While planning travel or on the road, nowadays we highly depend on our gadgets. Here is a list of apps I have previously used and will be useful for you in your travels. There are certainly hundreds of different apps one can use, however, these are the major ones that you should check out to find what works for you best.
I will include Android links here, although (I believe) all these apps are also on IOS. All of them also have relevant websites. Also I’m not paid for this post or for linking the apps here – though I’d not mind being paid for sure! Also this list is subject to growth over time as I’ll find other useful apps or replacements.
First and foremost, we all need a thorough map. I still remember the time, when we were exploring the city with the actual paper maps. Many of you probably can’t even imagine that any more. But I still like having paper maps sometimes and keep them, as souvenirs from my trips.
- Google Maps: Of course, nothing beats this by far, as it’s constantly updated and provides data about most of the countries in the world. However, make sure to double check, if it does work properly in a country you are travelling. For instance, South Korea doesn’t provide Google with sufficient data, so you can’t search for the walking directions between two points there (although it still works fine for noting things down and finding public transportation routes in big cities). China has blocked it and you could only use it via VPN. Another limitation is that in the offline mode, even though you see everything, including your pins, you can’t search for directions.
- Maps.me: From my experience this is the most comprehensive map you can use in an offline mode. Once you download the relevant areas, you can easily search walking or driving directions between two points. However, it doesn’t always provide sufficient information on transport routes.
- Apple Maps: I have heard a lot of good things about these maps, however, it’s exclusive only to Apple users, while I use the cheapest phones possible.
- OsmAnd: This app looks similar to maps.me to me. I have used it a bit, but it somehow didn’t stay in my phone, as I use a combination of Google Maps and maps.me, with a maximum of a local map app. However, if you want a good alternative to the first two I listed, this could be for you.
- Sygic GPS Navigation & Maps: If you want to have GPS for driving directions, Sygic works quite well. However, it doesn’t provide information on walking routes or public transport.
Public Transport Apps
- Citymapper: I really love this app for the big cities I have lived in or visited. It provides excellent public transport information, as well as walking directions. The main issue is that it only works well for the listed 105 cities, while having limited data for other parts of the world.
- Moovit: Another app providing great information about public transport in cities particularly. I personally prefer Citymapper in the cities it’s available in, but Moovit covers more cities. So do check this one out.
- Rome2Rio: A great app providing you with information about transportation options all over the world. I mainly look at it to see which transport runs in this area and then I book the transport via their own websites. It gives you all your options, including trains, ferries, buses, etc. However, keep in mind that it does not have all information and sometimes some of the options could be missing. The most recent example of missing information was when I was searching for options to get from Kuala Lumpur to Penang. It thought the train is only running to Ipoh and was telling me to take a bus from Ipoh. While in reality the train runs all the way to Butterworth, from which its just 10 minutes ferry ride to Penang. So do double check the information you get form here on other apps and websites.
Whether you prefer to stay in a hostel, a rented apartment or a hotel, here are the apps that will help you book your preferred accommodation:
- Booking.com: This has been my go-to app for booking hotels and sometimes apartments. However, of course, it’s not always cheaper and before you decide to book something here, also Google it and check other apps. I am a Genius member for a long time now. This used to give certain perks before, including discounts. Nowadays, I more often find that those discounts just give the same price, as some other booking sites. Either way this remains the major app I use. My search criteria are the following: Private bathroom and 8+ ratings. However, if I am travelling to European or East Asian countries and aim at mid-range hotels, then I give 7+ and Hotels, simply because some good hotels have lower ratings (because people may not like that hotel staff didn’t help them carry their luggage or something similar).
- Agoda: Lately this became my second go-to app. I found that for Asian countries and especially if you are booking closer to your travel dates, Agoda gives somewhat better prices and offers. Searching here is also quite easy with one problem – you can’t give Private bathroom in search. Still, it doesn’t have too many hostels, so it’s not difficult to search.
- Trip.com: This is I believe Chinese owned website/app. It is quite useful in Asian countries with sometimes better rates. I do try to double check there as well.
- Hotels.com: Another quite good app for searching hotels. I personally don’t use it often though, unless I find a better deal than on other apps.
Apartments, hostels, etc.
- Airbnb: This app was very popular over the years. Although it is slowly declining in popularity, it is still widely used. I have used it time after time, especially in locations, where hotels are too expensive. However, nowadays booking apartments are no cheaper than hotels and I prefer to avoid the hassle and go for the hotels. I have had some bad experiences with Airbnb, like most people – once the sheets and the whole apartment smelled terribly, another time the building security didn’t let us in, although the host told us they would. That just creates additional hassle.
