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Five essential free travel apps for iPhone and Android

Apps to make sure you don't forget anything, help you get around easily and keep you entertained when you're on holiday

Now that you can roam for free in the EU, your smartphone is no longer off limits while you’re on holiday. There’s a wealth of apps that can enrich your travels and now using them won’t result in a massive phone bill when you get home.

Whether your ideal holiday is moving from museum to art gallery to monument in a European capital, or moving from hotel to beach and back again in the Mediterranean, there are apps that can keep you entertained and on schedule, and prevent you getting lost.

We’ve chosen five free apps that you won’t regret installing before you jet off.

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1. PackPoint

Price: free (£2.33 for premium)
Available for: iOS, Android

PackPointIconPackPoint for iOS and Android is a mobile packing assistant, bursting with useful tips and tricks on filling up your suitcase so you don’t leave anything important behind.

This free app will help you work through a list of packing essentials, adjusting the items it recommends based on the weather where you’re heading and how long you’ll be away for.

When you first add a trip to PackPoint, you’ll be asked what sort of activities you’re planning to get stuck into while you’re away. Paying for premium adds an itinerary planner, Evernote sync and more.

2. MAPS.ME

Price: free
Available for: iOS, Android

MAPSMEIconNot being able to look at a map on your smartphone because you don’t have signal is a nightmare, especially if you’re abroad in a place you’re not too familiar with.

MAPS.ME aims to stop this happening, letting you download maps and routes to look at even when you’re in the middle of nowhere. Top hiking trails are covered by the app, as are local tourist attractions and popular restaurants.

The Google Maps app also has an offline mode of its own. Head to Settings and then tap Offline areas. Click the add symbol, hover over the area you’d like to ‘save’ and then hit Download.

3. TripIt

Price: free ($49 (£38.36) a year for Pro)
Available for: iOS, Android

TripItIconIf you’re drowning in holiday booking forms and confirmation emails as your holiday edges closer, signing up to TripIt will help make planning your break stress-free.

You forward all your relevant emails and booking forms to TripIt, then your details are transformed into a master itinerary so that all your plans appear in one place.

A freshly made TripIt guide can be looked at on desktop or mobile while you’re offline. If you’re willing to stump up £35, the app’s Pro package adds real-time flight alerts, fare-refund notifications and VIP travel benefits.

4. Citymapper

Price: free
Available for: iOS, Android

CityPlannerIconCitymapper helps make sense of complicated train lines and bus routes, offering guides for major cities around the world, including London, Paris, New York and Tokyo.

The free smartphone app lists live travel timetables and buzzes to let you know when it’s time to hop off the bus. Apple Watch and Android Wear support is also included, which makes it easier to follow directions on the move.

Specific journeys and train times can be saved to look at even while you’re offline, which is good news if you’re underground without a signal.

5. Google Translate

Price: free
Available for: iOS, Android

GoogleTranslateIconGoogle Translate is the obvious app of choice if you’re heading overseas and need to learn some key words and phrases.

Camera Mode is one of the app’s highlights. Point your smartphone camera at a road sign, for example, and you’ll see the text on your screen change in real time to your native language. While this mode can be temperamental at times, for the most part it works very well.

If you don’t fancy pointing your smartphone at posters, there’s also the option of manually typing text into the translate field, or speaking out loud.

Use your phone for TV abroad

Heading overseas doesn’t mean you need to miss out on your favourite TV shows. Streaming apps, such as Netflix and Amazon Video, make it easy by letting you download shows to your phone before you leave, so there’s no chance of exceeding your data limits while you’re away.

If you access either of these apps you’ll be given a selection of TV picked for the country you’re in, so if you’re in Spain you’ll likely get a number of Spanish TV shows and films – not ideal.

You won’t be able to access iPlayer at all while you’re overseas, but thankfully, as with Netflix and Amazon Video, you can download shows to your device before you go. Sky Go Extra customers can also download shows and the same goes for Channel 4 TV if you download the All 4 app to your device.

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