What’s On My Iphone: 9 Travel and Photography Apps I Can’t Live Without

In the few years I’ve had my iPhone I’ve played around with dozens of apps. I’m very ruthless when it comes to getting rid of apps that I don’t need. My criteria is simple: clean user interface and easy to use. If I can’t figure out what I need to do in 10 seconds, I can’t seem to press that red ‘X’ button fast enough.

I’m always curious to see what apps a person has on the phone. If you look at my phone, you’ll see that photography and travel apps dominate. Here is a collection of travel and photography apps that have made the cut.

Photography Apps

Snapseed – FREE


Snapseed-icon-medium 90% of the time the only adjustments I do to my pictures is brightness, contrast, and white balance. Snapseed is perfect for these because you can do all three on 1 screen easily through a combination of horizontal and vertical swiping movements. Another very cool feature is Snapseed’s localize adjustments which allows adjustments to be made only on a certain part of the photo.

I love Snapseed even more for its price – free.

Camera+ – $1.99


camera+If you use your iPhone a lot to take pictures, you need to get this app. It allows you to adjust your phone camera’s exposure and focus independently simply by tapping 2 different points on the screen.

Camera+ alos has a much-lauded Clarity effect which I have to say is pretty awesome. It’s sort of like Instagram’s Lux filter that gives a photo an almost HDR quality, but better.

Camera+ also comes with a small collection of filters. And the best part? You can layer multiple filters AND adjust each filter’s opacity.

ProHDR – $1.99


ProHDR ProHDR is my default HDR app. 80% of the time it does a great job. Admittedly, it’s pretty slow. From the moment you press the button until it takes all the pics it needs, 5 seconds might have lapsed. That means having the phone supported or using a tripod is essential. All pictures from my Bodie post were taken with this app.

HDR – $1.99

hdr_app Remember what I said about ProHDR doing a great job 80% of the time? Well, the other 20% of the times, HDR does it better. I like that it takes consecutive pictures very quickly, reducing the need for robust phone support. However, HDR seems to be more prone to produce photos that have a ‘halo’-like quality around small edges.

Since taking an HDR photo already requires a time investment, I usually use both apps and see which one I like better.

NOTE: For a picture to be a true HDR, the app needs to take multiple versions of the same shot (usually 2 or 3) to later process into a single image. This is different from ‘HDR filter’ that some apps try to simulate.

InstaCollage – FREE


instacollagelogo-150x150I don’t do collages often, but when I do, InstaCollage is free and it has a nice collection of frames to choose from. It also allows you to add texts to your collages.

Travel Related Apps

CityMaps2Go – FREE/$2.99


City-Maps-2Go-Logo Likes its name suggests, CityMaps2Go allows you download maps onto your phone so they’re available offline. Once I have these maps, I can drop ‘pins’ to mark my hostel and places I’m interested in visiting. For example, on my Istanbul map (where I’m currently at), I’ve marked the location of my hostel as well as restaurants that people have recommended.

The maps themselves contain hundreds of points of interests to travelers: hotels, restaurants, transportation lines, and attractions. Many of these are linked to their respective Wiki entries (that can also be downloaded onto your phone). This can be very handy when you don’t want to carry your guidebooks around.

I love this app because it allows me to know where I am and what’s around me without an Internet connection. I’ve found it useful when I jump in a taxi and I want to make sure I’m not taken for a ride around town. Or when I’m not sure where my stop is when taking a public bus.

TripIt – FREE


tripit_icon I want to like TripIt very much. I really do. But I honestly haven’t quite discovered what it is that makes so many people love it. Yes, it’s nice that you can forward confirmation emails to TripIt so it can keep track of your flights and hotels, but is it worth the real estate on my phone? I haven’t quite decided yet.

I think this app will benefit people who travel a lot and pre-plan many details of their trips. For those who tend to ‘wing’ it when traveling – this might be superfluous? It’s also possible I’m using it wrongly, so if you love TripIt, let me know what I do wrong.

DayOne – $4.99


Day One iconI’m in love with this journal app. It has a beautiful user interface and easy to use. DayOne allows you to record thoughts and memories very easily. You can tag your entries, add pictures, and even tweet them if you like. It uses GPS to add a location to your entry (it also integrates with Foursquare).

