Why Do Travel Experts Recommend these Must-Have Travel Apps?
The best travel apps come in handy every day while you travel and even when you return home.
These downloadable travel apps that TRAVEL EXPERTS share might just come to the rescue when you need to pinpoint the nearest restroom for your three year old! They are also essential in helping you:
- Navigate with maps in a new city
- Find a highly recommended restaurant close to your accommodations
- Map your travel from one charming European village to another
- Adjust to jet lag
- Make currency conversions
- Translate to your language
- Enjoy an audio tour
- Find a free camping spot
- Discover a hiking trail at your level of ability
If you are like many travelers, you rely on your smartphone ALL. OF. THE. TIME. Even more so when you travel. Your phone, along with top travel apps, often becomes your lifeline to your travel logistics and enjoying the ideal vacation.
What makes a good app great for travel?
- It is user friendly
- It has a search function
- It preserves battery life
Get ready, travel experts dish on their favorite travel apps.
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If you need help in the VACATION PLANNING STAGES, discover Essential TRAVEL PLANNING Apps That Experts Think You Need. These useful travel apps are designed to enhance your vacation and help you organize your planning information, save you time and money, and lower your stress levels.
What are the Best Trip Planning Map Apps?
Charu from Travel with CG recommends…
Been is a useful travel app to have. Track the number of countries and continents you have visited and then plan future trips as Been clearly showcases where you still need to go.
The app even has a 3D animated globe that is automatically customized according to the countries you tick off. You can play around and see the highlighted countries you have visited or even share your map with friends and family!
I find the interface of Been to be quite user-friendly. Been is available for free for both iOS and Android users (iOS version of the app also allows users to track all the states in the USA).
Get the Been App
2. City Mapper
Lyndsay from Purposely Lost recommends…
Although Google Maps is the top map app, I find Citymapper is essential as well if you’re using a city’s public transportation network.
Citymapper is an app that helps people plan their trips by allowing users to find the fastest way to travel between two points of interest.
This alternative to Google Maps is designed to help commuters navigate through the city.
When you open the app, there will be an option to choose where you want to go, or you can add and select a location from your list of saved places. Then, it’ll tell you all the different routes you can take to get from where you are to where you need to go, using every mode of public transportation available to you.
Yes, Citymapper will also factor in any trams, ferries, bikes, and ridesharing options available besides the standard bus, subway, or car route.
And if you don’t have cell service, you’ll still be able to see your saved places and view official transportation maps offline.
The best part? Citymapper is entirely free to use on unlimited trips throughout more than eighty cities around the world the app supports. From navigating the New York City subway to the vaporetto in Venice, Italy, Citymapper will be able to get you there!
Get the Citymapper App
3. Google Maps
Catherine from Savvy Family Travel recommends…
Google Maps is my go to way to save points of interest around the world. Whenever a destination, restaurant, or experience catches my attention, I save it to Google Maps by categorizing it with a label. This creates color coded ‘pins’ around the world overlaid on the map.
When I have the travel itch, but struggle to narrow down my ever growing list of destinations, I scroll Google Maps to find clusters of saved attractions or pins along a potential road trip path.
Fast forward to when I’m ready to plan a trip in detail; much of my itinerary is already at my fingertips. With these “pins,” it’s easy to plan efficient routes, preferred lodging locations, and ideal arrival airports or stations. Once I book transportation and accommodation I save them under custom label categories, ie., lodging, laundromats, airport or train station locations. These help me find my way around while I’m on my trip.
Another handy feature of Google Maps when traveling to remote areas or internationally is the offline maps function. Make sure to “download” a map area so you can navigate even when you do not have cell service.
Of all my most downloaded travel apps, Google Maps is by far the most used year round and all the features mentioned are absolutely free.
Waze is an essential travel app that provide real-time driving directions and alerts, crowd sourced from fellow drivers. Waze will direct you to the most efficient route to get to your destination, alert you to police presence, and provide suggestions for routing around construction, unanticipated delays… even protestors.
