Top travel apps
Travel Lifestyle,  Travel Tips

The Top Travel Apps – as Chosen by the Experts

It’s rare that any of us leave home without our phones these days – and that counts for holidays too. But phones aren’t just great for calling home or sharing your travels on social media. Today there are apps a plenty to help you plan your trip, find the best travel deals, keep on top of your budget, discover the best places to eat and even beat the jet lag!

But with so many out there to choose from, which are the best travel apps to use?

We asked the experts – a range of full-time travel bloggers, from across the world – what were their go-to travel apps….

Best travel planning apps

Roadtrippers

Danielle, Wanderlust on a Budget

If you’re planning a road trip around the US,  you need to download the Roadtrippers app. The concept of the app is super simple. Simply choose your starting and ending destinations and plan your stops along the way. The route starts as a straight shot between the two locations. The app then offers you points of interest to include on your journey. You can customise the route however you’d like. Set how far you’re willing to go off-route, choose the types of attractions you’re interested in, and more. Even better? You can collaborate with friends so you can both add stops to the trip!

You can save several different routes on your profile. So, whether you’re planning for an upcoming trip, or planning a dream itinerary for the future, it’ll all be saved for you. Once all your stops are in, Roadtrippers then tells you the total travel time, distance, and even the estimated cost for fuel along the way.

You never know what random attraction you might find along your journey. We came across an abandoned circle of rocking horses in rural Massachusetts!

Rome 2 Rio

Paula, Australia Your Way

Rome2Rio is my go-to app – and website – for planning travel itineraries. It allows you to quickly and easily discover the best ways to get from A to B anywhere in the world.

Being able to quickly compare the travel time of a flight vs a train or bus is super handy when you are trying to decide the best type of transport for your trip.

The feature I use most is saving my multi-stop itineraries when we have been driving around Australia and sharing them with my travel partners. Once you have entered your stops you can easily reorder the stops which is especially useful for road trips. 

Another feature I really like is the ‘things to do’ option. This is great for finding fun stops along road trips between places.

Rome2Rio also gives estimates on ticket prices and fuel costs. I found these a bit hit and miss, but even so they’re still helpful for getting a rough idea of costs.  

There’s also a booking option within the app. However, I personally don’t think it gives you the cheapest options, particularly for train travel. For me, the value in Rome 2 Rio is itinerary planning rather than making bookings. Available both on the App Store and Google Play.

Tripadvisor

Jiayi, The Diary of a Nomad

The app I never travel without is Tripadvisor, a platform that always gives me the best travel tips for restaurants, hotels, and attractions in any location. It’s got to be one of the best free travel apps out there!

I use it a lot to plan my trips – finding the best places to see and where to stay in each city etc. But I also use it to locate the best restaurants around me while I’m traveling.

What I love about this app is that the top restaurants it’s suggested have almost always been superb. I can really trust most of the user reviews and ratings. They’re much more reliable than other apps of this kind.

Tripadvisor also categorises the best restaurants near you by local cuisine, cheap eats, moderately priced, fine dining, and more. It also lets you select by type of food, such as Chinese, Thai, or American.

As a big foodie, this app has been invaluable for me during my trips. It’s led me to some of the best restaurants around the world and helped me find some of the most spectacular places to see in Iran, Myanmar, and Uzbekistan.

The best travel booking apps

Booking.com

Jeff, Life Of Y  

Booking.com is potentially considered the best hotel booking app out there, and one of the most popularcomparison sites around. The site offers some of the cheapest rates, and it’s even easier to find those bargains on your smartphone or tablet. 

It has an estimated 28 million properties around the world, and it’s not just hotels either. There are apartments, villas and other unique stays available like capsules and boats. With so many properties you can easily grab a last-minute stay or book far in advance.

The whole site has been streamlined into an easy to use app. Making a booking is quick and simple, and can be easily filtered by price, distance, reviews etc. The confirmation will stay on your phone too, even when you’re offline.

Booking.com‘s Genius Level reward program is a loyalty scheme that offers 10% off all future Genius bookings at level 1. All you have to do is complete two stays in two years and you’ll be a member for life. Make it five stays in two years and you’ll reach level 2. This offers 15% off Genius bookings as well as free breakfast/upgrades on some bookings.

