Looking to download the best free travel apps on your iPhone and Android phones? From international travel apps in Europe to domestic city guide apps in the US, this article is equipped with lots of useful mobile applications that you’ll want to bring along on your next adventure!
Let’s face it, trip planning can feel like opening a can of worms.
You begin by researching several destinations; going back and forth multiple times before ultimately choosing one. Then, you open a million different tabs to browse flights (“should I save $50 and hop on the 6am flight?”) Once the flight confirmation email comes through, it’s time to tackle the hotel part (“where should I stay?”)
The fun continues when you get to the “what things should I do?” stage. This can quickly morph into a bottomless pit of exploration. The research goes on and on, until you realize you’ve probably spent 20+ hours on the whole ordeal…
If you can relate with any of the above, fret no more! There are many free apps for iPhone and Android that can alleviate your trip planning woes. Having the right travel apps makes traveling much easier, both before and during your vacation. If you’d like to spend more time enjoying and less time planning, you’re in for a treat. Check out these 30 free travel apps for iPhone and Android that every traveler should download in 2021.
Best free apps for travel inspiration and idea generation
In the past, people relied on magazines, TV, and word-of-mouth for travel inspiration. However, since the advent of social media, people have turned to their smartphone apps for travel ideas and inspiration. Here are some of the best free travel apps for iPhone and Android that will have you booking your next adventure.
(If you’re already a social media guru, feel free to skip to the next section!)
It wasn’t long ago when Instagram was exclusively used by millennials to share heavily-filtered photos with their friends. In the early days, there were no videos, stories, or geotags. But there were plenty of “stylish” filters and frames to make up for them.
Since then, Instagram has transcended every generation and nearly every country to become the dominant photo and video-sharing app. Today, it’s among the most downloaded apps of all time, and for good reason. Instagram has brought “Instagrammable” places around the world to the forefront of our minds, thus inspiring our next adventures.
As a travel blogger, I tend to use Instagram a little more than most people. However, it’s definitely the quintessential app for travelers seeking inspiration for their next journey around the world.
(Here’s my shameless plug to follow my Instagram account: @Global.Viewpoint)
Pinterest isn’t just known for food recipes and home decorations. It’s also an incredible app for travel inspiration. As of September 2018, Pinterest had over 250 million monthly users, making it one of the most popular social media apps in the world.
On Pinterest, you’ll find some of the best visual content on social media. This makes Pinterest a natural fit for the travel and tourism industry in terms of promoting destinations and finding inspiration for them. I enjoy browsing Pinterest’s travel group boards to find articles about places that are trending.
(Here’s another shameless plug…follow me on Pinterest! @GlobalViewpoint)
I’ve been using TikTok since December 2018, and it’s quickly become my favorite social media app. This short-form video app is highly entertaining and engaging, which is perfect for travel inspiration. Though I enjoy taking photos and posting them on social media, they are much more one dimensional than videos. As such, I feel that TikTok will continue to gain traction among avid travelers as one of the best free travel apps in 2021.
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Twitter isn’t just used by political pundits to monitor the President’s tweets. It’s also extensively used in the travel sphere to showcase interesting articles and current events.
On Twitter, you’ll find that most influential players in the travel industry are posting content daily. For example, Rick Steves seems to be an avid tweeter who posts himself; unlike on Instagram where someone evidently posts on his behalf. Other prominent accounts on Twitter include Travel + Leisure, Condé Nast, and Lonely Planet, which all post travel articles at least a few times each day.
I mainly use Twitter to keep up on travel news and trending topics in the industry. It’s also a great app for sharing pictures and blog posts of the world, therefore making it a wonderful source of travel inspiration.
(Here’s my Twitter handle in case you’d like to connect! @JonMiksis)
I’m sure every traveler has used TripAdvisor at least once to read online reviews. However, this travel site has recently branched out from hotel and restaurant reviews into something much more.
In September 2018, TripAdvisor got personal by launching its first ever social media-sharing platform. This app now allows users to create profiles and share photos and tips, as you’d expect to see on Instagram.
I don’t think TripAdvisor will be replacing other social media apps anytime soon. Nonetheless, I think its intrinsic focus on the travel industry makes it a valuable resource for those of us seeking travel inspiration.
