Winter seems to be lingering much longer than usual this year so many people are already thinking of planning a vacation, or hoping a business trip will take them to a warmer climate. Making arrangements has always been a time-consuming process. Gone now are the days when you sat down with a piece of paper and a pen, making lists of potential destinations, items for packing, or of things you needed to do. With mobile devices and the Internet, there is now a plethora of applications available to aid you in organizing your trip, especially if it's a family holiday with a number of people. What's more, you can add or change things on-the-go as soon as you think of them.
Many well-known brands have been online for years so it is more than likely that there is a mobile version of their software available. It's no surprise, then, that companies like Kayak, TripAdvisor, Skyscanner, and Hipmunk all have mobile apps for booking flights, or that Airbnb now offers an app for booking accommodation. Tracking your flight and airport gate is easily possible with apps like GateGuru, FlightAware, and Flight Tracker, as is finding out more about your destination with the Lonely Planet app. Whatever trip you might be considering, there is bound to be an app that can assist you, including many that specialize in a specific vacation market.
Choosing apps to feature on any list is a somewhat arbitrary process and inevitably means leaving out many excellent and useful ones. However, listed below is a list of travel apps that should offer something for almost everyone to plan, organize, and enjoy their trip, no matter what time of year.
12 RV Parky
If you are an avid RV'er then the RV Parky app is perfect for you. Built by full-time RV'er Lenny Terris, with support from those in that community, the app provides information, images and reviews for over 25,000 RV parks and campgrounds in the US and Canada.
There is an interactive travel planner so that you can also find details on places to stay along your route, and the app includes useful information about places such as stores, casinos, rest areas, truck stops and travel centers. As of this month, RV Parky is free for both iOS and Android platforms.
11 Ship Mate
Originally developed in 2009 by two brothers planning a family reunion cruise, the Ship Mate app already had a dedicated following of over 170,000 mobile users before it became part of Cruiseline.com at the end of 2013. Features of the app include a cruise countdown, deck maps, a ship locator and the ability to chat with other cruisers. There is also a photo gallery option.
Other features offered are user tips, ratings and photos. In 2014, Cruiseline expects to augment the app with verified reviews and editorial content from 'Bon Voyage' magazine. Find the app, which is free, on iTunes and Google Play.
If you're considering a Winter break, OnTheSnow is an app that provides skiers with current snow conditions at over 2,000 ski resorts worldwide. Among the app's features are trail maps, weather forecasts by area, mountain stats, and snow history graphs. There is also an option to post photos directly from the slopes.
Importantly, the app details 'Powder Points', highlighting the biggest new snowfall totals, a must for when you're heading out for the day. With live webcams and a GPS function, as well as first-hand reports from other skiers, OnTheSnow is available on the iOS and Android platforms, and is free.
For those planning a road trip, Waze is a global, community-generated traffic and voice-guided navigation app with over 1.5m downloads. It works by allowing drivers to share real-time traffic and road information with other drivers in their area.
With the app open on a mobile device, and the input of a destination address, data are collected with the goal of improving daily driving. Users can also share road accident reports, information about police traps, local gas prices and earn points for contributing. An online community of map editors work to ensure the integrity of the maps being used. Find Waze free on the iOS and Android platforms.
8 Plugs Of The World
Who knew there was an app that would tell you about electricity around the world? As the name suggests, Plugs of the World is designed to advise travellers about their plug and socket options in over 200 countries internationally. With sharp images displaying the type of socket and plug needed at your destination, the app also features easy to use navigation, free text search and an option to save details of the places you go to most often.
Plugs of the World is available free on both iOS and Android platforms, and there is also an ad-free Android version for around $0.99.
A great part of travelling is being able to try different foods. Launched in 2010, the Foodspotting app is a visual food guide, with images and recommendations provided by users and experts alike. Over 4 million food spotters worldwide have taken photos of dishes and written descriptions on everything from lamb chops to pig's ears to flan.
You can look up your location, connect with Instagram to tag your photos, earn reputation points for contributing to the community, and bookmark foods you want to try. Foodspotting is also integrated with the restaurant reservation system 'Open Table'. Find it for free on iTunes and Google Play.
One of the newer travel apps, Gogobot is a guide to the best places to go anywhere in the world. Named Editor's Choice on Google Play, the app provides users with images and insider reviews on over 60,000 destinations, including restaurants and hotels.
Just pick your country and get a personalized travel guide, and when you connect to your Facebook account, the places your friends find popular will be highlighted. You can also turn your photos into digital postcards, adding custom options and sharing them with friends and family via Facebook, Twitter, email or SMS. Gogobot is free on iTunes and Google Play.
For those who can afford the ultimate in luxury travel, PrivateFly is a UK-based company offering private jet charter and aircraft hire for prices ranging from around US $800 to over $165,000. Whether you fancy a private island lunch, or want to celebrate New Year's Eve in both Sydney and Los Angeles, the PrivateFly app gives you access to over 7,000 luxury aircraft and 24 hour VIP customer service.
Features include photos of the private jets with descriptions and stats, flight information, and a 'Jet Me Home' button for flights you can book immediately. Find the PrivateFly app for free on Android and iPhone.
The Roamer smartphone app has been designed to help you avoid paying high roaming costs when you travel. Any user can arrange with Roamer to park their usual phone number before travelling. This sets up a call forwarding option to a local number at your destination. Once you've arrived, you purchase a foreign SIM card and authorize the local number through the Roamer app. Your regular phone number and the local number are then linked, and you can begin receiving and making calls immediately.
Roamer currently supports travellers in 54 countries preparing trips to over 212 destinations. The app is available free on both Android and iOS platforms.
3 Packing Pro
An upgrade to the original free Packing app, Packing Pro is an extremely popular paid app for making sure you don't forget your socks or anything else that is a travel must-have. The app allows you to create a unlimited number of customizable packing lists, either from scratch or using a template, and to add/edit at will. The lists can be sorted by type or item, and you can make a master family list, sorted by each member.
Packing categories are also an included feature, with extensive options, and there are To Do lists for pre, mid and post-trip planning. Finished lists can be sent via email to family and friends. Priced at $2.99 on the iTunes store, Packing Pro is available for iPhone and iPad only.
2 Hotel Tonight
Sometimes trips are spontaneous, or you unexpectedly have to stay longer than planned and need to find accommodation. Hotel Tonight offers a quick and easy way to find last-minute hotel deals in a number of cities in North, Central and South America as well as Europe. Hotel rooms that would otherwise remain empty are offered to Hotel Tonight at great prices. These rooms, often at top-rated properties, are then offered on the app for booking any time between 9 am until 2 am daily.
There is a best rate guarantee, and up to 5 nights can be booked with just 3 taps and 1 swipe. With photos and travellers reviews as well as 24/7 customer support, Hotel Tonight is a free app on iTunes and Google Play.
Almost a one-stop app, WorldMate can help you find flights, hotels, car rentals, currency rates and more. Particularly useful for business travellers, itinerary items are shown in the destination time zone, can be shared with others and information such as confirmation numbers, terminals and gates are easy to see with one click. Premium features include real-time flight alerts and flight status as well as calendar synchronization.
The WorldMate app is available free on the Windows, Android and iOS platforms, and is actually Blackberry Travel on the Blackberry platform. Android also offers an upgrade option, and on iTunes, WorldMate Gold is $9.99.