Top 12 Best Free Travel Apps

The ultimate goal of travel is to immerse yourself in the destination (the culture, the sights, the sounds, and the people), but first you have to get there.  While I often “turn off the phone” for the best travel experience, these are the best travel apps that I use to plan and solve the travel burdens & problems so I can enjoy the destination.

Best Travel Apps


TripItTripIt

Website ··· App – Apple Store ··· App – Google Play

What is it? The “where have you been all my life” travel organizing app. Sign up for an account and register your email address. Then as you create travel reservations (ie planes, hotels) and the confirmations are sent to you, you can simply forward them to TripIt, it magically associates the reservation to your account, parses it into an easily readable format with all the must need info and creates a perfect travel itinerary. This info can be shared with your travel companions and/or your backup person. It is available on any device (Computer, Ipad, Phone) and also printable.  TripIt is free though there is a paid Pro version with more bells & whistles.

Why I love it?  I am a Tripit.com fanatic and this is the best travel app. I was an early adopter and started using it in late 2011 and told anyone who would listen about this app I loved it so much.  This is a great way to keep all those plane, hotel, tour reservations stored succinctly in one place. In addition, as a solo traveler, it is a great safety backup plan for my backup person to know where I am or should have been if needed as there are permission levels built in.

Where did I use it?  I use this app both in the USA & Internationally.


GoogleMapsGoogleMaps

Website ··· App – Apple Store ··· App – Google Play

What is it? The go-to Map

Why I love it?  Ok this is really a no-brainer. Everyone has GoogleMaps on their phone. However, you can also use it offline by saving a map area. This was extremely helpful when I was jumping countries and the next Wifi spot was not predictable.

Where did I use it?  I use this app both in the USA & Internationally.  Internationally, the offline feature saved me many a time.


SkyScannerSkyScanner

Website ··· App – Apple Store ··· App – Google Play

What is it?  Skyscanner compares millions of flights to find you the cheapest deal, fast and they link you through directly to the airline or travel agent. They also compare and find the cheapest hotels and car rental for your next trip. No hidden fees and a free app.

Why I love it?  The site is really comprehensive and has some of the best deals out there.  They are my go-to for travel research for flights especially.

Where did I use it?  I use this app both in the USA and Internationally.


Rome2RioRome2Rio

Website ··· App – Apple Store ··· App – Google Play (Use Apple Store)

What is it?  Rome2Rio is of my favorite apps for travel planning. I used this on every leg of my Europe 2014 trip through 38 countries.  Just plug in the 2 cities and the app will search and display routes by Plane, Train, Bus, Private Car, Taxi and Ferry for the area. In addition, the display shows travel time, approximate cost, connections and a link to the transportation service for booking.

Why I love it? This app was especially invaluable as I traveling from Florence to Provence. My first inclination was always to look at Train, but the app will show you where a Bus might be a better option and also find several bus options in the area that you might now have known about.  In this case, the train trip would have been 6 connections and almost 12 hours where a direct Bus was 10 hours.  The flight was 6 hours but when you factor in airport check in time and travel time to the airport, it was a bit of a wash for the cost.  This app was also really helpful for Buses in the Balkan where train travel is not prevalent.

Where did I use it?  I use this app mostly Internationally, but also checked out USA options.

Rome2Rio


RoadTrippersRoadTrippers

Website ··· App – Apple Store ··· App – Google Play

What is it?  This app is for the serious American Roadtripper. Enter your Point A to Point B and discover places along the way. You can add “layers” including the needs (Accommodations, Food & Drink, Services) and the fun wants (Shopping, Points of Interest, Entertainment) which are displayed in a map view so you know where they are at along the way.  There are over 100,000+ places in their database currently and the app is powered by a fleet of local experts.

Why I love it? I love the open road in the USA and the best part of a road trip is getting off the path to find the gems along the way. When I plan a trip, I am always trying to google blogs and reviews to find these places and this app pulls it all together for me and cuts down my planning time & also allows for impromptu fun. My favorites are the Points of Interest including Abandoned Places, Local History and other historical places.

Where did I use it?  I use this app mostly in the USA.


CityMaps2GoCity Maps 2Go

Website ··· App – Apple Store ··· App – Google Play

What is it?  Use this offline map app and you will never have to carry around a paper city map or guide book. No matter whether you travel to top destinations in the USA, Europe or Asia. Have reliable, interactive offline maps always available in your pocket, on your smartphone or tablet. Never get lost and keep your orientation as you can see your location on the map, even without an internet connection.

