10 travel apps for a smart holiday

TRAVEL INSIDER
Last updated 05:00 02/03/2014

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OPINION: Smartphones make for smarter holidays, even if they kill spontaneity. Popular travel apps like GoogleMaps, TripAdvisor and Wikitravel help you find the best accommodation fast, while WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook curate travel envy among your friends.

Here are 10 other handy apps to help with 'appy travelling:

Wifi Finder

Apps need wifi, but why churn through the gigabytes and pay through the nose?

New Zealand has been slow to the free wifi party, but in many overseas destinations it's readily available.

This app finds wifi spots for you, creating a map with icons showing free wifi in more than 145,000 locations. Download the maps before you touch down so you can get from offline to online in no time.

Onavo Extend

If you don't want to spend time roaming Rome for free wifi using Wifi Finder, then this bestselling app could be for you.

Onavo Extend compresses your phone plan's 3G and 4G data when using photos, email and Facebook so there is no horrendous hotel bill for data packages.

LoungeBuddy

A must for the jet set, LoungeBuddy helps you find access to more than 1300 airport lounges in 300 airports worldwide.

Simply create a profile detailing your airline loyalty programme status, credit card memberships, lounge memberships and flight details and LoungeBuddy comes up with the free or fee-based lounges you can relax in throughout your journey.

SeatGuru

This one's an oldie, but if you're at the check-in kiosk and don't want to be stuck in a cramped seat by the loo, SeatGuru is vital. While it can't wrangle an upgrade to business class, if you tap in your flight details it will find you the best-reviewed seats in economy.

TripAdvisor Offline City Guides

TripAdvisor is probably the best travel buddy you will ever make. This app gives you an any time, anywhere guidebook in the palm of your hand when you don't have internet access. The reviews come from millions of TripAdvisor community members.

Translator with Speech

Yes, everyone tells you the locals will love it when you feebly splutter your way through attempts at Spanish, but this app will save face and time. Translator with Speech deciphers 72 languages, provides pronunciation audio and lets you blurt English phrases and words into your phone before supplying the correct translation.

Xe Currency

This foreign exchange app has topped iTunes app charts globally and with its up-to-the-minute forex rates, it can help you do some quick sums to see if that bargain shopping jaunt you went on in the bazaar was all it was cracked up to be, even if you're offline.

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Rome2rio

'A-to-B' transport research app Rome2rio complements GoogleMaps and can be a lifesaver when you are greeted with half a dozen transport options in a new city. It uses GPS to locate where you are and after plugging in your destination, it comes up with all the sea, air, rail and road transport options plus prices to get you there. An airport taxi will never scam you again.

Airbnb

The revolutionary room-hosting service has annoyed some councils and hotels but the Airbnb app delights travellers wanting a bargain room or a hosted stay. The network has nearly half a million rooms available to rent, and homes in 30,000 cities. Or rent out your own spare room to tourists and add to your holiday fund.

Wikitude

This "augmented reality" app aligns with other travel apps like Yelp and TripAdvisor to shed new light on old hotspots.

Your shot of New York's Times Square becomes populated with points of interest, restaurant reviews, tweets and recommendation "post-it" notes.

It's engrossing and engaging - just be sure to look up from your screen occasionally to enjoy the non-augmented reality of travel as well.

Josh Martin is a journalist with Fairfax Media's business bureau. Contact him at josh.martin@fairfaxmedia.co.nz

- Sunday Star Times

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