All my friends know how passionate I become when it comes to planning for my next trip. And during that vacation or business trip, I rely a lot on my smartphones more than ever. Travel apps are not only a source of inspiration but also extremely useful for booking and managing logistics — even finding where the best place to eat for dinner and finding a nearby yoga class wherever in the world you’re flying to next.
There are plenty of apps to help with everything from last minute hotel bookings and last-minute flight changes, as well as those that serve as guidebooks and foreign-language dictionaries that fit in your hand. Apps can help you navigate a new city, make currency conversions; pack a perfect suitcase; even provide on-the-ground local expertise. Whatever you need when you hit the road, there’s an app for that.
Here’s the apps I rely a lot when I travel.
Tripit helps you organize your trip by making an itinerary for you. The itinerary can include flights, accommodations, rental cars, restaurant reservations, and more. To make an itinerary, you forward travel confirmation emails to TripIt, and the app does the rest. You can also give access to your email account and TripIt will pull out confirmation emails in your inbox and create the itinerary.
The next time you launch the app or log into the website, a complete chronological lineup of your trip is waiting for you. You can manually add details, too.
Tripit will update flight information and send reminder and also give information such as when you can do online check in. They also provide Covid-19 summary such as requirement from from destination country and airlines on vaccination certificate is, Testing before entry and Tracing apps.
TripIt also has safety feature which can inform you if a location in your itinerary is above your personal risk level and it also stores your travel documents such as Passport, Driving license and National Identity and stores Travel Contacts for urgent matters.
Trip it also has a Pro feature where you will need to pay IDR 719,000/year to subscribe. The pro features includes
- Notification as you’re making plan if a better seat becomes available or if your airfare drops.
- It also sends real time alert so you know if your flight is on time or delayed and help you find other flights with open seats if plan change. Go Now tells you when to leave for airport based on flight status and traffic condition.
- And while you’re on the move it also notifies up to date terminal and gate info, guidance to connecting gate and where to find your baggage
I started using packing apps because I always happen to forget 1-2 items during all my trip. I used to do a manual packing list and storing in my OneNote but I recently tried using an apps and it worked wonder. I’ve tested several apps and I like Packr the best. It has one thing going for it that’s lacking in most other packing apps, which is Multi-destination trip planning. However you need to upgrade to premium if you would like this feature. And once you upgraded, it can also be merged with Tripit. Like other packing apps, Packr offers a solid list of features that includes auto-generated packing lists, the ability to share your lists with others, and weather forecasting for your next destination.
XE is a currency and money transfer apps. While I never use the money transfer function as it is not available yet in Indonesia, but I rely a lot on XE to get live exchange rates for global currency and know that they’re accurate to the minute when you check the currency converter.
XE also provides a feature to send alert for our chosen currency pairs and the will tell you when your target mid-market rate is live.
Foreign language can become an issue when you go to non-English speaking countries as you cannot expect that everything will have english translation. This is when Google Translate become a God sent. It can translate up to 133 languages and it has several mode of translation support via:
- Text: You can type in the text and it will get translated as you press enter
- Offline: it can also provide translation without internet connection if you have set the offline translation feature
- Instant Camera Translation: I use it a lot when I go to supermarket or pharmacy in a foreign country. It can translate text images instantly by just pointing your camera
- Photos: sometimes instant camera translation isn’t stable, so I will take pictures instead, upload to the picture feature and it will get translated
- Conversation: You can speak out to the phone mic and it will translate for you as a text. I tried this feature when I went out for a day with my sister’s mom in law.
- Handwriting: draw text character instead of typing
- Phrasebook: Star and save translated words and phrases for future references
The catch is, and also applies to all Google related apps, you cannot use it in China unless you install VPN in your phone. When I was in China I use Baidu browser, map and translator which is China’s equivalent of Google.
As a muslim when I travel in different timezone I need help in getting information on prayer time, Qibla direction and also information on Halal restaurants and mosques location nearby.
