A resource page of the best travel apps that I like to use on the road.

Best Travel Apps


Apps, apps, apps. It’s one of the questions that I get asked on a regular basis. I’ve written an app (the Philadelphia Essential Travel Guide by Sutro Media), am working as an editor on one for Budget Travel, and have spoken about apps at the Society of American Travel Writers Conference.

Here’s a list of some of the apps that I find essential:

Skype: Necessary for making web calls. You can also download this to your laptop. App is free, but you’ll want to put money on the account to use it.

AllSubwayHD: Accesses metro and light rail maps for more than 100 cities around the world. ($.99)

TripIt: Keeps all your travel itineraries in one place. You send them the confirmation emails and they organize. No more paper at the airport! (free, with ads or $3.99)

XECurrency: Currency converter (free)

Instagram: Social media site has fun filters for iPhone photos (free).

MotionX GPS ($2.99) allows you to download maps so you can use them offline (very handy on the road).

Travel planning/booking sites: Most of the popular websites, such as TripAdvisor, Priceline, Hotels.com and Kayak all have free mobile editions. If you use these sites at home, think if they’ll be beneficial on the road.

Last-minute booking has become more popular; Expedia estimates that 60% of the people who use their mobile app are finding hotels that night. HotelTonight specifically lists hotels that have inventory for that night but you have to wait until noon to use it.

Another trend to try: Flash sale sites such as Jetsetter, which also has its own app.

Guidebook apps: Before you buy, make sure that they have offline maps so you can use it without getting charged for data.

Weather apps: Weather.com and Accuweather are both good.

Airline apps: Delta, United, Southwest, Alaska and others have apps that allow you to check in online.

Hotel apps: Some of the best for business travelers include Starwood and Intercontinental, which also allow you to store your loyalty points.

Peer to peer lodging apps: Airbnb,  Couchsurfing, and Roomorama are services that allow you to rent rooms in peoples’ homes. You’re working with a person, not a company, so give yourself a few days for back and forth.

Food apps: Yelp has reviews in almost every city, from a younger point of view.  UrbanSpoon tells you about restaurants in different neighborhoods. TruxMap tells you where the food trucks are.

Car alternatives: The Avego ridesharing app connects people needing rides with drivers who have empty seats. Zimride has a similar concept, with a more social layout. Or simply bike it with Spotcycle.  

Related stories: 8 must-have free travel apps

Got a favorite app that’s not on here? Add it below!