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As you step into the airport ready to jet off to exotic locations — maybe with your Apple Watch on your wrist 18 Travel Apps for Apple Watch Explorers 18 Travel Apps for Apple Watch Explorers Check flights, find transportation, and even book last-minute accommodation from the comfort of your wrist. Read More — your iPhone should be a handy travel tool, rather than an incredibly efficient way of racking up expensive roaming charges.

There are some awesome apps for travellers out there. They can do everything from completely manage your trip to book you a castle (yes, a castle) for the night. Here’s a few of them.

TripIt

If you travel a lot TripIt (which we looked at a few years ago TripIt - A Travel Organizer That Makes Remembering Your Travel Plans Easy [iOS] TripIt - A Travel Organizer That Makes Remembering Your Travel Plans Easy [iOS] Traveling is a giant pain in the rear. You have to book all of your flights, hotels, rental cars, dinner reservations, and so on. After you book it, you have to keep track of all... Read More ) is a life saver. You forward your booking confirmations to TripIt — or if you’re brave, directly connect your Gmail, Yahoo, or Outlook email account — and they scrape all the important details: flight numbers, check in times, hotel names, and everything else. They then gather all this information into one master itinerary.

tripit
That on its own is pretty handy, but if you subscribe to TripIt Pro, they also keeps you updated if anything changes. It’s amazing to get a push notification in the airport if your gate changes or your flight is delayed by half an hour. You don’t have to walk miles in the wrong direction or leave the bar so soon!

Most features of TripIt are entirely free, so you don’t even have to travel that much for it to be useful to you. Having all of your important travel information in one single place makes things like filling in customs forms a lot easier. If you set up TripIt to automatically scan your email, everything happens like magic.

Kayak or Skyscanner

The more you travel, the more you end up spending on flights. If you save even $20 or $30 dollars every time, it can add up to be quite a lot of extra cash to spend when you get to where you’re going. There are quite a few apps that allow you to compare flights between airlines, but the two I’ve found to be the most reliable are Kayak and Skyscanner

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Both apps give you a good idea of the prices that different airlines charge on the routes you want to go. If there’s no direct flights, the apps will create multi-leg trips — even if you want to fly to a really obscure destination, you can find out how to get there.

kayak

Kayak has one amazing feature I really love: buying recommendations. When you search for a flight, the app compares the price data against all the historic data available (and there’s a lot of it). They then give you a recommendation on whether to buy the flight or wait based on whether similar flights in the past have gotten more or less expensive over time.

I’ve found this to be really accurate. Once I failed to heed Kayak’s recommendation to buy and the price had doubled by the time I checked back a week or so later. I haven’t made that mistake again. Both Kayak and Skyscanner, despite their names, also compare hotel and car rental prices. They aren’t, however, quite as good at this.

LoungeBuddy

In his awesome guide on how to learn to love flying Learn to Love Flying Again with These Secret Travel Tips Learn to Love Flying Again with These Secret Travel Tips Use technology to completely change your flying experience. Here are some not-so-secret flying and travel tips to make your in-flight experience more bearable. Read More , Matt raves about airport lounges and the app that tells him all he needs to know about them: LoungeBuddy.

LoungeBuddy has a database of thousands of airport lounges in all the major airports. They tell you how much they cost, what requirements (like memberships) that they have for entry, and, most importantly, what amenities are available. It’s not worth paying $50 to get into a glorified box with leather couches and a grumpy waiter, but $40 for access to free food and showers might have you thinking differently.

If you’re travelling a lot, you’re invariably going to find yourself stuck in an airport at some point. It could be for any reason from just a long layover to a missed connection or delayed flight. When it happens, check out LoungeBuddy and see if you can find something better to do than trying to sleep on your luggage in the corner.

Google Maps

Apple Maps has come along way — it’s now my go to maps app when I’m back home in Dublin — but it’s always good to have a back up. While Apple Maps is great if you know the street name of where you’re going, in my experience it struggles to find businesses by their names. Instead of directing me to the nearest Starbucks, it picks one a few hundred miles away!

With Google Maps you know you’re getting an (uglier) app that has (mostly) accurate business listings. You might not know your hotel’s address, but Google probably does. When you land you can use it to easily find out where you’re going. The public transit directions are also great in most major cities; they can save you a fortune on taxi fares.

Uber and Hailo

If you want to avoid public transport and all the headaches that go with it, then you need to have Uber, Hailo and whatever local app is popular on your iPhone.

Uber gets a lot of press, much of it negative What Is Uber and Why Is It Threatening Traditional Taxi Services? What Is Uber and Why Is It Threatening Traditional Taxi Services? Uber has landed, and it's fundamentally changing inner-city transit. And some might say, not entirely for the better. Read More , but the service they offer is solid. Trying to actually call or hail a taxi is almost impossible in some cities. There can often be the language barrier, weird regulations, and a lack of cabs to contend with. Uber ignore all of these problems with their iPhone app.

huber

Hailo is similar to Uber (although they use taxis instead of other people’s cars) and a genuine competitor in some major European cities. If you try to use Uber in Dublin you’ll be waiting for hours while there’ll be a Hailo cab nearby in moments.

