A round-up of the best travel apps that you’ll actually use in 2019
Travel agent, WHO? It’s officially 2019, which means that you can plan a trip with the touch of a button(or a few apps). As a solo traveler, travel apps are basically my life line. With the help of these apps, I have the ability to find cheap flights, overcome language barriers, find last-minute hotel deals, connect with loved ones, avoid getting lost and so much more. Although I don’t recommend relying on travel apps for everything under the sun, they definitely make trip-planning more convenient. Check out the best travel apps to make travel happen in 2019:
BEST APP FOR FINDING CHEAP FLIGHTS: SKYSCANNER
Skyscanner is my favorite travel app for finding insanely cheap flight deals. I use the ‘everywhere’ function to play flight roulette when I have a hard time deciding where to go or if I’m on a budget.
If you don't know where to go, it will provide you with suggestions & prices within your budget. Type "everywhere" into the destination box to try it yourself.
Best thing about this app? It’ll choose the cheapest place, month, and even city to fly into.
BEST APP FOR CONVERTING MONEY: XE CURRENCY
XE Currency will convert currencies so that you don’t have to do any guessing. The app helps me keep track of how much money I’m spending in US dollars. It constantly verifies currency conversion, so it is always up to date.
Best thing about this app? You can download offline conversion rates for the countries you plan to visit, so that you can use it without wifi or cellular data.
FOR PHONE CALLS & TEXTING: WHATSAPP
Wondering how you’ll text or call friends & family back home without being charged outrageous international fees? Most cell plans charge for texting & calling abroad, but you can get free international messaging & calling with wifi or data using Whatsapp. There are over 1 billion users on the app. It isn’t very common in the US, but it’s the most popular messaging app for most people outside of the US.
You can text for free while abroad and message anyone from any country using this app. I still use it to communicate with friends that I’ve made in other countries, because it’s free for both of us.
The best thing about this app? You can avoid data charges.
Alternatively, iPhone users can text, FaceTime video, and use FaceTime audio to contact other iPhone users using wifi & data at no charge.
FOR LANGUAGE BARRIERS: GOOGLE TRANSLATE
Honestly, this app will save your *ss. It’s THAT crucial. You basically have a text and voice translator in the palm of your hands FOR FREE! You have four translation options:
Text - Simply type in a word or sentence for translation.
Voice - Click on the speaker iPhone to record your voice or another’s voice for translation.
Photo - Click on the photo icon to take a picture of a document or sign for translation.
Draw - Click on the pen icon to translate drawn words instead of typed words.
Google Translate has helped me out in taxi cabs, airports, markets, train stations, & more.
The best thing about this app? You can use it offline. Simply download the language of the country that you’re visiting, and you can use it without data or wifi. You can also save anything you translate to and refer to it later.
BEST APP FOR FINDING DISCOUNTED HOTELS: HOTEL TONIGHT
Hotel Tonight is an app that helps you find discounted hotel rooms. Hotels give Hotel Tonight their unsold rooms and they’re able to sell them at a lower rate. They show you the best deals each day. The deals are amazing, especially when traveling in the US where there aren’t many low cost accomodation options.
The best thing about this app? There’s a wide range of options - from hostels to resorts.
Find discounted hotels using Hotel Tonight and use my code for $25 off: CIJOHNSON22
BEST APP FOR SAVING MONEY: DIGIT
When it comes to saving money for travel, the struggle can be REAL. It can be painful to watch money leave your account and that’s why Digit is Heaven sent. Digit will automatically deposit money from your checking account into a saving account. I created a travel fund with Digit and I was able to accumulate hundreds of dollars without any effort. It’s such an easy way to save for travel because the app handles everything for you. You’ll have flight money before you know it.
BEST APP FOR PHOTO STORAGE: GOOGLE PHOTOS
Ever whip out your phone to take a photo only to be interrupted by a pop up telling you to that you have no more space left? Yeah. It’s the worst - especially on a big trip. If you’ve been wondering how or where to store your photos, look no further.
Google Photos will backup all of your photos AND videos with unlimited storage at no cost. This will be your saving grace if your phone is lost, stolen, or broken during your travels. You can also access your photos from any computer by signing in.
When I lost my phone in Guatemala, I was relieved to find out that some of the photos were automatically backed up to Google photos. Since I take so many photos while traveling, it gives me peace of mind to know that my photos are automatically being backed up.
The best thing about this app? The app will automatically backup your photos & videos anytime you have wifi or data(you can choose one or both in settings). It will delete backed-up photos out of your phone library in on click by selecting, ‘Free Up Space’.
BEST APP FOR FINDING LOCAL MUSIC: SHAZAM
Music helps us relive moments long after they’ve passed.Shazam is an app that will help you find songs that you hear while being out & about.
I’ve got several playlists of French rap music that I acquired in Paris and Latin music that I acquired during my time in Central America. Every time I listen to these songs, I’m taken back to the exact moment or experience from that point in time.
The best thing about this app? Most people know about Shazam, but many don’t know that you can use the app offline. The app will save the song and then search for the song once you connect to wifi or data.
BEST APP FOR TRANSPORTATION: UBER
Uber is typically the most affordable transportation app and taxi alternative when when traveling. Your information will be stored in the app for safety purposes, which can be really useful in foreign countries. It’s also widely accepted around the world. Lyft is a great alternative while traveling in the US.
The best thing about this app? You can share your ride information with friends & family, for safety purposes.
BEST APP FOR RENTING HOMES/APARTMENTS: AIRBNB
With Airbnb, you can book homes, apartments, treehouses, bungalows, and other unique places to stay around the world. It’s one of the best ways to interact with locals and see how they live abroad. I’ve had some incredible experiences using Airbnb in places like Bali and Cuba.
