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Apps have become a huge part of travel. These days, they not only save you money but help you stay connected with your loved ones back home and even help you meet people. It’s safe to say that apps are just about becoming essential.
With that said, there are now hundreds of different apps to choose from, and let’s face it, you can’t use them all. So how do you know which ones to download and which ones to leave in the app store?
Well, it all comes down to personal preference and the way you travel. Are you a budget traveler, solo traveler, or vegan? The way you travel will determine the apps you need.
To help get you started, I’ve contacted some of the most experienced travelers out there to help me comprise a list of the 17 best apps for travelers. The best thing about this list is the variety of apps from a huge range of travel styles!
1. Google Translate
By Emily from Wander-Lush
Few apps make traveling to a foreign country easier than good old Google Translate. There’s a chance you might have it pre-installed on your phone and have never thought to use it. There’s way more you can do with this app beyond translating typed text.
One of this app’s best functions uses the camera on your device to translate written text from one language to another. This is extremely handy when you’re trying to order off a local restaurant menu or read the instructions on the washing machine! The app provides real-time translation for several dozen languages and is pretty good at detecting different fonts and even handwriting.
You can also use the app for translating spoken word. Just select the languages and speak into the microphone, and the app will play-back a translated version in a comical robot voice. In the past, I’ve had entire conversations with people using this feature by passing my phone back and forth.
You can also download certain languages for use offline, and even create your own phrasebook of commonly used words. It’s a great app essential for travel!
You also might like: Traveling as a couple can be hard. In our guide, we share exactly how we have managed to travel as a couple for over 6 years!
By Daniel from Destinationless Travel
When it comes to contacting family back home I can usually get away with using Facebook. However, how do you contact the odd family member (ie grandparents) that don’t use social media? Well, you could make a long-distance international call which would cost a small fortune, or download Skype and use a thing called Skype Credit.
Skype Credit is cheap and international calls can be as cheap as only 2 cents a minute. With it, you can call a mobile telephone or landline anywhere in the world. Skype also has monthly memberships that include a certain amount of minutes. For example, I pay for 100 minutes every month that lets me call mobiles in Australia for less than $5.
It’s not just family I use it for though, I also call my bank, travel insurance, and more! It has saved me more than a few times and I always travel with it!
By Cecily from Groovy Mashed Potatoes
Have you ever wondered when the best time is to book a flight or hotel? Hopper is one of the best apps for travel in that it monitors prices, predicts how they will change over time, and tells you when to book. Its AI algorithm has a 95% accuracy and you can monitor flights and hotels around the world up to a year in advance! The app is also free to use.
Imagine the scenario where the current date is January 1 and you booked your vacation days for September 7-15 for a trip to Iceland. You are curious when the best time is to book your flight and how low of a price you can get. You would input your dates, departure location and arrival location, and Hopper would let you know if you should book now or wait to book.
What makes it even better is that it will send you notifications over time when the price comes down. Their goal is that you never overpay for travel again.
Related read: Going on a long-haul or international flight? Check out our blog about how to survive long haul flights!
4. Currency Converter
By Kay from the Awkward traveler
Without a doubt, one of the most important apps to download before traveling out of the country is the Currency Converter app. As you already know, currency and its rates vary from country to country. So, in order to better budget and keep track of your spending throughout your trip, you will need to know the cost of food, activities, and souvenirs in a currency that you can relate to.
Having the Currency Converter app downloaded will help you judge whether or not an item is a deal or overpriced, and can be especially helpful if you plan on heading to local markets where you might need to haggle.
Even if you aren’t on a tight budget, being aware of your finances can help you get more out of your trip and can help with travel hacking tips like finding the cheapest flights by buying them in a different location and currency. The app works offline with any currency from around the world (now including cryptocurrencies such as BitCoin, Ethereum, and LiteCoin as well!)
By Becky from Beckplore-travel
The Hostelworld app makes it super easy to book your hostels while traveling. You can choose from hostels all over the world and filter places based on your own preferences to find the perfect hostel. You can also find a bunch of reviews from other travelers as well to get an idea of the overall atmosphere of the place. If you love hostels, booking through Hostelworld is important because it’s where like-minded travelers leave reviews.
Of course, the app also provides an overview of all the available facilities, such as if there is a bar on-site, if they have 24-hour reception, or if there is a book exchange, etc. Additionally, you can look at maps for the city you would like to visit to see which area most of the hostels are located.
With the Hostelworld app, you can manage all the hostels that you are going to stay at in one place. Furthermore, you can create wish lists of hostels you would like to visit in the future and you also get a nice overview of all the countries you have traveled to.
Related read: We’ve stayed in lots of hostels over the years. Want to know what it’s like? Check out our truth about hostels blog!
By Or from My Path in the World
Whether you’re going on a city break in Europe, a backpacking adventure in New Zealand, or a road trip through the US, you’ll probably book your accommodations a little while in advance. But accommodation prices change all the time, and what happens if you can get a better deal for the exact same room you’ve booked? You’re not going to check if the price was updated every single day, right?
