The 12 best travel apps for planning your next vacation

When it comes to traveling, the days of wrestling with massive paper maps and stuffing your fanny pack full of local museum brochures are long gone. Unless you want to keep the fanny pack—they’re making a comeback.

No matter if you’re going abroad or to a neighboring city, your phone can do all the work of a travel agency in half the time. You can book hotels and flights online while Google Maps and ride-hailing apps make it easy for you get from point A to point B, and there are countless apps that can help you find everything from a great restaurant to must-see tourist tractions.

To cut aimless searching and maximize time spent staring at the sights rather than your phone, you’ve got to load up with the most-efficient apps. Here’s our list of the best travel apps you’ll never want to leave home without.

The best travel apps

1. Skyscanner

Screengrab via Skyscanner

Skyscanner is a flight scanner app that searches through millions of flights from more than 1,200 travel partners to destinations all over the world. Besides flights, the app can also search for hotels and rental cars. If you’re feeling adventurous, it offers an explore feature that suggests the best spots for longer trips or weekend getaways.

Available on Android and iOS

2. Hopper

Screengrab via Google Play

Hopper is a travel app that collects data to predict changes in flight prices then tracks them to alert you when they’re the cheapest. Users can sign-up to be notified about flights they’re interested in, and the app will send a notification when flights are at their predicted lowest fare. If you’re in the market for a quick trip and can be ready to scoop up a flight at a moment’s notice, Hopper is a good way to go.

Available on Android and iOS

3. Kayak

Screengrab via Kayak

Operated by the Priceline Corporation, Kayak is a popular search engine that sifts through flights to find the cheapest available. The app version of the travel site is a simple tool to use in comparison with other flight scanning apps. Like other travel apps, you can also use Kayak to book other aspects of your trip like hotels and rental cars.

Available on Android and iOS

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4. Momondo

Screengrab via Google Play

Momondo is a search aggregator that lets users compare flights across different days of the week to find the cheapest option. The app also provides third-party websites that offer cheaper fares than the original airline. The only catch is you need to double check that your booking went through if you choose that route.

Available on Android and iOS

5. Google Maps

Screengrab via Google Play

The hail-mary of all navigation apps, Google Maps directs users to their destination via driving instructions and public transportation times and departures. The search engine’s app tells users how long it will take to get to their destination and the routes they should take. With Google’s recent integration with Waze and ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft, the Maps app can be your go-to for quick transportation solutions no matter where you are.

Available on Android and iOS

6. Citymapper

Screengrab via Google Play

Citymapper is a transit app that helps clue you into the different transit routes in the city you are visiting. The app has a real-time database updated with the most recent routes and departure times for subways, buses, rails, ferries, and ride-hailing services, if available.

Available on Android and iOS

7. Bla Bla Car

Screengrab via Google Play

If you’re trying visit another city but there isn’t a bus or subway available (and if hitch-hiking wasn’t on your travel itinerary) Bla Bla Car might be the most cost-efficient choice. The long-distance ride-sharing app connects drivers heading to a specific location who are willing to pick up a few passengers traveling the same way.

Available on Android and iOS

8. Uber

Screengrab via Google Play

Ride-hailing apps are a must if the city you’re visiting is lacking a reliable public transportation system. Although there are other ride-hailing apps like Lyft or local options—which often provide better and more sustainable jobs for drivers) and don’t have a string of corporate corruptionUber is offered internationally.

Available on Android and iOS

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9. Wingz

Screengrab via Wingz

When you need a speedy transportation option going to or from the airport, Wingz has got your back—especially if other ride-sharing services aren’t available. The app provides a flat fare to and from the airport in participating cities across the U.S. Wingz also lets you book your ride in advance so you don’t have to sweat.

Available on Android and iOS

10. Google Translate

Screengrab via Google Play

Though it’s a fairly obvious choice if you’re traveling to a country where you don’t speak the language, Google Translate will come in handy whether you’re chatting with locals or trying to translate a sign. Aside from just typing in phrases to translate, Google Translate can “listen” for languages and pick up on the words you might miss.

Available on Android and iOS

11. Hostelworld

Screengrab via Google Play

Hostelworld is your hub for finding affordable and trustworthy hostels recommended by other travelers. Users can customize what they’re looking for in a hostel, whether it’s a quiet, low-key hostel with private rooms or one that’s aimed at a younger crowd who wants to party. Each hostel has user reviews so you’ll know exactly what to expect.

Available on Android and iOS

12. Airbnb

Screengrab via Google Play

Airbnb lets you lease or rent out entire houses, condos, and rooms on a short-term basis to accommodate you or your crew with a place to stay. The app is mainly used for vacation rentals and long stays, or as an alternative to a hostel and hotel.

Available on Android and iOS

Editor’s note: This article is regularly updated for relevance. 

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