The Best Travel Apps
I’ve been on the road for almost two years now. Last year, I had a list of Android apps (and iPhone) that I used most. Since then I’ve added, deleted, and some even came back, like AirBnB, to my travel arsenal. My choice of apps that focus on function over form. I don’t play games on my phone and I have it tightly integrated into my work and travel.
There are over half a million apps in the Google play store and more coming every day. It can be overwhelming to wade through what’s useful or not but here are 21 Android, and iPhone, apps that I found useful and will continue to use for Travel purposes in 2017.
1 – Google Translate
A year and a half of travel around Europe and South America and I’m still using this app. It’s still better to learn a few phrases of the language of places you’re visiting at but Google Translate is the next best thing.
You can download offline translations and it can translate words using your camera over foreign text and words. Google Translate has become an indispensable tool and application in my arsenal that I can simply do without.
Part of the fun owning an Android device is the native functionality of Google Maps. You can now make do without the extra weight and cumbersome paper maps when you travel. All you need to make sure is that you have battery juice on your Android device. It has an offline mode where you download sections of a map so you can still use it without a mobile connection.
It has an offline mode where you download sections of a map so you can still use it without a mobile connection. It’s also integrated with your Google Account so you can access your saved spots on your PC or other devices. It’s very useful for navigating in foreign countries when you have no mobile data.
It’s very useful for navigating in foreign countries when you have no mobile data. There’s a new feature in a recent update that might come in handy in the future. It allows you the ability to record and save places and tracks you’ve been to.
3 – Swarm/Foursquare
I have a confession. I’m addicted to Swarm. I find myself checking in at every possibility to gain points and coins to beat my friends for the week’s tally. I want to dethrone every mayor in every establishment I come across.
While it may sound like all competitive fun and games, it’s also a very useful app. I often refer to it for places I’ve forgotten I’ve been to. It serves as a bookmarking app for places you checked in at.
4 – Skyscanner
I was a Google matrix fan in the past but I find it to be less reliable nowadays than Skyscanner. Skyscanner is now my go to app for finding flights and cheap flight deals.
It’s not free per se but included in your Prime Membership for FREE. It’s more than paid itself ten times over what it costs to be a member. Free Unlimited and storage on Amazon’s reliable cloud service for photos and RAW photo files. You can also backup your files and Video for a nominal fee.
I have terabytes of RAW files uploaded on the Amazon Cloud for backup. All the photos on my smartphone are automatically backed up on the cloud whenever I have Wi-Fi service on. The User Interface could use a little facelift and improvements but it does what it’s meant to do, back up photos.
I use Google Drive and Photos in conjunction with Amazon Prime to back up my photos and some files. It has a slick user interface that seems to improve with each update. I can edit my photos directly from the app if I wanted to.
The only problem with Google Drive/Photos is the limited storage. You’ll have to pay extra for larger storage capacity on their cloud. I don’t see the benefit or advantage over the Amazon Prime solution especially when you consider the benefits of Prime membership.
This is still the most reliable VOIP (Voice Over I/P) system I’ve ever used. I’ve tried over services but none compare in terms of reliability. If you want to talk overseas, you have to buy some credits at Google for international calling.
It’s cheap. I’m still 80% of my $10 credit and I’ve used hundreds of minutes on international calls already. There’s rarely any dropped calls but it depends on the quality of the Wi-Fi connection and internet service provider.
It’s a little bit cumbersome to setup and maybe only it will only attract the geeky types (like me). But once you get up going you’ll find it the most useful setup for communication.
The only problems I ran across is that I can’t seem to receive incoming calls from it. It also doesn’t allow you to send SMS internationally. But this setup is the next best thing to having Google Project-Fi.
While I may not have my nose glued to my phone on Facebook nowadays, I still do use the Messenger system often. You can download it as a separate app over Facebook.
Nearly everyone I know is on Messenger so it is my default form of communicating with friends and family. It uses data so it doesn’t require a texting plan. Say goodbye to SMS.
9 – WhatsApp
Works over Wi-Fi or mobile data. It’s not really an SMS app, it’s more of a messaging app with a huge global user base. A lot of people still use it so most of the travelers I meet on the road and future friends are on it.
