Here are 27 Travel Apps Worth Having on your Phone.
Whether you’re new to the road or a seasoned veteran of the world, we all use apps these days. The travel industry has changed tremendously since smartphones became a thing. They have changed the way people find places, book travel, and experience their trips. Here at Penguin and Pia, we’ve got a variety of useful travel apps that we use – sometimes on a daily basis.
For this post, we’ve divided the best travel apps we know into categories that you’ll encounter on your next trip. From booking the flight to looking for a coffee shop once you get there, these apps should prove to be useful if you’re on the road! Ready to take your trip to the next level? Here we go!
Travel Apps for Finding and Booking Flights
If you’re looking to book your flights to your next destination, you can use an app for that. Some of these are great for searching for flights, while other apps can help you find cheap flight deals. If you need to research how to book cheap flights – we have you covered with our article for tips and advice!
Back in the day (a few years ago) it seemed that when it came to booking flights you were either pro-Kayak or pro-Skyscanner. Those days have since changed with many more apps and platforms offering advice for searching for flights.
In general, Skyscanner is one of the dominant apps for flight searches. Lisa likes the app because you can search for the cheapest options within a month. The app also allows you to “discover” flights and destinations you didn’t previously know about. Pretty cool for those last-minute trips!
Kayak has been around for quite some time as well. Eric has always preferred Kayak over Skyscanner but will use both to double check prices. Kayak had a redesign in late 2017 and the app is fast and very intuitive – some users swearing by it as the top overall “travel search engine”. Go and see for yourself!
Hipmunk is a great all-around travel booker but we have only used it to cross-check the prices for flights. Newer to the travel app space in recent years, their branding is hilarious and has made users instant fans.
They have come a long way in recent years from just offering an app to now also being an online platform. What’s even cooler is that you can message the app and the “Hipmunk Agent” will help you with flight dates, options, prices, etc.
Travel Apps for Finding and Booking Accommodations
Finding a place to rest your head is basically as important as getting to your destination. Luckily, there are apps for that, too! Whatever your style, you’ll find an app that helps you book that kind of accommodation – hotel, hostel, or homestay. We’ve highlighted just a few that we use all the time when we travel.
We use Hostelworld frequently and exclusively for booking hostels. The app is great, it remembers details about your profile, and booking and is very secure. Never had an issue. It just works really well.
One time Eric ran into a change of travel plans and he cancelled a hostel and rebooked one in 2-3 minutes… all from a bus travelling through Lithuania.
There are lots of accommodation booking apps out there and there are even more just for hotels. We prefer Booking.com as our go-to app. We don’t often book hotels, but when we do it’s usually a cheap one near the airport because we have a super early (read: cheaper) flight. To book, we use booking.com. It’s always easy to check out and the booking confirmation is handy right on your phone!
The Airbnb app has come a long way. Besides being great for discovering accommodations in your next destination, the app has grown to include experiences which you can also book for when you get there.
Logging in with your account allows you to search for properties, message with your host to ask for directions, and generally manage your account. For heavy users like us, we love the Airbnb app – it usually helps us find a new home for a short period of time.
Travel Apps for the Airline You’re Travelling With
As you travel, you tend to have repeat airlines you fly with. As such, these airline apps stay on our phones. Aside from the ones below, Eric has also used the KLM app before, Lisa has used the Lufthansa app, and together, we’ve used the Norwegian app.
They are also all great – we just don’t fly them as much! Here’s a list of the ones we keep on our phones. Some of them have airport maps and live updates, while others tell you about where the lounges are. Most importantly, they offer gate information and allow you to check-in on your phone – saving you time at the airport.
The SAS app has been heavily used by Lisa since she went to school in Copenhagen. As with the other apps, you’ve got the same types of features like check-in, checking your gate, displaying your boarding pass – and you can book flights through the app which is pretty cool if you’re flying to and from parts of Scandinavia.
Speaking of Scandinavia, here’s a helpful article for discovering the region – along with the other Nordic countries!
Get the App in the App Store
The Air Canada app has a lot going on – in a good way. It’s like all the others – and you can book a flight, manage a reservation, check in through the app, and check flight statuses. Since there are only two large airlines in Canada (also WestJet), they have to have a rock solid app to compete with one another.
