The Bonafide Best Travel Apps to Know About in 2023
Updated: May 10
Planning for travel can be stressful and time consuming, but luckily your chosen app store has more than enough apps to help make sure you're having the best time on your next trip, whether it be a casual road trip with friends or a solo backpacking expedition. To save you the hassle of trial and error with your travel plans, I've put together this list of the best travel apps based on my experience traveling to various countries. These travel apps will help you in every step of your next trip (and some travel planning apps can even help you plan your next several trips).
Note that this is by far a comprehensive list of all the travel apps out there, it's just my personal picks for the top travel planning apps. Let me know in the comments if you have any additional recommendations!
Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning that at no additional cost to you, I will receive a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.
Best for Planning/Pre-Flight
The trip.com mobile app is my go to for pretty much every aspect of my travel plans. I use it to find cheap flights, train tickets, and hotel rooms. It also allows you to search and buy tickets for attractions and events in the cities that you'll be traveling to!
One of my favorite features of the app is the ability to search with multiple destinations as the endpoint (for example, if I want to fly from Manila into Sri Lanka or Indonesia, I can select both countries as my end point and choose the cheapest option). If you're more flexible, you can also fly to "everywhere" from one origin and see what prices are like from that point worldwide. Being a bit of a last minute traveler, I tend to use this feature often.
Lastly, the reason I opt for trip over other booking apps is their customer service. Their customer service is unparalleled in my experience. Back when everybody was frantically trying to get refunds for flight tickets due to covid, I was able to get mine back almost immediately. Their live chat is super helpful and will answer pretty much any question you have about your flight/train/hotel. If you can't be bothered downloading the app, they also have a fully functional website (in case the name of the app didn't give it away).
On the few occasions when I can't use trip.com, I'll typically go for the Skyscanner app for flights. I love that you're able to look at prices in multiple currencies here! They also have the ability to do flexible search by selecting "everywhere" as the destination.
This is a super handy app for finding hidden gems as well as more touristy spots in a country. There are plenty of articles written by people who have visited these locations firsthand and documented the best places to go. I usually use Culture Trip for inspiration on where I want to go when visiting a new city as well as to learn about what foods are local to an area.
The only downside I would say is that they don't have too much info on countries with a low level of tourism, so if you're going somewhere super off the beaten path, they won't be too much help.
You'll want to have PackPoint in your pocket as the ultimate travel organizer. This travel planning app helps you figure out what you need to pack based on length of travel, activities planned, and even the weather at your destination!
All you need to do to set up your packing list is input your basic trip details like location, travel dates, and length of stay and the app will sort out the rest including the weather forecast. PackPoint also has a large list of possible activities so you can choose which ones you anticipate doing on your trip which will also help inform your packing list.
While the free app is pretty robust, you can decide if you want the premium version for additional features such as customizing the activities and packing lists with options that aren't already on the app.
Smart Traveler is a free travel app specifically targeted at U.S. citizens. It provides safety information and as well as details on what visas and vaccines you’ll need before traveling and where to find help if you need it during your trip. On the app, you can find a breakdown of different countries and their safety levels according to the U.S. Department of State.
You can also register your trip on the app and this will give 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.
TripWhistle is another free travel app dedicated to keeping you safe and it'll be your best friend in an emergency. It maps your location and allows you to easily text or send your GPS coordinates or location in a pinch to a friend. It also provides emergency numbers for firefighters, medical personnel and police in nearly 200 countries.
Remember: 911 only works for U.S.-based emergencies: each country has its own emergency number!
Best for In-Flight
I will admit that I'm one of the lucky few who knocks out before the plane even leaves the runway. Since I typically sleep the majority of the flight (my personal record was 16 hours of sleep on a 19-hour haul!), I don't have too many app recommendations for the duration of the flight. That being said I've still got a couple for ya!
Netflix/Hulu/Your Preferred Streaming Service
Just in case the tv/movie selection on your flight is lacking, you can always download a movie or a few episodes of a show before your flight so you can watch it offline. At the moment, Netflix doesn't offer this for every single one of their offerings, but I found that most of the ones I want to watch do have this option available.
