30 essential travel apps every traveler needs
Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with new information and offers.
When it comes to planning and taking a vacation, travelers rely on their phones now more than ever.
Travel apps are a source of inspiration and extremely useful for booking and managing logistics — even making restaurant reservations or finding a great fitness class wherever in the world you’re flying to next.
From apps that help with everything from day-of hotel bookings and last-minute flight changes to those that serve as guidebooks and foreign-language dictionaries, travel is infinitely easier thanks to technology.
Apps can help you navigate a new city, make currency conversions, pack a perfect suitcase and even provide on-the-ground local expertise. Whatever you need when you hit the road, there’s an app for that.
These are the most-loved apps here at TPG. Some may be obvious and others more obscure, but either way, get ready to download.
Best apps for researching and booking trips
In addition to the apps for the airlines you fly most frequently and your favorite hotel brands, these apps can help you save money on flights and accommodations.
Hopper has changed in recent years from just offering a price prediction tool for flights to being a true OTA. The app helps travelers find the cheapest flights, hotels and rental cars.
Of course, Hopper also still offers its signature price prediction technology to help you plan out when to book, as well as travel protection options and a price freeze to help you lock in the lowest possible price on hotels and flights.
Kiwi is used mainly to book flights, but it also helps you book hotels (using its partnership with Booking.com) and car rentals (using its partnership with RentalCars.com).
Some of the app's most interesting features include the Deals section, which pulls in discounted flights, and the Travel Hacks section, which includes options for hidden city ticketing, throwaway ticketing (making one-way flights more affordable) and free price alerts.
A dream for last-minute travelers, Hotel Tonight (now owned by Airbnb) lets you book stays for the same evening up to a few months in advance in thousands of cities worldwide. Available hotel rooms are categorized into sections like basic, luxe, hip, charming and solid, so you can select what works for your vibe. Take advantage of the daily drop feature, where you swipe to find a personalized deal with a special price only valid for 15 minutes after unlocked.
At TPG we love a good loyalty program, and HT Perks, the app’s nine-level reward program, is extensive. Not unlike a video game, you “level up” by reaching specific spending thresholds on the app, and you’ll gain access to perks like discounts, VIP customer support and credits. Also, your levels never expire, so you can only continue to move up.
To book home rentals instead of hotels, use the Airbnb app. After entering your destination and dates, you can filter results based on the home type, price, requisite amenities and more. If you find something you like, you can book directly through the app.
The app is ideal for managing your trips while on the road — you can access all your bookings under the “Trips” tab, where you can view your reservation (and the address or directions), contact the host or change your reservation. Once you have a booking, you can also explore and book local experiences in your destination such as wine tastings, kayak tours, hikes, shows and concerts.
We can’t talk about travel apps without mentioning the new TPG App. Use it to track your credit card, airline and hotel points balances; earn points and miles efficiently through using the right credit card; research how many points or miles you’ll need to book your dream getaway; even curate your own news feed, so you see the news and advice that matters most to you first.
The TPG app is available for download on iOS. Android users can join the waitlist here.
Related: The TPG App has arrived — here’s why you should download it now
Best apps for organizing a trip
From keeping all your documents in order to perfectly packing your suitcase without forgetting a thing, these are the best apps for travel organization.
TripIt declutters your itineraries and documents by keeping them organized in one place. You can set your reservations to be automatically sent to TripIt, which lets you view travel confirmations, flight itineraries, tickets, hotel and Airbnb booking information, rental car reservations, ferry tickets and driving directions without ever leaving the app.
TripIt also makes it simple to share your trip plans with whoever picks you up from the airport or train station or anyone else who may need to coordinate with you. TripIt Pro subscriptions cost $49 per year and include extras like real-time flight alerts, security wait times, baggage claim info and updates on your loyalty reward programs.
Perfect for organizing that epic road trip you’ve always wanted to take, Roadtrippers plans out your driving route, as well as lets you book hotels and activities along the way. The app is especially useful for finding interesting and off-the-beaten-path roadside attractions, cool restaurants and can’t-miss landmarks you can bookmark.
Roadtrippers Plus includes offline maps, live traffic information and more for $29 per year.
PackPoint takes all the stress out of packing. The app shows you what to bring based on the length of your trip, the weather in your destination and any activities you’re planning along the way. If you’ll have access to laundry facilities in your destination, PackPoint even allows you to account for washing your clothes and wearing them multiple times.
Just download and install the app, type in the city you’re visiting and plug in your travel details. So, stop waiting until the day before your trip — or the hours before you have to leave for the airport — and start packing now.
Best apps for navigating the airport and flights
Track flights, navigate airports and find airport lounges with these apps.
LoungeBuddy offers access to premium airport lounges around the world, regardless of the airline or class you’re flying. When you create a trip in the app, it tells you which lounges you have access to based on the airports you’ll be transiting through, as well as how to purchase access if you don’t already have it.
