The 10 Best Travel Apps to Download Before Your Next Vacation
August 8, 2020
We are so incredibly lucky to be living in the time that we are. Traveling has become so much easier thanks to the use of modern technology and the internet. We don’t have to worry about getting lost in an unfamiliar area because we have GPS. Confused about what someone is saying in a foreign language? Check Google Translate. Need a last minute hotel? Looking for places to stop along a road trip? You’ll be able to do all that and more – right on your phone! Here are some of the best travel apps that will make your next vacation even better. Just connect to wifi first do you don’t eat all your data!
Originally published June 14, 2017. Updated and republished August 8, 2020.
AirBnB has taken the travel world by storm in the last several years. It’s a great choice to find unique stays, like this bed & breakfast in Oneida County. But one of my favorite features? Being able to save your favorite properties into different lists for different trips. Even better? You can share the lists with your friends, so you can all contribute places you love!
I’ve been an avid supporter of Expedia for years. They almost always have the best prices on flights and hotels, and their loyalty program is fantastic. I also got an Expedia+ credit card so that I earn points toward free nights at hotels and have automatic VIP+ Access. So far I’ve booked nearly ten free hotel nights – no blackout dates or anything!
Even better? Most VIP+ hotels offer some sort of perk. I’ve gotten free welcome cocktails. In Niagara Falls we got breakfast in bed. The best was when we got a room upgrade in Munich with unlimited mini bar!
Now I always book my hotels through the Expedia app – usually for double or triple rewards points too!
You can’t write an article about the best travel apps without including some of the Google suite. Google just does thing so well that it helps to organize all aspects of your trip.
Google Maps: This one should be a given. You should have this on your phone for every day life. Just yesterday I discovered the cutest chocolate and coffee shop due to review from a Google Local Guide! But my best tip with Google Maps? If you’re traveling internationally, or somewhere with spotty cell service, download the map of your destination for use offline. It will be a lifesaver!
Google Sheets: With a background in mathematics, it should be no surprise that I’m obsessed with Google Sheets. I’m just another ‘lady in the streets, but a freak in the spreadsheets!’ I use Google Sheets to organize every last detail of my trips – from budget, to itinerary, to coordinating with friends.
Google Translate: If you’re traveling to a place where people speak another language, Google Translate is a miracle worker. Before you leave, download the language from your destination so you can translate offline. When you’re traveling, you can translate anything by typing, speaking, or taking a photo.
Hotel Tonight is one of my favorite travel apps. This is a great app for unexpected overnight stays away from home or stopovers on long road trips. This app offers super-discounted rates for hotel stays within the next few months. The closer the date, the better the rate. My husband and I use this when we are on long road trips and we aren’t sure where we will end up on a given night – which is the best! It lets us be flexible and choose where to stop without being stuck on setting a destination ahead of time. Remember, if you get too tired, stop driving and find a place to spend the night!
Pro tip: the app will sometimes offer better rates than the hotels themselves. Believe me! We tested it. The first time we used the app, we called the hotel we wanted to book to see what their rate was for the night and it was nearly twice what the app offered. Hotel Tonight for the win!
There are also reward tiers for using the app often. Even better? Use the code DPATCHETT to get $25 off the first time you book a hotel using the app.
Between Google Flights and Kayak, I can always find the best flight deals. One-way, round-trip, or multi-city routes are all searchable. Include nearby airports to look for cheaper rates, or use flexible dates. You can save itineraries or specific flight plans to get price updates via email. But my favorite feature? Explore. You can choose your starting city and see what the current deals are for anywhere in the world. Discover your next destination!
This has to be my favorite app to use when planning a trip or in the midst of traveling. Roadtrippers lets you set your starting point and your destination so you can plan the roadtrip along the way! You can set the distance you’re willing to travel off-route, and then select categories for what types of things you are looking to do.
My favorite things to look for are local breweries, parks, zoos, and ‘offbeat attractions’. Each route is super customizable, so you can reorder stops, add or remove as you wish.
Once you’ve added all of the stops you want, Roadtrippers will calculate total mileage, driving time, and estimated gas cost. You can even share your trip with your friend(s) so you can all contribute to the trip! This app has helped me find some of my favorite stops on our road trips that I otherwise never would have known about.
Rome to Rio
If you are not sure which method of transportation you want to use, Rome to Rio is the place to start. The app lets you search between two cities, and then gives you cost estimates for driving, train, bus, or plane. The perfect place to start for indecisive folks (like me). And like Hotel Tonight, they also offer heavily discounted hotel rates.
When I’m searching for flights, Google Flights and Kayak are by far my favorite search engines. But a flight isn’t always your best option. When you’d rather travel by train or bus, Wanderu is your new best friend. Wanderu does for land travel what Kayak does for air; it searches all of the companies and routes available to offer you the best options. You can then sort by departure or arrival time, cost, or length. It’s really great.
Traveling abroad? Make sure you have WhatsApp and that your friends back home have it too! WhatsApp is by far the best app to use to call or text your friends and family while you are abroad. It’s basically all of the important features of a telephone, but powered by wifi only. You can create groups, video chat, send pictures… And it’s based off of your actual phone number, so be sure to have the international numbers saved in your phone with their country codes.
Yelp is another one that has been around for a while now, but I still praise it! Not only is it a great source for finding local restaurants with accurate reviews, but when you check in at a restaurant, brewery, or other attraction, sometimes you’ll unlock a ‘check-in offer’! It can vary from $1 off your entry at a park, or a free glass of wine with dinner. Doesn’t matter what it is, you know I love a good deal!
Best Travels Apps for Your Next Vacation – Or Staycation!
So before your next trip, make sure you download these apps to have with you. Your vacation will be cheaper, less stressful, and more enjoyable! Of course, don’t forget to download the local public transportation app to help you understand the schedules and get around town, or Waze if you are driving. National Geographic recently published their own list of best travel apps; so check theirs out too!