Travel gets better with these five must-have smartphone applications

Posted Oct. 16, 2012


Smartphones have changed lives, especially for those individuals who love to grab their suitcases and purchase the next ticket to “anywhere but here.”

It used to be far-fetched — giving so much importance to a technological device that fits in the palm of your hand — but the ability to download thousands of travel-related applications has made this lucrative idea come to life.

Travelers who have cell phones with smartphone capabilities now have an upper hand in airports, railroad stations, overseas locations, and speed packing thanks to applications that have alleviated the stress that accompanies traveling, and essentially made life simpler, except when you lose the phone or it breaks.

People with tablets can also benefit from these applications as long as they have a WiFi connection or a data plan.

With more than 20,590 traveling applications to choose from in the iPhone App Store and the Android Market Place, it can become frustrating knowing which ones are worth the megabytes, and sometimes, a few dollars.

However, this guide will lead travelers in the right direction, with five must-have travel applications that will save time, money, and even grey hair.

Screenshot of Gate Guru application (Photo by Elizabeth de Armas).

Screenshot of Gate Guru application (Photo by Elizabeth de Armas).

1. Gate Guru — This app will be your survival mechanism from the moment you step foot into the airport and depart, up until the moment you arrive at your desired destination.

This airport guru provides travelers with up-to-date flight status information, airport amenity listings including retail shops and food, and even allows you to read tips and reviews from previous travelers who have been on the same route. With easy access to maps of 125 global airports, notifications for flight status changes, bookmarking capabilities, and the ability to update your social media network, there is nothing better.

And the best part, it’s free. (For those Android users reading this and secretly wishing you had an iPhone, Gate Guru is available for you too!).


Screenshot of Hotel Tonight application (Photo by Elizabeth de Armas).

Screenshot of Hotel Tonight application (Photo by Elizabeth de Armas).

2. Hotel Tonight — For those spontaneous travelers who get the urge to grab their suitcase and take a road trip or plane flight for a weekend getaway, say hello to your new best friend. This application gives users the ability to book last-minute hotel deals for less than half the price, and right on your phone.

Yes, it is secure. Yes, it saves you money. And yes, it is free. (Still reading Android users? Well, you’re in for a treat. This one is available in your app store market, too!)

Stefanie del Campo, a 21-year-old Miami native who loves to travel, says this app is “heaven sent.”

“When I saw this app was rated five-stars, I knew I had to have it, but I didn’t know it was going to be this good,” del Campo said. “I have been able to go on unplanned trips with my boyfriend. And stay at pretty nice places, for the price of a Holiday Inn booked months in advance.”

Screenshot of OANDA Currency Converter application (Photo by Elizabeth de Armas).

Screenshot of OANDA Currency Converter application (Photo by Elizabeth de Armas).

3. OANDA Currency Converter — Have you ever thought you were being charged more than what it really costs to exchange currency? Don’t let that be a thought anymore. With this free app, users are able to convert exchange rates for more than 180 currencies and four precious metals.

And for those countries where the value of a dollar is constantly changing, like the peso in Mexico, be assured that this currency converter adjusts rates to what you’re being charged at the moment to what the price really is.

You’ll one up any sneaky business with this one. (Yes, Android users, you can download this one too!)

4. Packing Pro — Let’s get the bad news out of the way first. This application has a one-time fee of $2.99 and it is iPhone exclusive. Sorry, Android users. Now that the worst is over, download this amazing gadget that is worth way more than what you bargained for.

Screenshot of Packing Pro application (Photo by Elizabeth de Armas).

Screenshot of Packing Pro application (Photo by Elizabeth de Armas).

This expert application has simplified the word that most travelers dread — packing. Packing can be so stressful and time consuming, and there will be more times than not that something gets left out of the suitcase. But, those days are over.

Packing Pro allows travelers to create a customized list of what they plan on bringing aboard during their trip.

This app organizes your traveling needs by category and then allows you to check them off as you go packing them away. Whether the trip is three days or three weeks, Packing Pro is ready to help. Just name the list, input the travel dates and begin your stress-free packing.

Del Campo wouldn’t travel anywhere without completing her checklist on Packing Pro first.

“I am super organized and absolutely hate forgetting things,” del Campo said. “This app is worth every penny. And, honestly, you’ll probably end up spending more money buying things you forget than actually buying the app. Trust me.”

5. TripIt — If TripIt isn’t the quintessential traveling app, I don’t know what is. TripIt organizes all of your traveling needs, from hotel bookings and confirmation emails, to itinerary information and vacation details. Booking something on the Internet or over the phone, and sending the confirmation to your email? Forward it to

Screenshot of TripIt application (Photo by Elizabeth de Armas).

Screenshot of TripIt application (Photo by Elizabeth de Armas).

Your TripIt account will automatically save it for you. Yes, it’s that easy. Although TripIt is free, there are two other options available with this app. For users who despise advertisements getting in the way of their application usage, the “no ad” version is available for a one-time fee of $3.99.

And, for those mega travelers, who travel more days out of the year away than they spend at home, there is TripIt Pro. This entails a yearly membership fee of $49.

But, for frequent travelers, it accumulates your airline miles, sends you airline savings notifications, has calendar syncing capabilities, status alert updates, and more. Every TripIt version is available on Android, too.

Victor Gonzalez, an iPhone user, relies on TripIt when planning to travel. “I have the free app because I don’t travel often, but if I did, I would pay whatever the yearly fee is,” he said.

“I make a reservation and I know that once I forward it to my TripIt account, it will be there. It has saved me so many headaches, and a lot of time.”

These five applications are just the beginning to thousands of other traveling apps that are worth taking a looking at. But start with the basics. Then, explore the rest. Once you jump on the application travel track, you’ll never go back.

“TripIt, Hotel Tonight, and Packing Pro are all downloaded on my phone, along with about nine other traveling applications, and I don’t even travel frequently,” Gonzalez said. “If I did, I think I would need another phone just for traveling apps because they’re that worth it and that good. You go on vacation to relax, and these apps let you do that.”

If you haven’t downloaded these apps yet, what are you waiting for? You have a vacation to plan.


  • Gate Guru/ Price: Free/ Apple and Android accessible
  • Hotel Tonight/ Price: Free/ Apple and Android accessible
  • OANDA Currency Converter/ Price: Free/ Apple and Android accessible
  • Packing Pro/ Price: $2.99/ Apple accessible
  • TripIt/ Price: Free, $3.99 no ads, $49 pro version/ Apple and Android accessible

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