Best free travel apps for flights and airfare bookings
I always recommend checking at least two different flight booking apps prior to purchasing your airfare. Here are a couple of my favorites:
Each of my travel escapades begins with a simple Skyscanner search. This flight aggregator app allows you to search over 1,200 websites for the cheapest flight deals.
My favorite features of this app are the “Explore Everywhere” and “Best Deals by Month” options. Each allows you to find ridiculously cheap flights to pretty much anywhere in the world, as long as you’re flexible with your dates. Another cool functionality is “Your Perfect Trip”, which provides tailored recommendations for travelers (i.e. solo travel and kid-free vacations).
Skyscanner has recently expanded its travel toolkit, now offering hotels and car rental searches as well. I think Skyscanner does a better job discovering deals than other flight aggregators, but it’s always important to take a peek and compare, just in case.
Before hopping into the next phase of your trip planning, you’ll definitely want to check out Hopper. This easy-to-use flight app is an effective tool for discovering the best flight deals around the world. It also predicts whether or not the prices will rise and drop in the coming days.
The flexibility on this app is very useful. Once you select your home base and desired destination, Hopper arranges the flight prices in a color-coded calendar that shows the best deals throughout the year. You can also create flight alerts to monitor price changes, which is always a nice touch.
Don’t be fooled by the cute bunny that hops across the loading screen, this app means business.
One way to save some serious cash on flights is by mixing and matching airlines on different legs of the trip. Kiwi.com is a great resource for this, as it almost always fetches cheaper connecting flights than other aggregator websites.
For example: in many international flight routes, airlines partner with one another to provide passengers with one seamless booking. In the process, however, they raise the prices higher than what you would otherwise pay by booking each airline separately. Using Kiwi, I’ve booked roundtrip flight packages between the US and Europe using separate bookings to save hundreds of dollars each trip. It’s important to note that while the cost savings can be tremendous, it’s sometimes tedious and cumbersome to book flights this way. If you value convenience over cost savings, then you’re better off using another flight aggregator or with one airlines directly.
Read next: Cheapest Cities to Fly Into Europe in 2021
Best travel apps for hotel and accommodation bookings
I’ve toyed with at least 20 different hotel and accommodation-booking apps, which all tout having the best deals. Based on my experience, the apps below carry the best deals most of the time:
This app is my top choice for booking hotels. Booking.com is easy and efficient to use, which is a major plus relative to its competitors. There are other booking platforms out there, like Hotels.com, that are not as compatible for mobile use.
Booking.com also has 5.8 million properties around the world, making it one of the most comprehensive resources for finding the best deals. When you book frequently on this app, you’ll eventually become a part of the “Genius Rewards Program,” which gives you discounts and late-checkouts at various properties. Not a bad deal at all.
In terms of prices and functionalities, Booking.com offers the best of both worlds.
If you’re looking for the best accommodation deals without having to stay in a hostel, Airbnb is your best bet. This booking app connects travelers with local hosts who rent out their homes and apartments. Airbnb gives you a more local experience than typical hotels, as you’ll sometimes meet and interact with the hosts.
Airbnb is easy-to-use and customizable, lending itself to quick and seamless bookings. I also like the interactive map feature, which gives you an idea of where you’ll want to stay.
In addition to its focus on accommodations, Airbnb also displays “experiences” across different destinations. I’ve used the “Airbnb Experiences” tool to buy tours and tickets to other major attractions. From tapas tours in Barcelona to bistros in Paris, you’ll find plenty of things to do while browsing this app.
Though I mostly prefer browsing accommodations on my computer, Airbnb’s iOS version is super easy and efficient to use, making it one of my favorite free travel apps.
[If you haven’t used Airbnb before, you can use my code and get up to $65 off your first booking. I get a small stipend as well, so we both win.]
This is my go-to travel app for booking hostels. It’s simple, easy to use, and offers a variety of filters to help you narrow down your selections for a specific destination. Like many of the other booking apps out there, Hostelworld has an interactive map and lots of reviews, so you can quickly find what you’re looking for.
