The 50 Best New Travel Apps for 2017
Choosing the right app can be just as confusing as deciding where to stay or how to get there. So we’ve combed through dozens of the latest travel apps (and a few mobile websites) to determine which tools are the most useful for planning a trip, getting around, finding friends, and saving money along the way. Unless noted, all apps are free and available for Android and iOS.
The $9.99 per month members-only airfare tracker finds low-cost flight deals and sends notifications when it detects massive price drops, error fares, or flash sales. iOS only.
Register your flight on this website up to two days before departure, and if it gets canceled or delayed by four hours, book a new ticket on any airline. Fees start at $19 for a one-way flight.
Find “hidden city” one-way tickets with a stopover where you get off the plane instead of continuing on to the destination on your ticket— they’re often cheaper than a nonstop fare.
If you’ve only got a few minutes for a meal before boarding a flight, Grab will let you look at airport restaurant menus ahead of time, map them in the terminal, and in some locations order in advance and pick up your food on the way to the gate. The app currently serves 174 eateries at 17 airports in the U.S.; by early 2017, Dallas/Fort Worth Airport will offer Grab’s mobile ordering at all of its 200 dining outlets.
HappyCow lists vegan and vegetarian restaurants in nearly 10,500 cities worldwide, from major cities like London (Book & Kitchen) and New York City (Blossom du Jour), to obscure places like Vatra Neamului, in Chişinău, Moldova. Each restaurant listing comes with a short description of the menu and user-generated reviews. $3.99.
This slick reservation app offers a highly curated collection of the hottest restaurants, such as Drunken Dragon, in Miami Beach, or Petty Cash, in Los Angeles. You can also use it to pay your bill or split it with your dining companions. Coming soon: popular nightlife spots in Aspen, Colorado, and Gstaad and Verbier, Switzerland.
A typical hotel stay has you checking in around 3 p.m. and checking out by noon. This new last-minute-travel app is looking to upend that tradition by giving guest more flexibility to choose when they arrive and depart. AsYouStay has partnered with more than 50 properties in New York City, including the Park Lane and the Paul Hotel, and a dozen hotels in Miami’s South Beach, with properties in Chicago and San Francisco coming later this year.
Call it Tinder for hotels. After you’ve entered your destination, dates, and preferences (rating, free Wi-Fi, etc.), the app (the Android version is still in beta) presents a series of property profiles with photos. Tap on the green thumbs-up or the red thumbs-down and you’ll later be contacted by the hotels you’ve “liked” with their best rates.
Extra-long layover? Use this app to book a hotel room for a few hours to grab a shower, take a nap, or just freshen up after a red-eye. Dayuse offers hotel rooms for up to 75 percent off regular nightly rates at 3,000 hotels around the world.
Touting private rooms, fun communal spaces, and booze-fueled events to bring together solo travelers, Hostelworld is the go-to app to book 33,000 hostels globally.
A cooler version of Airbnb? This short-term-rental company has a pared-down list of coveted luxury apartments and homes in close to two dozen destinations, including Rio de Janeiro, Miami, and Milan. Guests can also use the app to access a 24/7 concierge to help with restaurant reservations, theater tickets, and tour bookings.
Similar to Hotel Tonight, the new app from the operator of Standard Hotels offers same-day stays at more than a dozen luxury hotels in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, and Austin, Texas. Every day at 3 p.m., the app unveils discounts for that evening. We recently saw rates of $189 per night for the Standard Spa in Miami Beach and $568 for a stay at New York’s 1 Hotel Central Park.
Use this app to get deep discounts on hotel rooms from people who have had to cancel their trips, and save 30 to 80 percent. Likewise, if you’ve prepaid for a nonrefundable room, you can sell your reservation on the app.
This browser based customizable search tool uses big-data analytics to comb through 37 million user reviews to determine the best places and neighborhoods to stay in. Sort results by price or rating. triphappy.com.
This vacation-rental manager recently expanded to 15 states in the U.S. And it now also offers apartments and homes in Latin America, Italy, and Spain. Unlike VRBO or Airbnb, the properties are cleaned and managed by Vacasa, so you’re not dealing with the owner.
Collections of off the-beaten-path recommendations from savvy residents in 14 destinations, such as a mixologist in London and an artist in Paris. Their suggestions aren’t ones you will find in a typical guidebook; expect hip new spots in emerging neighborhoods.
