advertisement

There are so many city guides and hotel- and airline- booking apps to help you navigate your travels, but what about some essential non-travel apps or websites to make your vacation or business trip all-the-more enjoyable or productive?

Any list of the best non-travel apps for travel would be subjective. A yoga enthusiast's "best of" list likely would be far different from a hedge fund manager's top non-travel apps.

With that caveat, and being neither a yoga enthusiast or hedge fund manager, here are five free non-travel apps that may really improve your travels:

The Facebook website (www.facebook.com) and the social network's free Facebook Messenger (iPhone, Android and Blackberry) and Facebook for iPad apps will help you stay in touch with friends and family when you are miles or oceans away from the domicile. How else would you find out that Johnny Jet is taking in the Chinese New Year fireworks in Singapore or that aunt Sally is jogging alongside Lake Michigan in Chicago? You can use the Facebook website to keep track of friends' updates, video-chat or rock out with the Spotify music service. And, with the Facebook Messenger apps you can message friends who also have the app and attach your vacation photos. The Facebook for iPad app enables you to view your just-snapped high-resolution vacation photos and while away your relaxation time playing Words with Friends or Bejeweled.

If you forgot your Kindle Fire or merely want to be more fleet of foot in your travels, then Amazon's Kindle apps (Windows PC, Mac, Blackberry, iPad, Android and Windows Phone 7) may be a convenient alternative. You can decide to buy an eBook from the more than 1 million in the Kindle Store and peruse magazines and newspapers, too. And, if you are on page 102 of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo on your iPhone when the cruise ends, the Amazon Whispersync feature automatically lets you pick up where you left off on your Kindle or other device when you return home.

Evernote (www.evernote.com) apps (Android, Blackberry, iOS, Mac, Palm, Windows Phone and Windows) enables you to write notes and create to-do lists, and to sync them across all your devices so you can search for the American Express office address you penned or remember the phone number to call the concierge for dinner reservations. You can also record voice notes, take photos and scan your passport and visas for reference.

Banking apps from institutions such as Chase and Bank of America (iPhone, iPad, Windows Phone, Blackberry, HP, webOS and Android) enable you to find the closest ATM to your hotel using GPS functionality, check your account balances and transfer funds to keep everything in the black, and even pay bills if you are already set up for bill pay with your bank. So with these mobile apps, there's little need to pack a checkbook and tote a stack of bills when you are supposed to be vacationing.

A pharmacy app, such as Walgreens Mobile (iPhone, iPad, Blackberry, Android, mobile website), is a prescription for a stress-free vacation or corporate junket. If you're already a Walgreens' customer, you can receive refill reminders in push notifications and order refills by merely scanning the barcode pasted on your bottles of medicine.