For some of us, travelling overseas is the perfect opportunity to unplug, get away from the screens and leave the gizmos and gadgets at home. But to others, travelling is best experienced with a passport in one hand and mobile phone in the other. With the incredible variety of travel apps on the market, it’s easy to see why.
But one in four mobile apps are deleted after the first use. So how do you find travel apps that won’t just be using up space on your phone?
Let’s dive into the top seven travel apps for 2017, with worthwhile choices you’ll actually use.
Have you ever felt like you’re missing out on the full picture while exploring an overseas city? Tours may be a great way to learn the history and culture of your destination, but they can also feel rushed, busy and even disinteresting to you.
In comes the Detour app, which allows you to listen to an “immersive audio tour” of a city, narrated by the people who know it best - local residents. Detour uses GPS to match the audio to your specific location, talking you through the interesting sights and sounds you may have otherwise overlooked.
Detour was named on Apple’s own Top 10 Apps of 2016 list, and widely publicised as a breathtakingly unique travel experience. Technology website WIRED said using the Detour app is like “walking around in a movie.” The app currently includes audio tours in:
- San Francisco
- New York City
- Los Angeles
Anyone who has organised an international holiday can tell you that it’s rarely a stress-free experience. In comes the Meditation Studio, another winner on Apple’s Top 10 Apps. Meditation Studio is a great solution to help you deal with airport queues, restless hours spent in transit, fighting jet lag or for helping you to just relax in between sightseeing.
The Meditation Studio app allows you to “Take your Zen with you wherever you go,” with over 200 guided meditations delivered by 27 meditation gurus. It offers stress relief exercises, sleep exercises, simple relaxation and even confidence boosters, in easy to complete step-by-step courses. According to Forbes, Meditation Studio is simply a “powerful solution to your problems.”
The Companion app is a unique aid to staying safe overseas. Enter your destination and elect a ‘companion’ from your mobile phone contacts. They’ll be able to see a live map of your progress toward your destination, and be alerted of any unexpected disruptions. For example, if you are walking from one place to another, and you suddenly start running, or if your headphones come loose from your phone, your companion will be alerted on their own phone. They don’t even need to download the app themselves.
The Companion app also asks whether you are OK at regular intervals, and if you don’t reply within a set time period, your companion is alerted. There is also the “I feel nervous” button which allows you to notify your companion at the simple push of a button.
Companion offers a great peace of mind to yourself, friends and family, especially if you’re travelling somewhere that you may not feel entirely comfortable in.
Nothing quite takes the shine off a well-earned holiday like losing your luggage. Enter LugLoc, the luggage locator device and tracking app. LugLoc is a simple GPS device that you pack in your bag, which then communicates with a mobile phone app to display the exact location of your bag at all times. So if you arrive in Los Angeles and your bag flies to London, you don’t need to waste valuable time and energy waiting in desperation at the carousel.
The LugLoc app also features a “proximity alert” feature, which notifies you when your bag is about to show up at the carousel. The geo-tracker can also be placed in your smaller day-bags or even your handbag while travelling overseas, and the LugLoc app will alert you if you move too far away from your valuables.
The Citymapper app is promoted as “The Ultimate Transit App”, and with widespread positive reviews, it just might be. The New York Times even went as far as saying “Citymapper is, quite simply, the best travel app to be introduced to New York City.”
Citymapper takes the stress out of decoding public transport options, timetables and routes while travelling overseas. It includes A to B trip planning with estimated times of arrival on all modes of public transport, and includes up-to-minute service disruption information and even bike routes. Citymapper services cities across the world, like New York City, Los Angeles, Singapore, Tokyo, Sydney, London, Paris, Mexico City and Madrid.
No list of essential travel apps would be complete without including the TripAdvisor mobile app. Reading customer reviews is one of the best ways to avoid being stung by a dodgy tour operator or a substandard hotel, and TripAdvisor has almost 500 million of them. That’s some light reading to get you through that lengthy flight!
However, not everyone realises that TripAdvisor actually have a number of mobile apps available for download. Services like SeatGuru, GateGuru and TheFork are also worthwhile additions to your screen.
SeatGuru displays seat maps for your flight, allowing you to select the most comfortable spot in your cabin. It also features a powerful flight search engine and flight-status alerts of delays and cancellations.
GateGuru is an even more comprehensive itinerary management platform, that customises airport content like weather, terminal maps, customs wait times and food and amenity information based on your booked flights.
Sharing stories with friends and family back home is all part of the travel experience. But accidentally calling when it’s 3am in the morning in your home country can result in some confused conversations. With the Circa app, you can be sure you’re always on top of time zones around the world.
The app features an easy-to-understand dial of your selected time zones, which displays overlaps so you can see ideal times to call. It’s a great solution for contacting friends and family, but also if you’re travelling on business and need to keep track of appointments.