There’s an app out there for every part of the travel process – planning, booking, and actually getting out there and doing it. Whether you’re trying to find a comfortable place to stay in Slovenia or hunting down the perfect Spanish tapas, these smartphone apps for travel are going to make your life easier. And not that we’re playing favorites, but The Traveler is a complete no-brainer for automatically finding the best locals guides wherever you are in the world. Not only that, but it also lets you seamlessly document and socially share every part of your adventure as icing on the considerably large cake.
TripIt is one of my favourite ways to stay organized when I travel. This is THE app for anyone who travels long-term like I do, and has a million things that need to stay organized in one place. There are only so many inbox folders you can handle before you lose your sanity, after all.
All you have to do is forward all your travel-related emails to the app. TripIt recognizes your email address and stores all your info in one spot. That includes flight bookings, hotels, trains, buses, etc. I especially love the fact that you can easily bring up your flight confirmation when you need it, and there’s a calendar function so you can see what’s coming up next.
2. Find Things to do With Foursquare and Yelp
I put Foursquare and Yelp in the same category because they kinda do the same thing. Both apps let you search for highly rated restaurants, cafes, bars, etc., in the city where you’re travelling. People leave their reviews and tips, and so it’s kinda super cool to see what the locals are eating or drinking.
The main difference for me with these apps just seems to depend on where I’m travelling in the world. Foursquare seems to be the more widely used in Europe, for example. Thanks to Foursquare, I found the most perfect cocktail bar in the world in Prague, at a place called Bugsy’s. But in North America, people love Yelp. I used Yelp to track down the best fish tacos of my life in Maui, Hawaii! (Yelp is also more food oriented, it seems.)
The search filters on both apps make it really convenient to find what you’re looking for within your budget. Foursquare’s search function is also super intuitive, so searching for something like “café with good wifi” is a breeze. You can also find “fun activities” with Foursquare. (I’m clearly in the Foursquare camp!)
Are you a notoriously terrible packer? There’s no shame in it – I’ve been travelling for five years and I’m still absolutely horrendous at packing my bags. I always show up somewhere with the wrong clothing, or too much of the right clothing. Or I’ll forget something super important, like medication.
I’ve used several packing apps but PackPoint is my absolute favourite. It lets you figure out what you need based on what kind of trip you’re going on.
For example, I’m going to Italy for a month in June. The app lets me pick my dates, asks me what kind of travel I’ll be doing (everything from camping to travelling with a baby), and then figures out the weather for that month. Then it gives me a full list of everything I’ll need! You can tick off every item as you’re packing, to assure that you have everything. Technology is a beautiful thing.
The flip-side is that you don’t get to choose multiple countries – at least not at the moment.
I’m not one of those people who can take travel hiccups in stride. The whole process of getting from point A to point B is overwhelmingly nerve-wracking for me, as it is for many people.
Sure, most airport websites have details about departures, arrivals, cancellations, delays, and gates. But they rarely present the info in such a simple way as FlightTrack does. Plus if you like nerding out on flight maps and routes, you can do that too with the app’s maps. This app does cost a small fee.
5. Learn Your Way With Language Apps
There are an endless number of foreign language apps out there, and sometimes it takes some trial and error to figure out which ones will benefit you the most. My general rule of thumb is to make sure your app has a general phrases guide, as well as an emergency guide. (It took me some time to realize that “911” isn’t universal.)
If you’re looking to learn the basics, for a trip to Italy, it’s important to download an Italian-English Dictionary so that you can have those important phrases at your fingertips. There are plenty available, so just look for the one that’s best for you.
I also use Google Translate when it comes to direct translation. It’s remarkably accurate! The app also has a Word Lens feature, which uses your camera to identify and translate words. This isn’t as dependable, but it’s a neat idea just the same. And it has come in handy while grocery shopping in Germany, that’s for sure.
If you’re actually trying to learn the language, I’ve been using Duolingo and loving it. It’s a highly effective tool.
Where would I be without Google Maps? Lost on the other side of the continent, most likely. Don’t depend on your smartphone’s own map app to get you around – they’re nowhere near as dependable as Google Maps. Even better: the public transit planning feature is a godsend. It’s really helped me find my way around Berlin. Many, many times.
Sadly it’s easy to rely on Google Maps a little too much sometimes. If there are transit routes delayed, you likely won’t know about it. (On the other hand, a REAL map wouldn’t do much better.)
Even better, you can finally download offline maps before you head out in a new city without WiFi somewhere, so you won’t get lost! You have no idea how much of a help this is for me.
If you’re a solo traveller, sometimes it can be a little hard to meet people. Especially if you’re travelling in the off-season or if you’re not so inclined to stay in hostels anymore.
But just because you travel solo doesn’t mean you want to spend all your time alone, right? Apps like Outbound let you find and connect with other travellers in your destination!
Considering there are close to a million users in 196 countries using Outbound, it shouldn’t be all that hard to find people. You can search for events going on around you, or search for trip dates that match your own, then reach out to the people who meet your criteria, chat with them a little, and perhaps connect with them on the road. It’s kinda like Tinder without the whole dating thing.
Alternatively, if you want to meet locals, try an app like Meetup. WIthlocals is also a good one but is limited mostly to Asia.
XE Currency is an absolute must when you’re travelling across multiple countries in one trip. It’s mega easy to use this currency exchange app, which is super helpful when you’re as terrible at math as I am. All the currencies in the world are represented, and the exchange rates are given.
Not only does this tell you how much money you’re spending, it also lets you know when exchange offices are ripping you off. Because believe me, it happens a LOT.
9. Know What to Tip With Tipulator
Oh, the woes of tipping! Do you round up to the nearest dollar, add 15% or 20%, or not tip at all?! These are the questions that plague me wherever I go. Because even when you think you’re doing the nice thing and handing someone extra money, sometimes it’s actually considered an insult. Don’t be that person.
Tipulator is an app that not only lets you figure out tipping fees for the destination you’re in, but also lets you quickly split bills. In my opinion, it’s absolutely one of the most important apps you can take with you if you’re hoping to avoid social blunders.
Digital nomads unite! Data roaming fees really, really hurt sometimes. I know. I’ve been there. Last year I paid nearly $300 in fees…and that was just for a week.
The Wi-Fi Finder points you in the direction of the nearest wireless internet grab. BUT you can also download maps before you go, so you don’t ever have to switch on your roaming unless absolutely necessary. What a world we live in!
What are your go-to travel apps? Help a fellow traveler out.