Android, Blackberry (FlightTrack), $5. Download it: Android, BlackBerry, iPhone/iPad.
KILL TIME ON THE FLIGHT The perfect nervous-passenger distraction, Flight Control HD for iPad gives folks something to focus on while surviving a long-haul flight: an air-traffic-control strategy game that lets you manage planes' flight patterns by dragging them along the touch screen. If only getting to your real-world destination were so easy. iPhone (Flight Control), $1; Android, BlackBerry (Flight Control), $3; iPad (Flight Control HD), $5. Download it: Android, BlackBerry, iPhone, iPad.