Five Windows Phone 7 apps for travel

Smartphones and travelers are a match made in heaven. These free Windows Phone 7 apps can make your journey easier, safer, and more fun.

One of my favorite things to do has always been to travel. Even though I do my best to keep my cell phone turned off when I am traveling for recreation, there is no denying that there are some great Windows Phone 7 apps that can make travel a lot easier. Here are five of my favorite travel apps.

1: Translator

Translator is a free Microsoft app that allows you to translate words or phrases from one language to another. One thing that really sets this app apart from some of the other translation applications I have seen is that it contains a number of built-in phrases that can be translated with a single tap. These are commonly used phrases such as "Hello" or "Is there a public toilet nearby?" When you perform the translation, the utility shows you the translated text, but it can also verbalize the translation using the phone's text-to-speech engine.

2: XE Currency

A big part of foreign travel is performing currency conversions. For example, when dining at a restaurant, it is important to be able to translate the prices of the menu items into American dollars (or your own local currency) so that you know how much you are really spending. I can usually perform rough currency conversions in my head as long as I know the exchange rate, but when I'm tired, my math skills sometimes go out the window. The free XE Currency conversion app helps with this problem by performing accurate currency conversions from your phone.

3: FlightAware

Airlines often wait until the last possible moment to tell you whether your flight is going to be delayed. One of the little tricks I have always used for figuring out the flight status before an announcement is made is to figure out where the plane is coming from (assuming that it is not already at the gate) and then check to see whether that flight is delayed. After all, if the plane is late getting to your departure city then your odds of leaving on time go way down.

In the past, I always used the arrival boards to check inbound flight status. But some airports display only the arrivals on monitors in the baggage claim area. Fortunately, you no longer have to depend on the airport or the airlines to give you good information. A free app called FlightAware allows you to track flights in real time. You can even set flight status alerts or display the flight's current location on a map.

4: Wiki Talking Tours

Have you ever been in an unfamiliar city and seen an impressive-looking building or monument but weren't sure what it was? Wiki Talking Tours is a free application that solves this problem by combining your GPS location with wiki tags. The tags are overlaid on a map in such a way that easily identifies nearby places while allowing you to get the scoop on a place by tapping the tag.

5: I Am Here

I am one of those people who constantly gets lost. I Am Here is a free app that helps solve this problem by allowing you to send your location to a friend. Locations are sent via either email or text message. The recipient receives a link to a map on which your location has been plotted. You can also attach a status to the message so that your friend will know whether you are just sending them information about your whereabouts or sending out a distress call.

Other travel apps?

Have you come across other Windows Phone 7 apps that make traveling safer or more efficient, entertaining, and educational? Share your recommendations with other TechRepublic members.