Do a little bit of research before you go, and learn which transport apps are popular with the locals — for example, Ola Cabs or Meru Cabs in India 18 Apps You Need to Download for Travelling to India 18 Apps You Need to Download for Travelling to India Going to be travelling to India at some point? Then you absolutely must download these apps before you go! Read More . Uber has the biggest name but it isn’t available everywhere. Don’t get tied into using it out of habit.

Airbnb, Hostelworld, and Booking.com

Once you get to your destination you actually need somewhere to stay. Depending on why you’re travelling there are different apps that will fit your needs best.

castle

If there’s a few of you going or you want a more authentic experience A Traveler's Tales: How To Save Money On Your Next Trip With AirBnB A Traveler's Tales: How To Save Money On Your Next Trip With AirBnB We are always eager to cut costs while traveling. Hotels are expensive. Ludicrously so. But are there any alternatives? Until recently, the answer to that question was a loud ‘no' till AirBnB came along. Read More , Airbnb is the app to use. Like Uber, Airbnb gets a lot of negative attention The Risks And Rewards Of Renting Out Your Apartment On AirBnb The Risks And Rewards Of Renting Out Your Apartment On AirBnb Are you thinking about renting your spare rooms out on AirBnB? Here's why you should, and also a cautionary note on why you should think twice. Read More but the service it offers is still great. With Airbnb you can rent out anything from a room in someone’s home to a castle.

If you’re on a budget then youth hostels are the best places to stay. Most major cities have some pretty great hostels with comfy bunks, bars, and good locations. They’re my preferred place to crash when I’m in a new city. Finding the best (or cheapest) hostel doesn’t have to be hard; I just use the Hostelworld app. It’s well designed and does everything you need it to do.

booking

Finally, if you’re travelling for business or have any other reason to book a real hotel room with things like room service and mini bottles of shampoo, Booking.com is the best app I’ve found. It has a huge list of hotels which you can reserve with a few taps.

What Apps Do You Use When You Travel?

There are thousands of other apps out there for travellers. The ones I’ve listed above are just the ones that I’ve found to be great. It’s far from a complete list.

Got a favorite app that never leaves your iPhone when you travel? Let me know in the comments.

  1. Ally
    January 5, 2016 at 8:24 pm

    I never take a camera with me anymore when I travel so I end up taking photos and videos on my phone... I end up hardly ever watching them and when I do, I have to scroll scroll scroll through my phone that has no memory left because of all the videos I took. Then on my last trip I started using Vidku to take videos and it's awesome because all my videos are stored in the cloud so my phone storage is safe. I made a group for different parts of my trip so it's really easy to find them. BEST PART is that I tried to take some vids in Muir Woods where there was zilch internet connection. I only took a couple videos with Vidku (and honestly got a couple with my native camera too bc I was nervous) but when I got back to my hotel my videos were there in Vidku safe and sound. You can share videos from inside the app but I ended up just saving them to watch later. Pretty cool. I recommend trying it.

  2. northroad
    December 14, 2015 at 12:33 pm

    I would also add a decent navigational app Commander Compass Lite (free). It works great when offline, assuming that you pre-download the maps that you need in advance. It shows your accurate coordinates and your current position on a map, allows to mark locations and waypoints, share your locations with friends and much more.

    • Harry Guinness
      December 19, 2015 at 11:05 am

      Good suggestion! I'll check it out.

  3. Laura
    December 12, 2015 at 8:14 pm

    First of all let me say how much I love reading makeuseof.com. It is by far the most useful information I get in my inbox. However I can't believe that you overlooked couchsurfing.org in your article. At 60 years old I am far from being motivated to stay in a youth hostel. Couchsurfing has a fantastic system where you are matched with hosts and can serve as a host after filling out a profile.
    I was just about to stay with a host in Asheville who has accommodated hundreds of guests over his tenure with Couch surfing. The hosts Love meeting people from all over the world, and I have personally tried it twice with fantastic results. I would not think of any other way besides this excellent organization if I am traveling alone. note that you do not have to be traveling alone to use this website – you can put in the number of travelers. They even have hose that will allow you to bring your dog exclama note that you do not have to be traveling alone to use this website – you can put in the number of travelers. They even have hosts that will allow you to bring your dog!

    • Harry Guinness
      December 13, 2015 at 11:00 am

      I didn't overlook couchsurfing, I just chose not to include it! It targets a different kind of traveller to what I was going with in my article. It's also not the kind of app you can just take out and use to find accommodation in a few minutes, you need to build a relationship with hosts.

  4. Pete
    December 12, 2015 at 1:41 pm

    Any ideas for getting around in European cities with a map/gps with our blowing your US carrier budget?

    • Harry Guinness
      December 13, 2015 at 10:57 am

      Cache the maps offline? I think you can do it with Google Maps. If not, pick up an app from Lonely Planet or similar. They have maps of the cities.

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