You have your time booked off work or school and you are now ready to start planning your next trip. Technology has revolutionized the way that we travel and there is a tremendous amount of content and software out there specifically designed to make travel easier; however, with all of the travel blogs, YouTube channels, Instagram accounts, and travel apps out there, it may seem that there is so much information available about all the places that you CAN travel to that you don’t even know where to start planning.
Over the past decade, thousands of travel apps have been launched and you can fill your iPhone or Android storage multiple times over with them yet still not have the right ones on hand when you need them. It can be challenging to rummage through all of them to figure out which ones best suit your needs and you may just end up with a phone full of apps that you never use and eventually forget about.
To help you wade through this sea of technology, we have put together this list of the best travel apps to help you find great and unique local spots all over the world. These have all been tested by our team of master travelers and we hope that you find them as useful as we do!
Regardless of whether you are an Apple iOS user or an Android fan, don’t worry as most of these apps are available on both platforms.
Where to Go and What to Do
As crazy as it sounds, sometimes the hardest part about planning your trip is deciding where to go. There are so many options out there that it may be difficult to choose which is the perfect one for you. And if you have limited vacation time, you may not want to risk going to a destination that isn’t the right fit for your needs. Thankfully, there are lots of options out there where you can get inspiration for your next adventure or for finding more information about different destinations.
Below are some of the best apps available to help you decide where to go and what to do there.
All those Skycanner is known for being a website where you can find cheap flights, it’s also very handy for figuring out what places you can go to If you’re trying to find inspiration for where your next trip can be. If you use their “search anywhere” function after you put in your departing city, it will come up with a full list of countries that you can go to, and then when you click further, you can see which cities have the cheapest flights. This is very good when you’re trying to find an international destination to go to.
Culture Trip is a wonderful platform for finding out the best things to do within a destination as well as great restaurants and hotels to go to. Their content ranges from top 10 lists to the best books to read before going to a destination and everything in between. This is a really great, and easy, way to find out about the history and culture of a place before visiting.
Over the past ten years, Instagram has shaped the way people travel and destinations that were largely left to intrepid travelers are now becoming mainstream thanks to the platforms massive reach around the world and travelers never ending desire to recreate the same photos that they saw in the platform. While it is a fantastic tool to find new destinations, Remember that many of the photos are heavily edited and don’t accurately reflect reality. It is a good idea to take a look at a number of different sources including blog posts, travel guides, and YouTube videos to see what a destination is really like before you make the effort to get there.
Social media has long been a way to find inspiration for where you want to go when you’re visiting a particular destination.. YouTube is now getting in on the act and you can find videos on virtually every destination around the world. These can range from the top 10 destinations to visit within a country all the way down to the best restaurants to visit in particular neighborhoods. Make sure you’re careful when choosing which videos to watch though as some appear to be auto-generated using stock files and Wikipedia-like-place descriptions and you may find yourself wasting time watching videos that have information that’s not particularly helpful for travelers.
Pinterest has largely been used to find inspiration for arts and crafts and cooking, it is a treasure trove of travel blogs as well. By doing just a quick search, you can find blog articles about destinations all over the world that are written by people that have recently been there and can give the most important up-to-date information about the best things to see, restaurants, hotels, and what the COVID restrictions were like. It is also a great platform for finding up-and-coming bloggers that you normally want to be able to find on a Google search without scrolling through pages and pages of search results. Since the results are displayed by imagery, it’s also easy to spot travel blogs versus other travel websites.
Let’s Roam Scavenger Hunts
If you are looking for a fun way to explore a new city, Let’s Roam offers great scavenger hunts that will have you racing around a city looking for your next clue. It is a great way to learn more about a city and have an amazing time doing it. With scavenger hunts all across America, you are sure to find a great one wherever you are!
If you are an avid hiker, AllTrails is a great app to have on your phone as it gives you information about hiking trails all around the world. The app has a free version you can use to search for different trails; however, if you want to download an offline version of one of the trail maps so that you can use it in a place where there is unlikely to be any cell phone service, you just have to pay a small fee.