That’s where Pruvo comes into the picture. This free app can save you a whole lot of money. All you have to do is send your booking confirmation to Pruvo, and it will monitor the price for you. If there’s a better deal, it will let you rebook the same room at the newer, lower price. Isn’t that amazing?
Just note that to use Pruvo, you need to book a room with a free cancelation option on any booking platform like Booking, Expedia, etc.
By Nina from Lemons and Luggage
There’s a common misconception that just because somebody travels solo they want to spend their entire vacation alone. Sometimes it’s simply a question of friends not being able to travel on the same exact dates as you. But female solo travelers, in particular, do enjoy meeting up with fellow female solo travelers, whether it’s just for a drink or to take a day trip together.
Tourlina is a great app for finding female travel companions or local women who wish to show people around their city. Regular travel apps can sometimes be treated a bit like dating apps so a lot of female solo travelers prefer to meet up with other women. To guarantee every user’s safety, the Tourlina team approves every user on an individual basis. So you know they really are who they say they are.
All you have to do to connect with someone is to enter a destination and time period. You can then chat with other women who have similar interests and plans to yours. So, if you’re still looking for a travel companion to explore some of these best European destinations for solo female travelers, Tourlina is a safe and fun way to connect!
8. All Trails
By Jyoti from Story at Every Corner
At home, we are always hitting the local trails, so it’s extremely important to know all about the trail – the route, difficulty, current conditions, etc. We use All Trails to research the area and find the trail that best suits our ability. The app provides official information about the trails such as distance, elevation change, maps, and routes, etc.
More importantly, it has a very active community engagement, especially in the US where users share experiences, routes, conditions, photos, ratings, and pretty much any information one would need to decide on a trail.
The free version comes with most features a casual hiker in well-populated area needs. On my solo trip, I used it to plan my hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park. With the pro version, one can get access to many more features such as offline maps which are critical when you’re out by yourself and don’t have good phone coverage.
You also might like: During our travels, we have done a lot of van life road trips. Want to know what it’s like living in a van? The read our honest option!
9. Moovit App
By Julien Casanova of Cultures Traveled
Learning how to navigate a new city can be a daunting task. It’s easy to rely on taxis to get you to your destination but the costs can quickly add up. The Moovit app makes using public transportation easy with a step by step guide to local buses and metros.
Enter your destination and select to search by your arrival or departure time. The app includes the time it takes to walk to the first part of your journey, as well as the bus number, and any transfers you’ll need to make along the way. Once you are on the bus, you can choose to allow the app to follow along and notify you when it’s time to get off.
Moovit takes the guesswork out of getting to your destination via the most efficient public transport route. Since its launch in 2012, Moovit has grown to 3,400 cities across 112 countries and supports 45 different languages, making it an essential app for travel.
By Stephanie from Poppin’ Smoke
WhatsApp is the world’s most popular instant messaging app and will make your travels easier if you’re going just about anywhere in the world. Use WhatsApp to send text messages and make voice or video calls over WiFi – no cell phone service or SIM cards required!
WhatsApp is one of the best ways to communicate internationally for free, and it’s incredibly easy to use. The app is associated with a user’s cell phone number, so in countries where the app is widely used, chances are that if you have someone’s cell number, you can call them via WhatsApp by simply inputting the country code and phone number.
We use WhatsApp most frequently during our travels to communicate with Airbnb hosts; having a way to get in touch with them besides sending messages via Airbnb is critical! As we make new friends, it’s also an easy way to make plans, share photos, and stay in touch!
By De Wet from Museum Wanderer
What to do when your trusted apps like Google Translate, Google Play, Facebook, or WhatsApp don’t work? Well, that is exactly what will happen when you travel in China, as all of these are blocked inside the People’s Republic of China.
But fear not! WeChat (WeiXin in Chinese) is a Chinese app that combines all of the above in one single app, and it’s a must-have when you’re traveling in China.
WeChat is most commonly used as a chat app, and every single person young and old has it. With translation built-in, you can communicate with everyone you ever want to in China. Another very useful feature is the scan and translates function, which comes in very handy for menus and street signs.
But it doesn’t stop there. WeChat is linked to your debit or credit card, and whether you’re paying for a night in a heritage hotel in Shanghai, buying fruit from a farmer in Yunnan, or paying for a taxi ride, you really don’t ever need cash in China.
For long-term visitors, there is also the social media aspect, where you can post stories and videos, and share with your friends, pretty much just like Facebook.
Do not go to China before downloading and setting up your WeChat account.
By Sean from Living Out Lau
Selecting the right place to stay can make or break your vacation. While traditional hotels are nice, many of them are crowded and often don’t offer a cozy and homey atmosphere. That is why many travelers are now preferring Airbnbs.
Using the international Airbnb app (or the mobile site), travelers can book vacation homes that are available for short term or long term rental from locals.
