When it comes to planning and taking a vacation, travelers are relying on their smartphones more than ever. Travel apps are not only a source of inspiration but also extremely useful for booking and managing logistics — even making restaurant reservations or finding a great fitness class wherever in the world you’re flying to next.
There are plenty of apps to help with everything from day-of hotel bookings and last-minute flight changes, as well as those that serve as guidebooks and foreign-language dictionaries that fit in your hand. Apps can help you navigate a new city; make currency conversions; pack a perfect suitcase; even provide on-the-ground local expertise. Whatever you need when you hit the road, there’s an app for that.
These are the most-loved apps here at TPG. Some may be obvious and others more obscure, but either way, get ready to start downloading.
Hopper helps travelers find the cheapest flights possible and can really save you some cash if your dates aren’t set in stone. Once you put in your home city and desired destination, Hooper shows you a calendar of the coming year with dates color-coded to reflect historical price averages. Days in green are the cheapest, followed by light orange, coral and red, with red indicating the most expensive days to fly.
The app has a Watch This Trip feature that sends you alerts if the price changes and the app can also tell you if the price is the same to fly nonstop or with layovers, and you can choose to exclude basic fares from the results. But probably the most useful feature is the price predictor, which explains if and when the price will rise and by approximately how much, allowing travelers to make an informed decision about whether or not to book or wait. If you’d prefer to book your flight and hotel in the same spot, you can also reserve accommodations on the app.
Kiwi.com is used mainly to book flights, but it will also take care of all your basic travel bookings: flight, hotel, car rental, even activities, and tours. The app provides useful information on destinations and even airports, telling you how to find lounges, ATMs and luggage storage during a long layover. Booking flights is fairly simple: You can choose from round-trip, one-way or multicity itineraries.
If you’re hoping for inspiration, use the special Nomad feature, which has flight itineraries mapped out for you in packs, like the Tour Europe option. This one has a customizable itinerary featuring the cheapest way to enjoy three to five nights in Amsterdam; three to five nights in Barcelona; and three to five nights in Paris, among others.
You can use Hotels.com to make, view or modify reservations and access your rewards status and activity (you get one night free for every 10 booked and stayed). The downside to the app is that in order to use your Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card to earn 10x miles per dollar spent, you’ll still have to reserve and pay on Hotels.com/Venture (offer ends Jan. 31, 2020), and you won’t get those bonus points for bookings made on the app. But the app does have its perks, especially since booking reward nights after Nov. 27, 2019 on the website will incur a $5 charge — but not for reward bookings made on the app. The best way to navigate is to use the app to search for ideas, but book later via Hotels.com/Venture in order to get your 10x miles using the Capital One Venture card. Then, use the app to access reservation details when traveling and to book reward nights and avoid the extra fee.
4. Hilton HHonors
The Hilton HHonors app has a “choose your room” feature (available for select properties), and you can actually see a map of the hotel layout and tap on the exact room you’d like when checking in via the app. This can be especially helpful if you want a high-floor room; prefer to be near the elevator; or are hoping for a specific view, like the ocean or pool. Or maybe you’re just Type A and want to know exactly where you’ll be bedding down. Other features allow you to pre-order your favorite pillow type or request specific snacks and beverages (at an added cost) before arrival. Checking out with a single tap makes your departure less hectic, too. You can book and manage your trips on the app, as well as view your points balance and elite status benefits.
To book home rentals instead of hotels, use the Airbnb app. After entering your destination and dates, you can filter results based on the home type, price, requisite amenities and more — and for those last-minute travels, you can search only for properties that don’t require pre-approval. If find something you like, you can book directly through the app. It’s ideal for managing your trips while on the road — you can access all your bookings under the “Trips” tab, where you can view your reservation (and the address or directions), contact the host or change your reservation. Once you have a booking, you can also peruse and book local experiences in your destination such as wine tastings, kayak tours, hikes, shows, concerts and more.
TripIt declutters your itineraries and documents by keeping them organized in one place. You can set your reservations to be automatically sent to TripIt, which will let you view travel confirmations, flight itineraries, tickets, hotel and Airbnb booking info, rental car reservations, ferry tickets and driving directions without ever leaving the app. TripIt also makes it simple to share your trip plans with whoever is picking you up from the airport or train station, or anyone else who may need to coordinate with you or know what your travel plans are. Download for free on iTunes and Google Play. TripIt Pro subscriptions cost $49 per year and include extras like real-time flight alerts, security wait times, baggage claim info and updates on your loyalty reward programs. If your employer uses Concur, you may be eligible for a free TripIt Pro subscription. As of October, TripIt users can now even download the app to their Mac desktop.
Perfect for organizing that epic road trip you’ve always wanted to take, Roadtrippers not only plans out your driving route but also lets you book hotels and activities along the way. The app is especially useful for finding interesting and off-the-beaten-path roadside attractions as well as cool restaurants and can’t-miss landmarks you can bookmark.
OK, so Netflix isn’t really a travel app, but it can be a lifesaver during a long flight on an aircraft without seatback inflight entertainment, or at the airport during an unexpected flight delay or boring layover. If you have a Netflix account, the app allows you to download your favorite shows onto your device to watch offline. Just make sure to download your shows while connected to Wi-Fi before flying and check them again pre-flight to make sure they haven’t expired (you can usually renew any expired downloads but you must be connected to Wi-Fi or data to do so).
9. Google Translate
Google Translate allows you to do it all — translate into 103 languages by typing and access nearly 60 languages offline. You can use handwriting in 93 languages (where you draw text or characters instead of typing). It also offers camera translation in 37 languages, where you point your camera and snap for an instant translation. And two-way instant speech translation is available in 32 languages. Google Translate is simple to use too, with icons at the top you can click on to draw, take a photo, speak or type. For more useful translation apps, click here.
10. Google Maps
This app is essential when visiting a new city (or even for getting around your home). You can map locations, get directions (walking, driving, public transportation, ride-hailing services and more) and see how crowded your subway will be in select cities. You can make restaurant reservations, save your favorite spots and write reviews. Make sure to download specific city or area maps ahead of time for offline access if you know you’ll be without the internet at your destination. For obvious reasons, the app works best when your GPS is turned on.