Take a step off the beaten path with our picks for best apps to take flight with. Find out where to go and what to do, no matter where you find yourself.
So, you’ve made it to Berlin/Amsterdam/Hong Kong/etc. You’re on the lam for a few hours, no direction home, when you realize that all the museums, bars and restaurants in the land won’t keep you that busy.
Unless you have an uncanny skill for meeting potentially less-than-inviting, foreign-language-speaking locals, you’re going to need resources. Not money, not personnel: in 2012 (the unofficial age of having all human knowledge in the hard drive of your handheld) the resource you require is a suite of travel-themed apps that will take you where you want to go to get what you want.
But we’ve done the work for you, so sit back and scroll down.
Find Your Way
oMaps - Free
This app is pretty basic. It’s just maps. But it allows you to access full city maps from around the globe while you have free internet access and download whatever you need to use when you don’t. International 4G roaming fees aren’t pretty, so offline access to an entire map of Paris can come in handy when you’re lost in the Latin Quarter and need to find your bearings.
Foodspotting - Free
You may know the website, but do you know the app? The simplest and, we believe, best guide to the best food wherever you are is Foodspotting. Scroll through image after image of delectable dishes and select what looks best to you. Indecision strikes? Check the reviews; fellow foodies won’t lead you astray.
Know Your Place
mTrip Travel Guides - $6 per city
Perhaps the coolest travel app we’ve seen in a while, mTrip Travel Guides are definitely the most bang for your buck. Like oMaps, this app works mostly offline and allows you to compile everything you want to see and do in a personal itinerary. Even better, the augmented reality function gives you the ability to learn more about the world around you in real time, without missing a beat. Downside: It’s $6 per city, so if you plan on hopping from one center to the next, it’ll get pricey.
Airbnb - Free
What to do if you’ve moved on from hostel-hopping but hotels are still a little too blue for your blood? The answer is Airbnb, now in app form. Find a fully furnished apartment or room to rent in any major city for a fraction of the cost of most hotels. Don’t worry about safety; Airbnb is a review-based community of renters and rentees, so you can rest assured you’re not in danger of international proportions.
ACHTUNG! CAUTION! CUIDADO!
Word Lens - $10 per language
Pretty simple: see a sign in a foreign language and need a translation? Word Lens has your back: simply take a picture of the sign in question and the app will translate the text for you. It costs $10 per language, so it may not be the most affordable app, but if you’re the type who likes to wander around a country without learning the local languages, this is the app for you.