Yelp is a platform where you can view guest reviews on restaurants, hotels, and attractions. It is one of the most comprehensive review websites in the United States and its app is a great way to find the best eateries and accommodation options while you are out on the road. You also have the option to leave reviews which is always slightly satisfying when you have had an amazing or not-so-amazing experience with a local business.
Although it doesn’t have a mobile app, AtlasObscura is one of the best websites to use to find truly obscure attractions in a destination. The destination reports are well-written, providing a good deal of background information usually allowing you to know how to get to an attraction, and what you’re looking at when you go to some of these locations.
Figuring out how to get to a destination may be the most complicated part of your journey and you can spend hours if not days surfing the internet trying to find information on how to get from Point A to Point B. Below are a handful of our favorite apps that help you get to local destinations across the planet covering everything from public transportation, ride sharing, and travel hacking.
When you first arrive at a destination and don’t have access to an internet connection or a local SIM card, Maps.Me can be a real life-saver. This offline map system uses GPS to track you and can offer some of the same functionality as Google Maps including directions on how to get places, tourist attractions, hotels, and restaurants. Much of the content is created using user reviews so while you may not find much information on locations, it’s really really helpful to be able to find your way around. You must remember to download the offline version of a map before you lose internet connectivity as this is the only way that the offline maps will be saved on your phone.
This awesome website is a favorite amongst globetrotters and it can show you how to get from anywhere to anywhere….and we mean anywhere. You simply need to plug in your departure point and arrival destination and Rome2Rio will pull up all the transit options including flights, public transportation, driving time, and walking distance (if applicable). This is great when you are trying to figure out how to get to smaller towns or regions as it helps you find the closest airport and how to get from the airport to your destination. They even include rough timetables for transportation with links to take you directly to the bus/train websites. They also have an interface with Booking.com that allows you to book your accommodation as well making it an easy spot to take care of all your travel needs.
Google Maps is pretty much self-explanatory and most people have used that at least once to find out where they’re going. As a traveler, there are a few extra tips and tricks that you can use to get full functionality and benefits out of it. Google reviews are extremely helpful at getting the most up-to-date information and of business or attraction and during COVID they have often had the most relevant information that you need to know in regards to restrictions, limited opening hours, and price changes that may not already be reflected on their website or in guidebooks. Businesses can also post updates about any changes or special events or activities that they have coming up so don’t forget to check those as well before you head to a destination.
Uber has largely replaced taxis in many parts of the world and it is no surprise why. It is extremely useful when trying to get from one place to another within a city without having to negotiate with a driver or being worried about them taking you for a ride. It is even more useful when you are a traveler and don’t have the local currency or the language skills to be able to give directions or even the address to a driver.
Pro Tip: When you are trying to learn a language, take advantage of the opportunity to chat with your Uber driver. Regardless of where you are in the world, they will generally all ask the same basic questions, giving you the chance to perfect your basic introduction. If they are bored or especially friendly, they may even teach you how to count and to give directions!
Depending on where you are in the world, Uber may not be available or not be the most popular ride-hailing app so make sure to check what most people use. In the Middle East, Careem is extremely popular; whereas in Latin America, you may have more luck with other platforms like Didi and in India, Ola should be your go-to. This helpful article provides a pretty comprehensive list of different ride-hailing apps all over the world.
This super useful map app is currently only available in 58 cities around the world but this is definitely a great example of quality over quantity. CityMapper gives users plenty of transport options including public transport, cycling, driving, and walking, and even gives you an estimate of how much money you will spend per ride/drive or how many calories you will burn if you decide to hoof. There is even an option to have the route stick to main roads if there are any safety concerns. This is a great way to find your way to the best local spots in a city without having to worry about dodgy directions that lead you down dodgy alleyways or dark side streets.
