The Best Apps for Travel
As a travel blogger, I’m on the road almost too often. I’ve had too many flight delays, lost baggage, and travel mishaps to count… but along the way, I’ve slowly perfected my travel planning process and trip organization to make sure that my journeys go as smoothly as possible.
Part of my secret? My phone! I rely on my iPhone and a couple essential travel apps to take vacation photos, keep track of local history and info and save me from getting lost. Today I’m sharing which travel apps you need for a well planned vacation, organized below:
- Best Flight Apps
- Best Hotel Apps
- Best Travel Planning Apps
- Travel Apps for Europe
- Travel Apps for Japan
The Best Travel Apps 2018
All of the travel apps below are free and available on both iPhone and Android. I’ve curated the best of the best, whether you’re headed internationally or on a domestic road trip. Here are the essential travel apps to download, whether you’re traveling for business or leisure:
Best Travel Apps for Flights
I use Skyscanner to search for affordable flights. It’s an aggregation tool for a number of different airlines and the best feature is that you can see the cheapest dates to fly in a monthly calendar. You can also set fare alerts.
If you’re like me and you just like to dream of travel in your spare time, Skyscanner has an Explore tab where you can enter your preferred airport and then the app will generate affordable fares around the world. I’ve found $99 flights to Cancun, Reykjavik, you name it!
Kayak is similar – you can search for flights and narrow the results by lots of filters like the number of stops, price and airline.
My favorite part of the app is the Watchlist section, where you can create a list of routes that you’d like to keep an eye of. This is perfect if you’re in school and know you’ll need to book flights around certain dates each year.. or if you live abroad.. or if you just like to travel!
Kayak also has a forecast tool where they recommend if you should buy now or wait.
3. Google Trips
Google Trips is my favorite. It syncs directly to your gmail / google account to pull your past trips in one handy tab.
Heading on a trip and want travel suggestions? Type almost any destination into the explore app and it will pull up your reservations as well as suggestions for things to do, food suggestions and handy info like essential facts and transportation. While it’s not the most comprehensive travel resource it makes for a great starting point to help you plan your trips.
4. Lounge Buddy
Frequent business travelers will love this one. LoungeBuddy helps you find the right lounge for over 900 airports worldwide. Enter in your flight, status, any credit cards or memberships you may have and it will tell you which lounges are available to access (either free or for a fee).
There are photos and reviews of the lounges themselves too – so you can get a better idea if the lounge is worth paying for.
Download now for: iOS
Once your flights are booked, I also recommend downloading the airline app so that you can check in and store your boarding pass. If you’re one of those people who prefers a mobile boarding pass, you absolutely need your airline’s app.
Best Travel Apps for Hotels
The Travelocity App lets you search and book flights, hotels, cars and activities all on the go. You can add your frequent flier numbers and the Travelocity Itinerary tab will keep track of everyone in the family or group in one easy place.
The app also updates you with handy flight data like delays or gate changes. Finally, I love how easy the Travelocity app makes booking hotels. Whether you want to plan in advance or book on the fly – just toggle on Current Location and your date to find lots of great options. You can see either a list or map view by price.
There’s also easy access to customer support through the app!
Best Travel Planning Apps
6. Google Maps
Google Maps is my jam. This is the one app I use religiously for every trip I plan and continue to use while I’m abroad. It’s the best navigation app around as it can pull up nearby restaurants, gas stations and grocery stores if you’re on a road trip. It can also tap into local transportation to help you plan your route – I use it everyday in New York City to find subway and bus routes and it works internationally.
You can save points of interest into a custom map and download cities into offline maps so that you stay connected even without cell service. What I like to do is download a city map for each place I’m traveling, turn my phone to airplane mode when I’m in the destination, and just use it as a walking map so I don’t get lost.
If you prefer a cab over walking, ask your hotel concierge what the locals use. Sometimes Uber works, sometimes it doesn’t. In southeast Asia, scooter services are quite popular so it helps to get an insider perspective!
7. XE Currency
This is a great app for traveling to Europe or Japan or anywhere foreign really. It shows you current currency rates for every world currency as well as precious metals. The XE currency app stores recent rates as well, so you can still access them if your phone is offline.
I use TripAdvisor when I’m traveling to find points of interest. It tends to be pretty handy for user generated reviews of sights and attractions – just make sure you’re filtering by date so that newest reviews show first!
I don’t recommend TripAdvisor for restaurants though – I’ve found that it can be very outdated internationally.
9. Google Translate
Google really smashes the travel app playing field, doesn’t it? I love Google Translate to provide conversational translations for short words, phrases and even full on paragraphs. There are over 103 languages available in the app and it even shows dictionary results for words or phrases.
The best part is if you accidentally spell it wrong, it auto suggests text to figure out your meaning. You can also set it to “detect language” so that it will auto find the language you’re looking to translate.
My favorite feature is that after you translate words, you can star them to save it in the app so that the translation is still available when you’re offline. I like to do this with food phrases so that when I’m at the restaurant I can still decipher the menu!
