10 Free Apps You Should Not Travel Without

I make no secret of my affection for inanimate objects – the relationship I have with my iPhone is one of the most underrated love stories of the 21st century.

My phone is not just a gadget, but also a fantastic friend in need. And boy, do I often find myself in need when I’m travelling. From getting lost in Moroccan souks to hitchhiking to France with a pimp and a Mexican, many of my adventures would not have been possible without the help of my cell and a few apps. That is why I have decided to share my ten favourite free travel apps with you. From meeting sexy locals to translating your cheesy pickup lines into their language, I’ve got you covered from the onset of your trip to its bittersweet end. Without further ado, here are a few virtual helpers you should not travel without.

Google Translate

To say I love languages would be an understatement, but nobody can actually speak all 6,500 of them. No, challenge not accepted. Google Translate might not be the best communication tool out there and will likely result in some hilarious mistranslations, but I have found it to be a lifesaver. Honestly – I’m not sure I would have survived my month in Beijing without shoving the app in people’s faces and forcing them to lead me home as I aggressively smiled at them. Yes, aggressive smiling is totally a thing.

Download Google Translate for iOS, Android.

XE Currency

Money, money, money… If you thought foreign languages were difficult to understand, just wait till you have to convert your yen to yuan or get paid in Zimbabwean dollars instead of USD. With constant fluctuations, it’s virtually impossible for anyone to stay on top of exchange rates. Luckily, XE Currency takes care of everything for you and quickly converts your moolah from one currency to another.

Download XE Currency for iOS, Android.

Hostelworld

If you are thinking of booking a night at a hostel, you should check out the new Hostelworld app, newly available for Android as well as iOS. What is it? Why it’s a slicked-up and slimmed-down version of the Hostelworld website, complete with reviews, photos and maps. But that’s boring. What it truly is is a gadget that will keep you from sleeping in the streets if your Couchsurfing guest turns out to be a hunchback predator. (If he or she is just a hunchback, you probably have nothing to fear and should work on your tolerance. Gee.)

Booking through a mobile app is great for those of us who are constantly on the go, because it automatically stores all your bookings in one place. Not having to print all your travel info out means happy trees and happy trees mean more oxygen, which greatly lowers the likelihood of you dying of smog-induced suffocation. That’s pretty good. But what it means to me is not frantically fumbling through my gigantic bag trying to fish out a crumpled up piece of paper with my booking number on it and, in turn, it also means I’m less likely to die of a stress-induced heart attack at the tender age of twenty one. I don’t know about you, but I’m a fan – because ain’t nobody got time for stress-induced heart attacks.

Download Hostelworld for iOS, Android.

TripIt

TripIt is another amazing app that will make your life much easier. It lets you wave all those misplaced schedules goodbye, as it stores anything from your flight info to reservation numbers. All you have to do is forward your travel-related emails to TripIt’s account and the app will create a custom calendar for you, letting you know where to go and when. It also provides you with maps, weather forecasts and attraction suggestions, which is a nice bonus.

Download TripIt for iOS, Android.

lost in the desert

Citymapper

Sadly for everyone, Citymapper is only available in ten cities at the moment – London, Paris, Berlin, Barcelona, Madrid, Boston, New York, Washington DC, Chicago and the SF Bay Area. That’s the bad news. The good news is that, if you live in one of those places, Citymapper will completely change your life. It can get you from one end of the city to the other quickly and effectively, listing all means of transport and their prices, as well as walking and bike routes and how many calories you burn if you opt for those. Ingenious.

The app even has a “Get Me Home” button, which is perfect for those among us who can’t always hold their liquor and tend to get a little lost after a night of bar hopping. I’m not saying that’s me, but I’m also not saying it’s not. I’m just saying.

Download Citymapper for iOS, Android.

SeatGuru

SeatGuru offers a pretty specific service – it gives you the lowdown on your chosen airplane seat. From toilet proximity to the likeliness that people will bump into you while you sleep, I have yet to find a more detailed overview.

Download SeatGuru for iOS, Android.

Uber

Most of you have probably heard of Uber by now, but it merits a mention. The app – which is now available in over 100 cities – will let you order a car, estimate its arrival time and text you when the driver is on his or her way. You also need no cash as it just bills your credit card at the end of the journey , so it eliminates all that awkward wallet fiddling and coin dropping.

Download Uber for iOS, Android.

10 free apps you shouldnt travel without

Whatsapp

Much like Uber this app probably needs no introduction, but the list would not be complete without it. Ever since I downloaded Whatsapp a few years ago, I have barely used my text messages – and when I do, it’s usually with iMessage anyway. These days you hardly need a cell phone plan, just quick thumbs and some Wi-Fi. Do note that after the first year, there is an annual charge of $.99 – but that’s still basically free when you think of how much money you’ll be saving in the long run.