Roadtrippers is a great road trip planning app that gives you ideas on itineraries that you can follow, and shows you what great things are located nearby your chosen route including places like gas stations, mom and pop diners and quirky roadside attractions across the United States, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia. You can use the app to plot up to seven stops along your route and then can upgrade to a paid pro version which allows you to have up to 150 stops and use the app to collaborate with your travel partners
Bla Bla Car
This great ride-sharing app allows you to join long-distance carpools all around the world. You simply need to put in your location and where you want to go and Bla Bla Car will show you any drivers that are heading in that direction, and how much they will charge for you to hitch a ride with them. Before requesting a ride, you can check out the driver’s reviews and see how many other passengers will be in the car which is a great feature if you are concerned about safety. It is a great way to meet locals from a town or city and find out some of the best non-touristy places to go.
Hopper is an awesome tool for finding cheap flights as long as you have the time and the patience to take advantage of its great features. Unlike other apps for booking flights, they don’t just give you the cheapest flights. They have a built-in price tool that forecasts the best time to buy your flights and helps give you some peace of mind that you are booking at the right time. You can even set up price notifications that will let you know if the price of your selected flight begins to fluctuate.
Have you ever noticed that the flights to a major hub are much more expensive than if you actually flew to a secondary destination through the same airport on the exact same flight? It seems crazy but airlines often price their flights based on demand and hub-to-hub flights can often get extremely pricey. Skiplagged has come up with a little travel hack for this that save money on airfare by helping you find the cheapest flights from Point A to Point B regardless of what the final destination on your itinerary says (ie you basically leave the airport at your layover destination and forfeit the second leg of your ticket). It is important to keep in mind that skiplagging is frowned upon by airlines and they only really work on a particular type of trip (one way tickets, carry on only, etc) so make sure to read up on it a bit before deciding whether or not it works for you.
As one of the most popular metasearch engines out there, Skyscanner is a one-stop-shop for helping you book your next trip. They list prices from major airline websites and travel brokers and although not all their flight prices are actually real-time, they can often give you a good idea of prices. If you are flying smaller, regional carriers, make sure that you double-check the prices on the airline website as they can vary wildly. It is also a good idea to use Skyscanner as a reference tool and then do a search directly on an airline website. The Skyscanner prices may or may not be the cheapest fare and they sometimes omit the “basic fares” that many airlines have rolled out and only show the second price tier. Going directly to the website when booking can sometimes save money so it is always worth double-checking.
Like Skyscanner, Kayak is a metasearch engine that can give you the best prices for hotels, flights, rental cars, and even cruises. The two websites have pretty much the same functionality and normally give the same rates for flights and hotels; however, it is always worth checking both before whipping out your credit card!
If you decide to bus it around the United States, Greyhound has the most extensive route plan of all bus operators across the country and connects some truly surprising places. Their uaer friendly app makes it easy to book your ticket, track your bus, and it notifies you of any bus delays that you may encounter.
The Man in Seat 66
This one isn’t an app, but an amazing website for finding train information all over the world. The website is broken down into geographical areas and then you can search further to find additional information on train connections within a country along with helpful links to find the train operator’s website. The website was started as a way to help people plan long-distance cross-continent train journeys and it certainly does all that and more!
Where to Stay
While simply booking an international hotel in a destination may seem like the easiest way to find a place to stay, this is not always an option especially if you’re traveling to some more off-the-beaten-path destinations. Thankfully, there are plenty of hotel booking apps where you can find great accommodation ranging from high-end five-star properties down to charming guesthouses that give you a chance to interact with locals.
AirBnb capitalized on people’s desire to explore places like a local and although it has grown to include everything from hostels to hotels, it is still a great place to book standalone apartments or rent rooms in a local house. They even launched their own “Experiences” which allows visitors to book unique tours and activities created by locals. This is the perfect opportunity to try something new and unexpected.
