Planning a vacation has never been easier, thanks to the availability of various travel apps that offer information pertaining to hotels, restaurants, "need to know" phrases, and even nearby WiFi zones.
Whether you're planning a local getaway or heading out on an international adventure, there are a few essentials that you just can't leave home without — and that includes some travel apps. Here is a small selection of the best mobile apps to have on hand for a stress-free holiday.
The Best Apps for Planning Your Vacation
Perhaps the most basic and essential travel application on the market, Trip Advisor is a free travel website that offers information, photos, and reviews on thousands of hotels, restaurants, attractions, and destinations worldwide. In addition to providing a wide variety of travel choices and planning features (including aggregated lists that highlight the top restaurants, attractions, and hotels in an area), the site also offers an array of booking tools that allow them to search for and reserve hotels, flights, and restaurants at a destination. Millions of traveler reviews provide unbiased opinions of all resources as well.
Trip Advisor operates in over 40 countries worldwide and is available in a multitude of languages. The site is also available as a mobile application that is compatible with iOS, Android, and Windows Phone.
Airbnb is arguably the best solution for travelers who are looking for accommodations, but don't necessarily want to pay the high price for a hotel. Available as both an app and an online service, Airbnb allows hosts in over 190 countries worldwide to advertise their home stays to travelers looking for a more "authentic" experience in their destination. Simply type in your destination, and Airbnb will generate an interactive map for easy browsing of available accommodations. Filters based on price, location, apartment size, and party size make it easy to narrow down your options with ease.
Once an option has been selected, Airbnb will connect travelers with their host, allowing them to work out any details pertaining to arrival, departure, and contact during their stay. Payment is facilitated through the site.
Google Maps is an online mapping service that offers you the ability to plan and visualize their route options between points of interest. Depending on how you'd like to plan your trip, the application allows you to be as specific (e.g. "taco bar in Grenada") or as vague (e.g. "Russia") as you'd like with your searches. Once you've entered in all of your information, the application will calculate ideal itineraries from which to choose. Built-in map filters can help narrow down route options based on traffic, tolls, side trips, or any number of other factors.
Google Maps is available as an online service and as a mobile application.
If you're heading out on an international jaunt, you'll definitely want to take some sort of translation tool with you. Google Translate offers translation services in over 103 world languages with the click of a button. Using the application, you can search for individual words, small phrases, or even complex sentences. Simply type your query into the search field and select the language to which you'd like to translate, and the application will generate a (usually) workable translation. The app even offers a visual translation function that can translate text taken from images or even a live camera!
Google Translate is available online and also exists as a mobile application for iPhone and Android.
Similar to Google Translate, iTranslate is a useful translation app that can translate text in over 90 world languages. Use the app to start voice conversations or lookup words, translate expressions or images — the app even offers verb conjugations. Best of all, the application is functional even when you don't have any data connection, making it the perfect app to take with you anywhere.
Open Table is a restaurant reservation service that provides online reservation options for over 30,000 restaurants worldwide. The application allows you to search for restaurants in your local area, read restaurant reviews from previous diners, search for and find restaurants according to your availability and party size, and even make reservations directly on the application. Each time a reservation is made on the application, you can even earn points towards free meals.
Open Table is available as a web service and is also available in mobile versions for iOS and Android.
Need to get somewhere fast? Uber is an on-demand taxi service that allows you to request a private or shared driver directly from your smartphone. Simply launch the application, and your phone's GPS network will pinpoint your current location and show a map of Uber vehicles in the area. Once you make your selection, the application will send your current information to your driver and provide you with an estimate of your trip cost. Payment is made directly through the application, saving you the trouble of having exact change.
WiFi Finder is a free application that can be used to find the nearest WiFi hotspots (restaurant, hotel, public area, etc.). Simply launch the app, and an interactive map will locate verified hotspots in your surrounding area.
Want more? Our How To section also offers a selection of articles that can help you plan a road trip, the best apps to help you beat traffic, and articles that can show you how to create the perfect playlist.
If you're headed somewhere with spotty connections, you may also want to take a look at our article on downloading Google Maps for offline use. Click the links to learn more.