My 9 Favorite Travel Apps (That I *Actually* Use)

Posted by: on Mar 26, 2014 | 12 Comments

As sad as it may be, I don’t remember how I functioned in the days before the iPhone. How did I ever find my way around without Google Maps? Or go all day without checking Facebook? While the iPhone is essential, no doubt your phone is stuffed with useless apps. Today I’m breaking through the clutter with my 9 favorite travel apps that I actually use on a regular basis. Every day there’s a new “must-have” app to download, but these usually just waste space on my phone and eventually get Xed off into app heaven. That being said, there are certain apps I couldn’t live without while I’m planning and actually going on trips.

So which travel apps made the cut and survived my recent deleting binge? Scroll down for my 9 favorites…

Best Travel Apps

Photo: Ashok Govind via Flickr

Best For Finding Local Restaurants & Things To Do: Foursquare

Many people hate Foursquare, but I personally love it. It’s easy to “check in” wherever you are so you don’t forget the restaurants, shops, and bars you enjoyed during your trip. If you’re in an area where Foursquare is popular (especially NYC), you can also use the search function to see which spots are trending and get tips from locals on where to go. Since hunting down the coolest restaurants is my life mission, Foursquare is definitely one of my top travel apps.

Best For Photos:Snapseed

Snapseed is not specifically a travel app, but something any aspiring iPhone photographer will appreciate. This application makes simple photo edits like adjusting brightness, shadows and contrast so easy. It’s much faster and more convenient than waiting until you get home and editing shots on your computer.

Best For Travel Budgeting:Trail Wallet

I discovered this app thanks to Alex in Wanderland, and so far it’s helped me immensely. Trail Wallet’s purpose is for travel budgeting: you type in how much money you have and the length of your trip, and it gives you a daily spending limit. Every time you spend, you input how much. It’s simple and straightforward, which is why I like it. Other money management apps like Mint.com take so much time to set up, and they never seem to be accurate for me.

Best Travel Apps: Foursquare & Trail Wallet

Travel Apps: Foursquare & Trail Wallet

Best For Staying In Touch:WhatsApp

Everyone knows about WhatsApp, since it was just purchased by Facebook for a hefty price. But it’s also one of the staple travel apps that have been on my phone forever. It’s essential for keeping up with friends & family on the road.

Best For Navigating a New City:HopStop

This public transit app was a major help to me when I first moved to New York, and it works in a number of cities around the world, from Tel Aviv to Amsterdam. HopStop provides easy to follow transit and walking directions between any two addresses. So much better than wandering around the subway station trying to decipher the maps in a foreign language.

Best For Language Learning:Duolingo

What do I do during long car rides or while I’m waiting in line for something? I brush up on my Spanish with Duolingo, an app that makes language learning easy. You can read more in my post about how to easily learn a language for free before your next trip.

Best For Staying Fit On the Go:Mind Body Connect

This one is a little faulty, which is probably why it’s not well publicized, but I love it for one reason: it gives me the details on where I can get a workout practically anywhere. You may have to hop on a computer to actually sign up for a class, as I couldn’t get that aspect to function correctly, but for research purposes the app works great. MBC will let you search for classes, view schedules and see fitness studios on a map in any city with participating local businesses. It’s obviously immensely popular in New York and LA, but I just did a search and there are a few options in Copenhagen as well. Perhaps I’ll be trying pilates in Danish next month?

Best Travel Apps: HopStop & Mind Body Connect

Travel Apps: HopStop & Mind Body Connect

Best For Staying Organized & Sane:TripIt

Every tech-savvy frequent traveler knows about this one already, but for those who might not I had to mention it. TripIt is one of my favorite travel apps of all time. Basically it sorts all your itineraries for you, from hotel reservations to plane tickets and tours. You just forward your email reservations to them and they do all the work for you. It’s amazing to not have to dig through my bag for a piece of paper when I need to find a confirmation number!

Best For Planning the Next Getaway:Kayak

Kayak is another that makes the list of travel apps everyone already knows about, but I really do use this one every day. That’s because I’m constantly dreaming about where to go next. If I overhear someone raving about their recent trip to Savannah, I’m stealthily looking up flight prices on my iPhone.

Best Travel Apps: TripIt & Kayak

Travel Apps: TripIt & Kayak

There are a million other travel apps out there, but to be honest I’ve tried and tested many of them and they weren’t really necessary. I’d rather save the room on my phone for photos and stick with the essentials mentioned above.


12 Comments

  1. Rachel of Hippie in Heels
    March 26, 2014

    I have to try the language one, such a good idea! I am like you, I delete most apps. I don’t even keep a flght one because they are usually so big. I would rather have more music on my phone and room for photos! I do have one game though- solitaire. It’s only used when I’m waiting for someone alone and don’t want to look like a loooser ;)

    Reply
    • annarice23
      March 26, 2014

      Haha I usually read Twitter when that happens and try to look like I’m checking important messages.

      Reply
  2. Jen
    March 26, 2014

    Great! So many new apps to try out. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  3. Bart van Poll - Spotted by Locals
    March 28, 2014

    Hi Anna, nice list of apps. Not the typical ones!

    My tip for your trip to Norway & Denmark would be: check out Spotted by Locals – city guide apps for 56 cities in Europe & North America. It’s all about the content: the locals are handpicked, and keep all their content up-to-date.

    We have one for your city NYC. And for your visit to Oslo & Copenhagen.

    Disclaimer: I write for Spotted by Locals!

    Reply
    • annarice23
      March 28, 2014

      Thanks for your comment Bart! I have actually downloaded Spotted by Locals before and love the concept.

      Reply
  4. Raphael Alexander Zoren
    April 3, 2014

    Trail Wallet looks really helpful, I actually never use any apps when I’m traveling (not even Google maps) since I manually write all expenses and destinations on a sheet of paper. Maybe I should start to become more tech-savvy in the future haha

    Reply
    • annarice23
      April 7, 2014

      I used to be the same way! Trust me – Trail Wallet is MUCH easier than writing things down!

      Reply
  5. Brianna
    April 6, 2014

    I’m always on the lookout for new apps. Hopstop looks great for city travel and I’ll also have to check out Duolingo.

    Reply
  6. Erin
    June 12, 2014

    Thanks for featuring Trail Wallet and we’re really glad you are finding it useful. We started out writing our expenses in a notebook, graduated to a spreadsheet, and finally built the app because it made things so much easier. It’s still our most used app.

    I also love Duolingo—it makes language study fun, and Foursquare for finding the nearest vegetarian restaurant, or just to get an accurate map location for somewhere we want to visit, as Google Maps can be wrong in more obscure places.

    Reply
    • annarice23
      June 12, 2014

      Well thank you for creating such a useful app! I use it all the time!

      Reply

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