Digital tablet on the beach (Shutterstock: see below)
List Words : Simon Farnsworth | 30 July

9 of the best free travel apps

Can't do without technology on your travels? These great free travel apps will help you sort everything from currency converters to Wi-Fi while you're on the road...

1. XE Currency Converter

Apple, Android, Blackberry, Blackberry 10, Windows Phone, Windows 8, Firefox OS

Have you ever found yourself in a Budapest ruin bar trying to figure out if 5,000 Hungarian Forint is too expensive for some devilishly strong Palinka? Maths isn't anyone's strong point at times like this. Luckily, this handy currency app takes away the bewildering mathematics of converting foreign currencies. XE Currency Converter allows you to compare over 180 currencies, and – crucially – you can access the app offline as it saves the last available rates.

XE Currency Pro offers the same service but without adverts for £1.49.

2. Onavo Extend

Apple, Android

Using data on your travels can be a risky voyage into the murky world of data charges, but Onavo Extend allows you to keep on top of your usage. This clever app uses cloud servers to compress the data you use. It's techy magic. Of course, shrinking data will reduce the quality of data-hungry items such as images. Nevertheless, if browsing quality images is important to you, the app allows you to tinker with the settings until you get the right balance between data saved and quality images. It also allows users to see how much data each page, app and email will use, saving you a nasty surprise bill when you get home.

3. Around Me

Apple, Android, Windows Phone

If you've ever run around an unfamiliar location trying to find an ATM, then the Around Me app is for you. Launched in 2008, Around Me does exactly what it says on the tin: it allows users to browse what's nearby. It quickly locates anything from the nearest hospitals to bars and coffee shops. The app also includes reviews and images from Yelp and FourSquare users, which makes it great for finding off the tourist trail gems.

4. TripIt

Apple, Android, Blackberry, Windows Phone 7

Planning a trip of any length will inevitably lead to a trail of emails containing a plethora of important dates, times and locations. TripIt allows you to organise your itinerary by simply forwarding your confirmation emails to the app. You can also add notes, maps and images so the app can create a clear and concise itinerary full of confirmation numbers, phone numbers and addresses that you can access anywhere. One of the major plus points of TripIt is its ability to operate with whichever company you book with.

TripIt Pro offers a 30-day free trial and then becomes £34.99 per year. The Pro app has all the features from the free version but also includes mobile alerts, information on flight refunds, VIP privileges including memberships to Hertz #1 Club Gold and Regus Gold and advice on alternative flights.


5. Wi-Fi Finder

Apple, Android

With its database of over 890,000 free and pay Wi-Fi hotspots in 145 countries, Wi-Fi Finder allows you to easily track down your nearest public Wi-Fi connection. The app helps cut down on painful data charges whilst also giving you alternatives to simply diving into the nearest Starbucks. The app lets you filter by types of location, so whether you're looking for a library, a cup of Joe or a bite to eat, Wi-Fi finder will provide you with ample choices.

6. TuneIn

Apple, Android, Windows

TuneIn allows you to listen to over 100,000 live radio stations from around the world, wherever you are. Perfect when your flight has been delayed for the umpteenth time, or your hostel buddy is shaking the bunks with his snoring.

7. Viber

Apple, Android, Windows Phone, Blackberry

Viber banishes the days of extortionate phone bills from making calls and sending messages abroad. The app allows you to send messages, pictures and – unlike WhatsApp – make phone calls to other Viber users wherever they are in the world. And it's all absolutely free. The app will use data, however, so it's best to use it when connected to Wi-Fi.

8. Hotel Tonight

Apple, Android, Windows Phone

This is the perfect app for those who don't plan too far in advance but still want a comfortable, well-priced hotel to lay their head. Hotel Tonight's last minute options allow you to take advantage of great prices. You can even book a room for that night up until 2am. The ever-expanding app is available in most large western European cities, as well as cities in Canada, Mexico and the USA.

9. Hostelworld

Apple, Android

Whilst Hotel Tonight provides great value last minute hotel rooms, it can't compete with Hostelworld in terms of price. Boasting over 35,000 properties in 180 countries with 3.5 million reviews, this simple app allows you to track down cheap, high-quality hostel dorms with minimal fuss.


Do you rely on apps while you're travelling – or do you prefer more traditional resources? Tell us in the comments below...

Main image: Digital tablet on the beach (Shutterstock)