There are hundreds of travel apps out there. Some are extremely useful, providing you with helpful resources that let you make the most of your travels. So how do we choose the best travel apps to take with us on the road? Here's my tried & tested list of the best free travel apps I never hop on a plane without.
When I was a backpacker, I relied heavily on travel apps that would help me make the most of my experiences while helping me travel as cheaply as possible. Later, as an international flight attendant, I looked for the best travel apps to help me utilize the short time I had on each layover. My favourite apps from each stage of my travels are ones I still use today. Here's my list of the best free travel apps, with download links at the bottom of each listing.
NOTE: The original version of this post listed 14 of my most-used travel apps. It has been updated in June 2019 to add some new favourites and remove some discontinued links.
FLIO is an awesome airport app which tells you everything you need to know about the facilities and resources inside the airport you're traveling through. The app allows you to see a schedule of arriving and departing flights, a list of dining options, local weather, transportation options, and much more.
The flight schedule shows times, terminals and gates, which will help keep you updated if things change while you're shopping or enjoying a meal while you wait for your flight.
There are also sometimes discount coupons for shops and services, which can make your airport experience even better!
MiFlight - Never Miss a Flight Again
MiFlight is the best airport app you never knew you needed. Just type in the airport you're traveling through, select the terminal, and the app will tell you approximately how long it will take you to get through security.
This great travel app has a database of both US and international airports, and allows users to manually input wait times as they go through.
Keep in mind that while the times are often quite accurate, the app does rely on crowdsourcing, so you may want to allow for a bit of extra time just in case there are less people giving updates.
Get it » IPHONE |
Pack Point - The Only Packing App You'll Ever Want
This is a fantastic travel app that puts together a packing list based on your gender, destination, the duration of your trip, and the activities you plan to do.
It also shows you the forecasted weather for the time you'll be there and you can add items to the list, as well as customize the amount of each item you'll need.
A premium version is available with more customization, but the free version is good enough for a single destination trip.
Lounge Buddy - Helping You Wait for Your Flight in Comfort
LoungeBuddy changed the way I feel about waiting for a flight. If you have to spend an extended period of time in an airport, you can use this free app to see a list of lounges with their locations, prices, and amenities. At the bottom of each page are reviews from other travelers, which can help you decide whether or not the lounge is worth the entry fee.
Though some airport lounges are a bit pricey, others are affordable enough to be totally worth it.
BONUS: Use code 5YuFn9seOc and receive a free $10 credit!
Get it » IPHONE |
GlobeTips - A Very Useful Tipping App
This is a great tool for learning how much to tip around the world. It's got a gratuity calculator that auto-detects the country you're in, and can be manually changed in the settings if needed. You can also use the Country Tipping Guide to find out the customary amount for restaurants, porters or taxis.
No wifi at the restaurant? No problem - it works offline too!
The app offers a paid full version (which can be unlocked free for 24 hrs by watching a short ad) though everything you really need is available in the free version.
Get it » IPHONE |
Google Maps - The Ultimate Maps App
I know, it's on every list. But it's a great app that has tons of information on what's around, approximate transit times and offline maps. It also gives you the ability to save places to lists, download maps to use offline, and contact businesses directly through the app.
Combine it with the desktop Google MyMaps platform and it's a fantastic resource for planning both short & long trips. See how I use Google Maps to plan my short stopovers.
This app is a classic for a reason, and it's probably the one I use the most when I travel.
Tap - A Sustainable Hydration Helper
Tap is a great app that helps you stay hydrated and when you're on the go and also helps you avoid single-use plastic by showing nearby places that you can refill your water bottle.
The app shows the approximate walking distance from your current location to each nearby bottle refill stations. It shows free public fountains as well as the more costly drinking water ATMs, and its database covers most major cities around the world.
You can see location details for each hydration station as well as opening hours and the water options that are available.