- Vrbo: This app is similar to Airbnb. I personally have never used it, but the idea is same as above.
- Homestay: Another app with the similar idea of booking apartments, or rooms. One thing is that in some parts of the world, where Airbnb is banned, this one isn’t. For instance, I booked places on this for Iran.
- Hostelworld: This app allows to book hostels around the world. I have used it to book a separate room in hostels a couple of times.
- Couchsurfing: This app connects you with locals who offer their couch, spare bedroom, etc. to travelers for free. Many people use this to get to know people from different cultures and it can be a great way. However, I am quite careful around this sort of things. Make sure to speak to the person you are going to stay with and follow the safety rules.
Definitely download the app of the airlines you are flying with for that particular trip. All airlines I can think of have their own apps, which not only keep your flight information and boarding passes but notify you with updates on your flights. You can often see your gate and the gate changes through those apps and get a lot of useful information.
I always have the relevant apps in my phone, depending which airline I am flying with at the moment. I find that low cost airlines have very well-developed user friendly apps actually, in many cases even better than higher end airlines.
Apps Helping in Search for Flights
I never book via these websites and apps, I go with the airlines, even if they are slightly more expensive. These options are great to look at different options and compare prices, but I don’t advice you to book via the websites they offer. It’s always best to book with the airline.
- Skyscanner: This is my go-to search engine for comparing flight prices and finding dates when it’s cheaper to fly. If you are flexible with your dates and destinations, it is possible to give “everywhere” in the destination field and choose “cheapest month”, instead of indicating the exact date. This way you can find the cheapest destinations and find out when is it better to fly there. If you want to go somewhere specific and have specific dates, Skyscanner is still good in providing you with all airline options you have.
- Expedia: Another search engine that works similar to Scyscanner.
- Hopper: The advantage of this app is that it gives you an option to save your search and updates you on the price changes. It gives you advice on when is it more reasonable to book your flight.
Apps for Reading Reviews about Places to Visit
In addition to Google reviews and information, there are some other options you could look at to get suggestions. I don’t use any of these for booking anything, just to search information.
- Tripadvisor: Even though Tripadvisor lately has evolved into tour booking engine, it still remains a good way to look at attractions, food places, hotels, etc and read people’s reviews. Besides, it has quite good forums, which provide you with substantial advice on different destinations.
- Culture trip: Like Tripadvisor, this also became more of a tour booking website lately. But I still do like this for its guides. I have found many interesting cafes and restaurants, as well as authentic places to visit via this app.
- Headout: It’s a great way to find out about different things to do while travelling
- Likealocal: A very lovely app providing guides and recommendations from the locals about places to visit, eat and do.
I guess you already have weather apps for where you live, however, they are even more useful while travelling to make sure that you pack what you need according to the weather, as well as don’t get caught in rain without an umbrella or in a cold weather without your coat. None of these forecasts are full proof of course and they can be wrong, however, they give quite a good idea.
- Yahoo Weather: I know not many people use this app, it is less popular of weather apps, however, I find that it has given me quite accurate information most of the time. Currently, I only have this weather app on my phone.
- Weatherbug – I found this one to be quite useful as well. The best part of it is that it warns you when there’s rain within 10 miles from your location. The warnings don’t necessarily mean that the rain will come to you but, hey! Better be warned, no?
- Meteoblue: Gives more accurate information when you are in relatively remote villages.
Travel Itinerary Planning Apps
I personally use Google maps for planning my itinerary through pinning everything I want to visit and color coding them – for instance, greens are the sightseeing spots, yellows – restaurants and food places, blue – for cafes, while red – for hotels. This way I plan my way around according to which places are closer together.
However, some people prefer to have step-by-step itinerary with their flight and train booking informations, etc. for this the following apps are useful:
- Wanderlog: Lately, this is the most beloved map for people planning an itinerary. its free version provides you with an option to pin places and make an itinerary. However, the free version doesn’t have access to Google maps, which I use extensively. So I am just lazy to input all the pins in another map for it to make a schedule for me.
- Tripit: Another app, which uses your flight, train and hotel bookings and other information from your email to come up with an itinerary for you. I have never allowed it this, but from what I understand, it can search your email to find all bookings itself, so that you don’t have to input the information.