You can purchase access on the day you’re traveling or up to two months in advance if you’re the plan-ahead type. If you prefer to search by lounge or lounge program, the app will tell you exactly what is needed to use them.
Priority Pass offers access to more than 1,300 lounges worldwide and provides meal vouchers at select airport restaurants across the world for an annual fee starting at $99.
Several cards, including The Platinum Card® from American Express, the Capital One Venture X and the Chase Sapphire Reserve, offer Priority Pass memberships for all cardholders (enrollment required). Otherwise, you’ll have to pay an annual fee to be a member and, depending on your membership tier, a fee to enter each lounge on top of the annual fee.
To use the Priority Pass app, enter the name or code of the airport you’re in and Priority Pass will pull up the lounges or restaurants that you have access to, including photos, hours, amenities and specific location information. For more information on the Priority Pass Program and how to gain lounge access, click here. Enrollment is required for select benefits.
Related: The best credit cards for Priority Pass lounge access
The FlightAware app allows you to track flights online, see a live map of a flight and check on delays, cancellations and gate changes. This app is especially helpful if you have a tight connection or want to track your flight.
It’s also useful when picking up friends and family at the airport, as you can track their flight and see updated landing times or delays. AvGeeks will enjoy digging into flight statistics, flight maps and community aviation discussions on the app.
Best apps to use during your flight
What better way to cure jet lag than an app? Timeshifter actually helps you avoid jet lag long before your flight takes off and also offers inflight and post-flight suggestions. The app relies on neuroscience research about sleep and circadian rhythms to provide personalized recommendations, taking into consideration your age, gender and normal sleep patterns — as well as specifics about your trip and travel plans. Timeshifter maps out when you should avoid or seek light, take a nap or try to stay awake. It even tells you if you should consider supplementing with melatonin or caffeine.
Your first jet-lag plan is free, the second is $10 or you can enjoy unlimited plans for a year for $24.99.
Flying can cause anxiety — or provide a welcome relief from constant contact with our digital devices. Either way, use travel as an opportunity to relax, meditate or listen to soothing sounds that will lull you to sleep or a deep, relaxed state. Or, perhaps, you’ll simply find it helps pass the time during a long flight.
Calm offers meditations on topics such as self-awareness, calming anxiety, breathing, lowering stress levels and happiness, among others. The app also has music options for focusing, relaxing and sleeping, as well as stories for adults and content for kids.
A limited selection of meditations and music is available for free (which you can download to use when you’re offline or in flight). The premium version of the app costs $69.99 per year.
OK, so Netflix isn’t really a travel app, but it can be a lifesaver during a long flight on an aircraft without seatback inflight entertainment or at the airport during an unexpected flight delay or boring layover. If you have a Netflix account, the app allows you to download your favorite shows onto your device to watch offline.
Just make sure to download your shows while connected to Wi-Fi before flying and check them again preflight to make sure they haven’t expired (you can usually renew any expired downloads, but you must be connected to Wi-Fi or data to do so). Monthly prices vary depending on the plan.
Another app that's not really a travel app, Spotify can still be incredibly useful during tedious travel moments — just pop in those noise-canceling headphones and listen to your favorite music, meditations, podcasts and more.
The app's Premium plans (prices vary) allow you to download all your content offline on your phone, so you'll have it during long flights or when you don't have data or Wi-Fi access. Whether you want to take a morning jog in Bali to your favorite tunes or pass the time with a podcast on the metro in Barcelona, Spotify has it all.
Best apps to use in your destination
From exchanging money and sightseeing to communicating and knowing all the local tips and tricks, you don’t want to land in a foreign city for the first time without these key apps.
XE Currency Converter
The XE Currency Converter app quickly provides live, up-to-the-minute currency rates, then allows you to store and view them even when you’re offline. You’ll never need to wonder again if you’re really getting a good deal in another country if you have this app.
Google Translate is a translation app that allows you to do it all — translate into more than 100 languages by typing, access 59 languages offline, translate via photo, translate bilingual conversations and even use the handwriting tool to translate.
The app is simple to use, too, with icons at the top you can click on to draw, take a photo, speak or type.
Not quite sure how much to tip when traveling internationally? GlobeTips will advise you on how to tip appropriately in more than 200 countries. It also offers a tip calculator for easy math. Globe also has apps for currency conversion, unit conversion and more that may be useful for travelers.
Related: The ultimate guide to tipping while traveling
For travelers globe-trotting with friends and family members or simply splitting the cost between groups, Tricount calculates shared costs and splits bills so you don’t have to think twice about who owes what. Just enter your trip and currency and invite your travel mates to join your trip.
