Having a smartphone while travelling internationally comes with immense benefits. Even as a minimalist traveler, I carry a smartphone with me wherever I go. With the Top 10 Best Travel Apps you can use your phone for travel guides, GPS, photos, notes, emails, calls and messaging.
Check out my article on the best phone service for travelers
The apps I list here are some of the best travel apps to have when abroad. I use and love them all. Many of the apps I included because of their offline functionality. Even if you have international phone service it can be unreliable, making offline capabilities a life saver.
Airbnb is a great app that allows people to rent out space in their own homes. Booking on the app is quick and easy. Airbnb accommodations can be found all over the world and are often far cheaper and more convenient then hotels. Airbnb allows you to have a more authentic local experience that you don’t get from staying at a hotel. As a prior Airbnb host (and guest) I’ve had an overall positive experience.
Couchsurfing is a great app for the more adventurous, budget minded traveler. The app connects travelers to locals in every country around the world. It allows you to stay with locals, meetup with locals for events, or host travelers coming to your hometown. There is no money exchanged here. The benefit to the hosts is the experience and friendship of hosting someone from another country. I use this quite often, and have had generally very good experiences. As a guest I usually try to pay my host back by helping them around the house, giving them a small gift or making them dinner.
Skyscanner is my personal choice for a flight booking App. It beats out all of the big name companies like Kayak and Travelocity. The reason is most travel apps don’t include discount airlines. Discount airlines have ticket prices hundreds of dollars less then the big airlines. Skyscanner also has the ability to search for the cheapest flights over the course of an entire year, saving you even more if you have the flexibility.
4. Google Translate
Chances are your travels will eventually take you somewhere where you don’t speak the language. The Google Translate App is an amazing and powerful app that does more than just simple translations. The app has the ability to translate from speech dictation and even from a photo. More importantly, it has the ability to translate offline, which is a crucial feature in many parts of the world where cell service is unreliable.
Maps.me is like many other mapping apps with one exception ; It can function entirely offline. Even in today’s technological advanced world cell phone signal and Wi-Fi isn’t everywhere. If you ever find yourself lost with no cellphone signal (has happened to me a lot) this app could be a lifesaver.
Triposo is a world travel guide that pulls information from all over the internet. The app includes all the best hotels, sights, activities and restaurants and even allows you to book them through the app. Its best feature is the downloadable city guides that work without internet so you can wander freely.
LINE is a great app for any traveler. It allows you to send messages and make video or voice calls over WiFi or cellular data. Even the best international plans charge a lot of money for calls, but with LINE you can make free calls to any other user. If you are a traveler on a tight budget, you can setup your phone for just WiFi, and make calls with LINE whenever your connected.
8. WiFi Map
For the budget minded traveler, WiFi may be the only connection you have. With the WiFi Map app, you can view all of the available WiFi hotspots in your area. Even more, it stores the passwords for many of these hotspots, allowing you quick access. Once the maps are loaded in the app, you can use it while offline.
9. Hotel Tonight
Because of the hefty price, I try not to stay in hotels. I usually opt for a more budget friendly option like Airbnb. But sometimes you can’t find an Airbnb on short notice, or you just want a little more privacy. For these moments, I use Hotel Tonight. Their bread and butter is last minute bookings, and the prices are good as a result.
Postagram is a neat app that I like to use to keep up with my family back home.The app allows you to customize a postcard and send it anywhere in the world. When your abroad, postage back home can be quite expensive. A Postagram costs only about .99 cents. When your friends and family get the postcard, they can remove the pop out photo and hang it anywhere.