By ZAC COLBERT
The developments in digital technology over the last decade have made both the prospect and the experience of travelling around the world even more exciting. Of the hundreds of apps on the mobile market to enrich your globetrotting, we’ve collated the best.
There are myriad restaurant finder apps out there but in our experience UrbanSpoon tops them all. First off, it works, quickly and on a consistent basis, no matter where you are in the world. Its user interface is a fun and more inventive way to find places to eat – you shake your iPhone and UrbanSpoon’s slot machine suggests a restaurant in your vicinity. You can file the results by cuisine, price and area. The amount of information is spot on, enough to allow you to make an informed decision but not so much that you’re bombarded with data. It also includes all the additional features you’d expect; making reservations, ratings from newspapers and high profile food bloggers and sharing capabilities so you can compare reviews with friends, which makes it brilliantly sociable and interactive.
Simple, easy and obvious, yes, but it’s also invaluable. Being able to check currencies and exchange rates while you’re on the move means you can avoid the highly likely possibility of paying over the odds for food, services, souvenirs and activities. Often local establishments will charge tourists more than they do local residents; this is commonplace and understandable, however, with a currency calculator on your Smartphone you can at least ensure you’re not being completely hoodwinked. The majority of us don’t have the luxury of being able to travel without worrying about our finances so it’s also incredibly useful to be able to stay on top of your travel money 24/7, to measure your expenditure and to ensure that you’re not changing too much or too little money at a time.
Frequently the number one travel app on the iPhone, and for good reason, Kayak Mobile is where you can find and book hotels, flights, and car rentals, all from your mobile device. Having your full travel itinerary condensed into one handy and accessible application makes the logistics of travelling around the world a lot less stressful. The app is quick and easy to use with an interface that’s simple to navigate. The most useful features include its inclusion of baggage fees and price alerts – so you’re notified if the prices of anything you’ve booked change. Removing those nasty surprises is again, a great stress saver. You can also access airline numbers and airport info, which means you can decide when and where you want to fly either last minute or way ahead of schedule. Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Kayak Mobile is the fact that it’s free. You can upgrade to the pro version which boasts extra features such as airport maps and terminal information but we think the standard version provides more than enough.
This is by far the hottest photo application available at the moment. Its distinguishing feature is how it niftily stitches together your separate pictures of a scene to create one panoramic vista that you can scroll through – this is so simple but so effective, allowing you to finally capture the whole scale of those beautiful views, colossal skyscrapers or amazing people you’ve met along the way. Not only can you Photosynth pictures horizontally but also vertically enabling travellers to photograph the full sphere of the world’s many wonders. The social options are impressive too. Once the app’s made your photo tapestry you can then share it as an interactive panoramic experience on social networks such as Twitter and Facebook, so it’s easy and instant to make your friends, family and followers jealous of your latest adventure.
Unless you’re a language wizard and own every Rosetta Stone out there then Google’s Translate application is an absolute God-send, especially in countries where you don’t even have the slightest grasp of their language (hello Japan) and English isn’t their second tongue. With 64 languages at your disposal you’ll be able to translate simple phrases and key words for most main travel destinations, it also has a foreign character keyboard and full screen mode so you can show the poor locals what you’re trying to say, even if you can’t say it. And if this doesn’t work you can listen to your translations aloud, to either perfect your pronunciation or to play to whoever you’re trying to communicate with. Other excellently helpful features include being able to star and save your favourite translations and translation history for easy access even when you’re not online.
Best of the Rest
HotelTonight: There’s nothing worse than wandering a new city panicking about where to lay your weary head. You can only use it for same-day bookings and the last minute nature can often save you substantial money.
Find-ER: Accidents do happen, Find-ER locates the nearest hospital wherever you are in the world, a potentially lifesaving app.
TripAdvisor: It’s bursting at the seams with over 75 Million user reviews of hotels, activities and restaurants wherever you find yourself in the world.
Zac Colbert is a travel writer from Brighton, UK. He covers a range of topics from travel tech and dream destinations, to the perks of flying in a private jet and the most luxurious hotels around the globe.