25 Free Apps Every Traveler Should Know About
Using the right apps during a trip can help save you both time and money, while making the experience so much less stressful. These apps can also open you to a world of local recommendations and hidden gems that tourists don’t often get to see, and the best part is, some of them are completely free.
Whether you’re looking for an app that will give you discounts to popular local events, get you a last-minute booking at a fraction of the price, or help you breeze through the airport, these are the 25 free apps you’ll want to download before your next trip.
Citymapper helps travelers find the speediest route to their destination, providing the fastest routes and step-by-step instructions on where to find the nearest bus and train stations. You’ll be able to see when the next arrivals will be at each of these locations, while real-time routing means you’ll get updates every minute. The app also has a chat feature that allows you to update friends and family on where you are in real time.
Enter your destination, travel dates, length of stay, and the activities you plan to do there (whether these include hiking, swimming, or traveling with family), and the app will create a custom packing list you can save for future use. Besides checking weather conditions for you, the app also allows users to share their lists with fellow travelers.
Get to know the city you’re visiting like a local with Detour, which provides you with 150 immersive audio walks you can take in some 19 countries around the world. The audio guides take you off the beaten path as you explore everything from nature trails to food-curated tours from the likes of filmmaker Ken Burns, actor Joel Grey and chef Marcus Samuelsson.
Some of the tours also include augmented reality, giving you a chance to see what the location you’re walking along looked like throughout the years.
Launched by co-founder of Kayak, Paul English, Lola is like having a personal assistant in your hand. That’s because the app can help you plan every aspect of your trip through its combination of AI and real (human) concierges and customer service experts. The concierges are available 24/7 to help you with everything from booking hotels and flights to finding local recommendations via text.
Not only does the app help relieve the stress of flying by providing real-time flight information and rebooking your flight for you if you miss a connection, but it also presents you with hotel and flight choices based specifically on your personal preferences.
The beauty of Rebtel is you don’t need an Internet connection in order to be able to call friends and family back home. The app connects to local phone lines to provide you with cheap calls in over 53 countries around the world without having to deal with getting a local SIM card or racking up your phone bill.
Call deals can range from $10 for a month of unlimited calls in India to 500 minutes for $10 in Bangladesh, but the best part is that you’ll be able to call those using the app for free.
If you’re looking to get outdoors, this app will provide you with an array of the top trails for hiking, biking and running.
AllTrails includes more than 50,000 trail maps that are hand-curated along with reviews and photos from a community of hikers and outdoor enthusiasts. You'll find useful information like what to pack, obstacles you’ll find along the route and the best scenic spots to check out. The app also allows you record yourself as you move across your trail, while detailed driving directions will help get you to your hike in no time.
If you find yourself in the midst of a long layover or a delayed flight, Dayuse can get you into a hotel room for a few hours at a discounted price of 75 percent less than what the typical overnight rate would be. The app boasts 4,000 hotels in 20 countries and allows you to make free cancellations up to the very last minute. Selections include everything from business hotels to well-being accommodations, with payments made directly when you arrive. You also get full use of the hotel's amenities for the duration of your stay.
The price of flights can fluctuate, making it tricky to figure out whether you should book right away or hold off. That’s where Hopper comes in, predicting the best times to find the cheapest fares to provide you up to 40 percent off of tickets. The app also has a price-monitoring feature, so that you can select a particular flight and receive alerts if its price drops. Through Hopper, users can also compare the prices and amenities they’ll get on more than 250 airlines, and get regular alerts about airfare flash sales.
RV Parks and Campgrounds
Nike Training Club
Getting the chance to hit the gym can be tough while you're traveling, but with this app, you’ll feel like you have a personal trainer right in your pocket. That's because with Nike Training Club, you can access over 160 free workouts from Nike Master Trainers and celebrities like Kevin Hart, Serena Williams and Cristiano Ronaldo. Audio and video clips help you make sure you're on top of your technique while personalized training plans will keep you on track, whether you miss a day of training or want to increase the challenge.
If you don’t have much time to spare at the airport, Grab can come to your rescue. The app allows you to check out what food selections you’ll find near your gate, in addition to allowing you to preorder and pick up your food on the way to the gate.
The app currently operates in over 150 eateries across airports in the US, giving you plenty of bites to choose from before your next trip.
Tipping customs vary in different countries, meaning you could be tipping when you don’t need to or not tipping in cases where you should without knowing it. To help you figure out when and how to tip, try Piper. The app, which can be used offline, has a database of some 75 countries you can look into to find out whether you need to tip in common situations like while at restaurants or grabbing a cab.
