The 10 Best Travel Apps for 2018
Although most travel-specific digital services already have mobile-friendly websites, the dedicated utility of apps makes it easier to short-cut all that extra tapping and swiping and get you the information you need—from current weather conditions to transportation advice—even when you don’t have service. Here, the 10 travel apps we depend on for trips both near and far.
Down time is an inevitable consequence of modern travel, and if you’re an active jet-setter, that could mean killing hours before catching a later flight—a real drag if you desperately need a shower. Dayuse (free) allows you to book hotel rooms for a few hours during the day, often at prices that are a fraction of the typical overnight rate. With an inventory of more than 4,000 properties across 20 countries and more than 100 cities, it offers an easy way to get clean, take a nap, hit the gym, and make good use of other hotel amenities like guest-only WiFi or the business center.
Another app to help you survive layovers, FLIO (free) has indexed 3,000 airports to help you navigate terminals, keep track of your flight status, and provide discounted access to more than 300 airport lounges. It also helps you find restaurants, cafés, shops, and bars, and includes exclusive offers. Once you’ve reached your final destination, the app continues to do the work for you—helping calculate the least expensive way to reach your hotel, direct you to shuttle bus stations and taxi stands, and even provide discounted reserve parking at more than 50 locations.
3. Dark Sky
Consider this the essential supplement to whatever preferred weather forecast app you use. Dark Sky ($4) employs GPS to provide shockingly accurate forecasts of the impending weather within the next hour, making it easy to see when—and for how long, and how intensely—it will rain or snow. That way, you’ll know when to grab your umbrella or wait out a storm until things calm down. It’s less accurate when it comes to wider predictions, but its hour-by-hour accuracy, easy-to-read interface, and push notifications options make it worth the money you pay for it.
Gogo Entertainment (free) isn’t the sexiest of apps, but as more airlines remove their in-flight entertainment systems and force you to use your own devices to stream media (and keep your sanity), this app is essential. It typically works in conjunction with an airline’s dedicated app, and often lets you stream movies, TV shows, and music for free once you reach cruising altitude. Just be sure to download it—as well as the airline-specific app—well before you board; some airlines allow for in-flight downloads, but it’s easy to get caught in a loop of downloading/restarting technical chaos.
5. WiFi Map
Access to WiFi has become a travel essential, but many cities are still a far cry away from the promises of Internet Everywhere. This app (free) uses crowdsourcing to create an extensive map of available WiFi services—on free networks as well as protected WiFi—along with passwords and helpful tips uploaded by other users.
Think of Skyscanner (free) as Kayak/Expedia/Orbitz/etc. on steroids. The easy-to-use interface lets you search for discount prices for flights, car rentals, and hotels with quick-glance rate comparison. There are no hidden fees, you can set up price alerts, and record your frequent flier numbers. The clincher: you don’t even need to have a specific destination in mind. By simply selecting “Everywhere” as your destination, you can browse cheap flights to places all around the world as well as the best deals from your home airport via the Top Deals feature.
Using public transportation opens an easy window into the real personality of the place you’re visiting, and Citymapper (free) is arguably the premiere app to help you navigate that sometimes-confusing world. Along with transit maps for buses, trams, and subway systems, Citymapper provides real-time departure times and disruption alerts as well as bike routing and bike share info. (It can even integrate with Uber, if you want to toss in the towel and get a car.) Coverage is massive, including the top cities in the U.S. and Canada as well as cities in Europe, Asia, Australia, and Latin America. Even if you’re not abroad, the app is also clutch for people who live in those cities and want to keep track of real-time transportation options.
Loads of apps let you build custom travel itinerates, but where Roadtrippers (free) excels is helping you find things you didn’t know existed but now have to see while on a road trip. Here’s how it works: you plot your route via their website or directly in the app, and the tool then crawls an extensive inventory of quirky attractions, scenic points, local diners, and other roadside oddities to offer side-trip suggestions based on your interests. It even lets you share your route with friends, who can then offer more suggested stops.
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Technology has yet to deliver a Star Trek instant translating device, but this app (free) comes petty damn close. In addition to straightforward text translation between 103 languages and offline access to 59 languages, the app also lets you take photos of signs—or draw characters with your finger on-screen—and converts those images into translated text (in 37 and 32 languages respectively). It also lets you save select words and phrases for easy reference and handles two-way bilingual conversations on the fly in 32 languages.
10. Google Trips
This app does what a lot of other apps do—organizes your disparate reservations and travel plans into one central place—but for Gmail users, Google Trips (free) automatically imports and organizes your info, saving you time and frustration. It also provides day planning tools to organize all your specs on a map (think hotel bookings, dinner reservations, coffee shop meetings) and includes a robust library of cool things to do and places to eat and drink based on your interests and availability, so you can easily build out a focused itinerary. Better still, it’s accessible even when you’re offline.
EDITOR’S NOTE: In addition to the apps you see on this list, be sure to download any applicable dedicated airline app before your flight: they can provide push notifications on flight delays, ping you about gate changes, and help you find your luggage.
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