The best thing about this app? You can live like a local and book unique tours that are legitimately led by locals.
BEST APP FOR TRIP PLANNING: GOOGLE TRIPS
Looking for a one-stop shop for all of your travel plans and reservations? Google is killing it when it comes to travel apps and Google Trips is no exception. If you use Gmail, this app will automatically consolidate all of your hotel, flight, and booking info to be loaded into the app. All trip information is pulled from your gmail account, so the app does the job for you. Google trips will recommend things to do, nearby activities(with business hours, ratings, & directions), provide discounts codes, top-rated restaurants(with reviews), andcurated day plans. Need I say more?
Tripit is a great alternative for those who don’t have a Gmail account.
The best thing about this app? You can download all of your trip information as a guide to use offline without wifi/data. Everything is automatic.
BEST APP FOR LANGUAGE LEARNING: DUOLINGO
It helps to know some basic words in the local language before traveling and Duolingo helps with that. This app makes language learning a game and it’s an easy way to practice a language for free. It will help you develop your speaking, listening, reading and writing skills in an engaging way.
The best thing about this app? An easy & engaging way to practice your language skills without paying for a course/program.
BEST APP FOR INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL: MOBILE PASSPORT
Tired of long airport lines? Mobile Passport is an app that makes getting through US customs a breeze. You could apply for Global Entry($100/5 years) or you could download the free Mobile Passport app to speed through customs. Enter your information into the app before your trip and you’re good to go! I personally have Global Entry but this is a great alternative for international travelers. It’s currently accepted in 25 US airports.
The best thing about this app? No long lines.
BEST APP FOR MEETING PEOPLE: COUCH-SURFING
Did you know that you can download the couch-surfing app to meet people while traveling abroad? You don’t have to sleep on a stranger’s couch to use the app. Use the ‘hangouts’ function to find other travelers and locals in the area. I’ve used this function while traveling through Europe & Mexico, which led to some long-lasting friendships. This is especially useful if you’re a solo traveler who wants to meet people abroad.
Always meet up in a public place!
The best thing about this app? An easy way to meet locals and other travelers! Also a great option for budget travel.
BEST APP FOR VEGANS: HAPPY COW
Any vegan or vegetarian will find Happy Cow to be a useful resource during their trip. It can be hard to find veg-firendly restaurants when you’re visiting a new destination and Happy Cow makes it a-lot easier. The app is $3.99, but you can browse by location, category, cuisine type, and popularity. Alternatively, you can use the website at no cost.
The best thing about this app? Created for vegans and by vegans.
FOR DIRECTIONS & NAVIGATION: GOOGLE MAPS
As a solo traveler, I’d be lost without Google Maps - literally. I’m REALLY bad with directions, so I usually let Google Maps guide me when I’m walking around a city.
You can enter walking, driving, biking, transit AND ride-sharing directions. It’s helped this Texas girl manage the train & bus systems from Paris all the way to Morocco.
It’s also helped me find nearby food & activities. I can type ‘tacos’ into the search bar and it’ll pull up any nearby restaurants that serves tacos. Any app that can help you find tacos is one you want in your life. I think that says enough, but I’ll tell you more. You can also view the restaurant's business hours, popular times, the phone number, the website, the atmosphere(casual or fancy), photos, accessibility, payment options, and reviews. You can even filter restaurants by price!
Unsure of what to search for? Select the ‘Explore’ option and the app will show areas of interest - coffee shops, restaurants, parks, pharmacies, banks, museums, etc. nearby.
This only scratches the surface. There are just so many unreal things that you can do, so I’ll share a few more.
Add multiple stops to your journey. Stopping to grab food or by a shop won’t get you off track.
Use street view. Perfect for scoping out a neighbourhood before you arrive, giving you the most realistic picture of what a place would look like. Great for gauging safety!
Create your own map. Add your parking spot, your hotel, that restaurant you want to check out, etc. for reference. Going on a group trip? You can even ‘share’ your map with others to view - perfect for planning group trips. Menu > your places > maps > create a map
View map history. If the worst were to happen, your family could possibly track you down by searching your history on google maps by logging into your account at myactivity.google.com. Kinda creepy, but also useful.
Share your location. Great for meeting up with people or for safety purposes.
Save your parking location...because who hasn’t lost their car before?
Save locations. Store your hotel address here or that one place that’s on your bucket list
DOWNLOAD OFFLINE MAPS before arriving to a city, so that you can access map data without cellular service or wifi. Pure gold. I used it in Cuba where wi-fi is practically non-existent and Iceland where I was constantly driving through remote areas.
These are the functions I use most while traveling. This app has been a Godsend on my trips - especially since I travel alone. It saves me so much time & frustration.
The best thing about this app? You can still use it without cellular data, wifi service, by downloading offline maps. Here’s a tip: Enter in an address while you are in a hotel or business that has wifi, select start. The app will still guide even without wi-fi connection. This works great if you forget to download offline maps or if you simply don’t have enough space on your phone to do so.
BEST APP FOR READING: AUDIBLE BY AMAZON
There’s no better time to catch up on your reading. Audible is my go-to on long bus, plane, and train rides. Although I prefer physical books, I don’t have the space to carry multiple while on the road. Audio books make it easier to ‘read’ while on the go and they save a lot of space/weight in my suitcase.
The best thing about this app? The books can be downloaded for offline use.
I also recommend downloading your personal banking and email account to easily access important documents or make necessary transfers.