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Smartphones are useful for countless tasks, including conveniently researching and booking travel components.
Here I list some of my favorite iPhone travel apps; iPhone, that is, not mobile apps. The difference? Mobile apps include apps for tablets and smartphones. iPhone is a smartphone (iPad is a tablet). While the differences between the two product lines are getting fuzzier, this article covers only iPhone travel apps.
Imagine you have flown to another city and are walking around town. You are using your smartphone, not a tablet. Right? Some people DO walk around using tablets but they are a weird lot.
To me, tablet apps are great for planning the major travel components (air, car, lodging) in advance while iPhone travel apps are wonderful for figuring out things to do (or report on) while at a destination.
Yes, there are other smartphones besides iPhones. iPhone, though, is what I own and am most familiar with.
Oh, and these are my favorite iPhone travel apps, which may not correspond with what mainstream journalists write about. On with it …
8 Great iPhone Travel Apps
- Yelp. Besides non-travel apps (email, Facebook, Twitter, Photos, Instagram), Yelp is by far the app I use the most. If NSA tracks my usage, they must wonder how many times I eat every day. If I am not looking for somewhere to eat for my next meal or snack, I am figuring out where I will go later that day, the next day, and so on. Yelp has a great system for people to leave feedback and the reviews are fun, cool, and very useful. Yelp is not limited to places to eat. It lists events, attractions, stores, services, and much more. When I find somewhere to eat or visit through Yelp, it links to directions on my Maps app. [other dining apps I like include UrbanSpoon and Open Table]
- Maps. Even without Yelp, I use my Maps app often. On road trips, I enjoy exploring very small roads (bonus points if unpaved) and I will frequently stop to figure out my progress on Maps. I also use Maps to analyze routes and traffic conditions. Maps is the default iPhone system app and I am lazy about looking for a replacement app. I know people love Google Maps, Waze, and others. What is your favorite map app?
- Hotel Coupons. As I mentioned above, I enjoy exploring and usually cannot predict where I will end the day. That is one reason I do not like to book lodging in advance. Exploring the smaller roads in the United States means that I often end up in small towns with motels and some chain hotels. There are several lodging apps that I typically consult but Hotel Coupons provides the best results, especially for lodging outside of cities. [other lodging apps I like include HotelsByMe, Hotel Tonight, Room 77, and Hotel Pal]
- The Weather Channel. Whether (intentional pun) I am traveling solo or with others, weather conditions often play a role in day-to-day activities. When exploring on solo roads trips, I enjoy scenic hikes in National Parks and forests. If we are on a family trip and the forecast is for heavy rain, we will alter plans. While on trips, I will check The Weather Channel app at least in the morning and sometimes throughout the day. I also occasionally look at Yahoo! Weather; I like its current opening screen, where I have listed some favorite destinations. At a glance I can see weather conditions in my favorite places and rue not being there.
- Kayak. Kayak is a favorite travel research app, where I look up air and hotel rates. Kayak does more but that is what I mostly use it for. I typically crosscheck hotel ratings and rates on my Kayak app to confirm my findings from the above hotel apps.
- TripAdvisor. While Yelp is my go-to app for eating, TripAdvisor is better for information about attractions and lodging. I also frequently use TripAdvisor to confirm results from other apps.
- Various social media apps. While on trips, I frequently check and post to Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. They are nice resources to pick up tips, especially if you have an active following. After narrowing choices, it is fun to let others help decide where to eat, stay, or go to next.
- Local Flavor. Depending on the trip, I usually download at least one specific app for that destination. It might be a walking guide, curated dining or attraction app, or other location specific resource.
So, those are my favorite iPhone travel apps.