The Best Travel Apps of 2018

The Best Travel Apps of 2018

The Best Travel Apps of 2018

The best travel apps work in real time, keeping you in the know. They deliver not only information, but also advice, insights, tips, and warnings. Say you’re planning a trip and the price of a flight suddenly plummets. You’ll want a notification for that. Or perhaps you’re on a long-distance drive when an accident occurs up ahead. Getting an alert on your phone soon after the fact can help keep your trip free of stress as you reroute or decide to take a break until it clears.

From the time you start thinking about your next destination to the moment your feet hit the welcome mat back home, having the right travel apps on hand can make the whole experience smoother and less stressful.

In this list of the best travel apps, there’s no need to include all the big-name search aggregator sites, such as Expedia, Hotwire, and Priceline, seeing as most people are already familiar with them. They help you search for and book (usually by prepaying) flights, hotels, car rentals, and sometimes packaged vacations and cruises. The same goes for hotel search aggregators, like,, and Trivago. I’ve only included here the ones that serve a specific niche or those that are excellent but not well known.

Listed in alphabetical order, here are the best travel apps you might not be using.

  • Airbnb

    Airbnb connects travelers with people who have rooms, apartments, homes, and other unique accommodations to rent (including tree houses, trailers, and boats). Whether you need a short-term vacation spot or a month-long stay, Airbnb has options all around the world. In some locations, the site also sells Experiences, such as tours, classes, workshops, and excursions. In some areas, it can help you book a restaurant reservation.


    Make the most of a long layover or flight delay with FLIO. The app and website collect loads of information about airports, such as services offered, Wi-Fi networks, available lounges, transit options, and advice on where to eat.


    When it’s time to refuel, you’ll be happy to have GasBuddy on your phone. It helps you find gas by location and price. If you can save a couple of bucks by cruising a little farther down the road, GasBuddy will let you know. Available in the U.S., Canada, and Australia.

    Google Flights

    Never turn down a second opinion. Despite all the great travel search sites available these days, Google Flights is one to add to your list (at Use it when you need a quick check on airfare for round-trip, one-way, or multi-city flights. It’s also good for exploring destinations based on price.

    Google Trips

    If you rely on Google products, such as Maps, Calendar, and Gmail, the Google Trips app can collate smart information from those other services into a little travel pack. For example, based on flight information you’ve saved in Calendar, Google Trips can guess where you’re going and when. Based on stars you’ve added to Google Maps, it can help you focus on sites you want to visit while there. It has other suggestions, too, with maps, information, and photos.


    Hopper tracks flight prices and gives you periodic updates on whether you should buy now or wait. What makes this travel app valuable is its level of detail. For example, it doesn’t just tell you to wait to buy your ticket, but gives you a date when the price will likely rise. Hopper offers to help you book the ticket, too, with a commission fee of a few dollars.

    Hotel Tonight

    Some of us (myself included) panic at the notion of having to book a last-minute hotel room. But for travelers ready to fly by the seat of their pants, there’s Hotel Tonight. This travel app specializing in selling off same-day hotel reservations, often at steep discounts. It has options to book in advance, too, but the best deals are for now.


    The iExit very simply tells you exactly what is near every highway exit, from gas stations to restaurants to ATMs. If there’s a particular restaurant chain or other service you love, you can mark it as a favorite and iExit will tell you if it’s coming up anytime soon on your route. You’ll never kick yourself for settling in at a greasy spoon when better food was just around the bend.

    Lonely Planet

    One hundred percent of the reason I use Lonely Planet to get insights on what to see and do when I travel is because it has gorgeous photos. It’s armchair travel at its best. Lonely Planet offers insight and advice, as well as travel experiences you can book through third parties.

    10 LoungeBuddy

    Red-carpet treatment may be in your future when you download LoungeBuddy. With this app, you can explore the private lounges that are available in your airport and sometimes even buy discounted day passes. The app also tells you when lounges permit access as a benefit for holding certain credit cards.

