I love travelling overseas when a local, usually a friend or friend-of-a-friend, is there to greet me with open arms when I land.

After all, local knowledge is the ultimate way to save you from countless amounts of pain when trying to get around an unfamiliar city.

But you have to be fairly lucky (and popular) to have a person willing to devote their time to showing you around.

iPhone apps allow you to enjoy the advantages of having this insider advice without the need to know a native. Here are a few of our favourites to help make any overseas drive that much easier:

1. Car Finder

Saves you from much stress (and embarrassment) should you lose your hire car. The app uses GPS to track your car, with Google Map directions to guide you back without hassle.

2. TripIt

If you’re one of our followers on Twitter, you’ll have noticed our tweets about the TripIt iPhone app.

The app neatly stores flight, accommodation and car hire details by gathering information from the booking confirmation emails you’ve forwarded to a unique address.

TripIt can help relieve the need for paperwork (“Now, where did I put …?”) and means there will be less “umming” and “ahhing” at the car hire pick up counter.

3. Flight update

This app keeps you informed of any changes to your flights and is particularly useful if you’re running to catch connecting flights. The data is all real-time.

4. Flashlight

Makes your iPhone light up, as the name suggests, like a flashlight. It’s a little kitsch but surprisingly useful for times you’re burrowing through luggage in the dark.

5. Lonely Planet Phrasebooks

Important when you’re driving in a country whose language you’re yet to master. Most phrasebooks contain a section dedicated to road sign translations and generally any other driving lingo.

6. WCities

Great for long and short trips, WCities scans your city for information, tourist spots, events, accommodation options and more.

7. Shazam

No more debates on road trips over “Who sung that?”

This famous app will let you know the name and artist of the song playing on the radio.

8. Tom Tom

If Google Maps is too basic for you, there are numerous GPS apps specific to your travel location. Tom Tom is one of the better known ones and is generally considered as one of the most reliable.

The app scans for gas stations, amenities and in some countries even offers a hotel booking service. And of course, it comes with audio directions – particularly useful if you’re driving on your car hire on your own.

9. Tweetstack

If you’re anything like us, you’ll want to keep your tweeps updated along your travels.


What apps have we missed?

Leave a comment with your favourite iPhone app for smooth driving overseas.

Image by @williamhook

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