Feature Article

December 05, 2013

The Best Travel Apps Just in Time for the Holidays

Can’t figure out what to get that travel bug on your holiday shopping list? Or are you tired of getting lost in translation yourself every time you head out of the country? Travel apps aren’t just a must for you—they’re also the perfect holiday gift or stocking stuffer for friends and family. Sure, there are some decent free travel apps out there, but if you really want to ensure smooth sailing (or air travel or road trips), you need to “splurge.”

Luckily, splurging in the world of apps can fit into pretty much any budget. Gifting apps is easy from iTunes—all you have to do is pick “Gift This App” when you’ve found the winner. With Android, it’s best to buy an Amazon gift card tailored towards Android apps. The lucky recipient has to install the Amazon Appstore on their smartphone, but it’s really up to them what they purchase (of course, you can always include a note citing the perfect app for them). Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Image via Shutterstock

Easy pickings

Nothing is more frustrating when in a country where you don’t speak the language than the inability to not get what you want at a restaurant. Enter Word Lens, which lets the user take a photo and the app instantly translates any menu. It works in Italian, Spanish, French, German and Portuguese right now, with new languages being added constantly. Plus, there’s an added bonus that nobody will know what you’re up to. They’ll just think you’re taking an Instagram pic of the delectable choices.

With TripLingo, you get instant access to the most common phrases but without the stuffiness of formal language training. Technically, this is a free app but it comes with a bevy of add-ons. Each one has more phrases in 12 languages and there’s no studying required. The phrases are said clearly, and all you have to do is copy them. There are even culture-based quickie lessons, too, so you don’t make any faux pas.

Forget the gracias’ and merci’s

It’s a global truth—the first thing people really want to learn in a foreign language is the slang and curse words, which have a rich history. That’s where Swearport comes in, and it’s filled with accurate lingo to make any sailor-mouthed traveler easily fit in. There are 70 languages and 1,000 words, complete with a rating system so you can see just how popular they really are. And don’t worry about the accent—there are audio clips so you can be sure you’re making the right (albeit crass) statement.

At the same time, there comes a time when being polite is a must and that all starts with punctuality. With Just Landed, drivers are instantly notified of where your flight is, how long it will really take them to get to the airport in current conditions and a special “airport alarm” so you’re never left wandering around the terminal looking for your ride. It’s the perfect gift for family members and friends who perpetually forget to pick you up.

Covering the basics

It doesn’t matter if you’re 18 years old or 50 because your mom is always going to worry about you, especially when you’re traveling. If you gift her the Help Call app, she has quick access to emergency service numbers in any country (well, 126 countries). She can even use the emergency button, or simply shake the phone, and she’ll be instantly connected. Be careful about this app though—it’s easy to abuse.

Traveling abroad is great, but nothing beats the classic American road trip. With the iExit app, all upcoming services at exits, toilets, campgrounds and hotels suitable for pets are at your fingertips. You can even instantly see where the closest Starbucks is to feed your addiction. The perfect pair? Add Chefs Feed, too and you’ll have everything you need for the ultimate foodie trip.

Edited by Alisen Downey

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