Muslim Pro is perhaps already the most popular app for muslim but let me layout their features that you may not be aware
- Accurate prayer times based on your current location. On top of the five prayer times it also gives you sunrise time so I also use this app to let me know when I need to go hunt to take picture of sunrise
- Azan – you can set your notification to hear beautiful Azan prayer
- Fasting times (Imsak and Iftar) during Ramadhan
- The Holy Quran (Al- Qur’an) with audio recitations (MP3), phonetics and translations and coloured Tajwid to help your pronounciation
- Tasbih to count your dhikr
- Halal restaurants and mosques around you
- Qibla compass and map to show you direction to Mecca
- Complete Muslim Hijri calendar ro estimate Holy date such as Eid Fitri and Eid Adha
- A collection of Doas and application
This is my number one go-to travel app and I’m sure almost everybody has it in their smartphone. On the ground, it shows you where you are and how to get to where you need to go, whether by foot, public transportation, car, or bicycle. Google Maps is equally helpful when you want to explore what’s around, including hotels, restaurants, and gas stations. Often, the listing for sites and businesses include hours of operation, photos, and even menu from the Restaurant. When I went abroad I rely on this information to find which Grocery Store open on Sunday and which restaurant around the area that has menu which everybody likes to eat. You can save places on your map and create a list and this list can be shared by others. When I am planning a trip as I create itinerary I will create a list of the country and city I’m going to visit and start saving places and share it with my travel partners.
Best of all, Google Maps also lets you save maps offline so that you won’t get lost even when you don’t have service.
However Google map also has its weakness. I found that in areas where buses are not frequent, Google map cannot covered all Public Transportation. I realized when I was staying in my sister’s house in Provence area and when I was in Cote d’Azur when I want to move other city I have to use their own public transportation. So keep this in mind when you are travelling to small cities, good to check with locals what website they use to see timetable of public transportation.
The weather apps I’m using is the one developed by Apple and so far is the best free apps offered without ads. You can see current and forecast weather with a smart layout that updates as conditions change. You can also view precipitation, air quality and temperature maps to see different conditions near you.
What I like the most with this app is it lets you add other cities and you can see all of your cities layout in one window along with the time so you can tell what time it is on the other city. I always add the places I am going to in the weather apps so I have ideas what the weather is like to help me packing.
While Weather apps can be used in almost anywhere but I find in the Nordic countries who has extreme winter, best to check their local meteorology website for better forecast. For example in Iceland it is best to use en.vedur.is
Skyscanner makes planning for your next trip easy. It can search for flights, hotels and car hire deals but I only use it for flights. You can save time by comparing and booking from your favourite travel brands all in one place. If you are not ready to book yet you can set up a price alert which will let you know when the flight price changes. A disclaimer from me, even though skyscanner sometimes show cheaper price offered by travel agent I always buy my ticket either directly from the airlines or with travel agent I already trusted based in Jakarta.
Booking.com is my most used apps to book accommodations. Booking.com has a great database of 27 million hotels, holiday rentals, homes, apartments and other unique places to stay. You can filter by price, review, score, facilities, location and anything matters to you. What I like the most about booking.com is they always put a total price already inclusive of the taxes and other charges. So it is clear how much you are going to pay. They also offer accommodations who has cancellable options and options whether to pay now or later at the property.
I am a bit biased here to put Accor apps because I’m already an Accor plus member. If the places I visit have Accor Hotels I usually book directly with them thru Accor apps instead of booking.com. The reason why I always go with Accor Hotels whenever possible because I like how they offers a wide range of options from luxury to budget hotel and I like how their standard is kept consistent thru all of their Hotel.
When I cannot find apartments or home at Booking.com I also check Airbnb and have used their service several times also. Airbnb has a wider option for homes and apartments Vs Booking.com and they also offer room option only at private home/residency. However be mindful that Airbnb pricing is not as clear as booking.com. They have booking fee, cleaning fee and sometimes other hidden fees which the owner charges so you have to carefully look at total price before you make your booking. The exact address will also be known to you only after you make your booking.
