Photo (cc) by redjar
Whether traveling for work or leisure, there are challenges we all face in getting to and around our destinations, from booking a flight and hotel, to navigating an unfamiliar city, to communicating with locals. Fortunately, there are a host of apps to expedite the planning process, take the hassle out of reaching your destination and help maximize your overall travel experience.
Here are our top 15 picks:
1. Kayak (Available on: iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Kindle)
This app streamlines the booking process for flights, hotels, car rentals and vacation packages by compiling results from hundreds of travel sites in a matter of seconds. Users can also receive price alerts, stay abreast of flight statuses and make changes to an itinerary using this simple app.
2. Hotel Tonight (Available on: iOS, Android, Windows Phone)
With three taps and a swipe, you can be on your way to spending the night at a top-rated hotel for a fraction of the cost. Hotel Tonight offers deals on same-night bookings at select hotels, ranging from “basic” to “hip” to “luxe” and “high roller.” Click on an offer to read about the hotel, check out reviews, amenities, photos and “need to know” information such as check-in and check-out times, and the age you need to be to book. As an added bonus to travelers, Hotel Tonight provides three reasons why the hand-picked selections of the day made the cut.
3. FlightBoard (Available on: iOS, Android)
Gone are the days when you have to find a flight board to double-check your gate when you’re in a race against time. Convert your mobile device into an actual flight board that’s updated every five minutes and displays arrivals and departures from more than 3,000 airports and 1,400 airlines worldwide. Flight information can also be sent to family and friends directly from the app.
4. Airbnb (Available on: iOS, Android)
Ditch the hotel for a unique lodging experience with Airbnb, a community marketplace for people to list, discover and book unique accommodations around the world. With listings in more than 190 countries, Airbnb allows travelers to book accommodations ranging from traditional bed and breakfasts to a guest room in someone’s home, message hosts and access detailed itineraries with directions. The app includes filters that allow you to set search parameters for price, amenities and location. There are also a number of built-in features for hosts, including the ability to manage and list vacancies, and easily communicate with guests.
5. Amtrak (Available on: iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Amazon)
Need to catch a train to your destination? The Amtrak Mobile app lets you make or modify existing reservations, check your train status, and board using an e-ticket, all from your smartphone. You can also access information about a particular station, from directions to amenities, parking and accessibility.
6. BestParking (Available on: iOS, Android, BlackBerry)
If you’re in a metropolitan area with limited parking, this app will help you find the cheapest and most convenient facilities in more than 105 cities and 115 airports in North America. Just search by neighborhood, address, cross street or attraction. Compare hourly, daily, weekly and monthly rates so you get the best deal, view details of the facility — electric vehicle charging, clearance height, etc. — and make a reservation, all from this handy, free app.
7. Word Lens (Available on: iOS, Android)
Even if you don’t have access to a network connection, you can snap a picture of an image containing Russian, Spanish, French, Italian, Greek or Portuguese, and the app will automatically translate it into English, saving you the trouble of manually entering whole blocks of text.