If you love learning new languages, I also recommend Duolingo for beginner language instruction and Rosetta Stone for more comprehensive instruction.
For a free app, use the native weather app on your iPhone or Android and just enter in the countries you’re traveling to.
For a more accurate app or to do packing research in advance, download Dark Sky. This one isn’t free but it gives more accurate weather data like how bad a storm will really be and it can predict weather by the hour.
This is like your own personal travel agent on your phone. Forward all your booking emails to the app and it will organize them seamlessly to create your itinerary and store all your important dates and confirmation numbers so you don’t have to sift through your email or even worse, print out copies of all your emails.
It links everything from flights to hotels, car rentals and attractions all in one convenient place. TripCase is on the mark with flights and will notify you about gate changes or flight delays immediately. It also tells you handy info like total travel time, plane type and my personal favorite – indoor airport maps.
You can even save your receipts in the app, if you’re traveling on business and need those receipts. Finally, if that wasn’t enough, you can order an Uber directly in TripCase as well.
To stay connected to friends and family internationally, download WhatsApp. This chat messaging service lets you send messages, photos and videos to anyone in the world. The only catch is that it runs over WiFi so you need connection to be able to send. Perfect for hotel breaks!
Best Travel Apps for Europe
And I also wanted to share some travel region specific apps:
If you’re traveling around Europe, this travel app is invaluable. It scans trains, planes, bus and walking routes to give you accurate, localized directions. There are over 3,000 airports and 80,000 rail and bus stations in here! I also recommend RailEurope and EuroRail’s apps.
14. Pretty Streets
If you prefer to explore cities on footi, this app has detailed walking itineraries for many European cities. They’re not free, but the maps are easy to follow and can be customized depending on how much you want to walk!
15. Copenhagen Card
This is a great app if you’ve purchased the Copenhagen Card pass since it shows you every sight, attraction and place that is covered by the card. It’s got nice clear photos so you can preview the sights, location info and hours of operation. It doesn’t require wifi so you can use it on the go without cell service! I discovered lots of museums I wouldn’t have thought to visit and really maximized the use of the card.
This is a must have travel app for Italy. It’s the official app for Italy’s rail company, called Trenitalia, and will let you buy tickets and check your trip status (all in English). I usually buy tickets from RailEurope since it’s easier but if you’re exploring just around Italy, this one is very helpful.
This is a great travel app for Iceland. It’s a much more comprehensive weather app than just the native weather one on your phone – Vedur has real time weather conditions, predictions and hazard warnings as it’s managed by the Icelandic Meterologial Office.
18. Aurora Forecast
This handy app gives you a better idea if you’ll see the Northern Lights. The Iceland travel app has geo tracking to estimate your percent chance of spotting the Aurora Borealis!
19. Appy Hour
Iceland is expensive. Have a great time and save a little with this fun happy hour app that tells you all the great bar and restaurant deals around Reykjavik. The app is free and comes with a map as well as the average happy hour drink price.
Best Travel Apps for Japan
For transportation in Japan this is the best travel app. You can choose your departure station, arrival station and time to have it direct you to the best train route! If you’re using a Japan Rail Pass just be sure to exclude the Nozomo and Mizuho train lines which aren’t covered under the pass.
If you hate typing and have an iphone, there’s also a Hyperdia by Voice app where you can speak your queries. The Japan transportation app uses voice recognition to provide you train times tables and direction advice.
Eating in Japan is heavenly but also a bit tricky! Download this travel food app before you head to Japan so you can filter restaurant results. They let you search by cuisine and restaurant type – for example, sushi, okonomiyaki, beer halls, yakinku (bbq) and izakaya (japanese pubs).
They also have tags to filter places where the staff speak English, non smoking restaurants, family friendly and free WiFi. Talk about efficient!
So GuruNavi is actually not the most popular food app in Japan. That distinction is held by Tablelog, the undisputed “Yelp” of Japan. If you want a more authentic travel app for Japan restaurant recommendations and can read Japanese, this is it!
23. Sushi Dictionary
This one is a fun one and great for travelers who have only tried California Rolls. Spoiler: they’re not sushi! This fun dictionary app is a must for Japan as it decodes Japanese cuisine and foods to give you the complete guide to sushi!
If you want to learn Japanese, this is a fantastic language app. It’s perfect for picking up simple Japanese phrases, greetings and expressions and the app helps to improve your Japanese pronounciation. Definitely recommend downloading this before you go to Japan!
25. Ms. Green
The Japanese are so efficient and yet so entertaining. This travel app will help you to explore Japan’s best cities and destinations… in the form of a mango, or Japanese cartoon novel. The app was created by JTB Corp, Japan’s largest and most popular travel agency.
Ms. Green is the name of the female guide who teaches tourists crucial things about visiting Japan – such as how to use Japanese toilets and the Japan train system! If you see any sights, places or tours in Japan that look intriguing, you can book them through JTB directly within the app. Pretty nifty!
Do you have any invaluable travel apps?
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