Must-have Travel Apps

There are a whole host of different apps to make your travelling life easier on the road. Covering things like, getting around, accommodation, keeping organised, as well as staying connected with friends and family and making new connections and memories! Some of the apps on the list I have already used regularly and some I have downloaded for my upcoming 8-month solo trip.

I’ll be writing an updated summary of what I found most and least useful when I return from my trip but for now, after extensive research, these are the apps I intend to download and use for my trip, and which I think are worth recommending and exploring for other travellers to see if they may be of some use to you too!

This article contains affiliate links, which means I make a small commission if you decide to purchase via that link. The price is not increased to include my commission, and I only include products that I use and love myself.

Flights/flying

Sky Scanner

I always use Sky Scanner to check for the best prices and times and dates to travel. I have tried a few of the other highly recommended flight checking websites and apps, but always found Sky Scanner to come out on top! If you’re looking to start an adventure but don’t know anything other than your budget size and month of travel you can set your home airport and search for flights ‘everywhere’, perfect if you’re maybe just looking for some sunshine or relaxation and don’t have a particular destination in mind.



FLIO

Is a nifty little app which combines lots of different things in one easy to follow app. Input your flight details or import them from another app (I also recommend the trip organiser app Trip-it which you can actually use to import all your flight details from too). Once it has your flight details it will display a list of airports which you will be flying in and out of. Then under each airport, you’ll be able to find useful information such as, buying a local SIM card, finding power outlets, the best way to get into the nearby city, and what restaurants are available.

FLIO also creates a community so that people who visit airports can submit tips, and then users can access up to date information. You obviously need to use your own discretion though,  as after a quick look I saw two tips one after the other – one slating the selection of restaurants and another praising them at one particular airport. You can even access airport lounge information and book passes through the app – an easy way to avoid the total embarrassment I experienced at JFK airport during my layover to the Bahamas.

Official Airline App

Once you’re all booked up and ready to go it’s also a great idea to download the Airline carrier’s app. You’ll most likely be able to view your airline ticket details on the app, as well as update any personal information, and get real-time updates regarding your flight and any changes. Obviously, each of the airline apps will work slightly differently but it’s worth checking out.

people inside commercial air plane

Organisation

Trip-it

I’ve been using this app to help me plan my 8-month trip so far, and it’s been really helpful in keeping me organised and a great tool to refer to. It initially uses your emails to find and locate any flight or accommodation bookings so it can translate it into the app. Sometimes it doesn’t always get it right though or quite pick it up, but this is easily rectified by forwarding the relevant email to the team at Trip-it to physically import the information.

Once you’ve got your itinerary set you can also export the whole file to others. The first destination on my 8 month solo trip is Sri Lanka, I’m planning most of the accommodation before I go and already have my flights booked, so once it’s all in Trip-it I can email it to my family and they’ll have access to all of my flight and hotel booking information just like that! Great to appease any anxious families, as well as a great safety tool, should the worst happen.

Accommodation

Booking.com

I love booking.com. it is such an easy website and app to use, and there are literally thousands of properties to choose from, sometimes there are too many, but luckily that’s where the filters can come in, (where I usually minimise the price and maximise the stars and ratings and try to somehow find something which is nice enough for me to afford on my super tight budget!).



Booking.com

Air BnB

I haven’t used Air BnB a whole heap to be honest, but I’ve found that it’s been great for group bookings where an apartment, house or villa would be much better than a hotel. I have booked a lovely little apartment for my stay in South Korea though which was great value for money, and a nicer option than the hotels I could find in the same price range. So it’s always worth checking out the options on Air BnB too!

Expedia

I used Expedia to book my trip to The Bahamas for my sister and I, and everything went very smoothly. I hadn’t used them before this but they were the only site where I could find a decent hotel at a reasonable price for when we wanted to go. Even better they work on a points system, and I now have a little pot of money to book some budget hotels for my next upcoming trip too!



Getting around

Rome 2 Rio

I’ve mainly been using the website on my laptop so far with the travel planning stage, and it has been great! You can input any two destinations and it will explore all the different travel options of how to get between the two. Covering flights, taxi, buses and trains as well as providing rough prices and links to purchase tickets, if available. I know this is going to come in so handy when I’m actually travelling around, especially if perhaps things don’t go to plan and I have to look at alternative routes. It also helps you to weigh up time/cost by providing the comparisons of different travel methods.

