21 useful iPhone Travel apps [16 are FREE]

There are  hundreds of travel-related iPhone apps on the iTunes store, including ones that help you pack your bag, find a rest stop on a road trip, translate a foreign language, navigate the subways in New York or book a night at a guest house in Cambodia. Whatever your travel goal — there’s an app for that.

But which travel apps are actually worth downloading?

Here’s a short list of some iPhone apps that I use or think are worth using. Please use the comments section at the end to tell us about  your most-used travel apps and why we should download them. After all, it’s easy to add apps because they sound fun and cool, but it can be a completely different experience to find ones that you return to again and again.

The staples

There are certain iPhone apps that I almost take for granted. Why? Because they are big brands in the travel or online industry, and I expect them to have a mobile presence as well. I consider them staples that travel-loving iPhone users probably already have. If you don’t have them, you should download them — especially since they’re free.

MapQuest | Free | This popular mapping tool helps you with directions, lets you save maps and routes on its website and access them from your phone, look for businesses and even get walking directions.

Skype | Free | Join Skype and call friends all around the world who are also on Skype. You can also call land lines and cellphones for a small charge.

Kayak | Free | This is the app version of the airfare- and hotel-search website you know and love. Book a reservation online or push a button to call the airline or hotel directly. Kayak also has a paid version ($1.99) that searches first- and business-class airfares.

Southwest | Free | We recently gathered reviews and tips from travelers who have already used the Southwest Airlines iPhone app. Book a flight, check in for your flight and get “push notifications” for Ding! deals.

Priceline | Free | Follow your favorite hotel negotiator from your phone. Score a last-minute hotel right when you need it — chop!

Travelocity | Free | Book travel, view your trips and itineraries, see hotels on an interactive map, check TSA security wait times, get deals by destination and more.

Hotels.com | Free | Search for hotels from your current location. It’s handy to have user reviews and hotel photos at your fingertips. One complaint: How about some updates?

Hertz and Avis | Free |  Hertz and Avis both have an iPhone app. If you use them regularly, why not add them to your mobile device?

Useful apps that I turn to again and again:

Yelp | Free | This app has suggested great restaurants where I’ve become a repeat diner. You also can use it to search for other services, such as gas stations, banks, bars and coffeehouses, to name a few.

Around Me | Free | This app is similar to Yelp, in that you can find both necessary and recreational services nearby, such as hospitals, banks, gas stations, movie theaters and hotels. I return to this app for gas stations because it once helped me find a place to refuel when my car was on empty and I wasn’t familiar with the area. Too easy!

Flight Track Live | $4.99 | I’ve downloaded app after app trying to find one that had a quick grasp of flight delays, and so far this one has come the closest. If you have other apps that you’ve used successfully to track a late flight carrying someone you were trying to pick up at the airport, please share that in the comments section.

TripIt | Free | If you use the website version of TripIt or are a frequent traveler,  let this app keep you organized with all your trip details in one place.

AAA Roadside| Free | No more fumbling around for a phone number when your car gets a flat, runs out of battery juice or unexpectedly breaks down. Just like the membership and service, this app is great to have around for that one time you need it most.

The Weather Channel Free | Great for business travelers and spouses of business travelers who help pack for the trips. I like the feature that allows you to store a variety of cities and just flip among them without having to reload the city the next time you want to check the weather. It even has traffic cams for select cities.

Taxi | $0.99 |  This app has come in handy for me, but you’ll find that it gets mixed reviews on iTunes. The biggest complaint is that it’s only for bigger U.S. cities.

Babelingo | $1.99 | This is a language translator with phrases and topics particularly useful for travelers. Even better, it doesn’t just teach you how to say something in a foreign language; it offers visual translations (shows the translations in type) that you can show to the person you’re trying to communicate with.

Pano | $2.99 | Take panoramic pics with your iPhone. Don’t worry if you get a phone call or need to stop; you can resume your photo.

Road Trip Fun | $0.99 | A great reminder of all the fun games you can play when you’re on a road trip. Remember I Spy and Slug-a-Bug?

Whizzer | $0.99 | Helps you find a bathroom. Great for moms who want to know where a baby-changing station is.

SodaSnap | Free | Take pictures of your travels and send them to your friends as e-cards.