All About Travel Apps – The New Travel Guides

Top Travel Guides with iPhone Apps

Just a decade ago, travel guides were essential for planning big trips, particularly those that involved traveling overseas. A good travel guide might display a list of must-see places, hotel and restaurant ratings, a handy phrase book and some emergency travel tips.

Today, however, it is all about travel apps. Anyone with an iPad or an iPhone has access to interactive travel guides, plus goodies such as online communities and detailed directions and maps (not to mention up-to-the-minute notifications about cheap flights to get you there). Does anyone even buy travel guides in “book form” anymore? 

Travel Guides are Still Useful… Sometimes

Some people still like the feel of a real book in their hands. The book is good for the initial “big picture” trip planning, but not for the details. After all, travel publishers estimate that one-third of travel listings change each year, so it does not take long for printed hotel and restaurant guides to lose their usefulness. Then again, although the hottest restaurants change frequently, the Coliseum and the Eiffel Tower are not going anywhere.

Another good use for that printed travel guide is as an impromptu trip journal. With only a ballpoint pen, you can add your personal notes throughout the margins and create your own vacation diary. And many people find that when it comes to maps, sometimes having a printed map handy is simply more convenient (and more reliable) than dealing with a phone’s GPS app.

Travel Guide Apps: Making the Switch

If you ditch printed travel books for travel apps, and you plan to travel overseas, you will want to make sure you have a data plan in place. Otherwise, you could be charged an arm and a leg for using your smartphone internationally. You have a few options for doing this:

  • Check out international data plans before you leave, and try to find an affordable one.
  • Consider switching off your phone’s 3G access and using its Wi-Fi connection instead to access free hotspots. This can save you big money over high international data roaming fees.

Also, the specific phone that you have can determine exactly which travel apps you can use. For example, you will find more apps for Apple devices than for Androids, though this is expected to change over the next few years. Right now, the following travel guide publishers have apps for the iPad and iPhone:

  • Lonely Planet: This app offers a large selection of city guides, phrasebooks and walking tours. Lonely Planet is the only major travel guide publisher to have apps for Androids too, but you may not find them in the Android Marketplace if you are outside the United States.
  • Fodor’s: Now features interactive guides to New York, San Francisco, London, Paris and Rome.
  • Time Out: These guides are available for major European cities and Buenos Aires, Argentina. More are in development. Audio guides are available for free on iTunes.
  • Frommers: Frommers offers guides to major cities in Europe, Asia and the U.S.
  • LUXE City Guides: The city guides for the iPhone and Blackberry include maps and free updates.
  • Wallpaper City Guides: There are 10 city guides available for major European cities, plus New York, Los Angeles and Tokyo.
  • FareCompare Airfare Alerts for iPhone: Finally, do not forget our own iPhone flight app that will tell you the best times to buy tickets to your favorite destinations.

Magazines with iPhone and/or iPad apps:

  • Condé Nast Traveler
  • National Geographic
  • Outside
  • Travel + Leisure
  • USA Today Travel (also includes exclusive AutoPilot travel app)




Published: August 18, 2011