Available on iOS only.
Feeling under the weather doesn't’ have to ruin your vacation. iTriage allows you to quickly search for answers to your health concerns, in addition to helping you find medications and medical locations near you.
Created by two ER doctors, the app provides medical information that is reviewed by the Harvard Medical School if you're looking for quick answers. It also provides the ability to check into hospital emergency rooms and urgent care facilities, and gives users access to emergency hotlines and nurse advice lines.
GasBuddy is the app you’ll want if you’re taking a roadtrip. With a community of some 70 million users, GasBuddy tracks down where you’ll find the cheapest gas prices, allowing you to filter by price, location, brand and amenities at each location. It also provides you with deals at nearby convenience stores and alerts of price hikes to that you can fill up your tank before arriving to a particular station.
Want to know what local events are taking place in your destination? Headout will show you the top attractions, shows, tours and experiences in popular cities like New York, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Orlando, Hawaii, Dubai and more.
Activities range from catching a Broadway show to doing yoga in the hills or taking a helicopter tour, with exclusive last-minute offers that can be as high as 80 percent off. Simply book through the app and head to your event of choice at a fraction of the price.
Chances are you might find yourself connecting to public Wi-Fi if you’re looking to access the Internet during your travels.
TunnelBear will allow you to do that both privately and securely by providing you a VPN (virtual private network) that will encrypt your browsing data to keep your information hidden from hackers and advertisers. The app comes with 500MB of free browsing data each month, while you can also opt for unlimited data at $9.99 a month.
Hostelworld is where you’ll find over 35,000 quirky hostels, hotels, B&B’s and communal spaces to choose from in over 170 countries.
The app is great for solo travelers looking to meet fellow vacationers during their trip, with features that include a Hostel Noticeboard for regular events and meetups, and a translator that allows you to translate up to 37 languages.
With DUFL, you only have to pack once, and the app will take care of the rest for you. DUFL will send you a welcome kit that comes with a DUFL suitcase, where you can place your items. The company will then take inventory of your items and have your clothes cleaned to await your first trip. When you’re ready to travel, pick out what you’d like packed into your bag from the app’s virtual closet, and DUFL will have your packed luggage sent straight to your destination.
Whether you’re looking at what to pack before your trip or what to do during, you’ll want a good weather app to stay up to date. WeatherBug provides forecasts of more than 2.6 million locations around the world, with current, hourly and 10-day forecast options.
It also has 18 different weather maps that span the range from lightning and wind to pressure and humidity. You’ll also be able to stay alert on hurricane forecasts and get lifestyle forecasts that will let you know if weather conditions will affect incidents like sports games and workouts.
VizEat, which touts itself as Europe’s biggest immersive food experience platform, allows you to dine with locals and top chefs in their homes.
Menus are posted for you to see, while hosts will typically list what they cook, the languages they speak, and any alcohol pairings they’ll be serving. Not only does the app give you a chance to meet locals and get superb dining recommendations, but it also allows you to enjoy a high-quality meal for less than what you’d typically pay at a restaurant.
Flush Toilet Finder
Trying to locate a public restroom can be tricky, especially in a new destination. That’s where Flush Toilet Finder comes in, providing you with the nearest toilets by your location, with over 190,000 bathrooms in its database. You can use the search without having an Internet connection, which makes it great for those emergency situations, while the app will also notify you if a restroom requires a fee.
While banks may charge you a hidden fee for transferring money abroad, TransferWise allows you to make a transfer based on real-time currency exchanges to provide rates that the company says are eight times cheaper than what you'd find at traditional banks.
Their exchanges also come with no hidden rates, and a speedy transfer, to make sure you're good to go financially no matter where you happen to be.
TripIt is known for its simplicity in helping you create a travel itinerary. Simply forward your confirmation emails (like your hotel and flight reservations or your rental car reservation) and TripIt will create one large itinerary to help you stay organized with all of your plans.
With real-time alerts, you’ll be on top of knowing if your flight is delayed or canceled, with a flight finder to help you book a new option should a cancelation occur.
Another good app for the road, Waze gives you community-based data on traffic jams and information so that you can find points of interest like the cheapest gas stations and the fastest routes to your destination. Live maps include voice-guided navigation to easily guide you.
XE Currency provides you with live exchange rates and charts to keep you on top of money matters during your holiday, easily allowing you to choose between different currencies you’d like to convert. It also has a rate alert so that you can monitor your favorite currencies, and can be used offline.