Here are some of my favorite travel apps for Android phones. I’ve focused on travel apps that are most likely going to be used while out exploring a destination, rather than ones that are used for pre-trip planning.
I’ve used most of these Android apps over WiFi, so you don’t absolutely require a data plan to get some use out of the apps as long as you are in a city with abundant wireless Internet connections.
Save on roaming charges by using free wireless Internet. Jiwire’s WiFi Finder App has an offline database of free wireless Internet hotspots to help you get online as cheaply as possible. The first time you use it, you can download a database of wireless hotspots.
Here’s a video that someone made that shows how it works:
Find Places Near You
Wikitude is an augmented reality browser that lets you use your phone’s camera to see information around you. The phone can tell you if you are standing near a famous attraction and then show you Wikipedia’s information about it. Check out this list of features, and watch the short video below for an example:
Foursquare has an “Explore” button which lets you find recommendations and read tips by other Foursquare users. You can also save places that look interesting to a to-do list.
If you have friends that use Foursquare, the app lets you keep track of each other’s locations.
Yelp is a great way to find restaurants, bars, cafes, and other local businesses. Just push the “nearby” button, and Yelp will search for you. Between Yelp and Foursquare, I’ve found some good restaurants while in unfamiliar cities.
Google Places is similar to Yelp and Foursquare and might even be on your phone already, since Google makes Android. Just push a button on the app and Google will find interesting things near you.
The feature that I like on Tripadvisor’s app is that you can click the “Near me now” button and then the “See” tab. That gives you a list of things to do in the city. You can the filter the list to limit the suggestions to things like “museums within two miles of me”.
Maps and Navigation
Google Maps does everything: maps, driving distances, traffic, walking directions, and public transport schedules.
The Google Earth app lets you zoom around the map, just like in the desktop version of Google Earth.
Keep Track of Where You’ve Been
My Tracks records your location with GPS as you move around. You can then upload your route to Google Maps later. The app keeps track of how many miles or kilometers you traveled and how long it took. The app was designed for outdoor activities, but I sometimes use it while I’m walking around Vienna to keep track of how much walking I’m doing and where I’ve been.
One app that I haven’t used much, but may have potential is Google Latitude. If you are traveling in a group and would like to keep track of where the other people in your group are, Latitude will let each user see the other users’ locations on a map. If you do use Latitude, also check out Latify, which gives you extra control over the service.
TripIt can help organize your flight and travel information. It also works with hostel booking websites. Here is a video that shows how TripIt works:
Sharing Your Trip
If you have a travel blog on WordPress or Tumblr, the apps make updating the blog quick and easy. If you don’t already have a blog about your travels, you can get a free one here or here. The WordPress app has many nice features.
If you are blogging on the road, be sure to check out Swype, because it’s a very fast way to enter text on a phone. It might already be installed on your Android phone.
Instagram is a nice way to take photos and automatically send them to other social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Tumbler, and Foursquare. If you don’t have a data plan, Instagram lets you take photos while offline, edit them, and then upload them later when you are at a cafe or hostel with a free WiFi connection.
If you want to capture panoramic scenes, Photaf Panorama Pro is an inexpensive panorama photo maker that is worth the price. Here’s a demonstration video:
Lonely Planet offers apps and ebooks. I used their New York City app when visiting New York and found it helpful.
Wikipedia’s App lets you save pages for offline viewing. This can be used to learn about your destinations and interesting historical events. For example, if you are going to visit the Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna, you might want to download some information from Wikipedia about the Habsburg Monarchy to read before or during your visit.
Google Goggles lets you take a photo or video and search Google for information. Google Goggles also lets you take a photo of foreign language text and translate it.
In addition to Google Goggles, mentioned above, the Google Translate app lets people speak into the phone and get the text translated. This could be very useful when trying to communicate with people who don’t speak the same languages. Try the conversation mode.
For more-comprehensive phrasebooks, try the Lonely Planet phrasebook apps.
Try Anki Droid flashcards for learning foreign language vocabulary and phrases. The Android app syncs with any flashcards that you’ve saved on the desktop version of Anki. Anki can also import free flashcards from Quizlet and Flashcard Exchange if you export them on the other sites first. Alternatively, you can directly import Quizlet and Flashcard Exchange cards into your phone with Encore, though Encore displays them as multiple choice questions instead of flashcards.
To learn more about how to use Anki flashcards, check out the Lifehacker article, “I Learned to Speak Four Languages in a Few Years: Here’s How“.
XE.com has a good currency conversion app that does offline conversions.
File Storage in the Cloud
Google Drive is a new cloud storage service from Google that lets you store up to 5 Gb of file for free. It’s gradually being rolled out to Google Docs accounts, so if you have Google Docs, you should see an offer for the free Google Drive soon. This lets you sync files between your desktop computer and your Android phone.
Dropbox is similar to Google Drive, but starts at 2 Gb of free storage.
Pocket is a great app that lets you save webpages to your desktop computer and mobile devices. Everything is synced to your Pocket account, so if you save the webpage to Pocket on your laptop, it will automatically be available on your phone for offline reading.
An app that lets you keep track of expenses when several people are traveling together is Travel Money. The free version is restricted to a limited number of entries.
You Budget lets you set budgets and then keeps track of expenses by category.
I haven’t used Mint, but you may want to investigate their app if you’re looking for a more comprehensive budget manager.
Meetup.com is a good place to find like-minded people. If you search for travel meetups in some larger cities, you may find something interesting.
Stolen Phone Recovery
If you’re worried about your Android phone or other device getting lost or stolen, check out the Prey Project app. It can help you get your phone or computer back if it gets lost of stolen. To learn how Prey Project works, read the story about how one traveler used it to get his laptop back.
If I forgot to mention a good travel app for Android, leave a comment below, and I’ll check it out!