If you have ever traveled somewhere and own a smartphone, chances are you have used at least one app to help you plan your trip. It’s amazing the kind of information that is available to you at the touch of your fingertips. There are apps for everything out there. You have some that help you find the best flights, the best seats on that flight and even give you tips on the gates you will be boarding from. Others help you find the right accommodation at the right price as well as get city maps, travel guides, restaurants and so much more.
Over the past few years I have been using many of these apps to help me plan my trips, both domestic and international. Some have been huge lifesavers. It’s not fun when you are abroad with no internet connection and lost. Trust me. Downloading city maps beforehand to have offline when traveling will literally save your life and I don’t even think I’m being dramatic here.
So, here’s the list you all came for. In no particular order, here are my top 7 travel apps for 2017. And as an added bonus, most of these are 100% FREE. A few do have very good free features with the option to upgrade at a cost, as indicated. All are available for both Android and iPhone users.
1. Trip Advisor
If you thought Trip Advisor was for reviews only, then think again. This app is jam-packed with tons of information for all destinations in the world. Not only does it provide reviews on accommodation, restaurants and places to visit, but it offers travel guides that you can download for offline access. Also, you can go to the travel forums and get helpful tips and advice from other travelers and local experts. There is a booking feature as well for hotels and guided tours*. All in all, this app should definitely be at the top of your list! I don’t travel anywhere without using it somehow.
*Guided tours are provided by Viator.com, a Trip Advisor company
In my opinion, this is one of the best flight finder apps available. You will get some of the best prices out there as Skyscanner pulls prices from independent travel agency websites, many of them offering flights at 10-20% off the listed airfare found on the original airline’s website. Personally, I have seen flights as low as $450 roundtrip from Orlando to Paris. Is it possible to get any cheaper than that? I have yet to book a flight directly through them but I have friends who have done so with no problems. As always, when booking with an independent travel agency, make sure you look at their cancellation and flight change policies beforehand and are okay with their terms. You can also use Skyscanner to book hotels and car rental.
We all love Google maps, right? But, unfortunately many of us struggle to find decent wi-fi when traveling abroad. This is when this app comes in handy, just make sure you have downloaded the maps you will need for your trip before leaving home, or as a last resort when you find a reliable internet connection on the road. The offline content gives you access to tons of articles, images and identifies places of interest, shops and restaurants. Just keep in mind you only get one free offline map download on the free account. So, if you are visiting multiple places or are an avid traveler it might be a good idea to invest in the Pro account.
Cost: Free basic account or $11.99 for the Pro account
This one should be a no-brainer by now. Airbnb has become THE go-to site to find some of the best local accommodations. You will be able to find a room or a whole place to yourself anywhere in the world thanks to hosts who rent out their homes. Some are in very unique locations where staying at a traditional hotel room is just not feasible. In addition to helping you find a place to stay, Airbnb has recently launched a new feature where you can book an “experience” with a local. You can go on a food tour around the city or take a private pottery class, for example.
5. Guides by Lonely Planet
I love the guidebooks by Lonely Planet so it only makes sense that I include their app on this list. Here you will only find guides for specific cities, not the whole country, but is still worth checking out. You can get an overview of the city, restaurant suggestions, transit maps and even a basic phrasebook! I especially like how Lonely Planet divides each city by neighborhood and provides specific travel info on each. Just note that you will need to download the guides to have available offline.
I recently found this app and I’m super excited to continue using it. The app itself is nothing fancy but you get tons of information about the airports you plan on visiting. The app will save any upcoming trips to your “Journey Card” where data will auto-populate and update as the date gets closer as well as alert you if there are any delays or changes. Another cool feature is the “Airport Card” where you can access airport maps, restaurant options, shops, services, weather forecasts and tons of tips from other travelers just like you. This is a very unique feature that I have not seen in any other travel apps and the main reason I recommend it as an essential for any traveler. The only downside is that currently some airports have limited or incomplete information, so you may not have all the features available.
7. Google Trips
Let me start out by saying this is one of the most underrated travel apps out there. If you’ve used TripIt before then this app will seem familiar to you. It makes travel planning SO much easier, especially if you have a Gmail set up already and get all your travel confirmations sent there. You simply download the app, sync your Gmail account and presto! A detailed itinerary has been created for you. You will be able to see all your travel reservations in one place. The cool thing about the app is that it acts as a pocket travel guide at the touch of your fingertips so you will be able to see suggestions on things to do, restaurants, and day trips. It also includes info on how to get around and “need to know” tips. So far, I’m in love with this app.
Clean interface with easy navigation. You can find seat advice as well as see pictures posted by other travelers. The reason why this one didn’t quite make the list is because data is somewhat limited. You will find reviews on certain aircrafts but not all.
Similar to Google Trips, this is a one-stop shop for all your travel documents. It does have a large following, but some reason it’s just never worked for me. You may have a totally different opinion and love it, so give it a try and see.
Looking for a last minute hotel? I have been using Hotwire for several years now and it has always come in handy. Whether your flight got delayed an extra day or you simply love making travel plans as you, Hotwire has got your back. By choosing to not know the hotel name until after booking, you can get some pretty good discounts. My only advice when doing this is to look at the reviews and make sure you are booking one that has over 80% positive feedback.
Have you tried any of these yet? Do you have other apps you love and use on every trip? Let me know in the comments below.
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