I really enjoy trying out new apps for my phone, especially if those apps make my life easier. Whenever I travel with other people I tend to notice that I am the only one using various apps to get the most out of my travels. Whether it is planning my itinerary or just helping me get around in a new place. I thought I would share some of my favorites that I have been using for years. I’d also love to hear which ones you can’t travel without in the comments.
[2020 Update] As the years go by, more and more apps come and go. This list has been significantly updated to remove apps that no longer exist and add new ones.
Travel Apps for Planning and Booking
Below you will find the best apps to help you check prices, book transport, and accommodation with ease.
I’m not on team Skyscanner or Kayak, I’m on team whoever will give me the best deal haha so I use both apps. I like to search from my local airport to “anywhere” with flexible dates or month view so that I can find the best deals and get some travel inspiration. I love popping in my info for a free weekend and seeing oh cool I can fly super cheap to a place I’ve never been and decide my travels that way.
I don’t talk about accommodation often in this blog, and this is honestly because I don’t really focus on finding beautiful places to stay. However, I do prefer Airbnbs over hotels or hostels. I also almost exclusively stayed in Airbnbs for the past 6 years. With the app you can easily find and book your places, communicate with your host, and find all of the important bits of information you need.
Kayak functions similarly to Skyscanner in that you can browse a wide range of airlines for your flights at once. I like the ease of selecting “Explore the world” on the app to see all of the different options from my nearest airport. Also, you can easily track the status of a flight right on the front screen so the ease of this app has definitely improved over the years.
TripAdvisor is very useful for finding restaurants or tips for your trip. I love the ability to browse restaurants by map to see what is close to me or by cuisine or price and to read reviews and view pictures. You can learn a lot about a restaurant just from a quick browse on TripAdvisor. The forums are also very useful for asking about itineraries, planning logistics, and tips from others who have traveled there before.
Hopper is a fantastic tool for the budget traveler. The app allows you to search for and purchase flights. The great thing about Hopper is that it helps guide you to when a ticket price is expected to increase or decrease so you can buy your tickets with more confidence. In the app you can track flights you are interested to see if the prices do fluctuate. It has been a very invaluable tool for me when buying trans-Atlantic flights at just the right moment.
If you are staying in hostels then you must be familiar with Hostelworld’s site and app. It is the best way to browse hostels across the world accompanied by genuine reviews. If I stay in a hostel, I always book with Hostelworld. With everything in one place to make your travels that much easier the app allows you to book a room, store your favorites, and even provides a live translator to use during conversations.
PackPoint is an app I never knew I needed. Perfect for the forgetful or those who just love to be overly organized. In this app you can enter where you are traveling to, how long, and what type of activities you will be doing. Then it will give you a packing list for your trip based on the location, weather, and activities. Bonus points for being designed very nicely and actually providing very useful packing lists.
Travel Apps for Finance
Keep your budget in order, split the bill with friends easily, know how to tip in each country, and currency conversions on the go!
Perfect for Americans traveling abroad or others into the US. I used GlobeConvert as my conversion app for currency, temperature, measurements, weight, etc, you name it, for 6 years and it never failed me. *2020 update* I have switched to an Android phone and have been using Unit Converter with no issues. Be very mindful of which app you download as some have incorrect conversion rates.
Gratitude Tipping is essential for international travel! It can be used by detecting your location or offline by selecting any country in the world. Then you are walked through a few questions such as taxi, food, drink, or porter, how many are dining, and the total of the bill. The app will provide the customary tipping amounts in each location according to the activity.
Ever visit a country with a currency that had a very difficult exchange rate to do in your head? Nomad Wallet is a great app to help you with this. Once inside the app you can add your trip to your list and then add expenses. The expenses have the option to notate if they were cash or credit, what they were for, and any notes you may want to leave. This then inserts the money spent on your list with the local and home currency. Now you can see, at a glance, how much you are spending each day.
Travel Apps for Maps and Getting Around
While Google Maps is king, there are a few other apps you should know about.
Google Maps is absolutely indispensable to any traveling. I use Google Maps quite religiously and for good reason! You can download maps for offline use, you can save locations on your map easily, you can save maps created by yourself or others, get opening hours, see reviews and pictures, and see walking times. I not only use it for travel but in my daily life to keep track of new places to explore.
I was first introduced to this app while living in London and now use it whenever it’s available. What makes this app so special is that it works seamlessly with public transport and taxis. For each location you can use the navigational app which will provide suggested routes including trains, buses, and trams how long until the next one, and compare the time it will take with walking and taxis. Within the app you can also access maps of subway lines or public transport routes over a general map which makes planning a million times easier.
Where is Public Toilet/Flush
What a strange app to have on your phone but I bet you will be thanking me as you are doing the pee dance in a country where you don’t speak the language. This app will show you where there are public toilets and any information that has been user-submitted (hours, if a key is needed, etc.). Where is Public Toilet or Flush are great apps to have to find a public restroom quickly and safely.
I love the Waze app and every time I travel to the US I put it back on my phone. Waze is a navigation app, like Google Maps, but includes user-submitted data such as where there are potholes, police radar, speed traps, accidents, or closed roads. It has saved me hours of time during road trips allowing me to exit just before an accident.
Travel Apps for Language and Translation
Cross borders with a bit more ease with the best language learning and translation apps.
If you are traveling somewhere English is not widely spoken then Google Translate will be incredibly useful. It is an excellent translator, especially with commonly used languages. It also offers the ability to use your camera for live translations of text, translate text on pictures, and use it between languages for a live conversation.
Pons is my favorite foreign language dictionary. It is available in 31 different languages. My reason for being such a Pons supporter is that it is more than just a dictionary. It offers additional context for language learners and sometimes useful or commonly used phrases to help with the language. I think it is the perfect companion for Google Translate especially for lesser-known languages like Slovenian.