5 Travel Apps That’ll Really Take You Places

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Maybe you’re lost in Mongolia or trying to ask for directions in France. Perhaps you’re trying to catch that flight out of Istanbul, or keep forgetting to pack socks for business visits. Whether you’re traveling for work or hitting up somewhere exciting for vacation, there’s a mobile app out there to meet the need. Of course, not everywhere you travel will have wifi, and not everyone keeps their data plans switched on in foreign countries — but there’s a hefty supply of apps that utilize wifi, or are pre-downloadable for use on airplane mode later in the trip. Let’s take a look at just a few.

1. GateGuru

Whether you use an iPhone or Android device, GateGuru is a solid choice for navigating flight purchases, airline departures, arrivals, terminals, and all the details that go with it. The app is free, a nice bonus, and includes a flight board with departing and arrival times for thousands of international airlines.

GateGuru allows you to plot your trip point by point if you have multiple flights involved in your itinerary, dealing with details like check in, weather, and even things like car rentals and airport food. Getting notifications on flight time changes ahead of time can certainly make the frequent flier’s life a considerable amount easier — as can the estimated TSA security checkpoint wait, so you don’t show up two hours early to fly out of an empty terminal.

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2. FlightAware

For fans of Android, FlightAware Flight Tracker has a somewhat simpler set of data it offers, compared to the flood of information you can find on GateGuru. For some travelers, this might be preferable. If you don’t care about the airport amenities or car rentals, but could use flight status and tracking information, this is likely the app for you. You can track flights by using the flight number, airline, route, and other methods — plus, it comes with one of those nifty maps that show the airplanes progress between countries and over oceans.

It will also let you know about flight delays of course. Much like Gait Guru, reviews for the app — via Amazon Play — are largely positive, averaging 3.8 starts. Based on reviews, for those it works for, it works great — but for those experiencing bugs, it’s a major disappointment.

The most common complaints seem to be regarding the application’s bugs and inaccuracies. That said, other users don’t seem to share those problems, so it could be a matter of updates or device type. Luckily FlightAware is free, so it costs nothing to find out which kind of user you’ll be.


3. TripLingo and iTranslate

One major obstacle to traveling in foreign countries — unless you’ve taken years worth of language courses — is the struggle to communicate. Forget complicated discussions of politics and wine flavor, sometimes asking something as simple as directions to the bathroom is too difficult to figure out. Luckily, there’s no need to take up pantomiming as an amateur hobby.

Apps like TripLingo and iTranslate can make the fight to get your meaning across that much more manageable. TripLingo promise that you’ll “talk like a local” may be mildly hyperbolic, but it does have a solid collection of phrases, including slang terminology that you’re bound to hear traveling, even if you don’t in a language course. It also has a voice translator and flashcard function.

TripLingo also has culture information and covers multiple languages. For those traveling for pleasure and keeping those phones on airplane mode, the app comes with a 10,000 word dictionary that can be used offline. Then, for users of iPhones, iPads, or Android, there’s iTranslate. ITranslate covers over eighty languages with text to speech function and a translate function for words, phrases, and bodies of text. The interface for iTranslate seems to be somewhat sleeker than TripLingo, but both have highly positive reviews.

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4. City Maps 2Go Pro

If you’re one of the many not born with an innate sense of direction, never fear. In the United States, it’s easy enough to whip out your GPS, cell phone, or even call a friend. But in other countries, its often more a problem of figuring out where to walk, that you don’t have your car and GPS, your cell phone is offline, or calling a friend is hardly an option — unless you have friends in far away places.

Luckily, you can download the relevant maps from City Maps ahead of time, and so long as you’re phone is charged, you’ll be set for navigation around the city with perfect detailed maps. Of course, there are bound to be countries City Maps doesn’t have as thorough a knowledge of — especially less developed nations with more poorly mapped out streets and alleyways.

It’s also smart not follow maps nose to phone in rougher areas while traveling. Even so, sometimes having a general knowledge of neighborhood and region can be helpful — and travelers can always stop somewhere for a drink and get back on track.

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5. Postagram

Postagram isn’t built specifically to be a travel app — but it’s actually a really great way to send family members and friends a post card you’d find much more pricy and inconvenient in Bali or Japan.  Postagram takes the photos — the first five free — that you send over your phone with the attached message and sends them in the mail to whatever  address you specify. This means that you can take a picture of your son, daughter, wife, boyfriend, or new pet toucan while sitting on a tropical beach.

Next, you connect to a wifi hub if available, and it’s as easy as sending a text or email. You simply upload the picture with whatever you’d like to say — maybe something like “It’s so sunny!” or “Do you have a bird cage I can borrow?” — and then you upload it to the Postagram app. After that, it does the rest. You could even send yourself photos from your trip.

After the first five — which is a truly great free sample — each Postagram is 99 cents. The postcards themselves are black with white text on glossy stock, not exactly the same tactile satisfaction that a genuine post card would give you, but Postagram saves you the effort of finding a post office, and is highly likely to reach your sender faster if it’s destined within the United States.

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