The app also allows you to view all past and future bookings, review stays, contact properties and speak with customer services. So now you’ll be able to go paperless on your entire trip!

Skyscanner

Alexx, Finding Alexx

Skyscanner is my number one go-to app for booking flights. I quite literally wouldn’t have had so many adventures without it!

Skyscanner is a flight aggregator, which means it shows all the flights available that match your dates. It lists all the different ways you can book each flight – whether you choose to book direct or through an online travel agency. It’s got to be one of the best travel deal apps, unbeatable in terms of finding flights that suit your requirements.

But it’s also got a lesser-known feature that’s a total gamechanger.

Skyscanner’s ‘Everywhere’ search helps you find the cheapest place to visit and the cheapest dates to get there. If you have specific travel dates but aren’t sure where you’d like to go, simply add in your origin, your dates, leave the destination as ‘everywhere’ and click ‘search’. You’ll get a huge list of all the different destinations you could fly to, in price order!

If you know where you’re going but are open as to the dates, you can choose an entire month for travel dates to find the cheapest days to fly. Or if you’re super chill and want to go with the flow, select ‘cheapest month’ and ‘everywhere’ and you’ll find the lowest priced flight out of your city for the entire year.

Caution ­– the Skyscanner everywhere search is addictive. So much so that I literally quit my job to travel the world for nine months, visiting a new country every week based on the cheapest flight I found on the app each Tuesday. You’ve been warned!

Best translation and language apps

Duolingo

Cecilie, Worldwide Walkers

Duolingo is a great app for so many reasons. It’s an app that allows you to learn a new language, it’s fun and it’s free!

It’s a great travel app for those who seek to learn a few phrases while traveling. Being able to communicate with locals, finding your way or grabbing a taxi is so much easier when you’ve had a bit of Duolingo-time.

You can learn anything from Vietnamese to Danish to Arabic. While you probably won’t become fluent on your next trip, you’ll definitely navigate a new country better with some help from the app.

Duolingo’s really easy to use. You can learn the basics of a language, phrases, questions, how to order food etc. However, the free version doesn’t work offline, so you need to stay connected in order to learn for free. If you plan to use the app a lot, it can be a good investment to get a Duolingo Plus subscription. This way you can practice in the plane, bus, boat or wherever you’re at.

There are both pros and cons to Duolingo. One big plus is that it follows you progress. This means it suggests more exercises with the words or phrases you find difficult. A minus is that it uses machine voices, which can mislead your pronunciation.

Duolingo is definitely a must-have travel app for the traveler who wants to be able to engage with locals.

Google Translate

Kristin, Adventures with Ensuite

On top of a few basic phrases in the local language, my main way to communicate is in English. In many places English works well, but not always in more remote corners of the world. Whilst staying in a small hotel close to Noravank Monastery in the Armenian countryside, asking basic questions and arranging dinner was a challenge.

It’s in situations like this where this Google Translate becomes one of the best international travel apps. If you’re at your hotel you can use the Wi-Fi to enable you to have an actual ‘conversation’ with someone, in real-time, without using your data allowance. The app will translate what both parties are saying and will even say it out loud. It also works when you’re not on the Internet, but take care with data charges. 

Download the app and the language package you need either before leaving home or by using your hotel Wi-Fi. After that you’re good to go. You can’t use the voice translation without being connected to the Internet, but the app still allows you to type in anything that you want to translate in either language.

The app also has a cool camera function which is very useful in countries that have non-roman characters such as Chinese, Arabic or Russian. Click on the camera and when you hold it over the text you it will translate it into your chosen language.

Best apps for exploring – or simply finding your way around!

Google Maps

Anna, Expert World Travel

Google Maps is hands down the best app to use when you’re travelling to a foreign country. It makes exploring new cities very easy. Even for people who are like me and have zero sense of direction. I still get lost in my hometown, but I never get lost in a foreign city when I use Google Maps! You can also use it on road trips, so versatility is certainly one of its strong points!

First and foremost, you should download an offline map of the country you are visiting. They don’t expire for a year and the size of the offline map depends on the size of the area. Therefore always make sure you have enough storage space on your phone. This will give you the ability of using Google’s navigation even when you don’t have access to the Internet. Just make sure that your phone is fully charged, since Google’s location services tend to drain the battery rather quickly.

