iphoneThere are more than 50,000 iPhone applications out there, accounting for over a billion downloads. Hard to pick just a handful to take on your next trip, isn’t it?

No worries. As someone who stood in line to buy the first iPhone, and has pretty much bought each subsequent iPhone within 24 hours of its release — not always with positive results, but that’s a story for another day — I’m here to help.

Here are five almost free iPhone “apps” I can’t leave home without.

Aroundme — Where’s the nearest hospital? How about a good hotel? If you’ve ever landed in a city and wondered “what’s close by?” then this little app is the perfect traveling companion. It tells you where to find the closest banks, bars, gas stations and movie theaters, thanks to your iPhone’s built-in GPS.

Cheap Gas! — In your search for inexpensive fuel, it’s impractical (not to mention wasteful) to drive through your neighborhood to take a real-time survey. This free app does all the work for you, pinging the site GasBuddy and displaying the cheapest fuel in your area. Want to get there? This app will show you a map, too.

CheckPlease — If you’ve ever wondered how much to tip your server at a restaurant, this is the app for you. Just type in your total, give it a percentage, and it handles the rest. Perfect for someone like me, who is really bad with numbers. This app even lets you split the bill among several people. There’s a 99 cent version that cuts out the ads and a better display, but for me, the free version works just fine.

FlightTrack — Ever wondered where in the world your flight is? FlightTrack offers a ready answer, allowing you to follow any flight worldwide. You can scan live flight maps that include weather radar, check gate numbers, and search flight schedules up to 11 months in advance. This nifty app even allows you to send an email update with your flight status to a friend or colleague. The basic version of this costs $4.99.

WorldMate — For most business travelers, WorldMate needs no introduction. Its new iPhone app offers a variety of must-have features for any traveler, including a currency converter, flight updates, integration with Google maps, and an online travel planner with the ability to consolidate your itinerary. Some of the more advanced functions require that you plunk down $39.99 for the “gold” app, but if you travel a lot, it’s worth the investment.