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Travel toolkit: the apps to take on your next journey or vacation

Turn your iPhone into a travel powerhouse with these essential tips, apps and accessories

Whether you’re heading overseas or to a local spot for a few days of downtime, you’ll want to minimize travel headaches. This article is all about helping you travel smarter, not harder. We’ll dig into how your iPhone can upgrade your travel game and make holiday woes a thing of the past.

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Find a bargain: If you’ve got anything to book, use your iPhone to compare prices. Apps like Skyscanner (depicted), Kayak and Booking can collectively save you a bundle of cash, and point at deals you’d never have thought of looking for.

Don’t forget anything: Your iPhone has a Reminders app. Use it to build a list you can add to and check off as you pack. When you’re done, go to … > Show Completed, uncheck the completed items, and then use the list again (and again).

Take things offline: When heading somewhere new, internet connectivity isn’t guaranteed. And you definitely won’t have it on flights. So before you leave, download maps, movies, music and reading material on to your iPhone.

Plan tech needs: Will your data plan work where you’re going? What plugs does that place use? Or if you’re staying local, do you have a charger? Naturally, you’ll be able to buy things wherever you go – but you’ll be happier if you plan before you leave.

Don’t invite trouble: Having a great time far away from home? Excellent. But probably don’t broadcast it to all and sundry, advertising that your home is empty. Also, make sure you’re insured for items you take with you, in case your iPhone is lost or stolen.

Have a backup: Following on from that last point, take a full backup of your iPhone before you leave home. At least that way, your data’s safe and recoverable once you get your hands on a replacement device.

Download these apps

Weather on the Way

Weather on the Way (free + IAP): Plenty of weather apps can tell you the weather at your destination. This one tells you what it’ll be like as you travel there. Perfect for avoiding nasty surprises during road trips.

Google Maps (free): Yes, Apple Maps has improved and now has offline capabilities. But Google Maps still has the lead when traveling, not least due to its handy Street View and superior integration of points of interest.

Elk ($9.99/£9.99 per year): When dealing with a foreign currency, Elk simplifies matters by figuring out where you are and providing a full-screen table of rates. You can then swipe or tap to go bigger or smaller.

Soulver ($14/£14 iPhone or $20/£20 iPad): This combination of notepad and calculator is ideal for keeping track of expenses while away. The mix of plain English sums, currency conversions, variables and line references makes it a cinch to construct dynamic living documents.

Google Translate (free): Again, Apple has its own translation app – and, again, Google’s is better. In part, that’s because Google supports way more languages. It also includes offline capabilities, instant camera translation and the means to live-translate bilingual conversations.

Overcast (free): Our favorite podcast app is a boon when you’re facing a long drive – or a long flight – and only your ears are available to take in media. If you’re into talky podcasts, it also has superb voice enhancement and smart speed-up playback.

White Noise+ (free + $11.99/£11.99): During moments when you need to shut out the world – when surrounded by crying babies on a plane, or in a surprisingly noisy hotel – fire up this app to pipe customizable soothing natural-world soundtracks into your ears.

Connect this hardware

Belkin BoostCharge

Belkin BoostCharge ($59.99/£44.99): If you’re relying on your iPhone for all kinds of tasks, you won’t want it to run out of juice. This snap-on power bank can give it a boost and has pass-through support – and a flip-out stand when being charged itself.

OtterBox Strada Series Folio MagSafe (around $50/£50): We’d recommend having your iPhone in a case anyway. But when traveling, this folio case is a solid option, providing space for cards and cash, and a front cover that keeps your screen safe when your phone‘s stashed in a bag.

AirPods Pro (2nd gen) ($249/£229): When you want time to yourself – or don’t fancy inflicting your listening habits on everyone around – use these earbuds. Active noise cancellation on the Pros justifies the high price – especially on noisy flights.

Backbone One ($99.99/£99.99): Rather than add to your mental and physical load by bunging a handheld console in your bag, try this controller instead. It’s tiny, effortlessly connects to your iPhone, and is compatible with everything from Apple Arcade games to emulators.

AirTag ($29/£35): These trackers are a must when traveling, whether placing one inside luggage, in case it goes missing before baggage reclaim, or to keep tabs on other bags and belongings, including your keys.