Each time someone pays for something, you enter the amount in Tricount and the app splits everything up. You can also snap and store photos of receipts in the app. At the end of your trip, it will show the balances of who owes who what, making it easy to settle up.
Premium versions of the app, which include unlimited trips and tricounts, start at 99 cents.
Never be baffled by Celsius temperatures or suitcase weight in kilos again with the Metric Conversions app. Whether you’re measuring flour to cook at your Airbnb, figuring out distances for your European road trip or deciding whether to take a sweatshirt with you during your walking tour of the Great Wall of China, this app has you covered with easy conversions in volume, weight, temperature, area and more.
Google Maps is essential when visiting a new city (or even for getting around your hometown). You can map locations, get directions (walking, driving, public transportation, ride-hailing services and beyond) and see how crowded your subway will be in select cities.
You can make restaurant reservations, save your favorite spots and read and write reviews of attractions, eateries, shops and more. Make sure to download specific city or area maps ahead of time for offline access if you know you’ll be without internet at your destination. For obvious reasons, the app works best when your GPS is turned on.
WhatsApp is a handy messaging service for travelers abroad as it uses an internet connection to avoid SMS fees.
It works like most other messaging apps: You start by creating an account, then add your friends and family members to contact and voila! You’re able to call, video chat and send messages, images, voice memos, gifs and files just as you would in, say, iMessage (but with Android users too). You can also download WhatsApp on your Windows or Mac computer.
Best apps for planning activities
Traveling is about more than just getting from point A to point B. If you’re looking for activities to add to your itinerary, check out these apps.
Meetup is an app designed for interacting with locals and other travelers who have mutual interests or shared hobbies. Whether you’re traveling or at home, take what you love and do more of it with Meetup.
The app shows you groups that are formed around particular interests in your city, including yoga, photography, cooking, wine tasting, hiking, cinema and other activities. You can join groups to get updates on particular events you may want to participate in. The app can even help with networking, as there are many groups dedicated to business and technology. You might even be able to join a coworking group. Travelers with kids can participate in family-friendly meetups, and it’s a great way for solo travelers to make friends and connect with others.
TheFork is one of the most useful resources for making restaurant reservations in Europe. Similar to OpenTable or Resy, you can browse different restaurants by category and make reservations. TheFork features more than 60,000 restaurants in cities like London, Madrid and Geneva, as well as spots outside of Europe like Sydney, Australia.
The biggest perk is that many restaurant reservations come with discounts — in some cases, you can get up to 50% off your meal just by reserving a table through TheFork. Since we here at TPG are always down for earning rewards, make sure to monitor your YUMS — TheFork’s reward system. You’ll earn YUMS with each reservation, and when you hit 1,000, you receive a discount on your bill. Foodie travelers should also consider downloading these apps, too.
Happy Cow helps vegan and vegetarian eaters locate more than 180,000 restaurants, coffee shops, bakeries, farmer’s markets and grocery stores in over 180+ countries around the world. The app allows you to filter by not only vegan and vegetarian but also gluten-free and cuisine types. You can also read reviews and get recipes on the app as well.
The app does cost $3.99, but it’s a one-time expense.
Besides reading reviews of restaurants, hotels and attractions, you can book almost anything on TripAdvisor, from vacation rentals and restaurant reservations to tours and tickets.
The app has grown to include almost all things travel, allowing you to search by destination or interest (like the outdoors, food and drink, family or by the water, for example), which can give you inspiration for a trip or help you get your activities, meals and accommodations organized before traveling or on the fly.
With over 350,000+ curated trails, AllTrails can help you find the hike or walk perfect for you and your group. It's not just mountain trails — AllTrails offers city walks, too, like easy meanders through the Marais district in Paris or peaceful strolls through Bangkok's Lumpini Park in Thailand.
See photos, updated weather predictions and key information about each route and connect with other travelers through reviews and forums. Access the Pro version for $29.99 per year, which offers perks like offline maps and wrong turn alerts.
Best apps for staying safe
Use these apps to stay safe when traveling.
Smart Traveler is a free service that offers tips and information specifically for U.S. travelers. You can see what visas and vaccines you’ll need before traveling and where to find help if you need it during your trip.
Register your trip on the app, which gives your information to local embassies and consulates in your destination. If there’s any kind of disaster or tragedy, the local embassy can contact you to see if you need help.
Another app dedicated to keeping you safe, TripWhistle maps your location and allows you to easily text or send your GPS coordinates or location. It also provides emergency numbers for firefighters, medical personnel and police in nearly 200 countries. After all, 911 is only for U.S.-based emergencies: Each country has its own specific emergency number.
Yes, Uber (or any local ride-hailing service app) is convenient, but it may also keep you safe. Using this app when traveling means you'll never get stuck wandering around in an unfamiliar area late at night or have to deal with unscrupulous taxi drivers trying to scam you.