The iPad can be a handy to have on your next vacation, whether you need to research flights for a quick escape from your cousin’s wedding, keep the kids entertained on the plane or figure out which road is the least congested in a strange city.
Here are five free iPad apps we wouldn’t leave home without.
Kayak Explore + Flight Search
Kayak is the Ferrari of cheap flight search info — and a lot of users (including me) think the search engine works better in the iPad version than it does online. One thing is certain: the roomy iPad screen makes it easy to search for your flight, drilling down results by airline, number of connections, airport, times and price.
And, in the latest version, if you’re trying to figure out just how many miles you can put between you and your ex with the cash wadded up in your pocket, there’s a handy budget/distance calculator that will tell you just that. The caveats: hotels and car rental info is provided through Safari and you can’t book flights directly from the app.
Beat the Traffic HD
The iPad version of this popular iPhone app takes advantage of the iPad’s real estate to show you where traffic is clogging the worst in glorious HD. With live traffic maps, updated weather conditions and info on major routes across 100 cities, Beat the Traffic HD will prove a great co-pilot on any major road trip.
Road maps cover the US and Canada, the Canadian roads also have a metric version mode available for sticklers (though plenty of Euro-travelers would probably appreciate a metric version for the US.)
It’s nice to think you travel — oh yes, we are travelers not tourists — to get away from malls. But, unless every time you leave your abode you partake in wilderness survival training, it’s likely that at some point you will end up in a mall — because you lost your phone charger, are woefully mis-dressed for the locale or just need a clean bathroom. Fastmall helps you figure out what’s in that big box — in over 20 countries worldwide — so you can get in, get out and get back to your vacation.
If you need a little light reading or something to pacify the kids with during car trips or plane journeys, check out this free app. Comixology boasts 1,300 titles from 30 publishers, whether you’re into Archie or the X-men, Manga or Kick-Ass, there’s something here for you. There are about 80 comic books offered free, paid titles start at $1.99 per issue. The iPad delivers the best of what comics have to offer as entertainment and the app also allows you to search by Free, Series, Genre, Creator, Publisher, Storylines/Arcs, or by Featured, New and Popular.
Reuters News Pro for iPad
Wire services can seem a little like the oatmeal of the news world: good for you, but a little too plain sometimes. This free iPad app from Reuters isn’t exactly flashy, but it will give you a bunch of useful news when you travel — a currency converter, updated weather forecasts — in addition to some stunning photo galleries, speedy-loading video that look great on the iPad and, yeah, the daily news.