Ten top travel apps for stress-free holidays

Life-changing apps you don't want to travel without
Life-changing apps you don't want to travel without

As great as it is to be spontaneous, the last thing you want when you go on holiday is to spend hours on end waiting for a train or wandering aimlessly through the streets with no idea where you are.

Or to spend far too much money on a tourist-trap restaurant, get lost in the middle of nowhere without signal, or find yourself stranded when your hotel receptionist realises they have double-booked your room.

See also:Momondo's Travel Guide app just keeps on giving

To fail to prepare is to prepare to fail, they always said.

But the thought of planning your every move to the letter in advance can be just as much of a mood-kill.

The solution? As with everything else, it's apps, and out of the hundreds designed to suit the efficient jet-setter, here are some that will come in handy.

1. Foursquare

No matter where you are or what you are into, this app is designed to provide you with recommendations for the best things to do, see, eat, drink and buy on request. The best part is that the ideas come from locals and experts, rather than business promoters, so you're guaranteed a real taste of the place with no strings attached. iOS/Android/Windows Free.

2. Tripit

A dream for the organised, and a handy excuse for the disorganised. Just enter all your bookings and the app puts it all into a neat, one-page itinerary so you know exactly where you need to be and when – and where you have time for a cheeky beer and a selfie in between. iOS/Android/BlackBerry/Windows £0.64.

3. Trail Wallet

If cash flow is your main concern while you are overseas, maybe this guy can help. Punch in your expenses and it will calculate how much you have spent in all the relevant currencies. The one thing it sadly can't do is convince you that you don't need that extra useless ashtray souvenir. iOS. Free.

4. Google Translate

Trying your best to use the local lingo but can't get that crucial word off the tip of your tongue? You can speak, scan, type or draw the word or phrase you are struggling to translate – on anything from a menu, a bus sign, or a song lyric – into any of 90 different languages. Just like that mini dictionary you slipped into your pocket for the school French test, no one need ever know you cheated. iOS/Android/Google Free.

5. Tipulator

As any true Brit will know, etiquette is always key, and there are few things more inexplicably embarrassing than leaving the wrong kind of tip. There are some countries where too much is offensive, and others where your waiter is liable to chase you down the street for under-tipping. But that mortification is behind you with this simple app that will calculate how much you should leave, proportionate to your bill, wherever you are. iOS/Android/Google Free

6. WiFi Finder

One of the worst parts of travelling is the data charges that can really put a downer on your trip when you come home to the phone bill. This app, which helpfully works offline, clues you in on your nearest WiFi hotspots, wherever you are in the world and whatever sort of establishment you would like to take advantage of it in. iOS/Android/Google Free.

7. Onavo

Another data-saving tool is the data "compressor". Don't ask us exactly how it works, but it essentially reduces the amount of data you use in day-to-day internet activities, such as checking emails and downloads. It also keeps a running count of how much data you are using so you can make your own money-saving sacrifices. There are several versions of Onavo and a number of similar apps, so shop around. iOS/Android/Google Free.

8. Foodspotting

Now for the one you've really been waiting for. Unlike your standard restaurant rating websites, this app goes by particular dishes. So whether you want tapas in Tarragona, bratwurst in Berlin or kimchi in Korea, this app maps out the best and nearest places to go, following recommendations from other like-minded munchers. And if you find a new gem of your own, you can add it to the pool. iOS/Android/Windows/Blackberry Free.

9. HopStop

Fit more into your day without worrying about transport plans with this handy app, which gives you bus, metro, taxi, bike and walking route info right from where you are standing. It covers 140 of the world's busiest places, mostly in America, and is a must for anyone planning to take on a new city in a short space of time. iOS Free.

10. TravelSafe

The sort of app your mum would recommend. It may not be as fun, but if the worst happens, it might just save your life. Wherever you are this links you to all the most important local emergency numbers, whether you are online or not. As well as various useful info features, the app has a "panic button" which will alert your selected contacts if there is an emergency. Use it wisely! iOS/Android/Google Free for most.

11. Maplets

It's like having Google maps, public transport routes and more all in one place. Even if you are in the furthest signal-less sticks, you can access any sort of maps, routes and trails that you have already stored or downloaded. Supposedly it will track where you are on them as well, so you can always find your way around. iOS/Android/Google £1.64

12. Kayak

This one helpfully provides your price comparison, diary and tracking alert apps all in one. First compare the best prices for flights and accommodation etc, then it will compile them into an itinerary and let you know when there are any delays or changes that you might want to know about – theoretically freeing you up to book extras while you are on the move. It's had mixed reviews, but with so much on offer it must be good at something. iOS/Android/Google/Kindle Free.

13. Bonjournal

Whether it's to share with family when you get home, to recommend the best places you found to your friends, or just to keep the memories for yourself, you want to have some way of documenting your travels. But souvenirs from every city take up valuable hand luggage space and writing things in a diary all the time? Well, surely you'll be too busy for that. Instead, this app keeps things neat, clean and brief. Upload your photos and type in a few details, and see them transformed into a perfectly formed personal story that can even be transferred onto a PDF. Hassle-free, clutter-free and money-free. Just lovely. iOS/online Free

14. Touchnote

Think Moonpig or Funky Pigeon taken to a new level. Save yourself the bother of finding the perfect generic postcard – and post office – as this app allows you to send your family and friends back home a real personal token. Simply upload your latest holiday snap, punch a few buttons and it will be printed and sent directly. And you didn't even have to sweat over remembering the French/Portuguese/Mandarin for "stamp".

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