We live in such an amazing time, and thanks to technology, we have the world at our fingertips. There are many apps that make traveling easier, safer, and more efficient, no matter where you’re going. Here are my top twenty favorite apps that have kept me safe and kept me going as I’ve traveled the world for the last decade!
Flightradar24 is the best app to track ANY flight! You can download the app for iOS or Android or just pull it up in your web browser. They use a multitude of different sources to track over 180,000 flights from 1,200+ airlines and over 4,000 airports worldwide in real time. Depending on the flight, they’ll offer you information about the route, estimated time of arrival, actual time of departure, speed, altitude, and more.
Not only can you pull up your own flight and track it, but this app has a super cool new AR feature for anyone who finds themselves curious about what’s buzzing overhead. You can point your phone at a plane or helicopter, and it will tell you all about the flight, where it originated, its destination, what type of aircraft it is, etc.
There’s a reason this flight tracking tool is the number one travel app in over 150 countries—it’s easy to use, fun to look at, and reliable!
WhatsApp is the number one communication app worldwide. Every traveler you will meet uses it, as well as many of the locals.
One of the reasons WhatsApp is so popular is that it’s a web-based text messaging app, unlike most texting apps that send messages over a data network. This makes it easy to text from anywhere in the world, as long as you have a WiFi connection. The app also offers voice and even video calls, all for free.
Everything you send on WhatsApp is end-to-end encrypted, which is nice for security and peace of mind—only you and the person you’re talking to can read your messages and see your files, photos, and videos.
WhatsApp not only has apps for iOS and Android, but also boasts a desktop and web version, meaning you can talk seamlessly across all your devices.
3. THINGS 3
This is the life organization app; you could call it the to-do list app you didn’t know you needed! Things 3 has been around for over ten years, and while it is a paid app, I think it’s worth every penny.
With Things 3, you don’t have one giant, overwhelming to-do list. Instead, everything can be sorted and categorized. Headings allow you to sort your lists into specific projects, categories, or milestones. You can add tasks to the calendar to show up on certain days’ to-do lists, and your “today” list can even be sorted into daytime and evening tasks. The “upcoming” list shows you deadlines, scheduled tasks, and calendar events.
“Checklists” is a great feature, especially for traveling. You can create a task, say “pack for trip,” and then create a checklist underneath for your packing list. This way, all of your lists and tasks can live in one place instead of needing multiple to-do lists, a packing list, a calendar, etc.
Instead of trying to make one giant to-do list that seems overwhelming or writing all your tasks out on paper that’s easily lost, check out Things 3. It’s a total life-saver!
Things 3 is only available for iOS at this time. You can download it HERE.
4. Google Maps
I’ve talked about this app before; I actually talk about it a lot because it is so helpful when you’re traveling. It’s the best app for navigating your way around unfamiliar cities, and most people don’t know that it even works when you’re offline! (Pro tip: you can also download offline local maps of a city in advance, just in case you don’t have cellular data or WiFi available.)
Google Maps is a great way to stay safe while traveling, too. Even when you don’t have a data connection, Google Maps will still show your location on the map so you can keep track of where you are. I will look up my hotel or destination ahead of time so that when I have to take a taxi from the airport, I can make sure we’re headed in the right direction.
I also love using Google Maps when I’m walking around and exploring a city because I can “follow the blue dot” and make sure I don’t get lost. I love that I can also pinpoint my favorite places as I walk so I can remember that local patisserie or park I want to revisit in the future.
Maps.me is my second favorite navigation app, and I’ve used it the most in “off the beaten path” countries like Yemen, where I know I won’t have a WiFi connection. The whole point of Maps.me is that it works 100% offline, so there’s never a worry about losing connection and getting lost.
After you download the app, you then choose the map you need to download (let’s just use Yemen as an example.) Once you’ve downloaded the map for Yemen, you’re good to go! When you land in the country, Maps.me will work exactly like any other map app. You can use it to map a route for walking, driving, or cycling; look up the hours and location of stores, restaurants, or tourist attractions; find a nearby hotel; or utilize the free travel guides for the region.
Best of all, Maps.me is completely free, AND it also doesn’t cost you any data whatsoever when you use it. Just don’t forget to download the maps you’ll need before you set off on your next adventure!
You can download Maps.Me for iOS or Android HERE.
6. Priority Pass
If you’ve read my article on navigating airports, you already know that I’m a huge fan of the Priority Pass program! I got my Priority Pass as a perk from my Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card, and I wouldn’t want to travel without it.
You can also buy the Priority Pass outright. They offer different membership levels, ranging from $99/year to $429/year. Whether you have the opportunity to travel often or only get to fly a couple times a year, they have a membership that will work for you!
With the Priority Pass I get from Chase, I have free, unlimited access to over a thousand airport lounges worldwide. These lounges have free food, drinks, and other amenities. Sometimes they even have free massages, showers, or five-course meals. The Priority Pass has saved me so much money on food and drinks while traveling!
