There are hundreds of travel apps out there and it can be overwhelming for travelers to know which ones they should actually use. My obsession with both travel and tech leads me to try everything that comes to the market. After trying them all, here is my shortlist of best travel apps you actually need before you book your next trip.
Best travel apps for finding the best things to do
- TripScout is the best travel app for self-guided city tours. It allows you to explore a city through the eyes of a local expert on an offline map. Yes, I know I am biased, but that’s why I created this travel app in the first place. Download the iPhone app.
- Foursquare is the best app to find nearby places to eat and drink. Download the iPhone or Android app.
- AFAR, from the creators of the AFAR travel magazine, provides the most thoughtful digital travel guides. Download the iPhone or Android app.
Apps for essential travel info
- XE Currency provides the easiest way to convert multiple currencies when traveling. It stores saved rates so you can use it offline as well.Download the iPhone or Android app
- Google Translate is the best app to translate foreign languages when traveling. Download the iPhone or Android app
- Elves is the most helpful virtual assistant app I have found. They do not specifically focus on travel, but their app provides a free and helpful person you can text with nearly any question. Download the iPhone or Android app. (see more concierge apps in the last section)
- Offline Maps: There are dozens of offline maps (e.g. Ulmon and Maps.me) if TripScout is not available for your city that you should download if you expect to be in a place without data.
Best travel apps for finding flight and transportation options
- Skyscanner consistently has the most flight inventory and lowest prices (especially internationally) compared to other travel metasearch engines. There mobile app does everything their website does. Download the iPhone or Android app.
- Hitlist allows you to type in your city and date range and it will scan millions of fares to bring you the cheapest flight options. It is a great way to figure out what city to go next or to find potential destinations to conduct an alternative route travel hack. Download the iPhone app.
- Rome2Rio is a global trip planner that helps you figure out how to get anywhere. It combines flights, trains, buses, ferries, taxis, and driving options with estimated travel times and cost for each combination. Download the iPhone or Android app.
- Uber is now in hundreds of cities worldwide and is often the most reliable way to get around if you do not know where you are going, how much it should cost, or are tired of arguing with taxi drivers. Download the iPhone or Android app.
- Airline apps: if you are a regular flyer with any airline, it is a good idea to have that airline’s mobile app.
Best travel apps for hotel and lodging
- Hostelworld is the best app to find a hostel. Download the iPhone or Android app.
- Airbnb is the best app to find an apartment or room to rent from a local. Download the iPhone or Android app.
- Hotel Tonight is the best travel app to find and book last minute hotel deals. Download the iPhone or Android app.
- Booking.com is the best travel app to book hotels internationally. They have the most options and do not require a credit card to reserve. Download the iPhone or Android app
- Orbitz is a useful tool if they have the same price as you are planning to pay because they give you 5% back to book on future travel. Download the iPhone or Android app
- Hotel apps: If you are a regular guest with any hotel, it is a good idea to have that hotel’s mobile app.
Best travel apps for your layover
- GateGuru is the best travel app to find everything you can eat or do in an airport to make the most of your layover. Download iPhone or Android app
- PriorityPass provides details on the 900+ airport lounges available to members. This travel app only applies if you pay for Priority Pass service, or if it comes with your credit card (e.g., American Express Platinum). Sign up with a 10% discount here or download the iPhone or Android app.
Travel apps that I am keeping an eye on:
- Travel concierges: Several new concierge apps – such as Lola, Pana, and Facet – have entered the market and I think this is an interesting service with a lot of potential. I have not fell in love with any of them yet, but I am continuing to test them out. I will update this post with any new conclusions.
- Travel communities: There have been many attempts to build a travel social network or community, but I have not found one that has successfully pulled it off yet. The company I think is doing the best job is Trippy (iPhone). Quora (iPhone, Android) also has great community driven content within their travel sections. You also have services like the Nomad List Slack channel for digital nomads or our TripScouts private Facebook group of frequent travelers.
- Discovery travel apps: In addition to my favorite apps mentioned above for finding things to do, I have been keeping an eye on and trying out Gogobot, Spot, and Google Trips.
- Business travel apps: Business travel is a big market and there are many new and interesting entrances in the market. I am keeping an eye on Rocketrip, which allows both businesses and employees to benefit when employees make budget conscious decisions, and Upside, which hooks up travelers with gift cards for booking their business travel through them.
I hope you found my best travel apps post helpful!
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The Best Travel Apps You Actually Need