In days of yore, before we carried the entirety of human knowledge around in our pockets, traveling could be a difficult experience. Technologies of the time included travelers’ checks, travel agencies, city guidebooks, phone booths, word of mouth and luck. It’s a wonder anyone went anywhere twice.
These days, apps take a lot of the guesswork out of the equation. In the palm of your hand, you can find the cheapest gas and the best Italian food in town, translate whatever that native is saying and book your car, your flight, your hotel and whatever else you need.
With that in mind, here are 9 of the most essential apps for travelers.
Packing Pro: Worried about over-packing? Or worse, under-packing? Tell Packing Pro where you’re going, how long you’re staying and who you’re going with, and it will suggest what to pack, with separate lists for each member of the clan. Available on iPhone.
Hipmunk: Meet your new travel agent. Hipmunk has a flight and hotel search engine that will let you take advantage of last-minute deals, view reviews from TripAdvisor and find maps to show you what’s in the neighborhood of your hotel. Available on Android.
Tipulator: What’s appropriate in one country isn’t necessarily cool in another. This app will let you know what’s kosher wherever you are and the calculator will help you divvy up the tip on split bills to avoid an awkward situation. Available on iPhone.
Onavo: Data roaming charges. You hate ‘em, right? Install Onavo free of charge and it will reduce the amount of data required to perform your daily tasks, like posting on Facebook or checking your email. So when you get that phone bill at the end of the month, it won’t be quite as shocking. Available on iPhone and Android.
Waze: Need to get from here to there? This GPS device uses real-time data from users who let you know what’s coming down the road. Cop up ahead? Waze will alert you in time to slow down and avoid that pricey ticket. You can even change the friendly voice so that you get directions from Elvis. Available on iPhone and Android.
Expensify: Ideal for the business traveler on the company dime, this app allows you to track your expenses, photolog your receipts and import purchase information from your credit card for IRS-validated eReceipts. The Smart Scan option allows you to take a picture of a receipt and have it read by computer and automatically generated as an expense. There’s also a currency conversion function. Available on iPhone and Android.
GasBuddy: Don’t want to get reamed at the pump only to find gas was a buck cheaper two blocks ahead? GasBuddy is the answer. Plug in your GPS location, address or zip, and GasBuddy will track down the cheapest fuel in the area based on user reports. And why would people care to share this info? Well, other than because of the fact that some people enjoy being helpful, there’s more than just altruism at work. The app’s reward system automatically enters users into regular raffles for prizes like (obviously) free gas. Available on iPhone and Android.
Entrain: Jet lag is a drag. And it’s hard to get your sleep schedule right when you’re on the road. Fortunately, you’re now learning about Entrain. This app will recommend optimal light and dark schedules to get your circadian rhythm back to normal. Just let it know your usual routine and time zone, and Entrain will essentially give you a curfew, letting you know when it’s time for lights-out. Available on iPhone and Android.
Google Translate: Select an input language and an output language and then type in or dictate a short sentence and this app will translate it. See a sign for something in a foreign language and have no idea know what it says or even how to type or say it? Take a picture and have it translated for you. Available on iPhone and Android.