    11 Roadtrippers

    Tell Roadtrippers your starting location and destination, dates of travel, and what kinds of things you’re interested in finding along the way, and this app will plot your journey for you. Roadtrippers can find offbeat attractions, restaurants, museums, amusement parks, campsites, and more. When you find a site you like, just add it to your trip, and Roadtrippers will redraw your travel map accordingly.

    12 Roomer Travel

    What to do when you’ve prepaid for a hotel room and your trip gets canceled? Download Roomer. This app helps people sell prepaid reservations to others who can use them, usually at a lower cost. It can help you recoup money that might otherwise be lost to the travel gods, or save money when you take over a reservation that someone else can no longer use at a discounted rate.

    13 TripAdvisor

    TripAdvisor is one of the most best online sources for travelers, particularly because it has in-depth reviews of hotels, restaurants, and sites to see. Photos uploaded by other users are also helpful for getting a glimpse of a place from an unbiased point of view. TripAdvisor is one of the richest resources you’ll find because it has a huge and active community.

    14 TripCase

    TripCase is a free app that helps you organize your itineraries. Similar to TripIt! (below), it takes all the confirmation messages you receive via email about your upcoming travel and arranges them into one tidy itinerary. With TripCase, you forward emails into the service, rather than granting it access to your inbox (which is how TripIt! works)

    15 TripIt

    TripIt connects automatically compiles travel information into one itinerary, based on confirmation messages you receive via email after you book something. TripIt finds the important details for flights, hotels, rental car reservations, and even restaurant bookings, then collates them in order. If you worry about not having all your details in one place, TripIt is a wonderful travel organizer.

    16 TV Food Maps

    What could be more American than eating your way along a road trip? This interactive app and website finds restaurants and eateries that have appeared on various television food shows, such as Bizarre Foods American, Top Chef, $40 a Day, Restaurant Impossible and (groan) Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. You plug in your starting point and destination, and then indicate how far off course you’re willing to venture. The premise seems a little silly to me, but at least you get something other than highway fast food in the end.

    17 Uber

    Uber now operates around the world, and while the in-app options vary from place to place, the general concept is the same everywhere. This ride-on-demand app eliminates the need to carry local currency, speak the same language as your driver, and know local customs for tipping and haggling. The app charges your credit card the right amount so you don’t have to worry about getting ripped off by taxi scams. If you don’t want to give Uber your business (there are many reasons people don’t support the company), be sure to research what other riding hailing apps operate in your destination.

    18 Viator

    When you travel to a destination that might require a little hand-holding, Viator is a great website and app to keep in mind. It lets you explore tours and packages, from daily excursions to week-long adventures with transfers included. Note that the quantity and quality of the deals varies dramatically by destination.

    19 Wanderu

    Wanderu is a travel search aggregator and comparison app that includes methods of transportation that other sites skip, namely trains and buses. It includes flights, car rentals, and hotel search tools, too, but it got its start with buses and trains, and that’s where it continues to stand apart from competitors. For journeys serviced by Amtrak, Megabus, BoltBus, and other ground services, use Wanderu for quick and reliable results.

    20 Waze

    Waze is a free community-driven app for traffic and road conditions. While Google Maps tells you about officially reported problems and whether there’s traffic in general, Waze knows the nitty-gritty, like the location of police traps and potholes. It’s popular among taxi and car service drivers, but equally useful for everyday drivers. Beware, though: Waze demands your GPS information at all times, which takes a toll on your battery.

    21 XE Currency

    International travelers know that free currency converter apps are a dime a dozen. While XE Currency is nothing special, it works on most platforms, updates regularly, and still gives you currency conversions when your phone is offline. It has ads, but they aren’t egregious.

    22 Zomato

    If you live in the U.S., there’s a good chance you’ve never heard of Zomato. In some countries, however, it’s more popular than Yelp. Zomato is a crowd-sourced review site for restaurants. People regularly snap photos of menus and upload them to the associated review, so you get more than just flippant remarks and blurry pictures of french fries. In some regions, Zomato partners with local restaurant delivery services, so you can get easily take-out at your hotel or Airbnb.

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