There are few things people hate more than washing the dishes and taking out the trash — except maybe traveling. Given the sheer amount of planning and time it takes to prepare for a local excursion or one abroad, it’s understandable, and even more so when you take into the account travel time. Fortunately, you no longer need to rely on travel agents and robust map catalogs when planning or experiencing your next vacation. There’s a phenomenal assortment of free and premium mobile apps lining the App Store, Windows Store, and Google Play, all of which provide convenient tools for all stages of the process. Some are designed to land you the best deal on local hotels or track your plane flight, while others offer turn-by-turn navigation and comprehensive look at the best restaurants in your desired area, among other features. The only problem is, where do you start?
Here’s our guide to the best travel apps, so you can keep stress to a bare minimum if at all possible. Additionally, check out some of our favorite travel photography tips, and our picks for the top Android apps and the iPhone apps for your everyday adventures.
Whistling for a taxi is overrated. With the on-demand Uber, you can quickly request a private car or taxi directly within the app after perusing an assortment of differing vehicle rates and fare quotes. Afterward, you can connect with your personal driver, track the approaching car’s location, and securely pay your fair using a credit card. Plus, no need for reservations or an exact pickup location.
Robust unit conversion is secondary to Amount’s currency converter. The streamlined app is incredibly lightweight and quick, allowing you to convert more than 700 units spanning more than 30 categories, from currency to clothing. Available currencies cover nearly any country you might travel to, whether it be popular destinations such as Germany or more obscure locations like Zimbabwe.
Waze is the champion of the crowd-sourced commute. The app offer live routing directly based on community-driven mapping and real-time traffic information, encouraging you to actively report accidents, unforeseen hazards, and police checks along the way. Knowing the cheapest gas station in town and convenient, one-touch navigation to Facebook events, and voice navigation are an added plus.
Arriving to flight on time is often more difficult than booking one. Thankfully, FlightView offers real-time flight information designed for tracking upcoming and in-air flights, along with your gate, terminal, and baggage claim information. The app even provides flight alerts, forwards your itinerary confirmation emails, and allows you to search and save flights for up to 350 days in advance.
Yelp is one of the best apps in any category. Operating as an online urban guide of sorts, the app presents you with a bevy of contact information and comprehensive reviews on local restaurants, shops, bars, and other establishments in your area. You can even narrow your result based on price, distance, and hours, or check in at a new location and share your thoughts via the usual social networks.
National and international travel take planning. A mobile incarnation of Kayak’s lauded service, the app allows you to quickly search and book affordable hotels, cars, and flights in your desired location. Additional features include options for crafting your itinerary and tracking flights, along with simple notifications and convenient price alerts that will inform you whenever ticket prices plunge.
Google Maps is the premiere mapping app, despite Apple’s attempts. The service touts coverage for more than 200 countries and territories spanning the globe, providing turn-based and voice-guided navigation regardless of whether you’re walking, biking, driving, or taking public transit. The interface is also impeccably clean, with live traffic conditions and Google Street view at the ready.
TripAdviser is a catch-all app when it comes to travel. You can quickly peruse millions of reviews, opinions, videos, and photos pertaining to different hotels and restaurants you’re interested in, or easily compare airfares and hotel prices before booking with a single tap. Furthermore, you can ask specific travel questions in the app’s forums or add your own reviews in a similar fashion to Yelp.
World Lens Translator
World Lens Translator is not perfect, but it often gets the job done in a pinch. The app serves as a basic translation service whether online or off, swiftly translating text through your camera lens or using your smartphone’s keyboard. Languages are fairly limited — it offers German, Spanish, and French translation to name a few — but its sheer potential for real-world application remains staggering.
A five-star itinerary app of the highest caliber, TripCase aids you in more ways than one. The app culls various trip details and confirmation emails from a variety of sources into a single spot, while allowing you to add and edit items exactly as they appear in your itinerary. Plus, you can check layover times, seating charts, and the weather, or add notes and share your plans with others.
Showcasing more than 450,000 listings in more than 34,000 cities, the official Airbnb app allows you to book one-of-a-kind alternatives to your traditional hotel. Whether your prefer to book a one-night stay in a yurt along the coast or land a long-term sublet in Brooklyn, the app provides tools for messaging your host, obtaining directions, and sharing your desired space with friends.
Adorned with vivid Flickr background based on your location, Yahoo’s official weather app provides five and 10-day forecasts detailing temperature, visibility, humidity, wind speed, the UV Index, and more. It also performs quicker than most apps and even includes an attractive chart for viewing sunrise and sunset times, rendering it one of the best weather apps of any platform.
Regardless of where you live in North America, the great outdoors is never far. The aptly-titled AllTrails provides access to a robust database of more than 50,000 trails, many of which are directly accessible from your home or abroad. User reviews and geo-tagged photos accompany the listings, along with route directions, distance, elevation gain, required time, and other notable facets.
Assuming you live in a supported city, Transit app provides an at-a-glance look at when your next train or bus is set to arrive. Additionally, you can locate your bus or train on a map in real time, or find scheduled departures and route options sans an Internet connection. The interface is also one of the best for any transit app, relishing in a color-coordinated and barebones navigation.
Google Translate remains just as remarkable as it was upon its debut. The utility’s official app provides admirable translations between 80 different languages, allowing you to listen to translations out loud and translate dictation and your own handwriting on-screen. Best of all, you can even star your favorite words or phrases for offline access, or view dictionary results for a single word or phrase.