A good traveler needs to be well equipped with only the best travel apps. From the time you start thinking about your next destination to the moment your feet hit the ground back home, having the right travel apps can be extremely influential in your overall experience. Personally, I don’t like clutter on my home screen so I tend to keep apps at a minimum, but these apps have definitely earned their spot on my phone. Better yet, they are all free! Make your travel experience smoother and a lot less stressful– check out the best free travel apps I’ve listed below and download them if you haven’t already.
Please note: This post contains affiliate links. You won’t be paying a cent more for any services you sign up for, but the small affiliate commission I receive will help keep the content coming to you. Thanks!
Planning / Activities
When you reach your destination, Google Trips shines. This app simplifies where to go, what to do/see, and where to eat — even when you’re abroad without an internet connection. Just download the city beforehand and you’ll have access to it whenever you want. Going to multiple cities? Google Trips can compile them under one trip and provide you with the same amenities, including transportation information, nearby facilities, and even tipping etiquette.
Do you dread the travel planning process? Google Trips can pull reservations from your email, adding hotel bookings, car rental details, ground transportation information, restaurant reservations, and more. In doing so, it creates an underlying framework for your trip without you having to anything more. The app can even provide you with curated full day/half day itineraries.
One free app ‒ millions of cheap flights and hotels. With the Momondo app, your smartphone or tablet becomes your personal travel assistant, giving you the ability to find and book cheap flights and hotels anywhere in the world, at any time. Struck by wanderlust, but don’t know where to go? They have an “Anywhere Search”, that allows you to see tons of destination with the cheapest flights. It’ll even allow you to filter by budget, temperature, and activities you wish to do. With beautiful and easy to follow visuals, Momondo makes the travel planning process fun and exciting.
Another mobile trip planner, Trip It shows all your trip details at a glance: flights, hotels, car, map, directions. No more digging through your emails looking for confirmation numbers and addresses, no more pesky excel sheets. You can sync your travel plans with your online or mobile calendar, share itineraries with your fellow travelers and post travel plans onto relevant social media outlets (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter).
Culture Trip’s travel app provides local information and recommendations no matter where you’re traveling. The app’s intelligent search will filter your results based on the locations and attractions you really want to see. Moreover, they provide you with awesome out-of-the-box recommendations such as the best coffee shops, flea markets, and secret local spots to check out. It’s one of my favorites when it comes to looking for off the beaten path experiences.
Discover the world’s coolest insider tours and activities with Viator. It’s hard not to come across a Viator tour when you’re traveling and looking for that guided experience. They’re a TripAdvisor company, so naturally, you’ll get exclusive access to thousands of destinations in the palm of your hand, as well as access to a ton of user reviews and photos.
From incredibly popular Skip the Line passes at tourist attractions like the Eiffel Tower and Empire State building, to private VIP experiences at iconic locations like the Sistine Chapel, the Viator app helps with planning so you can get the most out of your vacation.
Think of this as Groupon for just events. Goldstar is an event discovery app with the most half-price tickets to live entertainment in the world. Experience more and spend less on the hottest concert, theater, nightlife, comedy, sports & other events in your city. They often times have comped tickets that end up being nearly free (there might be a very small service fee, but still completely worth the nominal fee).
Sidekix is an amazing travel companion for anyone who likes to explore new destinations on foot. This is an urban exploration planner that lets you download city guides full of places to eat, drink, and see, as well as how to get there. The app maps out the best walking directions based on your interests, such as museums, bars, or coffee shops. As you walk, watch the places of interest pop up on your map. If something catches your eye, you can tap on it to learn more about the business and read other people’s reviews. They’ve got the major cities covered, with destinations such as Los Angeles, London, and Boston (with more cities being added continuously).
While it’s not the prettiest app, XE Currency is one of the more robust currency converter apps available for both iOS and Android. It’s constantly being updated, offering live exchange rates and even allows you to access the most recent rates offline. You can also use the app on your Android Wear or Apple Watch device, which is super convenient when you’re in a rush trying to convert currency while shopping.
Sometimes when you’re out exploring, you just need to find a bathroom. Quickly locate a bathroom near you, whether you’re on the road, stuck in a crowded metropolitan area, or at the beach. The app has 100,000 bathrooms in its database, with user reviews and filters for specific features like handicap accessibility and changing tables.
Before you head to a new country, try and learn some of the language. A basic understanding of signs and phrases will make your life easier and your time there a bit more rewarding. Duolingo helps people learn new languages by gamify-ing the experience. The app is extremely easy to use and breaks vocabulary up by small, convenient sections.
A must-have, especially if you head to a destination with no knowledge of the language. The app provides translations for over 100 different, which are now more conversational thanks to machine learning. The app has come a long way, allowing you to listen to translations out loud as well as translate your dictations and your own handwriting on screen. You can also translate via your smartphone’s camera. For example, you can point your camera at a sign and Google will translate its meaning for you. You can access the service offline when you download the dictionary, which is super convenient when abroad without internet connection.