I use the app keep track of interesting food I’ve come across. I take pictures of business related receipts. I write notes about the people I meet during my travels. Or… well, whatever I want really. Along with my pictures, I treasure these digital scribbles as souvenirs from our travels.

(If you run a travel blog, these notes also come in handy when writing about places you’ve been to).

Uber/Lyft/Taxi Apps

It’s hard to stress enough how these ride sharing and taxi apps have changed the way I travel. No more stressing out about trying to get a ride to the airport in the middle of the night. Or getting scammed by unscrupulous taxi drivers. Or worrying about not having enough cash.

With so many apps out there, I’m not saying that these are the best travel and photography apps available. But these are the ones that have worked best for my needs. Hopefully you’ll find at least one to be a useful addition to your collection.

If you have a favorite travel or photography app you think I’ll like, let me know in the comment section below.

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19 Replies to “What’s On My Iphone: 9 Travel and Photography Apps I Can’t Live Without”

  1. My favourite travel app is Simply Declare. Keeps track of all the stuff I have to prove I bought to the customs agents when I get back to the states. It’s quick. Easy to use, and lets me know how much I have spent.

  2. I must say you have a truly huge collection of travels apps and i am travel lover and every weeks i need to travel alot, i think i must try these apps for my self. Keep sharing like this.

  3. I like the sound of InstaSize. Will definitely get that. I also use pic stitch, which is similar to your InstCollage app. For photo editing I use TouchUp Lite (mainly use it to change brightness) and PhotoStudio (let's you highlight certain parts in colour for otherwise black and white photos).
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  4. What's your advice for cell phone service in Asia? I'm taking off for Thailand in a week, and I love my Galaxy but from what I understand an Android phone won't work over there. Would you recommend buying a phone when I arrive? Just curious if you have any recommendations on what kind and what type of service/plan is best (and cheapest!) Thanks and love your blog!
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  5. What's your advice for cell phone service in Asia? I'm taking off for Thailand in a week, and I love my Galaxy but from what I understand an Android phone won't work over there. Would you recommend buying a phone when I arrive? Just curious if you have any recommendations on what kind and what type of service/plan is best (and cheapest!) Thanks and love your blog!
    My recent post Dear Boston

    1. It shouldn't matter if your phone is an Android. What matters are the bandwidth (frequency) that it supports and whether or not your phone is unlocked (not tied to a carrier TMobile, etc). I'd call your current provider and ask. If they say it's unlocked, you could get a SIM card in Thailand really easily (from 7-11) with data package.

  6. I agree about your TripIt comment. I do use it, but only when I travel for work, when I have to book everything in advance; flight, train, and hotel rooms. And since I typically have 2 or 3 trips booked at a given time, it is great to aggregate them in one location, instead of sifting through emails figuring out which email goes with which trip (Gmail allows you to color-tag emails, but it still makes my inbox cluttered, IMO).

    That being said, when I went to Armenia and Georgia, the only things I pre-booked were my flight and the hostel for the first 2 nights. Nothing worth using TripIt for. So yes, it all depends on your travel style; if you wing it a lot, then TripIt won't do much for you.
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  7. I really like the Afar.com app if you're in a new city and want a local's advice there are tons of highlights and wanderlists uploaded by locals and travellers. You can also create and download your own wanderlists creating your own travel guide that you can then access offline or without data roaming being an issue abroad.

    I am downloading the Instasize app right now! Great list!
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  8. I really love this post! Using Instagram for long time it was the best app ! These days "Clashot" helps me a lot, an iPhonography app which helps to take some lovely pictures, upload and share with friends with in an action.

    I love Tripit from this list of apps ! and I have the same on my iPhone

  9. Being a 100k+ a year flier (and owner of a travel clothing company) I have an extensive set of travel apps that I rely on. I love TripIT!

    Another fave is the SPG app for starwood hotels, as well as the Wifi Finder – it will locate free wifi within your local area. METRO is a global subway/transit system map app which is also amazing!

    Great post, thanks!

    1. I like TripIt and second Pete's reasons why.

      I typically print my boarding pass or have it sent to my phone the day before a flight. TripIt is useful to find out which gate I'm at and get updates if it changes. Aggregating all of your confirmation codes, hotel addresses, etc. is great. Tracking frequent flyer points is a nice bonus too.
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