Let’s be honest, long flights can be hell. You’re trapped there with a few hundred strangers, many of whom may or may not own deodorant, and taking your mind off of the experience can be a challenge. Fortunately, we live in an age where boredom need not exist, especially with my five favorite iPad apps that I use for long haul flights.
Top Travel iPad Apps for Long Flights
1. Kindle – Yes, the iPad comes with a complimentary book application and it is possible to buy books through iTunes, but I much prefer using the free Kindle app for iPad. The smartest thing Amazon has done is to not limit its massive library to Kindle owners only. As a longtime Amazon customer, I know and like the interface and am constantly amazed at their impressive digital selection. Buying is easy from the app directly, and purchased titles can be downloaded prior to your flight so that you never run out of reading material.
2. Netflix – I know there’s been some controversy surrounding Netflix, but they remain the best resource for renting and watching movies and TV shows while on the go. If you’re a paid subscriber, you can enjoy all of the same options and functionality on your iPad that you can at home, a remarkable arrow in the quiver of the modern traveler. The app is streaming only, so you’ll need to be online, but with more and more flights offering this option, this is a great way to watch the movies you want to see while traveling.
3. Fotopedia Heritage – This is the ultimate app for anyone who loves great travel photography, which is probably just about everyone. The app does a lot. First, the designers partnered with the UNESCO World Heritage Centre and together they share thousands of stunning photos featuring every world heritage site in the world. More than just a photo album, the user can also download photos to use as wallpaper, save favorites for travel planning and share the best photos via a variety of social media. The app also includes information about each location from both UNESCO and Wikipedia, creating a portable travel encyclopedia of the best sites in the world.
This amazing app is currently free, so hurry and download it right away.
4. TripIt – If you’re anything like me, you want to go over your trip details en route, but without sifting through your carryon to find all the necessary scraps of paper. Before finding TripIt, I used to print out all of my various confirmation emails and staple them inside a manila folder. I know, so 1998, right? A reader recommended TripIt, and without exaggeration it has transformed my travel experience and probably saved thousands of trees in the process. Simply said, TripIt organizes all of your travel information for you and generates complete itineraries easily accessed through your mobile device. You can input the information manually if you want, but it’s so much easier (and cooler) to have them do it for you. All you do is forward your confirmation emails to them and within seconds a complete itinerary will be generated for you, instantly available in your TripIt account. I am endlessly fascinated by technology and this app really amazes me
Cost: $3.99 (you can upgrade to TripIt Pro that monitors flight status and tracks your frequent flier miles for $49 a year)
5. Story Patch – Long flights can be especially difficult on children, although adults don’t fare well either. Kids are lucky these days though, planes have entertainment units and there are enough electronic devices out there to amuse children for hours. At least that’s the hope. There are also a lot of really great iPad apps for kids, including interactive books and unique games. One that a friend told me about sounds really cool, and I just had to highlight it. Story Patch is a unique, interactive application that allows users to create new stories using personal photos, or in-app clip art. This is a fun and creative way to not just pass the time, but to get your kids to think and learn, instead of just trying to kill some green pigs. Although that’s fun too
Honorable Mention – Point Inside Maps for Airports & Malls – This is really appropriate before and after your flight, but it is an indispensable app for anyone who wants to navigate airports quickly and efficiently. With more than 85 US and International airport maps and more than 700 mall maps, it is an amazing travel resource. Rather than wander around aimlessly looking for a restaurant or bathroom, Point Inside has interactive maps featuring all restaurants, bathrooms and other service areas throughout the airport. It is extremely easy to use and very well done. Plus it’s free, which in itself is amazing.