Uber/ Grab/ Pick me

There are lots of different taxi cab apps now available operating in different countries. The most popular in the UK being Uber. It’s worth researching the most popular option in the country you are travelling too though. For example Grab currently operates in Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore , Thailand, and Vietnam, and although Uber is available in Sri Lanka the app Pick me is a Sri Lankan based taxi cab service which also provides tuk-tuks and food delivery!

person wearing beige sweater holding map inside vehicle

Maps.me

This app is often hailed as the best app for offline maps, and I can understand why. You can download maps ahead of time and then use them offline once you’ve reached your destination, minimising the need to pay for internet and data. You can also highlight categories when you are using the maps, such as, where to eat, hotels, wifi, transport, pharmacies, Police, toilets and ATMs to name just a few.

Finance

XE currency converter

A simple and really easy to use currency converter, which allows you to store up to 9 different currencies, great if you’re travelling to lots of different places and need to keep reminding yourself of the different exchange rates, which I already know is going to be very difficult to keep up with!

Trail Wallet

I’m on a very tight budget for my upcoming trip, just £30 per day to cover accommodation, transport, food, and sights, so it’s really important that I can track my spending and make sure I don’t consistently go over budget ( I already know I will go over occasionally but I’m hoping I can make some savings elsewhere too). It enables you to enter in the amount of any purchase per day and then categorise this spend under either uncategorised, accommodation, food, transport, entertainment, miscellaneous, and then oddly bribes, (I’m hoping I won’t have to pay our for too many bribes!)

You can also take a photograph, maybe if you’ve bought a souvenir, or a particular meal and you wanted to track your spends visually too. There’s a variety of currencies to choose from, as well as different methods of payment such as cash, credit, debit or other. I’m planning on writing budget breakdowns for each country I’m in too, so this is going to be a very handy app for doing this.

Revolut

I’ll be taking with me my Debit and Credit Card, but I’m also going to be taking a Revolut card as another back up for accessing money, just in case I manage to lose the first two! The card comes with a handy app too, which lets you transfer money onto the card from your bank account and keep track of your spending.

man holding u s dollar banknotes and black leather bi fold wallet

Etiquette

Gratitude Tipping

The financial apps, I’m hoping will help me keep track of spending, manage my money and also get my head around the currency conversion for each country I visit. Another aspect of finance and money whilst abroad though is proper tipping etiquette. I don’t know how many times I’ve arrived in a country, hopped in a. taxi or eaten a delicious meal and then not known what the etiquette is. Just because it may be customary to tip in the UK, this doesn’t apply to the rest of the world, sometimes the act of tipping can even be seen as offensive. Equally, if tipping is the norm, there may be different expectations in how much.

Even if you don’t intend to tip or feel as though the service received doesn’t warrant a tip, it’s still a good idea to be familiar with the etiquette. The Gratitude Tipping app is an excellent choice for helping you through this minefield. You can select the country, and then indicate which service you have received, for example, food, taxi, porter or drink. After answering a series of questions, like how many people are in the group, how much was the spend, and how you rated the service and so on, it will calculate the correct amount to tip!

Food

Happy Cow

I’m so glad this app exists! You can either enter a destination or search what’s around you in real time and find which restaurants have vegan, vegetarian or veg-options. I actually use this all the time when I’m out and about in the UK to check what’s on offer around me. As well as restaurant information and menus, it also has the option to submit and read other user comments.

Vegan Society Passport

I know this app is going to come in extremely handy. I always feel quite disappointed with myself that I can’t speak another language (sadly I don’t think I can count my GCSE Italian as I can only remember a handful of words and even then I get it confused with French!) I’m equally in awe when I hear people switch from one language to another. So I by no means ever expect that people should communicate with me in English when I am in their own country, it’s just ignorant and a bit of a pet peeve if I’m honest when others hold this expectation!

I will be making the effort to learn some language using the Duo Lingo app and using google translate if I get stuck. However, the Vegan Society have your back covered when you’re in a restaurant and trying to communicate what even being vegan actually means. It has a fantastic paragraph which clearly and politely explains what it means to be vegan and can be translated into a whopping 78 languages!

Communication

Duolingo

Sadly the app doesn’t cover all of the languages I’ll be experiencing during my trip, however, they do have a wide selection still. You can select the language you wish to learn, and then pick a level of intensity. They are all easy to fit into your day though and vary from casual – 5 minutes a day to intense – 20 minutes a day. You can also log the reason you wish to learn, like travel, work, culture, brain training, and also record if you are a complete beginner or you know a little of the language. Once you’ve entered in all of the information the app will provide you with a regular teaching segment once a day!

