Not all trips are about cutting digital ties. There’s a time and a place for unplugging, but tech-savvy travellers know a smartphone can be the perfect co-pilot.
A new crop of functional, practical, how-did-I-ever-live-without-this travel apps pops up each year. Some make your journey faster. Some make it easier. Some make it cheaper. Others help you record your adventures and share them with friends and family back home.
And did we mention that many of them are free? Below is a list of the best travel apps available in 2016. Get packing and start downloading.
Hopper is an award-winning app that predicts when airfare prices will rise and uses push notifications to alert you when your flight is cheapest. Travellers with flexible dates can use the colour-coded calendar to spot the lowest fares in a month. In addition to sniffing out the best deals, Hopper also tells you which flights are inconvenient based on factors like long layovers and airport changes. Users can even save their passenger and payment info so future flight booking is a breeze. Download Hopper for iOS or Android.
Citymapper is the ultimate urban transport app. A to B trip planning is made easy with real-time departures and disruption alerts, transit maps, line status updates, and arrival time estimates. The app covers all modes of travel: walking, subway, bus, rail, ferry, taxi, bike/car sharing. It even has Uber and Lyft integration. Citymapper offers more detailed information than Google, and is fun and easy to use despite its comprehensiveness. Download Citymapper for iOS or Android.
Google Translate is a veteran on the best travel apps scene, but it remains one of the genre’s standouts. The app’s highlights include language packs can be downloaded for offline use (invaluable when you’re roaming a foreign land without wi-fi) and instant visual translations using your phone’s camera. It also offers two-way instant speech translation in ‘Conversation Mode’ and can read hand-drawn characters along with keyboard input. Download Google Translate for iOS or Android.
XE is the go-to currency conversion site online, so it’s no surprise that the app is equally esteemed. Travellers can find exchange rates or convert any currency in seconds with the tap of a few buttons. The app even saves the last updated rates so it can continue to function offline. For business travellers, there is a suite of useful features like rates for precious metals and historic currency charts. Download XE Currency for iOS or Android.
PackPoint is the ultimate tool for determining what goes in your suitcase. The app builds a custom packing list based on the length of your trip, the weather at your destination, and any activities you have planned. Your list gets its own website, so you can easily share it with fellow travellers who are clueless about what to pack. Premium features include integration with Evernote and TripIt. Download PackPoint for iOS or Android.
TripIt is a travel agent that fits in your pocket. The app eases the travel hassle by consolidating all your plans into one place. After scanning your email inbox for confirmations, TripIt creates a single, easy-to-ready itinerary that covers flights, hotels, rental cars, and event bookings. Itineraries can be shared with contacts, making it easy to book group travel. Download TripIt for iOS or Android.
If you’re the spontaneous type, HotelTonight is a must. The app makes it easy to book great stays at affordable last-minute rates by partnering with hotels and offering their unsold rooms. You can book the day of, or up to seven days in advance, giving you the flexibility to play it by ear, plus the confidence of knowing you’ll get a low price and top accommodations. Download HotelTonight for iOS or Android.
While there are other apps out there for sharing expenses, Splittr is designed especially for travel. Simply add expenses as you go and Splittr will tell you who is next to pay and who owes what to whom. At the end of the trip, it generates a full report that can be emailed to your friends. Best of all, all currencies are supported and you can even mix them. Download Splittr for iOS.
Airport lounges aren’t just for long layovers and first class flyers. LoungeBuddy helps you find a place to relax, be productive, freshen up, or just get away from it all by locating lounges in more than 500 airports worldwide. Input the details of your trip and any applicable elite benefits or memberships, and the app provides a list of locations you can access for free or a one-time fee. Download LoungeBuddy for iOS or Android.
Consider this your digital travel journal. LiveTrekker allows you to capture, share, and consolidate all the digital media you accumulate on a journey on interactive maps. The app tracks your route with a red line (it can also monitor your speed and altitude if you’re on an adventure). You add pictures, video, audio, and text along the way, creating a multimedia travel diary you can easily revisit or share with others. Download LiveTrekker for iOS or Android.