Chris and I used WAZE extensively in France during the Yellow Vest Movement in 2018. It was efficient in routing us around road blocks and protestors.
Popular Travel Apps for Audio Tours
5. GyPSy Guide Audio Tours
As you drive along, the GPS signal determines your location and when you pass a pre-determined point, the commentary from the app plays pre-recorded content automatically.
Each audio tour that you purchase from the GyPSy Guide App is yours to keep. Forever.
Examples of the In-App Audio Tour Bundles:
- Utah’s Mighty 5 National Parks
- US Northern Parks Tours
- Grand Circle and California
- Canadian Rockies and Vancouver
- All United States West Tours
Get the GyPSy Guide Audio Tours App
6. Rick Steves Audio Europe Tours
Chris and I love these free Rick Steves Audio Europe Tours. Our girls? Not quite so much.
You will want to download the specific tours while you have WiFi and don’t forget headphones. Our family listens on separate devices and communicates with each other to “Start now” so everyone stays in sync.
Restaurant Suggestions Apps
7. Happy Cow—Vegan Travel App
Kaitlyn of Carry On Only recommends…
Happy Cow is a vegan travel app that makes it easy to find the best vegan options wherever you’re traveling. The app uses crowd-sourced information to create a complete guide to vegan dining in countries all over the world. You can search by cuisine, location, or even by the type of establishment that’s offering vegan dishes.
I use this app every time I travel and it has helped so much! I would have been so lost without it. I was able to find vegan ice cream in Chiang Mai, vegan smoothie bowls in Borneo and vegan pizza in Bali!
I suggest downloading this app before you travel and searching for what vegan options are available at your next destination so you’re prepared ahead of time. I also search for vegan options close to my accommodation so I’m not traveling too far out of my way for breakfast or dinner. It’s free on iOS and Android.
Get the Happy Cow App
Alex of Travels and Baffles recommends…
When you’re hoping to quickly find the best place to eat on your vacation, Yelp can truly be your best friend.
Yelp is a free crowd-sourced app where users can leave reviews on certain places they’ve been to, including restaurants, attractions, hotels, and more!
Yelp makes it so easy to find the meal you’re craving that also fits your budget. If you are interested in finding a brunch spot in your area, simply type “brunch” in the search bar and then sort the results however you prefer. Results can be sorted by distance, price, rating, most reviewed, and more.
You can even filter out places that are dog friendly or have outdoor seating.
This is an excellent way to figure out what places the locals love to eat at rather than hoping for the best when unknowingly walking into a tourist trap. After finding the perfect restaurant for you, try using Yelp to figure out what the next attraction is that you are going to visit!
Best Travel Apps for Driving and Planning Roadtrips
Anna from Anna Tee recommends…
One of the most helpful apps for traveling is iOverlander. This is the best app when it comes to finding free camping all over the world! Whether you’re tent camping, car camping, driving a van or an RV, or anything in between, the app will show you options for places to spend the night.
iOverlander is great because it allows travelers to contribute—so people add locations all the time. And anytime you look at a campsite, you can see reviews, photos, and comments from people who have been there! The app includes everything from remote campsites in national forests, to rest stops and convenient pull offs when you’re looking for a quick place to spend the night.
The app is completely free, and easy to use! Along with campsites, the app also has helpful information like nearby tourist attractions, places to get water, restaurants, laundromats, and showers—all things that can be amazing for travelers to know.
When you use the app, be sure to contribute your own notes about campsites you check out, or add new places to help the community!
Get the iOverlander App
Alex from Wander with Alex recommends…
If you’re searching for the perfect road trip planning app, you’ll want to check out Roadtrippers. Available on iPhone, Android, and online, Roadtrippers combines all the best features for all your road trip planning needs. It’s an all-in-one solution that is convenient and easy to use.
Roadtrippers will not only allow you to map out your trip but also provides guided navigation and suggestions for stops along the way. And even more importantly, Roadtrippers will estimate your fuel costs. Other popular features of the app include hotel and tour bookings and pre-made trip guides.
