Best iPad GPS Apps for Travel and Navigation

GPS Apps Take Advantage of iPad's Large, High-Resolution Display

The iPad makes a great travel companion because it provides you with email, web browsing and movies on the go. But why not really leverage the power of iPad with some great travel and navigation apps? These are some of the best apps I've found for searching, booking and organizing travel, as well as a couple of outdoor recreation apps. Most of them have a great price, too – they're free. Click on the images to enlarge.

Tripit Travel Organizer

Tripit travel app for iPad

Frequent travelers know that flight, hotel, rental, and other bookings can be a juggling act to track and organize. The Tripit app for iPad consolidates your travel plans and automatically organizes them. Tripit combines your trip details to create a single, set-format itinerary on your iPhone or iPad that can be synced across your devices as well as the website. Simply forward confirmation emails from flight, hotel, rental car, rail and event to a Tripit email address to build your Tripit itinerary. Tripit will even keep your friends, family or co-workers informed if you want it to. Tripit also includes a built-in turn-by-turn-directions navigation app to help you reach your destinations. 

The Tripit Pro version updates you on flight statuses, consolidates your frequent flyer information, and monitors your travel plans for any unexpected changes or delays.

Backpacker Map Maker

Backpacker Map Maker app
Backpacker Map Maker app. Trimble Navigation

The Backpacker Map Maker fulfills the incredible potential of iPad to make using and planning a detailed topographic map easy and effective. Backpacker Map Maker by Trimble Navigation, a long-established GPS and mapping firm, provides access to 68,000 downloadable topographic maps in the U.S. and Canada. After you've downloaded the maps for your destination, you can mark waypoints by touch drag-and-drop or use a virtual ruler to measure distances. You can overlay a digital compass, and display and copy exact coordinates.

You can sync it to Backpacker Trip Cloud after you've planned a trip so you can access it from any Internet-connected device. You can also print maps or export them in GPX mode. A dual-map mode lets you overlay maps, such as a Bing aerial view map over a topo. 

Kayak HD

Kayak HD iPad app
Kayak HD iPad app. Kayak

Kayak is one of the more popular travel websites. Kayak HD for iPad is nicely formatted and designed for the iPad screen. Kayak HD lets you explore hotels, pricing, location, amenities, reviews and thousands of photos. The service can also search for and book rental cars, special deals and vacation packages. Kayak has a terrific flight search feature across multiple carriers and lets you book and even live-track flights. The big-screen iPad version is nice for viewing hotel and amenity features and for maps and directions.


Yelp for iPad app
Yelp for iPad app. Yelp

There are quite a few apps that let people weigh in and post their own reviews of restaurants and more, but Yelp has become my go-to app when I travel, especially for restaurants and hotels. Many of its users seem to share a sense of fair, no-nonsense reviewing and an open-mindedness for international and unusual fare. The Yelp community has never steered me wrong.

Yelp uses your iPad's A-GPS or Wi-Fi positioning to determine your location and let you search for businesses nearby. Quick summaries let you navigate to other Yelp user reviews or link directly to the business website. The iPad version is useful for displaying the photos that often accompany reviews, and for big maps to ease direction-finding.

REI Snow Report

REI Snow Report app
The REI Snow Report app makes it easy to get key facts on ski resorts worldwide. REI

A number of iPad apps are made for specific ski resorts, and those are nice to have. But the best app for getting the important data about resorts literally around the world is REI Snow Report. Its easy-to-use search feature lets you quickly find any resort and get the facts on the number of lifts open, snowfall over the last 72 hours, depth at the base and top of the resort, and a five-day weather forecast. You can also directly access resort info such as phone, email, website and location on Google maps. If you're a REI store fan, the app includes a button for the store app and a store locator.