This urban route planner will help you find the best way to get somewhere — which doesn’t necessarily mean the shortest route. Sidekix will choose the best walking directions based on your interests and preferences. Looking for a trendy cafe for a lunch on your way to an art gallery? The app is filled with curated suggestions from in-the-know locals. Currently available for use in more than 100 major cities, with more coming each week.
For anyone missing the recently retired Maps feature on Instagram comes this new service that allows you to preview neighborhoods with user-generated photos. Want to check out an area before you book an Airbnb stay? With better photos than Google Maps, Streetography covers most major cities in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., France, Russia, and Australia.
Plug in your destination and Walc will give you directions based on easy-to-spot landmarks. A Pocket Mode feature gives step-by-step audio directions. Just plug in your ear buds, and you won’t have to constantly pull out your phone.
With rates for car rentals fluctuating every day, it’s not easy to know if you got the cheapest price. AutoSlash asks you to input your car reservation details into its mobile site—an app is in the works for later this year—then tracks the rates for your dates and scouts competitor pricing, including coupons and discount codes. If a lower price for the same rental becomes available, you’ll be notified by e-mail and can rebook your reservation.
The new car sharing app from General Motors is taking on Zipcar as the most affordable short term- rental service on the market, starting at $8 per hour for most vehicles and $14 per hour for SUVs. The fleet features many Chevrolet brands, including the eco-friendly Volt. Every Maven vehicle is equipped with 24/7 OnStar assistance, remote start, Sirius XM radio, and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto. It’s currently available in 10 cities in the U.S., with more coming.
Instead of taking your chances with an Uber after your flight lands, use Priceline-owned Rideways to book reliable airport transfers, taxi rides, trains, and buses in more than 500 cities worldwide. Just enter your trip details and the type of transportation you want, and the app presents you with several options; on a recent trip to Paris, we had the choice of taking two different buses to our hotel for $5.30 each or splurging on a $160 transfer in a chauffeured Mercedes-Benz.
Formerly known as RelayRides, the peer-to-peer app that lets you rent cars directly from their owners has received a big upgrade. Available to users in the U.S. and Canada, Turo allows you to search for exactly the type of vehicle you want—often at prices lower than what the big rental agencies charge. We found a 2014 SUV for $40 per day, while rates on Kayak were $140 per day from Hertz and Avis. The company recently expanded into Europe.
Prebook affordable airport and other point-to-point transportation in a dozen metro areas across the United States. There are no surprises: travelers know in advance the total cost and who their driver will be—and can even request their favorite driver on future trips. Reliability and safety is a company hallmark: all drivers have had their DMV records checked.
Alleviate jet lag and reset your sleep clock with the help of binaural beats—repetitive sounds that cultures around the world have relied on for centuries to create relaxed states of mind. Besides helping you sleep, the beats can improve focus and attention, foster learning, and reduce anxiety, according to the app’s creators.
This location-sensitive personal security app will provide a safety score reflecting health risks, political uprisings, and environmental threats, and gives crowd-sourced information about thefts and assaults that have occurred in the area.
Founded in response to the 2015 Paris terror attacks, My Panda tells you the level of security in the area via GPS. In some destinations, such as New York City and Los Angeles, there’s a feature for the fastest route to the nearest police station and the option to call local authorities with one tap.
Get paid for your canceled, delayed, or overbooked flights. AirHelp goes to bat trying to help get disrupted travelers money for their woes: the average reimbursement is more than $500 per claim, and the company takes a 25 percent cut.
Do you have extra space in your luggage? Consider subsidizing your trip by selling it to a stranger looking to ship something. The app verifies the cargo and sender—and guarantees that you won’t be transporting anything illegal.
Great for group travel, PlanChat lets connected travelers construct their own itineraries. Add restaurants, activities, and sightseeing ideas, plus keep track of expenses. You can also use it to share photos and videos with the group.
Dufl will house and launder an entirely separate travel wardrobe and ship it to your destination for a flat rate of $99 for each roundtrip, plus $9.95 per month for storage.
The concierge app used by boutique hotel companies Joie de Vivre, Viceroy, OLS, Waterford, and Provenance offers personalized service via in-app chat. Guests can use it to get insider tips and book restaurant reservations.
The website’s newly updated app features concierge services with a variety of partner companies, including Uber, Delivery.com, OpenTable, and Groupon. Not only can you use it to book a hotel room, now you can also request a ride, order food delivery, plan activities, and make dinner reservations—right in the Hotels.com app. The company says it plans to add event ticketing options in the coming year.