The free version of Roadtrippers is enough for basic road trips. But if you’re looking to plan a big trip with more than 150 stops, you’ll need to subscribe to the paid version for a modest $29.99/year. Roadtrippers Plus will allow you more waypoints, give you live traffic updates, allow you to share your routes with other road-trippers, download maps offline, and browse ad-free.
Get the Roadtrippers App
Hiking and Outdoor Adventures Apps
Debbie of World Adventurists recommends…
Alltrails is a great app to find outdoor adventure all around the world. With over 300,000 curated trails, it’s easy to find the perfect hike, bike ride, or running route for any level of adventurer. Plus, the Alltrails app makes it easy to share your favorite trails with your friends, so you can all enjoy the outdoors together.
And if you’re ever feeling lost on a trail, the app’s GPS tracking feature will help you find your way back. Whether you’re looking for a new place to explore or just want to stay safe on your next hike, be sure to download the Alltrails app. You’ll also find recent comments on trail conditions to help keep you well informed.
The app is great for trip planning or using on the go when you find yourself with some extra time at a destination. You can create folders to keep your trail finds organized and easy to find.
To be able to download maps to be used offline, you do need to purchase a membership for $29.99 year. The basic membership is free to use.
Get the AllTrails App
Morgan from Crave the Planet recommends…
Komoot makes finding hidden nature gems so easy when traveling in Europe. This freemium app allows travelers to get local insights into places that are off the beaten path.
The Komoot collections include adventures for people who want to hike castle to castle, walk alongside the Portuguese coastline, cross over the Alps from Germany to Austria to Italy and more.
It focuses on the adventure and nature travel crowd with categories for hiking, biking, mountain biking, bikepacking, running, biketouring and road cycling.
This includes GPS maps, integrated social features, downloadable maps, voice navigation, and free lifelong map updates.
You can download the app for free and have detailed maps available off-line for one region. If you want to upgrade it costs $3.99 for a single region, bundles are $8.99 and the whole world costs $29.99.
Useful Social Travel Apps
Maud of GoWhee.com recommends…
Gowhee is a game-changer when it comes to finding things to do with kids during our trips. I use it a few times a week for small outings near my home, but almost daily when planning or during a trip. I love that I can find places all over the world on it and that I can quickly filter them by what I need to keep my six years old entertained. I also use it to browse for inspiration from my phone or my computer, to find cool hidden gems, and help me choose my next destination.
The app costs $29.99/year but between the time and frustration I save, and the discounts Gowhee offers, I think it’s a great value and easily pays for itself.
My favorite feature is that it is so easy to use that my son plans trips with me on it. He can take a look at all the attractions and use the “save” button to add to our trip bucket list. He loves looking at the pictures of each place and I get all the info we need from the reviews since I know that they are all written by other traveling or local parents.
Get the GoWhee App
14. Tango Partner
Cris from LooknWalk recommends…
Are you a passionate Argentine tango dancer? Then, for sure you’ve already mixed traveling for fun with attending tango events (festivals, marathons), practices, parties (milongas), or classes.
Imagine this scenario: you arrive at an amazing place to dance, and you really want to tango tonight (but you haven’t signed up for an event beforehand). What do you do?
Step in Tango Partner—an easy-to-use app that features dancers from across the world. It’s free to use and you can browse, in real time, dancers that are near you, as well as all kinds of Tango events listed in the app! How cool is that?
I discovered it a while ago and have already used it both to add the classes I teach and to look up dancers and events locally as well as when I travel. Make sure your location is on and start browsing. Send “cabeceo” to dancers you are interested in and also message them if you have questions or want to say hi.
Oh, and if you dance other social dances, you’ll likely find members that share the same passion, be it bachata, swing, chacarera, or kizomba. And you can connect with them to ask about non-Tango events.
Get the Tango Partner App
Eloise from My Favourite Escapes recommends…
“I love using TouchNote to send postcards or a card for a special occasion when traveling.” says Eloise.
