The market is flooded with apps designed to make our travels better, easier and more affordable. As we come to the end of 2012, we’ve weeded through the app stores to pick out our favorite 12 tools for smartphones and tablets. Want to add to the list? Sound off in our comments section below.
Flight delays and cancellations seem to be part of the flying experience nowadays, so stay ahead of the curve with an app that gives you real-time departure data, delays, and up-to-the-minute gate numbers. FlightTrack Pro keeps you informed with a $9.99 version and a $4.99 option. An airline pilot’s review of the $9.99 version swears by the app’s detailed, up-to-date information. You can automatically sync your flight itineraries with the TripIt app and sync info with the calendar on your phone. The zoomable maps and weather forecasts also provide a sense of ease to a possibly unpredictable travel experience. The $4.99 version carries some of the same features except for push flight alerts, the ability to sync TripIt itineraries, predictions for flight delays and a few other add-ons. Available for iOS, Android and Blackberry.
One of the most-loved camera apps on the market, Instagram provides various filter options for the photos you take, whether you are looking for a retro effect or a cool artsy feel. Instagram allows you to share photos easily with friends on Facebook, Twitter and various other social networks. Be warned, though, once you start using Instagram you may become addicted. Available on iOS and Android.
Local Eats keeps you away from food chains and guides you to the best local food places. The best feature of the $0.99 app includes its search filter which allows you to find restaurants by price range, cuisine, hours, features and neighborhood. Available for iPhone and iPad, and check out their Twitter feed. A bonus foodie app is ChefsFeed, a food guide curated by the top chefs of the world sharing their favorite spots.
Stop overpaying for gas and download the free GasBuddy app. GasBuddy keeps you informed on the best gas prices near you through a community of fellow users updating on the latest prices. Report your own gas price experiences and gain points toward the weekly $250 gas card. Available for iOS, Android and Blackberry.
If you have ever tried to call a taxi on a Saturday night and heard the jaw-clenching sound of a busy signal, then Taxi Magic is your next must-have travel app. Taxi Magic allows you to easily book a cab on your smartphone based on your current location. You can even pay for your fare through your Smartphone and obtain an e-receipt for expensing purposes. While the app itself is free along with the booking feature, a $1.50 document charge may apply for the e-receipt and credit card charge. Available for iPhone, Android and online.
Designed for last-minute road trips or the unexpected overnight stay, Hotel Tonight gives you same-day hotel bookings as late as 2 a.m. Save as much as 70 percent on a basic, hip or luxury hotel every day. Customers rave about the great deals and experiences they’ve found using the app, not to mention the sweet sound of live support 24 hours a day. Available on iOS and Android.
This hotel-booking app from Priceline lets you find a last-minute deal on hotels in more than 150 cities across the U.S. Starting at 11 am the app shows discount rooms that you can book right away. Certain hotels even include a “tonight-only” deal of up to 40 percent off.
This free road app allows users to check maps with turn-by-turn directions, travel times, and rerouting options in case of traffic or accidents. Based on user-generated information, maps are constantly updated with information on the roads around you: traffic, road work, good deals on gas, even where police vehicles have recently been spotted. The downside is the details are only as good as the number of people using it, but this one is growing in popularity. Available for iPhone, iPad and Android.
While the convenience of smartphone makes searching for directions as easy as pushing a button, it usually requires a wireless or cellular connection. Triposo allows you to download maps and destination information ahead of time, so you can access it even when you’re offline. These mobile travel guides are available in 8,000 destinations and counting. Available for iPhone, iPad and Android.
Never worry about losing an important confirmation number again. Just forward all of your plans, emails, and information straight to firstname.lastname@example.org and Tripit will organize your entire itinerary letting you know everything is together and organized on your phone. The app even includes relevant information for your area like weather and maps. Available online and on iPhone, iPad, Android, Blackberry, and Windows Phone.
It can be hard to get around when you’re in a new city for the first time, so check out the free MetrO app from Kinevia. Downloadable maps mean you don’t need to be connected to figure out the fastest way to get from point A to B using public transportation. Available on iOS, Android and Blackberry.
While Skype is part of our everyday vocabulary and WhatsApp has made it name in cross-platform message, pay attention to Viber. This free app is a great way to stay in touch on the road while keeping costs down. You can make calls and send free texts and pictures other Viber users–the app will sync with your contact list to let you know who else uses this tool. Available for iOS, Android, Blackberry and Windows Phone.
For more helpful apps for travelers on the go, check out:
- A roundup of the top 10 free apps
- Money-saving apps for the last-minute traveler
- Our comprehensive category of smartphone apps
By Steven Knight and Cully Schneider for PeterGreenberg.com