iPhone Travel Apps

Travel apps on the iPhone

Technology has made travel easier than ever and more and more people are carrying gadgets with them even on round the world trips. Being the little gadget geek that I am I had to bring my iPhone with me on my current journey. After testing a ton of apps I’ve found some that truly stand out for me. Most, but not all, of these work in offline mode but even the ones requiring a connection have become my go-to apps when I’m in wi-fi range.

Note: The prices listed may be different depending on which country your app store is in, these are in Canadian dollars since that’s where my account is. Sorry I’m not listing Android (etc.) apps, but since I don’t use those phones I haven’t a clue which would be useful for travellers and which aren’t.

iPhone Travel Apps That Work in Offline Mode

OffMaps – $1.99 for the app, guide downloads are extra (around $9 for unlimited if I remember right).
Offline maps with GPS for the iPhone! This is kind of like Google maps but it works without an internet connection. At the moment there’s 90 countries and 4500 guides available. While I’m the type to wander around not minding if I get lost, I don’t like staying lost when I’m tired and want to get back to my room.

This solves that problem and even shows local landmarks, tourist info, entertainment and other helpful information. This quickly became one of my favorite travel apps, hopefully even more cities, towns and perhaps even off-road places will be added as downloadable maps in the future. Very useful!

Wi-Fi Finder – Free
What I love about this is that there’s a database that can be downloaded so you can find wi-fi even without a connection… yes, many other apps require an internet connection to be able to show you where to find an internet connection, not as useful huh? This one solves that problem!

iXpenseItFree Trial, Full Version is $4.99
Hmm, travel budgets, not a fun topic. I’m mathematically challenged, a part-time shopaholic and a picky eater with (mostly) expensive tastes… but this has really helped me curb my spending and finally work out a budget I’m happy with! It’s easy to use, shows handy little charts of expenses and income, the categories are customizable and it even calculates the exchange rate. In fact even if you’re offline and had previously loaded an exchange rate, it will use the last known rate and calculate that into the budget.

XE Currency – Free
Sync when you have wi-fi access and it can give you currency exchange info while walking around even without a data connection since it stores the last currency values on the phone. Shows current rates for 180 currencies plus charts going back a year!

World Nomads Guides – Free
Translations and phrases for travel essentials like numbers, greetings etc. There’s quite a few languages available and the phrases are travel and social related so they tend to be much more helpful than some others.

GlobeMaster – $.99
Offline travel guide and utilities. As far as I know this is Wiki-Travel packaged up in an offline app with helpful information including general information, tipping, customs, how to get around, maps, a converter etc.

Stanza, Kindle and iBooks – Free
iBooks, Kindle and Stanza all have a bunch of free books available, mostly old titles but some classics can be a great way to pass the time on a long ride. I also use iBooks a lot as a way to store a saved PDF in the phone to be able to reference it on the go. Very useful for things like directions, websites I want to read later, historical details of places I’m visiting, details about the next hostel booking and I’ve even started keeping my current booking info on my phone after almost forgetting where ‘home’ was one too many times. ;)

Language Dictionaries – Prices vary, often free.
I’m not going to list all the ones I’ve used since the languages you need will probably be different, but no matter where you go it’s a good idea to check if there’s an offline translator or dictionary for the language at your next destination. That’s saved my sanity a few times when I arrive and need to ask directions to my hostel or where the nearest WC is. It’s also saved my back from having to carry yet more weight in my backpack.

iPod – Free with the phone =D
OK, so it’s not really a travel app but there are times I just want to drown out the world and fall into the comfort of familiar songs… Also helpful if you’re on a bus or in a dorm with someone snoring!

Internet Connection Required but Super Handy apps for Travelers

Skype and Skype’s iPhone app – Both the app & Skype to Skype calls are free.
You knew this one had to be on the list somewhere right? I’ve found that with a good connection the sound is better through my iPhone with Skype than with my notebook because I don’t carry a spare headset with a microphone in it. Either way you use it, Skype is one of the best things a traveler can have since they have great rates to landlines as well.

Yelp, iFound and AroundMe – Free
I love these! Even before I left Canada Yelp was one of my main apps, and while travelling, having info about local restaurants, supermarkets, pubs, banks etc. is even more useful.

I’ve found that in some places one app will outpreform the others so it’s nice to have a few to use. They all do need either a data plan or wi-fi to get the info but many hostels, hotels and guesthouses offer wi-fi so you can look up the info before leaving for the day or use Wi-Fi finder to find a hot spot nearby while exploring.

What travel apps have you found that you use frequently?


