Saturday,  December 7, 2019  11:20 am

The five must-have travel apps for 2020 (and they're all free!)

The five must-have travel apps for 2020 (and they're all free!)
Taking off? Make sure you've got a few of these free travel apps, first!
Christine Hogg

Christine Hogg is the Associate Digital Editor at PAX Global Media. Prior to joining PAX, she obtained her Honours BA in Journalism from the University of Toronto. Upon graduating, she went on to write for several travel publications while travelling the world. Her longest trip was a three-week stint in Europe, and the shortest was a 16-hour adventure in Iceland. Get in touch: christine@paxglobalmedia.com.

Ask anybody what’s at the top of their list of must-haves for travel, and arguably, it’s a smartphone. No longer just a way to text and call home, your smartphone is basically a mini-computer that comes in handy when you’re out exploring all corners of the globe.

As far as smartphone apps for travel go, we’ve come a long way since Google Maps and Duolingo—no offence to anybody who still uses those, because I love them, too, and still use them every single day.

But, as travel trends, patterns and habits continue to evolve, so too, does travel technology.

Here are the top five apps your clients should download before boarding that plane to make their holiday that much more enjoyable.

The best part? They’re all free!

1) Airline in-flight entertainment apps

While some newer aircraft have premium entertainment screens built into the seatbacks in front of you, a lot of the older fleets do not, and instead, offer their guests the option of downloading an app prior to taking off.

Unless you’ve brought yourself a good book, or are very good at daydreaming mid-flight, downloading an in-flight entertainment app respective to the airline you're flying on is at the top of the list for must-have apps. WestJet Connect allows you to connect to Wi-Fi, as well as stream hundreds of television shows, movies, and music straight from your device. The new 787 Dreamliners do have seatback screens (not live TV) however, guests are still able to use connect on their own devices too.

Downloading the airline's entertainment app comes in handy if you're on an aircraft that doesn't have a screen.

Air Canada’s mobile app lets travellers stream movies, TV shows, music, and more with the Rouge player, as well as stay up-to-date on their flight details. Air Transat’s new inflight entertainment system is now available on all Airbus A310, A321ceo and Boeing 737 aircraft. It replaces the CinePlus A and CinePlus B apps.

Pro tip: bring a back-up battery pack to charge your phone just in case there’s no built-in plug under your seat.

2) PackPoint

You might consider yourself a seasoned packer, but chances are, every time you zip that luggage up, you’ve brought at least one item you’ll never actually take out of your suitcase.

Or, something seems so obvious that you forget it entirely, and end up having to buy it in destination.

Better than the notepad option on your iPhone, and better than your basic checklist, PackPoint goes above and beyond: it checks the weather for your travel dates and creates a custom packing list just for you.

PackPoint will break down the necessities of your trip based on where you’re going, the length of your stay, any kinds of activities you might be doing, and the weather. Each time you pack an item on the list, you simply tap the box to check it off, and the list recalculates itself. Once you’re all packed, you can share your list via email or text, which is also great for those on group trips, who might have similar packing styles.

3) LoungeBuddy

Gaining access to an airport lounge can be crucial, especially if you’re travelling for work, or are just sick of trying to get comfy on a cold, hard metal chair in the middle of a chaotic terminal at 3 a.m.

But more often than not, airport lounges are reserved by airlines for their Business or Premium class travellers, and therefore Economy travellers miss out. LoungeBuddy lets travellers access airport lounges all over the world, regardless of their existing memberships or ticket class, and it shows travellers which lounges are available to book for a fee.

If someone told you that you could get access to a hot gourmet meal, showers, cozy reading nooks, and best of all, charging stations (that actually work!) for as low as $25, wouldn’t you do it? The LoungeBuddy app lets travellers search for the airport they’re arriving to or departing from and shows what options are available. You can even purchase a pass up to two months in advance, which can help you plan a layover accordingly.

Air Canada's Maple Leaf Lounge at LaGuardia Airport.

4) CityMapper

Using public transportation is a great way to get to know a destination a little better. And while getting lost is sometimes part of the experience, for those who get peace of mind from perfectly timing their buses to connect with their trains, and vice versa, CityMapper is the perfect solution.

Unlike Google Maps, which integrates public transportation into its route maps alongside walking and driving options, CityMapper features built-in transit maps and provides real-time updates on routes, including any interruptions, cancellations, or delays. It includes multi-combo route options which include ferries, cycling routes, driving routes, walking routes, bus, subway, rail, and even streetcars!

 CityMapper features built-in transit maps and provides real-time updates on routes, including any interruptions, cancellations, or delays.

5) Triposo

Reading guide books can be fun during the planning process of a trip, but nobody likes actually packing one (save that space for souvenirs!). Unlike the very popular Lonely Planet guidebooks, which are free to download but require a fee to access additional content and tools, Triposo is totally free, and even works offline without Internet, making it a great option for those who might not have purchased an international data plan.

Triposo shows travellers what to see, do, and eat in more than 200 countries and 50,000 cities world-wide. All city maps, transportation routes, and favourited bucket-list experiences can be saved right to your phone for future reference.

All of the abovementioned apps are free to download on the App Store and Google Play.


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