There’s no doubt that mobile devices have irrevocably changed the way we travel. Ten years ago, people still relied on paper maps and made hotel reservations from phone booths. Now, you can find anything in the world (even your own house) on a Google Map and watch as a blinking blue GPS dot on your phone advances in real-time as you stroll down the block. Even age-old language barriers have come crashing down now that you can translate phrases right on your cell—and even have those phrases read aloud to the listener.
In fact, there are so many mobile applications designed to make your travel life easier that the only challenge you may face on the road is deciding which ones to download! That’s why the Lost Girls road-tested a group of popular options: Our picks all ring in at $5 or less—and as soon as you use them, you’ll wonder how you ever traveled without them.
MyLanguage Pro ($5; itunes.apple.com)
No habla Español? No problem. MyLanguage Pro can translate up to 55 languages, and even switches between dialects for regional or multi-country language differences. A few of the newer languages added include Macedonian, Swahili, Malay and Yiddish, giving you an idea of just how advanced this application truly is. You can use this one app almost anywhere in the world. Set the app to auto-update and you’ll get all the new languages as they’re added to the system.
All Subway HD, $1 itunes.apple.com
Almost every large city has a subway or metro system. All Subway has maps from nearly every metropolitan city in Australia, Europe, Asia and North America, plus several in South America and Africa. What’s better is that you don’t have to be connected to the Internet to view a map. Use your fingers to zoom in and out, and turn your iPhone or iPad sideways for a horizontal view.
History Here, $3 marketplace.windowsphone.com
If you’re traveling with a mobile device, you’re probably traveling sans heavy guidebook. Check out the History Channel’s app, literally a guidebook in your pocket, with video, maps, photos and content for over 7,000 locations. The only downside? App developers are still working on gathering more information, so you’re out of luck if you’re traveling to smaller sites off the beaten path.
Sit or Squat, free, itunes.apple.com
When you have to go, you have to go. Dubbed the “Zaggat of Potty Breaks,” this free app locates public toilets for you—a priceless tool for destinations that are not mandated by law to allow tourists to use restrooms. Not only does this app find the closest toilet to you, it also offers reviews from travelers just like you. It’s the ultimate restroom finder, with 65,097 toilets worldwide on tab, and counting.
Share-A-Bill, $4, itunes.apple.com
If you’re splitting costs with a travel buddy, Share-A-Bill takes away the headache of dividing up your tab. It allows you to plug in numbers for each individual so you can divide costs evenly. Add up restaurant bills, hostel tabs, activity fees…the works. Our favorite part? You don’t have to save receipts. And if you keep track of your expenses, no one’s wallet gets short-handed.
By Patty Hodapp, Lost Girls World [www.lostgirlsworld.com]