The Top 15 Travel Apps of 2016
At Apptentive, we hold a special place in our hearts for travel—thanks in no small part to an unlimited PTO policy. Over the last couple months, members of the Apptentive family have ventured off to destinations including Costa Rica, South Korea, and Brazil. And with each trip, we return with one major observation: Mobile is EVERYWHERE.
We’ve talked a fair bit already about how the mobile revolution is changing the economic playing field worldwide. From Kenya to Singapore, free Wi-Fi hotspots have expanded to cover much of the world’s metropolises, while 3G and 3G subscriptions continue to skyrocket across the third world. But it’s not just the global markets apps are connecting. They’re connecting people.
On an individual level, the impact of the mobile revolution has touched on nearly every aspect of our lives—including how we travel. Apps, and mobile in general, have made travel easier, less stressful, and more meaningful.
And none do it better than the 15 best travel apps we’ve identified below.
1. TripIt from Concur, for organizing and sharing your travel plans
TripIt is a one-stop service for storing and organizing all of your travel documents. Simply forward your hotel, accommodation, restaurant and car rental confirmations to the app, and TripIt will create detailed itineraries so you never miss a thing that can be viewed even when you’re offline. You can also share all or part of your itinerary with friends back home or others in your group straight from the app, via email or social.
A concierge in your pocket, TripIt syncs with Google apps to add events to your calendar and show directions to each destination. The app is free; and for a $49/year, you can download TripIt Pro for premium features including real-time flight alerts, a seat finder, and a points tracker that alerts you when your frequent flyer miles are in danger of expiring.
2. TrabeePocket, for tracking travel expenses
Between trying to keep track of currency conversions in your head and the temptations of souvenir stands and outdoor markets, it’s all-too-easy to lose track of the travel budget you worked so hard to prepare. Fortunately, there’s TrabeePocket.
TrabeePocket allows you to record all of your travel expenses in the currency they were conducted. Once recorded, the app will show your expenses to date, broken down by type (Food, Shopping, Sightseeing, etc.), to help you identify any areas where you are spending more than you allotted. The app also lets you to input any currency transactions and uses your expense data to inform you of how much exchanged currency you have left.
Source: TrabeePocket in Google Play
The app is free, with an optional $1.99 Pro Upgrade that introduces csv exports, custom categories, and currency toggles for viewing your expenses in your home currency.
3. Allpoint, for finding surcharge-free ATMs
Speaking of budgeting, few things add up faster than hidden ATM surcharges. If you’re outside of your bank’s coverage area, withdrawing cash can be more than budgeting for, with ATM transaction fees commonly reaching as high as $15. Fortunately, there’s almost always a surcharge-free ATM nearby. Somewhere in this city you’re brand new to.
The free Allpoint app accesses a network of over 55,000 surcharge-free ATMs to help you locate the closest location. Currently, the service is only available for ATMs across the US, UK, Mexico, and Australia. If you’re traveling beyond these regions, plenty of other ATM finder apps exist, although few have reliable information on transaction fees.
4. XE Currency, for converting currencies at live rates
This next app is for all of us who have frozen at the sight of a price tag in a foreign currency. Converting currency in your head can be a challenge—especially when you’re weaving in and out of different countries with different currencies. Fortunately, there’s an app for that.
The XE Currency app boasts an easy-to-use currency calculator capable of exchanging all of the world’s currencies (including Bitcoin and precious metals) at market prices. The app also stores historic rates to see trends over time and allows you to set alerts for when currencies reach their best value in recent history.
The app is free and has an ad-free Pro version for $1.99 capable of monitoring up to 20 currencies simultaneously (compared to 10 in the free version).
5. MAPS.ME, for accessing worldwide offline maps
Navigate the world with confidence with MAPS.ME, an app that gives you instant, offline access to detailed maps, GPS routes, and walking directions of every country. The app allows you to download the regions and routes you need when you have internet connection and continue to use those maps when you sign off. You can even search the maps for nearby restaurants, gas stations, ATM machines, and tourist attractions—all without an internet connection.
Best of all? The app boasts an extensive collection of maps that go beyond the cities to cover thousands of islands, hiking trails, and ski slopes.
MAPS.ME is completely free and powered by OpenStreetMap, an open-source alternative to Google Maps updated daily with user-generated content.
Source: MAPS.ME in Google Play
6. Google Translate, for real-time translations in over 90 languages
Remove the language barrier with Google Translate’s instant translations of speech, text, and pictures. Unsure what that sign is trying to tell you? Snap a picture for an automatic translation. Need to ask locals for directions? Speak into your app and hand over the speech-to-text translation for effortless cross-cultural communication.
The app supports text translations for over 90 languages and two-way automatic speech translations for 40. While some features are limited for some languages, the app is frequently updated for great linguistic coverage.
7. Duolingo, for learning new languages fast
Automatic translations are great when you’re in a rush; but if you’re looking for a more authentic, meaningful experience, nothing beats being able to speak the language of those you meet along the journey.
Fortunately, language learning in the twenty-first century no longer requires costly tutors or going back to school. The Duolingo app redefines the way we learn languages by teaching the way children learn new languages—through immersion and visual associations. Each of the app’s language courses are broken down into 5-minute sessions that test your reading, writing, speaking, and listening competencies while progressively building your vocabulary. The end result is a fast, free, and fun way to pick up, or simply practice, languages. And it works, with studies finding Duolingo to be more effective than both Rosetta Stone and formal education.
