Here’s a summary of what we’ve found to be the must-have apps for when you’re traveling (long term).
First of all, this post will focus on apps for iOS, since both of us have iPhones and neither have very much experience with other OSs (although Mathias is seriously considering jumping the ship to Android..). Many of these apps might also exist on Android/Windows Phone and others probably have just as good replacements if not better.
Top 3 must-have apps
Citymaps2go ($1.99) is an offline map application. We use this basically every day and it is an absolute must-have. You need to download the maps ahead (by country, city or area), so know where you’re going, and then you have access to pretty detailed street maps with GPS positioning and also hotels, attractions, shops, etc. (some maps are more detailed than others). You can also add your own points of interest, bookmark and make a note on any point, which is quite useful!
Currency (free) is a very good currency converter and has saved us many times when we were scratching our heads trying to figure out how much an amount equals in NOK or USD. For travels in many countries with different currencies this is also a must.
Wikisherpa / iTravel (free / $2.99) is an offline version of Wikivoyage (earlier Wikitravel) and it’s like having a really small guidebook with you everywhere. Of course it’s not as detailed as Lonely Planet, but some of the information is actually fresher and you also get Wikipedia-articles of some of the places. Also here you need to download the pages you want to view offline, but it’s pretty simple and fast. It’s worth noting that it has been a bit buggy and we almost gave up on the app (there were a lot of problems with Wikitravel), but since the latest update it’s been working better. A really good app for reading up on your destination on long buses and flights.
Apps for booking hotels and flights, and checking out reviews
All these apps have web versions that in most cases works better on the laptop than the app.
Booking (free) the best and cheapest (we’ve found in average) booking of hotels, and good source for hotel reviews.
Hostelworld (free) the best booking-app for hostels and a good source for hostel reviews.
Tripadvisor (free) really good for checking out reviews on accommodation, restaurants and things to do. We use Tripadvisor almost religiously when coming to new places and finding out what to do and where to stay. The app is a bit buggy though.
Momondo (free) a great app for searching for cheap flights. Checks many airlines at the same time and gives you the cheapest fares.
Skyscanner (free) similar to Momondo, but have some different airlines, so it’s worth checking both to get the cheapest fares.
Kayak (free) very good aggregated booking for flights and hotels. We haven’t used it much, but got some very cheap flights when we booked flights from Panama – Santa Marta and Bogota – Quito together (multi-destination booking)
Other apps we use a lot on travel
Tweetbot ($2.99) is the best twitter-app we’ve used and lets you create drafts of tweets with geolocation wherever you are and then you can send them later when you have wi-fi available.
Camera+ ($0.99) is one of the best camera apps we’ve found, but what makes it extra useful is that it is integrated with Tweetbot so you can easily style your pictures with various filters and compress them (if you’re on a slow connection) before tweeting them.
Snapseed (free) another great photo-app that has some unique filters and adjustments that Mathias uses a lot for his photos on both iPhone and iPad.
Skype (free) – you should know what it is already (IP telephony and video-chat), but what makes it even more useful when traveling is “Skype out”, with which you can add money/credit and call (and SMS to) regular phone lines all over the world at a lot cheaper prices than using your cellular network. We’ve used it a lot to call local numbers when traveling.
Viber (free) gives you free phonecalls and messages to others who have Viber. We’ve found it to use less bandwith than Skype when we have bad connections.
WordPress (free) is a good app for blog-editing and just checking up on blog activites and comments.
Flickr (free) is a good app for viewing pictures on Flickr and checking up on any activity on your photos there.
Pocket (free) is an app that lets you save blog-articles and web-pages for reading offline. Invaluable for long bus-trips or flights, or just on the beach.
Free video (free / $0.99) is the best video downloader we’ve found and lets you download videos from Youtube, Vimeo and other sites for viewing off line (it is a bit buggy though and tends to restart downloading some times, so please let us know if you have any better ones!).
So there you have it! The best travel apps, tested and approved by yours truly. Please let us know if you have any further suggestions in the comments!