15 of the Best Apps for Travel During a Trip
There is an app for almost everything now, so it makes sense to consider using apps for travel. Let’s be honest—wherever we go, our cell phones are pretty much tethered to us!
Using your cell phone to help navigate during travel is a no-brainer. And there is a slew of other apps that can help you during your trip to make things easier and more convenient.
Here are the 15 best apps for travel that I recommend using while you’re away on a trip.
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1. Google Translate
This app is a game-changer for overcoming a language barrier and was one of the first travel apps that I loaded on my phone. It often seems that Google thinks of everything, and this app has been instrumental in changing the way I travel.
Not only can you express yourself, but with Google Translate (Google Play Store, App Store), you can also have conversations with other people.
I generally try to learn a few words in the local language where I travel. However, while that’s convenient to get my needs met, it doesn’t help me really communicate with people.
Google Translate has changed that. It has enabled me to have conversations with people I might not otherwise have gotten to know without it.
There is a slight delay for the translation and there can be issues with autocorrect, but overall, it’s a tremendous tool to help with traveling to other countries. And it makes for some interesting language learning!
2. Google Maps
Staying on the Google theme a bit longer, Google Maps (Google Play Store, Apple Store) is also one of the most helpful apps for travel. It can help you determine directions to where you want to go in the moment.
You also have the option to flag and to save points of interest and places where you want to go. The app allows you to save locations and to label them.
There is also a feature that allows you to download an offline map. This is tremendously helpful, especially in locations where the internet or Wi-Fi are sketchy and you can’t always get online. You simply download the offline map and you can access it anytime.
Google maps can also provide information about public transportation and it shows you your estimated time of arrival based on your mode of transportation (including walking). It also provides ratings which can be helpful when selecting restaurants.
This is another great mapping tool that relies on GPS instead of Wi-Fi and the internet. So, if you forget to download your Google Map and don’t have access online, this app can help you navigate.
You also have the option to save locations, though it doesn’t offer as much functionality as Google Maps does for labeling.
Maps.Me enables you to download the maps (a great idea before you leave to ensure access), to map out a route, and to share maps. I used it when I was in Thailand and didn’t always have good WIFI access and it was a great help for this gal who gets lost constantly.
XE is a currency exchange app and I have found it to be one of the most useful apps for travel. It’s really useful for helping you to quickly calculate the cost for items in your native currency so you can know what something costs to you.
If you want to buy that shirt, you can quickly determine what it would cost relative to a shirt you could purchase at home. When you sit down to dinner, you can use XE to determine what that dinner will cost you.
This app provides the exchange rate based on the most current rates. It also provides the conversion for 1 unit of the currency, and also for a specified amount.
For example, if you want to know the exchange between Euros (EUR) and United States dollars (USD), 1 EUR currently equals $1.10 USD. So, if I’m looking to buy something for 20 EUR, I can see it costs $22.05 USD. It’s especially helpful when the ratios aren’t even like 10% or 200%.
You can select multiple currencies at a time and convert both to your currency or back to the local currency to see how far your money will go. The app is very easy to use. However, it does require online access.
5. Like a Local
I recently learned about Like a Local, and it’s really helpful in areas where there is high usage. People enter recommendations for things to see and do, where to eat, shop, party, and tours are also in the app.
You can view recommendations on a map view or in a list, and the app can navigate you there. Like a Local allows you to save to a list, love it, or leave a comment.
In areas where it’s not used much, it’s not all that helpful. But, especially in larger cities, it can provide some great ideas and is a useful app.
6. Around Me
This is another app that can help you find things like restaurants, coffee shops, gas stations, and banks. It includes contact information, a website if they have one, social media, hours, and payment methods accepted. It even provides directions.
Around Me pulls up local listings, so it doesn’t rely on user input. However, it doesn’t include any ratings or feedback from people who have been there though it does link to Yelp for places like restaurants and bars to provide reviews and feedback from people who have visited.
7. Nord VPN (Virtual Private Network)
A Virtual Private Network is a connection method used to add security and privacy to private and public networks. This includes Wi-Fi hotspots and internet connections.
What’s a public connection? When you check your phone using Starbucks Wi-Fi, that’s a public connection. A VPN makes your phone less susceptible to hacking and ensures anything you do on it is private.
A VPN can:
- Hide and/or change your IP address (de-identification)
- Mask your location (great for security)
- Encrypt data transfers (protects data sent)
- Access blocked websites (some countries, like China, block social media. With a VPN connection with a location outside of China, you can get access to blocked sites)
I use Nord VPN (Google Play Store, Apple Store), which is rated as one of the best in the industry. It’s easy to use, and I know that everything I do on my phone is secure, including my location. It’s not only one of my apps for travel, but I also use it while I’m home as well.
FlightView (app download) is an app that allows you to pull up flight status. You enter your airline code (there is a search function to get the code if you don’t know it), flight number, and departure date.
I have noticed some delays in airline reporting, so it’s always a good thing to check directly with the airline as well. I usually request airline alerts but occasionally have found more current information in FilghtView before I get the alert from the airline directly.
Another benefit of this app is that it’s so easy to use. I don’t have to navigate to this section on the airline website or in the airline app. It requires minimal information to get the result I need.
It can save you time at the airport if your flight is delayed and can give you a heads-up if your flight is canceled so you can quickly reschedule.
