The best travel apps are the ones that take all the stress out of a trip, freeing you up to enjoy the journey. And fortunately, you've got a lot of choices when it comes to finding apps that can help you plan your next getaway.
You'll find everything from trip planners and itinerary generators to online marketplaces for flights and hotels in both the Play Store and Apple's store for apps. Combine one of the best travel apps with some great travel tech, and your chances for a smooth trip will increase dramatically.
Not sure where to look first? We've found a list of the best travel apps for when you're ready to hit the road again after sticking close to home for more than a year.
1. MyTSA (Free: Android; iOS)
Before you hit the road, make sure you've got MyTSA on your smartphone. The official app of the Transportation Security Administration isn't going to win any beauty contests, but it will let you check wait times at security checkpoints at major airpots. And that can help you plan on how much travel time you need to allow.
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.
2. Expedia (Android, iOS: Free)
If you're a frequent traveller, 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, including 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.
If you're looking to stretch your travel budget even farther, Expedia promises exclusive deals for mobile users, with members of Expedia's rewards program enjoying additional perks.
3. 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 $49.99 per year), 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 (opens in new tab)
4. Hopper (Android, iOS: Free)
Another app bringing big data and predictive algorithms to the world of air travel is Hopper It uses 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.
You 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. You can also save your payment details within the app for quick booking.
5. 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 find some 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.
6. Waze (Android; iOS)
Nothing gets a vacation off on the wrong foot like getting stuck in traffic. Waze can't eliminate the traffic, but it can help you get around any jams, especially if you're in an unfamiliar city.
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.
7. Skiplagged (Android, iOS: Free)
If you're traveling light and looking to save a few bucks, check out Skiplagged. It's 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.
Enter your origin and 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.
8. 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, Flio also has info on thousands more. That lets the app feature 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.
9. 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.
AtYourGate 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.
10. 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. It allows anyone with U.S. or Canadian passports to 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, but it’s no reason to leave your physical passport at home. Mobile Passport is a companion app, not a replacement.
11. 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. While TripIt is a free download, a $48.99 annual subscription gets you features like real-time flight alerts and updates on how long airport lines are.
12. 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.
The app 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.
13. 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 tap into their GPS location through their phone, or search by address or zip code to find the nearby gas prices.
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.
14. 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 lets you plot your next road trip, and helps you discover destinations, attractions, and useful stops along the way.
With Roadtrippers, you can 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.
If doing that research on a small phone screen stresses you out, you can plan trips in the Roadtrippers web portal if you prefer, saving locations and stops into a trip plan which you can sync across multiple devices for easy reference.
15. PackPoint (Android, iOS: Free)
PackPoint is a travel packing wizard that provides a checklist of travel essentials that you'll need to pack, depending on the nature of your trip.
Simply create a trip profile with your 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.
16. TripAdvisor (Android, iOS: Free)
TripAdvisor is your crowd-sourced guide to hotels, restaurants and attractions worldwide. The app allows you to browse through plenty of reviews, images and videos featuring various establishments worldwide to get a better idea of what awaits you at your destination.
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 once you're on the scene.
17. 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.
18. Vrbo (Android, iOS: Free)
Vrbo's mobile app is another option for finding places to stay on your next trip. 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.
19. Hotel Tonight (Android, iOS: Free)
If you unexpectedly need to look for last minute hotel rooms, check out HotelTonight. It offers 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.
20. 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 (opens in new tab)