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10 Must-Have Apps for Travelers in 2021

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We’re not always the biggest fans of smartphone culture, especially when we’re surrounded by a thousand selfie takers at the latest tourist attraction.

But there’s no denying that they’re a valuable tool for any traveler, which can make your journey easier, safer, and even more fun.

So, we’ve compiled this list of the top 10 apps for travelers in 2021. From planning your trip to navigating a foreign city, you’ll be happy you downloaded them.

Skyscanner

Flights are one of, if not the, most expensive parts of any trip.

Fortunately, apps like Skyscanner make it easy to get the best deals, whether you’re booking far in advance or at the last minute.

It’s especially valuable if your dates – or even your location – are flexible. You can search for the cheapest dates in a particular month or even by the cheapest month.

And if you’re feeling adventurous, you can enter your starting location and use the ‘Everywhere’ destination option to show you prices from lowest to highest for countries all around the world.

Get Skyscanner for Android or iOS.

Booking.com

Need a last minute hotel room? Hey, it happens.

And our go-to in that situation is the Booking.com app. It’s easy to use, has a large selection, and tends to have some pretty good deals to choose from.

There are two other nice features that we like. First, some bookings can be canceled, which gives you extra flexibility and peace of mind. And second, many bookings also give you the option of paying when you check in.

Not only is this more convenient when you’re booking on the fly, it means you actually get to see the place before you pay.

Get Booking.com for Android or iOS.

Airbnb

For maximum convenience, hotels are often the way to go. But for maximum comfort, we prefer Airbnb. Especially on longer trips, where you’d prefer an apartment with a kitchen over a hotel room.

And the Airbnb app makes it easy to book a cozy little flat right in the center of hundreds of cities around the world. It’s also handy for communicating with your host(s).

However, a word of warning: Airbnb rentals are heavily restricted in some places, including New York City, Paris, Singapore, Japan, and Thailand. This means that some (or all, in the case of Thailand) listings may be illegal.

As a renter, you’re unlikely to actually get in trouble, but it’s worth doing your research if you’re traveling to one of those destinations.

Get Airbnb for Android or iOS.

TripIt

No matter how meticulously you’ve packed or thoroughly you’ve planned, it’s hard to shake that feeling that you’re forgetting something.

But TripIt helps put those feelings at ease by arranging your entire travel itinerary in one easy to access place. Simply forward your confirmation emails for flights, hotel (or Airbnb) bookings, rental car reservations, and the like to TripIt’s email.

It’ll compile them all for you into a master document for later reference.

Get TripIt for Android or iOS.

Food Delivery App (Uber Eats, foodpanda, Rappi)

You just got to the hotel room after a long flight – or a day of adventure. You’re beat… but you’re also starving.

What’s a traveler to do? Fire up your food delivery app, that’s what. Order authentic local dishes, right to your door. Not only is it convenient, it can actually be an easy way to try new dishes.

Uber Eats (Android / iOS) is sort of the standard here, simply because of how wide its coverage is. However, if you’re abroad, we’d recommend looking for a more local alternative.

Foodpanda (Android / iOS) is huge in Southeast Asia, and it’s way cheaper, with delivery fees as low as a $1. And apps like Rappi (Android / iOS) and iFood (Android / iOS) are big in Latin America.

Travel Spend

Who’s excited to track their expenses during their vacation!?

No one, that’s who. But alas, it has to be done. Especially if you’re either a budget or long-term traveler.

That’s where Travel Spend comes in. It makes tallying your expenses easy, so you can avoid breaking the bank, without breaking out a bunch of spreadsheets.

Get Travel Spend for Android or iOS.

Ride Hailing App (Uber, Grab, Cabify)

There are so many instances where a ride sharing or taxi hailing app can come in handy when you’re traveling, especially when you’re in a foreign country.

They can save you from the rain, heat, or a long walk to the main road. They enable you to find where you’re going the first time, without worrying about miscommunication with drivers. And they can help you avoid situations where it may not be safe to hail a cab on the street.

Which app to use? Uber (Android / iOS) is probably the safest bet, since it’s used in most regions of the world and is especially popular in North America and Europe. However, Grab (Android / iOS) is king in Southeast Asia, and Cabify (Android / iOS) is very popular in Latin America.

Google Maps

It can be hard enough to navigate your own city sometimes. Navigating a foreign one is another story entirely.

Fortunately, there’s Google Maps. Pull it up, search your location, and finally figure out where the heck you’re supposed to go.

The street view can be handy too so you know exactly what the building or area you’re searching for looks like.

Get Google Maps for Android or iOS.

Whatsapp

Messaging apps are already convenient. But they become even more so when you’re traveling, since they allow you to communicate without having a local phone number or plan.

Whether you’re in the airport or your hotel room, all you need is a WiFi connection or a little prepaid data.

As far as specific apps go, Whatsapp is used pretty much everywhere in the world these days, even if it’s not necessarily the biggest app in every single country.

Get Whatsapp for Android or iOS.

Google Translate

Sure, the receptionist at the airport and the staff at your resort in Mexico probably speak decent English.

But the further you get off the beaten path, whether you’re haggling in a local market or just trying to communicate with your taxi driver, you’ll need to rely more on the local language.

And if you’re not already fluent, well… that’s what your smartphone is for. Just whip out your handy translator app and order street food like a pro. Or at least a little less awkwardly.

Get Google Translate for Android or iOS.

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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling.  Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories


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Stephen White

Friday 21st of May 2021

Great article, agree with you most of the way, and I use all of these apps. I especially like WhatsApp and Tripit. Booking.com is annoying for one reason: they automatically show you properties that are unavailable. Who wants to see hotel rooms you can't book? Is it just so you can see what they look like? Who cares if you can't sleep there? I don't get it.

Nick Tomasovic

Monday 24th of May 2021

@Stephen White, I think it's just a sales tactic. They're basically saying, "hey, you better book now or you'll miss out on all the other good rooms".

You're right, it's annoying, but unfortunately so many sites/apps use some version of that approach these days.

There are good alternatives to Booking.com that other people might prefer though: Agoda, Hotels.com, etc.