The number of iPhone apps for travel is so mind-boggling that it almost makes me want to stay home and stick my head under the covers. But with help from experts, I've managed to whittle down my list and have spent the last seven or so months testing various apps to see which make the cut.
Here, then, are my favorites. Many are free. All work on iPhones, and many work on BlackBerries and Androids.
Kayak (free): an aggregator website for airfare, hotel and car rental searches.
TripIt (free): organizes trip details into one master online itinerary, including maps, directions and weather. Works with Yapta to track fare changes for possible refunds. TripIt Pro offers mobile alerts of flight delays/changes and assistance finding alternative flights and other services. Free 30-day trial, then $69 annually.
FlightTrack ($4.99): for real-time flight status on domestic and international flights.
Gokivo Navigator (free trial, then $4.99 a month; terms vary): provides turn-by-turn visual and voice-guided GPS navigation.
Taxi Magic (free): to book taxis.
Trapster (free): to help you avoid speed traps when driving.
SitOrSquat (free): to find the nearest toilet.
Google Maps (free): for mapping and directions by car, foot or public transportation. This app may be my favorite; I can emerge from a New York City subway stop totally disoriented, and Google Maps points me where I need to go.
Poynt (free): points you to nearby restaurants, hotels, shops, etc. (not yet available for Android).
The Weather Channel (free): for current weather, alerts and forecasts.
Food and entertainment
Urbanspoon (free): to locate nearby restaurants.
Yelp (free): to find nearby chow, shops, drugstores, etc., featuring Yelp users' reviews in the U.S., Canada, Ireland and Britain.
OpenTable (free): to find nearby restaurants and make reservations.
LocalEats (99 cents for iPhone; $2.99 for Verizon Storm BlackBerry): to dine where the locals eat (not available for Android).
Zagat to Go (annual pricing varies): includes Zagat ratings/reviews of restaurants, nightlife, hotels, etc.
Fandango Movies (free): to watch movie trailers, buy tickets, etc.
Movies by Flixster (free): to watch movie trailers, get show times, buy tickets and share reviews.
Amazon's Kindle (free): to read digital books (not available for Android).
Pandora Radio (free): to create your own Internet radio playlists.
Facebook (free): for Facebook connectivity, chats, etc.
iPhone-only (mostly) apps
Southwest Airlines (free): to book air and car reservations with the option of Ding! discounted fare alerts via text messages.
Kayak First Class ($1.99): for first-class and coach searches.
Priceline Hotel Negotiator (free): Lets you see which hotel you're booking or save up to 50% "naming your own price" and then finding out which hotel you have snagged.
Hotels.com (free): for deals.
Navigon MobileNavigator North America ($79.99; no monthly or annual fee thereafter): provides turn-by-turn visual and voice directions in U.S. and Canada. Regional modules cost less. The app is promised soon for Android.
AroundMe (free): finds nearby hotels, hospitals, restaurants, grocery stories and more.
Where (free): finds nearby food, gas, weather, traffic reports and more (available for Android).
Near to Here (99 cents): alerts you to notable sites as you pass by.
GateGuru (free): finds food, services, etc., near your airport gate and offers Yelp-style reviews, ratings and photos.
Public Transit Apps (available for many cities):
London Tube (99 cents): for London underground.
iBart (free): for Bay Area Rapid Transit.
New York Nearest Subway ($1.99 — iPhone 3GS only): uses phone's camera and GPS to direct you to the nearest subway station.
iTrans (99 cents to $4.99): for city trains in Chicago, Washington, D.C., New Jersey and New York.
iCarPark (99 cents): for noting your parking spot (with a timer for metered parking).
AAA Roadside and AAA Discounts (both free): for AAA roadside assistance and discounts.
Cheap Gas! (free): finds cheap fuel nearby.
Taxi! (free): uses reviews to help you book the best local taxi.
SodaSnap (free): lets you turn a photo into a postcard you can e-mail.
Dragon Dictation (free): lets you dictate text faster than you can type it.
Tipulator ($1.99): to calculate tips.
Skype (free): for free Skype-to-Skype calls, less expensive instant messages and international calls using Wi-Fi over Skype's network.
Currency (Free): provides current exchange rates for more than 90 currencies and 100 countries.
TranslateIt! (99 cents): translates phrases in 41 languages using Google Translate.
Babelingo Translated Phrases ($1.99): for 300-plus useful phrases in 11 languages.