Top 5 Apple iPhone Apps for the Traveler

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- As I write this, I am preparing for a cross-country trip from Los Angeles to New York. LAX to JFK. Heading to TheStreet for a couple of days to get some work done and imbibe at the company's holiday party. But don't worry, I won't do this:

Vegas odds on whether or not Cramer will recognize me stand at 8-to-1.

Lots of people hate travel. I don't. In fact, I love almost every aspect of it. I even enjoy the airport experience. I dig flying. And there's nothing better than exploring great cities. It's even better when it's easy.

Our app society makes life easier. Sometimes it's the bang-up apps that improve our lives, but, often, it's a standard utilitarian number with a solid feature or two that provides the most value.

No. 5: Delta Air Lines

When I fly I always try to go with Virgin America. Ever since the airline industry went to a no-frills-unless-you-pay-and-even-when-you-pay-it's-still-pretty-much-no-frills model, Virgin lands head and shoulders above every airline. I just wish it had a better mobile experience.

Given its boarding and on-board experience and overall hip factor, you would expect a solid app from Virgin. Instead, you "only" get a nicely optimized mobile site.

Generally, if I do not fly Virgin I end up on Delta Air Lines ( DAL). For such a biggie, I have to give Delta credit. It's always hit or miss, but, generally speaking, they provide a better experience and friendlier staff than the other major airlines.

Their iPhone app isn't anything special -- it does the basics such as mobile check-in and boarding pass well -- but it's worth mentioning for one feature:

If you fly small airports, this isn't a big deal. But when I leave a car at LAX, the method of walking around for 5 to 10 minutes after a long trip, hitting the lock button repeatedly to find the vehicle by horn honk doesn't fly. The Delta app solves that. I'm sure it's a feature on other airline/travel apps, but it's still good to know if you fly Delta now or will be in the future.

No. 4: Starbucks

Yes, I am in love with Starbucks ( SBUX) the stock, the company and its mobile app. Not ashamed to admit it.

It's short and sweet -- they have made an addictive app that's incredibly helpful, particularly when traveling.

You get through security. You have dressed yourself again and secured your key belongings in their proper places. Not sure about you, but the last thing I want to do is pull my wallet out of my pocket. Debit card. Bills. Change. Whatever. It's all a major pain.

I typically have my phone in hand. Bingo. Effortless payment for a cup of tea with the Starbucks mobile app. It will be a beautiful thing when Square and others finally breaks out and provides this option across retail.

No. 3: KICKMap

Takes me about 10 seconds to verify the train to take and when I need to take it to travel from TheStreet's headquarters to the Fifth Avenue/Central Park Apple store.

Largely because of its intuitive grid, I'm pretty good with addresses in Manhattan; however, if you know of a solid subway app that recognizes locations without the need for an address, station or major intersection, let me know in the comments.

I like KICKMap so much I just stopped looking for alternatives. It's accuracy, re: train times, etc., makes up for a lack of bells and whistles.

No. 2: Frequency

I haven't actually used this one while traveling yet, but I'm 99.9% certain it will end up a go-to app for that purpose.

Frequency works like this: You hook it up to Facebook ( FB) to kick things off. It pulls videos your friends posted and populates your Frequency feed with them.

You can then micro-customize this feed from trending stories, top stories and subject areas such as politics, sports and tech. In each category, you can select different media outlets to include in your Frequency feed.

Simply put, Frequency lets you keep up on the news, as well as the fluff, you care about. When I travel, I want to keep up, but I do not necessarily have the time or inclination to hole up in my hotel room watching television. There's generally no time for that; but with this app, you can do it on the go or at random moments. It works.

Number One: Trevi

How very cool. Trevi brings together features from applications such as iPhoto, Foursquare and Instagram.

Trevi creates a photo map for you. It also logs miles traveled, cities visited and -- down to the precise location on a map -- locations where a photo was taken. So, zero in on Midtown Manhattan and you see a pin for everywhere you snapped a photo.

It's a simple app, but it's a nice way to catalog your travels. It takes seconds to load the app, even if you already have a huge photo library.

This list is hardly comprehensive. I do not intend it to be. Feel free to leave ideas, additions, suggestions in the comments section of this article below and/or at my Twitter account.

--Written by Rocco Pendola in Santa Monica, Calif.
Rocco Pendola is TheStreet's Director of Social Media. Pendola's daily contributions to TheStreet frequently appear on CNBC and at various top online properties, such as Forbes.

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