Trevi Fountain, Instagram, © 2012 Nicolas Emery

Smartphones have forever changed the way we travel, offering enormous advantages to those who are prepared with the right apps.

But with well over 500,000 apps on the Apple Store alone, navigating the world of travel apps becomes pretty daunting. That’s why we’ve decided to put together the following list of our favorite travel apps. In our humble opinion, these apps make life simpler and enrich the journey in very real ways.

So without further ado, here’s the list of Travel for Teens Travel Apps!

Staying in Touch – That’s what a phone is for, right?

Skype (Free)

Make free calls to anyone signed into Skype (when connected to wifi) or super cheap calls to telephones (around 2 cents/minute to landlines, depending on your location). Amazing.

Facebook (Free) 

Besides the obvious stuff like posting status updates and photos to make your friends jealous, Facebook is actually incredibly helpful when you use your friends as a resource for information about your destination. You’d be surprised how much useful info you can get when you post questions like “I’m going to Barcelona – any suggestions for good food?”

Postagram Postcards (Free) 

This service will send a real printed postcard in the mail using photos from your phone, along with a personalized note. Works like this – you take a photo of yourself on the beach in Costa Rica, select it in Postagram, write “Hey Mom, having fun surfing”, and hit send to your mom’s address back home. In a few days she’ll get a postcard in the mail with your photo and message! A great way to surprise people back home with a funky fusion of high tech and snail mail. Only costs $.99 to send a postagram within the US, or $1.99 to send them internationally. But if you’re traveling outside the US and want to send it to your family back in the States – it’s still just 99 cents!

Documenting Your Journey – Share your adventures in real time

Venice, Instagram, © 2012 Nicolas Emery

Instagram (Free) 

It’s a fast, beautiful and fun way to share your photos with friends and family. Snap a picture, choose a filter to transform its look and feel, then post to Instagram. Share to Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr too – Instagram will change the way you think about photography and it is so incredibly simple and easy to use and share photos with. Don’t forget to follow TFT @TravelforTeens on Instagram!

Pano ($1.99) 

Take seamless panoramic photos right on your phone. Alignment and color-correction algorithms give you a perfectly seamless image in seconds – perfect for capturing those otherwise impossible landscapes!

Twitter (Free)

If you’re not on Twitter yet, it may be time to take the plunge. It’s the perfect way to find out what’s going on locally (search trending topics for your destination) and to share your experiences in 140 characters or less! You can follow TFT @TravelForTeens

Local Info – Get the inside scoop and navigate unfamiliar terrain

Lonely Planet Guides ($5.99)

We love Lonely Planet but there are plenty of guidebooks available for your smartphone. It’s great to be able to leave the heavy book at home and travel light with your phone loaded up with the guides you need to get the best out of an unfamiliar place.

Subway Maps (Free or 99 cents)

When traveling to a city with a subway system it’s always a good idea to download a subway map. Presselite is one of many companies that offer great subway maps for London, New York, Paris, etc.

Local eats in Costa Rica, Instagram, © 2012 Nicolas Emery

TripAdvisor (Free)

Find user-generated reviews of hotels, restaurants, tour companies, and attractions. I can’t tell you how many times this has saved me from making a reservation at a horrible hotel, or how many times I’ve found real gems for cheap. A game-changer.

Yelp! (Free)

One of the best (and most challenging) parts of travel is eating really great food. Seek out nearby eateries and read reviews from the community so you can’t go wrong.

Logistics/Tools – Essential for a smooth trip 

Google Translate (Free)

This mind blowing app translates text between 64 languages and can directly translate spoken text in 17 languages. And it’s free. (Above link is for the iPhone version)

LED Light (Free) 

It’s amazing how often a simple flashlight comes in handy. The above link is for an iPhone version, but there are plenty of free light apps available for all mobile devices.

XE Currency (Free)

Instantly converts every world currency on the go, so when you get a bill for 123 Thai Baht you know you just had dinner for $4!

OMaps ($1.99)

Obviously map apps are useful, but this one in particular makes the list because you don’t need an internet or data connection to use it – download the maps you need before you leave and then when you’re backpacking Europe you can access your maps even when you have no cell service!

Flying Home, Instagram, ©2012 Nicolas Emery

Flightrack Pro ($9.99)

The best flight tracking app out there. Forward any airline confirmation email to a preset email address and your flight details are automatically imported into this amazing app, including your confirmation codes, seat assignments, and airline contact info. The best part – push alerts with real-time changes to your flight. It’s also a great way to keep all your flight details in one easy place.