If you prefer calling people over texting, Viber might be a better fit for you. I no longer use the app, because most of my friends have FaceTime and I usually text or Skype people from my computer instead anyway. But Viber is a really good way of connecting with people while you’re on the go.

Download Whatsapp for iOS, Android and others or Viber for iOS, Android.

Wi-Fi Finder

Speaking of which, you should download Wi-Fi Finder – the best way to find a reliable and free connection. While travelling Wi-Fi hunting can be a little challenging, but this handy little app makes it extremely simple.

Download Wi-Fi Finder for iOS, Android.

Tinder

Part of exploring a new city is interacting with locals and if they’re hunky young men, well, that’s fine with me! Tinder is an imperfect, inherently shallow app which presents you with brief profiles of men and/or women near you – you can refine the search based on proximity and age. But, despite its limitations, it’s a lot of fun. If you and your potential paramour both “like” each other’s profile, you will be matched up and… I’m sure you can take it from there. If you’re single and ready to mingle, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t get your Tinder on while travelling. After all, you never know who you might meet – will your match be an ax murderer, the local heart-breaker or perhaps a well-adjusted young adult? I know which one I’d prefer, but to each their own.

Download Tinder for iOS, Android.

Do you use any of these apps? If so, how are you finding them? What are your go to applications when travelling? 

  • I definitely agree with whatsapp and IMessage and FaceTime. Since I upgraded to Iphone I can’t believe that I have been living so long without it! XE currency exchange is a pretty useful thing. I used google translate a lot when I worked in the hostel and bumped into guests that didn’t speak any of the languages that I speak. I also use skyscanner a lot! It is the best for booking your flights and has so many great features.

  • This post was hilarious – also super helpful! I live in Chicago but have never heard of Citymapper before this. Definitely going to be making use of the “Get Me Home” option…

  • Haha so glad you actually added Tinder to this! I totally agree…and it does work to meet locals! In fact, I’ve taken a person who was visiting Madrid to my fave wine bar. Just imagine, there are normal locals on it….like me 😉

  • Great list! Google Translate has been so helpful during my time abroad. And I totally get the aggressive smiling thing. Citymapper sounds awesome. I only wish they had it for Jakarta. I can’t tell you how helpful it would be to have an app that told me how to get home — this city is confusing!

  • Best list ever! Just DLed XE and Wi-Fi Finder. I leave for a two-week trip throughout Eastern Europe on Saturday, so this will come in handy! OH–going to Krakow, Prague, Vienna, Bratislava, and Budapest. Let me know if you have Prague suggestions, and I may take my roommates along to Pilsner! (P.S.–is it easy/cheap to get there from Prague?)

    xoxo
    Chloe | Wanderlust in the Midwest

  • I use Google Translate, TripAdvisor and United Airline’s app more than any other apps when I’m traveling. With TripAdvisor I can quickly find good places to stay or eat. With United’s app (since I fly them most of the time) I have my boarding passes handy, can check flight status, make sure I get credited with miles, and I can check flight schedules if I need to rebook. If a flight is arriving late, I can check that app as soon as I land and see whether the airline has already rebooked my connecting flight and where I need to head to.

  • I love that you put Tinder on this list lol so cute. I haven’t ever used it but hear about it a lot. I should try google translate and see if it does Konkani my local people’s language.

  • Whatsapp has allowed me to plan a wedding…from abroad! It has effectively killed texting in Spain. Great list…though no Tinder for me now!

  • Lynn Davis

    Brilliant. Love Whatsapp while my daughter is travelling. Always use it when abroad. Best app ever. Have just been to Madrid and wished I’d had Citymapper. Looks fab and will definitely use it in the future.

  • I would like to add these apps to my iPhone but NOT ENOUGH MEMORY. Too many apps in the world. Thank you for your curated suggestions. I will have to decide whether to delete existing ones (probably) to make room for yours.

  • Great post! Was thinking if I should try Tinder finally in London as the men are much more handsome there than in Finland haha!

    Also I think you should try our CreateTrips app for your next trip 😉

    Was so much fun meeting you in London giiirl!

  • Don’t forget a free unit converter app! For us metrically-challenged Americans they’re a bit of a must-have.

  • Nice list! I hadn’t heard about XE Currency. I’ll be checking that out! I’m ok doing math in my head but my wife would love this and I wouldn’t mind a double check! Thanks!

  • Awesome roundup! I’d also like to add a budget app like Trail Wallet! Helps to control spending on the road, at least for me!

  • Funny post as always. Great job ending with Tinder. :))