Travel apps have become an essential part of helping travelers do everything from booking accommodation to managing their itineraries There are thousands of apps for travel on the market and it can be confusing deciding which one to download.
We’ve had seamless conversations in China through language apps, we’ve booked hotels on-the-go during a road trip through Italy, and we’ve found fast and cheap flights and ways to get around using our iPhones.
- Covid Update – Travel has changed drastically and many countries are closed for travel. A good site we’ve been using for updated information on where we can travel now is HeadOut – It offers up to date information where you can travel now.
Best Apps for Travel – 2021
Table of Contents
These are the best travel apps we keep on our smartphones and use on a regular basis when traveling the world.
1. TripIt Pro
TripIt is our favorite app for travel organizing with all the perks. It keeps all our travel details like flights, accommodations, and train bookings in one place. It also forwards car rental reservations and tour confirmations. It also lets you know about any last minute changes.
- When you link your email, it automatically imports all travel plans from our inbox.
- TripIt stores all our confirmation numbers, contact information, and reservations in one handy itinerary.
- We can check it anytime. And we even get email alerts about upcoming travel plans.
- Our master itinerary has all our confirmation numbers, reservations, contact information, and direction, in one spot.
- And it synchs our travel plans to our calendar
- Updates – It sends real-time flight alerts, delays and gate changes.
- Seat Tracker – This allows us to keep an eye out for better seats or upgrades on our flight.
- Rewards – Tracks our rewards programs.
- International Travel Tools – Tells us what language, currency exchange, and even electricity sockets and plugs to use in our destination.
- Lets us know when we can check in for our flight.
- We can also set an alert for what time to leave our hotel or house. TripIt lets us know how early we should be for our flight and how long we need to get there.
- It even gives us our baggage claim details.
- With TripIt Pro, we have access to the Roam to Rio and Lounge Buddy apps. (more on these apps below)
The TripWise travel app by Allianz Global Assist helps us navigate emergencies when traveling. It provides real-time updates regarding travel alerts, security information, and emergency service numbers (i.e.: 911) of the country we are visiting. It uses GPS to do a hospital search and tracks flights within three days for last minute changes and cancellations. What we like is the medical dictionary to deciphere internationally recognized prescription medications. And help to translate first aid terms in 15 languages.
3. Hopper – Best for Flight Tracking
Hopper is an app that keeps an eye on fares and gives price predictions for upcoming flights. That way we’ll be able to know if we should buy now or wait for better deals. For example, when looking for a flight to Brisbane last year, I expected purchasing sooner was better, but Hopper told me that the price was expected to drop over the next 6 months and to wait for a better deal.
To use Hopper, all you have to do is tell the app your destination and dates of travel. You’ll then be shown prices for different dates. You can book, but it is better to have the app watch the trip to see what happens.
Hopper will then send you an alert when the price is dropping and tell you when you should book before it goes back up. Hopper does the same for hotels.
4. Priority Pass – Best Lounge Access
If you fly a lot, you know how important a break from the noise and chaos at the airport can be. We try to fly Star Alliance as much as we can to maintain our gold status, but that is becoming harder to achieve.
So, we enrolled in Priority Pass which gives us access to lounges without having to have status with an airline alliance. With Priority Pass we have access to 1300 airport lounges around the world and the app helps us find where they are and what terminal to find them in. We’ve noticed that Priority Pass lounges are often better than the regular airline lounges.
- Standard packages start at $99. With this you will have to pay $32 per visit.
- $299 – 10 Free Visits and $429 unlimited free visits.
- Side note: We get Priority Pass included with our American Express Platinum Card fee of $699 CAD per year. Many travel credit cards offer this as a perk including Chase Sapphire in the US.
Cost Varies – Check out their website
5. LoungeBuddy – Best for Locating Lounges
If you don’t want to pay the annual fee for Priority Pass or the cost of the AMEX credit cars, the Lounge Buddy app is a great option. LoungeBuddy lets you know what lounges you can access for a fee if you do not have a membership to a lounge.
It gives the rates and you can even book in advance up to two months in advance. It lets us know about Priority Pass and Star Alliance too. It gives you information on how much to enter a lounge. You can buy access to a lounge for as low as $25 USD. (depending on the destination)
6. Hotel Tonight – Best Last Hotel Minute Booking App
Dave and I are notorious for not planning well. We often wing it, especially on a road trip. I can’t tell you how many times we’ve gotten to our destination without having a place to stay. That is why the Hotel Tonight app has come in handy on more than one occassion.
