Best travel apps 2017
It's that time of year when we start stocking up on sunscreen and reserving flights. It's exhilarating, but traveling brings with it an assortment of problems. Fortunately, many of these headaches are easily alleviated with apps for your mobile device.
With affordable and quick flights to pretty much any location in the world, it's never been so simple to travel the world. However, that doesn’t mean that the actual traveling portion of well, traveling, is painless. To help make the entire experience of traveling less of a pain we have collected the best travel apps available on the market right now.
Our list includes a large range of different sorts of apps to cover every facet of travel, from how to get there, to activities available once you arrive, how to communicate with the locals and even apps that take the hassle out of paying for things.
So, before you pack your suitcases and squeeze into your swimsuit, make sure you've got one or more of these downloaded to your iOS or Android device.
Airbnb has become a household name but it wasn't all that long ago that it suddenly revolutionized the way people booked their accommodations on vacation. It used to be that, if you were going away, you pretty much stayed at a hotel –or a hostel.
Then Airbnb came along and, all of a sudden, you could stay in a beautiful house in the center of a city or a little cottage out in the beautiful countryside.
The app makes booking your accommodations simple, and also has guides for local inspiration and a section for booking experiences.
Now that Netflix allows you to download your shows and movies for offline viewing, it makes the ideal companion to take with you on long journeys. If you've got hours to kill waiting in departure, or even if you'd rather just watch your movie in-flight without having it interrupted by disrupting announcements from the flight crew, this is a must-have app.
Just remember to put it into airplane mode when flying, and get those movies downloaded at home over Wi-Fi in advance of your trip in order to save on those expensive data roaming charges.
App in the Air
App in the Air might have a gimmicky name, but there’s a reason this app is an Editor's Choice on the App Store. App in the Air gives you real-time flight updates, gate changes, airport navigation maps and tips – meaning you will never find yourself frantically running through an airport terminal again.
On top of all of that, you can still receive updates offline, so you'll incur no roaming charges if using the app abroad.
Booking.com is one of the world's most well known hotel booking websites. The Booking.com smartphone app builds on its already successful model, allowing you to search for the best booking deals on over 1 million hotels and homes all across the world. If you're still trying to figure out where you want to book, there are over 107 million user reviews to help you decide.
Additionally, once you have completed your booking, you will receive an instant confirmation of your booking, complete with paperless check-in and offline maps of the surrounding area.
With over 55 million downloads, XE Currency is the most popular currency exchange rate app on the market, and with good reason.
It gives accurate conversion rates for every currency you can think of, updated every minute and stored offline so that even if you lose internet connection, you can still use the app.
The British Airways app, obviously, is the companion app to British Airways. What is surprising is how useful it is.
It empowers you to book flights, check in, pick seats and download a digital boarding pass so you don't have to inconveniently print one out or wait in line for a check-in desk if you only have hand luggage.
The British Airways app has live departure gate and in-flight information, meaning you can decide which movies you want to watch while waiting for your flight to board.
Cleartrip is handy for reserving flights, hotels and trains. Cleartrip was originally created in India, and while its success means that it now has well over 10 million users worldwide, there are still regions it doesn't support, so make sure to double check to make sure you're in a supported area.
Now, with the ability to securely store card information, you can do 1-click purchases of plane tickets, meaning you can scroll through deals and purchase tickets – all within 60 seconds.
Cleartrip can search for the best deals on hotel rooms in over 15,000 cities worldwide, also.
Citymapper is indisposable if you want to be able to navigate around like a local while abroad. Supporting many major cities around the world, Citymapper is a map app that you can use to plan a route using any kind of transport the city has. It gives live updates on delays and closures, and it’s very easy to use.
You can save maps offline and can access the maps for transport services like Tube maps, so if you want to find your own way, you can do that too.
If you're anything like us, traveling to a country where that speaks a language other than yours makes you yearn for the Babel Fish from Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy; a little mechanical device that you put into your ear that immediately translates any language you hear.
While iTranslate isn't quite there, it is a step in the right direction. With the simple push of a button you can speak into your phone and it'll translate into your choice of 90 different languages. The person you're speaking to then talks into the phone and it translates into your language. Easy!
The implementation is still a long way off being perfect, but it does allow you to converse in another language, which is very useful. What's even better is that the most frequently used languages have a downloadable pack so you can use them offline.
If you're not happy letting an app do all of your translation work for you, you may want to give Duolingo a try.
Duolingo is a language education app that makes learning a new language simple and fun. If you want to be able to communicate with the locals, there are few ways of learning that will get you there as quickly as Duolingo. The simple layout and game feel of the app makes learning a new language a pleasure.
The list of languages that Duolingo offers is continuously growing. Right now you can choose from 23, including Spanish, German, Swahili, and Vietnamese. What's more, it's completely free.
