From planning your trip to getting to the airport on time to eating the best local fare you can get your hands on, we’ve got a full arsenal of travel apps at your fingertips. Time to go shopping (free shopping, that is!) in the App Store.
Stay organized throughout your journey. TripIt is a great app for your mobile device or smartwatch. It allows you to view your itinerary on the go, even while offline (so no worrying if you’re on a plane without WiFi!), and can sync with your personal calendar. It can also help you find your hotel once you’ve reached your destination.
Google Trips helps you plan out your vacations. It can offer recommendations for activities and help you organize your day. By organizing all of your reservations and confirmation numbers from your Gmail account, you won’t have to dig through your email at the gate or when you arrive for your sightseeing tour. It can also help you find stuff to do. Use the ‘magic wand’ option to find local attractions for yourself and your family. Best of all, this app also works offline.
One of the worst parts of any trip is the time you spend in an airport waiting on your next flight. Here are a few ways your smartphone can make your journey easier.
Airlines & Navigation
First, be sure you download the apps for all of your airlines. Most major carriers have apps to help you keep track of flight departure and arrival times, store your boarding pass electronically, and can even notify you of changes to your flight in real time.
GateGuru helps you find your way to your gate, and tells you what shops and restaurants you might find along the way. It is also an itinerary manager to help keep track of your flight information.
MyTSA, the official app of the Transportation Security Administration, lets you monitor crowdsourced security checkpoint wait times, look up what items you can and cannot bring through security, learn how to sign up for TSA PreCheck, and more.
Mobile Passport is the official app for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and lets you complete a profile with basic passport info, submit specific trip information, and generally speed the customs process along.
Terminals & Lounges
Have you ever enjoyed the free food, cocktails, and comfy seating of an exclusive airport lounge? If not, let me tell you – it’s a travel game changer. But not everyone has the airline status to earn entry to those lounges. Enter apps like PriorityPass and LoungeBuddy. Both of these apps help you gain access to airport lounges worldwide. With Priority Pass, you pay an annual fee that will either reduce or eliminate the lounge cost (depending on your membership level), and with LoungeBuddy, you can purchase a pass in advance or even the day of travel, starting at $25 (though some cost more).
So you may not have the budget – or the time – for an airport lounge, but you’ve still got to eat. Try the app Grab for airport food that’s healthy and fast. You can search by type of cuisine or restaurant name. Then you can order food using the app and by the time you get to the restaurant, your food will be ready to “grab” and go.
Getting from Here to There
When it comes to apps to help you navigate around a new city, you’ve got options, kid.
Maps & Route Planning
Of course there’s Google Maps, which can help you find pretty much anything, and allows you to choose from multiple modes of transportation, including ridesharing, public transportation, and of course driving and walking.
Waze is another great option because it uses crowdsourced data to warn you about traffic jams, accidents, road hazards, construction, and speed traps. You might find yourself touring a new city like a native.
The Rome2Rio app is another good one to help you decide whether you should take a bus, a train, walk, etc. and avoid having to spend hours digging through maps and timetables.
Lyft, Uber, and other ridesharing services are available at most airports, though you’ll need to check in the app if they have specific requirements for where you must meet your drivers. And if you’d prefer to avoid the uncertainty of landing and taking a chance on a rideshare or a taxi, you can try Wingz, which lets you book these trips in advance, and never have to worry about surge pricing or long waits.
The Good Stuff: Food, Drink, and Adventuring
For food, Yelp still comes through in a pinch. Not only can the app help you choose a great restaurant, bar, cafe, etc., filtered by location, price, or customer ratings, but you can also book reservations through it.
If you hate lines (“nah, I love lines,” said no one ever…), also try out No Wait, an app that lets you get in line virtually for restaurants, which is now owned by Yelp.
For vegetarians and vegans, a great way to find out about local restaurants that understand your dietary needs is to try Happy Cow. Both a website and an app, it can steer you in the direction of veggie meals you’ll be telling your friends about long after your trip is over.
When you’re ready for a night out on the town, check out Nearify, an app that tells you about live music, festivals, plays, and concerts. It can even assist you with booking tickets and finding the venue.
City guidebooks are charming, but who wants to lug them around and be dependent on outdated and over-touristy tips? Instead, check out Triposo, which uses artificial intelligence to surf the web on your behalf. It mines data and uses scoring and tagging algorithms to help you find just what you’re looking for – whether that’s a quaint cafe near that boutique you liked or a walking tour among small city parks. It’s next-level tourism. And you can use it offline.
The Bear Necessities
If you’ve found yourself among people who speak a different language, the Google Translate app can help you out of some sticky situations and translate menu items so you can avoid unexpected surprises. (Or, hey, by all means go for the surprise!)
Don’t get ripped off by forgetting the conversion rate. Lots of travelers swear by XE Currency, a currency converter app that works even when you’re offline (it updates every time it accesses the Internet).
We’ve all been there. You’re in an unfamiliar place and you’ve gotta go. Well, never fear, there’s an app for that too. Flush will help you find the closest public restroom facility—and best of all, you won’t even have to ask a stranger.
And speaking of emergencies – sometimes the worst happens. We recommend you check out the apps from the American Red Cross. They have an emergency alert app which can be a real lifesaver if there’s an unexpected weather event at your vacation location, and the first aid app can be a great way to to get some quick information if anyone gets hurt or becomes ill. It won’t take the place of an emergency room, but it can’t be beat for basic first aid advice.
Happy trails, y’all!