Apple

4 must-have travel apps for iOS

Don't get a headache when the word travel is mentioned. Use these apps to find hotels, keep track of your itineraries, and much more.

Travel apps

Sometimes travel can be a huge pain, especially when you have to remember all of the details. When we travel, we have a specific list of applications that we use to ensure that no detail is left behind. This set of apps helps us get to where we're going quicker and more efficiently. Here are a four apps that make your traveling life easier. From booking a hotel to getting a ride from the airport, these apps will have you wondering how you ever lived without them.

1. TripIt

The TripIt app is a really great service for storing all of your trip details into a single, easily viewable itinerary that can either be viewed on your iOS device, in a web browser, or printed out as a backup.

Whenever you make a reservation through a hotel, airline, or car rental service, simply forward the confirmation email to plans@tripit.com, and your itinerary will be updated to reflect the newest changes (Figure A). It couldn't be any easier.

Figure A

Figure A

TripIt keeps your plans updated as you add new information either through the app or the website.

When viewing your itinerary, TripIt Pro (an additional per-year add-on) can automatically alert you to gate changes, flight time changes, and more. It also can hook into the majority of your loyalty program accounts so that you can view the status of each loyalty account right from within your TripIt application when you're on-the-go.

Pros: It's easily view, print, and email your trip plans, automatic importing information from confirmation emails

Cons: There are ads inside of the free app, and the Pro account is pretty pricey at $4.09 (USD) per month

2. Hotel Tonight / AirBNB

Need a hotel or a room to spend the night during a trip fast, but you don't want the hassle of going through a booking website or having to call a concierge service? No problem.

With AirBNB and Hotel Tonight apps, you can have the best of both worlds: Hotel Tonight can quickly and easily find you a hotel room in a matter of seconds, providing you the ability to search by quality of hotel and price. It lets you see hotels that have rooms available either "Today" or "Tomorrow," and the best part is that you can even book the room without ever leaving the application.

If you're looking for a cozier place to spend a vacation or just want the more eclectic places, then check out AirBNB (Figure B). This app and service also lets you book rooms and houses right within the application. AirBNB is basically Uber, but for houses and additional rooms that people can rent out for a certain time. You can usually get some pretty steep discounts with AirBNB over traditional hotels in some cities.

Figure B

Figure B

AirBNB has beautiful pictures of the rooms that are available so you can see exactly what you're booking.

A definite plus is that both of these applications let you use any Apple Pay cards stored on your compatible iPhone or iPad device to complete the checkout process. Making a reservation and paying couldn't be much easier.

Pros: Apple Pay integration for checkout, quickly book rooms

Cons: Reservations can be limited on same-day check-ins

3. Uber / Lyft

Getting to/from the airport, hotel, and other various destinations during your travel can take a substantial amount of time out of your plans, especially if you have to wait on taxis for pickup in cities without a large taxi service.

Enter Uber and Lyft. Both of these services let you easily get a ride to wherever you need to go within select cities, and you can call cars directly from your device.

Both applications also let you checkout with Apple Pay instead of entering your credit card information and creating an account first (Figure C). This means that you can easily hop a ride the next time you're in a city with Uber/Lyft service and need to get from point A to point B.

Figure C

Figure C

Uber now features Apple Pay integration so you can book a ride without ever signing up for an account.

You can view a list of cities that have Uber here; you can also view a list of cities that have Lyft here.

Pros: Easy to get rides, pay with Apple Pay, and drivers are vetted by both companies

Cons: Surge pricing during certain hours can impact the price of a ride substantially

4. Trip Advisor

When looking for a hotel, restaurant, or flight, check out the Trip Advisor application. In addition to booking, it also houses a vast array of unbiased, highly-trusted traveler reviews of restaurants, hotels, shopping malls, and other attractions around the world. You can read the reviews and any management replies to those reviews to get the full picture.

One of the coolest features with this application is that you can download and save both reviews and maps for any given location. So, if you're going to be traveling overseas with spotty Wi-Fi connections and no cellular data, you can download the entire city to your device and still peruse reviews and maps while abroad (Figure D). This feature is available for more than 300 larger cities worldwide.

Figure D

Figure D

Downloading maps and reviews is easy when viewing offline.

Pros: Reviews are usually vetted and highly trusted among travelers, plus reviews can be replied to by management and staff at restaurants and hotels

Cons: Booking isn't as easy as in other apps, and you can't use Apple Pay for reservations

Other iOS travel tips and tricks

  • When using digital boarding passes, be sure to always take a screenshot of the reservation in addition to using the app in case the application crashes while you're in line. You may also want to print backup boarding passes to avoid potential delays.
  • After creating a TripIt itinerary, print it out, and you'll have a backup of all your information for the entire trip, including weather information for the week at your destination.
  • Backup your iOS device(s) on iCloud before traveling, including a complete sync and backup to iTunes beforehand to ensure that if you lose your device, you can still get your data back.
  • Ensure that Find my Device is enabled before traveling to help track down misplaced or stolen devices.

Do you have a travel tip, trick, or application that you just can't live without? Let us know in the reader discussion thread below.

About Cory Bohon

Cory Bohon is an indie developer specializing in iOS and OS X development. He runs a software company called Cocoa App and is also a developer at MartianCraft. He was introduced to technology at an early age and has been writing about his favorite te...

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