The Expedia app is one of the world's most well known all-in-one-place booking apps. You can reserve flights, hotels, rent a car, even book tickets to tourist attractions and theme parks all with the one app.
Expedia has recently rolled out the ability to book bundle deals, so your hotel and flights are all included in the booking, possibly saving you even more money.
Guides by Lonely Planet
Lonely Planet made its name making in-depth travel guides. With Guides, you can now get a concentrated version of what they’re best at, on your phone.
In the app, you can download the guide for the city that you are going to be visiting, then select what category you want information on. These include things to see, restaurants, bars, places to sleep, places to shop and places to play.
Crucial information, including maps and explanations are all stored offline on your device, so you don't have to worry about roaming charges while you're traveling. What's more, there are even phrasebooks included so you can speak with the locals. There are over 100 cities covered with Guides.
Google Trips is the travel planning app from the search titan. Where Google Trips is different from the other travel planners is that you don't actually book through Trips – this is the app you use to parse through all of the information about your trip, and being Google, it provides plenty of suggestions of things to add once you're there.
The app pulls in all of your bookings for your trip from your Gmail account and brings them together, meaning if you find deals from a number of different places, rather than having to have a number of different apps, emails and print-outs all giving you separate information, you always have your entire itinerary in one app.
What's more, Google has recently announced that they are introducing a feature allowing you share your itinerary.
Google Translate is fairly phenomenal if you haven't used it before. There are a few different methods of translation that it offers: text translation, where you type a phrase and it is translated into whichever language you choose, Conversation Mode, where you can actually talk to someone in a different language with the app translating as you speak, and camera translation, where you point your camera at text (like signs) and the translation appears on your screen.
This technology has been around for a while now, but still feels magical somehow.
It is a given that most places you go in the world people speak English, but this is an incredibly useful app for overcoming language barriers.
KAYAK is an app that searches travel sites to get you the best deals on flights, hotels and car hire. Once all of your bookings are complete, it compiles all of the information into an easy to manage itinerary.
Where KAYAK really comes into its own is its ability to track not only where the best deals come from, but even fluctuations in the price over time, sending you notifications when the deal you are looking for becomes cheaper.
There is even a function where you can put in your budget and it tells you places you can afford to visit.
PackPoint helps you pack. You put in where you're going, when you're going, and what you plan to do there and PackPoint suggests a list of things to pack. You can add or remove things from the list, then tick them off once they are packed.
It works with TripIt too, so you can get suggestions based on your travel itinerary automatically migrated from that app.
Never have that 'Did I pack my...' feeling again.
- $1.99 (£1.99)
Splittr allows you to easily split costs between a group, meaning if you are travelling with a group of people, you no longer need to squabble over who paid for what.
You simply add expenses to the app as you go, then at the end of the holiday Splittr divides the bill and sends a PDF to all parties involved.
Skyscanner is a booking app for flights, hotels and car hire.
The Skyscanner website's calling card has always been easy customisation and the app is no different, allowing you to adjust your trip using flight duration, airline, stop-overs, flight class, and arrival and departure times. It even has a color-coded calendar that shows you when the best time to book your trip is to get the best deal.
Time Out is an app that helps you figure out what to do in a city. With restaurants, art galleries, night clubs, and pretty much everything in between this app is hard to beat if you're in a strange city at a loss for something to do.
Time Out has been helping people discover hidden gems since the 1960's so it knows what it's doing. Once a magazine that focussed on London, the app now covers 30 cities worldwide, with more being added soon.
TripAdvisor is the app to use if user reviews are your thing. The app has over 500 million user reviews for hotels, restaurants, and events. Users can rate, write and even photograph, so if you want the full picture before you decide to book somewhere, this is the app for you.
Once you've ploughed through all those reviews, you can book a table, a concert, a plane ticket, all through the app.
You can also download maps, saved destinations, and reviews so that if you want to wait until you're abroad to make final decisions, you can do so without incurring roaming charges.
TripIt is a travel itinerary app that makes it easy to see your whole trip in one place. You simply forward all of your booking emails to TripIt and the app collates all of your information. The information is available offline so you don't have to worry about roaming charges.
What's more, TripIt works with App in the Air and PackPoint (also in this list) so you can get flight notifications and packing advice based on your itinerary.
In order to use all of the functions TripIt has to offer you will have to upgrade to TripIt Pro for $49 per year (about £37, AU$65) but the free version does include all the basics you need like manual changing of plans, syncing with your calendar, compiling travel documents in one place, and sharing of your itinerary.
We're big fans of being meta here - providing comparisons of flight comparison engines. Momondo is one we've used regularly and would recommend to anyone looking to get a good deal - it's got a huge database to trawl through and often comes up trumps with good deals as well as options on hotels.
There's a neat graph that shows you the cheapest times to go, and it can also help you work out if direct flights or layovers can be the smartest way to travel. The app also dovetails nicely with the online portal if you fancy getting a bit more power into your searches.