Travelling can be a complicated, time-consuming and exhausting business (all those hoops to jump through when booking flights and hotels, trying to understand the local language and working out currency conversions), so who wouldn’t welcome one or two short cuts? And with the ever growing popularity and ever evolving functionality of smartphone apps, there’s an increasing number of applications around – many of them free – to help remove the travails from travelling. Here are just a few of them…
App in the Air
Perhaps of all the flight tracking apps in the, er, air, this one offers the best coverage of airlines at airports. Even if you suddenly lose signal, it’s capable of keeping you up to date and abreast of things, handily breaking flights down into four constituent parts: check-in, boarding, take-off and landing. Doubly handily, it integrates with the Tripit app (see below).
Available free on: iOS and Android.
Available in as many as 30 cities worldwide – including city-break favourites such as London – and offering more detailed journey plans than Google Maps (such as real-time departures and disruptions, cycle routes and Uber integration), this app’s also easy-to-use and refreshingly playful. It’ll also tell you how long your desired journey would take by jetpack. Which isn’t in the least bit useful but nice of it to do so. Available free on: iOS and Android.
Of all hotel chain apps, this app’s a winner, all right. Impressively elegant on the outside, while contemporary but comfortable inside, this family of London hotels offer an exquisite, luxury base for any trip to the UK capital. And the Montcalm Hotels app doesn’t just facilitate you booking one of their rooms, it also reflects what they’re all about. Sleek, appealingly laid out and easy to navigate, it enables you to take a gander at images and check out their amenities, such as brasseries and bistros, and receive the hotel group’s latest promotions and offers. Most important of all, though, it allows you to view, edit or cancel your upcoming reservation.
Good old Google. Although their map app may not be the best for travellers (see above), their translator can prove invaluable when you’re out and about and need random words deciphering – one of its functions allows you to instantly translate text from, say, a menu by holding your camera up to it. So clever and so very useful, it might well be one of the most essential travel apps. Available free on: iOS and Android.
Designed to make splitting travel costs between friends as easy as possible (hence ‘Splittr’), this app allows you to keep on top of expenses as you go along, establishing a record as to who’s paid what and who owes who what. Plus, for multi-country trips, it can cleverly mix currencies so you won’t get a splitting headache from trying to work out the currency conversion yourself. Price: £1.49.
A language learning app with a following more than 70 million-people-strong, this app may never replace serious language tuition, but it’s well designed and helps you grasp the basics or brush up on the local lingo if you learnt those basics many moons ago. It also offers the added – and satisfying – bonus of awarding you points as you progress through its computer game-like levels. Available free on: iOS and Android.
Boasting in excess of 20 million downloads since its launch, this can lay claim to being the most popular currency conversion app on the market. Why? Well, primarily because it’s capable of converting any and every currency in the world – moreover, as it saves the last rates its updated, you can also use it anywhere you may be whatever the signal strength, which given it’s a worldwide converter of currency could well come in handy when you think about it. Available free on: iOS and Android.
The app run by the world-leading ‘what’s on’ magazine is also a world-leader for those on the go – wherever they may be on the planet. It’s specifically worth downloading for its unparalleled event finder tool, terrific for locating top concerts, fave festivals and one-off things taking place near you. Plus, it allows you to book tickets and restaurant tables and put together your own travel guide, which you can customise to your every whim. Available free on: iOS and Android.
This is a brilliant piece of kit for travellers, in that it can organise all your journey and hotel details into a reliable itinerary. All you need do is forward it your emails containing details of your flights, place-of-stay, car rental and other bookings and wait as it gets on with its business. Very useful and instantly easy for sharing with fellow travelling companions, it’s like having a little travel agent in your pocket. Sort of. Available free on: iOS and Android.
Wolfram Sun Exposure
Perfect for healthily managing your skin’s sun-exposure when you’re bathing – or simply out and about – in warm climes, this merely requests you share your skin type so it can calculate how long you’ll have before you burn, basing its predictions on location, time of day and your sun cream factor. It also (ahem) factors UV forecasts into the equation. Available on: iOS for £0.79.