Today’s Best Travel Apps

Five essential downloads that won’t take up any room in your carry-on

By Sam Grobart


They’re all free!


Skip Ruby’s Diner in Newark’s Terminal C and walk a little farther to Gallagher’s steakhouse. Get the roast beef hash. Gate-Guru can provide you with this tip and others, as the app compiles user reviews of airport restaurants and businesses, which it plots on detailed terminal maps. The review database is thin, but the listings aren’t. It can help find that passable sushi place when all you see is Cinnabon.


TripIt scans your in-box for e-mails from airlines, hotels, and restaurants and imports that data. You can see everything related to your trip in an easy-to-read schedule that can be automatically exported to your Outlook or Google calendar. (If in-box scanning freaks you out, you can manually forward e-mails.) TripIt is free, but for $49 a year, TripIt Pro will add the useful feature of real-time flight alerts.


Want to know if you’re by the bathroom? If there’s in-seat video or Wi-Fi? SeatGuru has plans and information from almost every plane in every airline’s fleet, so you can figure out where the exit rows are, where the seats have limited recline, and if the window seat at 16F on that United flight to LAX has no window at all. The app’s seat pitch and width stats are particularly helpful for taller flyers.

Trip Advisor City Guides

You can avoid paying hundreds of dollars for a pricey international-roaming data package with Trip Advisor’s guides, covering almost 50 metropolitan areas worldwide. Because they’re completely downloaded onto your phone, they never require a data connection. Your phone’s GPS works independently of your data connection, so you can even get directions to sites from within the app.


“We regret to inform you that Flight 336 to Albuquerque has been canceled. ...” When you hear that eulogy at the gate, you don’t want to have to frantically call the airline’s customer service line like every other stranded traveler. Fire up Kayak’s mobile app to look up alternate flights. If you find one you like, click through to the airline’s site and buy the ticket straight from your phone.


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