When you travel, you always need two things — a currency converter and a travel organizer. Which converter/organizer combo is the best duo for your iPad-assisted travels? We break it down in this roundup.
A currency converter can help you determine whether or not that souvenir is really a good deal, and help you avoid getting fleeced when you exchange your money. If it can convert more than just money, it can also be helpful to make sure that you don’t get tripped up by the metric system and wear a coat when it’s 35 degrees Celsius outside!
A travel organizer is helpful to ensure that you find the best flight, or have all the pertinent details right at hand, whether that’s the address of your hotel or the confirmation number for your car rental. And since flight delays and cancellations can wreck your travel plans, an app that helps you keep up with the latest updates is an absolute must.
Converter Plus ($1.99)
The Converter Plus for iPad app has a simple layout and very easy to use interface. On the left side, you’ll see various conversion categories, from area and currency to time and temperature, plus handy tip, loan, and mortgage calculators. To use the app, pick the category and then tap on the unit of measurement you have, to activate the field. A keyboard or calculator will pop up on the bottom of the screen, and once you enter your number you will find that all of the other units have changed automatically.
If you don’t like the preselected units, you can change them by tapping the Edit button on the top right corner of the display. If you want to add a new category, tap the Plus icon on the left side of the display and you’ll be presented with a dizzying array of options — if it isn’t there, you probably don’t need to convert it.
Currency conversion rates are updated automatically when you open the app. About the only thing missing is a basic pure calculator — it’s not a must-have by any means, but it would be a nice bonus.
iCurrencyPad (99 cents)
If currency conversion is the only sort of conversion you’re interested in, the iCurrencyPad for iPad app has you covered. When you first open the app, you’re treated to a very brief tutorial that explains all the basics. The gist of it is that you use the extremely large number buttons to enter the amount, and the converted number will show up on the right of the screen.
If you’re interested in multiple currencies, you swipe up and down on the right side of the converter display to see the other amounts. It works as expected, with large, easy to read numbers. Just underneath the converter display are a series of icons that allow you to choose your favorite currencies, see historical conversion rate data, see the exchange rates currently in effect for several currencies at once, and access the app settings. It isn’t quite as flexible as Converter Plus since it only does currency conversion, but it does the job for a bargain price.
FlightTrack Pro ($9.99)
The FlightTrack Pro for iPad app does exactly that — track your flights and provide the information you need so that you won’t miss your connections. If you’re using TripIt, you can log in to your account and sync up all of your flight information automatically; otherwise you can add flights by flight number, route, or by airport.
Once you save your flight, tap on the map to see the plane’s current location, speed, estimated arrival time, and gate information. You can also see current weather conditions, and the map has a hybrid satellite and radar view so that you can see the latest storms and how close they may come to your flight path.
Push notifications let you know instantly if your flight changes. And if you’re a true road warrior, you’ll likely want to purchase the Flight Board Status update for another $3.99, so that you can see exactly what the monitors are displaying in any particular airport.
If you don’t need all the bells and whistles, you might also consider FlightTrack standard for $4.99. It’s basically the same app, without TripIt integration, weather information, and push alerts.
Kayak Flights (Free)
If you need to book flights, you need to try the Kayak Flights for iPad app. Type in where you want to go and when you want to go, and the app takes care of the rest. You can optionally filter by the number of stops, by airline and airport, time, and price. Even if you’re not a particularly bargain-conscious flyer (and who isn’t, these days?) it is still the fastest and easiest way to find a flight. Since you can filter by time, you can easily get rid of those “o-dark-thirty” departures, or search nearby airports to find a more convenient schedule you might not have otherwise considered.
When you find the flight you want, you get booking information right there, so you can call or visit the airline’s site to book the trip. The flight numbers, dates, and times are helpfully summarized for you on the right side of the screen, so you’ll be sure to give the right information.
If you’re in the mood for a deal, there’s a Hot Searches area at the bottom of the main screen that may lead you to great vacation at a low price. You’ll see hotel listings on the right side as well, but at the moment tapping on any of those opens Safari and takes you straight to that hotel’s entry on the Kayak web site. The same thing is true of the car and hotel bed icons at the top left corner of the display; with any luck, those are placeholder icons for future additions to the app.
Kayak Flights for iPad is easy to use, and it’s free. You can’t ask for much more than that. It won’t actually book your flights for you, but it will find the best schedule and the best price for your needs, and tell you exactly where to call or what site to visit to book your next trip, be it a vacation or yet another sales meeting.
TravelTracker Pro ($8.99)
At first glance, the TravelTracker Pro for iPad app doesn’t look like much; you start out with a rather utilitarian blank screen. Tap on the New Trip button in the top right corner of the display and the magic starts to happen. Give your trip a name, start and end dates, and some notes, and tap Save. Then tap on the trip name and tap the New Item box in the upper right corner. You’ll be presented with a list of options from new flights and train rides to meetings and activities.
As you enter details about your trip, the display will fill with all of the information, presented in a perfectly organized fashion. You don’t have to fill in all that much — as soon as you enter the date and the flight number, all of the relevant details are filled in for you, including departure and arrival times, date and baggage claim information, even seating charts from SeatGuru.
If you’re a traveler of habit who typically uses the same airlines, hotels, and car rental agencies, you can spend a couple of minutes entering that information into the app preferences (accessed in the lower right corner) and that information will be pre-filled for you each time you add a new item to your itinerary. If you don’t want to do all that text entry on the iPad, TravelTracker Pro works with TripIt, so you can import and export your trips as necessary.
That would be enough, but Travel Tracker Pro does so much more than that — it tracks your expenses, offers weather forecasts, and offers real-time flight tracking. If you belong to several frequent flyer and hotel loyalty programs, you can enter your account numbers in the Awards area so you’ll always have them at hand — and you’ll find that the estimated number of miles you’ll receive for each flight is automatically entered for you. If you’re the type to use detailed packing, clothing, and sightseeing lists, you’ll find those too. There’s even a clever little flag game included, to test your knowledge of the flag for each country. Ordinarily the “kitchen sink” approach really doesn’t work for mobile apps, but in this case it truly does — you can make your itinerary as detailed or as simple as you want, and no matter which way you go you’ll always know where you’re going and how you’re going to get there.
TravelTracker Pro for iPad is well worth the $8.99 price, but a free version is also available. It lacks some of the advanced features such as TripIt integration ($2.99), flight status updates ($2.99), packing lists (99 cents) and Expense tracking ($1.99). If you only need one or two of those features, you can save a little cash, but if you travel even just a few times a year, save yourself some trouble and go Pro.