Best Mobile Travel Apps for Expenses, Mapping & More
Savvy travelers think of their phones as toolboxes. They load them with the best travel apps to make everything from navigating back roads to booking rooms and even saving on flights easier than ever. Because you would need an app to sort through all the thousands of vacation planning apps on the market, we did the homework for you. The following are must-have travel apps that make traveling less stressful and more seamless. All of these are available for both Apple and Google/Android users and many are free of charge. That’s right, free travel apps! Don’t leave home without them. Download them today!
Trip Mapping Apps
- Google Maps – Navigating around a new place can be complicated. But Google takes away some of the sting with its Maps app. This free travel app eliminates the need to pay for GPS with a rental car. The voice-guided navigation is reliable and defaults to take you on the fastest route. It will also tell you how fast, and when, you can get from point A to point B on public transportation in most major cities. The 360-degree street view is helpful for scoping out potential hotels and restaurants. There are too many quality features to highlight, but it’s worth noting they’ve earned the app 4.5 stars out of five in iTunes.
Favorite Feature – Reviews are included in search results so you can see how other travelers rated things like accommodations, activities and food along your route.
- Waze – No one wants to spend their vacation or business trip stuck in traffic. Similar to Google Maps, Waze offers the perfect solution to gridlock by using real-time traffic information to provide personalized directions. This way, you can avoid construction zones, accidents, and other slow-downs. Travelers can also get estimated arrival times, which is especially helpful for maximizing your schedule. Choose from a variety of voice settings and let the app guide you.
Favorite Feature – Real-time directions make it easy to avoid hazards, accidents, and slow-downs in new or unfamiliar cities.
Offline Travel Map Apps
- Just Ahead – Road tripping is a fun, educational experience with this 4-star-rated app. The app uses GPS to act as an automatic audio guide for some of the most popular tourist destinations. From major national parks to scenic drives and historical landmarks, if it’s worth knowing about, Just Ahead offers commentary so you can listen and learn, hands-free. Unlike a lot of apps, Just Ahead doesn’t rely on crowdsourcing for its information. Each audio tour is written by a vetted guide and read by a skilled narrator. This must-have travel app is well worth the cost, between $7.99 – $8.99.
Favorite Feature – Since many national parks lack strong cell phone signals and WiFi connectivity, being able to access Just Ahead’s audio guides and internal maps offline is a huge plus.
Trip Planning & Itinerary Apps
- TripIt – The days of printing out itineraries and flipping through folders are behind us. TripIt stores all of your travel plans in one place, so you can conveniently access your master itinerary. Instead of manually inputting travel plans, users just have to forward confirmation emails to email@example.com. The travel app can also be synced with other calendars. That way your friends and family can see where you’ll be and when. It’s free and the latest version has a 5-star rating in iTunes.
Favorite Feature – Users who link their email accounts to the app don’t have to worry about forwarding confirmation emails. The app recognizes those emails and automatically imports them.
- GoGoBot – This app is like a particularly well-informed mind reader that wants you to have the best experience possible, regardless of where you are. GoGoBot personalizes recommendations for you based on things like your interests, current location, local time, weather forecast, and day of the week. With helpful reviews from more than 1 million users, it’s no surprise this app has a 4.5 star rating. It has also garnered travel app accolades from the likes of TIME, Travel + Leisure, and Mashable. Business Insider even referred to it as a “secret weapon.”
Favorite Feature – The itinerary feature allows users to build their day around the app’s recommendations. Users can add traveler partners so the itinerary stays synced across everyone’s devices whenever anyone makes updates.
Travel Apps for Staying Connected
- WiFi Map – You don’t realize how much you rely on your phone’s cellular data plan to connect to the internet until you travel abroad. For those trips when you’re seeking out a WiFi connection to avoid roaming charges, use WiFi Map. The app’s community of users anonymously contributes the locations, passwords and reviews of WiFi hotspots around the world. Currently there are more than 5 million hotspots, and the app has a 4.5 star rating in iTunes.
Favorite Feature – The new PRO version ($4.99) will find and load WiFi hotspots at your intended destination before you even depart.
- WhatsApp – Staying in touch with family and communicating with friends you meet on your travels is free, and easy, with WhatsApp. As long as you have an internet data plan, you can send messages and photos to your contacts without incurring SMS charges. There is even a group chat feature allowing users to chat with more than 200 contacts at the same time. This must-have travel app is free and has a rating of 4.5 stars.
Favorite Feature – Sometimes you just want to hear the voice of a loved one. With WhatsApp Calling, you can ring your contacts and chat over an internet connection instead of a costly roaming bill.
Travel Currency & Expenses Apps
- XE Currency – There are almost 200 currencies in the world, so keeping track of conversion rates on international trips can be quite challenging. Unless you have the XE Currency app which does the math for you. Featuring live rates for every country’s currency, the app’s calculator is the best on the market, pun intended. It’s free to download and has a rare 5-star rating in iTunes.
Favorite Feature – Without WiFi? No problem. XE Currency stores rates, and the calculator can be used offline.
Flight Booking Apps
- Hopper – After you save up to 40 percent on a flight on Hopper, you’ll see why this app has a 4.5 star rating in iTunes. It won Apple’s Travel App of the Year in 2015. The app has also been praised in Vogue, The New York Times, and TIME. All you have to do is enter your destinations and dates and then sit back and let the Hopper predict the best time to buy. This free must-have travel app uses its database of historical flight prices and claims 95 percent accuracy.
Favorite Feature – Hopper doesn’t only notify you when ticket prices are at their lowest, but it also allows you to purchase your seat within seconds without having to leave the app. It saves your payment preferences so you can quickly book future flights—all the while knowing you got the best deal.
Specialty Travel Apps
- Bring Fido – User-friendly and dog-approved, Bring Fido is the best app for making travel with pets less of a hassle. This 4-star-rated app connects travelers with dogs to a like-minded community of pet-friendly hotels, beaches, restaurants and more. PC World included Bring Fido in its top five essential apps for travelers with four-legged friends. Search filters allow users to look for hotels that waive pet fees, accept large breeds and welcome multiple pets.
Favorite Feature – Bring Fido also has a substantial database of pet service providers. Without having to go to Google, users can quickly pull up their destination’s best dog walkers, veterinarians, trainers and groomers.