This chat-based app asks you to fill out a profile, then serves up customized hotel recommendations that you can use to book 275,000 properties worldwide. You can also message Lola’s team of 20 agents 24 hours a day. We not only got a thoughtful list of three hotels in London but Lola also helped us book tickets to a sold-out West End show.
This travel agent and concierge rolled into one will construct a highly detailed itinerary for you that includes the best restaurants, sights, and events for your trip. Fees start at $15 per day, and repeat customers can sign up for a flat-rate membership. iOS only.
Keep this personal shopping and concierge app on hand for anytime you need something, whether you’re at home or on the road. Use it to book a flight, hotel, concert tickets, order flowers, or buy pair of shoes, Mezi’s team of agents will help you find what you’re looking for and search the web for deals. Just send it a text message with your request. The app charges you a “tip” as a fee, which will be tacked onto the total price.
Use this app to get on-demand hairstyling and makeup application at 50 high-end New York City hotels. Sessions cost $95 and up, and start as early as 6:30 a.m. Our stylist at the WestHouse Hotel left us with an immaculate blowdry. iOS only.
Last fall, Airbnb launched its in-app Trips feature to offer specialized experiences to its guests. Want to take a sculpture class in London or a cooking class in Paris? Choose from a list of dozens of offerings hosted by locals, many with a social-impact bent, including an LGBT-themed bike ride in San Francisco and urban gardening in Los Angeles.
Google’s new travel app pulls hotel and flight data from a user’s linked Gmail account to automatically create trip portfolios that act as destination-specific city guides. The app will also use your consumer behavior history to determine personal preferences, and then create custom-tailored travel recommendations for restaurants, local events, and activities.
Yes, that’s what it’s called. The travel app from Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop will help you find your pleasure zone with more than 25 destination guides curated by Goop editors, Paltrow, and her in-the-know friends. It’s geared primarily toward foodies, hipsters, art lovers, and travelers with kids. iOS only.
Passport renewal can be a cinch—this app will e-mail you the forms you need and turn your phone into a passport photo camera. Print the forms, mail them to ItsEasy using the trackable USPS priority overnight airbill provided by the company, and you’ll get your new documents in two to three weeks. The $29.95 service charge and government renewal fees can be paid via the app.
Savvy locals in more than 25 U.S. cities share the lowdown on the best places to eat, drink, shop, and party in their hometowns. Find the best Instagram spots in San Francisco, the best place to go rock climbing in Austin, Texas, romantic date spots in Chicago, and more. Additional U.S. cities are coming later this year.
Learn more about the language and culture of your destination with classes on a variety of topics in more than 200 tongues. The subjects are broad and fun—gain insight on China’s ethnic groups, learn how to identify different kinds of spices in Polish, or pick up Pokémon terminology in French.
Travel + Leisure
Our own app is filled with editor-curated hotels, restaurants, shops, bars, and attractions in more than 65 destinations around the world. Use it to browse our recommendations, bookmark favorites, and build an itinerary. Make sure to download the guide for offline use if you’re traveling somewhere with spotty service.
If you’re hitting the road alone and looking to connect with like-minded people, use this app to plan sightseeing excursions, meals, and taxi shares with other travelers.
This aggregator offers one-stop shopping for trip planning—use it to search and book flights, hotels, and restaurants and to seek out top attractions. But, unlike most travel apps, which stop there, this one stands out because once a trip is selected, you can create an itinerary, update it, and share it with fellow travelers.
Skylark pairs luxury hotels with premium- and economy-class flights to offer special rates on vacation packages. Deals are negotiated by travel agents, with savings of up to 50 percent off published airfares and hotel rates. The $400 annual membership also includes a 24/7 concierge.
The metasearch travel site’s upgraded app lets you scour more than 700 sites at once to give you the lowest prices currently available for airfare and lodging, sometimes with better pricing results than Kayak or Momondo.
This game for travel buffs will virtually drop you into a surprise location and then provide street-view photos to give you a clue about where you are. Play by yourself, or challenge friends.The app is free to download, but has optional in-app purchases.
Looking for inspiration or ideas to spark your wanderlust? With better content than Instagram, this photo-sharing community showcases some of the world’s best photography. Each image comes with technical information, such as the type of camera used, shutter speed, and ISO.