Here are the 20 best travel apps for vacations and trips

Simon Hill

Travel agents? Who needs one when you have a smartphone. Planning a trip can be a pain, but it’s 2018 and you have all the necessary tools to make mapping out your vacation a breeze. From the App Store to Google Play, we’ve rounded up some of the best travel apps to keep stress to a bare minimum.

Are you going on a trip abroad? One of the best things to do for your internet safety is to subscribe to a good VPN service, and also to make sure you can get to all your favorite websites and bypass any blocks in the country you’re visiting. We tested them all and picked the best VPNs available.

Booking a trip and getting around

Finding the most affordable flight and hotel, while making sure you’ll have plenty of spending cash during your trip, can be a little tough. Check out these travel-booking apps to be a master planner. Once your trip is booked, you can use the best flight-tracking apps to make sure traveling is as seamless as possible. You’ll also need some directions once you’ve arrived to make sure you get to your hotel and see everything that you want to see.

Skyscanner

Skyscanner app

Flights, hotels, rental cars — Skyscanner has got you covered. The app searches for the most affordable and best options via its travel partners. Similar to Google Flights, you can see the cheapest dates to fly, and you can also get alerts when prices change. If you’re not sure where exactly you want to go, Skyscanner offers a category that lets you explore “Top Deals” from your nearest airport, as well as a curated list of destinations at affordable prices.

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iOS Android

Kayak

Kayak iOS app

For many, Kayak has been the go-to trip planning destination for quite a while — and for good reason. Like Skyscanner, Kayak searches across various travel sites for rental cars, hotels, and flights. Kayak often has exclusive deals you won’t find on other sites, and you can set price alerts and use Price Forecast to see whether you should buy now or wait. Kayak also acts as a trip planner, offering up important details at a glance like your hotel confirmation number or gate number. You can also access these details in real time, and on other devices such as the Apple Watch.

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iOS Android

Hopper

Hopper

If you’re really looking to get the cheapest possible price for a plane ticket, you need to download Hopper. Like Kayak and Skyscanner, you can look at the cheapest dates to fly, but Hopper prides itself on telling you when to buy your tickets via push notifications. The company claims it can save you up to 40 percent on your next flight by analyzing and tracking billions of flights. The user interface is simple, and Hopper says you can book a flight in 60 seconds or less. Apple added it to the App Store’s Best of 2015 list, and Google made it a 2016 Google Play Award winner.

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iOS Android

Airbnb

Whether it’s legal in the city you’re visiting or not, Airbnb is a household name. The app undercuts hotels by offering far cheaper prices, and a more authentic experience by allowing users to stay with a local, or in their home. The app also offers a feature called Trips, which offers Experiences to choose from during your stay — these are curated events you can partake in with local guides. Eventually, the app will become an all-in-one travel app that lets you plan your day, book a car, and more.

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iOS Android

Hotel Tonight

best apps perfect getaway hotel tonight

Did your Airbnb plans fall through? Did your flights get delayed at your layover? You never know what will happen with your booking, and Hotel Tonight is a reliable service that thrives on last-minute deals. The company partners with hotels to offer discounts on empty rooms, and you’ll be able to book one in under 10 seconds. You also get 24/7 customer service from the Hotel Tonight team, in case something goes awry.

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iOS Android

Uber

best travel apps uber

Active in about 84 countries and more than 800 cities, Uber is the global king of ridesharing apps. The app pioneered on-demand services, and it can be particularly handy when you’re abroad. You can quickly request a car directly within the app after perusing an assortment of differing vehicle rates and fare quotes. Afterward, you can connect with your personal driver, track the approaching car’s location, and securely pay your fare using a credit card — no cash needed. Rather than trying to find a taxi or a taxi stand, just bring one straight to you.

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iOS Android

Google Maps

Google Maps

Google Maps is widely regarded as the best navigation app around. It offers directions for travel by car, on public transit, on foot, by cab, or on bicycle. You’ll find it fairly reliable in offering up local public transportation options in many countries, and you can also download specific areas for offline use. You can also use Maps to find out when places like museums or restaurants close, and check to see how busy a place is in real time.

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iOS Android

Citymapper

With a growing list of countries under its belt, Citymapper is one of the best tools to find and use public transportation. It connects with a few ridesharing services, offers the fastest way to arrive at your destination, and best of all, lets you check out subway and train times offline for a number of cities. You can subscribe to specific train or bus lines, and the app can even alert you when you need to get off the bus, which is handy when you’re riding for the first time in a new country.

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iOS Android

Preparation and finding places

There’s always something we forget to do before a trip, whether it’s failing to pack a pair of slippers or change some currency. Take a look at these apps to keep you on track. Looking for a spot for lunch? Have some extra time and want to check out another museum? Scroll down for apps that offer up things to do and the best-rated places to eat during your stay.

