Proper planning makes all the difference between a rushed, stressful trip and a restful, worry-free journey. Luckily, mobile apps are here to help. From trip planners and itinerary generators to online marketplaces for flights and hotels, there's no shortage of apps and travel tech designed to help you whether everything from crowded airports during the holidays to unfamiliar roads.
One of our favorite travel apps, Hipmunk, is getting shut down as of Jan. 23. And while that's a disappointment, there are still many other helpful apps that can make sure your next trip goes off without a hitch. Here are the best travel apps for planning, navigating and enjoying your next big trip.
MyTSA (Free: Android; iOS)
It's not the most glamorous-looking app in the world, but MyTSA — the official app of the Transportation Security Administration — can save you from some anxious moments getting to your flight. MyTSA's star feature is the ability to check wait times at security checkpoints at key airports. The app includes historical wait-time data while also giving you the option of checking crowd-sourced reports of how long security lines are at that moment. The ability to search what you can bring on a plane, get live assistance and find out info on the TSA PreCheck program make this a good app for travelers to keep handy on their smartphone.
Expedia (Android, iOS: Free)
With Hipmunk shuttering, you need a good all-in-one travel app, and Expedia is a tried-and-true option. You can book every aspect of your trip through Expedia, searching for hotels, flights and rental cars. The app also lets you bundle deals on travel and lodging, look for cruises, and research things to do when you arrive at your destination. The app promises exclusives deals for mobile users, with members of Expedia's rewards program enjoying additional perks.
Skiplagged (Android, iOS: Free)
If you're traveling light and looking to save a few bucks, check out Skiplagged, a neat app that can keep your travel costs down by taking advantage of "hidden city flights", where flyers get off at a layover, instead of at the final destination. Users enter their origin and target destination, and Skiplagged will show you the cost of a direct flight, as well as any cheaper "hidden city" flights that have your intended destination as a layover. The caveat? Stick to carry-on luggage, as any checked-in bags will go all the way to the flight's final destination. Skiplagged also allows you to book hotels, including last-minute deals and special offers.
Flighty (iOS: Free)
There are flight trackers, and then there's Flighty, an iOS app for people who really want to know the location and arrival time of their plane. The free version of the app gives you basic flight-tracking tools, but pay up for a subscription ($8.99 a month or a discounted annual rate of $49.99 at launch), and you get access to more sophisticated features such as push notifications, syncing with TripIt or with calendars, and an assistant to help with your flight connections. Flighty also claims to be able to predict flight delays by monitoring inbound planes for 25 hours and monitoring FAA-mandated delays. You can check out the portions of the paid app for free during a 14-day trial.
Download Flighty: iOS
iExit (Android, iOS: Free)
If your travel plans involve a lot of driving, iExit works as a handy freeway exit guide, listing nearby highway exits, as well as the kind of businesses and amenities there are nearby. Need to gas up or looking for good food or a place to stay for the night? iExit’s search tools come to the rescue, showing you nearby gas stations (with price data powered by GasBuddy), motels, and even deals and discounts from nearby businesses.
Waze (Android; iOS)
Nothing takes the fun out of a vacation like getting stuck in traffic. But loading Waze on your phone before you hit the road can spare you some frustration. The navigation app feeds your smartphone real-time traffic information, based on reports from other Waze users. That data includes accidents, speed traps and other hazards that might keep you from getting to your destination in a timely fashion. Other features sure to impress travelers include automatic rerouting, cheap gas alerts and the ability to send your ETA to anyone waiting at your final stop.
Hopper (Android, iOS: Free)
Another app bringing big data and predictive algorithms to the world of air travel is Hopper, whose key selling point is the use of a massive database of airline prices and historical trends to predict when prices to a destination are likely to be lowest, when they're likely to change, and the best time to buy a ticket for a particular date and destination. Users can watch flights on specific dates or destinations, and the app will advise you whether it's worth it to buy now or to wait, tell you the dates when it's likely cheapest to fly, estimate changes in price, and notify you of price drops or rises. Users can save their payment details within the app for quick booking.
