The World in a Mobile: The Top Five Travel Apps

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Aaaah, the early days of traveling. Does anyone else remember their first trip? Mine was to Rome a fair few years ago, but I can still remember all the emotions I went through as I took my first steps into the airport. They went, in order: nervousness, fear, nausea and panic. Don’t get me wrong, I love to see the world, but when you first get going it can be pretty scary. Fortunately, these days we travelers have the absolute godsend that is the smartphone.

With a variety of apps that can help you with everything from booking flights to finding a nearby café, it’s hard to imagine how we got around the world without them. That’s why I’ve come up with this little list of what I believe to be the five most useful travel apps on the market. I wouldn’t have minded having these back when I started, let me tell you: I have to make do with my Nokia 3310 and Snake II!

Flight Tracker (iPhone, Android)

While jetting around Europe seldom requires more than one flight, the chances are that anyone flying within or away from/to the US is going to need to make connections here and there. How can a three flight journey be made even more time-consuming? Yes, by arriving at the airport only to find that one of your connections has been delayed by an hour! Complete with gate assignments, departure info and up-to-date delays (not to mention the genius map feature) Flight Tracker is a great way to keep right on top of your own (and any other relevant) journeys. Not to mention it’s a cracker for working out if you’ve got time to sneak in that cheeky pre-flight drink at the bar!

Flight Tracker

oMaps (iPhone)

Not necessarily worth getting if your flights are in your home country, OMaps is nonetheless a seriously worthwhile investment for when you’re off on the long haul journeys. While the standard Google maps will do the job, a lack of 3G connection (or at least a seriously expensive local one) will mean that you could end up spending a packet just trying to connect to the service once you’ve landed at your destination. OMaps gives you the chance to download whichever maps you need well in advance, meaning that even with no net connection, you’ll be able to find your way around the local areas. Needless to say, this is priceless when you’re visiting somewhere for the first time.


Google Translate (iPhone, Android)

Unless you’re a genius, the chances are that at some point you’ll be traveling to a country where you don’t know the local language. Obviously in a lot of countries (especially those in Europe) there will be some people who do speak English, but it’s by no means guaranteed. And the last thing you want is to be stuck in a town you don’t know unable to find your hotel, especially if you can’t ask anyone nearby where it is! Google Translate, then, is a necessity, offering up 50 different languages (15 of which will translate the words you speak into the handset) with pronunciation display. Never has suddenly speaking French at the last minute seemed easier.

Google Translate

Foodspotting (iPhone, Android)

Mmmmm, food. One of the beauties of traveling is experiencing the local grub! I’ve still never had better pasta than I had in Rome… Anyway, even though foreign food is a delight (most of the time) your first experience of it will usually be staring at a row of visually identical restaurants, unable to tell which one will have you salivating with joy, and which one employs a sewer rate as the sous chef. How to find out which one is the best? Ask those in the know, of course. Foodspotting is contributed to daily by users all over the world, meaning that whether you’re after the best lasagne in Rome or the best hamburger in New York, Foodspotting is your friend. The genius GPS feature just makes the whole thing easier.


HotelPal (iPhone, Android)

In a perfect world, hotels should be booked well before you step on a flight. However, this isn’t a perfect world, and who hasn’t decided to jump on a flight at the last minute before? However, risk usually means exactly that, and you may find yourself having to find a hotel right at the last minute. HotelPal uses GPS to target your location and find the closest hotels to you quickly and easily. It also takes a bit of risk out of the game, as it allows users to take photos of (and rate) said hotels, meaning that if there’s a dodgy one nearby, you can sidestep it. Essentially, it allows you to pretend you’re taking risks, when really you’re being very safe and sensible. That’s the dream, after all.


Charlotte Daniels is a freelance writer and travel fanatic who works in association with Ideas By Net’s range of promotional mugs. Largely because the travel ones are really good at keeping her fueled with coffee when she inevitably gets stuck at an airport for four hours.

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