Duolingo currently features courses for English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, Irish, Danish, Swedish, Russian, Ukrainian, Esperanto, Polish, and Turkish. Established as a non-profit, Duolingo seeks to make language learning universally accessible, with the ultimate goal of “giving everyone access to a private tutor experience through technology.” The app is free, with no subscriptions, fees, or ads.
8. LINK, for meeting nearby locals and fellow travelers
Of course, learning a new language is only fun if you can find people you can practice with. This next app does just that, instantly connecting you with others nearby. Whether you’re new in town and want to meet locals or like-minded travelers or simply want to chat with friends and family back home, LINK has you covered.
The traveler’s social network, LINK lets you see who’s nearby, check out what’s happening around you, and chat with new friends in both group and one-on-one conversations. This completely-free app is a godsend for solo travelers looking for companions and anyone looking to create a personalized itinerary by bouncing ideas off those who have ‘been there, done that’ and know the area best.
9. Airbnb, for opening the door to one-of-a-kind accommodations
An app so successful it’s been accused of disrupting the entire hotel economy, Airbnb matches accommodation-seeking travelers with local hosts looking to lease a room, a basement, or an entire house. The end result is often cheaper than a hotel and unlocks some truly unforgettable spaces, ranging from spartan yurts to colossal castles to enchanted treehouses. If you can dream it, you can find it on Airbnb.
The network currently features over two million listings in more than 34,000 cities around the world and is ideal for both one-night stays and long-term sublets. The app itself is free and the rental pricing varies greatly depending on the property and location.
Ever wished you could spend the night in a ski lift? Of course you haven’t. But now you can—in a cozy Airbnb retreat hundreds of feet above the French Alps.
10. WifiMapper, for locating trustworthy and free public Wi-Fi hotspots
Although many of the apps in this list work offline, sometimes connectivity is a necessity. Whether it’s to Skype home or book your next accommodation, access the web by using WifiMapper to locate the nearest public Wi-Fi hotspot.
This free app boasts a global user-generated database of over 500 million hotspots in cities around the world, with top cities including Jakarta, Rio, and Bangkok. These hotspots can be filtered by type (free or paid) and venue (coffee shop, hotel, etc.). The app also features performance information on each hotspot as well as comments and reviews from the Foursquare and Wifimapper communities.
The app sees regular updates and improvements, developer OpenSignal has revealed plans to add offline maps, secure password sharing, and even leaderboards for WiFi activity in future updates.
11. AroundMe, for navigating new cities like a local
The AroundMe app makes adjusting to new cities a breeze by doing just what it’s name applies—showing what’s around you. To use the app, select the category of business you’re looking for (Bars, Gas Stations, Hospitals, Theaters, etc.), and you’ll be shown a map of the surrounding area and a complete list of all the businesses of that type within your proximity.
AroundMe is free, with an optional ad-free upgrade for $2.99.
Source: AroundMe in the App Store
12. Skyscanner, for searching, comparing, and booking airfare
This next app, Skyscanner, lets you search millions of flights from hundreds of airlines for free to ensure that you get the best price for your next flight. With Skyscanner, you can set alerts for upcoming flights to get notified the moment the price hits a predicted low. The app also allows you to compare travel dates at a glance to find the best possible price. Or if you were bitten by the travel bug but don’t have your heart set on a specific destination, you can use the ‘Everywhere’ feature to find incredible deals for exotic destinations around the world and narrow your search from there.
13. Google Goggles, for recognizing famous artwork and landmarks
Ever gone to a museum and been so captivated by a painting, only to feel like you’re missing out on something great after seeing that the piece’s label and description has not been translated into English? With Google Goggles, that feeling’s a thing of the past. Snap a picture of the artwork, and Google’s image recognition technology will instantly show you the piece’s name and history.
Google Goggles can read text in eight different languages and can also be used on famous landmarks, book covers, and QR codes. The free app can even solve Sudoku puzzles and scan business cards to automatically import contact data.
On iOS? Sorry! This app is Android-only, but CamFind for a good iOS alternative.
The Google Goggles app gives the connected traveler instant insider’s knowledge into even the most obscure paintings, buildings, and sights.
14. minube, for turning travel photos into lifelong memories
For all of us who’ve revisited our thousands of travel photos, only to wonder if we’re looking at the Parthenon or the Pantheon, the minube app is here to jog our memories. Minube is a visual travel log that automatically identifies and tags your travel photos with locations, dates, and maps to immortalize your travel memories. You can even add commentary and to each photo and share them your friends and the greater minube community.
The app also lets you browse user-generated reviews, tips, and photos of over 50,000 destinations across the world to crowdsource travel planning and unlock unforgettable experiences. The app is free, with select premium content (city guides, self-guided walking tours, etc.) available for $1-3 per item.
15. Yelp, for crowdsourcing travel planning
It’s no secret that we love reviews at Apptentive. Whether it’s to plan our next app update or our next trip, reviews simplify the decision-making process.
And Yelp is no different. With over 50 million reviews on businesses worldwide, this free app let’s us all travel like locals, instantly identifying the best businesses for whatever we’re looking for. Simply specify your budget, location, and the category of business you’re looking for (restaurants, shops, services, etc.), and the app will pull up all matching results, sorted by average rating and review quantity. With each listing, you can dive into the reviews, check out customer-submitted photos, and view store information and hours. With some, you can even call the business or set up a reservation straight from the app.
What are your go-to travel apps?
The apps on this list are just a few of the many travel apps on the market. If you we missed any of your favorites, please let us know in the comments below so we can try them out on our next trip!