BrotherMycroft September 13, 2010

I found that the Kayak app and the Hostelworld app are good.
Tried a few apps that attempt to translate text in images but haven’t managed to find one I like yet.

Catia September 16, 2010

Yeah I still haven’t found an image translator that works quite right yet either, that’s very high up on my wish-list.

Patrice Arnera September 14, 2010

Hi There,

I travel around the World at least once month from Wellington, New Zealand and am constantly prone to delayed or cancelled flights and my business contacts and family are constantly trying to understand when I am landing so that they can reach me.

I have therefore created an iPhone application that gives live departures and arrivals information for any flights at any given airport around the World. You can find an overview of the application at http://www.3dot5.net/blog/world-flights/.

There is also a draw to win an ipad everytime a milestone of 10,000 download is reached on the AppStore, more information can be found on:http://www.3dot5.net/blog/win-an-ipad-with-world-flights/



Catia September 16, 2010

Wow nice! I took a look at it and it looks like it would be very helpful to a lot of travellers. Thanks for mentioning it.

Keith September 14, 2010

I just got an iPhone4 last week and I’ve already gotten many of the apps you’ve listed – good choices! Some I still need to check out. Thanks for this helpful post.

Serenity September 16, 2010

This is great – I just popped over from Twitter and had to comment. My most recent post is about journaling during travel, and I only know how to do it the old-fashioned way – pen, paper, all that. I know smart phones are pretty much irreplaceable once you have one. Is there any way to journal or keep notes on it?

Catia September 16, 2010

Oh, I’d totally forgotten to mention the notes on it. I use the default notes app, there are others if someone requires more abilities but for my needs the one that came with the phone works fine. It’s handy to keep track of places I’ve found and want to revisit, impressions of an area, historical notes about a location, hostel contact info etc. Since mine also has GPS info embedded in the photos I’ll often snap a photo with the phone as well as a better camera to be able to match them up and look up the exact location. I’d shot far too many photos I’d later look at and not have a clue where it was taken!

I guess it would depend on how easy it is to use the keyboard for each person, some people find it faster / easier to take notes with paper, others with their phones. I admit there are times I reach for my paper notepad instead, sometimes drawing a quick sketch can express more than text and photos on a screen.

Andrew Schenk September 29, 2010

Hi, I’m the developer of Offline Trip Guide. It’s a free iPhone/iPod app that lets you save google map directions when you have an internet connection so that when you don’t have wifi or a cell signal you can still see how to get to your destination.

Check it out on the app store, because well, it won’t cost you anything except a minute or two of your time.


Catia October 2, 2010

Thanks for mentioning it, it sounds perfect for travelling without a data connection!

Emergency U.S. Passports October 5, 2010

I like aroundMe too, it uses GPS to find the businesses around you which can be very handy.

Ultimately I think I get the most use out of Google Local search though rather than any apps

peaslee@hotel.info February 11, 2011

The question is then what advantages are there in using Google local? I find I tend to develop a certain loyalty to apps and then somewhere down the line its always nice for that loyalty to be noticed and get special deals, rates, first dibs, freebies. I want to be rewarded as a valued customer. I think we´ve come to expect that as consumers.

Coventry Dentist October 8, 2010

If you’re traveling to a non-english speaking country I’d also recommend the Lonely Planet Phrasebooks. It would really help you to communicate better without the need to try and use hand gestures to try and ask for something.

Digital Gupshup October 18, 2010

XE Currency helped me a lot…

KURT August 20, 2011

iPad has an app that lets you take notes with a stylus, then saves the image, kinda like an infinite yellow pad.

THunt January 24, 2012

Great list! I’ve already tried some of the apps mentioned in here including Wi-Fi Finder and of course, Skype. Both of these apps really made my travels convenient. I’d like to check the other apps you’ve recommended, specifically Yelp and AroundMe because I’ve been hearing a lot of great stuff about these apps. By the way, I’d like to suggest Rainbow Riders’ “25 things to do in” travel apps. Currently works for 3 destinations: Amsterdam, Boston, and Milan. All 3 guides work offline and list 25 of the best attractions that every visitor to the featured cities should visit. If you’d like to check it out, here’s the link: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/id452997725?mt=8&ign-mpt=uo%3D4. Happy travels everyone!

BTOM February 24, 2012

Check out Best Travel App for iPhone http://bit.ly/AqhyOa

Debbie from IL July 18, 2012

I wanted to give a mention out for a Free app called TRIPIT. I have used this for over a year and recently had a need to print off my itinerary info for the sitter and it had great printing choices, too! Just forward confirmation emails and it does the rest. No confirmation email, no problem, just add an item to your trip.

It’s a life saver!

Does need wifi or 3G, though.

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