With these apps your Android phone or tablet becomes an essential travel companion
There are a whole bunch of great apps available in the Google Play Store for those of us who travel, be it regularly or only occasionally.
Whatever the trip, whatever the purpose, with an Android smartphone in your pocket you've got the potential to have a powerful travel arsenal at your disposal to help you out in any situation.
It'd be impossible to mention them all, or even just all of the good ones, there's so many. But we've whittled down to a list of what we consider to be 10 of the very best travel apps available for Android, in particular apps that aren't too specific (like airlines) or too region restricted. Let's take a look.
TripIt is as close to a no-brainer for frequent travelers that you'll find. It is so useful it's actually ridiculous. So long as you're happy enough allowing it access to your inbox, you need never worry about collating your travel plans again. Flights, hotels, train journeys and much more will just automagically be pulled into your TripIt account from your inbox and have trips created for you. As you book more for that trip, it's smart enough to recognize the matching dates and organize accordingly. (And if you'd prefer TripIt not sniff around your inbox, you can still send itineraries manually.)
All this is available in the free download (ad-supported) or the regular ad-free $0.99 version. If you pay up for a yearly TripIt Pro subscription you get even more on top of this. Push notifications keep you up to date with the latest as you're hauling through the airport, seat tracker helps you set up alerts to find a better seat and you can even keep track of your frequent flyer programs all in the one place.
If you could only have one app to manage your travel plans, this should be it.
- Download TripIt (Free/$0.99)
Hotel Tonight is one of those apps with a very focused purpose, but that delivers that purpose extremely well. It only offers you the chance to book a hotel to check in on the same day – hence the name. It doesn't have hundreds of hotels to choose from, rather offering up a selection with deals on available rooms. If you're travelling at short notice, Hotel Tonight can help take some of the grind out of finding some accomodation.
It also comes with a really nicely done Android application that's well designed, easy to use and allows you to integrate your Google Wallet account if you're in the U.S. Add to that support for a bunch of major cities across the States and around the world and you'll never be left without a bed for the night.
- Download: Hotel Tonight (Free)
If you're looking to book a hotel a little further in advance than the day of travel you can do a lot worse than Laterooms.com and its Android app. The service itself is very competitive with frequent deals across a range of hotels to take advantage of and the Android app is absolutely superb.
It pulls in Google Maps to overlay hotels and their respective prices on so you can get a real feel for where you're searching. It also has the traditional list view and a whole host of filters you can apply to help whittle down the search listings to find exactly what you're looking for.
The simple slide out menu helps you manage your account on the go and access your present, past and future bookings and generally offers a pleasant experience to something which is often tedious and tiresome.
- Download: Laterooms.com (Free)
Airports are usually noisy, hot, extremely busy and full of people rushing around left right and center. Or at least that's how it goes at London airports! We're not all priviliged – and wealthy enough – to be allowed access to our airlines business and first class lounges, but there are other options at the terminal. And with Loungebuddy on your Android device you can find the very best of them.
It crowdsources its reviews – think TripAdvisor, but for airport lounges – and its users can upload images along with some blurb to help you decide whether or not its the one for you. Airline lounges are also included so you can check out that swanky first class lounge before you get to the terminal. Just add in your journeys and let it do the rest.
It's well designed, easy to use, full of useful information, and just might help you escape the melee.
- Download: Loungebuddy (Free)
We've all been there. We're out shopping in a foreign country and the first question is always "I wonder how much that is in (insert your own currency.)" So grab a currency converter app to help you out. They're not particularly exciting, but XE Currency is one of the best of the bunch. At a glance you're able to convert into a range of different currencies and the exchange rates are updated frequently.
- Download: XE Currency (Free)
When you're in a strange town you still need to get around and that's where Uber comes in. It gets the nod here over some similar services primarily because of its more global reach. With big money backers that includes Google Ventures, Uber allows you to call for a ride and pay for it without having to stand in the street trying to hail a cab or hand over any cash. In the U.S. you can even pay using Google Wallet.
Uber has different levels of car from the more basic through 'executive' and right up into 'luxury.' The fare quoter at least gives you an idea how much you'll be paying for each, but the rates are generally extremely competitive and you might well find that you can go around in a bit of style while you're out on your travels. There's also plenty of opportunity to earn free credit – sign up using a referral to get started then get your friends and family to use your own links to boost your own account.
- Download: Uber (Free)
The business travellers best friend. If you're on a business trip and you're going to need to submit an expense report and receipts then Expensify is still one of the easiest ways to collate that information. It's been around for some time now and has a faithful user base that swear by it. It's hard to argue with any of them when you've got things like travel itinerary support and smart scan that will read the information from just your pictures of receipts.
You can try it out for free too for individuals. Can't say fairer than that.
- Download: Expensify (Free)
Google Maps needs literally no introduction. It remains to this day one of, if not the very best mobile mapping service around. When you're travelling you're going to need to know where you're at and where you're going. And for that you can't go far wrong with Google Maps.
And with the latest update adding much easier access to offline maps, Uber integration and a bunch more, it really is a travel essential.
- Download: Google Maps (Free)
Part of travelling – often the worst part – is searching for and booking flights. With countless airlines and different routes possible to get to where you're going, any tool to help take some of the pain away is welcome. Skyscanner is a fantastic option for doing just that. Tell it where you're going and when and it will scour the web to come up with the best options available. It might even help save you some money since it often comes up with great deals on flights.
The app itself is pretty well designed and a synch to use. And definitely helps take the pain out of finding flights.
- Download: Skyscanner (Free)
Google Now takes its rightful place in this list because it does many similar things to some of the apps mentioned above, with the bonus of being pre-installed on new Google certified Android devices. It isn't as feature rich as something like TripIt, but if you're looking for a basic flight tracker, currency converter, world clock and travel guide, then don't overlook it. Really don't.
- Download: Google Search (Free)
So, those are our top 10 picks for helping us get through our travels, but what about yours? Got a particular travel app you just can't live without? Sing its praises in the comments down below!