The 12 of the best free apps that will make traveling a breeze!

Before I purchased my Ipod Touch last month, I couldn’t give two hoots and a holler about apps.  I saw it as just another way to waste time and for someone to separate you from your money.  Now….I see the error of my ways.  It’s my new addiction and I don’t need no cure!  Seriously, you could literally find yourself sliding your fingers back and forth over a rectangular piece of glass for hours on end and somehow manage to not get committed! There’s something for everyone….even for morons.  There are a whole host of applications for every possible situation, especially for travelers.  After doing a littl…erm…a lot of research, I have picked twelve must haves if you are serious about traveling and staying organized and entertained and won’t cost a cent.

1) PageOnce Trip Tracker is a neat app that allows you to record all of your frequent flier program account information securely in one place.  Once that’s done, it will automagically import all of your flight information to your Ipod touch or Iphone automatically.  It’s a great way to keep tabs on any frequent flier miles that’s earned because you will be notified via email when you do.  I’m pretty bad at keeping up with stuff like that, so this is a treasure.  Also, it keeps track of any hotel or car rental reservations that you have booked during the trip.

2)  Pulse News Mini captures a montage of some of your favorite websites.  You can literally view several news sites, entertainment sites, sports sites….all at once.  Once you tap on an article, it will pop up and allow you to read it.  You can share said article via email or social media.  It also allows you to sync stories offline, so you will never be without your latest news stories.  It’s compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Requires iOS 3.1.3 or late and best yet, is free!

3)  Tripadvisor is something that I always refer to when I’m planning a vacation or even activities at home.  It’s pretty much a review site that rates accommodations, activities and restaurants from all over the world.  The reviews are written by fellow travelers who have first hand knowledge, so you get their opinion of their experience and probably a few choice words on how things could improve if they were displeased.  The good news is that you get the good reviews too.  It’s just nice to get some insight before booking and regretting it later. Compatible with iPhone, Android, Ovi, Palm and iPod.

4)  GateGuru – is another user driven app that reviews 115 airports’ services.  Travelers can weigh in on how long it takes to get through checkpoints at each terminal.  You can get info on the restaurants located in each concourse as to which has the best eats.  Also, reviews and tips about the airport in general are freely given.  One tap of your stylus gets you a view of the airport map and you can bookmark your favorite airports.  Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Requires iOS 3.0 or later.

5) UrbanSpoonHungry and in a new town?  UrbanSpoon allows you to select a location, the type of food you want and the price that you want to pay.  What could be simpler?

6) Bu.mp allows you to share info with someone by simply placing your phone in your hand and bumping knuckles with the person you want to transfer info to.  You can transfer app links (you still have to pay for the ones that cost dinero), photos, contact, etc.  Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. Requires iOS 3.0 or later.

7) Hipmunka portable flight search engine that allows you to view results in a timeline.   This app doesn’t show you the cheapest flights first, instead they are listed according to factors like the number of layovers and the length of the trip.  If you are more concerned with picking flights with a lower ‘agony’ factor than price, this is the app for you.


8 )  All SubwayOk, so I lied.  This is the only app that will cost you…99 cents.  But it’s so worth it and an important tool for all travelers to have!  It has the actual subway maps of major cities that you simply select, click and the map appears.  What a convenience to have them all in one place and not have to worry about toting around various subway maps.

9)  Tango Video Calls – I learned about this application from Michael at Strux Travel.    Tango allows you to make video and voice calls over your smartphone’s Wi-Fi, 3G and 4G networks. If you’ve ever Skyped from your personal computer, you’ll understand the concept. Basically, you download the app, create a free account, then launch the application. It will automatically populate with the contacts from your address book who already use Tango. Or, you can invite your friends & family to join up by sending them a text or email. Once both parties have the app, you just make a call. It’s that easy!

If you’re in your local calling area, you can call anyone in the world for free. Or, if you have access to a Wi-Fi network, you can call anyone anywhere, even when you are abroad. (Just make sure you are on airplane mode so you aren’t hit with roaming charges.)  I can see it being particularly useful to reconnect if you and your travel partner are separated in a crowd.  Currently the app is available for the iPhone 4 and 3GS, iPod Touch, EVO 4G and Galaxy S.

10)  Gas Buddy – Finds the cheapest gas on the go – for free! In one click, locate gas stations near you and see their current gas prices. Never overpay for gas again. GasBuddy is a community of users working together to update gas prices and help everyone save on gas!

11)  MetrO The smartphone universe is chock full of public transportation apps for cities across the world. MetrO, however, covers some 400 cities, and while most individual city apps may be a bit more comprehensive, MetrO is more than adequate for most traveler’s needs. Users download the app, and then add the cities they want. MetrO can plot routes for you and shows your location on a map so you can see what’s nearby.  Compatible with Palm, PocketPC, iPhone, BlackBerry and Smartphone.

12) Currency - When traveling abroad, you need to know just how much your country’s currency is worth compared to the country you are visiting. Currency provides up-to-date exchange rate info for more than 90 currencies and 100 countries. Currency displays thumbnail flags for the corresponding currencies. All you will need to do is add your currency and currencies that you will be using during your travels and you will be able to monitor the exchange rates at a glance.  You can either manually refresh exchange rates or set the app to do so automatically: intervals range from every hour to every day.
Well, that’s my list.  What apps do you find are particularly useful during your travels?  Feel free to share them with the rest of us!

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