It has voice calling, media attachments, and all kinds of other cool things practically eliminating a Texting plan. The annoying thing with it is, it doesn’t interact with other messaging apps.
I’m still using this app for Currency Conversion. No-nonsense interface and very easy to use. It remembers your favorite currencies and can even use it off-line. There are a few kinks, like not being able to backspace after conversion on the bottom currency, but nothing that detracts from its main function.
11 – Prey
Prey is just there installed on my devices. I never have to tinker with it or use it constantly. Prey helps secure your smartphone, tablet, and laptop. You can track multiple devices in case it gets stolen or lost. It will send out notifications via email it detects that one of your devices has gone missing.
I’ve never had to use this app for what it’s intended to do and hope to never have to.
12 – Booking
I use Booking to book hotels, hostels, and various other accommodations more than I use other services. It tends to give the better prices and most of the places I book allows cancellations without fees, unlike Hostelworld.
It’s fast and efficient to use. I’ve even used it book the hotel/hostel where I’m at currently because it offers better prices than the walk-in. You can try it yourself, go to the hostel/hotel in question. Ask for a room/bed and compare the price you see on booking. You might just get a better price!
13 – MapPov
I use MapPov for convenience. It basically maps out available hotels/hostels by Booking.com on an easy to use map interface. It displays the lowest prices from the top hotel providers on a map. Use it directly on this website and I’ll get a commission for the referral.
14 – Hostelworld
On rare occasions that the hostel in question isn’t on Booking, I use Hostelw0rld. Some hostels in Eastern Europe won’t even accept walk-ins and you’ll either have to book on Hostelw0rld or Booking to get a bed or room.
You’ll get dinged for cancellations of reservations on this service so you should use Booking whenever possible. The interface and usability are really nice. Booking a room is easy and fast.
15 – AirBnB
I’ve had a few problems with Airbnb in the past. Usually with long term leasing and cancellations. But I’ve been using it with great success recently.
I still think the landlords jack up the prices for rent knowing it’s catered to tourist but if you don’t know the language or the country, this is your best and only option.
16 – JetRadar
JetRadar has and awesome easy to use WEBSITE for searching and booking low fare flights. It has quickly become one my favorite flight search app. JetRadar can sometimes find me fares cheaper than Kayak, Travelocity, and other Airline search engine. Amazingly the search result has a fare that includes taxes, a feature I really appreciate. It also has a clean interface and is easy to use.
17 – GoEuro
I still use Rome2Rio every now and then but GoEuro is one of the fastest travel platforms in Europe! It compares trains, buses and plane prices and timetables all in one place. With this program, we are looking to grow our user base in Europe and as well as the United States and Canada. We are aspiring to become the leading platform for booking European trips.
18 – Instagram
While I find myself using Instagram less and less. I still use it to engage with social media followers. The new algorithm, with a focus on adverts, has shot the engagement is down. I get a lot of canned responses that I’m sure are generated from bots or some sort of automated script.
19 – Trover
I wish Trover had more of a user base. It’s Instagram for travelers by travelers. Expedia recently purchased the platform and I’ve yet to see what effects this has on the user base. Trover is a perfect app to accompany the Travel Photographer and best of all, they have themed contests every month where you can win up to $1,500 just posting your travel photos.
20 – SpeedTest
When you need fast and reliable internet you can find out by using SpeedTest. SpeedTest has a become an indispensable tool for testing connections. You may want to have a video chat or conference to somebody on the other side of the world. This tool can help you decide if you can do that with your connection.
21 – Flipboard
I use Flipboard as my magazine and sometimes news reader. Flipboard calls itself a social news magazine. It’s basically just a social media content aggregator. But, it does this really well. Better than the other social media aggregators in fact.
It’s pretty to look at and nice to use. It beats carrying around a tablet. You can start your own magazines and collection your own content.
- Trip Advisor – Sometimes useful but I find myself just using the website instead of installing the app on my phone.
- Google Trips – It’s not there yet for functionality. There are some cool functions but I was never hooked to use it.
- WiFi Finder – It used to use it a lot in 2013. But I find that WiFi is easily available everywhere I go even in the most remote areas.
There you go. I hope you’ll find most, if not some, of these apps useful for your everyday long term or short term travel.
WHAT TRAVEL APPS DO YOU USE?