** The Best Travel Apps post was originally published in 2013 but has most recently been updated in 2016.
It’s not a surprise that travelers love mobile technology, especially for the convenience it provides while on the road. While there are millions of travel apps out there, we have discovered that some of the best travel apps are just too valuable to go without. These apps help to save us time and money, keep us organized…and may even enhance our experience during a trip! Beyond the basic hotel / airline- specific apps, here is a list of our best travel apps that we find to be most helpful during our travels.
We love this app because it keeps us organized (and I’m a sucker for organization)! This app helps keep all of our confirmation numbers, hotel addresses and contact information organized in one place – accessible on all our devices. The information can be stored and accessed offline as well, so you don’t need to worry about having wifi when checking into your hotel late at night. The program also makes it easy to share your itinerary with friends and family.
This is a cool app because it is a fully interactive map of the world (and I’m obsessed with maps)! It lets you look up any destination and zoom in all the way to the street level, eliminating the need to fumble around with paper maps. This app can also be used offline – so it’s super helpful wherever you are in the world.
If you don’t have this app, then you MUST download it ASAP! This is one of the most useful mapping and navigation apps that we have found, particularly for international travel. It automatically includes maps all over the world, you just zoom in and choose to download each region as you need it (so you don’t take up too much room on your smartphone). What we love is that it works offline, with just the GPS signal of your phone. So it doesn’t use up your data and you don’t need wifi to access it. It not only shows you where you are, but what direction you are pointing. And you don’t have to be in the middle of the city…you can be in the middle of nowhere (I used it during our train ride in Tibet to track where we were!). It also comes pre-loaded with things like sights, restaurants, hotels, banks, etc. While it may not have everything, we’ve found it to have most of what we are looking for. But you can also do a search for places and drop pins. It’s also great to map the distance between places and get turn by turn directions. We use this app EVERYWHERE and have found it incredibly helpful to navigate our way like pros in new places — even in China! An absolute must have.
This is another mapping app that we use. While we use Maps.Me the most, we have found that this app can be a little more detailed in some ways. However, you must download each city — which makes it difficult if you are outside the city. With OffMaps, you an download a map for the city that you are in, and navigate OFFLINE as well, saving your data roaming budget. This app also has a lot of functionality to drop pins and make notes. A really great app too! We were able to track our location while walking around town, and we were able to “pin” locations that we wanted to find our way back to later. All without using our data plans. You will need to download each map while you are online with wifi, but after that, you can use it offline. You can also do searches offline for certain destinations, and some include public transportation help…offline! It’s incredible, you must get the app if you are an international traveler.
If you are looking for a simple app that has maps, restaurants, lodging, and activities, definitely check out the FREE TripAdvisor City Guides app. Download it when you have wifi and you can then use it offline so that you can save your data, or prevent international roaming charges. We used it recently in Bangkok and loved having the ability to search for activities and destinations, and save it to our “Favorites” – that way it would pin it on our map. Then all we had to do was pull of our favorites and we would only see the things we were interested in, and where they were on the map. This made it very easy for us to find what was near us each day so that we could plan our time more efficiently. Also since it is TripAdvisor, you can read reviews from other visitors so you an decide if it is something you are interested in checking out. Lastly, we found a number of self-guided tours that were super helpful for our destination! Definitely check this one out!
Being the nerds that we are, we really love learning all about the destinations that we are visiting. With Triposo, we can download location guides in advance to help with our trip planning, or save them to read on the plane while we are traveling — because they are also stored on the device and accessible when offline. For example, we read all about Bangkok neighborhoods to visit before we left home, and after we landed in Kuala Lumpur we referenced the subway map that we had downloaded. There’s so much great information at your fingertips with this app. Super helpful!
Made fore travelers by travelers. Trover is the app for travelers. Satisfy your wanderlust with a stunning collection of geo-tagged traveler photos. You can create visual bucket lists of where you want to go. Also post photos of your own discoveries and adventures.
It can be difficult when budgeting for a trip, especially when you need to consider currency conversions. We use this app while we are planning for a trip, but we also use it during the trip to help keep us on budget. For example, it’s easy to lose track of your spending when you are out shopping or dining at a local restaurant where the prices are in local currency. So I always have my smartphone out and ready to punch in the local price so I know exactly how much I’m actually spending on that souvenir.
This app is great for staying in contact with friends and family while traveling, and having real-time conversations while NOT racking up international roaming charges. You can choose to go through the SMS cellular network with your account, or use the wi-fi functionality (if wi-fi is available). You can use it to send text and audio messages, as well as video and photos.
Of course this one must be on our list! We enjoy our geocaching, especially while we are traveling. Often times Josh will upload geocaches on our itinerary to our Garmin GPS unit in advance, but when he doesn’t, this app comes in handy. We have borrowed “wi-fi” many times while traveling so that we can download nearby geocaches and go on a spontaneous adventure! #AdventureCaching
There are a variety of language apps out there, so we won’t recommend just one here. What’s important is that you find one that you like and take advantage of it. There are different kinds of language apps out there. Some are more geared toward learning & practicing the language (DuoLingo is one of our favs for practicing Spanish), but others are more helpful while you are on the road for quick look ups. For example, on our recent trip to Mexico I used SpanishDict a lot just to translate a word here and there (English to Spanish or Spanish to English). There are also some useful phrases – so if you draw a blank as to a common phrase, you can look it up real quick.
Local Tourism / City Apps
We are huge fans of checking out tourism & destination websites. Many of these websites offer great mobile app downloads to your smartphones or tablets, for little to no cost. These apps often come with detailed information about a destination, as well as maps, and recommendations for things to do. Some may even provide audio guides or walking tours. These are definitely worth checking out and downloading for your trip. For more information, check out our post on the subject of audio guides for your mobile devices. They are a great value!
Similar to Triposo, it’s just another great resource for travel information – whether in advance, or while you are on the road. Beyond just destination information, they include other valuable travel information and tips around money, emergency info, and even some language bits. Their destination eBooks are quite thorough as well.
These are just our favorites, but there are so many great new apps out there!
** Please share your favorites with us in the comment section so we can all try them out! **
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