FLIO (Android, iOS: Free)
FLIO aims to be the all-in-one companion app for harried travelers making their way through airports worldwide. An official partner of 300 airports that has info on thousands more, FLIO provides users with terminal maps, a boarding pass scanner, a flight tracker and directions to shuttle buses and booking options for everything from parking to lounge access. The app's sheer variety of services and features make it a great addition to the app toolkit of frequent fliers and vacationers alike.
AtYourGate (Android, iOS: Free)
AtYourGate is another helpful airport companion that focuses more about retail opportunities while you're killing time waiting at the airport. If you need food, supplies (like say a phone charger to replace the one you forgot to pack), or last-minute gifts, you can browse the AtYourGate app for nearby shops and restaurants instead of having to wander around the airport. Users can order food or other items, pay through the app, and even arrange for the item to be delivered to them right at their gate, lounge, or other location. AtYourGate currently operates in a select number of major airports, including JFK, La Guardia, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Portland, San Diego, and Newark.
Mobile Passport (Android, iOS: Free)
Mobile Passport is a U.S. Customs and Border Protection-approved app that helps speed you through lengthy immigration lines by letting users with U.S. or Canadian passports submit their passport control and customs declarations through the app, replacing paper forms and providing faster processing in a number of major US airports where the Mobile Passport service is supported. The app will save you a good amount of time in line, just don't forget to actually bring your physical passport around, as the app doesn't replace that!
TripIt (Android, iOS: Free)
TripIt promises to cut back on the travel hassle by consolidating your travel plans into a simple, convenient itinerary. Viewable online and synced to your cell phone, you can also share itineraries with your contacts. You just link your email account to TripIt, and the service will automatically dig through your inbox for reservation confirmations and other forms. Using that data, TripIt builds an organized itinerary of your flight boarding times, hotel check-ins and more. The free app is ad-supported, while the paid version removes ads.
App In The Air (Android, iOS: Free)
App In The Air is designed to help you through the entire process of your airplane flight, serving as a booking assistant that reminds you of your gate, ETA, check-in requirements, baggage tips, and more. App In The Air condenses all of this important information so that it's easy to refer to at a glance, while also providing handy extras. You can view a summary of your airline's baggage rules (or even have an augmented reality overlay that you can use to measure your baggage to see if it will fit for carry-on or overhead guidelines). Travelers can integrate the app with TripIt, track loyalty rewards, view airplane amenities and even forward their details to their Apple Watch or Android Wear device. A premium subscription ($29.99 per year) includes real-time flight status updates, automated check-ins, and more.
GasBuddy (Android, iOS: Free)
If road trips are more your thing, consider GasBuddy, a mobile app that helps users track down the cheapest gas in their region. Users can use their GPS location, or search by address or zip code. As many of the prices are based on user reports, GasBuddy rewards users with points for reporting and updating a station's prices, with points making you eligible for regular raffles of prizes like free gas.
Roadtrippers (Android, iOS: Free)
Another handy travel companion when you hit the road is the aptly named Roadtrippers, a trip planning and itinerary app that helps you plot your next road trip, discovering destinations, attractions, and useful stops along the way. You can also share your route and schedule with friends and family. The app helps users find everything from diners and dives to hotels, restaurants, national parks, roadside attractions and other scenic points of interest. Users can plan out trips in the app or the Roadtrippers web portal, saving locations and stops into a trip plan which you can sync across multiple devices for easy reference.
AccuWeather (Android, iOS: Free)
The weather can make or break the best laid vacation plans, upending beach trips, wilderness hiking and other outdoor excursions. A good weather app with international reach is a must for travelers and tourists, and one of our favorites is AccuWeather, which features 15-day forecast summaries, 5-day forecasts, and the hyper-local AccuWeather MinuteCast. That latter feature zeroes in on your GPS location to provide minute-by-minute precipitation forecasts out to the next two hours.
PackPoint (Android, iOS: Free)
PackPoint is a travel packing wizard that helps users by providing a checklist of travel essentials that they need to pack, depending on the nature of their trip. Users simply create a trip profile, with their destination, length of stay and purpose of travel. PackPoint then creates a customized packing and luggage checklist that takes into account whether you're traveling for business or pleasure, the type and amount of clothing to pack based on the weather forecast and other factors. The app also comes with a variety of premium features, such as TripIt integration for automatic packing list creation.