Enter the Priority Pass app: I can use the app to access the lounge without having to dig through my bag or wallet to find my physical pass. The app also shows you where the lounges are in any airport in the world; you can even save your favorite lounges for easy access the next time you’re in that airport!
For more information or to download the free app for iOS or Android, click HERE.
Thanks to the increased access to technology around the world, everyone’s favorite ride-sharing app—Uber—is now available in over a third of the world’s countries! I highly recommend using it (or, if Uber isn’t available, you can often find a local ride-sharing app like Grab in Southeast Asia or Careem in the Middle East. Just google “(__region/country__) ride-sharing app” to find one in your chosen destination!)
As I discussed in my article about staying safe when traveling, I really prefer using a ride-sharing app instead of taking a taxi. I feel a lot safer knowing that ride-share apps usually background check their drivers, and I like that I don’t have to try and tell the driver where to go because it’s all done in the app. Also, if you accidentally leave something behind in the car, you can use the app to get ahold of the driver and hopefully get it back.
I use Uber all the time when I travel, and I highly recommend it when you’re in one of the 80 countries or 10,000 cities that Uber serves worldwide!
8. Express VPN
Express VPN is a must-have when traveling, especially if you’re a “digital nomad” like me!
A VPN (short for “Virtual Private Network”) creates a secure connection between your device and the internet, protecting your browser from hackers who could try to use a public WiFi connection to steal your passwords or other personal information. I use Express VPN anytime I log into my social media accounts, bank accounts, etc., while traveling. It gives me peace of mind knowing that everything is secure and can’t be stolen or hacked!
You can also use a VPN to watch the various streaming services. If you sign in to Netflix in Ukraine, for example, it will show you Ukrainian tv shows and movies and may not allow you to access the same shows and movies you watch when you’re at home. When using a VPN, you choose the country you want to log in from. If you set it to a city in the US, Netflix will show you the US movies and tv instead of the Ukrainian catalog.
You should download Express VPN across all your devices so that you’re protected whether you’re paying bills from your laptop or signing in to Instagram on your phone. The best part is that if you buy one subscription, Express VPN will cover every device you sign into. There are apps for Windows, iOS, Android, Linux, Chromebook, Kindle Fire, and even apps for your router, smart tv, or gaming systems, as well as browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and Edge.
Been is a great free app specifically designed to track every country and US state that you’ve visited. You can see your travel history on a world map or as a list, and the app will also give you a breakdown of what percentage of the world (or a continent) that you’ve visited. It’s easy to use Been to share your personal map across your Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter platforms, too!
It should be noted that the Android version has been criticized for having fewer features and functionality than the iOS version. Still, I definitely recommend this app if you have an iPhone. It’s so fun to track everywhere you’ve “Been!”
10. Globe Convert
Anytime you travel, you will need to know what the local exchange rate is to your home currency (i.e., the US dollar.) The Globe Convert app does it all for you! They update the currency conversion rates for over 160 currencies every hour, and you can even make a “favorites” list (if you’re in Europe often, for example, you could set euros, pounds, and francs as your favorites.)
This app is so helpful for all kinds of conversions when traveling. Globe Convert can translate timezones, distance, temperature, speed, and weight, among others. The app is free, but there is an ad-free version you can buy if that’s more your style.
Globe Convert is currently only available for iOS.
DuoLingo is the best language learning app, period!
The app has been around for a long time, and I not only trust DuoLingo, but I actually really enjoy using it! The app is super interactive, making learning a new language feel like a game instead of a chore. I used it a lot to work on my Korean while I was living in Korea back in 2013.
The app is free, but you can also purchase an upgrade called DuoLingo Plus: it makes your app experience ad-free and has some exclusive additional features. DuoLingo Plus starts at just $6.99 a month, which, in my opinion, is definitely worth it.
While you may have used Airbnb to book a weekend getaway in the states, did you know that they offer rentals in almost every country in the world? That makes Airbnb an excellent app for finding local accommodations (like apartments, condos, and houses) instead of just staying in hotels. You get to stay in a local neighborhood, which gives you an opportunity to get insider knowledge about the area and perhaps even make some local friends. It feels like you’re living like a local because, well, you kind of are!
You can use Airbnb to book just about anything: a private island in Fiji, a snow igloo in Finland, a treehouse in France, or a “UFO” in the UK (and just about everything in between!) You can always find something a little more “normal,” too. It’s a safe way to find lodging, and Airbnb makes it easy to process payments and get ahold of your host.
I talked about this app when I shared my best tips for making friends while traveling! Meetup is a wonderful way to meet people with common interests, whether you’re looking for a group of like-minded entrepreneurs to help you grow your business, a group of other students for a language exchange, or a group of online gamers to find new friends to game with.
Meetup features both online and local options, so this is a great way to make friends anywhere you go! I haven’t used this app a ton, but it’s worked out great every time I’ve tried it. I definitely recommend checking it out!