XE Currency - The Only Money Converter App You'll Need
The free version of this app is all you need, allowing you to compare up to 10 different currencies at once. This is also one you can use offline, so you can easily find out if you're being ripped off at that street market or currency exchange booth.
It's especially great to have if you're hitting more than one country on your trip.
Been - A Great Way to Keep Track of Your Travels
If you love scratch maps, or even just keeping track of all the countries you've traveled to, you'll love Been. It may not be that practical, but it's a nice little map of the world which fills in as you check countries off your bucket list.
In addition to a full world map, there's also a separate map of the USA so you can mark your progress exploring each American state.
Fresh Air - The Most Beautiful Weather App
Fresh Air is a lovely weather app that shows both current and forecasted weather information - just slide your finger along the graph and it will show you the forecasted temperature, wind speed, humidity, etc., for every minute of the day.
You can add a list of locations and also customize the units for temperature, speed and measurement. You can also sync it to your calendar so you can see what the weather is forecasted to do during your time in the city you're traveling to.
Get it » IPHONE |
WiFi Map - A Great Hotspot Finder
There are tons of wifi finder apps out there, but this is the one I've found most useful for finding free hotspots. The app shows a map of wifi hotspots near you, as well as passwords for some of the public password-protected networks.
The map pulls up your current location, but you can also search for a city and download the map for offline use.
Google Translate - The Most Useful Translation App
Of course, nothing beats trying to learn at least a few phrases in the local language, but Google Translate can be extremely useful when traveling. I was really glad to have it when I got food poisoning in a small town in Spain and had to get medical help at a hospital where no one spoke English. Not only was I able to communicate with the hospital staff, but I was also able to read the doctor's prescription, and communicate with the pharmacist.
This great free app features the ability to translate pictures, voices and even handwriting.
TripBucket - An Amazing Bucket List App
This is probably the most visually appealing bucket list app ever created. It allows you to see categorized lists, view maps, and search thousands of destinations & experiences to create your own personalised travel bucket list.
Each item has its own page with photos, ratings & tips from other users, a detailed description of the place/activity, links to articles that will give you more information about the destination, and a submenu of related items which you can also add to your list.
TraffickCam - An Easy Way to Make a Difference
This brilliant app was developed by the Exchange Initiative, an American organization dedicated to fighting sex trafficking. Simply take a photo of your hotel room and upload it onto the app with the name of the hotel and your room number.
Investigators will then compare those photos with online advertisements posted by sex traffickers in an attempt to catch and prosecute them. It's an easy way to help make a difference.
Seat Alerts - A Helpful Seat Selection App
I used this one often as a flight attendant to check the flight loads on my upcoming trips, and I still use it while shopping for flights. All you need to do is type in the flight info, and the app will bring up a seat map showing the available seats.
This app can help you know if you should book a flight right away, and can also be helpful when you're selecting your seats, as you'll have a better idea of which seats are the best ones to pick. It's especially useful for anyone flying standby.
Uber - The Best Ridesharing App
I think everyone either already has this, or they have strong feelings against it, but I feel the need to add it here because it's one I find incredibly useful, especially in places where it's difficult or unsafe to get a taxi off the street.
Uber can be a quicker and safer alternative in a lot of places around the world. Just make sure you have access to data or wifi, as the driver may need to get in touch.
BONUS: Use code allip29 and get your first ride FREE!
Data Options for Travelling
Although most of these great travel apps have offline features and there are many places around the world that offer free wifi if you need it, I recommend looking at data options for your trip so you always have internet access if you need it.
I travel frequently to all parts of the world, so I use KnowRoaming's travel SIM card. These travel SIM cards are not always the cheapest option though - try to find out if the place you're traveling to offers a special "tourist" SIM card.
If you're in a place for an extended period of time, make sure you check out the local phone companies, who might have affordable prepaid plans (usually between 7-30 days duration). Many phone companies also offer regular promotions during the first 1-2 months, which can save you a lot of money.
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