Traveling, no matter where to or how long, is one thing that many people will agree is a rewarding and invigorating experience.It can also be extremely stressful if it’s not properly planned.
Many people don’t get the chance to travel often enough to really work out the kinks. When you do get the chance to go on a well-deserved vacation, be it once a year, or once every 5 years, you want to make sure it’s well worth the investment in both time and money. We’ve curated a list of the best travel apps for your vacation, more specifically – apps to help you plan, enjoy your stay, and share your experience when you get back.
Best travel apps – apps for planning:
The first phase of any successful travel is planning. Without proper planning, any number of things could go wrong. You could end up paying too much for flights or hotels, you could lose track of important items. You could get to your destination and realize you have no clue what you’re going to do. These three travel apps will help with that.
If you watch TV at all, you’ve undoubtedly heard of Kayak. This one is certainly no hidden gem, but a gem it is. As the advertising for this app suggests, Kayak lets you search for flights, hotels, and cars across a number of other sites, all from one app. In the Google Play Store alone, it has over 10M downloads and a 4.5/5 rating. A big part of this impressive rating, and a large reason it is on our best travel apps list, comes from the intuitive and snappy user interface, as well as the comprehensive results you can find on it.
Kayak helps you sift through deals across hundreds of other travel sites, and gives you filtering flexibility that makes sense. For instance, when looking for flights from Point A to Point B, you can sort by “Cheapest”, “Recommended”, “Shortest”, “Earliest” and more. These same kinds of filters apply for hotels as well. The Kayak app for Android and iOS is also home to many useful features to make sure you stick to the plan while traveling. These include things like a flight tracker, airport directions and information, and security wait time estimates. Finally, one of the coolest features of this app is the ability to set your max airfare and allow Kayak to show you all the places you could travel to on your budget.
This is a very well-rounded app that is crucial for pre-planning your vacation.
Trip.com is a less well-known site and trip app but it’s a solid choice when planning your time at a particular location. What’s cool about Trip.com is that you can get a local’s take on your destination. Using your interests, time of day, local weather and location, Trip.com’s slick interface can help you find hotels and restaurants, more importantly, events and attractions.
Similarly to Kayak, Trip.com allows you to compare prices from various travel sites for flights and hotels so you can get the best deal for your trip. This feature is certainly useful, especially if you want an app that can combine that functionality with the ability to figure out what you’re going to do during your stay. Another interesting aspect of this app is the gamification of the Trip.com community, which encourages you to share your travel expertise with others. It’s great for people looking for the best lobster roll in Maine. This is certainly a unique entry on our best travel apps list and one we recommend giving a try.
Last in our segment of the best travel apps is TripIt. The purpose of this app is to compile your travel arrangements into one app and give you access to them whenever you need. Tripit focuses on keeping you organized, and it does that job well. Once you’ve booked a flight or a hotel stay, all you’ve got to do is forward your confirmation details to TripIt via email, and they will begin to build your travel itinerary within the app.
The app can scan your email inbox to automatically import your trip details so you don’t have to worry about remembering to forward anything. There’s also a Pro upgrade available that unlocks a couple of additional features, such as reminders and flight alerts, as well as the ability to find an alternate flight. On top of this, the Pro upgrade lets you track your travel points for hotels, flights and rental cards, so you always have access to your balances, expiration dates, and more. The Pro upgrade costs $49 per year, so it could be great for frequent fliers.
Best travel apps – apps for your stay:
So that’s it for our best travel apps for planning, but we’re not done here just yet. Once you’ve arrived at your destination, there are a number of apps that can help ensure you make the most of your stay. Even when you plan ahead, chances are you will run into situations where the apps below will come in handy.
Don’t let the name fool you, this app lands itself in the “stay” portion of this best travel apps list for good reason. The Google Trips app has a lot to offer people who are in the middle of their stay and need to quickly find attractions or even just places to eat on the fly. All of your travel plans are organized into trips, so if you’re fortunate enough to fill this app with multiple destinations, you’ll have everything neatly tucked away in a place that is easy to recall when you need it. So, when you arrive in an unfamiliar town and are struggling to find your hotel, the app will be there for you. The best part is that everything is accessible offline, so no need to worry about being overseas with ridiculous data charges, or areas with no services.