If you like finding free places to stay and making friends wherever you go, Couchsurfing is going to be your new favorite app. It’s a network of people all over the world who offer up their couches, spare bedrooms, or even homes for free to travelers and tourists who need a place to stay.
You can also use the app to network with other like-minded travelers and make local friends, as there are meet-ups planned and scheduled worldwide! It is a great way to participate in a cultural exchange and hang out with cool people. I still talk to some CouchSurfing hosts that I’ve had, and I’d be happy to return the favor of a place to stay if they ever visited me in Arizona!
While the stays you find through Couchsurfing are always free, there is a small membership fee to help keep the platform online. This fee varies from country to country, but it’s just $2.39/month or $14.29/year for US-based users.
Yelp is my favorite app for food and restaurant recommendations! It is currently available in 32 countries, so it’s not quite worldwide—but it’s worth having it on your phone to use when you can. It’s nice to be able to see reviews, look at menus, and find restaurant hours and locations.
You can also find events through Yelp in some major cities, like Amsterdam, Paris, and Madrid (and many major US cities, as well.) Yelp events range from free entry to museums, festivals, and fairs to concerts or discount events at local restaurants. You can find the event section of Yelp HERE.
Skyscanner is an excellent app for booking flights. Since 2003, its goal has been to show all your available flight options in one place, making it easier to find the cheapest flights to your destination. They price-check over 1,200 travel companies worldwide to make sure you get the best rate! (Just be aware, a few airlines don’t show up on Skyscanner, such as Southwest Airlines in the US.)
More than 100 million people use Skyscanner every month to book flights, hotels, and rental cars. You can use the “search everywhere” function if you’re flexible on your destination and just want to find someplace fun to take a trip. Skyscanner also allows you to search for multi-city tickets, set price alerts to be notified if there’s a sale, and you can book straight through the website or app in over 30 different languages!
There are no hidden fees, and they don’t pressure you to book as other travel booking websites do. They’ve also vowed to never use your data to hide information or mislead you, and they have a dedicated support team available seven days a week if you run into any problems.
If you’re interested in more information about booking cheap flights, click HERE.
This is another great app for booking cheap flights. The Hopper app analyzes billions of prices daily to predict how prices will change (with 95% recommendation accuracy) and then tells you whether you should buy or wait for the price to go down.
They also help you avoid fees and frustrations with their flexible dates and refundable ticket plans. Their “disruption rebooking service” will help you get rebooked without extra costs if you miss a connection or your flight gets delayed.
It’s always good to crosscheck your flights across different search engines to make sure you’re getting the best deal, and one of the ones I often use is Hopper!
18. Airline Apps
I’d recommend downloading the app for each airline you fly (i.e., Delta, United, Lufthansa, etc.) The airlines make it really easy to upgrade seats, change flights, pay for your checked bags, and more, all through their app. It’s super convenient; you don’t have to go online or visit the desk agent at the airport—just pull out your phone and get it done!
In addition, these apps will often offer you free entertainment (movies, tv shows, and even games) while you’re on the plane and make it easy to connect to the in-flight WiFi. It’s best to have the app downloaded before you travel so you’re not stuck frantically trying to get the app to download in the middle of the airport or right before your plane takes off.
19. Google Translate
Google Translate is invaluable when you’re traveling, especially if you’re visiting places where very few people speak your native language. While I always highly recommend trying to learn a few key words and phrases before you visit a country, sometimes you will still need help communicating with taxi drivers, waiters, or hotel staff.
If you’re in a situation where you can’t talk to someone, and there’s no one around to help translate for you, then whip out this app and speak your sentence into it. Google Translate will work its magic and not only translate the sentence but even speak it out loud for the benefit of the person you’re trying to talk to. And vice versa, they can speak their sentence, and Google Translate will read it back to you in your native language.
If you want to know more about translation and learning languages abroad, check out this article!
This app is super convenient! You can put all of your flight, hotel, rental car, and travel bookings in one convenient place with ease—all you have to do is forward your confirmations to TripIt, and they will create a detailed itinerary for you. You can forward your itinerary to anyone who needs it and add it to your calendar with ease.
TripIt will send you reminders and let you know about flight delays, cancellations, gate changes, and more. The paid version will even monitor for fare refunds, tell you when to leave for the airport, navigate you to your gate, and help you find your baggage claim.
The free version is still a great download, but the $49 a year to get all the TripIt Pro features is beyond worth it for me!
Believe it or not, this only scratches the surface of travel apps that are available out there, but hopefully, this list of my favorites gets you started. I use all of these regularly, and you should too! Don’t underestimate the value of investing in a great app—it’s usually a small price to pay for the convenience of traveling with ease.
What apps do you think I missed that everyone needs to know about? Has an app changed the game for you, and you can’t travel without it? Let us know in the comments below!