Last Updated: 2/2/2020 | February 2nd, 2020
There’s no shortage of travel apps cluttering up the Android and Apple marketplaces these days — and that’s a problem, as most of them are terrible. Sorting out useless ones from those worth installing is not the most fun you’ll ever have with your smartphone, but no one wants to pay for a worthless app.
If you’ve got a trip coming up, rather than wasting a week of your life downloading useless junk, start with these 10 great travel apps instead:
I’ve spent enough of my life waiting around in airports to know that it basically sucks. I usually fly on budget airlines with long layovers and terrible connections, so dirty seats, expensive Wi-Fi, and bad food are a depressingly regular part of my life. The only places that offer any respite are the lounges — but without a membership or business-class tickets, I’m not inclined to wander around and ask random lounge staff if they’d like to let me in.
LoungeBuddy takes the pain out of the process. After entering your credit card, airline status, and lounge memberships, the app tells you which lounges you can access at any given airport. Even for people like me who don’t have any of those things, the app still lets you know about any free lounges or ones you can purchase a day pass for. It’s slick, easy to use, and free!
Get it for iOS.
If you’ve ever endured the pain of a delayed or canceled flight, or been denied boarding because of overbooking, AirHelp will be right up your alley. Both US and EU laws provide for compensation in such cases, although the details differ. It’s a complicated process, though, and apparently fewer than 1% of passengers entitled to compensation ever get it.
This app makes the process simple and something you can do in a few minutes while still waiting around at the airport. Just enter your flight information and a few details about the problem, and the company takes care of the rest. If the claim is successful, they take 25% of the payout and you get the remainder. You also get a referral bonus for anyone else on your flight that you send the company’s way.
The Hostelworld app has does all the usual things you’d expect an accommodation booking app to do — searches, descriptions, filters — and looks particularly good while doing so. The full-screen interactive map makes it easy to work out whether the hostel you like is anywhere near where you want to be, while those all-important reviews are only a tap away.
Airbnb lets you rent individual rooms, couches, or an entire apartment from locals. I love Airbnb, as it’s a happy medium between hostels and hotels. Plus, if you stay with local hosts, you’ll still get the social aspect of a hostel. The app does everything the website does but at the tip of your fingers. I find it a lot more effective way to communicate with your host.
Skyscanner is my preferred method for finding cheap flights. The mobile app searches millions of flights from over 1,200 sources and then gives you the best options available (whether it’s the cheapest route, or the easiest one). The handy chart feature lets you look at the cheapest days or months to fly to your destination and sends you notification of price changes.
The Skyscanner app is available here.
HotelTonight gives you amazing last-minute discounts on empty hotel rooms. It’s incredibly easy to use, and it doesn’t take long to reserve a room. You can search by city or attraction, or on the map, and then check out the reviews and photos from other travelers. It also has 24/7 customer support. When I’m stuck in a place and need a last-minute room, this is the app I use.
TripIt helps organize your upcoming travel itinerary. All you have to do is forward your hotel, restaurant, flight, and car rental confirmation emails to email@example.com and it automatically transfers all the information to your master itinerary, so that you can easily view all your upcoming plans at once. If you upgrade to the pro version, the company will find you alternative routes for when your flights get canceled, as well as send you automatic notifications from airlines about flight delays, cancellations, and more. If you travel a lot and have a lot of bookings you need to organize, this is the best app to have.
OpenRice is the Yelp of Asia. It shows a city’s most popular restaurants, ratings, menus, booking numbers, and everything in between. It’s widespread in Southeast Asia and a better resource than Yelp. It has listings for Hong Kong, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, and the Philippines. The app puts the power of the website at your fingertips.
Detour is a fantastic GPS-guided audio walk that offers an immersive experience in 17 cities around the world. Each audio tour is narrated by a local who knows the city inside out, so you’ll be getting beneath the surface of the place. Currently, they have tours for San Francisco, New York City, Los Angeles, Austin, Washington DC, Boston, Portland, Savannah, Charleston, Chicago, Rome, Berlin, Marrakech, London, Paris, and Barcelona.
Detour is available for Android.
10. Trail Wallet
Trail Wallet is an easy travel expense tracker. I used to have a similar app, but it was too hard to update. This app is now the best. It takes the headache out of expense tracking. You can organize your expenses by trip or by month, set a daily budget, and easily add expenses. When you get a bill or receipt, pull out your iPhone, add the amount using the Quick Add screen and you’re done.
Trail Wallet is available for iOS.
If you’re looking to lower your accommodation costs and meet locals while you travel, this is the app for you. Couchsurfing lets you connect with locals who have space in their home for travelers to stay for free. The accommodation is usually nothing fancy (which is why it’s called “couch” surfing) but it’s free, which will help you keep your budget intact. By staying with a local, you’ll get a unique opportunity to learn more about the destination from someone who actually lives there.
If you don’t want to stay with a local you can use the Hangouts feature to meet other travelers or locals for coffee, drinks, or to do something like visit a museum. It’s a great way for solo travelers to connect and be social. This app is a must for every budget traveler.
The app world is a constantly changing place, and there are many travel apps out there already that take the pain out of travel. They help you travel better, cheaper, and longer. The above travel apps are some of the best in 2019 and are worth downloading to your phone before your next trip.
How to Travel the World on $50 a Day
My New York Times best-selling paperback guide to world travel will teach you how to master the art of travel so that you’ll get off the beaten path, save money, and have a deeper travel experience. It’s your A to Z planning guide that the BBC guide the “bible for budget travelers.”
Book Your Trip: Logistical Tips and Tricks
Book Your Flight
Find a cheap flight by using Skyscanner or Momondo. They are my two favorite search engines because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned.
Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels.
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. I’ve been using World Nomads for ten years. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:
- World Nomads (for everyone below 70)
- Insure My Trip (for those over 70)
- Medjet (for additional repatriation coverage)
Need to book your trip?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel. I list all the ones I use when I travel. The are the best in class and you can’t go wrong using them on your trip.