The Hands-Down Best Travel Apps You’ll Need for Your Next Trip

Beth Stebner
The Hands-Down Best Travel Apps You’ll Need for Your Next Trip
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Doesn’t it kind of seem like the travel industry is having a big laugh at our expense? They take away our precious legroom, charge money for snacks that used to be gratis, and demand a small fortune for checked baggage (something that—once upon a time—also used to come with the price of a ticket). Before you get too frustrated, take a deep breath and remember that there are innovative and super-handy apps out there that help weary travelers take the power back—and they’re not just about finding the best deals.

I spent the better part of the spring and summer living in and traveling through Europe, and for better or worse, I started my trip not knowing a word of Swedish (kind of a problem when I planned to spend six weeks in the country) nor much of anything about where to go or what to do.

Through the painstaking scientific methodology of trial and error, I found some truly amazing apps that make travel—and especially international travel—not only easy, but awesome. No longer do you have to suffer the indignity of filling your suitcase with bulky travel guides that may or may not be out of date nor do you have to somehow become an overnight expert in what transit methods to take from Scandinavia to Eastern Europe.

And the best perk of all? Most of these apps save you both time and money, so you can start planning your next escape even sooner.

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Hopper

This app tells you when to fly and buy and alerts you in real time when flights are at their cheapest.

Available on iPhone and Android.

Kayak

This searching powerhouse scans flights, hotels, and car rentals to find you the best deals.

Available on iPhone only.

PackPoint Packing List Travel Companion

This app basically packs for you—all you need to do is tell it when and where you’re traveling, plus what kinds of activities you’ll be doing there. And, most important, it looks at the weather at your destination so you’ll never be stuck without an umbrella again.

Available on iPhone and Android.

Airbnb

This heavy hitter helps you find vacation rentals all over the world, whether you’re looking for an inexpensive spare room or hoping to channel Gatsby for the weekend.

Available on iPhone and Android.

Google Translate

It’s easy for a message to get lost in translation, but with this handy app, you can translate in 90 languages. The two-way voice function translates in real time in 40 languages, and while some translations are a bit literal, it’s still incredible to feel fluent without setting foot in a classroom.

Available on iPhone and Android.

DuoLingo

Even if you flunked out of high school French, this easy-to-use (and free!) app helps you learn a language in a fun, interactive way. And it's got a roster of languages that would make any U.N. interpreter jealous (Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, Danish, Swedish, Norwegian, Russian, and Turkish, to name a few).

Available on iPhone and Android.

Skype

A favorite for video and voice calls, Skype is also free when calling between mobile devices and desktops.

Available on iPhone and Android.

TripAdvisor

Think of this as Yelp for the well-traveled. TripAdvisor gives you recommendations for restaurants, hotels, and cultural events and even lets you download a city guide for when you know your WiFi will be patchy.

Available on iPhone and Android.

Stay

If sifting through hundreds of reviews isn’t your cup of tea, try out Stay, which features guides written by local experts in food, fashion, shopping, and culture, all accessible offline. And its offline map feature uses GPS without eating up any of your data.

Available on iPhone and Android.

Rome2Rio

Sure, Google Maps can get you from Point A to Point B via car, cab, train, bus, or bike. But Rome2Rio takes that one step further, helping you map out not only local or regional trips but also the cheapest (or fastest) way to get from country to country or continent to continent.

Available on iPhone and Android.

Wi-Fi Finder

A trip without WiFi is like a day without coffee—unlivable. Download a map when you have service and then filter choices by paid or unpaid WiFi spots, as well as locations like hotels, cafés, or restaurants.

Available on iPhone and Android.

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