Packpoint

Packpoint

Making a checklist of everything you need to pack can be useful, but what if one’s already made for you? PackPoint looks at the weather forecast for the dates and location of your trip. It will also ask you to select activities you may participate in during your trip, like a meeting for business, a swim at a pool, or a fancy dinner. It will then offer up a list of items you should pack based on these activities, along with general items you’d need on any trip. You can remove items you don’t think are necessary, as well as share lists with others, in case your friends need some help, too.

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iOS Android

XE Currency

XE Currency

While it’s not the prettiest app, XE Currency is one of the more robust currency converter apps available for both iOS and Android. It’s constantly being updated and offers live exchange rates for “every world currency and precious metals.” What’s neat is that it can store the most recent rates so you can access them if your device is offline. You can also use the app on your Android Wear or Apple Watch device.

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iOS Android

Mobile Passport

Mobile Passport

Traveling to the U.S.? Mobile Passport lets you skip the regular line to enter the country and is officially authorized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. All you need to do skip long lines is download this app and add your passport information — you can do this quickly by scanning it with your phone’s camera. Mobile Passport is accepted at 24 airports in the U.S., so we’d recommend checking ahead of time to see if your airport supports the app.

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iOS Android

Google Trips

Google Trips

Google’s relatively new Trips app can pull reservations from your email, adding hotel bookings, car rental details, and more. In doing so, it creates an underlying framework for your trip without you having to do much. Once it’s set up, you can browse through the app to look at curated day trips, as well as suggested and popular places to visit or eat at, and you can plan your whole day. Google Trips lets you store this data offline as well, so you can access your itinerary and important information at any time.

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iOS Android

TripAdvisor

Trip Advisor

TripAdvisor is a catch-all app when it comes to travel. You can quickly peruse millions of reviews, opinions, videos, and photos pertaining to just about anything related to your trip — bars, restaurants, hotels, airlines, and more. You can use TripAdvisor’s Near Me function to find well-reviewed places close by, but the best feature the app has to offer is the number of countries it supports — it’s just about everywhere, making it a necessary guide for every traveler. You can also ask specific travel questions in the app’s forums or add your own reviews in a similar fashion to Yelp.

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iOS Android

Yelp

apple should acquire these five companies yelp

Yelp has officially become the Yellow Pages of restaurant and bars, and its use extends not just to the U.S., but all around the world. Its most powerful feature is the sheer number of reviews housed in the app — it’s an excellent resource for when you’re looking to hit some of the best spots in the country you’re visiting. Yelp also offers hours of operation, a phone number for listings, and sometimes even a menu, so you can be as prepared as possible before heading out.

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iOS Android

Language and day-to-day apps

If you’re traveling to a country where your native tongue isn’t the official language, you may as well pack a few of the best language apps to translate on the go or brush up on your language skills. We also have a handful of miscellaneous apps you may find useful during your time abroad.

Google Translate

Google Translate remains just as remarkable as it was upon its debut. The app provides translations, which are now more conversational thanks to machine learning, between more than 100 different languages, allowing you to listen to translations out loud and translate dictation and your own handwriting on screen. You can star your favorite words or phrases for offline access, or view dictionary results for a single word or phrase. T

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iOS Android

Duolingo

If you’ve booked your trip months ahead of time, try tackling the country’s language in Duolingo. It offers beginner-level courses, but it’s also a great tool for those looking to brush up on a language. You can also chat with bots in select languages, which can be particularly helpful when you’re trying to learn the phrases you’re likely to use the most abroad. You can take placement tests to move up to tougher sections.

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iOS Android

Memrise

Memrise

Memrise has more languages than Duolingo, and the app also uses mnemonics to help you memorize words and phrases. The company says the app adapts to your learning style over time, andl there’s a pro version that lets you unlock even more features, such as an offline mode. It’ll cost you $9 for a one-month subscription.

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iOS Android

Circa

circa

If you’re traveling through multiple countries in a short period, it can be a little tricky to keep track of the time. Circa is a beautiful and simple time zone tracker that lets you check what time it is where you are, and where you’re heading. You can also add your home time, in case you want to keep in touch with people back home. The app will show times that overlap when both parties should be awake. You can also use the app on the Apple Watch and it’s now available on Android.

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iOS Android

WhatsApp

WhatsApp has more than a billion users, and it’s highly likely you’ll run into someone abroad that uses the service. Chances are they don’t use SMS, unlike the U.S. Having the app installed before heading on your trip can be useful in case you make new friends and need a quick way to chat with them. It’s also an easy way to keep in touch with people back home. You’ll still need a data connection or Wi-Fi to be able to send messages.

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iOS Android

Nord VPN

NordVPN

On your travels, you may find that certain countries block select websites, like Facebook and Google. Or perhaps you want to watch some TV from back home. One way to get around these problems is to use a VPN, or a virtual private network. It’s also a good idea to use a VPN whenever you connect to public or hotel Wi-Fi networks to protect your privacy. Nord VPN is our favorite VPN service, thanks to its thousands of servers across the globe. It costs $12 per month, but you can frequently get it cheaper via a promotion and it will work on your phone, tablet, or laptop.

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iOS Android