Google Translate

Like I said, earlier, I don’t like visiting new countries and being completely unable to communicate or rely on others knowing English for my benefit. I  am going to try and learn some simple phrases or questions using the Duolingo app, but sometimes I know that I will just need a translator to help me out. Google translate is a highly recommended app and has over 100 languages available, using different methods, like the microphone, photographs and images, and just typing directly into the app, you can quickly and easily translate into your chosen language and make communication that bit easier.

Tours and day trips

Trip Advisor

I regularly use trip advisor to check out reviews and plan tours and trips. To save time and make life easier I’ve downloaded the app so I can quickly and easily search for day trips or check out reviews for restaurants!



Viator

Much like Trip Advisor I also like using Viator to research and look for day tours and trips. I’ve used them in the past for a trip to Krakow, and had a great experience!


Culture Trip

Culture trip is my go-to website for researching places to visit, what to see and do and where to stay. You can also download articles to read them offline later and forward them on to others via email.

Guides by Lonely Planet

Lonely Planet also provides great inspiration for what to see and do across the world. Within the app you can download city guides ahead of time. The guides then give you access to maps with locations of things to see, do eat, and stay. As well as access to tours, tickets and links to other useful websites.



Meeting travel buddies

Travello

Travello is a really popular app for meeting other travellers, it’s designed for any type of traveller, solo female traveller, groups, couples, families. You can record your plans or itinerary and then see what’s going on around you and what other people might be up to, with the idea that if both parties want to you can arrange to meet up and hang out. I’ve downloaded the app ahead of time, but I am a little cautious that I am travelling as a solo female and I’m not using the app to meet potential dates, but this could very well be the motivation for others, (if you want to do that just download tinder). So I am a little sceptical at the moment, but we’ll see as time goes on.

Tourlina

Not as popular as Travello, but an app I can get more on board with is Tourlina. The app works in a very similar way to Travello but the difference is – it is only for female solo travellers! You upload your plans or itinerary, and then the app will scan the other users details and see if you have a match, (someone who will be in the same area as you at the same time). I’ve recorded a few of my trips so far and had a few matches but not actually built up the confidence to reach out yet! I think I will once I’m away though and feeling the need for a little human contact and conversation.

Entertainment

Spotify

I love using Spotify, as you can create playlists, check out the latest charts and search by genre. I use Spotify on a daily basis and will definitely be taking it with me to keep me entertained on long journeys, or just to unwind after a busy day.

Netflix/Amazon Prime

I plan on taking with me my phone, kindle and laptop, and hope that I’ll be able to watch the odd film or series when I’m travelling or having some downtime. Especially travelling solo, I imagine it’ll be nice to get lost in a film if I’m feeling a little lonely, as I know it won’t always be possible to just call friends or family, or video chat with time differences and work commitments.

woman with headphones listening music

Documenting your trip

Polar Steps

I’ll be using this app to help track my journey over the next 8 months. The app tracks distance covered and maps out your route on an intuitive app. It enables you to upload photographs when you’ve reached your destination and write a summary of that location. There is also a social networking element to the app so you can follow other travellers, exploring destinations and other traveller photos and summaries before you arrive, and then others can do the same too. I plan on sharing my Polar Steps username with friends and family so they can download the app, and follow me along the way too if they wish. You can even transform your travels into a brilliant printed book once you’re finished via the app!

Staying connected

Life 360 – Find Family, Friends

This is a rather nifty little app, which is brilliant for safety. Your friends and family can all download the app and then by enabling location services on the app, they can see where you are in the world at any time. You can also ‘check in’ every so often, maybe when you safely arrive at a destination which will let you notify all of your family and friends who use the app at just a click of a button.

selective focus photography of child s hand on person s palm

So there it is, there are quite a few apps on this list! I imagine once I start using the new and unfamiliar apps and get a feel for them I’ll be able to whittle them down to an essential list. Although as long as my phone storage can keep up with me I’ll happily keep all of these apps with me!

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my must-have travel apps, and that you found some of the suggestions helpful. Some of the apps I haven’t used on a regular basis yet, so I’ll be writing an updated review when I’m, back from my travels!Have I missed anything out? What apps have you found most useful when you have travelled? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below.

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Must-have Travel Apps

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Mel • Your Travel Handbook
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Very comprehensive post!