AppWatch: Five apps to cure the travel bug

Five smartphone apps to get you where you want to be

As winter turns Australian skies wet and dreary, it's about that time when the adventurous and downright bored jet off to find green pastures. Whether, it's Europe, Asia, Africa or the US, here are five smartphone apps to help you on your way.

iPhone – Lonely Planet Travel Guides App by Lonely Planet Publications

Price: Free

Jam-packed full of award-winning guides and audio phrasebooks, the Lonely Planet Guide app offers in-depth and accurate reviews, handy interactive maps and stunning images. With its location-aware technology, you are able to search easily and efficiently for specific information. The app allows you to peruse guidebooks, plan your dream itinerary and discover incredible cultures all from your phone. The inclusion of audio phrasebooks is an incredible help when it comes to interacting and understanding foreign cultures as well. There are hundreds of translated, phonetically written and spoken phrases at your fingertips.

Pros: Lonely Planet has a great reputation for their travel guides so you know you can trust their info.

Cons: While the app itself is free, each guide costs extra

iPhone – Frommer’s Travel Tools by QuickMobile Inc.

Price: Free

This helpful app acts as your own personal tour guide while you are travelling. It covers everything from where to eat, what to see, where to unwind or party, where to shop and of course, where to sleep at the end of each day. It includes a tip calculator and a currency converter so you know exactly how much cash you have, and how much you should be tipping. You can send postcards to make friends jealous and keep in touch, it also cleverly converts units such as temperatures, distances and weight (great for your luggage!), and translates times which is invaluable when crossing borders, or meeting up with someone. A fun little feature is the travel trivia, which can make time fly while waiting for flights or transport.

Pros: The expert knowledge of restaurants, sights and attractions means you won’t miss a thing, while the practical functions will keep you out of trouble.

Cons: While the wealth of overall information is impressive, there isn’t information for every possible destination around the world.

iPhone – iSpeedy – Flights Hotels & Car Hire by Speedy Travel Ltd

Price: Free

This is a fantastic app that allows you to search and book flights, whether domestic or international, with over 200 different airlines. It enables you to book accommodation in over 16,000 hotels in around 80 countries across the globe. There is also a car hiring service available for Australia and New Zealand, and it’s all accessible from your iPhone. You can even edit your personal information like credit cards details or frequent flyer numbers directly from your phone.

Pros: Easy and quick access to information and booking services, plus a supplied contact number for any help you may require.

Cons: It is unclear when flight information was last updated, which can feel uneasy.

iPhone – Currency by Jeffrey Grossman

Price: Free

This app enables you to access up-to-date currency exchange rate information for over 100 currencies, an invaluable tool for travellers needing to know how much their cash is worth in different destinations around the world. You’re able to add or delete different country’s currencies to and from the list depending on your travels, which is convenient. It also updates frequently with accurate information; essential when your budget is limited.

Pros: The instancy of the information is efficient and convenient.

Cons: Pop-up ads can be both distracting and irritating.

Link: http://itunes.apple.com/app/currency/id284220417?mt=8

BlackBerry – Navita Translator by Navita Tecnologia

Price: Free

With this app on your BlackBerry you will never have a language barrier problem again; well, most of the time anyway. This app translates a grand total of more than 50 languages and speaks English, Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, French, German and Russian – most major languages spoken across Europe. Most conveniently, it works with phrases from e-mails, your browser, SMS or simply typing the words into the app. It can also send the translations through to Twitter, Mail, Pin and Memo and comes with a free support system for trouble-shooting.

Pros: Being able to communicate easily, even in the most basic of conversations, with foreigners in their native tongue.

Cons: Having limited languages on the app can leave you stuck if it doesn’t have the language you need. The speaking side of the app also struggles when you have another text-to-speak app installed.

BlackBerry – Urbanspoon by Wanderspot

Price: Free

This is a cute and fun app that helps you find a restaurant near your current location. It cleverly uses your specific whereabouts to suggest places to eat and also takes into account the type of cuisine and your budget. It uses GPS and Urbanspoon’s ratings to find somewhere suitable for you, especially on a topic that many are so often indecisive about – food. It provides a rating of who like the restaurant, so you get a gist of the restaurant’s status and popularity. Lastly, it helpfully provides restaurant location and contact details.

The app is also available for the iPhone.

Pros: Convenient, efficient and knowledgeable, it is such a handy tool while you’re travelling and have no idea of the eateries in your current location.

Cons: The number of people rating the restaurant is limited and it is unclear how many people may have not enjoyed the experience.

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