If you’re traveling out of the country, or to a part of the country with heavy cultural influences from other nations, Google Translate is a 100% must-have app. Obviously, you know the app can translate languages for you, but what you might know is the number of ways it can do that. In addition to being able to translate 103 languages when physically typed in, this app can translate entire conversations in real-time in 32 languages.
You can also use your device’s camera to view augmented translations or take photos to increase the accuracy of those translations. And finally, you can draw characters in the app to be translated instead of using the keyboard. Again, similar to the Google Trips app, Google Translate works offline and can translate up to 59 languages with no internet connection. I can’t overstate the value that this app brings to out-of-country travelers.
Yelp is certainly no newcomer in the world of travel, but it’s hard to find anything that does what Yelp does best – help you find amazing experiences. If you aren’t familiar with Yelp, it is an app/website filled with consumer-curated recommendations for the best of the best in a designated area. So, if you’re charting unfamiliar grounds, you can call on Yelp to help you find the best coffee stop, brunch restaurant, or even dive bar.
Directly from within the app, you can view photos, business and contact information, and reviews from customers. Instead of relying on reviews that are coming from the business in which you’re interested, it’s always wise to get an independent look at what real customers think of a business and its products. By doing a little bit of research ahead of time, you can save yourself some remorse. Once you’ve tried a place, you too can use Yelp to leave reviews and share photos of your experience to help others after you make an informed decision.
Apps for Sharing Your Experience:
The last phase of your traveling adventures comes in the form of sharing your experiences. After all, pics or it didn’t happen, right? Of course you have Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and even YouTube to share and document your travel, but there are a few other options you might consider to further accentuate the memories you made.
If you haven’t yet discovered the magic that is Google Photos, you’re in for a great surprise. Whether you use Android or iOS, Google Photos is by-far the superior means of storing and organizing photos on your device. With free unlimited storage of high-quality images (not full-resolution,) you will have access to your entire library from every device. But, that’s not the reason the app is on this list. When it comes to sharing your travel experience, Google Photos has a lot of smart features built-in that will make things much easier for you. Most of them can be found in the “Assistant” tab.
For instance, after taking a lot of pictures within the same time frame of each other, Google Photos will automatically group those photos together into an album. This doesn’t interfere with your full library of images, but you’ll have the option the save the album, which will add it to your “albums” folder within the app. You know those GIF things people like? The Assistant within Google Photos will automatically create those from a series of photos that you have taken in rapid succession, and it will also break out clips from videos you have shot to do the same thing. Finally, the app can create movies from the pictures you’ve taken and will automatically assign music and titles.
Google Photos makes sharing your trip quite easy since it practically does all of the heavy lifting for you.
If you’re looking for a way to quickly add a bit of life to your images before sharing them out to the world when you return home from your trip, this app is worth a look. Font Studio is similar to apps like Kanvas, that allows you to apply various text fonts, shapes, stickers and more to your images just to give them a bit more interest when sharing. Doing so is a great way to give more context for an image, and will make it more notable for those looking at it. For instance, when posting a photo of yourself on a beach, you could throw in a text overlay with the name of the beach, a quote, or one of the stickers within the app that best relates.
Font Studio comes preloaded with 120 fonts, has over 30 shapes to choose from, and also has 17 filters that you can add to your image.
Remember Tumblr? As I mentioned at the top of this section, there’s always Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter available to showcase your trip, but if you’re looking for a long-form outlet, or want to reach people outside of your social circle, Tumblr is a great way to do so. If you’ve never used Tumblr before, the experience is incredibly simple on both desktop and mobile devices. It allows you to share photos, videos, gifs, etc. paired, or unpaired, with a short, or long, description about the photo or what you may have been experiencing at the time.
The options are pretty open in terms of how you use the platform. With the app, you have the ability to quickly share photos and videos that you capture in the moment. But, if you prefer to reflect on your day after you’ve had some time to wind down, this also makes for the perfect place for some long-form recountings that can be shared with friends and strangers alike.
There are a ton of apps to help you get the most out of your vacation. Some apps are well-known, others, not so much. What matters most is that the app fits your specific needs for that point in your travel experience. Hopefully, what we have deemed as the best travel apps for your vacation is a good starting point for you to find the one that is right for you.
Did we miss any of your favorites? Let us know in the comments below!