Not only is this a good way to give back to the local communities (instead of big organizations such as Marriott or Sheraton), but visitors have an array of different vacation homes to meet their needs. Because you are booking directly with locals that are have lived in the area, you will often get insider tips on your travel destination as well!
Want a private pool villa in Bali? Find it on Airbnb! A home with a jacuzzi for stargazing in Sedona? Check Airbnb! Want a fully-equipped kitchen to cook up your favorite homemade meals? Go on Airbnb!
13. Trail Wallet
By Trijit Mallick from BudgetTravelBuff
If you are a budget traveler, this travel app must be on your iPhone. While I was on a lake vacation in California with my friends, Trail Wallet helped me to keep track of all my expenses, so that I could maintain my travel budget efficiently.
It is really hard to keep track of your expenses when you are traveling to different countries that have different currencies. Trail Wallet made it easier to maintain my budget for the entire trip. It is very fast and easy to use, and your data will be automatically stored in iCloud.
You have to set your daily budget and every time you spend money, just add your expenses to the app and it’ll tell you how you are doing against your daily budget. Trail Wallet has a detailed summary screen with an interactive bar chart and pie chart features. It also supports multiple currencies and this feature will let you know the exchange rate instantly.
Your first 25 entries are free, after that, you have to pay a nominal amount as a one-time fee to use this budget travel app. You can use Trail Wallet without an internet connection.
14. Happy Cow
By Moshe Huberman from The Top Ten Traveler
Veganism is on the rise in the last few years, and many big cities around the world, like New York, Tel Aviv, London, and others compete for the title of the “Best Vegan City In The World.” If you live in one of these places, you know how easy it is to find vegan food, and the selection is probably very wide.
However, when you travel as a vegan outside of your home base, and especially to smaller cities and towns, finding vegan food options might be a bit more challenging. This is exactly what Happy Cow was created for.
On the app, you can easily search for all the businesses in a specific location that are either completely vegan, vegetarian with vegan options, or those that serve meat or fish but also have vegan options on the menu. They even have special marks for bakeries, ice cream stores, juice bars, and food trucks. You can search by the type of business (cuisine) or by seeing all the businesses on the map. Each restaurant in Happy Cow is rated with 1 to 5 stars and you can read reviews of other users of the app.
The information in the app is added by the users and is available for any destination. You can also join the Happy Cow Community and connect with other vegans. It’s $3.99 and worth every cent.
By Dymphe from Dym Abroad
One of the best apps for making traveling easier is Duolingo. Duolingo is a great way to learn new languages and anyone can do it. If you already speak English, you can choose from more than 30 languages to learn at the touch of a button. This is very convenient when you are traveling to a place where English is not spoken by everyone.
For example, when you want to travel to Venice, you’ll want to be able to communicate with the locals to make everything go smoothly. Learning Italian can come in handy for such a trip.
What’s great is that learning a language with the app is not boring. Each lesson of a language course is like a game, you can collect points and you can compete against friends!
By Rachita Saxena from MeanderWander
One of my personal favorite apps that I use a lot is Maps.me. The best thing about this map app is that you don’t need the internet to use this app. All you need to do is download the maps for a destination before visiting the place and then switch off your internet and use the maps to navigate the way. It has maps available for over 100 countries so whether you are in Italy, India, or Kazakhstan, you will find routes for all the destinations on this offline maps app.
Another great thing about Maps.me is that it also shows hiking and trekking trails for a lot of hikes in the world. So, if you are looking to do solo trekking, this is a great map to download to find the trail. You can also add trails on the maps and some additional information about locations so that it can be shared with other users who wish to travel to the place. And you can save the changes locally as well and not share them with others for your own future use.
Overall, this is one of the most useful maps app that I have come across until now that can be used for almost all the countries in the world.
By Elina from Empnefsys & Travel
A must-have app, if you are traveling around Europe by train, is Trainline. Trainline allows you to check the timetables and book tickets for hundreds of train routes around Europe. They operate in 45 countries such as the UK, France, Italy, Spain, Germany, and more.
Trainline’s smart booking platform allows you to combine rail and bus journeys where trains are not available, and even book the bus tickets too. Depending on the country, you may also find the split ticket option which allows you to get even cheaper train fares if you travel on specific services. Another way that the app allows you to save money is by giving you the option to select a railcard or any other vouchers you may have.
Besides, you will be able to check live train locations, route alternations, and disruptions. You can even book last-minute tickets up to 15 minutes before departure. Also, if you select to get an e-ticket you will not have to queue at a ticket machine and you can head directly to your train.
The only downside of the app is that there may be a small booking fee on some journeys you book. The fee is dependent on the ticket price, route, and country. You will be able to check any fees before adding your payment details.
Before you go…
Apps are now an essential part of travel and with the above list, you can stock up your phone and hit the road knowing you’ve got a little technology to help you. This not only makes travel more accessible to people but also gives family members back home peace of mind knowing you can stay connected.
Thanks so much for reading my guide to the best apps for travel. If you found this guide helpful then be sure to browse around and check out the related articles below, we have lots of other great travel advice blogs and tricks.