As with the other airline apps, this one is a solid choice for your next flight with WOWair. Checking in online is super simple and if you’re just looking around at the flight options, you can search and book the flight all in the app.
The WOWair app even allows for car rentals, hotel booking, and booking the bus from KEF Airport to downtown Reykjavik – something everyone has to do. Warning: the app is very purple. Like, very purple on the eyes. You’ve been warned.
If you’re travelling around Europe and you’re passing in and out of the United Kingdom, you’ll probably take a flight on EasyJet at least once. We’d recommend the app.
The check-in process is super easy and with most of these airline apps, your confirmation and boarding pass is right there in the app. You can even book your flight, a car, or a hotel. Be warned – it’s very orange. Hopefully you like the colour orange.
Eric used the British Airways app because he travelled from Edinburgh in and out of London so many times. It’s a great app for booking flights, checking in, managing your reward status, presenting your boarding pass, and even searching for the cheapest fares.
The app is really fast and provides updates in real time. Definitely download it if you’re flying with British Airways!
Travel Apps That Get You from A-to-B
Flying into a new place is one thing, but travelling great distances once you get there is another story! There’s a variety of apps that can help you cross countries, waterways, mountain ranges, and more. Just choose where you are starting and where you want to go! We’ve listed a few of our favourite below.
Rome2rio is by far one of the first travel apps Eric had on his iPhone. Lisa has been using it for years but on her laptop. Whatever you do – it’s a no-brainer to have. Simply search any two destinations (no matter how far) and Rome2rio will give you the possible ways to get there – whether by plane, ferry, car, train, bus… you name it.
Eric has used it for booking trains as often it’s difficult to find the regional website for a specific country. The app usually brings you there in one click – and even gives you itineraries and the potential prices based on the days you chose to travel. We recommend Rome2rio as a great way to do some travel homework for your next big trip.
As another example of an app that helps with regional travel between cities, the National Rail app for the United Kingdom is pretty good. Since the train system can be efficient but pretty overwhelming in the UK, the app makes it easier to search the different times, lines, connections, and prices.
Eric used it quite a lot when he lived in Edinburgh and was travelling to London or Brighton or Birmingham on weekends.
With the DB app, you’ll have all the information for the German National Rail system at your fingertips. With the app, printing out your tickets for the train beforehand is not necessary.
The DB app also allows you to search for trains, connections, and even lets you know about delays. You can book your tickets through the app, and Lisa knows it’s especially useful when you have a connecting train and you’re riding in a late train – you can find a new one on the fly using the app.
Getting to your destination is one thing – but do you know your way around? There are tons of city and location specific apps that help you navigate the overall layout of the area – like the shops, the streets, and where your accommodation might be.
Offline Maps & Navigation
This is the app that Eric has used for years. He used it to get around Stockholm and didn’t have a problem once! Just download the app, and then download the city’s map to your phone.
You’ll have it as long as you need it, and it’ll show you where you are, the direction you’re facing, and what’s around you. There’s even a search capability for finding specific shops or locations but generally, it’s great for orientation – perfect in a pinch when you don’t want to open Google Maps offline.
With Ulmon, you get a great offline city map that’s perfect for discovering a new city. While there’s a variety of city-specific apps – this version allows you to download multiple city maps.
You can browse and navigate a city, arrange and organize your favourite spots into lists for later, and even gather details about the locations like opening hours and address.
Apps for Language Help
Travelling to a country where you don’t speak the language can be pretty intimidating. We know – we couldn’t speak Norwegian. Even though English is pretty common in the capital, it can still make ordering food or grocery shopping an interesting experience!
Whether you’re on the road and in need of a translation or you’re looking to learn the language beforehand – here are a few apps to help with that.
If you need a translation, you need Google Translate. It’s a must-have. Between the type-in feature to translate between languages to the photo capture feature to analyze text from a photo OR in real time (for certain languages).
You can even ask questions and have the phone speak the question in the new language. Useful for grocery shopping, speaking to a local in a time of need, or just generally looking up words to see what they are in different languages. The translations aren’t always perfect, but they are the closest thing you’re going to find on a phone!
