Last Updated: 5/22/23 | May 22nd, 2023
These days, everyone travels with a smartphone. Beyond the ability to take endless selfies and keep in touch with family back home, they provide us with a never-ending stream of tools and apps to help us plan our travels and deal with any hiccups 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 make the most of your travels. They’re the apps I think every traveler should have on their phone before they leave home.
GetYourGuide is an online marketplace for all kinds of tours and excursions. From whale watching and food tours to hiking trips and vineyard visits, they have a huge variety of activities in destinations all around the globe. You can compare prices, read reviews, and learn about each activity before you book using their app (or their website).
Whether you’re in the planning stages and looking for things to fill out your upcoming itinerary or you’re already in a new country and want something to do later that day, GetYourGuide can help. I’ve used them a bunch and always have a great time!
I’ve flown on hundreds of budget flights with long layovers and terrible connections, so dirty seats, expensive Wi-Fi, and bad food are a regular part of my life. The only places that offer any respite are the lounges — but travelers usually need to have 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 look at photos, read reviews, and compare amenities and facilities so you know exactly what you’re booking. There’s also a map so you can see where the hostels are located relative to one another as well as the destination’s main attractions.
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-download app for backpackers and solo travelers. The app is free to download.
Skyscanner is my go-to website for finding cheap flights (they also offer hotels and car rentals too). Their mobile app searches millions of flights from thousands of sources and then gives you the best options available. There are also lots 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 best feature of the app, however, is the ability to search for flights to everywhere. You simply input 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 for ideas without needing to check each one manually.
If you want to save money on flights, this app is a must. The app is free too.
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 to your master itinerary so that you can easily view all your upcoming plans. If you upgrade to the pro version, the company will find you alternative routes for when your flights get canceled, as well as send you automatic notifications from airlines about flight delays, cancellations, and more.
The basic version is free while the pro version is $49 USD per year.
6. XE Currency Converter
This app is a must for every traveler. You can save and organize multiple currencies to make checking prices simple and fast. It works offline too so even if you don’t have data or Wi-Fi you can still get a rough price estimate as you shop and explore.
If you have to stay on 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 input text in your native language and then convert it to the language of your destination (or vice versa). You can download languages offline as well, allowing you access without data or Wi-Fi.
The app can read out your text too so you can hear how it is properly pronounced, and you can also use your camera to take photos of text that it can translate too (which is helpful if you need to read ingredients while shopping, for example). The app is free.
While traveling on budget is an amazing, liberating experience, the lack of funds often means backpackers don’t maintain the best diet. From fast food to lackluster hostel breakfasts to overindulging at happy hour, eating healthy on the road can be tricky. Fortunately, there’s a free app that can help you find places to eat that have healthier food options. HappyCow is designed to highlight vegan and vegetarian food around the world. And since restaurants with veg eats are usually (though not always) healthier, this is an easy way to scope out healthy food options as you explore. You can read reviews, check out menus, and compare prices to find eateries within your budget.
If you’re going on a road trip around the USA or Canada, this app can save you a ton of money. GasBuddy shows you where the cheapest gas near your location is, so you never pay more than you have to. The app also has a trip calculator so you can estimate how much your road trip will cost. There’s a gas price map too so you can see what prices are, region by region.
The app is free but for $9.99 USD per month, you can upgrade to premium, which saves you 20 cents a gallon (up to 50 gallons) and provides 24/7 roadside assistance.
While it’s important to not spend your entire trip on your phone or 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 be able to have a much smoother trip, giving you 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 by using Skyscanner. It’s my favorite search engine because it searches websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is being left 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 anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip 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:
- SafetyWing (best for everyone)
- Insure My Trip (for those 70 and over)
- Medjet (for additional evacuation coverage)
Want to Travel for Free?
Travel credit cards allow you to earn points that can be redeemed for free flights and accommodation — all without any extra spending. Check out my guide to picking 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 you travel. I list all the ones I use when I travel. They are the best in class and you can’t go wrong using them on your trip.