Don’t know which apps you should download before going off the grid or exploring new countries? Follow our guide and discover the best apps to use while traveling!
This is not a definitive list but those are the apps we use all the time to book flights, hotels, find our way around new places and more.
Flights and airports
If you plan on booking flights in advance, Hopper is a great tool find good deals. It gives you a calendar view that lets you see when tickets are cheaper and which airlines have the best prices. Although this app works really well for booking much in advance, I’d suggest using Google Flights if you are looking for last minute deals. Also keep in mind that Hopper doesn’t include all airlines (especially low-cost ones) so it’s suggestions are not perfect.
Google Flights (iOS / Android)
It can be hard to find a clear overview of the available flight options. Google Flights will do exactly that and suggest sites where you can buy the tickets (this can be useful if you need to book tickets for airlines that don’t have a website in English or don’t accept western credit cards). The app has a lot of filters to allow you to easily find the routes and options that suits you best.
LoungeBuddy (iOS / Android)
Are you wondering where to find free wifi, shower or a cosy place to sleep in the airport? We didn’t use this app in smaller airports but it’s worth a try in bigger ones. Ideal to find all the amenities you might need!
Hotels, guesthouses and homestays
Agoda (iOS / Android)
I used to book my hostels and guesthouses with Hostelworld but turns out Agoda is the place to check out for Southeast Asia. The prices you’ll get are sometimes a little more expensive than what you’ll get at the location itself but at least you can easily book in advance and safely pay with your credit card. Being able to see the reviews left by other fellow travellers and see the locations on a map are two very strong selling points too!
Booking.com (iOS / Android)
This app is the alternative to Agoda. Most places will appear on both apps but some won’t. Sometimes you might get a better price on Booking.com or find more reviews than on Agoda. We used both for six months and it worked perfectly. Be careful though, sometimes you’ll see an amazing deal and after clicking on it realizing that it’s not at all the location you had selected. Always double check.
Airbnb (iOS / Android)
We used Airbnb only in Melbourne, New York and Amsterdam but you can use it in Asia too. You’ll be looking at fancier places but also more expensive prices. If you want to stick to more affordable prices, I’d recommend the two previous apps.
Maps and transportation
Maps.me (iOS / Android)
It’s safe to say that without this app we would have been in trouble more than once during our trip. Maps.me allows you to easily download maps offline, so even without a sim card you can find your way around new cities. Google Maps also has an offline maps feature now but it won’t let you use the itinerary features if you’re not connected to the internet. Just remember to download the maps for the areas (city, province or country) you plan to visit.
Waze (iOS / Android)
If you rent a car, make sure you download Waze to help you navigate. It’s crowdsourced and will let you know when police is out there chasing people speeding. It’s also very convenient to find alternate itineraries around accidents and traffic. The app will prompt you with questions to improve the information available to all users.
Transit (iOS / Android)
If you don’t feel like downloading the app of the transit authority of every big city you visit, get Transit and make your life easier. The app uses your location to show you the nearest public transportations options around you, that includes bicycles to rent, Uber, etc. Depending on the city you’re in, the info available go from timetables, to realtime vehicle positions, to alerts and more.
Social media and communication
Google Translate (iOS / Android)
Another life saver! Download offline dictionaries, use realtime translation with your camera (not available for all languages) and get an audio sample to know how to pronounce your sentence. We used Google Translate to translate from local languages to English but also used to translate English to other languages to show locals when we couldn’t pronounce it properly. A must!
Instagram (iOS / Android)
Most people use Instagram to show their pictures but we found other uses for it too. Whenever we arrived in a new city we would look for beautiful spots and hidden gems to visit thanks to Instagram traveling accounts and geotagged pictures. We also used it to connect with local people and got to meet amazing new friends! And we obviously also posted our pictures there :).
Swarm (iOS / Android)
I’ve never been a big Yelp fan but I use to love Foursquare. When it changed to Swarm I kind of lost interest until I realized this was an easy way to keep track of the places we slept at, visited or ate at. I still go back to my check-ins once in a while when friends ask for recommandations.
Money and safety
XE currency (iOS / Android)
This app does what it does: it helps you convert amounts between currencies. It’s usually pretty up-to-date but don’t expect a realtime precise rate, they use mid-market rates so you might see gaps between what the app says and what you see somewhere else. Alternatively I’d recommend using Unit Converter, that does the same but also converts all sorts of units.
Trabee Pocket (iOS / Android)
If you travel for a long period you will probably want to track your expenses and make sure your budget is under control. Trabee will help you do that easily. It’s easy to configure and fast to add expenses to specific categories. It even allows you to add pictures of your receipts to make sure you don’t lose everything. Best of all? It easily backs up to the cloud to prevent any data loss if you lose or get your phone stolen. The overview is also useful and lets you see a breakdown of your expenses.
Google Drive / iCloud for backups (iOS/Android)
When you travel you usually take a lot of pictures, right? Do not underestimate the importance of backups when you’re on the road! If your camera, your bag or your computer gets stolen you’ll be happy that all your files are backed up in the cloud. We made it a routine task during our trip to back everything up every night (if the wifi allowed it) when we arrived at our hostel.
ExpressVPN (iOS / Android)
Last but not least, another mandatory app! Get a good VPN to make sure your web trafic is safe and encrypted at all times. This is especially useful on unsecured wifi networks that you’ll most likely be using in many guesthouses and hostels. Having a VPN is also very practical when you are in countries where the government filters and censors the internet. We used ExpressVPN but many others will do the trick.