TripAdvisor (Android, iOS: Free)
TripAdvisor is your crowd-sourced guide to hotels, restaurants and attractions worldwide. TripAdvisor allows you to browse through millions of reviews, images and videos featuring various establishments worldwide. You can also access contact details; search for nearby establishments; explore restaurants by food type, price range or rating; check out air fares; and even add to the knowledge base by posting your own reviews, images and entries for the places you visit. There are even some handy "Near Me Now" features to alert you of nearby points of interest.
Airbnb (Android, iOS: Free)
Airbnb is a marketplace app that allows users to search for and find unique accommodations across the world, from mom-and-pop B&Bs for a night, to a small apartment for a week, or even a castle for a month. There's no shortage of quirky and unique establishments. Airbnb covers a range of prices in more than 34,000 cities across almost 200 countries, which means the adventurous or flexible traveler has some interesting choices for accommodations on their next trip.
Vrbo (Android, iOS: Free)
Another option for finding places to stay on your next trip is Vrbo's mobile app. At Vrbo, the emphasis is on vacation rentals, and with 2 million unique places to stay in 190-plus countries, you've got plenty of options. Use the Vrbo app to search for vacation homes, plan your trip and book your lodging. The app also gives you access to key booking details — what is the Wi-Fi password at your rental property, anyway? — and lets you share your itinerary with friends and family.
Kayak (Android, iOS: Free)
Kayak's mobile app provides users with a flexible assistant for searching for and booking rental cars, flights, hotels and more. Compare deals, book flights and accommodation, track your flights and manage your itinerary from Kayak's convenient mobile app. It's a great, centralized tool for keeping track of everything you'll need to arrange getting to and from your travel destinations. And the iOS version takes advantage of the Sign In With Apple feature for easier logins introduced in iOS 13.
Hotel Tonight (Android, iOS: Free)
Another good option if you suddenly need to look for last minute hotel rooms, is HotelTonight, offering users last-minute discounts on vacancies and same-night accommodations from top-rated hotels. Users can search by category and quality such as Basic, Hip or Luxe; view information on nearby hotels; and quickly book accommodations from within the app.
Google Translate (Android, iOS: Free)
Google Translate can convert words, phrases and short sentences from one language to another. Simply pick an input language and an output language, and then either type or dictate your message. The app does its magic, presenting you with translated text or a short synthesized voice message. In addition, visual translation features have just been added, allowing you to translate text and signage with the aid of your camera. The app's translation capabilities continue to grow, with 103 languages available for text translation with a data connection, 59 languages offline, 37 languages in camera mode, and 32 languages for live, two-way voice translations.
GlobeTips (iOS: Free)
How much should you tip? GlobeTips is a handy app that can tell you how much gratuity is customary wherever you are in the world. In addition to global tipping guides, GlobeTips includes a calculator for automatically calculating the tip, splitting the bill, and handling sales tax.
Download GlobeTips: iOS
XE Currency (Android, iOS: Free)
XE Currency's excellent currency conversion app is everything you'll ever need when you find yourself in need of prices and exchange rates abroad. The app supports just about every national currency used worldwide, with the ability to track up to 10 simultaneously. Rates are regularly updated (you can set the frequency of updates), and best of all, the app stores the rates of currencies you've looked up, so that they're always available offline, even away from Wi-Fi or a mobile connection.
An In Case of Emergency (ICE) App (Android, iOS)
Medical emergencies can strike at unexpected times, and we might not always have our medical records on hand should an emergency strike. An ICE (In Case of Emergency) card can help, summarizing important medical information like allergens, blood type, and other medical considerations, as well as your emergency contacts. Tech-savvy travelers can turn their lock screen into their personal ICE card using a variety of apps, such as ICE - In Case of Emergency for Android devices, or ICE Medical Standard for iPhones and iPads. While you never hope you're in a situation where it might be important, it's a handy thing to have, and may literally save your life, especially as you travel.