20 Must-Have Travel Apps for an Epic Summer Vacation

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young people taking an epic summer vacation using must-have apps
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Planning a vacation can be stressful and expensive, and the right mobile app can make things easier for you. But the App Store and Google Play Store have countless travel apps, so it’s important to know which apps will enhance your trip, not distract from it.

“A good travel app for me is easy to use and updated frequently,” said Suzanne Wolko, a travel blogger at PhilaTravelGirl. “I only want to press a few buttons to get the information I need and also make sure it doesn’t consume my data plan.”

To help make your summer travel plans easier, we’ve put together a list of our 20 favorite travel apps, all of which are available for iOS and Android unless otherwise noted.

1. 7 Minute Workout

Why it’s great: 7 Minute Workout can help you get your daily exercise in without sacrificing precious time on the beach or exploring a new city.

Not good for: Folks who aren’t used to high-intensity circuit training exercises.

2. Airbnb

Why it’s great: Airbnb connects you with a local host who rents out their home or apartment so that you can have an authentic experience. In some cases, the cost could be cheaper than a hotel.

Not good for: Travelers who like the amenities of a hotel, such as a gym, daily cleaning, food service, and more.

3. Amazon Prime Photos

Why it’s great: Amazon Prime members can upload pictures they take on their phones while traveling, which can preserve your memories if your phone gets lost or damaged. Plus, you’ll get unlimited storage.

Not good for: Non-Prime members. A Prime membership costs $119 a year or $12.99 a month.

4. Bivy

Why it’s great: Bivy helps you find the best hiking trails, waterways, and climbing routes in your area for a staycation, or in areas you plan to visit.

Not good for: Travelers who don’t want an outdoors-oriented vacation.

5. Citymapper

Why it’s great: Navigating a new city’s public transportation can fill anyone with anxiety. Citymapper shows you all the ways to get around.

Not good for: Folks visiting places that aren’t on the app’s list of 39 cities.

6. CoChange

Why it’s great: CoChange helps you find and compare currency exchange offices to get the best rates in more than 100 countries.

Not good for: Travelers who plan to use a credit card with no foreign transaction fees or a bank account with no international ATM fees.

7. Couchsurfing

Why it’s great: If “free” is your favorite word, Couchsurfing is worth considering. You can stay with fellow community members around the world at no cost per night.

Not good for: Travelers who feel uncomfortable with staying at someone’s house or apartment while they’re there, or want better accommodations than sleeping on an actual couch or basic mattress.

8. ExpressVPN

Why it’s great: ExpressVPN not only allows you to browse online securely, but it can choose your server location, which allows you to visit websites that are blocked in certain countries.

Not good for: People traveling on a budget who don’t want to pay for a subscription, which can cost between $8.32 and $12.95 a month.

9. GoEuro

Why it’s great: The transportation system in Europe is vastly different than what we have in the U.S. GoEuro can help you find the right tickets for flights, trains, and buses.

Not good for: People not heading to Europe.

10. Google Translate

Why it’s great: When you’re in a foreign country, the Google Translate app can save you from misunderstanding something important. And as of June 2018, Google will make the translation service available even when you’re offline.

Not good for: Folks who need translation for a language that isn’t included in Google’s list of 103 supported languages.

11. Google Trips

Why it’s great: Planning and organizing a trip can be hectic. With Google Trips, you can keep all your trip information in one place, and even get some recommendations for what to do when you get there.

Not good for: Folks who prefer a different travel planner app such as TripIt, Roadtrippers, or Travefy.

12. Hopper

Why it’s great: It’s almost impossible to know when to book a flight or hotel to get the best deal. Hopper not only predicts when you can score the lowest price on a flight or hotel stay, but it’ll track your itinerary and let you know when there’s a price drop. It claims savings up to 40%.

Not good for: People who don’t have a lot of time to book their trip.

13. HotelTonight

Why it’s great: If you’re the spontaneous type, HotelTonight can provide you with last-minute hotel stays at an average discount of 17%.

Not good for: Travelers who prefer to book in advance.

14. Maps.me

Why it’s great: Maps.me allows you to download detailed maps that you can view offline if you lose data service on your phone.

Not good for: People who prefer other popular map apps, including Google Maps and Waze.

15. Packpoint

Why it’s great: If you’re not sure what to pack for your trip, Packpoint can help. Simply tell it where you’re going, and it’ll construct a packing list for you based on the weather and activities you plan to do. You can add or delete items as necessary.

Not good for: Someone who already has a good packing system when traveling.

16. Polarsteps

Why it’s great: Polarsteps is the ultimate travel log, tracking your routes, stories, statistics, and photos. You can keep it all on the app or order a travel book with everything you added. You can also live vicariously through your friends as they share their trip stories.

Not good for: Folks who aren’t interested in documenting everything they do on their vacation.

17. Postagram

Why it’s great: Sending postcards might seem like a hassle. But with Postagram, you can upload a photo you took and write a message, and they’ll send your personalized postcard for you.

Not good for: Travelers who prefer to send traditional, handpicked postcards from a destination or don’t send postcards at all.

18. Pruvo

Why it’s great: Most hotels don’t require that you pay until you finish your stay, and Pruvo takes advantage of that. Once you book a room, forward your reservation to Pruvo, and it will send you price-drop alerts. You can then cancel your reservation and rebook it at the lower price.

Not good for: People who prefer mobile. Pruvo is the one web-only service on this list — it has a Google Chrome extension — but is still valuable for its benefits.

19. Skiplagged

Why it’s great: Skiplagged offers a unique service of finding hidden-city prices for flights. This means that a flight with a layover at your destination might be cheaper than a flight with your destination as its final stop. That said, while it’s legal — United Airlines sued Skiplagged and lost — airlines don’t like the practice, and it’s against their contract of carriage. So if you’re going to do it, don’t check a bag and only buy a one-way ticket because if you miss one of the legs of your flight, the airline will cancel a return flight.

Not good for: Folks who want to check baggage. If you opt for a hidden-city fare and abandon your flight on a layover, your checked bags would continue on to the final destination.

20. Smart Traveler

Why it’s great: Offered by the U.S. Department of State, the Smart Traveler app gives you access to travel alerts, travel warnings, U.S. embassy locations, and more.

Not good for: People who only travel within the U.S.

How to pick the right travel apps for your next trip

Picking the right travel apps really boils down to what works best for your travel needs. Some that we’ve listed could be super helpful or completely worthless, depending on your travel plans.

“When there are similar apps [such as Google Trips and TripIt], I often download both to test out what features I like best and [for] ease of use,” said Wolko. And in some cases, like with hotel apps, it might be good to have a few to compare rates.

Whatever you do, find the apps that work best for your needs and are easy to use, and start your search long before your trip so that you can get the most out of your new apps. The right ones can make traveling the world easy and affordable.

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Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality and will make a positive impact in your life. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print understand what you are buying, and consult a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time. Please do your homework and let us know if you have any questions or concerns.