Must-have travel apps
Essential smartphone add-ons for the traveller Discuss this article
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All great travel apps have one thing in common: they solve a problem you didn’t even realise you had. That said, with app stores bulging at the virtual seams with software claiming to make your life easier, simply being useful is no longer enough for app developers aspiring to greatness.
Whether they’re cutting down journey times, pointing you in the direction of local food or showing you how to ask after a toilet in Swahili, each and every one of our travel apps has earned its place in this list by virtue of being innovative, quirky or – in a few cases – downright space-age. So browse well, take your pick and get globe-trotting – because with a few of these in your pocket, you may never look at the world in the same way again.
Follow the path of thousands of international flights on slick, zoomable maps, with detailed information on departure gates, delays and (heaven forbid) cancellations. Great for those anticipating the arrival of loved ones, or nerdy plane-spotters looking to up their game.
Available on iPhone (Dhs17), iPad (Dhs17), Android (Dhs17) and Windows Phone (Dhs23).
An intuitive app offering weather reports for more than two million global geographical locations, feeding in everything from cloud formations and atmospheric pressure to wind speed and humidity, all in enough detail to leave weather reporters clammy-palmed with excitement. It’s also accurate to the point of clairvoyance, so if you’re travelling to Beirut and it predicts rain, pack your best umbrella.
Available on iPhone (Dhs15), Android (Dhs12) and Windows Phone (Dhs13).
There are many theories concerning the best methods for beating jetlag, very few of which are backed up by any serious scientific clout. Still, it’s generally agreed that altering your sleeping habits before a trip is beneficial, and this app will help you do just that. Input your travel dates, destination and usual sleeping times and it’ll come back with personalised alarm clocks to soften the blow when you wake up on Tuesday afternoon convinced it’s still Monday morning.
Available on iPhone (Dhs12).
Anyone who says there’s no exact science to packing has obviously never tried to cram a pair of Jimmy Choo stilettos into the same suitcase as a giant inflatable beach ball. Thank your lucky stars, then, for this. Tell it where you’re going, for how long and who with and it’ll spit out a suggested list of what you might need, split into essentials (passport, currency), clothes, gadgets and more, with separate lists for each family member.
Available on iPhone (Dhs12).
Until the bashful lobster look finds its way into the style zeitgeist, this is a crucial piece of kit for those venturing to sunny climes. Having detected the UVI rating of your current location, this nifty little app sets a countdown timer to alert you when you’re due your next slathering of sunblock. All you have to do is input your skin type and the SPF of your lotion, then kick back and soak up some worry-free rays.
Available on iPhone (free).
Leave 10 per cent on the table after a meal in Tokyo and your generosity will cause offence; do the same in New York and you’ll be called a skinflint. Thankfully, wherever you go, there’s this – a nifty tip calculator to help the mathematically challenged split bills and tips while neatly sidestepping social embarrassment.
Available on iPhone (Dhs4).
In the cut-throat world of business, time is money, making a seven-hour trans-Atlantic flight a lot of wonga indeed. Thankfully, just because your laptop’s packed away doesn’t mean you can’t keep your eyes on the prize. Essentially, this (admittedly pricey) app turns your iPhone into a wireless hard drive, allowing you to quickly and easily load it up with documents at the airport, then browse and amend on the move throughout your trip.
Available on iPhone (Dhs41) and iPad (Dhs41).
A potentially life-saving database of emergency service numbers for just about every country you’d ever care to visit, plus plenty for those that you wouldn’t. There’s also embassy details should passports go missing and – for the truly paranoid – the option to pin certain services to your home screen as widgets, for one-touch access to police, ambulances and fire engines.
Available on Android (Dhs6).
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