Helpful Travel Apps For 2016

For those of us who travel, our smartphones have allowed us to book travel, hotels and get food all in one place. Wether by plane, train or automobile, here are 16 travel apps that you need to have in 2016 according to Stephanie Rosenbloom of the NY Times (Ref)

LiveTrekker This French app is a dream for flâneurs who love to wander without a map and yet, later, long to see where they’ve been. The app logs how far you walk, but I’m hooked on the red line it draws up and down each street, and through every park and museum you visit. Before setting off, tap the “tracker” button and then “start.” When you’ve returned to your hotel hours later, you’ll have a detailed, zoomable map (the satellite version that allows you to see trees and landmarks is a favorite) of where you’ve walked that you can also view on a computer and share with friends. I’ve used LiveTrekker to see how much of a city I’ve explored, and to note the little streets I strolled down whose names I might otherwise have forgotten. Cost: free.
Bravolol This app brand puts basic phrases and vocabulary — “Thank you,” “How much?,” “A table for two, please” — at your fingertips. Each (in my case) English phrase is shown in the foreign language and sometimes as a transliteration, too. Even better: Tap a phrase, and the app speaks it aloud so you know how to pronounce it. There are a variety of languages available, including French, Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Portuguese, Russian and Arabic. Cost: free for basic categories, and $4.99 for additional categories such as “driving” and “sightseeing.”
Duolingo If you want to begin studying a language but don’t have the time, money or inclination for classes, you can learn during your commute or waiting in line at the supermarket with this app, which turns language learning into a game of multiple choice questions, word matching quizzes and translation challenges. Answer correctly and, like a video game, you can proceed to the next category. Courses are available in languages including Spanish, French, Italian, German and Portuguese. Cost: free.
Vurb One of the newer travel apps out there, Vurb allows you to access all your favorite workhorse apps in a single place. You can search for or discover destinations and events, and then do all the things you would normally do for an afternoon in a city — make a reservation on OpenTable (see below), buy movie tickets on Fandango, check out a location on Google Maps (below), request a car through Lyft or Uber (below), look at Yelp reviews or Foursquare tips, chat with your friends — all without closing Vurb and opening a half dozen other apps. (You give Vurb permission to open your various apps.) For instance, let’s say you opened Vurb and searched for an Italian restaurant. After you select one and tap on its virtual address and information card, you’ll see icons for popular apps like OpenTable, Google Maps, Safari and Uber. You can then tap one after another to quickly make a reservation, get directions and request a car without having to hunt for and open multiple apps. Cost: free.
Apple iBooks This is an often-overlooked native iPhone app. A virtual library of your own creation, it allows you to highlight favorite passages, add notes and tap a button to send yourself or someone else favorite quotes and passages from the digital books you’re reading. You can download a travel guide or take a bookshelf’s worth of classics with you to London. Poetry by Keats, Longfellow and Elizabeth Barrett Browning can be downloaded free. You can increase the font size, and an option to darken the pages is handy if you want to read in your hotel bed while your partner is sleeping. Cost: free (you pay for most books you download).
NOAA Radar Pro This weather app has more bells and whistles than anyone needs, but it’s also more accurate than other weather apps I’ve tried. It’s easy to scroll through hourly and weekly forecasts. You can customize the order in which you see forecasts for things like precipitation, wind, visibility and what the temperature feels like. And you can bookmark multiple places where you want to regularly check the weather. Cost: free for basic version; $1.99 for pro, which is ad-free and has seven-day forecasts (instead of three), severe-weather notifications and a hurricane tracker.
Google Maps and Google Translate Easy to use, with turn-by-turn voice navigation and clean lines, Google Maps is my first map stop. And now that there’s also offline navigation, you won’t incur roaming charges. Cost: free. Google Translate can be used in various ways. For example, you can tap the camera icon on your phone and then hold it up to a menu and see a translation. You can get translations of words that you speak, type or draw on your smartphone screen with your finger. The app is also capable of real-time translation while two people converse. I try to muddle through in a foreign language as much as possible, but it’s comforting to know that in a pinch I’ve got a translator in my pocket. Cost: free.
XE Currency For some people, currency conversion is a breeze. For the rest of us, there are apps. This one updates in real time, can display multiple currencies simultaneously, and the price is right. Cost: free (a pro version for $2.29 allows you to monitor more currencies).
TripIt This travel organizer allows members to forward their various hotel, flight, car rental, concert and restaurant confirmation email to a single address and in return receive a digital itinerary. I’m even more impressed with the app’s ability to alert me to gate changes before an airline’s app. Cost: free; $49 a year for the pro version that includes flight, seat and fare refund alerts and allows you to keep track of your rewards points and miles.
OpenTable This popular app and reward program lets you browse restaurants both casual and costly, and then book with a few taps. Users earn points for dining (a typical reservation earns 100 points), which can then be exchanged for discounts at participating restaurants or an Amazon gift card. For example, 2,000 points gets you $20 toward a meal or a $10 Amazon card. This can add up, especially if you book regularly, even when you know your favorite local joint isn’t crowded. Cost: free.
Uber Love or hate the company, this app is indispensable on rainy days and late nights when mass transit is inconvenient and there isn’t a cab in sight. In cities like Los Angeles, it’s made doing without a rental car an option. And of course you don’t have to worry about having enough cash on hand because its linked to your credit card. Cost: free.