I’ve been using Hostelworld since 2014, and have never had a bad experience. It’s definitely the most reliable (and most widely used) app for booking hostels.
12. HotelTonight is one of the best travel deal apps out there
If you’re a spontaneous traveler, HotelTonight is your best friend. This international travel app offers last-minute discounts on hotel rooms that haven’t been sold out. Hotels would rather make some money than none at all, which is ultimately the business model for this application’s continued success.
Like the other major booking platforms out there, HotelTonight offers a seamless user interface experience, allowing you to select from various criteria to find the best possible stay. If you’re planning a last-second road trip adventure and need a place to spend the night, HotelTonight has got you covered as one of the best travel deal apps in 2021.
Best free travel apps for organizing your trip
Now that the flights and accommodations are booked, you’ll want to consolidate this documentation and continue your planning. Here are some travel apps to help you with that.
Ever thought of using a mobile app to store all your trip information? Thanks to TripIt, the days of hopelessly sifting through your emails to find ticket confirmations are over!
From hotel and car reservations to airline tickets and tour itineraries, TripIt lets you compile all your trip information in one place. This Android and iPhone app also lets you share trip plans with others, which is super helpful when you’re coordinating travel plans with family/friends.
The best part of all? You can save this information offline so you won’t need an internet connection to access it!
I’ve found TripIt to be the perfect alternative to Google Trips, which was shut down in August of 2019.
14. Roadtrippers is a useful travel app for travelers planning a road trip
Looking to plan a road trip anytime soon? Save yourself a lot of time and effort by using this free travel app for iPhone and Android.
Roadtrippers lets you plan your road trip itinerary, mapping out all the stops you want to see (up to 7 points for free; unlimited waypoints if you upgrade your account for a fee). This includes dining venues, top sights and attractions, and other places you’ll want to incorporate into your itinerary. This mobile travel app also offers some generic road trip guides in case you’re crunched for time.
Read next: New England Road Trip Planning Guide
15. Guides by Lonely Planet
Looking to add an itinerary app to your repertoire?
I’m a huge fan of guidebooks, particularly those from Rick Steves and Lonely Planet. However, it’s not always convenient to carry them around with you while you travel. The best solution, of course, is a handy dandy iPhone or android app!
Guides by Lonely Planet is an awesome resource for travel tips and recommendations. Its city guides are user-friendly and filled with valuable information. The offline map is also pretty helpful when you get to the destination.
In addition to its city guides, you can also use this app to shop around for tickets and tours. This feature is great from an idea-generation standpoint, but I think you’re better off purchasing tickets directly with the seller (or on another website altogether).
The most helpful travel apps are the ones with lots of information at your fingertips. Guides by LP will help prepare you with a travel itinerary for your next trip.
Trello is a great tool for organizing all aspects of your vacation, including ticket confirmations, to-do lists, and ideas that pop up along the way. To be honest, organization is not one of my strong suits, so Trello makes my life a heck of a lot easier!
17. Best Travel App for Packing Items for Your Trip: PackPoint
If you’re looking to organize your trip, you’ll definitely want to download this handy dandy packing app.
With PackPoint, you’ll never forget your underwear or socks again, but more importantly, this travel app will help you create a list of items you should bring that are specific to your destination. All you have to do is select your dates, location, and the type of trip, and this nifty app for travelers does the rest. Depending on your destination, the time of year, and the weather forecasts, this app will recommend accessories such as jackets, umbrellas, and beach attire that you may forget to bring otherwise.
If you’d like a free packing list, subscribe to my blog for exclusive tips and travel resources.
Read next: Best Time of Year to Visit the Northeast
Best travel apps for navigating the airport security process (USA Only)
One of the most stressful parts about traveling is the airport security process. If you’ve ever had to wait in long lines at security and customs, you can probably attest to this. Here are some of my favorite free travel apps that will alleviate your stress at U.S. airports.
This travel app is a lifesaver when it comes to the security check process at airports. MyTSA is a source of valuable information provided by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). This app contains the following:
- Estimated wait times at security checkpoints.
- 24/7 access to security information (i.e. contact information and live assistance).
- Guidelines on permitted/prohibited items in luggage.
- Airport or weather delays that may affect your flight.