Real postcards are lovely. But you may struggle to find the perfect greeting card while traveling. Or you sometimes lack time to figure out how many stamps to buy or add the post office to your itinerary. Or maybe you don’t want your card to take weeks to get delivered. TouchNote is amazing for sending personalized postcards in just a few clicks.
You can design your own cards using their templates and the photos on your phone. It’s also easy to save addresses on your phone and make your next card even easier to send. Delivery only takes a few days.
It’s a fantastic way to tell your loved ones you’re thinking about them during your trip. The quality of the postcards is so good that we’ve often seen the cards taking a premium spot on the living room cupboard.
It’s a free app, but you’ll have to buy credits or a membership to send cards (for the stamp or a little extra for some special card designs and illustrations).
Get the Touchnote App
WhatsApp Messenger, also known as WhatsApp, is a messaging platform that allows you to stay in touch with family and friends as you travel with text and make video calls via the internet.
Travel Apps for Finances
Jori from The Tejana Abroad recommends…
Currency is your new favorite app for currency conversion. I use the Currency app and it completely changes the game! With Currency, you view any currency from all over the world and what its current market value is. You can add 5 at one time, so if you’re traveling through many countries and are getting a bit confused, you can see all the different currencies and compare their values side by side.
This certainly saves a lot of time, instead of having to go into Google every time you want to know the price or something.
The app is totally free and probably one of my most used apps!
Get the Currency App
Lana from Wallflower in Wanderland recommends…
Back in 2018-2019, I travelled 12 countries with my best friend. In our first country, we were left not knowing who owed who or who paid for what, including everything from taxi fares to spontaneous activities.
Splitwise is among one of the best travel apps.
My friend and I created a different “group” for each country, so that we could keep track of our budgets.
After making an expense, you can upload them and add information such as the amount, what it was (i.e., tour reservation, Uber, dinner), who paid, the date, and a photo of the receipt. You can either pay the person back as you go via Venmo or Paypal, or at the end of your trip by clicking “settle up”.
We loved the ability to choose from over 100 currencies when adding an expense, as it meant we could add amounts using the local currency rather than having to google search and figure it out in GBP each time.
Splitwise is an essential free travel app for couples, group trips, or friend travel (there is also an add-free premium version). It enables you to manage all your shared expenses and minimizes stress and arguments. If you do happen to fall out, tap onto “Kittens!” at the bottom for some cat pics to help you chill out.
Get the Splitwise App
Must-Have Travel Apps to Make Travel Life Easier
Sydney from A World in Reach recommends…
If you’re planning a trip abroad and want to make sure you have cheap mobile data on your phone, make sure to download Airalo from the app store before your trip.
Airalo is an eSIM marketplace, which lets you buy eSIMs for countries around the world, which you can then install on your phone to have data through a local service provider. An eSIM is essentially a digital SIM – there is no physical SIM card that you have to install in your device.
There are different Airalo eSIM packages to choose from, depending on what countries you’ll be visiting and for how long. If you’re visiting just one country, you can pick a country-specific eSIM valid for the duration of your trip. If you’re going to be country-hopping, one of the regional eSIMs that covers multiple countries would be better for you. Single-country eSIMs start around $5.
Before purchasing your Airalo eSIM, make sure that your device is capable of installing an eSIM. Airalo has a guide to check compatibility before you buy.
Get the Airalo App
20. Flush Toilet Finder App
Alex from Wander with Alex recommends…
Comical yet brilliant, the Flush app will help you find toilets worldwide! Perfect for road trips or any vacation in an unfamiliar area, this useful app is a game changer. Flush boasts tens of thousands of public restrooms in its database and the app is completely free.
Simply download the app, ensure your location services are on, and Flush will find public restrooms near you. Once you find a restroom near you, the app will use Google Maps to help you navigate to the location. But it doesn’t stop there. Flush will also tell you if there is a fee or key required, as well as if the restroom is handicap accessible.
Whether you’re on a Big Sur road trip or walking around southern Italy, when it’s time to go, Flush has you covered!
