Check out this best travel apps that are useful for you anytime. It’s hard to remember how bereft of navigational tools the average American was in the dark wilds of the 1990’s. GPS units weren’t mainstream yet, the only real portal to the Internet was the computer, and if your car broke down on the freeway you just had to hope you described your location correctly to the tow truck before your game of black-and-white Tetris killed your cell phone’s battery.
Then smartphones came along, and you never had to be unplugged from the happy insanity of the Internet ever again. Travel apps have been constantly popular on these devices ever since their inception, but these days they’re so good that they’re actually useful even when you’re not desperately trying to have fun on vacation. Here are 4 free travel apps for your smartphone that are useful for your daily commute:
Even the most prehistoric GPS probably has a feature that locates nearby gas stations. What sets GasBuddy apart is the pricing information that is constantly updated by its 23 million users, giving you access to every nearby station and the current price for unleaded with the flick of your finger. If you’ve ever played the game where you race across town to beat the rapidly growing price-per-gallon on display, hoping to find that one slow gas station where the attendant was too distracted by Angry Birds to bump his price up to match everyone else, then this app is for you.
Just be wary of the too good to be true prices on there: There’s been a few reports of shady station owners uploading “bait and switch” prices that shave a few dimes off the actual price per gallon. Considering how serious Americans take our fuel costs, it’s probably best to just drive off and let the justice of the streets shallow them up, like a school of thrifty piranha devouring a gas-gouging antelope.
After setting up an account (including your credit card info), you can use the Taxi Magic app to order a ride in seconds with your iPhone. If you’re in a city where every ten cars is a cab anyway, it’s probably not the most relevant, but for any of the mid-sized urban sprawls it’s perfect.
You can also track the cab as it’s on its way, as well as pay directly through your iPhone, freeing you from one of the worst aspects of modern society—talking to people. Now you can just press a button to order and pay for a cab, leaving the driver to entertain himself with his own silly thoughts while you ride through life in a bubble of upper-crust entitlement.
This one is strictly for New Yorkers, but if you’re a user of MTA’s Weekender—the website that lets you know where weekend construction and scheduled closings are happening on subway lines—you can now get that info on the go courtesy of the iPhone app.
This is one of the travel apps that is far more beneficial to everyday commuters than vacationers, since you’re probably not worried about shaving 30 minutes off your travel time if you’ve been drinking all day and are looking for any excuse to not see Wicked.
This app is kind of a jack-of-all-trades: everything you normally do, such as looking up restaurant info, addresses, gas stations, yelp reviews, movie times, etc., can be done via a slick and well organized package. You won’t see anything groundbreaking here, but it’s really easy to use, the brightly colored and tiled interface makes you happy, and it does have a feature where it’ll automatically call an establishment you’re looking up if you raise your phone up to your ear. If there’s one thing we need in the 21st century, it’s even less physical activity. Only the poor have to push a button to call people.
These apps are great when you’re trying to relax in a new town, but they’re equally useful if you live in a city of any decent size and are just looking to get through your day. Just be honest about uploading those gas prices, unless you enjoy getting prison beatings from strangers.
John is a blogger who considers Gas Buddy to be the single greatest driving-related app on the smartphone market. He writes for Internet insurer Protect Your Bubble, who can help protect your smartphone—including Samsung’s new Galaxy S4—from all of the possible harms in the world, whether you’re traveling abroad or staying home.