Top 10 Mobile Apps for Travelers

by , SmarterTravel Staff
Man with PDA (Photo: iStockphoto/Pali Rao)
Editor's Note: This story was originally published on January 25, 2010. To see the most recent SmarterTravel articles on related topics, please click on any of the following links: airfare, Sarah Pascarella, technology and gadget.

Have an iPhone, a Blackberry, or another type of smartphone? It's no secret that your travels can be made easier by downloading one of the many useful mobile applications available. We've sifted through the thousands out there and culled out some particularly useful apps for travelers. Whether you're taking to the skies or hitting the road, check out these tools to create an organized, prepared, and overall smoother trip.

Track Your Flights in Real-Time

Have a delay and want to know where your plane is? Or, running late and want to make sure you won't miss your flight? The FlightAware Flight Tracker (iPhone, free) tracks both commercial and private planes. You can search by airline name and flight number, route, or aircraft registration number. In addition to the app's tracking map that follows your flight, you'll be able to see the plane's speed, altitude, and more.

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Build Complete Itineraries

Silverware's TravelTracker (iPhone, $7.99) allows you to put together a fully customized itinerary including flights, hotel and car reservations, and scheduled activities. Once your information is entered, you can then choose from a variety of customized features—checking your flight status; emailing your itinerary to friends, family, or colleagues; expense tracking; and more. There are even options for detailed cruise itineraries.

Get a Taxi on the Go

Taxi Magic (BlackBerry, iPhone, free) enables you to hail a taxi while out and about. The nationwide service is integrated with taxi providers in major cities so you won't have to research local cab companies or sort through directories. Additionally, once you book a taxi using your mobile device, you can then track your cab's location so you're not left wondering about when your ride will arrive. The service is currently available in more than 25 cities, including Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, and New York.

Find the Cheapest Gas Near You

Road trippers, take note: Never overpay for fuel again with GasBuddy's Cheap Gas! app (iPhone, free). Cheap Gas! figures out your location and shows you where the nearest gas stations are and their current prices. Once you choose your station, the app then gives you directions. Currently Cheap Gas! works in the U.S. and Canada.

Stay on Budget During Your Vacation

Have you ever taken a vacation and, once there, gone way over your budget on meals, souvenirs, and the like? Keep your finances in check with Expense Tracker—Spending (iPhone, $2.99), which tracks your expenses over the time limit you determine (day, week, month, year). You can also organize your expenditures by category, so you can see in real-time where most of your money is going (and adjust accordingly).

Mini Guides for Walt Disney World

UPinPoint has put together several apps for Walt Disney World (iPhone, $0.99 each, or pay $3.99 for the boxed set for multiple parks), including mini guides for Animal Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Magic Kingdom. Access maps to easily navigate the parks, and also get quick descriptions of rides and eateries. You can also see which rides accept FastPass and if any height/age restrictions apply.

Convert Currency Quickly

Want to know the dollar equivalents of yen, pounds, pesos, and more? Download Currency (iPhone, free) and instantly find exchange rates between more than 90 currencies. There are also 18 languages available, with capabilities for French, Japanese, and Spanish, among others.

Walking Tours Without a Guidebook

If you like to see new destinations on foot, but dislike the bulkiness of a guidebook, consider Tourcaster's audio walking tours (iPhone, prices vary by location, several free). Countries across six continents and the Caribbean are represented; each tour comes bundled with a virtual map for the selected city featuring numbered stopping points included on the walk. Tours are also categorized by audio length and walking duration, so you can plan your trips accordingly and sightsee at your own pace.

Panoramic Photos With Just a Few Taps

Want to take sweeping landscape or city-view photos, but don't want to shell out for a top-of-the-line camera? iFone Guys' Panorama app (iPhone, $9.99) lets you capture the visuals of your travels on a larger scale. Choose between portrait or landscape modes, snap your shots, then use the app to "stitch" them together. The app automatically aligns, color-corrects, and blends the photos for you, taking the guesswork out of creating seamless wide-scale photos.

Trail Maps and More

There are plenty of maps, GPS, and directional tools for smartphones, but Trails (iPhone, $3.99) goes off the grid with GPS for hiking and bike trails around the world. Track your trail while you're out in the wilderness, get altitude and distance information (in real-time, adjusted to where you are), and geotag your photos while in the great outdoors.

Your Turn

Which mobile apps have proved useful in your travels? What new types of tools would you like to see developed? Let us know by submitting a comment below!

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