For last-minute hotel stays, Hotel Tonight finds empty rooms and offers discounts to travelers needing to book right now. Hotels would rather sell a night at a discounted rate than leave a room empty. So if you are flexible and willing to take a chance (or are completely disorganized like us, Hotel Tonight is a great choice)!
7. XE Currency Converter – Best Currency App
XE Currency Converter is something every traveler should have on their phone. When traveling, currency exchange can be overwhelming; especially when we are bartering at a market or dealing with a high-pressure sale.
A deal may sound cheap in a foreign currency, but once we figure it out on a calculator, we realize it’s not a good deal at all. That’s why we have this app on our phones to easily check prices. We’ve tossed aside the calculator and instead punch numbers into our converter to see the exact exchange.
It’s super easy to use. Just make sure to set up the currency you want to compare before you leave home and have the app updated and synched so you can easily use the app even when offline.
8. IronSocket VPN – Best Internet Security
A VPN is a must-have app for places like China where websites like Google, Facebook and Instagram are blocked. A VPN helps you get around most internet censorship.
But it is also a good idea to have a VPN when doing any banking or transactions online. It’s easy for people to steal information on public WiFi, and VPNs make it more difficult. We’ve been using IronSocket for years and it has always worked wherever we’ve gone.
9. Apple Pay
We have always been Mac users and our iPhone pretty much has everything we need for all our travels and bookings and Apple Pay is great for traveling. Use Apple Pay on your iPhone to conveniently pay without fumbling for your physical credit card. Maybe North America isn’t quite up to speed yet, but a lot of the world is using it!
- Here’s how to easily set it up on all your devices.
10. Google Translate
Translating apps like TripLingo or iTranslate are great, but we find that nothing can really compete with Google Translate. It has been a lifesaver in countries that use Chinese and Japanese characters, or Cyrillic writing. We have put the app on live view and line up text to our camera and it instantly translates foreign languages and even Chinese characters to English, so we know what we are reading.
We have had full conversations with people using Google Translate. We speak into the app and then it translates it from English to another language and they can then read what we have asked in their language. A big bonus is that it can be used offline
11. KnowRoaming App
International data and roaming can be a pain and cause a lot of stress and added expense when traveling. KnowRoaming is a SIM Sticker that goes onto our existing SIM card that we use with our home phone network and then when we are traveling, we implement the app to make calls around the world.
It never affects our home phone plan and it remains dormant until we decide to use it. When we land in a new country, we turn on the app and activate the plan that we want. Read our full review here.
- $9.99 for Global Sim Card $29.99 for SIM Sticker.
- For Data you pay as you go. You can pay as little as $7.99 a week to $3.99 per day.
- Order it at Google Play / App Store.
- Use code DDSave50 for 50% off at checkout.
Messaging apps are becoming more important especially in 2020, and we find that WhatsApp is the perfect messaging app when traveling and most of the world is on it.
When we are traveling in a group, we make a WhatsApp group chat so we can all coordinate with each other. It uses very little data and we can send text, photos and videos. If you don’t have a WhatsApp account, you should get one.
It is the “go-to” communication app in China. If you are traveling in China, WeChat is a messaging app that replaces WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and any other messaging app that we use. WeChat is even used as currency to pay at restaurants and shops. You need a Chinese bank account to purchase anything, but for chatting and social it is easy to access.
If you are traveling there, be sure to download it before you go so you can chat and keep in touch with all the new friends you’ll be making. Everyone will ask you if you are on WeChat.
The Roam2Rio app gives us information on how to get from point A to point B in a destination. We punch in our start and end points and then Rome2Rio lets us see all the options and prices from flight and train bookings to hiring a car and public transportation.
It’s an easy way to help figure out our budget and times of travel for our itineraries. We often check this to find out what is the best option from the airport when we land in a new city.
15. Apple Maps
We’ve only just started using the Apple Maps app and find it to be a really useful app for travel. They’ve actually customized it for travelers. At the airport, take a look inside the terminal through the built-in Indoor Maps tools to find things like gates, restrooms, and restaurants.
What I personally like is it lets me know what lane to be in for my next exit when driving. No more guesswork! The realistic map shows everything from beaches to parks and airports. And is now available in the United States. Very exciting.
- You can download it – Download it on the App Store
We learned of this map app while traveling in Cuba. Cuba doesn’t have the best Wi fi or data across the country, so Google maps doesn’t work well. With Maps.Me, we can preload our maps and use them offline. It helps a lot to be able to walk around downtown Havana with maps pre-loaded into our phones.
CityMapper is a good app for transportation and route planning. But what sets CityMapper apart from Google Maps or Apple Maps is that CityMapper is an app that is specific to helping you get around on public transport.
