To be able to travel is one of life’s greatest privileges.
It can also be a huge pain in the ass. There are budgets to set, hotels to book, and currency to exchange. You’ve got enough to think about already. So get a bunch of apps that do the lion’s share of the logistical planning for you. Besides the obvious picks Orbitz, Uber, etc. these are the 12 best travel apps you didn’t know you needed. They’ll save you some money. They’ll even make sure you remember to pack enough underwear seriously. Quite simply, they’ll make your life easier. Consider downloading one or all before you check in for your flight.
BUY THE CHEAPEST FLIGHTS (Skiplagged)
This app uses, well... unconventional methods to get you cheap flights. Say you want to go from Nashville to Chicago. That booking might cost you more than $300. But a flight from Nashville to Miami that stops in Chicago costs less than $100. You buy the cheaper ticket and simply ditch the trip halfway through. Technically, Skiplagged is not illegal. Ethically, it’s dicey. United Airlines sued it in 2015 and lost. Your call.
BOOK COOL HOTELS FOR LESS (Hotel Tonight)
When a hotel can’t fill its rooms for the night, it opens them up at a significant discount on Hotel Tonight. There’s a bit of risk since you can’t book far in advance, but you might score some seriously sweet digs in Manhattan, Barcelona, or any of the other participating cities dotting the world.
BUDGET YOUR MONEY BETTER (Spent)
Ugh, budgeting. A un-fun part of every vacation, but a necessary one. A budgeting app will help you do it better with specialized folders, account tracking, and receipt scanning. This budgeting app does all that and also rewards you with cash back on brands you gravitate towards and travel-related purchases. Spend a lot on vacation, but make a little back in return.
BREAK THE LANGUAGE BARRIER (Google Translate)
Google Translate is truly an amazing app. It translates street signs and menus through your phone’s camera, and it translates people speaking through its microphone. Type in a phrase, and it’ll translate that, too. If your high school language lessons didn't stick, this will let you communicate with locals and get the most out of your time in their cities. (Google’s Pixel Buds translate directly into your ear, if you’re so inclined to spend $159 on them.)
SAVE TIME GOING THROUGH CUSTOMS (Mobile Passport App)
U.S. Customs and Border Protection is bringing Mobile Passport Control lines to more and more airports nationwide. With the app, you can get in specially designated lines and whiz through customs, making it a huge time-saver for regular international travelers.
CONNECT TO FREE WIFI (Wifi Map)
If you’re abroad and need to shoot off a few iMessages, or you’re hankering for some good, old-fashioned internet browsing, Wifi Map gives you crowd-sourced information on where the nearest free hotspot is located.
LOCATE THE NEAREST BATHROOM (Flush)
Look, when you gotta go… Instead of forking over a few bucks at McDonald’s or Starbucks so you can get their bathroom code, use the Flush app to find the nearest public restroom. It tracks bathrooms that require a key and bathrooms that don’t, even when you don’t have internet.
NAVIGATE STRANGE CITIES (Citymapper)
Citymapper makes taking public transit in a strange city surprisingly easy. It is regularly updated with outages and delays, making it more accurate than Google Maps, and it gives helpful tips like “get off this bus soon” and “sit in the train’s front car.” If you’re utterly lost, you can also call an Uber or Lyft through its menu.
FIND OUT WHAT YOUR MONEY’S WORTH (XE Currency)
Currency values vary all around the globe. Knowing how much things are worth in dollars is essential wherever you’re headed. XE’s app has a free price calculator, and it tracks currency rates in real-time.
MAKE PACKING EASIER (Pack Point)
This app comes in clutch for overzealous list-makers. When you’re ready to pack for a trip, input the dates and activities you might do (like working out, attending business meetings, or swimming) and Pack Point checks the weather and creates a packing list. All you have to do is dig through the laundry.
KEEP YOUR TIME ZONES STRAIGHT (Klok)
For anyone bouncing between time zones and communicating with people spread across the globe, Klok’s minimalistic, customizable menu keeps the different times straight. Your internal clock might be scrambled, but at least you won’t have to count down on your fingers to figure travel logistics out.
MESSAGE ALL YOUR CONTACTS (WhatsApp)
WhatsApp is the texting app that lets you ditch SMS forever. Using your phone number and internet connection, you can send messages for free, crossing international lines and working with Android, iOS, Nokia, and more platforms. All you need is a very small amount of data.