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!
iXpenseIt – Free 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?