Article in Best of category.
Best Travel Apps
What are the best travel apps? Going on a trip soon? Taking a vacation? There is no doubt smartphones are here to make our lives…
What are the best travel apps?
Going on a trip soon? Taking a vacation? There is no doubt smartphones are here to make our lives easier, so here are some of the most helpful apps for you once or before you hit the road.
Better manage your upcoming flights
Air travel is one of the most stressful parts of any vacation. You have to worry about tickets. Traffic to the airport, how busy the airport actually is, if your flight is delayed, TSA shenanigans, whether or not you have a layover, and more. Flighty isn’t going to magically solve all of these issues for you but it can help with at least a few of them.
The main gist of this app is to track your flights. By inputting your flight number, you can see it inbound from your departing airport, see it arrive to the gate, boarding, and back on its way. The amount of flight data it is able to access is incredible. With this data, you can tell if your flight is arriving early, late, or on-time. This is compiled into a detailed timeline. My favorite thing is that you can view a plane’s history and their tendency of being on time or late.
But Flighty compiles plenty of additional data points. You can manually inserts your booking code and seat numbers so you have the handy, as one example. Since it knows the flight route, it can provide weather information for your trip and update you on any time zone changes that may occur. With the pro version, it syncs with your calendar too.
I started using Flighty, as well as got TSA Pre-check, and so much of my stress was alleviated. Fortunately, my wife handles the rest of our trip planning.
If you’re big into roadtrips, Wanderlog is a godsend. That isn’t to say it is only for roadtrips, just has additional features like route planning that are more useful. This singular app can help plan your trip, save your sightseeing destinations, and store your hotel confirmation.
You can import your trip milestones by forwarding them from your email to your dedicated Wanderlog email address. Book your hotel, rent your car — just forward it and it will show in the Wanderlog app with all the requisite information. If you pick a bunch of locations to see on your trip, Wanderlog will automatically provide you with the ideal route so you can be sure to fit them all in — even with offline viewing.
It can show you how far between each of your destinations, both in distance as well as time. Depending on where they are, you can alternate between flying, walking, or driving. Wanderlog lets you invite your friends so they can collaborate on the trip at the same time. Finally, this is the only app I’ve seen to include budgeting. It tracks your trip’s cost, breaks it down between travel, lodging, food, and drinks, then let’s you split it with others.
Know before you go
Trip Scout is an incredibly useful app for planning out your next trip. I’m not talking about saving your flight info but rather discovering fun and unique things to do wherever you’re visiting.
This app curates travel information from the best sources such as The New York Times, Thrillist, Condé Nast Traveler, Eater, National Geographic, and more. When you choose a location, it adds information from the above sources and combines it with local experts. Find the best AirBnBs in a certain city, the best photo spots, underrated eateries, amongst other suggestions.
Once you save these activities, they show on a map, giving you a bird’s-eye view of your trip. Articles can be saved and filtered based on location or day of your trip. Even better, you can set things like who is coming — children? Couples? — and a budget. That way it can recommend the best spots based on your needs.
National Park Trail Guide
Explore our country's greatest parks
I’ll happily acknowledge that not everyone wants to go hike. There are people who like beaches, far-off countries, or bustling cities when they go on vacation. While I’ll take any of those, my wife and I love hiking through the countries national parks. The National Park Trail Guide app is uber-useful in planning routes and not getting lost as we explore.
This helpful app will allow you to set a custom route or choose from existing ones. When you have a route chosen, it will give you the elevation overview before you even start so you have an idea of what you’re taking on. If you don’t know where to go, there are pre-chosen routes with ratings and photos the app will recommend.
National parks have a tendency to be massive and if you haven’t been there, trying to find a safe, beautiful, not overly-challenging path is daunting and takes research and time. Or, ya know, you could just download the National Parks Trail Guide and see a bunch of recommendations, ratings, tips, and more.
Effortless ride sharing
Don’t judge me for putting Uber on the list but it may be the app that I use most consistently across all my travel. You’re in separate city, you don’t have access to your vehicle and if walkable, you may not be driving too often. Uber — along with other ride hailing apps — will be your ticket to getting around.
Uber has been one of my favorites for a while simply because of the ease of use with their app. Uber integrates directly into Apple Maps, letting you summon an Uber just as you are exploring the area. It also works directly on Apple Watch or with your voice and Siri. The whole point is to make booking a ride as effortless as possible and the company has worked hard to integrate with Apple’s services in search of that.
The app itself is clean, minimalist, and streamlined. It is fast to load and supports many accessibility features. There’s a new reward program and Uber has been delivering food with its massive fleet for the past few years. I think what I’m most excited about though is the Live Activities Lock Screen feature of iOS 16 that will allow you to see your Uber in real time as it approaches.
Plan and manage your next trip
Tripsy isn’t too dissimilar from Wanderlog but I like having options. Tripsy also seems less about discovery and planning a route as it is about managing your trip as a whole. While you can still forward over your flight and lodging emails to automatically include in Tripsy, you can also manually add documents and other information.
It’s interface looks akin to Apple’s own Home app making it feel right at home on Apple’s platform. Via a partnership with Unsplash, images are front-and-center when exploring Tripsy including recommendations for your next getaway. Choose a destination and Tripsy will suggest inspiration for an entire trip with things to do.
Another awesome feature is the ability to share your trip with others. It can create a read-only web link that you can forward along to others — whether they just don’t have the app or they’re on another platform. Instead of typing everything, Tripsy has its own Share Sheet to auto-populate information such as locations directly from other apps
Stop forgetting things
Here is my strategy for packing pre-trip. I create a note document with a checklist and I put everything I can think of for the trip. I break it down into categories such as toiletries, tech, clothes, etc. I do this at least a day or so in advance so I have time to think and continue to add. It works decently well, but Packr is so much easier.
Basically, Packr is a starting off point. It’s full of pre-curated lists of stuff you’ll need based on your trip’s itinerary. Hitting up the beach? Packr will recommend the necessities like a swim suit and sunscreen. There are more than 30 lists available based on various activities. It can even recommend based on weather when you tell it when and where you’re going.
All lists you can modify to your needs, adding or removing as relevant. It has a wonderful appearance with plenty of sleek icons and a minimalist color scheme that is easy on the eyes. With all the stress of travel, having a checklist that confirms you did or didn’t pack something can put your mind at ease. Now I only sometimes freak out en route that I didn’t pack my iPhone charger.
Create content together
With Mapify, you can explore the world by yourself, or with others. It’s a supremely photo-centric app that will help you discover unique experiences. When searching for what to do, an Instagram-looking wall of photos will appear rather than a list of text. It’s definitely effective in encouraging you to get out there.
Unlike most apps that focus on you, Mapify brings together its own social network of sorts. You can add your friends and trip members to the app so you can all add photos and plan the trip together. You can also connect with fellow travelers. They can update their photo spots and travel journal for you to peruse. Mapify awards them — and you — with badges to display on your profile as well.
As you traverse the world, you can create your own personal scratchmap. Like those ones you’d hang on your wall? As you “scratch off” a country, you can add photos to that location letting you go back and relived your favorite memories from each location.
But enough about other people's apps.