15 must-have apps for surviving holiday travel 

MIAMI, FL - MARCH 04: A sign points passengers to the mobile passport control window set up for international travelers arriving at Miami International Airport on March 4, 2015 in Miami, Florida. Miami-Dade Aviation Department and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) unveiled a new mobile app for expedited passport and customs screening. The app for iOS and Android devices allows U.S. citizens and some Canadian citizens to enter and submit their passport and customs declaration information using their smartphone or tablet and to help avoid the long waits in the exit lanes. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

(CNN) — The wonder of travel is in the sights and sounds of your new location, but if a tool could smooth your path and free up your senses, you would use it, right?

Well there is, of course, in your pocket. Smart travelers load up their smartphones with an array of handy apps to make life on the road that little bit easier.

And just like packing the right items for your trip, having the right apps on your phone can dramatically improve the journey to your next destination.

Here is our pick of 15 of the best travel apps out there. Some you might have already, and some you should download before your next adventure:

PackPoint

A packing checklist is a useful tool, if somewhat time-consuming to compile — but what if someone could make that list for you?

Input your destination and travel dates, and PackPoint will create a weather-specific packing list. The app will also ask what you plan on doing while you’re there, and make suggestions based on your answers — so you don’t forget your gym shorts if you plan on running or your tie for an important business meeting.

Chances are the computer-generated suggestions aren’t going to be perfect at first, but items can be added and deleted to customize your list.

Platforms: iOS and Android

Cost: Free

WiFi Map

Finding a WiFi hotspot to avoid data roaming charges isn’t always easy.

But the crowdsourced WiFi Map app highlights hotspots around your current location and provides you with the password to use them.

You’ll want to be careful what data you access when you’re connected to public WiFi, so you should choose wisely not only when it comes to your hotspot but what you do with it.

Maps can be downloaded to use offline (so you don’t burn through data looking for that hotspot), and a premium version of the app offers access to a bigger library of locations.

Platforms: iOS and Android

Price: Free

Google Translate

The language barrier need not be such a hurdle with Google’s handy translation app.

It can translate 103 different languages, just by typing the text into your phone.

Of those, 59 can be downloaded for access even when you don’t have a data connection, and 38 can be translated by pointing your phone’s camera at a street sign or dinner menu.

The camera feature doesn’t always deliver perfect results, but it’s often good enough to give you the gist.

Platforms: iOS and Android

Cost: Free

TravelBank

This app helps your employer create a budget for a trip based on actual travel costs.

You, as an individual, use the app to book things like your flight and hotel, and keep track of expenses like meals.

TravelBank bundles the budgets together, meaning you can fly coach instead of business and eat at nicer restaurants, or take the subway rather than cabs and stay at a nicer hotel.

At the end of the trip, you file an expense report through the app.

If you don’t spend all of your budget you split the savings with your employer and get a gift card for somewhere like Uber or Airbnb for the remaining funds.

Platforms: iOS and Android

Cost: Free

Dayuse.com

Evening flights often leave you in a travel no-man’s land. But the Dayuse app allows you to book hotel rooms for the day rather than the evening hours so you can relax, take a shower, or just get some work done.

Rooms are generally cheaper than they are at night, and your stay often comes with access to all the same amenities enjoyed by overnight guests.

Platform: iOS and Android

Cost: Free

AccuWeather

Never underestimate the value of a great weather app.

AccuWeather is available in more than 100 different languages and provides minute-by-minute forecasts that are hyper-localized.

No more being caught out in a 20-minute downpour (hopefully).

Platforms: iOS and Android

Cost: Free

Airbnb

Airbnb built its business on renting homes, but you can now do a whole lot more with the app.

While you can certainly use it to book your next getaway, the app also offers “Airbnb Experiences” led by experts and local hosts. These can be anything from bike rides or truffle hunting to cooking lessons at a local restaurant. In some cities the app also allows you to make restaurant reservations just like you might on OpenTable.

Platforms: iOS and Android

Cost: Free

Uber

Even if you don’t use Uber at home, it can be a handy app to have when traveling.

Despite its problematic reputation in the United States and elsewhere, Uber is currently in more countries than other similar transportation services.

In places where you don’t speak the language, the app’s ability to type in your address can help cut down on any confusion between you and your driver.

Platform: iOS and Android

Cost: Free

SitOrSquat

If you’ve got to go when you’re on the go, this restroom-searching app could be for you.

The SitOrSquat app is loaded with more than 100,000 public restrooms and can pinpoint the nearest to your location. Even better, the bathrooms come with a rating — “Sit” if it is clean, or “Squat” if it’s not.

Users can rate toilets and add new ones to the database, and all locations can be searched by location, rating, whether or not they have a changing table, or whether they’re free to use (as opposed to a coffee shop where you might be expected to buy a cup).

Platform: iOS and Android

Cost Free

Citymapper

This takes the digital map one stage further and helps you get around in a large city.

It offers transit maps including real-time departure information as well as disruption alerts and biking and walking directions (and Uber integration, if that’s your thing).

As well as info on what train to take, Citymapper will also make suggestions on the best train car to be in, as well as what station exit you should take when you arrive at your stop.

Platform: iOS and Android

Cost: Free

RunGo

Keeping fit while traveling can be hard work. It’s often difficult to find running routes in unfamiliar places, but the RunGo app helps you discover suitable and safe itineraries near your current location.

It even has voice navigation to help you get through tricky spots while you’re pounding the pavements.

One of the 90,000+ routes can be downloaded for listening offline (a solid feature for whether you’re traveling abroad and don’t want to use pricey roaming data), and premium users can access special guided tours that have been verified by local runners and include a bit of sightseeing in your workout.

For those who don’t love to run with their phone, an Apple Watch app is also available.

Platform: iOS and Android

Cost: Free

Detour

If you don’t fancy an organized tour, but still want to learn a little bit about the area, this audio app can help.

Detour offers walking tours in a limited number of major cities, written and narrated by locals. Rather than take you to the typical tourist stops, these tours give you a local’s view of the city. For instance, in San Francisco, Detour offers a tour of Fisherman’s Wharf given by an actual fisherman.

You see his boat and where he brings in crab each day, and learn about the working side of the Wharf rather than simply suggesting a photo op with the sea lions at Pier 39.

Platform: iOS and Android

Cost: The app is free. Prices of tours vary

XE Currency

The XE Currency app offers live exchange rates for currencies around the world, with rates refreshed every minute.

It can help you make quick conversions when you’re out shopping and can monitor up to 10 of your favorite currencies and let you know when their value changes.

Platform: iOS and Android

Cost: Free

Mobile Passport

If you don’t have Global Entry, then Mobile Passport is the next best thing when it comes to speeding through US Customs and Border Protection.

You fill out the same information you do on a paper customs form and are then given a QR code that an agent will scan along with looking at your passport.

Mobile Passport users also get their own security lane, which is typically much faster than the general one.

The app is can currently being used in 24 airports and one cruise port by US citizens, and Canadian citizens on B1 or B2 visas.

Platforms: iOS and Android

Cost: Free

AirHelp

When your flight is canceled or delayed you’re often entitled to compensation, but uncertainty over what qualifies prevents many people from claiming.

Now if you have a travel “flightmare” you can input your ticket info into the AirHelp app and it will file a compensation claim for you. If your claim is successful, the app will automatically transfer your funds into your account.

Platforms: iOS and Android

Cost: Free