Summer time! Well, at least here in the northern hemisphere. Summer means travel for many and the iPhone is among the best travel gadgets you can own. It’s a navigation device, communication tool, camera, concierge and so much more.
In this post, your favorite TUAW writers share what’s in their travel folders. Some may be familiar, some hidden gems. Here are the apps that we always pack (all prices are USD).
I do love to travel. I even get excited to visit a new corner store. When I’m out and about, I use the following apps:
MotionX GPS Drive ($0.99 + optional in-app purchases for voice navigation)
MotionX has been my favorite turn-by-turn navigation app for a long time. It has never given me bum directions (though it occasionally takes me “the long way around”), is inexpensive and includes niceties like customizable voices, traffic alerts, speed alerts and more.
Evernote (free with paid pro-level account)
I mean, come on. Everything goes into Evernote, including airport info, hotel details, destinations, scans of important documents and more.
Rego is a great way to maintain a list of places you’ve visited as well as those you’d like to see. Tags and lists make it easy to find exactly what you’re after.
Flight Track Pro ($9.99)
My favorite air travel app. Everything is very legible and clearly presented. Track all sorts of information on your flight, and communicate quickly with others using pre-populated text messages like “I’ve landed” and “I’m boarding.” Plus, it often beats the airport in dispensing important information like delays and cancellations.
Hands down, my favorite travel app. Kayak lets you do everything from booking a hotel room to finding and tracking flights. It also converts currency, offers a directory of airline phone numbers, has information on airline fees and so much more. It’s like having a seasoned travel professional with you at all times.
I still keep Navigon for the POI data: Parking is easily found, and I bought the Zagat info.
Now that Uber supports smaller taxis, it’s like magic.
Gate Guru (free)
This app allows me to answer the question, “Should I trek to another gate to find decent food?” That becomes an important question when you’re short on time.
Then there are some new discoveries: Tabeso, which allows me to find live events around me, and Where To Go, a pretty decent food finder and point of interest app. I’m also liking Ness, although I’m eager to try it in a bigger city.
Finally, Maps is on my home screen.
For me it was a toss up between Tom Tom ($35.99) and Navigon‘s apps until a while back Navigon “upgraded” and Tom Tom quickly became my primary navigation app. Now that Siri does turn-by-turn, I do try to use it — but that usually ends up with my entire family collapsed in gleeful tears and us turning up about 20 minutes late. If I actually have to get anywhere on time, without hilarious misinterpretations of my direction requests, I use Tom Tom.
I can’t live without Yelp. At home, on the road, wherever — it’s my go-to for finding whatever is near, interesting and (sorry) “cool” and “useful.” I know there are many options out there, but Yelp does the job it does well and I’m not particularly motivated to switch.
RunMeter (free) is as great an app on the road as it is at home. For walking, hiking, biking, whatever, it’s terrific. I especially love seeing my tracks through new destinations.
Occipital’s 360 Panorama ($0.99) remains my favorite way to shoot around me on trips. We live in the west absolutely surrounded by scenic vistas no matter where we go.
My family relies on It’s Playing ($3.99) for movies on the road. Again, there are plenty of competitors, but this is what I have on my iPad, and it works great. In a similar vein, there’s Amazon’s Kindle app (free). It’s perfect for road-reads whenever I can grab a few quiet minutes in a hotel lobby.
How fun that Dave chose to organize this post while I’m on a cruise ship above the Arctic Circle! For pure relaxation I’ve loaded up the Kindle and iBooks apps with some light reading material, and I can also kill some time with Plants vs. Zombies ($0.99), or the strangely appropriate Icebreakers game ($0.99 on the iPhone and iPod touch, $2.99 on the iPad). But for true travel apps, here are the ones I rely on:
TripIt (free): Everything about my trip itineraries goes into this app for reference. It’s a lot more useful when you have an iPhone at hand, but for quick lookups of times, locations, phone numbers and reservation information, it even works well on the iPad.
WunderMap (free): This new app from Weather Underground is perfect for checking weather both at home and abroad. Want to know if you’re going to be freezing your tush off in Longyearbyen or sweltering in Copenhagen? It’s the perfect app for getting local and regional weather for your travels.
FlightTrack (free): If you know the flight number of the incoming flight for your aircraft, you can tell whether or not your flight has a chance of leaving on time. Also good for finding out which airports are currently under delay warnings.
United (free): The big airline in Denver is United, so I use their app religiously to capture flight information, get my boarding passes moved into PassBook, and even track my Mileage Plus miles.
Maps and Google Maps: Either of these apps can provide the map info I need, as well as fairly accurate directions. In the US, I like to use the Navigon USA app for step-by-step directions, although Waze can also be helpful and more fun.
Shawn “Doc Rock” Boyd
I use Seat Guru (free) because, as a tall fat guy, I need the leg room. I also depend on Urban Spoon (free) and Placeme to auto-journal my trek. Then there are the obvious one like Evernote (free), Evernote Hello (free), Jump Desktop ($14.99), so I can actually get back to my Mac. Finally, Dropbox (free) is indispensable.
I find TripIt, even the free version, to be way useful. The Alaska Airlines app (free) is one of my favorites, since mostly I fly with that airline and I can use the app as my boarding pass.
I also use some sort of travel checklist, right now it’s Visual Travel Checklist ($1.99). It works well.
Taxi Magic (free) helps me get around since I need to get around when I’m in unfamiliar places. I also use Gate Guru, Evernote, and Flight Track Pro as others have mentioned.
The rest of my colleagues covered most of my mainstays. Like Victor, I keep Navigon on my iPhone, but the North America version that includes Canada. A lot of my travel involves going up to Montreal, and Navigon was my English-speaking lifeline until I got used to the road signs being in French. Likewise, I use TripIt, whichever airline has an app I can do a ticket through, Google Maps for U.S. trips and the My Verizon Mobile (free) app for monitoring my data usage so I don’t accidentally go over my limits.