It offers transit maps and real-time departures, plus line interruption and status alerts. CityMapper also integrates Uber, Bike Share programs and cycling routes. Plus it lets you compare all your travel options and modes of transportation if you want to know what the fastest way is to your destination.
- Bonus, it can be used offline once your route is loaded.
- Cost: Download it for Free at Google Play / App Store
Travel has become a lot easier with ride-sharing apps like Uber and Lyft. I don’t know how we traveled before Uber? It used to be that we’d go to a country, bicker with taxi drivers over fees and end up paying way too much for our ride. Now with Uber and Lyft, we call our driver to come to wherever we are staying, eating or simply standing on the sidewalk and they arrive within minutes.
Make sure to have both apps loaded on your phones because the prices vary greatly depending on the city. We always check both before booking. We can track our route and see how far away he/she is and know the cost upfront. It’s painless and easy and always more affordable.
19. Grab App
This is the Uber of South East Asia. Uber is no longer available in places like Thailand, but the GrabApp is quickly expanding and is the dominant ride-sharing app in places like Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines. Like Uber, it does food delivery as well.
20. Road Trippers
As many of you know, we love a road trip and while doing research for a recent road trip to BC, we found this app that helped plan our trip! What we love about RoadTrippers is how it highlights all the tourist and scenic stops along the route. When you find cool roadside attractions located on the route, you can add stops along the way.
Free version offers 5 waypoints between point A to point B. The paid version gives you unlimited.
- Use our special link here with this Promo Code BTR5QTP for $5 off!
Booking Sites Apps
We debated whether or not to put in booking sites as most people are already aware of the likes of Expedia, Booking.com and Trivago. But we thought we’d share a few of the booking sites we use to book our hotels and flights and the reasons why we like them.
Busbud is an easy to use booking app for bus travel between cities worldwide. It allows customers to search, compare and book bus travel in 75 countries. All we have to do is type in the city we want to travel to and our city of departure and Busbud searched prices and times for us.
It shows us cost options; times of departure and we can even check the options earliest and latest bus departures. If we are staying overnight, Busbud searches six different hotel booking sites to help us find the best deal in the city you are traveling to.
Skyscanner is our favourite flight comparison website. What we like about it is all of the options it gives us. You don’t even need a specific destination in mind. If you want to search “Everywhere”, Skyscanner will tell you the best deal from your location.
I like the flexibility Skyscanner gives us. I can search the entire month to find the right deal. I can then refine my search to only show Star Alliance airlines (our preferred airline. I can then sign up for price alerts. We have also found great car rental deals using Skyscanner.
Kayak is a booking website for flights and hotels. If you are open to traveling anywhere, it has a great feature that tracks deals from your home airport. I just search the term “anywhere” and then set my budget, set the number of hours I want to fly, and set whether I want a direct flight or flights with a stop or two and see where it takes me. It then shows deals to flights everywhere within my setting choices.
When choosing specific flights, we like how Kayak searches +3 or -3 days for cheaper flights. If it finds something cheaper on an alternate date, it shows you the option.
Dave and I are new to VRBO and love browsing the website to find places for our winter escape this year. We can rent everything from a room to an entire house (our preference) often at much better prices than hotels.
Plus, for a more local experience, we love staying in residential neighbourhoods. VRBO also recommends local experiences to have once we get there.
- Free – Check out their Website
- How to Find Free Accommodation Around the World
- How to Become a House Sitter – Tips Start House Sitting in 2021
We are not loyal to any one booking site, so we check around for the best prices. TripAdvisor is another travel app that we use for booking hotels and looking at reviews. It has reviews and information on everything from rooms and restaurants to points of interest and tours.
We are on TripAdvisor as travel experts and we share our articles and tips there too. It is working to become the next social site for travel, and we like it!
- 26. The Air Canada App – great for Star Allianz Points.
- 27. Hilton Honours – Gold Card gives us free breakfast, early check-in, and late checkout.
- 28. Marriott Bonvoy – early check-in, late checkout, free welcome drink, free Wifi, free upgrade with Gold membership
- 29. IHG Rewards – Free welcome drink, free upgrade, late check-in, and early checkout.
- 30. Yelp (for food recommendations) – great for finding places to eat nearby with star ratings and budget suggestions.
- American Express Platinum – A lot of these apps and gold status memberships are included without American Expresss platinum membership. If you are looking for the best travel rewards credit cards, check out this breakdown to help you choose the right credit card for you.
What are your favorite travel apps? Let us know in the comments, we are always looking for apps to make our travels easier.
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