There are so many different mobile apps, memberships, and documents that you need to remember to make your next vacation flawless. Whether if it is for planning a trip, finding the best offline travel apps, looking for the best solo travel apps this extensive guide will help you identify.
Before each trip, make sure you have all of your travel documents in a safe space, and all of your travel apps downloaded to your phone.
This guide was compiled by some of my favorite travel bloggers from around the world. Take your time and read each of the tips and visit their website!
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Best Mobile Travel Apps to Download
There are hundreds of apps out there that you can download to your phone to help make planning for travel easier. Whether if you are trying to save money, stay organized, or need help communicating, check out some of the best travel apps below.
You know these apps are the best because they are used and recommended by Travel Bloggers just like me! Check back periodically to see updates to this list!
Planning Saving Money and Budgeting
Saving money and budgeting is one of the most stressful things about travel. Many people will not start traveling because they think that they cannot afford to travel! With the apps below, you can take those first steps in for saving and budgeting for travel.
Hotels Combined is a service I use to try and find good discounts on hotels while traveling. Sometimes, with last-minute travel, it can be hard to find an inexpensive hotel with multiple beds for my family. This is where Hotels Combined comes in handy.
A lot of the time I use Hotel’s Combined Website to book travel but when on the go I use the app to find hotel deals. One of my favorite features on the app is being able to see all the hotels in the area I am searching.
If you create an account you can also reveal secret deals on the app. Make sure to click to search all of the deals on hotels in New Orleans.
Hannah, Hannah’s Happy Adventures
Skyscanner is a search agent for booking hotels, car hire and, most popularly, flights. While many people check directly with specific airlines website, this search engine will do this all for you, and save you money!
The free app allows you to search over multiple airlines and companies. It will show you the cheapest way to get from A to B, perhaps using multiple airlines or stopovers. Therefore, the app’s ability to save you money is endless.
Best of all, the app offers a lot of flexibility.
For example, it’s possible to set your destination to ‘everywhere,’ thereby allowing you to look for flights to multiple countries. Searching this way may be beneficial if you are away traveling and aren’t concerned on a particular destination.
Furthermore, the app allows you to search over a range of dates. No matter if you are looking for a specific day or month to the cheapest time to book.
Searching for the cheapest days is an essential part of traveling on a budget.
As a budget backpacker myself, I rely on being able to get cheap flights. I’m generally very flexible when traveling, and this app has done wonders for saving money on all of my trips!
You can download Skyscanner for free on the iTunes or a Google Play Store.
Lee, The Travel Scribes
Are you looking to keep your budget in check while traveling? Look no further than TrabeePocket!
TrabeePocket allows you to enter your expenses, categorized either by standard sections (sightseeing, transport etc.) or customized to your needs.
Just enter your trips and your overall budget, and you are always on track, seeing how much you spend per day, per trip or on specific expense items.
Other features include handy pie charts that give you a visual representation of your expenditure. TrabeePocket includes automatic currency converters so that you can ‘spend’ in local cash but always keep a tab on your home currency.
TrabeePocket has a straightforward interface. Lee and her family love to make it our their by uploading a custom photo cover to each of our trips, to ensure the homepage looks snappy.
Lee likes TrabeePocket since it’s a budget app geared towards travel. Other apps tend to be a bit of overkill, asking you to connect your bank account, or gives you endless spreadsheets to download.
TrabeePocket is just simple but with enough bells and whistles to ensure you don’t feel you’re missing out.
The app is free, but if you want customization you’re paying about 2 USD once-off; an excellent investment for a fantastic app!
You can download TrabeePocket for free on the iTunes or a Google Play Store. If you want to customize the app like Lee, you’re paying 2 USD.
Communications Tools While Traveling
While traveling, communicating is key. Whether you need to be able to communicate with the locals, or communicate with your loved ones back home. These apps below will help you with all of your communication needs.
Pleco Chinese Dictionary
The basic version of the app is free and comes with so many useful features for travelers.