Get the Flush App
21. Google Translate
Jessica from Uprooted Traveler recommends…
Whether you’re traveling from La Fortuna to Lisbon, Google Translate is a must have travel app for any frequent traveler. The Google travel app is packed with features, helping you navigate the world where you don’t understand the language.
One of the coolest features is that you can download languages so you can access translation tools while you don’t have internet access.
Additionally, there’s a number of ways you can use the app to translate words to communicate or understand the language around you. You can type, write, or speak something from your native language into the language of your choice, which can be invaluable whether you’re trying to order food from a street vendor or communicate with your Airbnb host.
I’ve even had friends go on dates abroad, solely relying on Google Translate to communicate!
Alternatively, you can take a photo of text in another language to have it translated into your native tongue (as a vegan, I used this feature all of the time while in Japan to see what kinds of ingredients were included in food), or translate web pages on your phone into your language of choice.
Google Translate is an incredible (and totally free!) tool that allows you to speak to locals, read menus, and navigate a foreign place with confidence and ease.
Ok, so maybe Netflix really isn’t an “essential” travel app, but when you are on a long flight without in-flight entertainment or you are stuck on a layover that never seems to end, according to Digital Trends, Netflix can be a lifesaver.
You do need to have a current Netflix account to use the app. Before you leave home and while you have a WiFi connection, be sure to download your favorite shows or movies to watch offline.
You may want to check your downloads prior to boarding just to make sure they haven’t expired. If you still have a WiFi connection, be sure to renew the expired downloads.
Get the Netflix App
Spotify is another great way to pass the time while traveling (it is especially useful for teens). It is often considered the #1 music streaming app in the world.
Spotify allows you to listen to music and play millions of songs and podcasts for free anywhere in the world. Should you upgrade to a premium account? If you would love to listen to music without any ads, then yes, you should upgrade.
Get the Spotify App
Chris and I started using the Timeshifter app early in 2022 and found it convenient in preparing for the inevitable jet lag that comes with international travel.
Long before your flight ever takes off, the app begins to give tips on when to avoid caffeine, when to drink, when to avoid or seek out day light, and when to adjust your sleep schedule.
Follow the recommendations prior to flying, during your flight and again after you land to ease the effects of jet lag. When you add your flight info to the app, it gives notifications as you prepare to leave and then again when it is time to fly home.
Your first jet-lag plan is free, the second trip is $10, or sign up for the unlimited plan for $24.99 per year.
Timeshifter is considered to be an indispensable app by the Wall Street Journal, Travel and Leisure, and CNBC, and has received sleep awards from the National Sleep Foundation and Health Magazine. It partners with United.com and TripAdvisor, among others.
Get the Timeshifter App
Technology Tip for Your Must-Have Travel Apps
If you are like our family and will be using your phone throughout the day for taking photos and using the most downloaded travel apps for figuring out your local transportation, seeking directions, or researching on the internet don’t forget to pack a Portable Charger (or TWO!) so you can recharge your phone when needed.
Portable chargers come in a variety of sizes and shapes and are convenient and easy to pack into your travel backpack as you sightsee each day.
If you are traveling with kids and teens who use up all of THEIR phone battery playing games, using social media or listening to music while traveling they are going to want to charge their phone. Having two portable chargers means there is one available for you so you can map the train schedules back to the hotel. Only somewhat important right?
- Portable Charger
- iPhone Charging Cable
- Bose Noise-Canceling Headphones
- Apple Watch
- Twelve South AirFly Pro Bluetooth
- Power Strip with USB Ports
- USB-C Charger
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Wrapping Up: 24 Best Travel Apps to Simplify Your Next Vacation
Travel apps are designed to elevate your travel experience and adventures.
From chatting with friends and family at home, discovering an awesome campsite, locating the nearest restroom, or finding a delicious restaurant for dinner, travel experts agree, these are the best travel apps for your next vacation.
Try them out at home first to familiarize yourself with the features.
There are RV travel apps, travel apps for Europe, road trip travel apps, business travel apps, social travel apps… If you can imagine or need an app for travel, most likely you can find it.