The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - Escape - - TRAVEL WISDOM | TECHNOLOGY - KIRK OWERS

The smart­phone has be­come an es­sen­tial, never-to-be-lost item for the modern trav­eller. It’s your travel agent, city guide, nav­i­ga­tor, entertainment con­sul, cam­era and in­ter­preter all rolled into one. You can even use it to make and re­ceive phone calls. New travel apps are be­ing launched all the time but you don’t want to clog up your phone with too many. You just need the best. The fol­low­ing are all free (un­less noted) and come highly rec­om­mended.


There are many fare ag­gre­ga­tor op­tions but I haven’t been lured away from Skyscan­ner. Launched in 2002 it is now used by more than 60 mil­lion trav­ellers in 30 dif­fer­ent lan­guages. The lay­out is un­clut­tered and nav­i­ga­tion easy. A colour-cod­ing sys­tem sim­pli­fies things fur­ther (green means cheap; red ex­pen­sive) and the app finds the best, cheap­est and quick­est flights in sec­onds. Price Alerts keeps an un­blink­ing eye out for dis­counted fares so you can swoop on bar­gains. The app per­forms the same task for find­ing ho­tels and hire cars. SKYSCAN­NER.COM.AU


Trans­la­tion apps have vastly im­proved com­mu­ni­ca­tion – es­pe­cially for in­de­pen­dent trav­ellers. Google Trans­late trans­lates in­stantly – se­lect a pair of lan­guages, tap the mic sym­bol and voila! you can un­der­stand your French waiter. Google’s Word Lens app even trans­lates writ­ten lan­guage. Sim­ply point your phone at a sign or some text and it in­stantly con­verts to English. Note: the tech­nol­ogy is not yet per­fect and mis­takes still oc­cur (es­pe­cially af­ter a few wines). TRANS­LATE.GOOGLE.COM.AU


If you’re ea­ger to make the most of your lim­ited time, Nearify sug­gests lo­cal gigs, events and ac­tiv­i­ties. Prime the app with your pref­er­ences in mu­sic, com­edy, din­ing and fes­ti­vals and let it do all the work. Nearify will give alerts for up­com­ing events and al­low you to fol­low bands, buy tick­ets and get venue di­rec­tions. Less help­ful in re­gional ar­eas. NEARIFY.COM


CheckMyTrip is your travel guardian an­gel. It keeps travel in­for­ma­tion to­gether so you don’t have to dig through lug­gage look­ing for flight times and book­ing num­bers. For­ward your book­ing info to the app and it col­lates it into a trip itin­er­ary. It will in­form you of de­lays, flight can­cel­la­tions or ter­mi­nal changes. Other fea­tures in­clude plan­ning tools, park­ing di­rec­tions and a cur­rency con­verter. You can also use it to check in to your flight. CHECKMYTRIP.COM


The De­tour app uses GPS to guide you around a lo­ca­tion while a lo­cal ex­pert brings the sur­round­ings to life with en­gag­ing anec­dotes and in­for­ma­tion. Pro­duc­tion val­ues are high and the guides al­ways have a spe­cial affin­ity to their sub­ject mat­ter. Ex­plore San Fran­cisco’s Haight-Ash­bury with lo­cal ac­tor and for­mer hippy Peter Coy­ote. Fol­low Vivien Or­bachSmith around the same Ber­lin dis­tricts her Jewish fa­ther hid from Nazis in the 1940s be­fore mak­ing his dar­ing es­cape. De­tour is still USA fo­cused but is ex­pand­ing glob­ally. In­di­vid­ual tours are $7.99.



The world’s largest travel book pub­lisher has em­braced the dig­i­tal age and you can ac­cess its most rel­e­vant sec­tions di­rect from your phone. The free app in­cludes off­line maps, sug­gested itin­er­ar­ies, cur­rency con­vert­ers and au­dio phrase­books. Guides cov­ers 177 cities and it’s still ex­pand­ing and im­prov­ing. Lonely Planet has also re­leased Trips, a crowd­sourced app which en­cour­ages trav­ellers to add rec­om­men­da­tions and pho­tos to help build a con­stantly up­dated re­source. It’s like a love child be­tween Tri­pAd­vi­sor and In­sta­gram. LONELYPLANET.COM/GUIDES

Roam­ing Tip: Data roam­ing prices have come down but if you’re go­ing on a long haul it’s still often cheaper to buy a lo­cal SIM card and a data plan. If you haven’t or­gan­ised data roam­ing with your phone provider, keep Wi-Fi switched off un­til you’re some­where that has free ac­cess (air­ports, ho­tels, some cafes).


Travel’s so much eas­ier with apps that pro­vide guides, cur­rency con­ver­sion, trans­la­tion ser­vices and more.

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