Two dictionaries are covering 130,000 Chinese words and 20,000 example sentences. Pleco uses both simplified and traditional characters – simplified characters for when you are traveling in China. It also uses well-known characters for Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan.
Further, pinyin (for China) and Zhuyin (for Taiwan) accompany the dictionary entries, as well as mandarin audio pronunciation.
In addition to keyboard input, Pleco has voice input and handwriting input. Pleco has a powerful search; you can search in Chinese, English, pinyin, Zhuyin, and by simplified and traditional characters.
Predictive input to suggest characters as you enter them is handy, as well as internal links to other dictionary entries. A bonus is you can use offline, and there are no ads – brilliant!
When traveling in Hong Kong and Macau, download the free Cantonese-English dictionary add on. It adds Jyutping and Cantonese audio pronunciation.
Pleco has several paid add ons as well. The most useful for traveling is the optical character recognizer (OCR). It’s a steal for only USD 9.99
It saves you so much time as you can quickly look up Chinese words by pointing your camera at them, or hovering the OCR scanner over an image. It can be the difference between eating frog (田鸡) or chicken (鸡) in Chengdu, China. 田 means field, and 鸡 means chicken. But together 田鸡 means frog, not field chicken!
Pleco is a free Chinese-English dictionary app available from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. You can buy add on services between $10-30.
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Ashlea,Dashing Around the World
Everyone has probably heard of Skype. Skype was the online international calling service before FaceTime, Messenger, WhatsApp, and other apps.
For a while, Ashlea thought Skype extinct, but it has a handy additional feature for anyone traveling!
Along with making free calls to anyone at home or overseas via the internet, Skype also lets you upload credits to your account to make cheap calls abroad!
This might not seem impressive, but trust Ashlea, it is! Just a few days ago Ashlea had a slight navigation mishap on a road trip in Croatia and needed to contact their hotel to change their reservation.
However, as they had booked through an online booking company, Ashlea needed to call the company in a totally different country to alter the reservation. Luckily Ashlea remembered she had skype credits and made the call for much less than it would have cost using her local sim card!
The Skype app is free, but you need to purchase credits to call a landline. The minimum credit load is $5, and they do not expire.
While toll-free numbers are often free, call rates to most countries cost 2-3¢ per minute for calls to landlines (around 10¢/min for mobiles). In comparison, most SIM cards (or roaming plans) will cost $2-3 per minute for international calls!
Pro Tip: Skype uses the internet, so you must have WIFI or phone data to make a call.
Skype is a free travel planning app available from the Apple App Store, Google Play Store, and Windows Store. You can also use this app on your computer.
Organization and Planning Apps
Let’s face it – being organized is not everyone’s forte. But with your cell phone at your fingertips, you too can be organized with these tips. Some great features of having all of your planning and travel organization tips on your phone is that you don’t need to worry about printing out itineraries or losing your plans in your email.
Jennifer, Backyard Travel Family
Tripit is a great app that helps to keep all your travel plans together in one place, and it’s free!
If you are like Jennifer and plan complicated itineraries on multiple booking sites in advance, then it can be hard to keep track of all your plans.
This is when Tripit comes to the rescue.
You can sync Tripit with your email, and it will automatically form an itinerary on the Tripit app. If you are worried about privacy issues, you can forward bookings directly to the app itself.
Through the TripIt interface, you can collate all your rental cars, flights, and hotels in one easy to manage spot. This way, you have access to all the essential details such as confirmation numbers at check-in.
If you are traveling with loved ones, you can sync TripIt with your calendar and share your plans with others. Syncing to your schedule will also help reduce the risk of overlaps in bookings or even double-booking yourself.
TripIt is a free travel planning app available from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.
A Tripit Pro version is also available for USD 49 per year and includes extra features such as real-time flight alerts, reminders to check-in and security waiting times.
Driving in a Foreign Country and Ride-Sharing Services
I know from first hand that driving in a Foreign Country is terrifying. Now I’m not talking about driving in Canada, I’m talking about bringing the Great American Road trip to Italy.