Whether you’re curious about the security wait time or what’s allowed in your luggage, MyTSA is a great resource that will answer most of your questions.
19. Mobile Passport
For U.S. and Canadian passport holders, Mobile Passport is a saving grace that addresses the hassle of entering the United States.
This app allows you to breeze through U.S. Customs and Border Protection at 26 airports and 3 cruise port terminals. All you have to do is update your profile with passport and trip information, and then you’re good to go. Another great part about using Mobile Passport is that you no longer have to pester flight passengers to borrow a pen. Where has this app been all my life?
Best travel app for checking flight status
In an ideal world, all flights would run smoothly (and on time), so we wouldn’t have to check on flight delays. Sadly, that’s not the case, but at least this app will help give us peace of mind:
20. FlightAware Flight Tracker
When it comes to flight tracking apps, this one is the best by far.
In real time, FlightAware allows you to check the flight status of any commercial flight worldwide. You can even set up flight status alerts and push notifications, which come in handy if you’re someone who’s paranoid about flight delays, gate changes, and cancellations.
FlightAware is often faster at notifying passengers of flight changes than the airlines themselves. So you’ll definitely want to download this before your next trip!
Best free travel apps for getting around your destination
Getting around places can be challenging when you’re traveling. Aside from your typical ride-sharing apps like Uber and Lyft, there are other cool apps out there that make transportation easy and accessible. Here are a few that stick out:
Maps.me is a nifty navigation app that is best known for its offline maps.
This app is community-developed, meaning that the information within it (i.e. local attractions and businesses) is updated by users on an ongoing basis. This model is beneficial for finding new and off-the-beaten-path places, which likely wouldn’t be shown on Google Maps.
As an open-source platform, Maps.me has a lot of potential. The downloadable, offline maps are helpful in cities where you don’t have access to data or internet. Nevertheless, I think that Google Maps is a better resource overall.
22. Google Maps
Both at home and abroad, Google Maps has a special place in my heart. This app provides up-to-date maps and directions in pretty much every country around the world. Similar to Maps.me, Google Maps has an offline mode that you can use whenever you don’t have data. As such, it’s one of the best free travel apps that every traveler should have in 2021.
Whether you’re renting a car in Iceland or simply needing directions around a city, Google Maps has got you covered.
As its name suggests, Rome2Rio is a reliable resource for getting around Rome, Rio de Janeiro, and everywhere in between. All you have to do is search where you want to go, and Rome2Rio will find you viable transportation options.
In places where it’s tricky to find accurate bus and train timetables, Rome2Rio usually finds what you’re looking for. It also provides you with a ballpark of the prices, as well as the length of your journey. Bon Voyage!
24. Omio (formerly “GoEuro”)
Having visited 25 countries across Europe, I’ve relied on technology to traverse many of its cities and towns. Since my study abroad semester in college more than 5 years ago, GoEuro has always had my back. As of 2019, Omio has assumed this role.
This app is simple, yet effective in locating and booking transportation around Europe. It also provides live updates and customer service, which are particularly valuable when you’re traveling through unfamiliar places.
When I need to catch a last-minute bus or train in remote towns like Füssen, Germany, I credit GoEuro (Omio) for getting me from Point A to Point B.
Best travel apps dealing with money
Whether we like it or not, money is a key factor in our travel decisions. Here are a couple of apps that are worth checking out:
Are you traveling with a group of friends anytime soon? If you have an arrangement where each person in your group is in charge of purchasing different things (i.e. flights, hotels, and attractions), you should consider using an app to track these expenses. Splitwise is my go-to app to ensure that everyone gets paid back.
Splitwise is a great resource for a couple of reasons. First, it allows you to track expenses in pretty much every major currency. This means that if you’re visiting multiple countries on a group trip, you can simultaneously track expenses in different currencies. In addition to performing currency conversion, Splitwise is integrated with Venmo and PayPal, which allows you to reimburse each other instantly.
Splitwise is much more convenient than tracking expenses in an excel spreadsheet (the old fashioned way).