You can also save the exact address of your accommodation to the map – then you’re always just one tap away from directions ‘home’. This feature is also great for checking where exactly your accommodation is ­– hosts sometimes lie about how amazing the location of the apartment is, but the address never does.

On top of that, if you want to go explore something that’s in an entirely different part of the city, you can just type in ‘from X to Y’ and you’ll get detailed directions guiding you to your destination.

Another thing that makes Google Maps awesome is that the app is usually synchronized with local public transport apps. You can normally see info for every metro/bus/tram/trolley stop, including which vehicle is arriving at the stop and when.

There’s something else Google Maps is really great for. That’s that’s choosing where to go when you’re in a foreign city. If you type in ‘best pubs’, ‘best restaurants’, ‘best cafes’ etc, you’ll get a list of the highest rated locales in the city. Then you can go through photos and sometimes even the menu and see if the place is up to your standards. That way you will know exactly what to expect and there won’t be any nasty surprises.

You can also just type in ‘things to do in X’ and you’ll get a list of highest rated landmarks and tourist attractions in any given area.

Citymapper

Lyndsay, The Purposefully Lost

One app that I never leave home without is Citymapper. It is by no means your average transportation help app. With support for more than 50 different cities worldwide, Citymapper is there to help you travel through cities easier. 

Once you select which city you need support for, input where you are, or allow it to use your current location, and specify where you want to go. Citymapper will do the rest! 

It will calculate how far the distance is, your fastest routes, your most direct routes, your handicap routes, and your best way to stay out of the rain. Utilising whatever different methods of transportation your city has – metro, public bikes, busses, trolleys, trams, ferries, even electric scooters. Also, if you’re traveling internationally and can’t use data, the app supports offline maps for the most popular transportation methods for your selected city.

When I’m teaching people how to navigate the New York City subway, the first thing I tell them to do is download Citymapper to their smartphone. As a New Yorker, I use Citymapper every day to check on the status of upcoming subway trains, and Citymapper will create alternate routes based on any transit system maintenance. It really is the most user-friendly, intuitive app for city traveling.

Maps.me

Kristin, Adventures with Ensuite

Maps.me is a free app providing maps and directions. You can use it when driving, to help you find your hotel, or to make sure you take the right path when trekking. This aspect makes it one of the best adventure travel apps.

We discovered this whilst doing the Mestia Ushguli trek in Georgia. On the first day we got completely lost. During dinner other hikers told us they were using maps.me which we promptly downloaded using the guest house Wi-Fi before we had finished eating. The app and the relevant maps need to be downloaded, but after that it uses the GPS on your phone, so there are no data charges.

When you first open the app give it a couple of minutes to connect to the GPS and find your location. Then you can find routes either from your current location or a chosen starting point.

To set a route click on the magnifying glass button on the entry screen. Select the location you want to go to or start from. Tap the relevant button at the bottom of the screen to select ‘route to’ or ‘route from’. You can also include detours by clicking on a map location along the route and clicking the ‘add stop’ button.

It might take you a couple of tries to figure to perfect your use of the app but finding this app really saved our trek. We now use it whenever we go away.

Grab

Kerrie & Woody, Just Go Travelling

Grab is a transport company that’s very popular in Asia. Essentially, it’s the Asian equivalent to Uber. The main difference is that the fees associated with it don’t come close to other taxi apps.

It can be so hectic at times travelling around countries you do not know. Especially in Asia where you can get harassed by vendors trying to use their taxi service, particularly at airports.

Grab filters all this out, making travel stress-free. You simply register through the app with a number associated with the country you’re in.

When you want to book, you select your destination from your start point. A price is given and you have the choice to pay by card or cash. All the drivers are registered and everything is done safely.

You can sit back and relax, knowing you have been given a fair price for your journey. With the added benefit of not having to go through the haggling process with other taxi drivers.

This is an app everyone should have especially in South East Asia, providing a quality service with backpacker rates.

Best travel finance apps

Revolut

Paulina, Paulina on the Road

Time to leave your credit card at home; the Revolut app offers mobile banking services around the world. It’s well designed, with advanced, yet easy to use features.

It comes with a prepaid debit card that you can use on your travels, which you top up via the app at great value exchange interbank rates.