WhatsApp has more than a billion users, and though it’s less common in the US, it’s used heavily worldwide. Having the app installed before heading on your trip can be useful in case you make new friends abroad and need a way to communicate with them. If you can’t make international calls to contact people back home, you can use WhatsApp to do this for free.
Nike Training Club
For exercise fiends who want to stay fit on their travels (or at least offset some of the weight gain from all the good food you’ll be enjoying), Nike Training Club is just what you need. The app gives you the opportunity to select workouts ranging from 15-45 minutes, and you can choose between low, medium and high-intensity levels. Best of all, they have workouts that don’t require any equipment.
Traveling with friends? Then Splitwise is a must. You and your friends just input what you paid for communally, and it’ll tally up who owes whom how much and divides your expenses based on the details of the transaction. In the end, you end up making just one final payment, as opposed to paying all ten people separately. The math that’s done by Splitwise is a real time-saver and saves the need for a trip accountant. Splitwise integrates with Venmo and Paypal, so you can pay and get paid easily with just a couple of clicks.
This sounds obvious, yes, but for those of you who still check in online through a web browser, you might be missing out. Having these apps are proving more and more useful for situations before your travel and during your travel. You’re able to easily check-in, keep tabs on flight status, and even take advantage of in-flight perks. For example, the United Airlines app allows you to stream a bunch of new movies and TV shows right on your phone or tablet during your flight. Not only can you use your phone to scan a boarding pass, but most airline apps will send updates on your checked bags, changes in gates and any delays in boarding.
Whether you fly Delta, American, United or any other airline, always start with downloading the app of the carrier you’re flying with. Link your frequent flyer number and enter all your contact info. Don’t forget to turn on those push notifications so you can stay up to date on flight information—the app can’t help you if it can’t reach you.
This one is in the advanced travel hacker’s arsenal of apps. Skiplagged provides another hack-ish way for travelers to save on their airfares. They specialize in finding what it calls “hidden city flights,” which translates to you booking a ticket to a final destination you have no intention of ever going, simply because it connects through the city you actually want to visit. Just hop off the plane, skip the connecting flight, and enjoy your savings. The app claims to be so good at exploiting industry secrets to find the cheapest flights, that United Airlines sued them for it.
This is one for the planners. If you’re really looking to get the cheapest possible price for a plane ticket, you need to download Hopper. There’s nothing more frustrating than seeing a flight you’d booked go down in price a few weeks later. Like Kayak and Skyscanner, Hopper will show you the cheapest dates to fly, but Hopper will also tell you when to buy your tickets via push notifications. The company claims it can save you up to 40 percent on your next flight by analyzing and tracking billions of flights.
Hands down, Booking.com is my go-to accommodation reservation resource. The “pay later” offering as well as free cancellations on so many hotels make it such a valuable resource during the planning process. The app makes it so much easier to pull up details whenever you need, no more frantically searching through emails for confirmation numbers, hotel details, and such.
Who hasn’t stayed at an Airbnb? The app is super useful to have. It allows you to access your trips, messages, and house rules for your stay quickly and easily. No more struggling to find those check-in instructions once you’ve arrived!
For those that don’t know, Airbnb offers home rentals for phenomenal prices compared to traditional hotels, as well as an entirely more authentic experience. You can rent out entire apartments/houses or stay with a local in their home. The app also offers a feature called Trips, which offers curated experiences led by local guides that you can partake in during your stay.
If you love hotels at a discount and you tend to be a last-minute planner, this one’s for you. Or maybe your Airbnb plans fell through, or your flight got significantly delayed until the next morning. Hotel Tonight is a reliable accommodation booking service that thrives on last-minute deals. The app curates unsold rooms across a range of price points (organized into categories like “Basic,” “Hip,” and “Luxe”) and sells them at a better rate than you’d get if you’d made a reservation months ago. Hotel Tonight even has its own rewards program, and you can book earlier than ‘last minute’, which makes this a useful choice for the average trip planner as well. You also get 24/7 customer service from the Hotel Tonight team, in case something goes awry.
Chances are if you’re going to travel abroad for a long time, you’re going to come across some hostels. Though not as big in the US, hostels are widely used throughout the world, as is this app. Some benefits: As of 2018, they are exploring free cancellations, and they no longer requires a deposit to book. Hostelworld includes hotels and B&Bs as well as hostels; other apps like Agoda do this too, but don’t tend to have as many listings.
Uber, Lyft, MyTaxi
If public transportation is too confusing, too slow, or what have you, go with a rideshare / taxi service. I’ve listed them together as usually not all three are available in a destination. Typically, there’s one or the other though. These options are usually cheaper and more efficient than hailing a regular taxi.
Lyft promo: $5 ride credit
Uber promo: $5 ride credit
If you do want to take advantage of a city’s public transport system, there’s an app to make that process easier! The app gives you all the options to get around a city, from car sharing to buses to train options. Citymapper is aimed at local commuters, so you know you’re getting the most reliable travel advice within a city.
Got any travel apps that you can’t live without? Add a comment below!