Last update: 22/05/23 | May 22, 2023
Nowadays, everyone travels with a smartphone. In addition to the ability to take countless selfies and stay in touch with family back home, they provide us with an endless stream of tools and apps to help us plan our trips and deal with any mishaps we encounter on the road.
Unfortunately, while there’s no shortage of travel apps, most of them are terrible.
To help you avoid downloading (and maybe even paying for) apps that aren’t worth your time, I’ve compiled a list of my favorite travel apps. These apps will save you time, money, and help you get the most out of your travels. They are the apps every traveler should have on their phone before leaving home.
1. Get your guide
GetYourGuide is an online marketplace for all types of tours and excursions. From whale watching and food tours to hiking and vineyard visits, they have a wide range of activities in destinations around the world. You can compare prices, read reviews and learn about each activity before you book using the app (or website).
Whether you’re in the planning stages and looking for things to fill your next itinerary, or you’re already in a new country and want something to do later that day, GetYourGuide can help. I’ve used it quite a bit and I’ve always had a lot of fun!
I’ve flown hundreds of economy flights with long layovers and terrible connections, so dirty seats, expensive Wi-Fi and bad food are part of my life. The only places that offer respite are the lounges – but travelers often need status or pay for access to enjoy them.
LoungeBuddy takes the pain out of the process. After entering your credit card, airline status and lounge memberships, the app tells you which lounges you can access at any given airport. It makes even the longest layover tolerable so you can relax and enjoy your travels. And if you don’t have status, you can book lounge access directly through the app. It’s easy to use and free to download.
If you’re a budget traveler, chances are you’ll be staying in hostels during your trip. The Hostelworld app is the biggest and best place to find hostels around the world. You can browse photos, read reviews and compare amenities and facilities to know exactly what you’re booking. There is also a map so you can see where the hostels are located in relation to each other, as well as the main attractions of the destination.
You can also use the app to see who else is staying at the hostel. You can join a group chat for the hostel and connect with travelers to make plans before you arrive. In short, it’s a must-have app for backpackers and solo travelers. The app is free to download.
Skyscanner is my go-to site for finding cheap flights (they also offer hotels and car hire). Its mobile app searches millions of flights from thousands of sources and offers you the best options available. There are also plenty of filters you can use to sort by price, duration, number of stops, airline and more, ensuring you find the best flight for your needs.
The app’s best feature, however, is the ability to search for flights to everywhere. You simply enter your departure airport and the dates you want to travel, and it will bring up all the potential options – from cheapest to most expensive – so you can browse ideas without having to manually check each one.
If you want to save on flights, this app is a must. The app is also free.
TripIt helps organize your travel itineraries. All you have to do is forward your hotel, restaurant, flight and car rental confirmation emails to firstname.lastname@example.org and it automatically transfers all the information into your master itinerary so you can easily view all the your next plans. If you upgrade to the pro version, the company will find alternative routes for you when your flights get cancelled, as well as automatically send airline notifications about delays, cancellations and more.
The basic version is free, while the pro version costs $49 per year.
6. XE Currency Converter
This app is a must for all travelers. You can save and organize multiple currencies to make checking prices simple and fast. It also works offline, so even if you don’t have data or WiFi, you can still get a rough price estimate as you shop and explore.
If you need to stay on a budget (and don’t want to get ripped off), download this app. It’s free.
7. Google Translate
Another no-frills app, Google Translate lets you easily enter text in your native language and then convert it to your target language (or vice versa). You can also download languages offline, allowing access without data or Wi-Fi.
The app can also read your text so you can hear how it’s pronounced correctly, and you can also use its camera to take pictures of text that it can also translate (which is handy if you need to read ingredients while shopping, for example ). The app is free.
8. Happy Cow
While traveling on a budget is an amazing and liberating experience, lack of funds often means backpackers don’t maintain the best diet. From fast food to mediocre hostel breakfasts and happy hour overeating, eating healthy on the road can be tricky. Fortunately, there is a free app that can help you find places to eat with healthier food options. HappyCow was designed to highlight vegan and vegetarian food around the world. And since restaurants with vegetarian food are usually (though not always) healthier, this is an easy way to discover healthy food options as you explore. You can read reviews, check out menus, and compare prices to find restaurants within your budget.
If you are traveling across the US or Canada, this app can save you a lot of money. GasBuddy shows you where the cheapest gas is near your location, so you never pay more than you need to. The app also has a travel calculator so you can estimate how much your trip will cost. There’s also a gas price map so you can see what the prices are, region by region.
The app is free, but for $9.99 a month you can upgrade to premium, which saves you 20 cents per gallon (up to 50 gallons) and gives you 24/7 roadside assistance.
While it’s important not to spend your entire trip on your phone or on social media, there are times when using your smartphone can easily improve the quality of your trip, keep you safe and save you money. By downloading the apps above, you’ll have a much smoother trip, with more time, energy and money to invest in your next adventure.
Book your trip: logistical tips and tricks
book your flight
Find a cheap flight using Skyscanner. It’s my favorite search engine because it searches websites and airlines around the world, so you always know there’s no stone unturned.
Book your accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as it consistently returns the cheapest rates for guesthouses and hotels.
Don’t forget travel insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case something goes wrong. I never travel without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:
Want to travel for free?
Travel credit cards allow you to earn points that can be redeemed for free tickets and accommodations — all at no extra cost. Check out my guide to choosing the right card and my current favorites to get started and see the latest best deals.
Ready to book your trip?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when traveling. I list all the ones I use when I travel. They are best in class and you can’t go wrong using them on your trip.