Top 7 smartphone apps for the bored holiday traveler

Posted by Lydia Leavitt

Sometimes the lure of holiday cookies and a little bubbly on New Years Eve is enough to make us do crazy things.

One of those things could be defined as traveling right before major holidays -  a time when every airport, every bus stop, and every waterway is jam packed with enough people to make you wish you were never born.

But fear not, for 2010 was a year packed with magical smartphone apps to properly kill enough brain cells to numb you from the pain of holiday travel.

7. FlightTrack

Before embarking on your inevitable holiday fiasco, it’s wise to use your smartphone to check your itinerary and track your flights. By organizing your travel plans using TripIt, you can view them directly on your smartphone and receive flight predictions and complications based on weather.

Along with travel predictions, the app provides trabelers with real-time delay information, flight changes and status updates to keep you in the know.

Getting a heads up that your flight is delayed may just buy you a few extra pints in the pre-security airport bar or at home in bed rather than having to actually waste time in the airport. Flight Track is available on Android and iPhone for $4.99.

6.  Mobile TV

Although $10 a month may seem like a steap add-on to your already expensive TV habit, mobile TV is certainly a lifesaver in a delayed travel situation like a dingy bus station.

Apps like Hulu Plus for iPhone let you access your Hulu TV shows from your iPhone and offer bored travelers a truly lifesaving option.

A similar option for Android, is the free SPB TV Lite and $9.95 paid version for SPB TV, that lets you access multiple TV stations from your Android smartphone. Another interesting option is SlingPlayer Mobile, that is, if you own a Slingbox at home.

The SlingPlayer Mobile app lets you access live TV or whatever is stored on your DVR at home all from your iPhone via WiFi.

5. Scrabble

All the fun of Scrabble without the hassle of the tiny tiles, Scrabble for iPhone and Android is a classic board game reinvented for the truly bored.

Like the regular game, Scrabble players create words out of letters assigned at random.

The traditionally two-player game has a solo option that allows for play against the computer when traveling alone.

The game is available on iPhone and Android with limited play time for $1.99 and an unlimited version for $4.99.

4. Grand Theft Auto Chinatown Wars

Gamers who feel the best way to channel their holiday travel anger is through some virtual beating and good old fashioned robbery, might want to turn to the notoriously violent Grand Theft Auto Chinatown Wars for iPhone or for Android in a Lite version.

In the game, players roam the streets stealing car after car and committing crime after crime in the GTA virtual world.

The goal is to unlock levels, gain points, and earn money.

Originally designed for Playstation, the scaled down version for iPhone and Andoird puts all the controls on the smartphones tiny screen, which may take some getting used to.

Although the game will set you back $9.99, the graphics and game play are outstanding - a perfect way for enthusiasts to get their GTA fix on the mobile go.

3. Soduku

The game that’s caught on among parents, kids, gamers, and non-gamers, Soduku is the challenging logic game that forces players to fill a 9x9 grid with digits so that each column, row, and each of the nine 3x3 grids contain all of the digits from 1 to 9.

Mind boggling by definition, the game that’s typically found in newspapers and magazines, has gone digital on both Android and iPhone.

For a free option, Android gamers prefer Andoku Sudoku because it features over 4,000 puzzles, which is certainly enough to keep you occupied for hours.

On iPhone, try the Soduku for iPhone.

Although it costs $2.99, it won best game of 2008 and its creators are consistently adding new features like more puzzles and challenge modes.

2. Twitter

Often defined as an ultimate waste of time, those who understand Twitter will be happy to tune into the equally painful lives of others while they too travel home for the holidays.

Whether you choose to use Brizzly, Seesmic, Twitter for iPhone, or Echofon, there’s a Twitter app available mostly for free on both iPhone and Android to match almost every tweeting preference.

1. Angry Birds

Probably the best non-gamer’s game available, Angry Birds for iPhone ($.99) and Android (free) is the story of some angry birds that attempt to retaliate against some mean pigs that stole their eggs.


By having you catapult these birds towards the thieving pigs and their fortresses, of course!

Using the touchscreen, players have to gauge how far and at what angle to pull back the slingshot in order to successful launch the bird and knock down the pigs’ forts.

The game not only kills time and numbs the brain from outside distraction, is addictive enough to keep you coming back for more throughout the entire trip.

So, whether you choose an educational logic game like Soduku, an old school like Scrabble, or a straight up mind numbing game like Angry Birds, just make sure you bring your phone charger.