We love Android. And we travel. A lot. And after thousands and thousands of miles and more airports than we can recall, we like to think we've got a handle on the best Android travel apps. Some are obvious and likely already are on your phone. Others might require a download. Some are free, some will cost you a few bucks. (And, like most things Android, there are alternatives for everything.)
What do we look for in the best Android travel apps? In a word: Reliability. The last thing you want to do when you're out of your comfort zone -- be it in another city, another state or another country -- is to have to fumble with your phone anymore than is necessary.
So grab your passport, strap in and join us after the break as we give you our top picks for the best Android travel apps.
First things first: You're going to need to create some trips. While we generally prefer to do our booking from a full browser -- it's just more comforting given the amount of money changing hands -- most of the major catch-all booking sites have Android apps. Orbitz, Expedia, Travelocity, Kayak, Hipmunk, Priceline -- they've all got em. Just do a quick search in the Google Play store to download your favorite.
If you're going to hit the road, fly the friendly skies, ship out or do anything else that involves being miles from home, you need Tripit. It organizes your itineraries better than you could ever hope to do yourself, and it makes them available on smartphones, tablets, desktops and laptops -- anywhere, really, and it does so with ease. Once you're registered, you just forward your confirmation e-mails (plane tickets, hotel reservations, car rental agreements -- anything, really) to email@example.com. Tripit takes over from there, parsing all the relevant information and compiling it into an easy-to-follow itinerary.
There's a bit of a social facet as well. If your family, friends and co-workers use Tripit, you can add them to your network and keep up with their travels, as well as see who's traveled the most miles, to the most cities. Or, you can add folks to your "Inner Circle" and automatically share your complete itinerary. (I use that so my wife doesn't have to guess which city I'm in.)
What's more: Tripit has a pretty good API that feeds into other applications. (More on that in a minute.) The basic Tripit app is free, there's a $3.99 ad-free version, and the Tripit Pro service (which adds automatic sharing, point tracking and other goodies) runs $49 a year. [Download: Tripit]
This one's a no-brainer, right? It's free, it's already on your phone, and for those of us born into the Internet Age, we have no idea how the world got long without it. From the excellent mapping and 3D rendering to the powerful search and ability to see exactly where you'll be going thanks to Street View, you cannot afford to ignore this app while you're on the road.
This one may be a little redundant if also you're using something like Tripit, but it's more than good enough to stand on its own. FlightTrack, as the name implies, tracks your flights. It's beautifully designed and will show city info, flight numbers, departure and arrival dates and times, as well as layover lengths. (Layovers less than an hour are briliantly shown in red.) Plus you'll get delay forecasts and weather info, general flight paths (we'd prefer more accurate flight-path tracking, akin to what Flight Aware has), and links to alternate flights, airline info, SeatGuru seat maps and the ability to leave yourself notes on a flight. The downside is that in this basic $4.99 you have to add flights individually.
An upgrade to FlightTrack Pro costs another $4.99 -- yeah, we're now at $10, for those of you counting at home -- and adds live flight updates and Tripit integration, which means you'll no longer have to add flights yourself. If the flight's in Tripit, it's added to FlightTrack. [Download: Flight Track, Flight Track Pro]
Makes sense, right? A number of the world's major airlines, hotel chains and car rental agencies have their own Android applications with features that go beyond apps like Tripit. For example: I use Delta, and its official application lets me check in to flights, use mobile boarding passes -- even change seats and check upgrade lists.
Search the Google Play store to see if your favorite airline has an Android app, or check out our handy official airline apps roundup. Same goes for hotels and car rental services. See if your favorite has an app.
Admittedly, this one's a bit of a luxury. But it also can save your butt in the city if taxi service is spotty. Car services like Uber and GroundLink (our two choices for this roundup, but there are many others) make getting a ride easy. You feed the app your credit card info. A couple taps later, and you've got a car hired and on its way to your location. Or schedule one for when you arrive. You don't need cash, tips are included, and it's as easy as can be. [Download: Groundlink, Uber]
If you travel outside your home country, you're going to have to deal with currency conversion. (Or pay the price for not knowing just how bad the Dollar is doing these days.) Currency Converter is a great way to make sure you know exactly how much you're spending. [Download: Currency Converter]
Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich has a built-in data-usage monitor, which can potentially save you a chunk of change if you're overseas and on a roaming budget. We'd recommend checking in with your carrier, but the built-in ICS app can be used as a rough estimate of how many MBs you've gobbled up, and it's got a handy alarm, too. Look for it in your mobile data settings.
Expensify (free for basic use)
If you have to submit receipts or expense reports, you must try this app. Expensify makes it ridiculously easy to upload and organize expenses. You can e-mail electronic invoices directly to your account, or photograph and upload receipts. Expensify then scans those receipts to parse out the important data. Submitting expense reports is as simple as grouping receipts and invoices. You get 10 free scans a month, and upgrades are relatively cheap. [Download: Expensify]
Have a favorite travel app we missed? Let us know in the comments!
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