Recently, a friend reached out asking me for my favorite travel apps. She’s about to embark on a solo journey to Iceland—you go girl! Anyways, finding the best travel apps is a personal hunt. What works for one person might not work for another.
Like life, you know?
This list is a compilation of the apps that have stuck with me after several years of (mostly solo) travel. Typically, I have an unlocked phone with limited storage that relies mostly on WiFi.
How to Not Get Lost
Some British guy in Vietnam introduced me to this downloadable maps application and life hasn’t been the same since. You can download particular regions of a country at a time—saving you some storage space. Bookmarks are of course available.
But what makes this app stand out, are the number of hiking trails, shortcuts, and off-road paths are shown. It has been a real life-saver when, for example, the trailhead to a Malaysian island hike was hidden behind a factory. Out of all the best travel apps, this is the one I recommend the most.
How to Find a Place to Sleep…and Make Friends
I love couchsurfing. Stop what you’re doing and go make a profile. Then, download this app. While on the road, you can reach out to find hosts and travelers alike. The Couchsurfing site also has meet-ups and events, making it really easy for you to dive into a local scene on short notice.
There’s a website, so why download the app?? The hangouts section. With the app, you can toggle a little switch to say “available to hangout” and maybe write what you want to do. Any travelers or locals who are also available can then reach out. Boom. Instant party or (preferably) coffee with someone who knows all the local secrets. I recommend meeting up with people as soon as you’ve arrived, to have time for the cool suggestions they’ll give.
If you can’t find a host through couchsurfing, then the Hostel World app is a real lifesaver. The best feature is the map of all hostels in the region with rating and pricing right there. The more hostels in an area, the more likely that’s the town center or bar neighborhood—gives you a good idea what to expect.
Pro Tip: You can use the Hostel World app to find your preferred hostel, then contact the hostel directly. Often, this means a reduced rate, free beer, or free breakfast. Not always, but it’s worth trying.
How to get to the Next Place
Just discovered this site recently. Pop in your travel route, and this app will tell you all the different ways you can get there—bus, train, airplane, car, and even via rideshare.
Pretty basic. It’s interface is the big reason why it’s one of my best travel apps.
How to Manage Different Currencies
XE Currency Converter
Holy moly the amount I have used this over the years! This is the best travel app as far as I know regarding currency.
Just select which currencies you want to track and the app calculates for you. It’s even set up as a calculator so you can do some crazy math switches (2000czk – 140czk = $85; $85 + $70 = €131) Ya feel me?
Another great app for finances, Trabee Pocket is really nifty for keeping track of cash spending. The app lets you pick the length of time and country for your trip, as well as the currency you’ll be using.
As you add items in the country’s currency, it automatically converts to track changes in the currency of your choice. For example, if my budget is $400 and I purchase a €15 bus ticket, the app shows that I have $382 left for my trips spending.
How to Talk to Everyone and then Some
Not so many Americans are using this communication app, though it is growing in popularity. Personally, this is one of the best travel apps out there for connecting.
With WhatsApp, I can call my parents on other voice or video, easily exchange numbers with new friends (regardless of if I have a phone plan at the time), and send pics to all the people. Plus, it loads a heck of a lot faster than…oh..say, Facebook messenger.
For those who are concerned about data collection and who all can peep on your messages, check out Signal. Many techie humans use Signal as a way to minimize their communication trail. However, I have that so few people use it that it mostly takes up space.
Messaging is nice and all, yet sometimes your people need some physical love! Postagram is the best travel app for…can you guess…postcards! Their rates have gone up since I started using them back in 2015, but I am still loyal.
This app lets you send printed postcards to people in the U.S. using pictures from your own travels. Choose a pic, type a message, and send to one of your entered contacts. Guys, my grandparents LOVE these. I’m all over their fridge now.
How to Magic Up Your Instagram
Fotor / VSCO / Snapseed
Photo editing apps! I have loved and used each of these at a different time. If I had to choose just one, I would recommend Snapseed—it has the option to “dodge & burn” parts of your photo.
Right now, I’m using Fotor because there is also a free version available for laptops. With some really simple buttons, it helps me change pics from the washed-out image the camera takes to the vibrant reality that I saw with my eyes.
How to Not Go Insane
Or any other kind of e-reader. Long bus rides, chilling in the hostel, public transit….books have always been the centerpieces to my mental health. While I always prefer an in-real-life novel, I have read a number of the free public-domain books that are available for download. Books I maybe wouldn’t have read otherwise.
Download what you want to read and delete from internal storage once you’re finished.
Finally, I highly recommend podcasts for all travelers. Everyone, really…just especially those who are traveling far from home or surrounded by a language other than their native tongue.
Podcat Addict let’s you find and download episodes from all over the internet. Listening to the comedy from Savage Lovecast or keeping up with world news via IntelligenceSquared debates is a great way to learn new things, touch base with familiarity, and generally just keep the sanity flowing.
Best Travel Apps Roundup
Alrighty, there you have it! The new adage of “there’s an app for that” is certainly true when it comes to travel. There are even apps out there, like Hitchwiki, to help people taking a more alternative travel route.
While I’m sure the list of best travel apps is ultimately endless, I hope you will find something that works for you from this list of my cellular secret weapons.