26. XE Currency
When you’re visiting places like the Czech Republic, where 1 Koruna = 0.044 USD, calculating the exchange rate is no easy task. To avoid getting ripped off in a foreign country, it’s a good idea to have a currency converter in your back pocket. My favorite resource for comparing exchange rates is XE Currency.
This app allows you to keep tabs on foreign exchange rates in real time. XE Currency is easy to use, and makes life easy by not having to calculate complex conversions in your head. When you’re not connected to the internet, XE Currency still works by showing you recent rates from your last time using the app.
Even if you have a credit card with no foreign transaction fees, it’s always advisable to carry local currency (and an app that calculates it) just in case.
Best free travel app for keeping connected with others
During your travel adventures, you’ll want a reliable way to stay in touch with friends and loved ones. Here are some travel apps that you should consider:
WhatsApp is an encrypted messaging app app that allows you to send texts, voice calls, and video chats over Wi-Fi. The best part of all? It’s free!
It’s shocking that this Facebook-owned application is still not widely used in the U.S. All of my international friends use WhatsApp to stay connected; and it’s baffled me why most Americans haven’t yet adopted it. In 2021, I expect (sadly) that cellular data providers will continue to hike their rates, which will make WhatsApp a more attractive alternative in the US market.
WhatsApp has been my lifeline to communicate with iPhone and Android users, both at home and abroad.
28. Google Duo
Google Duo allows you to make high-quality video and voice calls on smartphones and iPads. It’s free, simple, and easy to use. For those of you who are looking for an alternative to FaceTime, Google Duo is an excellent solution in the realm of video calling.
Best free travel apps for learning languages
Before visiting a foreign country, I always learn a few important phrases in the local language. Below are two quintessential apps that will help you converse with locals.
This is my favorite language-learning app by far. What makes Duolingo so special? First of all, it’s fun. I like the way this app succinctly mixes visual and audio learning methods in an engaging way. Duolingo also uses spatial repetition to ensure that you’ve mastered the vocabulary and grammar before moving onto the next lesson. Given how important language-learning is for international travel, I consider Duolingo to be one of the top travel apps in 2021.
Duolingo’s free app version includes ads. However, I think the overall value and usefulness of this app supersedes the ads that appear after every lesson.
You won’t become a polyglot overnight by using this, but it’s a great starting point for learning some key phrases.
30. Google Translate
For international travelers, this is definitely one of the most essential travel apps in the app store.
Google Translate always comes to the rescue when you’re in a foreign country and don’t speak the local language. This app provides instant translations in pretty much every major language. Most of the time, Google Translate is spot on. However, sometimes you’ll need to do additional research to discover more complex idioms or phrases.
Another cool functionality is that Google Translate lets you hover your camera over text to translate it. This is particularly useful if you’re trying to translate signs or menus in foreign countries.
At the end of the day, I think it’s worthwhile to learn the local language as much as possible. When there are any gaps in that knowledge, that’s where a translation app like Google Translate comes in.
Other beneficial travel apps
- WiFi Map: Shows you the GPS locations and login credentials for free Wi-Fi networks around the world.
- GasBuddy: Helps you find the cheapest gas stations in your area.
- NordVPN: Provides an encrypted network to protect your privacy. This is particularly useful in countries where websites like Google and Instagram are blocked. *Note: this VPN service charges a monthly fee.
Best travel apps for Apple and Android devices in 2021
I hope you’ve found this list of top travel apps in 2021 to be helpful! There are so many incredible (and free) travel apps out there, which makes it difficult to choose the best ones.
In addition to using the apps listed above, it’s always a good idea to do some research on local apps in your destination. Each country and city seems to have their own special apps to make life easier. For example, when it comes to local public transportation, sometimes Google Maps will not have all the answers.
Do you recommend any travel apps that aren’t on this list? I’ll be updating this article periodically, and would greatly appreciate your insight! Feel free to comment below or shoot me an email ([email protected]). Thanks!
Looking for more travel tips and other best apps? Check out my recent blog posts below:
- 12 Simple and Effective Tips to Save Money On Travel
- 10 International Travel Tips to Make You a Smarter Traveler
Otherwise, feel free to check out my homepage to see what’s new!
For further reading, check out my latest travel articles below.
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For more articles and videos, be sure to check out my homepage!
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