We know Duolingo well. Duolingo is fantastic for learning a new language. Lisa has started learning French, while Eric has been learning German. Lisa then laughs at Eric (in a supportive way) when he speaks German. It’s a win-win.
Going lesson by lesson and building off of concepts from the previous lessons, Duolingo is a great app to brush up on your language skills heading into a new country.
Apps for Understanding Local Public Transportation
Once you get to a new city, using the app for your destination city’s public transportation can be a great way to understand where you can go, how you can get there, how much it will cost, etc. Here are four examples of city apps that have helped us out along the way!
Transport for Edinburgh/My Bus Edinburgh
Eric is aware that the app isn’t the greatest – but if you have an iPhone and you want to understand the bus and tram system in Edinburgh, it’s a decent guide.
The app for the Lothian Bus system is the official app for Edinburgh buses. It’s in the app store. While there is no Android version, someone created a version very similar for Android and it has amazing reviews. Let us know what you think if you’re navigating Edinburgh!
HVV (for Hamburg)
The app for the Hamburg city transit system is really good considering German cities have multiple levels/kinds of transit. HVV provides the easiest way to get from point A to point B using transit. If you are unfamiliar with the area, HVV even helps you with which streetcar stops are closest to you.
Rejseplanen (for Denmark)
If you’re in Copenhagen, this is a fantastic app for understanding the public transit system. Lisa used the Rejseplanen almost every single day when she lived in Copenhagen for a few years. Eric can attest to how much she relied on the app for planning trips to and from the airport to pick him up. Thanks, darling!
9292 (for The Netherlands)
We wanted to recommend the transit app for Amsterdam because it’s very good and if you were looking for it, you probably wouldn’t know that it’s called 9292. It’s great if you’re in the city and you need to get around via public transport!
Apps for Discovering New Places in Cities
We use these apps to check out new restaurants, cafes, photo spots, and other goodies that you just can’t find in other places online. We usually rely on other travellers and local knowledge to provide the best recommendations – and these apps deliver that exact knowledge! Some of these are brand new so be sure to check them out if you’re exploring a new city.
The Spot app is fantastic for finding places to eat, drink, dance, and more once you’re in a new city. The app is beautifully designed. You can create lists which you can save your favourite “spots” too.
Other users can like and discover your spots, your lists, and even friend you as a user with great knowledge. Spots are being added daily as they expand into more and more cities so be sure to sign up and start sharing your best spots!
Get the App in the App Store and Android is coming soon!
There’s not much to be said about TripAdvisor. They are the kingpin of travel knowledge. Many of us use the website to check reviews for activities, attractions, food places, and more.
The app is no different – just providing you a pocket-sized guidebook for a city. The ability to read reviews from real people who have tried the thing you’re looking at is helpful, but always take their words with some critical thinking. Remember, people do actually review beaches they visit and say “the beach was too sandy”.
Another newcomer to the discovery app scene is Mapify. Think Instagram meets a travel itinerary planner. You can upload your photos from a trip to show other users your routes across a country and the photos you took along the way!
They offer other information like Airbnb integration to show you where to stay if you’re in a city, for example. The app is well-designed, and they are adding more and more content as the number of users grows! Check it out – it may become the next big thing!
Get the App in the App Store and Android coming soon!
Apps for Converting Money
Let’s face it – math sucks. Okay, while math is actually fine constantly converting currencies in your head on the go can be a pain – especially if the exchanges are grossly disproportional (thanks, Scandinavia).
So whether you are shopping for groceries or out on the town trying to determine how much to leave for a tip – here are two of the best currency converters apps. We use both of them interchangeably.
XE converter is nice because you can save a list of the currencies you most recently/frequently have to check. The rates get updated daily giving you a great snapshot of how the currencies are doing at any given time relative to one another.
OANDA is good if you have a specific amount you want exchanged into a specific currency. You simply choose the two currencies you’re converting to and from and enter the amount. Simple and practical!
Travel Apps are Here to Stay!
And there you have it – nine categories of travel apps that you need to have on your phone. Did we miss any that you love? We’d LOVE to hear about the apps you use when you travel. Please comment below – we are genuinely interested in only having the best knowledge that’s out there to share with fellow travellers 🙂
As always, Happy Waddling!
– L & E
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