Whether you're an experienced globetrotter or an occasional adventurer, there's no denying that traveling is one of life’s greatest pleasures. It offers the chance to explore exotic and unfamiliar settings, experience new cultures, and create memories that will last a lifetime. But navigating an unfamiliar destination can be challenging without the right tools at your fingertips. And waiting until you arrive at your destination to figure things out? Well, that’s a recipe for frustration.
Fortunately, we live in a digital age brimming with useful travel apps designed to make your travels smoother and more enjoyable. Whether you're traveling solo or with a group, having the right apps on your phone can help you manage your trip plans, stay connected, and even save money along the way. Here, we explore the absolute must-have apps to download for your next trip.
One of the most critical parts of travel planning is booking flights. After all, securing a great fare on a long-haul flight—and scoring those coveted seats with a little extra leg room while you’re at it—can set the tone (and the budget) for the entire rest of your trip.
Hopper is a time-tested app that allows you to track price alerts across various airlines, and notifies you when it's the best time to book a cheap flight. Skyscanner is another excellent app that searches for the cheapest flights, giving you the flexibility to choose the best flight options. And Kiwi has a useful app that allows you to book multi-stop flights, saving you both time and money while enabling you to explore an additional stop or two along your journey.
And as your hour of travel approaches, you’ll see the real benefit of having flight apps right on your phone. FlightAware and FlightStats both provide real-time flight updates and alerts on flight delays, cancellations, and gate changes, keeping you informed and stress-free.
Depending on the weather, the dress code, and the breadth of activities at your planned destination, packing for a trip can be overwhelming at times, challenging even the stretchiest of suitcases. But with a custom packing list, you'll never forget anything you need.
Packing Pro is a fantastic app that helps you create a custom packing list based on the type of trip you're taking. You can even set reminders for things you need to do before you leave, such as booking hotels or exchanging currency (though there are excellent apps for those purposes, as well). Another handy packing app is PackPoint, which creates a custom packing list based on your destination, the length of your trip, and the activities you plan to do. These apps take the guesswork out of planning your wardrobe and other needs for trips of just about any duration.
Itinerary Management Apps
Staying organized during a trip is essential, and a travel itinerary app can help you do just that. TripIt is a user-friendly app that allows you to forward all of your travel confirmation emails to create a detailed travel itinerary. And it really is that easy. Simply forward the emails, and the app takes care of scanning them for pertinent information, saving those details to an organized digital itinerary you can access any time. You can also add notes, photos, and maps, making it easy to keep track of even the smallest details.
Another highly useful itinerary app is Sygic Travel. In addition to building custom itineraries, it provides detailed destination guides and maps to help guide you around your destination throughout your trip.
On that note, one of the most crucial aspects of traveling is simply getting around, and navigation apps can make it much easier to navigate unfamiliar territory. Google Maps is undoubtedly the most popular navigation app—and for good reason. It offers turn-by-turn directions, real-time traffic updates, and the ability to save maps for offline use—an especially handy feature when traveling to places with limited internet access.
For those looking for an alternative to Google, another great navigation app is Maps.Me, which offers detailed maps that can also be used offline. The app provides walking, cycling, and driving directions, making it a versatile option for travelers. And the highly rated Citymapper is a favorite among many seasoned travelers, thanks to its detailed public transportation directions, including bike-sharing options and real-time arrival information for buses and trains in select cities around the world.
If you’re someone who likes to venture beyond the city limits during a trip, hiking navigation apps can be an excellent tool for discovering new and exciting outdoor destinations. With detailed trail maps, user reviews, and difficulty ratings, these apps allow hikers to carefully plan their routes and make the most of their time in nature. In particular, AllTrails offers an extensive database of trailways worldwide, making it a popular choice for adventurers seeking to explore off the beaten path. And if you’re not quite sure where to start, the Hiking Project app provides a wealth of inspiration including detailed search capabilities, trail maps, and a user ranking system to help you decide which routes are most suited to your preferences.
Wherever you may be headed, there’s simply no better way to experience the true “flavor” of a destination than by sampling its variety of restaurants, food halls, markets and cafés. But finding the best dining options can be a challenge when you're unfamiliar with the area. Fortunately, dining apps like Yelp and OpenTable offer restaurant reviews, ratings, and reservation features—and they cover a wide array of foreign locations.
For real foodies looking for unique culinary experiences on their journey, consider using Eatwith, an app that connects travelers with local hosts offering cooking classes and private dinners. And for those with dietary restrictions, HappyCow provides a database of vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free restaurants in over 180 countries around the world.
Currency Exchange Apps
When traveling, managing your finances carefully can make or break your overall experience. To ensure you're getting the most out of your travel budget, relying on a currency exchange app can be a smart move. XE Currency is an enormously practical app that offers up-to-date exchange rates and allows you to convert over 180 currencies used in many major travel destinations. Bonus: it even works offline.
Similarly, Revolut is an app that not only allows you to exchange currency, but the brand also offers a prepaid credit card that you can use while abroad. And if international money transfers are a consideration while you’re traveling, TransferWise offers competitive exchange rates and low fees for 50 different currencies in over 170 countries.
There’s no way around this one: if you're traveling to a foreign country where you don't speak the language, having a translation app is essential (unless you enjoy the theatrics of pantomiming your most detailed questions to strangers, and being unsure of their answers).
Google Translate is undoubtedly the most popular translation app available today, offering real-time translation in over 100 languages. It even allows you to use your phone's camera to translate signs or menus.
Beyond the realm of Google, iTranslate is an app that offers voice translation and can even help you learn a new language, while TripLingo has a range of clever features, including a culture crash course and a slang translator. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to brush up on a foreign language ahead of your trip to that destination, and apps such as Duolingo can be a fantastic way to get started, with educational and engaging lessons that are quick, easy and fun to explore.
Wi-Fi Finder Apps
Even when going “off the grid” on a trip, it’s still useful to stay connected when you want to be—and especially when you need to be. Enter: a Wi-Fi finder app, which can help you find free Wi-Fi hotspots wherever you may be.
WiFi Map is a convenient app that provides you with a map of free Wi-Fi hotspots in your surrounding area, making it easy to stay connected without using your data plan. Another useful option is InstaBridge, which uses a crowdsourced database of over 4 million Wi-Fi networks around the world (and counting), and helps users to connect securely without the need to enter any user credentials directly.
Time to Download and Go!
Whether you want to save money, stay organized, or simply maximize the time you have on your next trip, there's an app out there that can help. But to get the most out of these tools, it’s important to download essential travel apps before you head out on your next adventure.
Take a moment to download some of these apps, and create a custom app folder for your journey so they’re easily accessible in one place. Have we missed any of your favorite travel apps in this list? Let us know on our Facebook page. Happy travels!