Our iPhones, Androids, and iPads have become primary means for surviving the expected and unexpected elements of travel. Below are six of our favorite free travel apps to help navigate everything from flight delays to last-minute hotel choices to shopping experiences in foreign cities.
Learn about flight delays even before they’re posted on the airport flight boards (and even before you head to the airport). This app tracks every commercial flight in real time on full-screen maps and informs passengers of the daily whereabouts of their exact aircraft (plus it offers flight history for at least a week prior). Knowing the current status of your aircraft helps predict future flight delays. Beyond departure information, status of incoming aircraft, delays, cancellations, flight connections, and gate assignments, FlightAware Flight Tracker also offers more advanced GPS tracking and weather features for tracking inclement weather.
Ideal for very last-minute travelers and those stranded due to transportation delays, this travel app offers same-day hotel bookings at discounts up to 70%. Inventory changes nightly and some rooms are available up to seven days in advance. The app works in major cities across the United States, Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, United Kingdom, France, Spain, Germany, Italy, and Australia.
The best source for researching any and all lounges within all airports, including amenities, location, and entry requirements, is this easy-to-use app, which has information aggregated by airport and thus can tailor lounge searches to your airports of departure. Lounge Buddy makes its money through the purchase of lounge day passes where possible, but we simply use this app as a source of information and reviews and use our Priority PassTM or Platinum Card from American Express to actually enter the lounges.
There are plenty of apps to choose from when it comes to analyzing airline seats, but old-school Seat Guru is our favorite—consider it your foundation for setting in-flight expectations and getting the best seat. The app maintains a full catalog of airline seating charts for various aircraft, with detailed plane layouts. You can search by airline, aircraft, or even a specific flight number to get the full details of your plane for your intended date of travel. Seat Guru utilizes a color-coded seat map, where, much like a traffic light system, red means avoid, yellow means caution, and green means book it. You’ll also get details about seat size (width and pitch), the presence/absence of in-seat entertainment, power outlets, and tips specific to your airplane.
Love it or hate it, TripAdvisor is a primary resource for many when it comes to choosing a hotel. The popular website’s mobile app allows handheld access to a half-billion reviews by TripAdvisor’s 315 million members. Whether fabulous or downright outlandish, these reviews allow the public to become travel critics (and voice an opinion on just about everything). In addition, TripAdvisor offers free Offline City Guides from your phone, with all of its restaurant, hotel, and review content as well as self-guided tours. tripadvisor.com/apps-itamobile
Keep track of live rates for every active currency on the planet, and convert between currencies with up-to-the-minute rates on the mobile currency calculator. Update the app before heading abroad, so you can store exchange rates and then convert prices offline when shopping internationally.