I use splitwise to share expenses with friends and families when we travel together. Splitwise helps you to stop stressing out on who owes who and reduce the awkwardness that money places on our most important relationship.
It is simple to use:
- Create group of people who are going to split the cost
- Add expenses or informal debts in any currency
- Expenses are backed up online so everyone can log in, view their balances and add expenses
- You can put comment directly on the expenses
- Split expenses equally or unequally by percentages or exact amount
- See total balance with a person multiple groups and private expenses
Getyourguide helps you book all kind of activities in the city your are visiting, ranges from tours of iconic attractions, family-friendly day trip, multi-day trip, transportation, entrance and guided tour to museum and off the beaten path adventure.
What I like about Guideyourguide is their cancellation policy which is only 1X24 hour and they are very easy to use. After booking you will receive mobile ticket instantly. You can also read reviews from other travellers and add activities to your wishlist.
For the longest time this has been my favourite apps to do my research on the places I’m going to visit. Tripadvisor brings people, passion and places together. You can read reviews about Hotels, restaurant, tours, attractions and also go to the Q&A forum to ask others on informations you cannot find the answer. You can also book Hotel and tours from Tripadvisor.
I still keep my Uber apps even though we no longer have them in Indonesia because I still use their services when I visit other countries. Uber can sometimes be more reliable Vs Taxi and the apps is easy to use.
With Uber you can see your price estimate up front before booking so you can have an idea of how much you are going to pay. You can share your trip to your loved one for a piece of mind and you can contact emergency services directly from the app. Your location and detail trip will be displayed so you can share them quickly.
To see if Uber is available in the city you’re visiting check here.
While Onenote is not exactly a travel apps, but I use it to capture my thoughts, discovery and ideas in planning my next vacation in my very own digital notepad. You can sync your notes via OneDrive to access them anytime, anywhere. whether you’re at home, in the office or on the go, your notes are available to you across all devices.
You can save pictures of whiteboards, photos or printed documents in your note with office lens. Quickly take picture, automatically crop and insert the images into your notes. You can also secure your note with a password and use touch ID to access them.
Another apps I use which is not a travel apps but it saves my life in the event I forget my password. And believe me it happens many times! Imagine a situation where you need to show your reservation but you forget the password or you need to withdraw money from ATM and you suddenly forget your PIN.
Wth securesafe you can store all your important data such as password, PIN, credit card details, e-Banking codes, copy of your passport, your vaccination certificate, contracts and other important document in your digital safe.
Don’t you just hate it when you are abroad then you receive roaming calls from a Telemarketer. Whoscall has more than 100 million downloads and over 1.6 bio databases from global community. You will know who’s calling immediately so you can pick up important calls and block annoying calls. You will need to update it at least every week or have it automatically updated if you upgrade to premium service.
So Netflix isn’t really a travel app, but it can be a lifesaver during that long flight on an airlines without inflight entertainment, or at the airport during an unexpected flight delay or boring layover. If you have a Netflix account, the app allows you to download your favorite shows onto your device to watch offline. Just make sure to download your shows while connected to Wi-Fi before flying and check them again pre-flight to make sure they haven’t expired.
Similar with Netflix, Spotify can be a lifesaver when you need to calm your mind and listen to music during that boring hours on a long flight or at transit. If you rent a car you can always use your Spotify and sync it to your car system or to a TV and voice controller speaker on your accommodation so you can listen your favourite playlist.
Even though I am an apple user, I use Spotify instead of apple music because of the cheaper price point and we can create and share our own playlist to friend and family member.
No this not an apps!!! LOL. I just want to close by saying there are specific apps for certain country that will be useful to install. I usually research before we go and have them installed on my phone so they are ready to use on-the-go. I have just added useful apps for the specific country in my posting (example here).