Best Travel Planning Apps
Technology is a tricky thing. On one hand, it has a way of immediately bringing us away from the present moment and enveloping our minds in thought before we even realize. It can be difficult to be mindful and aware when we have things like social media and the entire internet begging for our attention. On the other, it makes life easier in so many ways. It makes it easier to communicate with everyone you've ever met. It makes it simple to manage your money, book flights and accommodation, and get a street-level view of where you'll be landing before you ever get there. It makes traveling accessible for virtually anyone. I really love technology for all of these reasons and more.
I'd actually consider myself a fairly techie person. My current challenge, however, is learning how to use technology to my advantage by allowing it to help me minimize my possessions and simplify my life. It's not realistic to avoid it in our current world, but we can harness technology to make our lives easier while limiting extensive exposure and remaining aware of the world around us. We can use it to travel better, cheaper, and longer. Here are some of the travel planning apps that have allowed us to do so.
One of the biggest hurdles to travel is getting to your destination, and Hopper makes it easier to score a great deal. Unlike other booking platforms, Hopper analyzes your travel plans to provide suggestions on how to save money by recommending cheaper airports, travel dates, and layovers. It can even predict when prices for your flight are going to drop and advises you to buy the fair now or continue watching for a better deal. It then sends you a notification when it thinks you should buy the flight to get the best price. I don’t always use it to make my eventual purchase—for that I’m a huge fan of Student Universe—but it’s a great way to gauge when your ticket will be a better price on any platform. It’s a definite download and one of the best traveling apps on our phones.
Duh. I don’t think I need to explain the numerous benefits of Uber to you, but then again that’s what this article’s for. Uber’s great because it takes the hassle out of finding transportation when you land. Not only is your account valid in nearly 600 cities around the world, but the company adapts to local culture and it’s often cheaper than a traditional taxi. It’s great in a pinch, but do your research first. I stray away from it in places like New York where it will cost you upwards of $40 to get anywhere, but it’s totally affordable in other cities like Melbourne. Sometimes the subway is the best way.
If you haven’t downloaded Uber yet, get your first ride free by using my code crram. If your city has UberEATS, use eats-crram for some free food delivered to your door.
Hostelworld is our go-to when we’re looking for hostels anywhere in the world. Their app is a great way to browse, read reviews, and book beds wherever you’re going. It can even show you places nearby if you don’t have anything booked and need something ASAP. We’re a big fan of reading reviews before booking, because you never know with hostels. It's one of the key travelling essentials for backpackers.
If you’re feeling bougie and want to treat yourself to something better than a hostel, Airbnb’s the way to go. Not only does it give you a home away from home in any city you visit, but it can get you some instant friends as you travel. Choose between booking an entire place for yourself, or simply a room in a local’s home. It’s usually a pricier option, but Airbnb can definitely elevate your trip and lead to a unique experience you wouldn’t have otherwise.
Save some cash on your first reservation here.
Everyone’s favorite app to use twice then ignore. If you can stick to it though, Duolingo’s actually a great way to brush up on your skills or learn a new language. If you’re traveling extensively in a country whose language you don’t speak, it’s worth downloading to learn some basics so you don’t look like a complete fool. It’s totally free and studies have shown that using the app for an average of 34 hours to study Spanish, for example, is equivalent to covering the first semester of a college course--without the student loans.
My favorite translation app by far. Other than basic online and offline translation, Google Translate has some particularly cool Googley features like instant text translation using your phone’s camera and two-way instant speech translation so you can use it while having an active conversation in real life. Basic text translation via typing supports over 100 languages.
Amount Plus iOS | Android
The prettiest app to convert basically anything, namely currency and units. It’s invaluable for any traveler managing money on the road, and particularly helpful for Americans stuck using the Imperial system and Fahrenheit. It even has clothing size conversions. Currency conversions do require an internet connection though, which isn’t always available while traveling. You can’t win 'em all.
If you use Gmail, Google Trips is amazing. It organizes all your information about upcoming trips in one place automatically by taking the details from your inbox. Flights, hotels, car rentals, and restaurant bookings are kept together so you can see everything at once. It then provides recommendations on things to do and attractions to see based off those details and your location. And it’s all available offline, because Google thinks of everything.
I work in Australia but still have to pay for things in the U.S., so I do a lot of transferring between my accounts in the two countries. TransferWise makes this easy and transparent. The company uses the standard exchange rate rather than the rates set by banks, which helps save you money. Banks often set their exchange rates just under the real value and then make their profit by charging hidden fees. You never know quite how much you’re being charged because your account is debited for an obscure amount and you have to assume it’s accurate. TransferWise is 90% cheaper than your average bank because it uses a realistic exchange rate and then charges a low percentage service fee. Your money arrives quickly and you know exactly what you were charged. Available in dozens of major currencies.
World Clock iOS | Android
I’ve lived a lot of places and I don’t like doing the math to figure out what time it is in different parts of the world. World Clocks is a simple app that allows you to add a widget of clocks from whichever parts of the world matter to you straight to the Today View of your iPhone. I’m a big fan of widgets.
Hopefully you’ll get some use out of these apps when planning your next trip! What are some of your favorite travel companion apps? Share in the comments below—we’re always looking for suggestions.
Note: Some of the above links contain referral codes. These are all services I use and love. If you use one of the codes I may get a referral reward, but you'll also save money so we both win.