10 travel apps to smooth your next business trip

These business-friendly travel apps for iOS and Android can help you leave the stress at home.

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Clear skies ahead

It sometimes seems as if business travel is expressly designed to raise blood pressure. Cancelled flights, long security lines, or simply failing to puzzle your way through airport terminals or the city you’re visiting can throw a monkey wrench into your schedule.

To help, certain apps are obvious to have on your smartphone: mapping ones like Google Maps and ridesharing services such as Lyft and Uber. Here are 10 others to reduce business travel stress — from the airport to when you arrive at your hotel, and then as you head to your work-related event. With one exception, all of our picks are available for both iOS and Android devices, and most are free.

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FLIO

Google Maps can provide maps to airports, and you should always install the official app for the airline you're flying. But FLIO should be on your phone too. The free app is focused on giving you directory and layout maps and other information for more than 3,000 airports around the world. It tracks the flight arrivals and departures for the airport you're at and can help you to log in to the airport's official Wi-Fi connection. You can buy airport services through it, such as access to VIP lounges. FLIO may also have discounts on food, drink and items you can buy at that airport.

Available for Android and iOS

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FlightView Flight Tracker

This powerful flight-tracking app lets you type in your flight number (or route) or forward your flight confirmation email to trips@flightview.com to automatically add it to your saved trips on the app. FlightView Flight Tracker shows your terminal and gate, any flight or airport delay information, real-time flight tracking with a radar weather overlay, the weather in your destination city, and the baggage claim information. It can also send you real-time flight status notifications, give driving directions to the airport, and show the location and flight status of the plane you'll be getting on if it's coming from another location.

We don’t recommend the free version of FlightView, because it comes with ads that can be annoying and slow things down. There's an Elite version for $4 that adds arrival and departure boards for top airports, but we think the $1 Plus version offers the best bang for the buck.

FlightView Flight Tracker Plus available for Android and iOS 
(Also available: FlightView Flight Tracker Free for Android and iOS and FlightView Flight Tracker Elite for Android and iOS)

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MileIQ

If you’re renting a car (or driving your own) on your business trip, this is a key app to have on your smartphone. It logs the miles you drive and categorizes the mileage as business or personal travel. MileIQ operates automatically, recording miles when the car moves, and pausing when the vehicle comes to a stop.

Once you reach your destination, take a cue from a certain popular dating app: Swipe right on the screen if you went on a business-related drive, and MileIQ will log that trip as a business mileage expense. Swiping left sets the logging as personal driving. This information can be provided to your employer for business expense reimbursement. And MileIQ can calculate your mileage deduction that you can provide the IRS when you file taxes.

MileIQ will log 40 drives for free per month. To have the app log an unlimited number of trips, you have to pay $6 per month or $60 for a year.

Available for Android and iOS

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Expensify

A major pain of business travel is keeping track of all your expenses. Expensify lets you simply take pictures of your receipts, which the app automatically adds to an expense report (filling in date, vendor and amount). You can manually add and edit expenses, track your work time, track your mileage and create an expense from it. The app can sync with your credit card account to better match your scanned receipts with the charges you’ve made.

Paid plans for Expensify, which start at $5 per month, offer many more business features including expense approvals from the app, corporate expense policy integration, and syncing with QuickBooks and other tools. You can use Expensify for free, but you are limited to scanning only 10 receipts per month. You can still upload as many receipts as you want and enter their expense info manually. With a paid plan, you can scan an unlimited number of receipts.

Available for Android and iOS

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LoungeBuddy

Your flight is delayed — now the waiting begins. Make the wait more comfortable by finding an airport lounge with LoungeBuddy. Enter your frequent flier accounts, elite statuses, airline credit cards, and so on into the app, then plug in your trip itinerary. LoungeBuddy shows you which lounges you can enter for free at the airport you're in. You can also browse fee-based lounges and check out amenities, photos, and star ratings from other travelers before you pay to enter.

(As of this writing, LoungeBuddy is available as an app only for iPhone and iPad. But users of Android phones — or laptops — can still use this service through the company’s website.)

Available for iOS

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Google Translate

This free app is a no-brainer to have on your smartphone for times when you visit a country where you’re not familiar with the local language. Google Translate is a multifunction tool. Use your phone’s camera to snap a photo of a sign with foreign words, and the app will translate them to your native language. You can draw language symbols, such as Chinese or Japanese characters, with your finger on your phone’s screen for the app to translate. Speak a word or phrase into your phone’s mic, and Google Translate will speak it out loud in another language; you can also read the translation on your phone’s screen. It can even do this while two people take turns speaking a different language into your phone’s mic — so Google Translate can function as an interpreter between you and another person.

A tip: Before you depart to a foreign country, enable Google Translate to work offline for that country’s main language. Even if your phone will be capable of using internet data in that country, this will let you access Google Translate’s basic translation function (where you enter text to be translated) even if your phone encounters connectivity problems.

Available for Android and iOS

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Transit

Google Maps has a function for tracking local public transportation, but we suggest referring to Transit first. This free app is focused on showing schedules for nearby buses, subways and trains for the city you’re in, with their statuses updated in real time. Transit integrates with Google Maps to show you the routes, overlaying color-coded cards that represent the letter and number of a vehicle. You can track these vehicles in real time, knowing exactly when you can expect them to arrive where you are.

Transit supports the public transportation routes and schedules for more than 125 cities. Most of these are in North America, and include Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Toronto, Vancouver and Washington D.C. This app also tracks public transit in major European cities such as Berlin, London, Paris and Rome.

Available for Android and iOS

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HotelTonight

Oh, joy — your flight just got cancelled and you really don't want to sit in the airport all night. Or maybe the hotel lost your reservation, or they overbooked, or you don't like the room you booked once you see it in person. Time to fire up HotelTonight. Its big selling point? Immediacy. This free app could put you in a room right away.

It uses your current location to show you discounted hotel rooms at nicer-tier hotels. The company partners with hotels in hundreds of cities around the world to offer unsold rooms at lower prices if you can check into them that night. (Although the point of this app is to offer you the best room deals for immediate check-in, reservations for many of them may also be made up to the next week.)

Available for Android and iOS

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Trip by Skyscanner

Have some free time to explore the city you're visiting? Trip by Skyscanner (formerly called Gogobot) takes your current location, weather conditions, time of day, and other changing factors into account to suggest places to eat and things to do. Drill down in the free app and you can see what other users have to say about local hotels, restaurants and more. You can join a "tribe" (like Business Travelers) to get recommendations geared toward your style of travel. A major perk? It's lightning fast.

Available for Android and iOS

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DUFL

DUFL is an unusual service that takes the pain out of packing for business trips. You register via the app, and DUFL sends you a large suitcase. You fill it with your business travel clothes and send it back. DUFL photographs, inventories, cleans and stores your clothes. When it's time for a trip, you use the DUFL app to select the items of clothing you want for the trip and submit your itinerary. A suitcase filled with your selected clothes will be waiting at your hotel when you arrive. At the end of your trip, DUFL will pick up, clean, and store your clothes, so they'll be ready for your next business trip.

At $10 per month for storage, plus $99 per trip, this service isn't cheap, but it can pay for itself when you factor in fees for checked bags and dry cleaning, not to mention saving you time from having to schlep a suitcase around and waiting for checked baggage. DUFL isn't for everyone, to be sure. But it's an intriguing option for frequent business travelers.

Available for Android and iOS