These tips below will help you whether you decide to drive your self or have someone else cart you around.
Handicapped License or Tag
If you use a Handicapped License or Tag while zooming around your hometown, bring it on your travels. A lot of the time, museums will offer discounted rates to handicapped persons and their caretakers.
Depending on which country you are visiting, you may need proof that you are handicapped or disabled up to a certain percentage. While the Plaid Shirt Yoga Pants family was in Brussels we got discounted tickets to one of their famous museums.
International Drivers Permit
Did you know that you need an International Driver’s Permit to drive in a different Country? Yup that’s right, your country’s driver’s license is technically not enough to drive in a foreign country.
For United State Citizens, an International Driver’s Permit costs $20 to get at AAA or AARP. If you want to learn more about getting an International Drivers Permit to check out the full blog post on Plaid Shirt Yoga Pants.
Tayler, Traveling Tayler
Most everyone at this point has at least heard of or used Uber before. While Tayler wasn’t a big user of Uber while living in the USA, as a traveler, she finds himself using it pretty often.
Uber is in 700+ cities and 500+ airports. It’s super convenient for those who do not want to take traditional taxis or public transportation.
A benefit to using Uber, over local taxi services, is being able to receive a set price for the ride before confirming. The set price means that no matter how long it takes you to get to your destination, the price won’t change. A convenient pricing structure typically makes Uber more affordable.
On the app, you will also be able to see the exact route the driver is being told to take and where you are within that route.
Although riders will sometimes see surcharges during high demand times, you’ll see the extra charges before confirming. If it is surging, you can decide if you want to take alternate transportation.
Uber has begun new services such as Uber Pool (sharing your ride with others for a discounted cost), Uber XL (for groups of 6+), and Uber WAV (wheelchair accessible trips).
As a solo traveler, Taylar is personally a fan of Uber Pool. It helps her save on costs, and she gets to talk to other locals/visitors during our ride.
If you are worried about what you will eat while traveling, Uber also has UberEats, a mobile app that allows you to get food delivered to your hotel room.
Uber is a free ride-sharing app available from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.
GO-JEK; Your Indonesia Go-to App
Agung and Charlie, We are Sumatra
Traveling to Indonesia can be challenging and frustrating in many ways, but there is one magical app that makes life oh-so-easy.
The GoJek app and service primary use are as a transport app (like Grab and Uber). Type in where you are and your destination, choose from a scooter or car, and you’ll get a price and be able to track your driver.
GoJek cheap, fast, and reliable.
But GO-JEK is more than just a ride-share app.
Browse from the dozens of restaurants in your area, choose your dish, and GO-JEK will deliver it to you for a minimal fee.
Need some painkillers for a headache?
GoJek will pop into a pharmacy and get them. Craving a chocolate bar or need some supplies from the supermarket? GO-JEK!
Oh, and there’s even more, you can get a Go-Massage, Go-Housecleaning, Go-Beauty treatments, and Go-Parcel delivery.
All services have transparent prices, and you can track your driver using the app. You’ll save yourself the hassle of finding a way to the shop/restaurant/massage parlor yourself and save money on transport with the cheap fees.
Because Indonesia is an enormous country with many remote areas, this service isn’t going to be available everywhere you go. But it’s great for when you’re staying in busy areas like tourist spots in Bali or bigger cities throughout the country.
Agung and Charlie have used it in Medan (Sumatra), Jakarta (Java), and throughout Bali.
GoJek is a free travel planning app available from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.
Gojek is a free app for all of your delivery needs in Indonesia available from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.
Staying Safe While Traveling
There are many ways to stay safe while traveling. First you need to make sure you are keeping your online data safe, and second, you need to make sure you are staying safe while walking around a different city.
ExpressVPN is a virtual private network service, which helps you use the internet your way. Access websites and stream videos from anywhere in the world with privacy, security, and freedom.