- Visit A City: This app provides preplanned itineraries for various cities. It doesn’t have them for all cities, generally only for major ones, however it can be useful sometimes. You can also add or remove places, as you prefer and customize the offered itineraries. I have played with it quite a lot and it really is very useful and an easy way to make the itinerary.
Money Related Apps
- Xe currency converter: Always a very useful app for whenever you forget the exchange rates.
- Google translate: I have extensively used this app, particularly in countries, the alphabet of which I can’t read. Its option of translating from a photo (even in the offline mode) is very helpful. You just need to download the relevant language pack in your phone to use it in offline mode.
- DeepL Translate: I haven’t used this in action so far, but from what I have heard, it gives more accurate translation, than google.
You can also get the country specific translate apps, which usually are more accurate. For instance, Papago is great for Korean.
Many countries in the world may restrict certain apps. For example, in Oman you can’t call via Skype without VPN, in China you can’t use Google maps, etc. To find a way around this, you will need a VPN downloaded to your phone, preferably before your trip. All VPNs, particularly free ones, will slow your phone down somewhat. If you want better connectivity, you would have to get a paid VPN.
- Tunnelbear: This is a free app with limited data option. However, among the free apps I have checked, it works best.
- ExpressVPN: Its free option is only temporary, after that you would have to pay the monthly fee. If you definitely need good connection with vpn not significantly slowing your phone down, then you would need a paid app.
I personally try to avoid taxis when I travel firstly because they are always expensive and secondly for safety reasons. I do find taking public transportation, wherever it exists, cheaper and safer. However, sometimes one can’t avoid taking taxis. Rather than hailing one on the street, using an app is safer. Plus, you won’t have to haggle with the driver, you will have fixed price on the app. In many cities one of the internationally used apps works, however, for some you have to download local apps. Make sure to double check in advance.
- Uber – this still remains the most widely used taxi service in the world. It is use in over 70 countries, but it’s still not available in many parts of the world still.
- Bolt – an Estonian company, which nowadays already works in 45 countries, although it started only from Europe.
- Lyft – a US based company, which has connections with other networks and can be used in many countries in the world.
- Grab – works in South East Asia.
- Careem – covers Middle Eastern and African countries.
- Didi – a Chinese company, which can be used in some Asian and Latin American countries and even Austalia.
- Free Now – a Germany based company reaching out to about 10 European countries.
- Easy taxi – Brazilian company, available in 30 countries.
Other more country specific apps include: Kakao T – Korea, Ola – India, Otaxi – Oman, etc.
Apps for Booking Attractions and Events
Depending on a country, the museums, palaces and so on can be cheaper on their own official websites. However, there are many cases, when third party websites and passes offer better prices. So definitely have a look at these and compare with the official website prices:
- Klook: I find that this major app provides discounts on many major sightseeing spots. Plus, it has Klook passes in many cities and depending on which attractions you want to see, this actually can get you a good discount. It saved us 20 USD per person on 2 attractions in Singapore for example.
- Tiqets: Mostly works in Europe. It provides reasonable prices for booking attractions, although is not the cheapest option.
There are also local third party apps and sites, such as Ticketmaster for UK or Trazy for Korea that you could use with relatively reasonable prices, if you won’t be able to get tickets on official website.
I don’t recommend using Viator or Getyourguide, as they usually have tickets for higher prices than you would get on the official websites or other third party sites. So if you want to use those, make sure to double check that you are getting a reasonable price.
Flight Tracking Apps
- Flightradar24 – a great app for tracking the flights in real time.
Apps for Socializing and Finding Events Nearby
- Meetup: I have used this app extensively and found it very useful. For instance, in London the London Cultureseekers group had great joint short trips or visited theatre and museums together, etc. I have met a lot of great people through this group. This app is not working in all locations that well, but do check it out.
- Eventbrite: It provides you with information about events happening nearby and details on how to book.
Another great way to connect with people and socialize is Facebook groups. They are organized by destination and interests, so you may find other like-minded travelers via them. Also Couchsurfing mentioned above works for this as well.
Some people use different dating apps, like Tinder, for socializing or casual dating as well and have many good and bad stories. That’s something I never tried so I am not sure how likely is it for you to find people to socialize with.
Other Travel Related Apps for Fun
Places been: This app won’t help you in planning or during your trip, but it’s a fun way to keep record of your travels. It records the countries and cities you have been to and shows them on the map, as well as allows you to list all the UNESCO world heritage sites you have visited.
If you know of any other great apps that would substitute or supplement this list, I would be happy to hear about them. I am always in search of ways to help in my travels.