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These travel apps can help you plan and run trips of any length or destination, from weekend getaways to year-long around-the-world adventures.
Apps can help you do so many things. Whether you need to find a place to eat, exchange currency, or find unique, off-beat things to do, these apps can help take those things off your plate, giving you answers often within seconds.
Sure, leave yourself room for making spontaneous decisions and uncovering hidden gems. But for everything else, get these apps downloaded to your phone and travel smarter, safer, and in style.
Apps for Booking Accommodations
Why I use it: to access a large selection of hotels and other types of accommodations.
Booking.com is an accommodation provider that allows you to book hotels, hostels, and homestays. Apart from providing competitive prices, Booking.com also has a rewards system, Genius, which allows you to have discounts and other benefits the more you travel.
Downloading the app is very convenient to communicate with the hotel or accommodation host and manage your reservations on the go.
Pro Tip: Try to search for accommodation through the app, as some hotels have a “mobile-only price” that is discounted compared to booking on the website.
When I use it: for booking long-term accommodations and local activities.
Airbnb lets you book shared or private rooms as well as entire homes for both short and long-term. This is probably the best option if you’re looking for a monthly or long-term stay, as most hosts offer discounts on stays over 28 nights.
As opposed to booking a hotel room, booking a room on Airbnb can provide a more local experience, as some hosts are often travelers who want to give back to the travel community by sharing their homes. They can often give you great recommendations for local activities and places to visit.
If you book an entire place on Airbnb, you’ll most likely have a kitchen where you can cook, which will also reduce your spending for long trips.
Furthermore, on Airbnb, you can book local activities and experiences that allow you to get a better feel of the local culture and traditions.
Why use it: for last-minute hotel bookings.
If you find yourself needing to book a hotel for the same day, be it due to a change of plans or just a spontaneous trip, HotelTonight is a good option.
HotelTonight gets discounts from hotels for the rooms left empty, allowing you to book last-minute rooms at discounted rates. You’ll find simple categories that allow you to browse the types of hotels you like, and you’ll be able to book in just a few taps. Furthermore, the more you use the app, the more discounts you can get.
Why use it: for a wide range of hostels.
Hostelword provides you with a wide range of hostel choices all over the world. With 36,000 properties in 180 countries, you’ll hardly have any trouble finding the right place that suits your needs.
Hostelworld also has a trusted review system with over 13 million verified guest reviews, so you can check what other travelers think about the place before you book. If you’re traveling on a budget, make sure to download this app to find the best hostels.
Why use it: for free housesitting and petsitting.
Whether you’re going away and don’t have anyone to look after your dog or you are searching for a different way of traveling on a budget, this app is a great option. As a homeowner, you can find someone to take care of your house and pets for free while you’re traveling.
As a traveler, if your dates are flexible, you can find places to stay free of charge and usually have the company of some adorable pets. What more can you ask for?
My wife and I personally stayed in some lovely places in London and other places in the U.K. via Trusted Housesitters and had good experiences.
Why use it: for couch surfing around the world.
If you want a travel app to get to meet people and save some money on accommodation, Couchsurfing is your best bet. Couchsurfing is available in over 230,000 cities around the world, and it is a great option for those traveling on a tight budget who are also looking to make new friends.
Apart from getting accommodation, you can also join the many events that local Couchsurfing hosts plan in their cities.
Aggregator for booking flights.
Whether you want to plan a multiple-destination trip, are flexible on your dates, or want to find out the cheapest flights from your city to any destination in the world, Skyscanner has many options.
Use the filters to find exactly what you are looking for, or get inspired by searching “everywhere” and find suggested destinations and dates. Skyscanner will then show you a list of providers with a link to continue to the website and complete your booking.
8. Waze, Maps.me, and Google Maps
Maps for navigating.
When traveling to a new city, it can be difficult to find your way around. And although exploring the city without a map can be fun and will allow you to find beautiful, unusual places, it’s always a good idea to get some help from technology in case of need.
Google Maps is probably the most popular navigation app, with an offline version in case you don’t have a connection. You may also try Waze, which gives information on traffic, toll costs, and even the cheapest gas stations.
If you’re planning on going hiking, Maps.me can come in handy, as it has many trails that you won’t be able to find on most online maps. Download your maps to be able to use them offline and save data.
Good for itinerary mapping.
Are you searching for the fastest or cheapest solution to get to a certain destination? Rome2Rio is probably the most complete itinerary mapping platform, showing even local busses that you can’t usually find on many other apps.
Just type in the departure place and the destination, and you’ll get all the available options, with the price range and a link to the provider.
For booking car rides.
Instead of catching a taxi, you may want to download a ridesharing app prior to your trip. In some parts of the world, ridesharing apps can be safer than traditional taxis picked up in front of the airport. Plus, ridesharing apps show you the price for your ride upfront.
While not all countries allow ridesharing, most of them have at least one service to choose from. Do a little research before your trip to find out which ridesharing apps are available in the country you are visiting. Uber, Lyft, and Grab are some of the popular choices, depending on your destination.
Sometimes, you just can’t find a bus or train that gets you to a destination, or they are way too expensive. In these cases, carpooling is a great option, and BlaBlaCar is a popular option, currently available in 21 countries.
Just search for your destination, find the ride closest to you, and book. You can either request to book or book instantly if available. You’ll end up saving money and even reducing your carbon footprint.
Good for lounge access.