Why I love it?  While Google Maps also has the capability to save offline maps and to see where I am at even without the wifi, City Maps 2Go is really a travel specific app and you can layer on Points of Interest including Architecture, Museum and Shopping.

Where did I use it?  I use this app in the USA & Internationally.


XE CurrencyXE Currency

Website ··· App – Apple Store ··· App – Google Play

What is it?  This free app will convert every world currency. It offers live proprietary currency rates, charts, and even stores the last updated rates, so it works when the Internet doesn’t.

Why I love it?  While you will quickly become familiar with the exchange rates for the GBP and Euro, when you start jumping into Eastern Europe, you will be switching currencies with every country and it becomes confusing. At a coffee shop in Serbia, the bill came to 300 Dinar (That’s about $2.80 USD) but I was sure glad I could check it as it felt disconcerting to put down 300 in bills for a few coffees and muffins.

Where did I use it?  I use this app Internationally.


SKypeSkype

Website ··· App – Apple Store ··· App – Google Play

What is it?  Video and voice app that lets you call anyone else with a Skype account for free.  You can also call mobile and landlines for a fee.

Why I love it? The app was great to keep connected with friends and family.  While I mostly used the account on my Mac for frequent calls with family to stay connected in my year abroad, I also took the app for a spin with my family when I was in FREE Wifi towns. I gave my parents a tour of York, England – the locals loved that my parents faces were on the phone as I walked with it outward facing on The Shambles and they gave them many a proper English greeting.  I also had a great time wandering European castles with friends back in the USA – their chance to travel vicariously real-time.

Where did I use it?  I use this app both in the USA & Internationally.


UberUber

Website ··· App – Apple Store ··· App – Google Play

What is it?  Uber is your private driver in more than 50 countries. You can request a ride using the app and get picked up within minutes.

On-demand service means no reservations required and no waiting in taxi lines.  The app allows for you to pick the pickup location and also select the level of service / luxury of the car.

Why I love it?  The on demand feature is the best part of the app. Click a button and you have essentially “called the cab”. You can also see where your driver is on the map portion of the app. The prices are usually less expensive than a taxi.

Where did I use it?  I use this app mostly in the USA. It is available in select European cities.

Bonus: Uber usually has a first time coupon for $20-$30. Check here.


TripAdvisorTripadvisor

Website ··· App – Apple Store ··· App – Google Play

What is it?  With over 150 million reviews, this site will give you insight into hotels and tours you are interested in booking.  You can use it’s extensive search by category to also find restaurants, “Near me now” options, cool things to do.  Bonus Feature is that you can download maps, reviews, and your saves for over 300 cities worldwide onto your phone for free; avoid using expensive data roaming plans while you travel

Why I love it? I mostly use TripAdvisor for hotel reviews. I stayed in hundreds of places in Europe and did not have a “get me out of here” moment thanks to reading reviews on TripAdvisor.  I also find this really helpful to find tour guides that are exceptional.

Where did I use it?  I used this app both in the USA and International.


YelpYelp

Website ··· App – Apple Store ··· App – Google Play

What is it?  Top-ranked Yelp has over 50 million reviews on businesses worldwide. Yelp is your local guide to finding just the place to eat, shop, drink, relax, and play.

Why I love it? While I use TripAdvisor for Hotel reviews, I usually use Yelp in the US for restaurants and coffee shops. Yelp is also really helpful if you are looking for services either in your hometown or while on the go such as hair salons, nails, gyms and specialty shopping items. The reviews really help to get an idea of what the place will be like and the mapping view is especially helpful.

Where did I use it?  I use this app mostly in the USA.


OpenTableOpenTable

Website ··· App – Apple Store ··· App – Google Play

What is it?  Restaurant reservation app with over 32,000 searchable restaurants. The app allows for search by price, category (Ie Italian) and other features including by map and reviews. With all the relevant details you need (hours, parking, payment, dress code etc), you can push a button in your time slot and make a reservation.   In addition, you can earn points toward dining cheque rewards.

Why I love it?  Easiest way to book a restaurant reservation – with a few clicks, you are booked without a phone call and being put on hold. Also, there are have been a few times where everyone forgot to book the dinner reservation, nor did anyone have a good indication of where to eat. One of these occasions was at a conference in Vegas and the conference hotel restaurants were booked solid. We simply pulled out the OpenTable app and found restaurants in the area with open reservations and booked as we grabbed the taxi.

Where did I use it?  I used this app mostly in the USA, though they have added some International cities.


There are several additional apps that I download and use for location specific trips, but these are my tried and true best travel apps that I click on the most while traveling.