hailo-cab

5 essential travel apps for 2013

Story by Renee Sylvestre-Williams
Vacay.ca Senior Writer

hailo-cab

The Hailo app will get you a cab when you need it.

A little planning can make a trip easier. These days, instead of lugging around multiple books, you can just put apps on your smartphone. But what apps should you download? We chose five that could be the most useful for all types of travellers. Well, unless you’re out of signal range.

These apps are available for Apple, Windows, Android and BlackBerry platforms, unless otherwise specified.

Google maps

Of course we have to start with Google maps because most of us like to know where we’re going and how we’re getting there. Remember the outcry when the recent Apple IOS got rid of Google Maps? Users were upset and Apple brought it back. Plus, sometimes you just don’t have the space to carry those big yellow map books. (Free)

TripIt

This application (and website) takes all your hotel, trip and car confirmations and converts them into an itinerary that you can access either online, feeds or social sites. The free version offers these options but you get more options including immediate knowledge of refunds, auto-sharing and team calendars and maps. (Free for the standard version; $44 for TripIt Pro)

Passbook

Apple’s Passbook is relatively new. It’s an online “folder” that holds your coupons,¬† tickets and boarding passes for when you travel. It’s not specifically designed to carry just travel-related items but it’s useful if you have that frantic pat-down moment of wondering if you have your tickets and boarding passes. Available only on iPhones. (Free)

Transportation apps

I’ve grouped all of these free apps here because people travel in different ways. If you want to take a taxi, there’s Uber, which lets you call a taxi or town car in less than five minutes and your credit card is automatically billed. Hailo also offers Toronto taxis with the touch of an app. Both apps are available on Android and Apple. Hailo is launching soon on Blackberry and Windows and Uber is available via SMS on Blackberry.

There’s Car2Go, which lets you find and drive a vehicle within Calgary, Toronto and Vancouver. If you prefer to bike, there’s Spotcycle,¬†which is available in Canada as well as the US, Spain, the UK and Australia. It supports bike-sharing plans such as BIXI (Toronto and Montreal).

Airbnb

Airbnb might be the future of travel if you want more choice than hotels and bed-and-breakfast inns. You can access anything from a tiny flat in Berlin to chalets in Switzerland and all via the Airbnb app. You’re only limited by your budget. (Free)

There are many more apps out there, including dozens of hotel-finding and restaurant apps. Which ones are your favourites? Email Vacay.ca Editors and tell us what you recommend to download.

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Renee Sylvestre-Williams writes about travel, lifestyle and personal finance and her work has appeared in Forbes, AOL Canada, Canadian Living and now Vacay.ca. She has a weakness for London and Tokyo and plans to visit Hong Kong soon. She doesn't understand why some hotels continue to charge for Internet access.