Whether I am traveling domestically or internationally travel apps are part of my arsenal in enhancing my efficiency when planning any trip by car, train, or plane. We all have experienced how frustrating and stressful planning any trip can be. Today, there are travel apps for everything — whether you are booking a trip, in need of a travel guide or planner or basic utility needs such as a currency converter to language translators. Many of them are also free. Here is my top list of go-to travel apps I use when traveling that you may want to check out.
First Thing to Know
There are way too many travel apps to choose from and you do need to be selective in order to be sufficiently organized when traveling. There are (for me) at least four categories of travel apps I keep on my mobile phone (and some on my IPAD). They are: airlines, lodging, travel guides, and utilities. Below I listed for each of these categories the ones I most use with always an eye towards exploring new ones. Here goes:
Category #1 Airlines Bookings
Airlines Apps — If you have not downloaded apps for the airlines you frequently use, now more than ever in these crazy traveling times, you need to reconsider. You can book a flight, check in from any location,or store and access your boarding pass easily. They notify you of any changes immediately, including when they cancel or delay your flight. My airline apps are United, American and Jet Blue. However, I would not hesitate to download any others that I may need to use. Last year, American Airlines canceled one of my flights just when I was arriving at the airport and booked me on a plane, leaving the next day as my only option. I spoke with an agent to see what other flights may be available. He suggested United but advised me to do it on the app so that I would not have to wait in line and potentially lose the seat. I was able to fly three hours later to my destination.
Two others that fall into this category are:
Google Flights—I generally check Google Flights first to see what airlines are going to my destination, time availability and the cost before booking a flight. One of my biggest concerns is to spend 20+ hours on a plane trip that can be done in less than 5 hours. Looking for options that reduce the time is a first priority for me, sometimes at a higher price and not always possible. More recently, I used Skyscanner that had more features than Google Flights.
Category #2 Lodging
Favorite Hotel Apps — When staying at a hotel, I tend to favor Marriot Bonvoy, which has affiliations with over 20 brands of hotels that are tied to two of my credit cards for points among other membership benefits. Although using just this app is not enough, especially when traveling internationally or when off the beaten path. Here are four other apps I used:
Booking.com (Expedia or Kayak) — either one, although I prefer Booking.com where I am already a genius member and I receive points and discounts. I only use them for lodging or car rentals. I prefer to book my flights through either the airline or Google Flights. Another tip is when you book a flight with a third party agent, you can easily get bumped off over someone who uses an airline app.
When you need a hotel on short notice, this app will help you book last-minute rooms at reasonable prices. If you are driving for a long distance and you want to make an overnight stop, this app will work well.
Airbnb is great for both domestic and international travel if you are looking for a different lodging experience. More recently I discovered CozyCozy, both an app and a website that search hotels, Airbnb and VRBO, including camp sites and unusual places — all on one platform.
Category #3 Traveling Guides (See, Eat, Shop, Drink, and Play)
Food and Tour Guides: There are quite a bit of travel guides that are worldwide and include about everything you want to explore. They are extremely useful in getting you out to explore what cities have to offer and be inspired. The one I use for attractions is
Get Your Guide—Great for learning about what is available in the cities you are visiting, allowing you to purchase tickets for attractions around the world. I used them all the time when I am looking for tours, cooking classes, art shows and boating — you name it.
For Food guides, there are so many starting with Trip Advisor, Zomato and Four Square. I prefer to ask local folks or the concierge for dining recommendations.
Category # 4 Utilities
Currency converters are essential, especially if you are bad at multiplying in your head. I recommend the Xe Currency Converter. This currency converter and money-transfer tool allows you to determine exchange rates quickly and easily regardless of whether you use their money transfers.
Google Maps— Great for finding your way around your neighborhood or practically anywhere in the world (over 220 countries). It offers real-time updates to help you manage your time and you can download the map if needed. Super useful when walking or driving in New York City. They now feature a new button that gives you a live view of your walking path.
Google Translate—I used this app several times when I was in Portugal to help me with directions. Pretty effective and it’s free.
PackPoint — Need help packing, just enter where you are going, and it develops a customizable packing list of what you need to pack that you can check off. Best part is it will tailor the packing list to coincide with the weather at your destination.
TripIt—This app will help organize all of your emails regarding travel plans into one place. This is a great tool for nervous peoples and frequent flyers. No need to search through your emails for flight and lodging confirmation numbers. It uploads your boarding pass, digital passport, QR codes, and all confirmations of your travel plans. Everything is in one place.
WhatsApp— When traveling internationally this is a must have. You will be able to connect with anyone enjoying all the benefits of a mobile device such as calls, video chats and messaging over data with no roaming cost or a sim card.
As mentioned earlier, there are hundreds of travel apps. You don’t need them all. Figure out what works best for you and delete the rest.
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