Honestly, I consider myself a minimalist when it comes to the apps I install on my phone. I try to keep only apps that are useful. During my recent Instagram poll, I was surprised to see how many people were interested in learning more about the best travel apps.
I’ve put together a list of 10 free travel apps that I’ve tried myself and consider helpful. All of these are available in both iOS and Android, and will help you find affordable flights and accommodations, simplify the planning process, organize your travel documents, and discover the top attractions and must-dos.
You do not need to have all of them installed permanently; I usually keep a handful of these and download the others right before a trip to maximize memory space.
I discovered this app last year and it completely changed the way I consolidate and organize my trips. The app allows you to save every detail in one master place. You can either forward your booking confirmation e-mails or add them manually using your reference numbers. Forget about printing!
It is great for keeping track of multiple airline flights. The app will notify you of any gate changes or delays, usually before the airline does. After you set up your itinerary, you can also access your accommodation address, monitor the destination weather, arrange transfers and activities, make restaurant reservations, and check-in for upcoming flights.
My favorite part is that it keeps all your past trips in chronological order, so it is easy to go back and see what you did on your last vacation.
We all know about TripAdvisor, but I believe most people don’t take advantage of all the features the app offers.
Aside from looking at reviews, you can also save and organize your favorite locations by creating destinations folders. Each folder comes with its own map, making it really easy to access when traveling and trying to decide your itinerary order. I am also a huge fan of the TripAdvisor community. It is really easy to get suggestions and answers to any travel-related question from experienced users around the world. I have asked several forum questions myself and gotten instant feedback every time.
TripAdvisor will also let you compare hotels, flights, activities and look at honest travelers’ photos. I’ve been using it since I first started traveling in 2010 and I really think it is the ultimate travel planning tool!
SkyScanner used to be a secret back in the days, but I believe it is more widely known nowadays, and for a valid reason! Technically speaking, it scans multiple airlines and shows you the best flight deals, sorted from low to high prices. You can also use SkyScanner to monitor a specific flight, and the app will alert you if there are any price changes. It is a way better option than buying directly from the airlines. It can get you an affordable and complex multi-airline itinerary that you will not find if you choose to go with just one company.
Lately, I’ve been deciding our last-minute budget trips based on SkyScanner suggestions. Its strongest feature is the “to everywhere” criteria. If you are just looking for a cheap flight to someplace you haven’t seen before, select everywhere in the to box and pick the most attractive and affordable option.
This is one of the apps I have permanently installed on my phone, and my biggest travel temptation! I find myself looking for last minute deals almost every weekend – even if I know I am not going anywhere.
My husband and I have used HotelTonight since its launch in 2010. The app offers discounted last-minute hotel rooms. The concept is genius! Technically, you are getting a discount because these are available hotel rooms that would otherwise be empty. The longer you wait, the better the markdown. It’s a win-win situation; you get your discounts and hotels achieve 100% occupancy.
HotelTonight is always my first go-to option. We have used it for last-minute weekend getaways and trips where we just wanted the flexibility of not booking a room in advance. However, I still recommend you check other websites to make sure you are getting the best deal out there.
DayUse is the perfect app if you need a hotel room to spend a few hours, perhaps after checking out from your hotel and before your next flight. You can get up to 75% off the price of an overnight stay! If you book through DayUse you also get to use all the hotel amenities (WiFi, pool, fitness center, etc) and free cancellation up until the last minute.
We found a 4-starts hotel room for 8 hours in Rio de Janeiro for only $30 USD – cheaper than paying a one-person access to one of the airport lounges. Obviously, it depends on the location and availability, but it is a great option to consider if you need a reputable hotel by the hour.
I came across this app because we needed access to an airport lounge before our late overnight flight from Bangkok. Airport lounges are a great option if you need to take a shower or re-charge before hoping on a plane. This app allows you to read reviews, view traveler’s photos and book access to 2000+ airport lounges all over the world.
They also show you what lounges you can access for free based on your flight, class and any membership or credit cards you already have. Access starts at $25 per person. LoungeBuddy was recently bought by American Express and now you need to pay with one of their cards. This might be a downside if you don’t have an Amex card, but it is still a great app to download before your next long trip.
VisitACity provides pre-made itineraries that you can select based on the duration of your trip, and the speed at which you want to explore (easy going itinerary, packed itinerary, family itinerary, etc). It makes exploring the most popular attractions extremely easy and customizable. It shows you the basic attractions info, including updated operation hours, giving you the option to buy tours and tickets without leaving the app.
You can choose a start time for each day and select time slots for rest breaks. The app then plans your day and organizes the activities based on proximity and travel time. Itineraries can also be saved for offline access! I use it as a start when planning my trips and I can tell you it saves hours of planning and research. VisitACity is very user friendly and intuitive, the developers have done a great job. I think it has a lot of potential.
Another app I am not planning to uninstall from my phone! I only wish I had discovered it earlier. As weird as this might sound, Flush is a toilet finder! It shows you public bathrooms on a map. With a data base of over 190,000 toilets, you will always find an option here.
The app shows you which restrooms require a key, charge a fee or have disabled access. It allows you to add new bathrooms to the map and rate the existing ones. Simple but it does what it is supposed to do and can be a life saver!
If you do not like the research and hassle that can come with planning a trip, maybe the idea of buying a vacation package sounds more appealing. In that case, I recommend you use Orbitz to purchase a package. We have used Orbitz multiple times and it always offers more affordable prices than other sites.
You can bundle flights, hotels and car rental or just purchase each one individually. Orbitz also has a great cash back reward program for frequent travelers.
I left MobilePassport for the end since it works only for US and Canadian passport holders when entering major US airports and cruise ports. You can submit your passport and custom declaration form digitally to bypass the regular line. The app is trusted by the Federal government, so your information is secure. Documents are only valid for four hours in the free version, so don’t start filing up the form too soon. If you want to store your passport information for future trips, the yearly fee is $14.99, not bad if you are a frequent traveler.
Bonus App for reading all the way to the end 😊
This is not a travel app, but you can find some awesome flight discounts in Slickdeals. Honestly, it’s a matter of luck, but we flew from Miami to Detroit on a weekend with American Airlines for just $10 USD per person (yes, you read that right)!
Slickdeals is a deal hunting community, with over 11M people! Users find and share awesome deals and coupons for all kind of products, including travel related services. It is a great app to install permanently. If you decide to download it, make sure to sign up to receive alerts for flights and other travel listings. Those never hurt!
I hope you find this list useful. If you have any other recommendations, feel free to share them below! I would love to keep updating this list based on your feedback!