While traveling around the world for 14-months, my iOS iPhone apps were my savior. I’m honestly not sure what I would have done without them and I’m still not completely sure what people used to do when they didn’t even have smartphones while traveling?!! I took my unlocked iPhone 6s with me and since I didn’t have an international plan, I relied heavily on planning ahead, using offline maps, and finding wifi. Not only did my phone and apps help me stay connected, but they made my life SO much easier! I’ve developed a love for the apps listed below and I’m hoping they will help you when you plan your future travel. Also, I’ve gotten a lot of requests to write about how to deal with your phone plan while traveling abroad, so I’m working on writing that too!
The 30 Best Travel Apps to Download Before Going on a Trip
For Getting Around:
This is probably a no-brainer, but I was honestly unsure if Google Maps would work all over the world. The answer is, it does– at least most of the time. This app guided me when I was lost in the Medina mazes of Morocco, helped me find my way when I was hiking in weird places, and even reached remote islands where I was sure it wouldn’t work. Since I didn’t have service in most countries, I would always try and remember to download the country in offline maps and I was good to go. This was one of the best travel apps I had while on the road.
When Google Maps doesn’t work, which is rare, this is a great backup and it is great for showing hiking and biking trails that aren’t shown on Google Maps. It also has offline map capabilities.
This app is great when you’re traveling in a big city and want to know the most efficient public transportation. I used this in a lot of the bigger cities, but again Google Maps has gotten really good at public transportation routes as well so I used them interchangeably.
This is a wonderful app if you’re trying to figure out the most efficient or cheapest way to get from point A to point B. I used it ALL the time in Europe to figure out my routes. It’s great for planning and many times shows other routes that you might not have thought of.
Uber works (surprisingly) in most parts of the world and is a super handy app when you are in a big city and want a ride from the airport. Use my code here to get $5 off of your first 2 rides.
I haven’t found that Lyft is very common outside of the USA. But it’s a great option if you’re traveling in the states and need a ride. I find that Uber and Lyft often compete on pricing so I never know which one is cheaper. I usually just check both before calling a car. Use this code for $5 off of your first Lyft ride.
Side Note: Some countries have their own apps for car services, so do your research before you go. For example, Indonesia really technically doesn’t allow Uber (that could change), so they use their own, GoJek, for just about everything.
For Exchanging Money:
XE Currency App
This is my favorite currency exchange app and has been with me for over 30 countries. I used it ALL the time to make sure I wasn’t getting ripped off. It also helped me check the exchange rate on the fly which I needed a lot surprisingly.
Your bank apps
I used Wells Fargo, Charles Schwab (no international ATM fees) and my credit cards. I think it’s super important to have all of your bank apps on your phone just in case you ever need to quickly access them on your phone.
For Deciding What to Do:
This is great for looking up ratings of hotels, excursions, and travel packages. I used it quite a bit, plus the website always directs you to the app, so you might as well just get it.
I found out about this app a few years ago when traveling solo to Hawaii. It’s a great app to get recommendations from actual locals for any new place you visit. You get to speak directly with the local and they usually send over some amazing ‘locals only’ reccs.
This app is great for making day plans, saving your reservations and saving all of the things you want to do. I like it because it’s almost like a little notebook with all of the info you need for a certain place.
For Booking Accommodation:
I used this app pretty much every single day to book my hostels. The best part is that all hostels have been reviewed, so you can always make sure you’re booking a hostel that goes along with the mood you are in.
I used this whenever I wasn’t staying in a hostel or when I just needed to have some ‘me time’. Airbnb is all over the world, so I stayed in some pretty cool ones in tons of different places! Get $40 off of your first Airbnb stay with my code here.
I’m obsessed with this app and I only just found out about it last year. Sometimes I wanted to stay in a hotel but didn’t want to pay the expensive price. This is where this app came in. You go on the app the day you need a hotel and the hotel prices are majorly discounted. I stayed in a hotel in the Netherlands that was normally $300 a night and I only paid $80! Use code: KATWILLIAMS103 to get $25 your first booking on HotelsTonight.
For Booking Airfare:
This has been my favorite airfare travel app for a while. Here’s a video on how I use the actual Skyscanner website, but the app is great for on the fly flight bookings.
This app is another great discounted airline site. I’ve found some of my cheapest flights on this one.
Hopper is great because it tells you when the cheapest times to fly are and when you should actually buy your flight. It analyzes a bunch of data to figure this out and allows you to set up alerts for the best time to buy.
This is another great app to find cheap hotels and flights.
I’ve always loved kayak because it has the ‘when to buy’ feature, which I really like. Sometimes I can’t always find the cheapest flights on here, but it’s got a great interface and is easy to use.
For Editing Your Travel Photos:
For Tracking Your Trip:
I actually met the founder of this app’s brother while traveling and I already had the app on my phone! I thought that was cool. PolarSteps tracks where you go based on the location settings on your phone and you don’t have to do anything! When you go login it shows all of the different places you’ve been and then you can add photos and write about each place. It’s almost like a little diary that you can share with friends and family.
I love using Evernote to keep notes that can be automatically transferred to my computer. It’s easy to organize and I kept my daily travel diary on there as I moved from place to place.
This is a great app if you’re traveling long term and want to keep track of the countries or states you’ve been to.
For Communication and Practicing a Language:
I actually met the founder of this app’s brother while traveling and I already had the app on my phone so I thought that was cool. It tracks where you go based on the location settings on your phone and you don’t have to do anything! When you go login it shows all of the different places you’ve been and then you can add photos and text to it. It’s almost like a little diary that you can share with friends and family.
I love using Evernote to keep notes that can be automatically transferred to my computer. It’s easy to organize and use and I would keep my daily travel diary on there as I moved from place to place.
This is a great app if you’re traveling long term and want to keep track of the countries or states you’ve been to. OR, if you just want to keep track for fun!
I’m always looking out for new apps, so if you have any great ones that I need to know about, please let me know below in the comments! 🙂
TransferWise is a great app to use for moving money between bank accounts. Also, whilst I was travelling I loved listening to podcasts on Stitcher.
Thanks for the recommendations!
Ohhh yess!! Thank you so much for your tip! I need to download that one.