PCMag.com’s Lead Mobile Analyst Sascha Segan has named the 10 free travel apps that make traveling — or planning your next trip — a breeze. So if the summer heat makes you stir-crazy, just grab your smartphone and start planning your next adventure.
1. Google Maps
The single most useful travel app is available on every smartphone, and in fact on any Web phone. Google Maps tells you where you are, where anything else is, and how to get between those two spots. When I needed diapers in Barcelona on a Sunday, Google Maps knew where the three nearest OpenCor convenience stores were, and even gave me subway directions.
There are a lot of "travel management" programs out there that help you keep track of things like flight confirmation numbers, hotel confirmation numbers and such. I prefer TripIt, because it's extremely good at parsing the confirmation emails you get from hotels and airlines. TripIt has apps for Android, BlackBerry and iPhone, and you can access your data from even the simplest phones by sending them to m.tripit.com.
Sabre's TripCase does a few awesome things TripIt doesn't do. TripCase gives you continually updated flight delay and gate status for your flights, and suggests alternate flights if you're about to miss yours. That said, it can be a bear to import more than just basic flights into TripCase; you often end up generating multiple duplicate itineraries and having to merge them. So I use both TripCase and TripIt. TripCase is available for BlackBerry, Windows Mobile and iPhone.
There are many travel-booking apps, but Kayak is my pick for the simplest, smoothest, easiest, quickest and most complete. The app lets you search for flights, hotels, and car rentals using Kayak's reliable meta-search engine, which captures the fares both from travel agencies and from vendors' own sites. Kayak's apps are available for Android, BlackBerry and iPhone.
Yelp is the king of the user-review sites - especially for restaurants in major American cities - and their mobile app is an excellent way to search for places to eat. The Yelp app is available for BlackBerry and iPhone, but other phone owners can go to m.yelp.com with their browsers.
WeatherBug delivers a solid experience across a range of OSes including Android, BlackBerry, iPhone, Windows Mobile and Nokia. Beyond basic weather, it does a few tricks like integrating with your contact list and letting you tap on maps to see how the weather is where you're going.
Need to pee? SitOrSquat is a crowdsourced bathroom locator that can take you a step beyond the old mainstay of hotel lobbies in most US cities. It's a pity it doesn't work nearly as well overseas. The app is available for BlackBerry and iPhone.
8. JiWire Wi-Fi Finder
If you travel internationally with an iPhone, you know you basically have to turn off cellular data, or when you get back to the States, you'll find your house mortgaged to AT&T. JiWire's WiFi Finder only exists as an app for iPhone, but iPhoners really need it; it tells you where the next little puddle of Wi-Fi will be for you to huddle in while you desperately transfer information from the Internet.
9. Priceline Hotel Negotiator
Priceline’s Hotel Negotiator app, available only on the iPhone, lets you book last-minute hotels at super-cheap rates up until 11 PM ET.
10. Google SMS
A lot of people don't have smartphones, or they're in places where their smartphones' data plans don't work. If you SMS some search terms to 46645 - that's "GOOGL" - you'll get Google search results back as a series of texts.