Best Of Aviation Queen: 10 Must-Have Travel Apps

Editor’s note: I’m taking the week off for vacation, so check out some of my favorite blog posts of 2013. Everyone is always looking for the best travel apps, so here are some of my picks. The post below first appeared on the blog on Aug. 13. Enjoy!

Last week, my friend Jim asked me a question about a travel app. He said that I should do a blog post on my favorite travel apps, and I agreed. Apps have revolutionized the way we travel, and I have 10 in my travel apps folder on the iPhone that I can’t live without, in no particular order. Enjoy!

  1. MyTSA (free) – I have to give props to the Transportation Security Administration for creating an app that uses crowdsourcing to tell how long security lines are at airports and if there are any flight delays. It also allows users to type in an item and check if they can bring it in their carry-on or checked baggage. Finally, it offers a guide that answers the most common security questions.
  2. Smart Traveler (free) – this official app from the U.S. State Department is great for my international travelers.  It offers information including official country information, travel alerts, travel warnings, maps and U.S. embassy locations.
  3. Next Flight ($2.99) – this one is most valuable if you’re experiencing a flight delay or want to catch an earlier/later flight. Type in your city-pair and travel date, and the app shows all the flights available that day. That can be very handy if you get a less-than-helpful gate or ticket agent.
  4. Flight + ($3.99) – this app is the perfect companion to Next Flight. It offers the ability to track any flight in the world, check out flight boards at hundreds of airports, weather, maps and the ability to sync with calendars and share flight information via e-mail, text message, Facebook, and Twitter.
  5. GateGuru (free) – TripAdvisor bought this handy little app, which has expanded greatly since the acquisition. The JourneyCard section provides all your day-of-travel information in real time, including security wait times, flight delays, gate changes or layover time adjustments. The Airport Card is GateGuru’s calling card, offering maps, details and reviews of food/beverage and retail outlets and weather.
  6. Packing + TO DO (99 cents) – if you’re like me, sometimes you forget to pack key items (underwear). This app has a catalog of 800 items and allows you to customize your packing lists. You can also access the lists in the cloud. And the app is very handy in case your luggage is lost, because you can give a detailed list of items you packed.
  7. Kayak Pro (99 cents) – this is my go-to app when checking on airfares. It covers every carrier except Southwest, and gives dozens of options and price ranges. The app also lets you check hotel and rental car deals, book hotels, track flights, manage your flight, check bag fees and view maps for more than 100 airports.
  8. Hotel Tonight (free) – let’s say the worst happens; your flight is delayed or cancelled, and you’re stuck. This app offers amazing same-day deals at hotels in dozens of cities across the world. And these are not Motel 6-type facilities (no disrespect to Motel 6). Most of them are chic boutique hotels at bargain basement rates.
  9. Taxi Magic or Uber (free) – Taxi Magic allows you to book, track, pay for and get receipts for cab rides, all from your smartphone. Uber is similar to Taxi Magic, but it offers a range of cars (from UberX to Lux) to fit your budget.
  10. The Plane Rules (free) – With all the myriad rules airlines have in place when it comes to travel. Frequent flyer guru Terry Tripler’s app is a godsend to travelers who may not know the rules when it comes to airlines’ contract of carriage, liability for flight schedules and rules for same-day standby and flight changes.

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