Best free travel apps: These free, useful travel smartphone apps will help you check your packing list, find Wi-Fi, translate important phrases, coordinate your travel itinerary, call home, even find a bathroom when you travel overseas. And did I say they are free?
Skype – don’t worry about cell phone coverage overseas, or astronomical international phone charges. Use Skype instead to talk to anybody, anywhere, via your computer. Available for iPhone/Blackberry/Android.
Poynt – Locates nearby restaurants, bars, gas stations and other businesses, with detailed information and maps. New features added regularly. Available for iPhone/Blackberry/Android. In the U.S., I like to use GasBuddy to find the cheapest gas prices, by state, city or by zipcode.
iTranslate — Translates into 52 languages; now has voice recognition, so you can speak the English word and get the translation. For iPhone only.
Navita Translator — Translates into more than 50 languages. For BlackBerry only.
Frommer’s Travel Tools — Currency converter, packing list, time translator, unit converter (Celsius to Fahrenheit, for example) city guides, tip calculator, even a travel trivia game for long flights or train rides. For iPhone only.
Wi-Fi Finder — Currently lists more than 545,000 locations in 144 countries. Using the GPS function on your iPhone, the Wi-Fi finder will tell you exactly where the closest Wi-Fi hotspot is, plus directions to get there. For iPhone only. If you don’t have an iPhone, use the website FreeWifiSpot.
TripIt Travel Organizer — Forward your travel confirmation e-mails to firstname.lastname@example.org to build a trip itinerary. For iPhone only. If you are on LinkedIn, you can also see who else is on that same itinerary, which helps networking at business meetings, advises Meetings Net.
WorldMate — Acts as your personal travel assistant. Store your travel itinerary and meeting schedule, monitor airline schedules in real time, and more. For real road warriors, upgraded packages are available for purchase. For iPhone/iPad/Blackberry/Android.
World Customs & Cultures — Everything you need to know about customs, cultural information, and facts about more than 165 countries, separated into categories such as greetings, personal space and touching, laws, taboos, and more. For iPhone only.
And since we almost always need to go when we are on the go, this free app just might be the most important and useful of them all —
Sit or Squat — At last count, this app includes more than 106,000 public toilets worldwide, and more are being added every day.
Many destinations also offer free smartphone guides, including the Prinicpality of Monaco, Switzerland, and the Caribbean island of Dominica. The advantage of these downloads is that they are free. The disadvantage is that they normally include only members of that destination’s visitors bureau, which means you could be missing out finding out about many small, family owned restaurants and bed and breakfasts.
You could actually save money overseas by spending a few bucks to download a smartphone guide from Sutro Media, the leading publisher of travel apps. Full disclosure — My own NYC travel app, NYC Free and Frugal, is published by Sutro Media.
Related article: Five top travel apps for safe road trips
posted by Evelyn Kanter