HotelTonight is a great app if you are looking for deals on last-minute hotel bookings. You can find some pretty substantial discounts in major cities around the world which is ideal if you are looking for a weekend getaway, staycation, or find yourself randomly having to spend an extra night somewhere due to flight delays or cancellations, travel plans changing, etc.
With headquarters in Amsterdam, Booking.com started off as a small website where you could book hotels in Europe and has now become one of the biggest booking sites for hotel rooms. They have options EVERYWHERE around the world and although they may not offer all the bells and whistles like Agoda and Expedia do when it comes to reward bookings, their simple website, and booking app make it easy to use when you are on the move and you are likely to find at least a few accommodation options no matter where you are in the world.
Based in Bangkok, Agoda is the sister company of Booking.com and started off focusing solely on the Asian market. While their coverage has expanded greatly, this is THE app to use when you are trying to find hotels in Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, and so on. They offer some great discounts and special offers within the app helping you save even more money on accommodation.
This online travel giant sells flights, hotels, cruises, and more and is especially handy for booking flights. Their app is super user-friendly and is much faster than trying to book through airline websites which can be clunky and problematic. While it is risky to book long, expensive flights through a third party, Expedia is perfect for securing your short, point-to-point flights that you will be taking in the near future.
Rather than being just an app, Couchsurfing is a community of hosts and travelers who open their lives to one another. Hosts will generally offer a spot on their couch or a spare room (if they have one) and can show you around their hometown. It is a fantastic way to make new friends and really get a glimpse inside a local’s home and life. While there are a few dodgy men lurking around, they are usually pretty easy to spot (stay clear ladies!). There are usually plenty of ex-pats in many of the bigger destinations that are open to hosting and this can also prove really useful in getting great travel tips and learning how to navigate the city or country as a foreigner.
Pro Tip: If you are a woman and love the idea of staying with a local but want to find the safest possible way to do so, you may want to check out the Facebook group Host a Sister. This female-only page allows women to post about a destination they were going to and (hopefully!) connect with women who are able to host them or even just meet up for dinner or drinks.
While WorkAway doesn’t have an app, it is a great website to use to find work exchange placements around the world. This gives travelers the chance to work in exchange for their accommodation and you can find “jobs” at hostels, farmstays, or even working as au pairs for host families. This is a wonderful way to meet locals and other travelers and learn about places in a destination that most other travelers miss out on.
Dealing with the Logistics
Sometimes when we travel, we get so excited about booking our flights and our accommodation that we forget about the logistics that also need to be taken care of. This includes things like currency conversions, overcoming language barriers, packing, and actually paying for our trips. While this may not be considered as glamorous as the other parts of travel, it’s really really important if you want to be able to explore the best spots in a destination.
TripIt is one of the best apps l for keeping your travel plans organized and in one easy-to-access place. You simply need to forward your confirmation emails to the app and it will do all the heavy lifting for you. It will even send you reminders of your transportation and accommodation bookings to make sure that you don’t miss anything. This is a fantastic tool if you are planning a multi-leg trip but are having trouble keeping track of everything.
Where is Public Toilet
We all know that when you gotta go, you gotta go. This useful app can help you find a public toilet all around the world so that you can travel in comfort without having to constantly be on the lookout for the next bathroom break.
There is no better way to learn about a place than by talking to the locals who call it home. DuoLingo is the perfect tool to brush up on conversational language skills quickly so that you don’t miss out on one of the best parts of travel: the people. DuoLingo offers more than 30 different languages and promises that you can learn a new language in just a few minutes a day. While this may be a little overly optimistic in some cases, it is definitely useful in learning the basics that you need to get started when you arrive in a new country.
No matter how passionate you are about visiting a place, how many hours you practice on DuoLingo, or how many blogs and guidebooks you read, sometimes you need some help understanding what is going on or getting your point across when you are trying to navigate around a new country or city. Google Translate is there to help and can provide on-the-spot translation services using your camera, voice, or text.
