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The Smart Traveller app provides up-to-the-minute travel advice for more than 170 countries and allows users to register their travel details with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in case you need to be reached in an emergency. It also has contact details for consular assistance and a travel checklist to help plan your trip. Free. iOS and Android.
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ExpertFlyer has turned its popular online seat-finding service into a nifty app. Set up an alert to find out when a particular seat is available on certain flights or choose to be notified when a generic aisle or window seat is available. The app then enables you to change your seat allocation online or through your travel agent. Free. iOS and Android. In-app purchases available.
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Jump-start the fight against jet lag by getting your circadian clock on track before you leave with this clever app that educates users on how to shift their sleeping patterns, based on when and how far they are travelling. Free. iOS and Android.
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If you have the time (and the inclination), then Duolingo is a free way to learn a foreign language from the privacy of your own home. With 20 languages available for English speakers to learn, Duolingo gamifies the learning process, making it a fun and user-friendly method to brush up on your skills. Stick with it and you’ll be able to say more than just “Où est la gare?” when in Paris. Free. iOS, Android and Microsoft. In-app purchases available.
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If simplicity is the ultimate sophistication, then Citymapper is the essential app for traversing the world’s busiest cities, for locals and tourists alike. In essence, Citymapper aims to get you from A to B as quickly and cheaply as possible, using the various transport methods available in any given city. Citymapper launched in Sydney and Melbourne in 2016 and is available in 39 metropolitan cities worldwide, including London, Paris, New York, Singapore and Hong Kong. Free. iOS and Android.
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Google Translate has your back if you lack the foreign tongue. Not only can you translate 103 different languages just by typing, 52 of those can be accessed offline without a wi-fi connection. Niftier still, the app has a cool augmented camera mode, where you can hover your phone over a sign or menu and receive an automatic translation. Free. iOS and Android.
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You may think that airport lounges are strictly out of bounds if you’re not part of the program. But that’s not the case. Enter LoungeBuddy – the app that lets travellers search, book and access premium suites at airports all over the globe. It comes in handy if you have a long layover and need somewhere to freshen up and relax before your next leg. Free. iOS and Android.
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If you’re visiting a destination with poor internet access and/or you are worried about overseas roaming charges then Maps.Me is the navigation solution. Simply download the map of where you are travelling to before you leave and Maps.Me will store it offline, meaning it can be accessed at any time without a data connection. Better still, Maps.Me provides offline search functionality for places of interest and directions for driving, walking and cycling. Free. iOS and Android.
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If you’re not already using WhatsApp as your default messaging service, you should be, especially if you’re travelling abroad. WhatsApp is a multimedia messaging service that uses data to send messages rather than charging you per SMS sent. You can also use WhatsApp to make calls, share your location and send audio messages; just remember to connect to wi-fi or buy a local sim to avoid excessive roaming charges. Free. iOS and Android.
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It can be tricky to keep fit if you’re on holiday or travelling for work, and lugging your bicycle or surfboard around isn’t much fun either. That’s where Spinlister comes in. The app taps into the shared economy to make it easier for users to rent bikes, surfboards and ski equipment from fellow cyclists, surfers or skiers at the destination they are travelling to. Free. iOS and Android.
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The improved Qantas app is a one-stop shop to book flights, hotels, car hire and activities, all on your smartphone. It also allows you to set fare alerts, see your Frequent Flyer points balance and status credits, manage your booking, view your boarding pass, check your flight status, explore inflight entertainment and see personalised offers and travel inspiration for your destination. Free. iOS and Android.
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Snapseed is hands-down the best photo-editing app available. And best of all, it’s free. Whether you’re a basic or an advanced user, the app provides a wide array of pro-level tools to bring out the best of your pictures, while the filters add a subtle touch of flair. Free. iOS and Android.
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With more than 40 million downloads worldwide, it’s fair to say that XE is the go-to app for keeping a tab on exchange rates when you’re overseas. You can track up to 10 currencies in real time at once, which is perfect if you’re visiting multiple destinations. Free. iOS and Android.
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With millions of rides a month across more than 630 cities in 86 countries, Uber is a great way to get around while you’re on holiday, particularly where you lack the local lingo or where taxi companies have a reputation for taking passengers for a ride. Free. iOS and Android.