9. Rideshare Apps: Uber and Lyft
Most people have heard about Uber (Google Play Store, Apple Store) and Lyft (Google Play Store, Apple Store). In case you haven’t yet, they are rideshare apps. It’s a similar idea to a taxi; only it’s an individual driving their own car and not a person driving for a taxi company.
The driver is an independent contractor with Uber or Lyft (though people often drive for both). Some areas use Uber or Lyft, so having both on your phone is a good idea. You’ll sometimes find a price difference between them.
Both store your credit card information, so payments are made directly through the app with no money exchanged in the car. You get the charge upfront before you commit to the ride (for Uber).
You simply enter where you want to go, and it shows you the driving path and the arrival time. Accept the offer, and you get the pickup time. Then you confirm your pickup location, and you are good to go.
If you don’t rent a car, this is really the way to go. If you search in travel forums or read blogs, you will see a lot of caution about using taxis in certain countries. People recommend ensuring you negotiate the fare upfront (unless a meter is running, and sometimes even then).
They also recommend you verify it’s a legitimate taxi, but how you do so varies by country. Some have medallions, others have certificates from an oversight organization, and I am sure there are others.
Lyft isn’t offered in as many places as Uber, but I have found that it’s usually more competitive in price and offers more special offers when it is available.
Uber and Lyft Security
These rideshare apps offer a number of security features. They do background checks on drivers, for starters. They also provide the name of your driver with a picture, the type and color of the car picking you up, and the license plate.
When the car pulls up, you can verify it’s your driver before you get in.
I have the Weather Channel app on my phone and use it regularly. Both before I travel to ensure I’m packing the right things and also while I’m on trips to help me plan my day. Do I need my umbrella? Should I pack a sweater? I check the weather app to find out.
You can save multiple locations to keep an eye on all of the places where you’re going on your trip.
11. Clock App
I use the clock app (pre-loaded on my iPhone. The Google Play Store phone app equivalent is here.) on my iPhone for setting alarms and reminders.
No longer do I need to rely on a clock in my accommodation when I’m unsure how to work it? And I don’t pack one anymore, either.
I will sometimes use the World Clock feature to check the time at home before sending messages or calling. What’s worse than calling someone at home only to learn it’s 2 a.m.? Both come in really handy while traveling.
This app is my first go-to for travel planning. When I’m trying to determine where to go and what to do, I pull up TripAdvisor (Google Play Store, Apple Store). It ranks places and things to do, offers a forum, and even links to booking hotels, restaurants, and tours.
Though I use TripAdvisor a lot for planning my travels, I also use it often while on trips. If I find a gap in my time that I’m looking to fill, I pull up TripAdvisor to see what other things I can do.
When I’m trying to decide between visiting two places, I pull up the ranking and ratings of things to do to see which I might prefer.
TripAdvisor provides a lot of helpful information about restaurants, hotels, and things to do. This includes pictures, reviews and comments, hours, a map, and lots of other things. There is also a travel forum, so you can search for topics to get really useful information.
TrailWallet (Apple Store) is an app that I recently started using and I like it so far. It’s a financial budgeting app.
You create a trip, enter the start and end date, and select either a daily budget or trip budget. It allows you to create tags to label expenses so you can see where you are spending your money.
You then enter each expense you have on your trip, whether it’s cash, credit, or debit, select a label if you want to, and save. You can download the data as well to a spreadsheet.
I usually have a rough budget for trips and keep a mental tally, but I have never really tracked my expenses while traveling. I do usually take a look at what I spent in cash and credit after to see how close I was to my planned budget, but until recently, that was all I did.
This app will help me better understand where I’m spending my money and how close I am to what I budget. I think it’s a great idea to use and a great app for travel.
I have read in some travel forums that they are supporting existing users only. So, I’m not sure if this is readily available anymore but if you find it, grab it!
14. Airline Apps
I have a number of airline apps on my phone for the airlines I most commonly fly including American Airlines (app), Southwest (app), Delta (app), and British Air (app).
These aren’t apps for travel that I use often while I’m away, as I usually do my travel planning on my laptop. However, sometimes it’s helpful to have them on my phone during a trip when I don’t have my laptop.
Occasionally I’ll use these apps for a seat assignment or to redo a boarding pass. I always use them to check into my flight as I don’t usually check bags. It’s then super convenient to print my boarding pass at the airport.
There have been times when I have had a significant flight delay or a cancellation, and I have gone to the app to check my options and contact the airline. Though they will usually rebook automatically, it’s not always on the flight I would have chosen.
I can go to the website on my phone, but sometimes using the app is easier.
15. Travel Planning Apps
These apps include SkyScanner (app), Kayak (app), Hotel Tonight (app), Booking (app), and Airbnb (app). Though I usually use these apps on my laptop, I have found some use for having them on my phone on occasion.
When I went to Colombia, I planned to hop on a bus to go from Medellín to Salento. The bus ride was expected to be 6 to 8 hours.
I met two women who just took that bus going in the opposite direction, and they said it took over 11 hours! Yikes. I didn’t have my laptop so I hopped on SkyScanner to find flight options and booked it, all by my phone.
When I stay at Airbnbs, I have received and sent emails to my host during trips on my phone, so it’s convenient to be able to access easily.
Hotel Tonight is a great app for finding a last-minute late at bargain prices, and I have used it on my phone a couple of times.
I have been getting out of the habit of traveling with my laptop so having apps for travel on my phone is a convenient way to manage everything I might need to during my trips. Gone are the days when I’m searching for an Internet cafe!
Check out these apps and let me know what you think!
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