Gone are the days of lugging around travel tomes with dog-eared pages. In the digital era, all that info is jammed in a Smartphone-size package. And sure, you can still download entire guidebooks in app form—such as Fodor’s City Guides or Rick Steves’ audio tours—but those versions hardly take advantage of the latest in digital travel resources.
Here are five cutting-edge apps that will help get you where you want to go.
Jetpac City Guides
A visual guide to local recommendations, Jetpac (free) analyzes Instagram photos to generate the most popular places in 6,000 cities worldwide. It catalogs these destinations in easy-to-use top-ten lists with categories such as coffee shops and entertainment, as well as more original roundups such as Ten hipster hangouts in San Francisco and Ten bars women love. You can also discover each destination’s “snappyness” (i.e., what people have photographed most frequently) so you don’t miss out on the most popular dishes, views, et cetera.
mTrip Guides (free) customizes itineraries based on your interests—sightseeing, museuming, or taking in parks and nature, for instance—on whether you prefer an action-packed or a leisurely pace, and on your penchant for mainstream or alternative attractions. You can also browse for destinations, restaurants, bars, shopping spots, and hotels. Descriptions include a picture, address, reviews other travelers have left, and 360-degree panoramas of the surroundings, with icons hovering over the street-view to indicate other attractions in the area. You can enable GPS tracking and trip-sharing via Facebook and email, or you can take your agenda entirely offline to avoid roaming charges. Guide previews are free, but in-app guide upgrades cost $5.
Stay (free) is the go-anywhere version of Stay.com, where local experts, such as food and travel bloggers, create themed itineraries for more than 150 cities around the globe. You can also crowdsource your guide by letting your friends suggest places, or you can log in with Facebook to see where your friends have traveled. You can also download the guide and maps to take your journey offline while traveling.
Triposo (free) compiles data and reviews from open-source sites such as Yelp and Booking.com to create comprehensive guides. Both country and city guides are available; country guides include travel dashboards with a currency converter and useful phrases. The guides incorporate culture and history summaries, as well as the latest event info and reviews of major sights, restaurants, hotels, and nightspots. Download the guides to use them offline; all are free.
Wiki Triip (free) consolidates the full text of articles from Wikivoyage, Wikipedia’s free, user-generated answer to the travel guide that anyone can edit. This app excels at pre-trip info on history, geography, climate, arrival, and getting around. It also offers good landmark descriptions, but isn’t a good source for restaurant or hotel reviews.