Other streaming services including Hulu, AppleTv+, Amazon Prime, and more also have this functionality!
Spotify/Apple Music/Your Choice of Music App
Maybe you want to rest your eyes and listen to your favorite tunes or perhaps a podcast. Most of the music streaming platforms out there allow you to download your favorite songs and podcasts so that you don't need an internet connection to listen to them on your next trip.
Best for During Your Trip
These are the apps that are gonna come in clutch while you're off adventuring! It's not always possible to have the perfect trip, but these are the best apps to ensure things go as smoothly as they can.
This is one of the best if not the best offline maps out there. Maps.me has a massive database of maps from around the world. Prior to your trip you can download the map of a city (or country if the country is quite small) that way you won't need to rely on an internet connection to get around your destination. On your downloaded map you will be able to search for useful things like food, wifi ( (a big reason why I prefer this app to google maps), hotels, ATMs, public transit, and a ton more! It also lets you route from point A to point B allowing for multiple stops along the way.
I highly recommend maps.me as it is a great travel app for solo travelers. As a solo traveler myself, this app has saved my butt so many times, including when I drove myself by motorbike from Hoi An to Hue during my 3 weeks in Vietnam!
You can input your expenses using any currency and it will deduct from your budget in the primary currency (so if I spent 25 Philippine pisos it would subtract 3 CNY from my budget). I love this because I don't have to do any of the currency conversions on my own and don't have to think about it at all. The one downside is that if you add multiple trips, you'll only be able to access one trip at a time and the rest will be considered "archived." If you want to access multiple trips at the same time, you can spring for the pro version which'll run you $17.99 USD for a year or $31.99 USD for a lifetime deal.
You can input your expenses using any currency and it will deduct from your budget in the primary currency (so if I spent 25 Philippine pisos it would subtract 3CNY from my budget). I love this because I don't have to do any of the currency conversions on my own and don't have to think about it at all. The one downside is that if you add multiple trips, you'll only be able to access one trip at a time and the rest will be considered "archived." If you want to access multiple trips at the same time, you can spring for the pro version which'll run you $17.99 USD for a year or $31.99 USD for a lifetime deal.
The ULTIMATE lifesaver when traveling to foreign countries where you're dealing with a language barrier. There are so many different languages represented and it does a really good job with the voice to text translations as well. Perhaps the most useful feature is its ability to translate text from pictures - truly a gamechanger when it comes to deciphering a food menu with no pictures!
A VPN or virtual private network gives your device added privacy and security by masking its IP address and routing it through a remote server. Basically you'll want to make sure you're connected to a VPN any time you connect to a public wifi network so your data and passwords are protected. NEVER log into anything important (i.e. banking website, investment accounts, etc.) on a public wifi without using a VPN.
The best part about using a VPN is that it also gives you the added bonus of being able to access things that normally wouldn't be available in your country since you can select which country server you want to work from. For example, if I choose Australia, I can access Netflix shows that aren't available on the American servers!
I chose Astrill because it's one of the strongest VPNs out there (trust me you need a strong one to get through China's firewall) and it allows you to use it on up to 5 devices. I've been using it confidently for the last 3 years knowing that all my data is safe and plan to continue using it even after I leave China.
The Local Ridesharing App
As a general rule of thumb, if you google the name of the country you're visiting + uber or rideshare, you'll be able to find out what ridesharing apps if any are used at your destination. This will save you loads of money on taxis as the local ridesharing app is typically much cheaper and less likely to scam you than a taxi. It's also probably the best option for making sure you get exactly where you want to go if you're not totally comfortable using public transportation in an unfamiliar place.
Best for Frequent Travelers
Skratch is a must-have app for travelers who like tracking their countries visited out where you've been in the world. There are tons of these kinds of tracking apps out there, but I found them all to be a bit old school and outdated in appearance. Skratch has a sleek appearance that I love and is intuitive to use. It allows you to categorize countries into where you've been, where you want to visit, and where you want to go.
Probably my favorite feature is the ability to add photos from your device directly into the map by geolocation. I love being able to see memories from each country so clearly organized! The app works pretty well as a free app but there are a few in-app purchases available that make it better, like the ability to track cities and regions.