Whenever you use your card, the app will flash up telling you how much you spent in both the local and your home currency. This makes it easy to keep an eye on your budget and not get confused trying to calculate how much that meal was in your home currency. The Ladies What Travel team love it!

Paying by card wherever possible makes life easier. However, for those times when you do need cash, Revolut comes out tops yet again. This is because it offers you free cash withdrawals from ATMs worldwide. Yes, you read that right! With Revolut you can withdraw up to £200 a month fee-free, so, what are you waiting for? And if you are still looking for inspiration for your next trip, travel coffee table books are such a great start to plan your memorable journey.  

Trabee Pocket 

James from The Travel Scribes

Do you like to keep a tight rein over your finances when heading out on a trip? Or just love to know how all that local currency found its way out of your now-flat wallet? One of the best ways to keep on top of your budget while travelling is with Trabee Pocket. We think it’s one of the best travel expense apps on the market. 

With an intuitive user interface, it’s easy to plan a trip (with associated budget), and then enter your expenses on the go – put into categories like accommodation or sightseeing, or with custom categories that you can set yourself. Just enter the numbers manually, or even scan your receipts to allot them in the app. You can even customise the app with photo covers for each trip. This gets you excited for your upcoming jaunt and immortalises your memories on your mobile. 

We’ve used the app everywhere from China to Cambodia, South Africa to Singapore, since it has automatic currency converters where you can spend your money in local currency, but ensure it converts back to your home currency, so you don’t go over your allocated budget. 

While there are lots of travel budgeting apps on the market, we’d definitely plump for TrabeePocket. It doesn’t pretend to be a full budgeting tool, it doesn’t need you to connect your bank account and it doesn’t over-complicate things. It’s simple spending on the go, but with enough functionality to ensure every eventuality is covered. 

The app is free of charge but its best to pay the one-off upgrade fee, for the chance to implement the customisation options.

Travel Spend

Corritta, It’s a Family Thing

Unless you are fortunate enough to have access to a never-ending supply of money, one of the most important things for a traveler to do is budget. And one of the best apps to keep your finances on track is Travel Spend. 

The free version offers a lot of great features. There are built-in currency conversions, categories, average daily cost, total budget, breakdown by location, and cost by an individual (if you travel with friends). This app has everything you need to keep an eye on how much you’re spending. You can even export your data into a CSV file to store on your computer if needed. The statistics let you know where you may be overspending based on your initial budget.

The premium version offers more features that are great for keeping an even more watchful eye in your spending. With the premium access, you can create custom exchange rates, attach pictures, get unlimited cloud backup, can create custom categories, and a month of Lonely Planet Guides for free. If you are looking for an app that can help you travel on a budget, Travel Spend is perfect for you. 

XE Currency Converter

Joanne, Sunsets and Roller Coasters

We love to shop when travelling. Whether that means haggling for the best price or exploring a local grocery store will depend on what part of the world we’re visiting.

It’s a great way to get to meet local people and find new and tasty things to try. Exploring lesser known parts of a village or town also opens up great chances to find that perfect souvenir, like the wonderful ceramics found during our stay in Barbados.

What we don’t love is trying to figure out the actual price of something in our home currency. Trying to do it on the fly as you’re haggling is even worse. One experience was enough, so ever since we’ve used XE Currency Converter. It’s  the best travel app we have! 

We’ve each downloaded it to our phones so we can figure out the ‘real’ price, which is so helpful when taking money from an ATM, haggling at a market or making sure the local taxi driver isn’t taking advantage of you.

The app is free and works on both Apple and Android phones. Even better, you don’t need data or cell service as long as you’ve downloaded the conversion rate for the currency you need in advance. XE Currency Converter also has a new feature which allows you to transfer and receive money while abroad. While we haven’t used this feature yet, it’s easy to see how convenient it can be to have at your fingertips.

Best app for dealing with jetlag

Timeshifter

Khushboo, Munni of all Trades

Travelling long distances across time zones can disrupt our sleep cycle and can leave us jetlagged for anything from 24 hours to several days. Jetlag has a negative impact on our travels, as we might feel too tired to do some of the things we wanted, like checking out a cool new museum or enjoying a lovely time on a Kerala Houseboat.

