If you follow me on Instagram or Snapchat (username: nmyale), you know it’s rare I fully disconnect when I travel. Although, I spend less time on my phone when I’m exploring a destination, I do rely on it to help make the trip planning and actual traveling process easier.
These apps are my go-to’s for finding the best travel deals and for discovering cool things to do in each place I visit.
And, if you’re wondering how I use apps while traveling internationally, I usually pay for a limited data plan through my provider (pending local rates) or rent a TEP device. For me, the convenience of being able to connect and figure out directions on the go, or translate something on a menu is worth the cost to have a solid connection when I need it.
12 Apps I Can’t Travel Without
Skyscanner, Hipmunk or Hopper
If you like to travel as much as I do, and try to keep costs low, these apps will be your best friends. I’ve written about my top tips for finding cheap flights, but these apps play an essential role in the booking process.
You’re able to search, compare and book flights on the go. Plus, Hipmunk and Hopper have alert systems that’ll let you know when the price of a flight drops so you can grab a great deal. Hopper also recommends whether you should buy now/wait for prices to drop, truly a game changer.
Google Translate is essential in countries where I don’t speak the local language. Recent updates have made this app even more of a travel essential- you’re now able to download languages to your phone so you can access them offline. And, following the acquisition of World Lens, Google Translate now supports printed text translation in 26 languages.
A go-to during the first few days in a new country. XE stores the last updated rates, so it works offline if you don’t have wifi access and need to do a conversion.
Google Maps & My Pins
No other maps app compares in my eyes. I’m also a HUGE fan of Google Maps integrated app, My Pins, for saved maps. Before I travel anywhere, I typically create a map saved with places I want to check out (restaurants, bars, cafes, attractions, etc.). Once I’m out exploring, using My Pins via Google Maps allows me to see what’s nearby in case I want coffee after visiting a museum, or feel like checking out another bar in the area.
This app is one of the best language learning apps out there. It’s interactive, fun to use and actually works. By practicing for a few minutes daily, you’ll be able to pick up conversational phrases to use on your trip.
TripAdvisor, Foursquare & Yelp
Foursquare and Yelp are my it apps for finding the best places to eat and drink in places I visit, and TripAdvisor is a lifesaver when it comes to evaluating attractions, tour options, etc.
Handy app for staying in touch with family and friends back home when I’m abroad. WhatsApp is also an awesome way to communicate with locals in a foreign country if you meet a new friend while traveling.
I should be an Airbnb ambassador, I’ve used them exclusively to book travel lodging for the past year and a half (sans accommodation in Tulum because we wanted to stay beachfront). The thing I love the most about Airbnb: there’s something for everyone and every budget.
If you’re traveling internationally, Airbnb should be the first place you look- you can score some seriously great deals and awesome digs for a fraction of what you’d pay to stay at a moderate hotel.
And, in the US, I’ve found some pretty cool and quirky places that definitely have more character than any hotel. I especially love Airbnb for road trips if I want to stay outside of a national park.
If you need somewhere last minute though, HotelTonight is one of my favs.
I use this app almost every time I fly, it gives you all the info you need about the airport you’ll be in. I like using it to see what healthy dining options are available at-a-glance in any part of the airport.
I’m new to this app, but love it after just using it once. A lot of airport lounges will provide access for a fee if you’re not a first class passenger. This app helps you locate them and assess cost. For long haul trips, where you may be traveling for over 24 hours or enduring a long layover, a little comfort can go a long way.
Uber / Grab / Lyft
For the most part, I take public transit (buses, trains), but there are times I’ll choose the convenience of Uber. Rates are usually cheaper than taxis, and if UberPool is available, it can be an affordable way to get somewhere if you’re wary of public transit or there’s an issue (e.g., subway isn’t running because of construction, hello New York).
If you’re unfamiliar, UberPool provides a guaranteed fare to riders who share their car with others headed in the same direction. Often, I get lucky and don’t end up sharing rides, but when I do, it’s never an out-of-the-way inconvenience. In London, I took UberPool for as little as $6-7 USD for a 30 minute trip across town that would’ve taken over an hour on the Tube.
If you’re taking Uber internationally, make sure you have a strong wifi connection while waiting for your ride, and try to have it meet you in an area where you’ll be easy to see if you don’t have a calling plan (e.g., avoid super busy streets and intersections).
I haven’t used this app very much, but love the premise- it’s a global trip planner that gets you from one place to another in the most efficient way possible. Essentially, you type in a destination (address or landmark), and the app shows you travel options (bus, ferry, flight, etc.) and estimated travel times and fares. Super helpful for situations when you need to weigh time against cost for getting somewhere.
New addition: Skype
Critical for international travel, short or extended. Skype has saved me so many times when I’ve needed to call a credit card company, my bank or anyone else back in the US or UK. Love how easy the call function is to use- just buy talk credit (so cheap to do so) and then call anywhere in the world simply by dialling.
What are some of your travel app go-to’s?