Travel apps: Don't leave home without them

Photo: Reuters

We take a look at the best apps for travellers

Travel junkies now can use their smartphones as a personal assistant for a smoother, funnier and even cheaper trip. These useful apps will keep you connected and informed and they are just a download away.

Google Translate

If you're travelling to a country where you have no knowledge of the language and where you are unlikely to meet too many people who speak your lingo, make sure that you have Google Translate at hand.

This translator is very useful on a practical level as it translates the day-to-day words you'll certainly come across on your trip. Simply hold your camera up to the text like a sign and Google Translate will translate it for you instantly.

This feature is available in 26 languages. Check out "Conversation mode", which allows you to just open the app, hold the mobile device between two people speaking a different language, and listen to the translated conversation. Two-way automatic speech translation is available in 40 languages. It is not a perfect translation, but it is far better than frantic hand gestures to get the message across.

Tripit

Planning a trip means loads of confirmation emails for flights, hotels, rental transport, tours and event bookings, which inevitably get lost in your inbox or deleted by accident. Tripit is like your personal travel agent and helps you arrange your trip itinerary.

Simply forward your travel confirmation emails to Tripit and the app will automatically create a detailed daily itinerary for your trip. (If you use Gmail or Google Apps, it happens automatically.) You can access your itinerary any time even offline. You can also sync trip plans with your Google Calendar or Outlook so all your schedules are in one place.

The app also pulls in maps to help with navigation. You can share some or all of your trip plans via email or the social networks, making it a useful app for coordinating a group trip.

tripit.com

Duolingo

This free and well-designed language learning app will help you learn the basic words and phrases before your trip. Duolingo has been downloaded by more than 70 million people around the world. The app is fun as it is like a computer game.

You advance by completing bite-sized lessons, and track your progress with shiny achievements. Now you can learn Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, Irish, Danish, Swedish, Russian, Ukrainian, Esperanto, Polish, Turkish and English at your own pace before your trip.

Free, iOS and Android, duolingo.com

Citymapper

Google Maps is fine but Citymapper is a killer for those travelling to big cities like London, Paris, Rome, Brussels, New York, Los Angeles, Sao Paulo, Hong Kong, Singapore, Tokyo and so on. Citymapper is the ultimate public transportation app.

It offers more a detailed journey planner than Google as it combines all available transit modes to find the best route: subway/metro, bus, train, Uber, |rail, ferry, bike share and personal bike with cycle lanes plus real-time directions, departure times and |disruptions alerts.

It even tells |the timeframe from your location |to your destination, how many calories you will burn if you walk or |bike and also the estimated fares for all kind of transportation. With |"Get Off" notifications, you'll |never miss a stop again. The "Meet Me Somewhere" feature makes it easy to spot restaurants, coffee shops and pubs and share the location with your friends for a quick meet up.

Maps are also available offline.

citymapper.com

XE Exchange

Converting currency is always a big headache especially when you are on the go. XE Exchange is very popular with more than 20 million downloads since launch. It has many business-oriented features but for travellers, the currency converter is the most important feature.

It is a great tool for converting money, giving users a better idea how much cash, in their own currency, they should expect before they swipe their credit cards. The app also functions offline by saving the last updated rates.

xe.com

Airbnb

With the sheer diversity of over 450,000 listings in more than 34,000 cities, Airbnb is far more interesting than any hotel-booking site. Rental options range from vacation homes, castles, apartments, to watchtowers. You can add them to your Wish List and share with your friends. The app provides access to your itinerary, messages to your host, and get directions to your listing.

airbnb.com

App in the Air

App in the Air is your personal flying assistant with the best coverage of airlines and airports. It keeps you up-to-date with your flight: real time status, airport tips and in-airport navigation maps and a flight profile with all your flights logged. Its integration with Tripit allows you to import all your flights.

This app also works offline so your gate changes and flight status updates are delivered via SMS, which requires no data roaming.

Free, iOS and Android, appintheair.mobi

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