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Save on mobile roaming costs by using this app to find free wi-fi hotspots wherever you are in the world. Users of the app add hotspots and passwords that anyone can access. The paid Pro version allows access to an offline map and guides users to the nearest wi-fi signal if there’s no connection. Free or $4.99 for Pro Travel version. iOS and Android.
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Just like the Airbnb site, this app allows users to book short- or long-term private or shared accommodation at the homes of hosts all around the world. It’s also convenient for searching and saving properties you want to stay in at some time in the future, seeing all your upcoming and past bookings and keeping in touch with your host. Free. iOS and Android.
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AroundMe is great dining inspiration, helping users find restaurants, cafés and bars nearby. It can also locate anything else you may need – from movie theatres and grocers to pharmacies and ATMs, all on an interactive map. Free. iOS, Android and Microsoft. In-app purchases available.
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Get nerdy with your packing with this app for inexperienced and pro-packers alike. Enter basic information, such as where you’re going, what you plan on doing and for how many days you’ll be away and PackPoint will create a list of clothing, equipment, toiletries and more to take with you. You can add or delete items from different categories to make customised lists and even share them with friends. This app even tells you how many pairs of undies you’ll need. Free. iOS and Android.
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Aviation geeks especially will love this flight-tracking app, which displays real-time locations of flights around the world, including aircraft type, speed and altitude, as well as up-to-date details regarding arrival and departure times. You can either search for a particular flight, flights in your area or capture a plane flying overhead to see details. Free. iOS and Android. In-app purchases available.
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This app ensures you’re never stuck in the middle of a middle row again (unless you want to be). Whether you want to be a certain distance from the toilet or the galley or avoid a back seat that doesn’t recline, SeatGuru can determine which seat you should pick for your next flight. A map of the chosen aircraft from any number of airlines shows all of the seats and offers basic ratings, notes, pros, cons and user reviews of each one. Free. iOS and Android.
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While an app like Duolingo might be great for learning a language in the long term, TripLingo has been designed with travellers in mind. There’s an interactive phrasebook (including slang) and an image- and voice-translator that ensures you can communicate with phrases from the written or spoken languages of more than 100 countries. There are several other features but the most useful are the culture notes, with basic tips on manners and etiquette; and the safety tools that help you communicate in an emergency. Free. iOS and Android. In-app purchases available.
MSW Surf Forecast
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Have board, will travel? If you need to find the best waves, or just want to see what the swell is like on any one of thousands of beaches around the world, this app from Magicseaweed is for you. Get a basic seven-day surf forecast, including swell height and direction and wind strength, and ad-supported webcam access for free. It’s possible to pay for extended forecasts and receive fewer or no ads. Free. iOS and Android. In-app purchases available.
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It pays to be prepared for unexpected situations when you’re travelling in unfamiliar territory. This app tells you what number to use to contact emergency police, fire or ambulance services by automatically pinpointing your location anywhere in the world. A messaging tool template that covers off most emergency situations is also set up to allow you to quickly and easily communicate with friends and family. $1.49 for iOS and 99c for Android.
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Google Trips is a great all-round trip-planning app that’s especially handy for Gmail users. The app gathers travel information from your email and then automatically collates an itinerary plus all your travel details neatly in the one place. It’s also all available offline. Free. iOS and Android.
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Driving overseas or going on a road trip? Get local knowledge with this community-edited navigation app. The app helps users avoid traffic jams, find the best route and locate the cheapest fuel and sends alerts for police patrols, accidents, roadwork and more. If you’re driving in convoy, Facebook integration also allows you to keep track of your friends and coordinate arrival and departure times. Free. iOS and Android.
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This app essentially automates the process of splitting bills and although you can use it to calculate any group payments, it’s particularly useful for travel because it can be set to different currencies and works offline. Each person in the group can enter and sync their own expenses once they’ve accepted an invite to the group – the app will do the rest and calculate who owes whom. Free. iOS only. In-app purchases available.
Up Next: 12 Thrilling Reads to Kill Time on a Long Layover
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A slew of excellent novels have recently been released in Australia. Stock up before your next holiday to block out the noise and get through all the long waits that are the necessary evil of travel. Brought to you by Penguin Books Australia.