XE Currency Converter
XE Currency Converter can help you successfully navigate through the world of foreign money by providing up-to-date currency conversions between hundreds of currencies. This is a great tool to have ready before you arrive in a new country. If you have trouble remembering the currency exchange rate (some of the conversions can get a little crazy with all the 000s – we are looking at you Vietnam!), you can easily take a screenshot of the app so that you have it handy even if you are not connected to wifi.
Depending on where you travel, you may find yourself suddenly unable to access money which makes it pretty difficult to go off and discover new places. Luckily, the tried and true Western Union is there for you. Operating in 200 countries, this company has been helping people get access to cash for over 170 years. The exchange rates and fees may not be particularly favorable but if you suddenly find yourself sitting in Somaliland unable to pay for your hotel because there are no ATMs and you ran out of money, it is a small price to pay to get access to money. With Western Union, you can have someone send money to you, or you can even send it to yourself through your bank account or credit card. You can also use it to pay for tours in countries where other money transfer services don’t work (ie Pakistan, Iraq, etc).
Wise.com (formerly Transferwise) is another great money transfer service that allows you to transfer money across countries at a very low cost. Depending on where you live, you can even get an ATM card that gives you access to your cash so that you don’t need to always transfer it to an external bank account.
What’sApp has become one of the most popular messaging systems around the world and their app offers you a way to keep in touch with new friends that you meet during your travels, contact businesses even if your cell phone service isn’t working, or connect with locals or ex-pats in a destination through different What’sApp groups. This is particularly handy if you plan on being in a destination for a few weeks or more as you can learn where are the best places to buy things, keep up to date on any destination information that you may need to know about (workers strikes, traffic issues, safety concerns, etc), and maybe even get invited to a fun event or activity.
Pro-Tip for Female Travelers: In many parts of the world, men will ask repeatedly for your What’sApp or Instagram. Don’t give it out unless you absolutely have to unless you want to get contacted repeatedly by some guy that you met for approximately five seconds. While it may seem like a nice way to connect with a local and learn more about a place, it virtually never works out that way and if you are really unlucky, you may get some explicit photos sent out of the blue.
Sometimes, one of the most stressful parts of traveling is actually packing! The worry about forgetting something important is definitely real and you don’t want to ruin your beach vacation by forgetting your swimsuit or getting to the mountains of Bulgaria and realizing that you don’t have any warm socks. Packpoint can take the hassle out of packing by helping you put together the perfect packing list based on the length of your trip and the activities that you will be doing while you are there and even tells you how many pairs of underwear that you will need. This can be extremely useful if you are relatively new to traveling and don’t have a standard routine for packing down yet and can help you plan trips that last up to 30 days.
While the idea of a cross-country road trip sounds like the chance to throw caution to the wind and leave all your cares behind, the reality is that you still have to worry about the essentials like food, accommodation, and gas. This great app helps you find the cheapest stations around you and is worth its weight in gold (or….gas) when you are on a road trip. As of now, Gasbuddy shows gas stations in the United States, Canada, and Australia which is kind of perfect as these are three amazing spots for an epic marathon road trip!
If you work remotely, then this app should definitely be on your phone. It is a great way to check internet speeds and stability in your accommodation which can be super important if you need to jump on a conference call or prove internet speeds for any reason. SpeedTest.net seems to be one of the most accurate and easy-to-understand speed test apps out there.
If you have a long layover in a destination, this fantastic app will show where the lounges are in 230 airports across the globe. LoungeBuddy also shows what amenities the lounge has and features photos and reviews left by fellow travelers. You can even put your credit card details in to find out if there are any lounges that you have free access to.
Frequently Asked Questions About the Best Travel Apps
There are a ton of great travel apps that help you find the best spots in a destination including Roadtrippers, YouTube, TripIt. Learn more about The Best Travel Apps.
There are a ton of great travel apps to get started on planning your first time to a destination including Roadtrippers, YouTube, TripIt. Learn more about The Best Travel Apps