If you spend a lot of time in airports and want to enjoy peace and quiet, try getting into an airport lounge while waiting for your flight.
LoungeBuddy is an app that allows you to check lounges in over 800 airports worldwide and find out whether you can access them for free or for a fee, depending on your trip, memberships, or credit cards. The app is currently only available for iPhone users.
Read more: How to Get Airport Lounge Access
I use it all the time for flight tracking.
This app provides real-time flight status and airport tracking, and it allows you to share your flight information such as departure and arrival times, delays, and even weather conditions.
It will also give you terminal and gate information, so you don’t have to walk around the airport searching for the details, especially if you’re running late. Use it to get info on your flights or to track your friends’ or family’s flights so you know when to meet them.
Apps for General Travel Planning
Why use it: for checking reviews and planning.
Whether you’re looking for a restaurant, attraction, tour, or excursion, you can find many of them on Tripadvisor, and you can also find out what previous travelers think about them. The platform provides reviews from millions of users to help you find guidance and plan your trip.
Do you want to join an organized trip and know if it’s trustworthy? Check if it’s already available on Tripadvisor and read the reviews. For trip planning, this is a good place to start.
Why use it: for automatically organizing itineraries.
If you don’t want to spend time organizing your travel itinerary, you can get TripIt to do it for you. Forward all the confirmations of your flights, accommodation, or any other reservation, and TripIt will add everything to your master itinerary.
This way, you will have everything in one place, including PDFs, boarding passes, photos, and other travel documents.
Furthermore, you can get safety information and guidance for your trip, including necessary vaccination certification, entry requirements, and useful app suggestions.
Related: Travel Binder for Trip Planning
Why use it: for meeting up with locals.
Going to a new country and don’t know how to meet people? Meetup is a great app that allows you to get in touch with people who share similar interests and meet up or take part in different activities.
Search for local groups in the destination you are visiting, check the rules for the meetup, and show up on time at the place. Especially if you’re traveling alone, Meetup is a great way to meet other fellow travelers.
Apps for Finances When Traveling
I use it for currency info.
Ever found yourself in a country with a different currency than yours, about to buy something and wondering whether you’re going to spend a fortune or it’s incredibly cheap?
XE provides you currency exchange rates to and from any currency in the world, with rates that get updated every minute. You can add your desired currencies on the main page so you can easily access them at any time.
Why I use it: For borderless accounts and transfers.
Wise is an app that allows you to send and receive money to and from anywhere in the world and in most currencies.
You can also get a debit card that works worldwide and allows you to pay or withdraw money in different currencies for a very small fee and with the real exchange rate.
You can even get an account number for different countries so you can receive bank transfers from different countries all over the world without paying exorbitant fees.
I’ve used it often on group trips for splitting group expenses.
When traveling with friends, it can be hard to keep track of all your group expenses, and even a little awkward having to ask for money after you paid that lunch for the entire group.
Splitwise makes it easy to keep track of everyone’s expenses. Share it with your friends to keep track of who owes who and get rid of the stress of having to keep count.
The app is integrated with PayPal and Venmo for the US and Paytm for India, allowing you to pay back what you owe or receive your share.
20. Google Translate
While you may be able to get around just by speaking English in many tourist places, there will certainly be times when that’s not the case. And the universal language of gestures may only get you so far.
Google Translate can be handy for those situations. It’s a good idea to download the offline version of this app beforehand so that you can use it in restaurants, markets, or places where you may not have wifi to ask questions.
Why use it: language app for pre-trip language lessons.
If you don’t want to rely on Google Translate for your entire trip, you may want to learn a few basic words and sentences in your destination’s language.
Duolingo is a great app that allows you to easily learn the basics of a new language, from writing to reading and pronunciation. The basic version is free, and it allows you to learn multiple languages.
Duolingo won’t have you fluent, but its use of simple phrases and gamification of learning will help you at least learn key words and phrases that can help you communicate.
Why use it: language app for practicing speaking the language with native speakers.
If you already know the basics of a language and want to practice with native speakers, you can use italki to get one-to-one language lessons.
You can find certified teachers or tutors at affordable prices to have conversations and learn at your own pace. The great thing is there is no need for a subscription; you just pay as you go.
Apps for Safety When Traveling (In-Person and Online)
Why use it: for In-Person Safety.
Noonlight is a safety app that you can use when you feel in danger. Walking back to your hostel late at night in an area that feels unsafe? You just need to open the app and keep your finger pressed on a button.
When you feel safe again, release the finger and input your pin. If you do not input your pin, the app states they’ll notify the police.
Why use it: for Online Security.
Online safety is so important nowadays. Using a VPN is a must when traveling. A VPN allows you to protect your privacy and data and to access content and apps that may be restricted in some parts of the world.
When connecting to weak or insecure networks in coffee shops and hotels, you never know who may be watching. VPNs give you anonymity while browsing and peace of mind when working, communicating with colleagues, friends, and family or accessing sensitive information.
Travel Apps Summary
Travel apps can take your trips and experiences to new heights while also dealing with many of the things many of us just don’t have the time or energy to figure out.
A little planning and intuition can go a long way before heading out on your exotic adventure or much-needed vacation.
Use these apps to make your life easier, safer, and more convenient when out on the road. That way, you can focus your time and energy on the things that matter most: having fun, exploring, and making memories.
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Save and Pin for Later
Planning an upcoming trip? Keep these travel apps for future reference, by saving them to one of your Pinterest boards for safekeeping.