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.

COLOR WITHOUT CRAYONS The ultimate airplane toy for antsy tots, Dora the Explorer Coloring Adventures is a virtual coloring and sticker book for kids ages two to six, with five scenes they can infinitely redesign. Here's to no more stray crayons under the seat! $5. Download it: iPad.

SCREAM FOR ICE CREAM First, give yourself some elbow room. Then fire up Scoops, a highly addictive game even a technophobe could master. Your only goal is to position a virtual ice cream cone under colorful scoops that fall from the sky, using the phone's motion-sensitive accelerometer to direct the cone with a tilt of the wrist. Free. Download it: iPhone/iPad.



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. Free. Download it: Android, iPhone/iPad.

MAKE RESERVATIONS Instead of calling 12 restaurants to find one that can seat your party of four, let OpenTable do the work. Search more than 15,000 restaurants in Canada, the U.K., Mexico, 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. Download it: Android, BlackBerry, iPhone/iPad.

SIP SMARTER With more than 1 million bottles of wine from Chile to Cali cataloged, the 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. Download it: Android, iPhone/iPad .

AVOID MENU MISTRANSLATIONS Foreign phrases can be unforgiving—and that's where On The Menu comes in. A database of more than 1,400 terms from all over the globe allows users to solve culinary conundrums with a quick Google-style search. Bagna cauda? That would be Italian for anchovy fondue. $2. Download it: iPhone/iPad.

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. Download it: Android, Blackberry, iPhone/iPad.

ASK THE EXPERTS Crowd-sourced restaurant reviews on Urbanspoon or Yelp can be telling, but you never really know who's behind them. The owner's mom? A foodie fussbudget? LocalEats relies on (relatively) objective parties-food bloggers, newspaper dining critics, alt-weekly columnists-to compile its top-100 lists in America's 50 largest cities. Locally owned spots are in, national chains are out, ensuring you'll find an authentic meal-without too much legwork. Android, iPhone/iPad, $1; BlackBerry, $3. Download it: Android, BlackBerry, iPhone/iPad.

Get Inspired with more from

Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.

Budget Travel Real Deals

  • From $3,084
  • From $1,078

See more deals »


Our newsletter delivers vacation inspiration straight to your inbox.

Check Prices