There's an App for That
Misplacing a boarding pass while frantically trying to find the gate for a connecting flight. Getting hopelessly lost in a new city while simply searching for a quick bite to eat. Encountering an unexpected traffic jam that turns a carefully planned travel day into chaos.
Overwhelming travel experiences like these are incredibly common. But they don’t have to be.
In fact, living in the digital age has made stress-free, adventurous travel much easier to achieve, thanks to the existence of several handy apps. From nabbing last-minute deals on popular hotels to being guided on what to pack, these tools help you save time, money and hassle.
Not sure where to begin? We've rounded up 12 must-have apps that will turn frazzled travel into a distant memory.
TripIt is a personal organizer app that helps you cross your T’s and dot your I’s.
The app lays out your daily travel schedule — from your flights to your dinner plans — in a neat, easy-to-follow format, so you never have to worry about missing any important flights or plans. It even notifies you if there are any important changes, delays or cancellations in your schedule.
As a fun bonus, if you provide your seat preference for a flight, it can let you know it that seat becomes available.
Perhaps most importantly, TripIt is extremely easy to use: Simply sync your confirmation emails and calendar to the app, and it will create an itinerary automatically for you.
There are, generally speaking, two types of travelers: those who are hyper-organized and have plans booked for months, and those who prefer to wing it when it comes to their flights, hotels and plans. If you’re in the latter camp, Hotel Tonight makes it easy to book a room last-minute at some of the nicest hotels around the world. Even better, it offers up deals on said hotels, since many are looking to fill up unsold rooms.
Plus, the more hotel rooms you book through Hotel Tonight, the more exclusive booking deals you will receive. Procrastinators, rejoice.
Hopper is a must-have app if you’re in search of the most affordable flights (and really, who isn’t?).
If you have a destination in mind, just search it in the app, and it will send you notifications about flight prices — particularly when they greatly increase or drop — and accompanying advice on when to wait and when to take the deal while it lasts.
If you are in the market for a getaway, but unsure of where you want to visit, you can also set up Hopper to notify you when there are round-trip deals leaving from your chosen departure airport.
PackPoint is immensely helpful for travelers who tend to forget necessities while packing their suitcase. Simply input information about where you are traveling, the length of time you will be gone and your specific plans (like information on if you will be outdoors, indoors, active, etc.), and the app will customize a packing checklist featuring every item you’ll need to bring on your trip.
Using PackPoint ensures you’ll never forget important clothing, toiletries and items again. Additionally, if you are traveling with a forgetful friend, you can share your virtual checklist from PackPoint with them, to ensure they have everything they need, too.
The best way to authentically experience any destination is to travel by way of public transit just like a local would — whether you’re waiting at The Fulton Center subway station in downtown Manhattan or taking the tube through London. Not to mention, opting to take the subway or bus is more environmentally friendly.
The app Transit makes it a breeze to find public transportation wherever you are; it provides users with a simply designed map of all the nearby bus and subway lines, as well as bike-share and car-share services. Transit lists departure times directly on the app, so you can be sure to pick the most convenient option for you. And the app formulates the quickest route to get you where you want to go, so you can stop wasting time and start enjoying your trip.
Roadtrippers, as the name makes clear, is the perfect app for anyone interested in Kerouac-esque travel and cross-country adventures. While on the road, choose from categories like “Outdoors,” “Things To Do” and “Quick Snack,” and Roadtrippers will map out and pinpoint destinations that may be of interest.
The coolest feature of Roadtrippers is that you can share your trip itinerary with friends, and they can directly add suggestions of places to visit. Plus, the app keeps record of the pit stops you make, so you never forget that hole-in-the-wall restaurant that served the best sandwich you ever ate, or that interstate exit with the surprisingly scenic view.
Roadtrippers will make your next road trip what every journeyer seeks: an epic adventure.
Gas prices can fluctuate wildly depending on if you’re downtown, five minutes outside the city or completely out in the sticks. And for those of us who travel on a budget, an extra 50 cents per gallon can add up pretty quickly.
Enter GasBuddy, a simple app that helps you find the cheapest gas station near you. Simply enter your location, and the app will immediately provide a list or map of all the nearby gas stops and how much you'll have to pony up at each.
If you opt to join Pay With GasBuddy, a special feature, you can save 15 cents on your first fill-up at the pump, and save five cents every time you use the service afterwards.
If you like to explore all that the great outdoors has to offer, AllTrails will become your go-to app on vacation. With over 50,000 detailed trail maps for on-foot hikers, runners and cyclists, the app will help you find the best trail for your preferred activity level. In addition to providing GPS services and detailed information about the trails — including if they’re dog-friendly or child-friendly — the app allows others to review and share photos of trails they have trekked before.
Basically, AllTrails is the Yelp of hiking trails. And if that’s not enough, it also lets users track their progress and personal bests when it comes to distance, time and steps.
Waze Navigation and Live Traffic
When exploring a new city, the last thing you want is to get caught in traffic, causing you to waste precious vacation time and possibly miss booked plans. Waze Navigation and Live Traffic prevents these woes by helping you to avoid rush hour traffic, accidents, construction or any other roadblocks you may encounter while you travel.
Instead of generating maps via algorithms, the app relies on crowd-sourced information from people in the local area to give you up-to-date news on anything that may complicate your commute. Waze Navigation also conveniently provides a detour option if there happens to be a traffic jam on your current route, and provides suggestions for parking. Honestly, even if you don’t travel much more than to and from work, Waze is still a useful app to download.
The Google Translate app is essential if your travel takes you abroad, or to a destination where you don’t speak the native language fluently. The app allows users to snap photos of items like signs and menus, and receive instant translations in 38 different languages. It can also translate written text, as well as drawn-in characters.
If you are in an area with dicey WiFi or cellphone service, no need to worry: Google Translate works even if you don’t have a data connection, making it perfect for on-the-go translation services while you travel — without having to worry if you’ll get stranded somewhere without a way to ask for help.
AccuWeather: Weather Tracker is an extremely popular app that on a fundamental level does something very basic: It tracks weather for users via forecasts, radars and extreme weather alerts. Yet it stands out for its plethora of tools that help you stay on top of the latest weather news when traveling.
Instead of just providing users with hourly and daily precipitation forecasts, AccuWeather provides updated reports every minute — yes, minute. And the app doesn’t just list current temps; another feature, “RealFeel Temperature,” helps users determine how to best dress for the weather. Much like Waze Navigation, Accuweather also relies in part on crowdsourcing to give users real-time information.
For many, if not most, one of the best parts of traveling is dining at local restaurants and trying new cuisines. Yet the last thing anyone wants to worry about is calling restaurants to schedule reservations.
Thankfully, OpenTable makes it easier to find delicious dining spots on-the-go. Using the app, you can search from a network of more than 45,000 restaurants across over 20 countries, and exploring photos of food, menus and reviews written by other diners.
Once you’ve found a restaurant, before you even step foot onto your departure flight, you can make reservations.