Travel Tips

24 Apps That Actually Make Travel Easier, Safer, and More Fun

Rebecca Norris

Photo: Getty Images/Hinterhaus Productions
Now that vaccines have been widely distributed in the U.S. and travel bans have begun to lift, you might be thinking about planning your next big trip. Whether you’re driving, flying, or taking a train, there are a bunch of different apps to make the most of your excursion.

Of course, if you’re not someone who constantly keeps their mind on travel, you might be unsure of what they are (and, hey, same). To help you (and myself) out, I chatted with six well-traveled friends about their must-have apps for safe and streamlined travel. Check them out (all 24 of them) below.

The best travel apps for greater convenience and safety on your next trip

1. Airside Mobile Passport

U.S. and Canadian passport holders can use this app to store their passport for easy access on their phone when traveling through customs. “I use Mobile Pass to get a digital copy of my passport in real time at the airport so I don’t have to wait in line for an hour when getting to a new place,” shares Budapest-based senior recruiter Teresa S., 29. And if you get the advanced version, you can even use the app to keep a record of your trip history.

Download: Airside Mobile Passport

2. Skyscanner

Hoping to find cheap flights so that it’s easier to splurge in your destination city? Alex M., 29, a market research analyst based in Northern Virginia says that Skyscanner is the way to go. “Skyscanner is the best site I've used to find cheap flights,” he says. “You have the option to choose the 'Cheapest month' and destination 'Everywhere'. This is how I've found flights to Vietnam for $430 round trip, or to Italy for $290, or to Brazil for $305. This is my number one flight search engine.”

Download: Skyscanner

3. Skiplagged

Another great app for finding cheap flights is skiplagged. “Let's say I want to go to Cancun, the flight is $300,” Alex says. “Skiplagged, my second favorite flight app, will show you an option that goes to Mexico City with a layover in Cancun for $200, then you get off in Cancun and skip the second leg to Mexico city.”

Download: Skiplagged

4. Momondo

Another of Alex’s favorite comparison apps? Momondo. With it users can compare and book flights, hotels, and car rentals all within one user-friendly interface.

Download: Momondo

5. Expedia

Looking specifically for cheap travel packages (think: all-inclusive beachfront vacations)? Alex recommends scanning Expedia for just that. “It can help you find really cheap packages,” he says.

Download: Expedia

6. Secret Flying

You’ll be shocked to find out how cheaply you can travel—you just have to know where to look (and book). “Secret Flying finds errors/good deals around the world,” Alex says. “My favorite error was a five-star stay in Greece for four euros per night!”

Download: Secret Flying

7. Travel Pirates

Another app that Alex relies on to find errors and great deals is Travel Pirates. Just be sure to book immediately if you find a great deal because they sell out fast.

Download: Travel Pirates

8. Charles Schwab

Believe it or not, the very debit card you use can help make travel easier. “Charles Schwab is my go to debit card because I can use it all over the world with any bank and don't get any ATM fees charged,” Alex says.

Download: Charles Schwab

9. Chase Sapphire Reserve

The credit card you use plays a role, too, as certain cards have incredible travel perks that will help streamline (and reduce the cost of) your trip. “My go-to is the Chase Sapphire Reserve card,” Alex shares. “After accumulating points, I have been able to fly for free. Also, I've been robbed before and with the Reserve card I was reimbursed almost $2,000. Plus, the Priority Pass (which is included in the card) is one of my favorite perks. I hang out at airport lounges with awesome views, free food and drinks, and sometimes beds to nap.”

Alex isn’t the only one who loves the Chase card, though. NYC-based community impact associate Elizabeth K., 28, also adores the card. “We use Chase for booking flights or hotels (using points!),” she says.

Download: Chase 

10. Rome2Rio

If you’re traveling somewhere new (or even if you’re revisiting a city that you haven’t yet fully explored), knowing how to get around is essential. “Rome2Rio is great for transportation options,” says Wisconsin-based account manager Ashley P., 30. “It will give you all the methods to get from A to B.”

“It works in any part of the world (boat, plane, train, bus etc.),” Alex adds. “It has saved me everywhere.”

Download: Rome2Rio

11. Uber 

In case you didn’t know, Uber is all over the world. And, according to Alex, thanks to its high ratings, it’s the safest rideshare option he’s found when traveling abroad.

Download: Uber

12. Free now (Europe)

If you’re traveling in Europe and an Uber isn’t available, Alex says that another safe option is Free Now.

Download: Free Now

13. Grab (Asia)

And if you’re in Asia, Alex says that Grab is a good rideshare option if an Uber isn’t available. Like Uber, it can be used for transportation as well as package and food deliveries.

Download: Grab

14. Hostelworld

If your goal is to book stays for as cheap as possible, Alex says that Hostelworld is a great app to uncover affordable, top-rated accommodations.

Download: Hostelworld

15. Airbnb 

If you prefer lived-in homes and flats over corporate hotels, NYC-based credit analyst, Will B., 28, recommends Airbnb. “We use Airbnb for almost every booking,” says Will, who takes an average of 20 trips per year.

Download: Airbnb

16. Workaway 

Perhaps you want to do a little good while you’re traveling and having a good time. If that’s the case, Alex recommends checking out Workaway for easy access to impactful volunteer work. “Workaway has given me the most rewarding volunteer experiences,” he says. “I used it in Morocco and Spain, and they have volunteer opportunities in over 120 countries.”

Download: Workaway

17. Tripadvisor

If you’re not one to leave your trip up to chance, Alex says to download Trip Advisor to help guide where you go. “It helps me with tours,” he says. “I can read about experiences to see if an activity is for me.”

Teresa adds that Tripadvisor is one of her go-tos because it shows location based on proximity to city centers, which makes planning meals, hotel stays, and excursions easier.

Download: Tripadvisor 

18. Whatsapp

In order to avoid high cell phone data charges, Alex recommends downloading Whatsapp. “They have over a billion users in the world and it is used in the most remote places you can imagine,” he says. “It helps me communicate anywhere in the world.”

Download: Whatsapp

19. Google Translate

It helps to know the language when traveling to a foreign place. Of course, thanks to technology, you don’t have to be fluent yourself. “Google translate with language downloaded for foreign countries is helpful,” Will says, and Alex agrees.

Download: Google Translate

20. MAPS.ME

Don’t get lost without any idea of where to go. “MAPS.ME works offline so in case I don't have any signal or wifi, this guides me,” Alex says.

Download: MAPS.ME

21. AllTrails 

If your trip is all about hiking through the great outdoors in the United States, Elizabeth recommends All Trails, which provides maps, pictures, and reviews of trails all over the country. And, if you get the paid version, it will even send satellite updates to your designated contacts so that your people will always be able to find you should something go awry.

Download: AllTrails

22. Splitwise

Traveling with friends? Northern Virginia-based senior associate Veronica N., 29, says that Splitwise comes in handy. The app lets you create groups that you can then upload expenses to, which it will equally divide between members.

Download: Splitwise 

23. TripIt 

Looking to keep your trip as organized as possible? Veronica recommends TripIt, which allows you to outline your entire trip and share it with whoever you’re traveling with.

Download: TripIt

Excelsior Pass

If you’re headed to NYC, Elizabeth and Will say that the Excelsior Pass is a good idea. It creates a digital record of your COVID-19 vaccine, which is required for entrance into a variety of indoor public settings, including restaurants, bars, clubs, gyms, and more.

Sign up for: Excelsior Pass

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