As one of the fasted and most trusted VPNs available worldwide, ExpressVPN is secure and easy to use. You can use ExpressVPN apps on Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Routers, and Linux.
ExpressVPN has 2,000+ servers in 148 VPN server locations in 94 countries, and they are continually adding more.
Everyone on the internet has a public IP address. Every time you connect to the internet, you’re sharing that IP address with every website, app, as well as the service provider you use.
By using a VPN proxy like ExpressVPN, websites, apps, and services will see the public IP address of the VPN proxy server instead of the IP address from your devices.
This is what it means to “hide my IP” or “change my IP.” ExpressVPN believes everyone has a right to privacy.
Which is why they never keep logs of your online browsing activity so you can stay private, stay secure, and browse anonymously.
This is especially true when traveling domestic or international this summer, or when using public wifi.
ExpressVPN can give you peace of mind that your data is more secure – even when you’re on the road.
Getting Through Security
Getting through Security can be super stressful. Adding these travel documents and apps can assist you with going through security without the stress.
Notarized Letter for Minors
Kristin, That Traveling Family
If a child is traveling internationally without both parents, make sure always to bring a notarized letter giving consent to travel.
Often overlooked in the planning process, as it is not technically required everywhere, having a Notarized letter can save huge headaches and delays.
Child trafficking and smuggling is becoming such an international issue and more protection agents are asking for proof of parental consent when crossing into other countries with minors.
Canada and recently Mexico have begun strict enforcement of requiring these documents for all minors crossing their borders without both parents.
If the child has only one parent, proof of this must be provided either through a birth certificate, court order, or death certificate. If you are asked for these documents and unable to produce them, you may be denied entry to your destination.
So what do you even put in this letter?
A consent to travel letter should include:
- the child’s name
- passport number
- person’s name and passport number who has consent to travel with the child
- countries and dates for which permission is granted
- a notarized signature from all parents not traveling with the child.
See the US Customs and Border Patrol recommendations here.
Kristin would always recommend adding language to make travel dates flexible should travel plans need to change along the way. Although Kristin has traveled alone with her children to many countries and rarely been asked to produce this letter, the times that she was asked, she is incredibly grateful that I had it.
Help for Travelers Who Stutter
Have you ever been questioned coming through airport security? If you have, whether you stutter or not, you know how stressful this situation can be.
Sometimes the act of stuttering can seem suspicious to authorities. The Stuttering Foundation offers a helpful and free ID card for travelers passing through TSA and Customs screening checkpoints at airports worldwide.
People who stutter and TSA officials alike have said this card has been a beneficial tool. TSA officials and police say that they appreciate knowing that the hesitations and repetitions they hear are not a sign of suspicion.
Travelers feel a sense of ease, knowing they have their ID card on hand.
Download your free copy of the ID card or request a card by mail by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mobile Passport Control App
Allie, WOC travel
Traveling is great, but any time you are traveling internationally getting through customs is always the worst part of the trip.
In the United States, customs and border protection agency uses the Mobile Passport App and the Automated Passport Control Kiosks to expedite the customs process.
Whether you are visiting or returning home, it is a great way to make the customs process much faster. It is free to download the app and use the kiosks. Recently, when Allie returned from traveling with a friend, she was able to get through the customs process in under two minutes thanks to the Mobile Passport Control app.
The app works by allowing you to enter your passport and customs information on your phone. Mobile Passport then sends you a QR code that you scan at the customs desk.
This can be convenient for frequent travelers because you create an account and do not have to continually write your passport and demographic information on the customs paperwork.
Additionally, most US airports have a “fast lane” for people that use the Mobile Passport Control App that is significantly shorter and faster than the regular line.
Unfortunately, the Mobile Passport Control App is only available for people from the US and Canada. If you are not from the US or Canada, you may be able to take advantage of the Automated Passport Control Kiosks which are similar.
You go through the entire customs process at a free-standing kiosk and then print a receipt that you take to the customs desk. Although you do have to stand in the regular customs line, it will expedite the process once you get to the customs agent.