From a tool that helps you pack to a portable currency converter, these incredibly helpful mobile apps will remove the stress from your travels—all you have to keep track of is your boarding pass.
Technology and travel can go hand in hand, especially when you take advantage of the free apps that help you book flights, find sweet deals on hotel rooms, calculate complicated exchange rates, and even navigate major cities. These useful travel apps smooth out each step of the way from when you’re planning a trip to when you’re traveling—and they’re all free to download on iOS and Android.
This free app makes traveling easier before you even hit the road. First, PackPoint ask that you enter the dates and duration of your upcoming trip and select potential activities you’ll partake in, such as a business meeting, a fancy dinner, or a long trek. The app then checks the destination’s weather forecast during your travel dates and creates you a customized packing list based on your specific trip information. You can remove what you don’t think is necessary from the list PackPoint provides and share it with your travel buddies too.
It’s no secret that figuring out how to get the best flight deals can be a huge pain. Hopper helps you ease that anxiety by searching airfares for you and sending you price alerts when rates drop. Try the “Insider Tips” section if you have flexibility in your travel plans and want suggestions about the cheapest airports to fly out of. You can also look at the app’s color-coded calendar to see when it’s cheapest to travel to the destination you wish, or opt-in to the app’s “Secret Fares” feature to receive push notifications about flight deals that are up to 35 percent cheaper than anywhere else.
Can’t find that flight confirmation in your email account? TripIt’s got it: This travel organizer compiles all of your travel plans in one place. Once you’ve stored your travel documents—including confirmation numbers, hotel and restaurant reservations, directions, and contact information—you can sync your files with your personal calendar. If you’re traveling with friends or just want to keep loved ones in the loop, TripIt also lets you share your plans via email or link. With an upgrade to TripIt Pro ($49 per year), the app also notifies you when you’re eligible for seat upgrades and fare refunds, sends you real-time flight alerts, and helps you track your reward program points.
This app makes all your airport dreams come true—or at the very least, it helps you avoid the majority of your airport nightmares. GateGuru sends you push notifications with real-time flight arrival and departure status information. The app also provides estimated TSA security wait times across terminal checkpoints so you can avoid lengthy queues or plan for them in advance. If you have enough time before your flight to grab a bite, rely on amenity information that’s customized to your terminal with thousands of reviews from other airport guests. Oh, and the app also helps you find last-minute car rentals that won’t cost a fortune if you’re in a bind.
XE Currency makes the almost always confusing process of calculating conversions quick and easy, plus it can save you a lot of money when dealing with unfamiliar exchange rates. Choose the currencies you’d like to convert between, then enter an amount and the equivalent in dollars, pesos, krone, and yen—you name it—will show on your mobile screen. You’ll need Wi-Fi to download rates for your selected currencies, but the app can calculate conversions while you’re offline throughout the duration of your trip.
HotelTonight gives you the best rates on available hotel rooms whether you’re looking for a last-minute booking or want to reserve up to 100 days in advance of your stay. Search the app by city, nearby tourist attractions, or map location to find rooms organized into categories like “basic,” “luxe,” “hip,” and “charming.” With photos, ratings, and reviews from previous bookers, you can get a feel for the place before choosing to check-in.
When it comes to free navigation apps, Google Maps might be widely considered the cream of the crop, but sometimes you’re not just looking for directions—you need detailed information about nearby transportation instead, which is where Citymapper rises to the top. The free mobile app pinpoints nearby bike, scooter, and car share locations, connects with ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft, lets you check subway, train, and bus times, and directs you to nearby stations in major cities from Paris to Tokyo. The app can even alert you when you need to get off the bus, which frequent travelers know is extremely helfpul in an unfamiliar city.
This article originally appeared online in August 2015; it was updated on August 10, 2018, to include current information.
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