Whether you’re heading “into the wild” or just trying to lighten the suitcase this summer, don’t leave home without the iphone tucked safety next to the passport. Every holiday maker, and dubiously unshaven traveler, is frantically trying to shed some baggage and, while some may take this to extremes (searching for the “Zen-like” hippy state, free of all possessions), most just want a little less to haul off the conveyer belt at Heathrow. So before you go native, here are the essential iphone apps to lighten the load and save you from being eaten by bears.
1. Guide Books: The single most annoying travelling essential. They are big, bulky and heavy and, while photocopying the pages often helps, precautions need to be taken if you leave your pre-planned route or need a quick hostel review. For travelers the best app would be Footprint (£3.99) for iphone/iPod touch, due to the 51 more exotic destinations it includes, (Havana, Hanoi and La Paz for example). Lonely Planet also offers 125 easy-to-use city guides for the iphone.
2. Getting Lost: Knowing where you’re going is pretty important when on the road (I find it helps), but it isn’t always that easy. Often you can find yourself somewhere totally random or unpredicted. Wikitude (free) let’s you point your phone’s camera at your surroundings and then annotates the screen with notes on local accommodation, restaurants and sites. Very handy when you’ve misread those foreign signposts and train station names.
3. Keeping in Touch: All travelers are blogging now. It’s the perfect way to let all your friends and family follow your every move, without getting bogged down in e-mail correspondence. No need to pack a Netbook or a travel journal though. Off Exploring (free) lets you quickly and easily type up blogs, add the location, add photographs and post all the latest on a website for your loved ones to follow.
4. Currency Converter: Nearly as important as not getting eaten by bears is keeping track of your budget. There’s nothing worse than doing a wrong conversion and a week later finding yourself massively out of pocket. Currency exchange and Thomas Cook What Rate are both free converter apps and are definitely a must on the traveler’s iphone.
5. Language Barriers: Phrase books are an essential in any travel backpack. Why do Brits insist on the failsafe of talking loudly, slowly and in a slight accent as if this immediately converts their words to the native language? This might work in the Google Translate app, which converts written or spoken words into 15 languages for free. Failing that Lonely Planet Phrasebooks (£2.39) cover more than 600 spoken and phonetically written phrases for each guide.
So here’s the new, improved travel check list: 1. Add these essential apps, 2. leave behind some of that bulky travel junk, 3. Get on the road and explore the world, iphone tucked straight into those holey but colourful harem pants.