Timeshifter is a paid app that helps you shift your body clock to ensure that your jetlag is considerably reduced. Every individual has a different sleep pattern. For example, some people enjoy uninterrupted sleep while others tend to wake up several times throughout the night. Some are are early birds while others are night owls. Using this information, Timeshifter creates a jetlag plan that will help you adjust to a new timezone in the best possible way. It lets you know what time you should take a nap, enjoy a light meal, avoid or consume caffeine. It also gives practical tips to help you avoid or seek out light to ensure your body adjusts well to a new time zone.

I’ve personally found this app very useful while travelling, it helped me sleep better, which meant I got to make the most of my time and really enjoy the places I visited.   

Best app for staying safe while travelling  

Tripwhistle

Vrushali, Couple of Journeys

The one app that I strongly recommend when travelling abroad and in particular, when travelling solo, is TripWhistle. 

In an emergency situation, when you are in a foreign country and in a state of panic, searching for the local emergency contact numbers can seem absolutely daunting. In fact, the situation may be such that you may not even have much time on hand to Google the emergency contact numbers of a particular place. 

That’s exactly why this app is an absolute must. This app has the local emergency contact numbers of all the countries in the world. If there’s an emergency, you simply open the app and call the emergency number. You do not need to scroll through the list of countries or a list of numbers. 

The app tracks your location and automatically shows you the emergency contact numbers of the place you are at. You can even dial these numbers from your Apple Watch or using the 3D touch from the home screen of your phone. 

Additionally, this app has a useful feature that allows you to share your location details while on a call. You can even share your exact co-ordinates including the street view to any of your contacts. 

What makes this app great for travellers is its ease of use in emergency situations. Travelling around with this app installed on your phone will definitely make you feel more secure

Best apps for recording your travels

Fog of World

Laura, Ladies What Travel

Fog of World is an app that tracks wherever you go, giving you a complete backlog of your travels. Uncover as much fog on the map as you can by travelling the world, or just by taking different routes to places you know.

The app also logs the percentage of the world you’ve travelled by country, continent and in total, and you’re awarded badges for lots of different goals reached – such as visit all seven continents and cross the equator. It’s a fun way to log where you’ve travelled and see how much of the world you’ve explored.

Polarsteps

Maartje & Sebastiaan, The Orange Backpack

Polarsteps is one of our favorite travel apps. It has many cool features, but its focus is to track your trip.

You start by adding your new trip to the app by filling in your travel dates. I’d recommend you use the automatic Travel Tracker and the app will automatically keep track of your exact route with GPS. The result is a cool map showing your exact travel itinerary. 

You can – and should! – add specific stops at this route, adding a small text or photos. As you can share your Polarsteps trip link, it’s a great and easy way to update your loved ones at home all at once. We started using Polarsteps to update everyone at home during our longer trips in Asia and Central America, but we now even use it for smaller trips like our last two-week trip to Egypt. The day-by-day overview of your trip is an amazing way to look back at your trip after returning home. 

If you also like to have photo books documenting your trips, Polarsteps can also help you with. As soon as you get home, the app will ask you if you’d want to convert all your trip info – day-by-day itinerary, photos, text updates – into a photobook. You can adjust it a bit if you’d like or just leave it up to Polarsteps to do the job!

Touchnote

Laura, Ladies What Travel

Touchnote is an app that lets you turn your photos into postcards that can be sent from anywhere in the world.

The app is free to download, but to send postcards you need to use credits which do have a cost. There are several different credit options to choose from though, and you have 12 months to use them.

When creating your postcards, you can choose from a range of layout options and there are tonnes of ready-made templates too. If you upgrade to the pro version, you can also customise designs with your Memoji.

Our guide to the top travel apps

So there you have it, our ultimate guide to the top travel apps currently available. Are any of these already firm favourites of yours, or have you discovered something new on our list? Perhaps you have a top travel app you’d also like to recommend? We’d love to hear from you in the comment section below!

Top travel apps – pin for later!


Featured image credit: William Hook on Unsplash.

By day Co-Editor Keri is a freelance journalist and copywriter, but spends most of her free time either travelling or planning her next trip!  A complete travel fanatic, she has a love of tropical climates, wildlife and afternoon tea (hence the creation of her Global Afternoon Tea Challenge!)

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