L.A. Times Travel Show: Finding the best travel apps for 2014

L.A. Times Web Buzz columnist Jen Leo talks about best travel apps for flights, vacation planning and more.
(Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times)

Want to find “where the hipsters hang out” in a city you’re traveling to? Homesick and want to video chat with up to nine people at once? There’s an app for all that.

In fact, many apps that can be resources for travelers in their everyday needs, said Jen Leo, writer of the Web Buzz travel column for the Los Angeles Times. From flight alerts to photo-taking tools, Leo reveals some of her top app picks at “Smartphone Travel: The Best Apps for Your Next Trip” panel at 3 p.m. at the L.A. Times Travel Show on Sunday.

“Traveling with apps is like a shortcut to finding something cool,” she said in an interview Sunday. “For me, apps make traveling easier, cheaper and more fun.” Leo, whose full list of app recommendations is posted at the L.A. Times Travel section’s website, said the apps she chose are all recent or ones that have been updated in the last year.


Afar, the travel magazine, just updated its app last week. “It’s beautiful,” Leo said. “It lists hot spots from experienced and passionate travelers.”

Another favorite is Camera Awesome, she said. Though not new, the app recently came out for Android devices, expanding its user base. “It’s a photo-enhancing tool that helps you take better pictures,” she said. “It has faster and better camera exposures.”

Grid by Binary Thumb also involves photography, but it acts as more of a visual organizer, Leo said. “You can travel log your photos and notes before, after or during a trip,” she said.

For those flying or picking people up at the airport, Leo recommends Flight+ because of its live updates. “You can see a real time map of a flight as it’s coming in,” she said. “It gives you airport, airline and seat map information. Basically a one-stop shop for flight information.”

However, Leo said “every traveler is different … so it is important to do research in advance.”

Her top tip? “Using apps can be enriching part of travel experience,” she said. “But definitely keep your head out of the phone to truly experience the trip itself.”

The Travel Show continues until 5 p.m.