In this day and age, it’s hard to imagine crisscrossing the globe without the assistance of technology and the many mobile apps that provide efficiency in everything from navigation to communication. In fact, there are so many great travel apps out there these days that it can be difficult to decipher which ones are necessary to have and which ones are just taking up space in your smartphone. This list below are the essential travel apps I’ve found that have proven most helpful on my adventures and have added both efficiency and value during many trips abroad.
From managing your business and important documents on the road to finding the best inspiration for your itinerary, make sure to download these essential travel apps below and start using them to their full potential!
1. Google Maps
Google Maps is probably one of my most frequently used apps while on the road, as I’m always using it to help navigate my way around a new destination. But beyond just getting my bearings, I also use it to save all of the places I want to go into one convenient place as I love that it provides a visual reference. Once I’ve saved all of the spots I want to see in a map, I then use it to tailor my itinerary by efficiently exploring by neighborhood. To create your own unique destination map, visit Google Maps and select Your Places > Maps > Create Map.
It goes without saying that I use Instagram on the daily whether I’m traveling or not, but when it comes to getting travel inspiration, I love the Save/Collections feature that lets you categorize imagery by destination. This allows me to save places for future trips on the fly and ensures I remember those special spots even months or years down the line when that trip comes to fruition.
3. Trail Wallet
I’ve written a whole article in the past about my favorite budgeting app Trail Wallet because it’s literally a life saver. Not only does it calculate easy currency conversions, but it’s allowed me to easily track all of my spending abroad for the last two years in a a super organized fashion so I can evaluate where most of my money is going and figure out how I’d like to save or redistribute travel funds better in the future.
For learning quick and basic phrases in the language of your travel destination, Duolingo can be extremely helpful. With over 30 different languages in the app, this is a great way to utilize travel “down time” in planes, trains and automobiles by brushing up on the local language.
I’ve found that the way the Duolingo app teaches learning makes it fun, engaging, and dare I say addicting to learn languages? I loved using the app for just five to ten minutes per day while traveling through South and Central America to brush up on my Spanish and was amazed by how much I picked up in that short timeframe.
5. Find Friends
While this app can be a little intrusive or creepy at times, I find it super helpful for group travel when people either get lost from the pack or suddenly go MIA. The Find Friends app allows you to share your location with your friends so that you can see their GPS tracking on your screen. So next time you’re off on an adventure with your buddies and someone wanders off, you can rest assured that you’ll be able to track them down even if they’re not picking up.
6. Google Drive
Beyond storing many of my computer’s files here as a back-up, I specifically use Google Drive on my trips to store copies of my passport, credit cards and other important documents. That way, if I lose my computer or my phone, I can still access my information via Google Drive as long as I can find an internet connection.
7. Priority Pass
If you’re a Priority Pass member, then this app will be your best friend. The Priority Pass app easily helps you find airport lounges all over the world that will accept the Priority Pass card. I especially love that it features a specific list of amenities offered in each lounge so you can compare and contrast their benefits. Each lounge description also features detailed instructions of how to get to each one as they can sometimes be hidden amongst the airport chaos.
8. Google Translate
On more than one occasion, the Google Translate app has literally saved me when I just couldn’t communicate with a non-English speaking person. Like that time in Tangier, Morocco where I had to get a taxi to the airport but I could not for the life of me get that across in English and almost missed my flight. Google Translate to the rescue! I would recommend downloading your needed language while on Wifi or before your trip so that you still have access to the software during your trip regardless of whether or not your phone is connected.
9. App in the Air
For fellow frequent fliers, this app is not only functional but also super fun when it comes to tracking where you’ve been around the world. By connecting App in the Air to your email, it imports all of your flight information into one easy list so that details are easily accessible with a couple of clicks. It also shows you fun stats like how many miles and total hours you’ve flown (over the last 2 1/2 years I’ve spent about 28 days total in the air!), which countries you’ve visited and awards you badges for certain milestones that you hit.
Unfortunately Uber isn’t yet available in every single destination around the world, but in most big cities and popular tourist destinations I’ve found that Uber is the most reliable way to get from point A to B. With just your smartphone, you can have access to getting a ride without having to hail town a taxi or walk to a populated area where taxis congregate. Furthermore, I find that for budgeting purposes, Uber has really helped to set fixed prices for certain distances so you can fear less that you’re being taken advantage of by opportunist taxi drivers.
Simply put, I couldn’t live without my Audible app while traveling. Pre-downloading books from Audible’s extensive collection before a trip has made long road trips and long-haul flights exponentially more enjoyable. The best part is, I feel like I’m making the best use of my time — and even learning something while I’m on the go.
12. Podcasts App
Similar to the Audible app, my Podcast app gets a lot of play in my daily life and especially when I’m on the go. I recently wrote a whole blog post on my favorite podcast shows to listen to, so go check that out if you need a little inspiration on where to start. Just by searching in the podcast app, you can literally find shows about any topic under the sun, and they can take many different formats — from storytelling to Q&A’s to interviews and more.
My favorite way to communicate with friends that I’ve met abroad, Whatsapp is a free app that allows texting internationally without charging hefty prices to do so.
14. Hotel Tonight
If you’re not traveling with your laptop in tow and need to book a last minute hotel for cheap, Hotel Tonight’s app is a great way to do so for a steal and also has an easy interface on mobile for booking. The last time I used the app, a friend and I found a great hotel in Tulum for $80 a night! It’s also worth noting that despite its moniker, you can actually book hotels further in advance than night of, so if you’re not comfortable with planning on the fly, you can still utilize the deals that Hotel Tonight has to offer.
This app helps you coordinate timezones between your current and upcoming destinations, plus shows you overlapping work days in different cities around the world so you can better coordinate phone calls and meetings across time zones. It takes a little getting used to, but I especially like the Circa app’s visual graph of the timezones that presents it in a different way than I’ve seen before.