With their own operating systems and software, smartphones are morphing into the PCs of the future. What makes smartphones more than mobile phones is the myriad of advanced applications available for download. So even once your smartphone is in-hand, you can update it all the time. If you’re planning a vacation abroad and you don’t want to be a walking cliché – camera ‘round the neck and a backpack bursting with maps – having a smartphone can really help. Even if the place you visit doesn’t have an open Wi-Fi zone, many of the apps work offline, provided you installed all the necessary data back home.
It doesn’t matter if you have an iPhone, HTC, BlackBerry or Samsung – there are hundreds of smartphone apps out there.
Here’s ten of the best smartphone apps for travelling:
Zagat to Go ($9.99)
Zagat to Go is a universal app for Apple’s iPhone and iPad which gives ratings to restaurants all over the world from 45 travel guides. This handy application has prices and ratings from 1 to 30 for food, décor and service on many restaurants you’ll likely visit. You can even call in advance and make a reservation.
This practical app for iPhone has everything you need to know when travelling by plane. With info on real-time departures, gate info, delays and cancellations, FlightTrack must not be left at home. Should you get distracted by all the great places you’ll see, FlightTrack provides alternate flights and route options.
There are countless translation apps out there from the simplest ones to some that can actually record a voice and play it back in another language. Babelingo has over 300 phrases in 11 languages and words in 110 languages to help you even with the most basic needs.
Trip Journal (Free)
Winner of Google’s Mobile Travel Application Award, Trip Journal gives you the chance to document every part of your vacation. You can save your route as waypoints, attach photos and notes to the places you see, creating your very own travel guide which you can share with friends and family.
Google Translate (Free)
Offers instant translation in more than 50 languages and includes functions such as: dictionary results, speech to text and text to speech, history, SMS message translation and more. This is one app you’ll want when buying something for the kids back home.
Places Directory (Free)
Another free app for the HTC that lets you see any points of interest near your location. This helpful application works both offline and online. Places Directory has ratings and phone numbers from banks, bars, gas stations, hotels and more.
Winner of the ‘Best Travel Application’ in June 2009, TripCase is now free but offers anything you might want to know when going on vacation. It has flight updates, hotel prices, car rental services (that work offline) and if in an Internet zone or if you’re happy to take the hit on roaming internet, you can connect with travel websites for more info.
XE Currency (Free)
This app for the BlackBerry can convert over 180 currencies with up-to-date rates so you won’t be left scratching your head when trying to find a cheap eat. As long as you update it before you go on vacation, XE Currency can even work offline with the last rates it gathered.
An application that points to the nearest toilets might seem of little use, but remember all those times spend looking for a bathroom back home? It doesn’t get easier when you’re abroad. SitOrSquat records water closets all over the world, works both offline and online and can even show you pictures before you go in…after all, they do say a picture’s worth a thousand words.
Thanks to their Android operating system, Samsung smartphones are starting to compete with iPhones and Blackberrys, in no small part because of the apps they have. And there are some great ones for travelers too…
Provides fast and accurate places of interest near your location. As long as you’re in a Wi-Fi area (or, again, you’re happy taking the hit on roaming charges), Geodelic shows you: bars, restaurants, movie theaters, gas stations and more, with ratings from fellow travelers and prices so you know everything before you arrive on the scene.
With the wonders of modern technology, you don’t have to fill your bags with maps, travel guides or dictionaries. A smartphone is your passport to a better travel experience and as long as you don’t mind carrying out a little research, downloading and installing, you’ll have everything you need for the perfect vacation abroad.