The 5 best travel apps you should try these holidays

Ng Chong Seng
Lifestyle contributor
Young woman checking mobile phone. (PHOTO: Getty Images)

End of the school year, vacations, Christmas, New Year — who among us here doesn’t love December?

If you’re now furiously squeezing in clothes in your suitcase for your next getaway, make sure you also pack along some useful apps on your phone or tablet. And I’m not just talking about staples like Google Maps, TripAdvisor or Netflix.

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Here are five apps that I’m definitely bringing on my upcoming travels:

(PHOTO: Screenshot)

Flighty

For many years, TripIt was my go-to trip planning and flight tracking app. But as I don’t travel as much these days, it’s now overkill for me. I still like to track my flights though, and for that I highly recommend Flighty.

Available only on iOS, Flighty is a gorgeous flight tracker. I especially love its push notifications — gate changes, delays, aircraft status, baggage claim belt numbers and more — which in my experience often arrived faster than the official airline apps.

Take note though: the best features of Flighty, including push notifications, live data, delay forecast, calendar and TripIt sync, require a Pro subscription. Thankfully there’s a monthly option (S$11.98), so you can just subscribe for the period you travel. If you only want to track flights and don’t need the advanced data, the free version is good enough.

(PHOTO: Screenshot)

Google Translate

Google Translate is a godsend if you’re in a foreign land and don’t speak the language. It can translate between 103 typed languages and 59 of them will work even if you don’t have a data connection.

By far the killer feature for me is its ability to instantly translate text in images. You can point the camera at almost anything, from food packaging and posters to tickets and street signs. You can even translate photos.

Available for both iOS and Android, Google Translate will come in handy when you need to translate conversations on the fly too (think with a waiter at a restaurant or over the counter at the train station). For international travels, I think this app is a must-have.

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LoungeBuddy

Always wanted to travel in style? Then you need LoungeBuddy, an app that lets you discover and book airport lounges around the world.

Based on your ticket class, airline membership status and even the credit cards you own, LoungeBuddy is able to tell you the airport lounges you’ve access to. Other than basic info like opening hours, you can view photos and read reviews left by other passengers. According to LoungeBuddy (which is owned by American Express, by the way), it currently has info of more than 3,000 lounges in over 800 airports worldwide.

What if you don’t have free access to a lounge that you wish to experience? If you’re already at the airport, you can buy a single-use pass immediately right within the app; if your trip is still some time away, you can purchase access up to two months in advance.

Note: the LoungeBuddy app is only available on iOS; Android users can use the LoungeBuddy website.

(PHOTO: Screenshot)

Elk

Created by local developer Clean Shaven Apps and winner of the 2017 Apple Design Award, Elk for iOS is a handy travel currency converter that’s easy and fun to use.

Instead of punching in numbers, once you’ve chosen the two currencies, you’re presented with a rates table with 10 values already converted. To increase or decrease the conversions, just swipe left or right to change the values in the table. You can also tap between two values to display minute conversions between them.

Elk works on the Apple Watch as well and the conversion process is equally simple: just tap, swipe and rotate the Digital Crown.

Elk is free to download and comes with a 2-week trial of the Pro version. An in-app purchase (S$5.98) is required to unlock all the currencies after the free trial.

Yahoo Mail. (PHOTO: Yahoo)

Yahoo Mail

In addition to supporting other email services such as Google Gmail and Microsoft Outlook and packing tons of personalisation options, the new Yahoo Mail app lets you put a standalone Travel view at the bottom navigation bar so that you can quickly get to all your flight and reservation-related emails.

Better yet, there’s a Smart Updates feature that shows you important updates in-app, such as gate changes or flight delays once you’ve checked in.

Pro-tip: if you intend to do a lot of shopping, remember to ask for digital receipts. You can then use the Receipts view in Yahoo Mail to easily keep track of all your purchases.

The all-new Yahoo Mail has arrived. Download it here.