This blog post is dedicated to our favorite free essential travel apps. In today’s time, almost everyone make use of smartphones, tablets or other devices with an internet connection to make their traveling easier. Such apps can be related to travel and budget planning, checking and booking accommodation while you are on the road or simply checking your location or looking for directions. Below is a list of free essential travel apps.
Free essential travel apps listed below:
|XE Currency Converter
Two free essential travel apps we use on a daily basis for navigation.
maps.me is one of my favorite apps for the simple reason that it can be used offline. You simply download the map of the country you are traveling to beforehand, make sure you have the location switched on on your device and maps.me can be used as a GPS.
Let’s say you are traveling to Madrid, Spain. You download and install the app on your device, search for Madrid and it will ask you to download the map for Madrid. Once you accept, the map will be downloaded and installed on your device. This process has to be repeated every time you visit a different city or country.
maps.me has some really cool features. The main one, being able to use it while offline. But other features include: GPS support, Offline search (by name, address, category and coordinates), Offline routes for cars and by foot, Map Editor, Bookmarks, Auto-follow mode, Location and bookmarks sharing, and KML import.
Being one of the first navigation apps, Google maps has competitive advantage over its competitors. It has the most data and uses the collected data in a smart way. A drawback of this application a few months ago was that you have to be online to use the app. However, that issue has been tackled and now it can be used offline as well, although some of the features will not be available.
Google maps has a feature called ‘Traffic Shaping‘, which collects data from all devices that have Google maps running on their device to determine the road traffic situation. Hence, when you are stuck in traffic with the app open on your vehicle dashboard, you are sending data to Google and this data is used to alert other people about traffic and alternate roads.
Another feature of Google Maps are the voice commands. You can literally give voice commands to your device by saying for example ‘Show alternate routes‘ and the app will show you different routes. With the latest app update, Google added more action phrases such as: ‘What’s my next turn?‘, ‘Show/Hide traffic‘, ‘Avoid tolls‘, ‘How’s the traffic ahead?‘ among others.
One also has the possibility to send a route from their laptop to their hand held device as most of the times it is easier and more practical to search and plan the route on a laptop.
Agoda app is quite straightforward to use. Ideally you create an account to be able to view or amend your bookings. Same login can be used to login on their website agoda.com. With Agoda mobile app you can search and book accommodation for specific dates. Search results can be sorted and filtered by several preferences such as ratings, price or location. I noted that while traveling in Asia, this app is highly useful since the listings have competitive prices compared to other websites. A lot of accommodations in Asia are listed only on Agoda, therefore it is worth having this app installed.
Booking is similar to Agoda but it collects data from different sources than Agoda. Booking is a user friendly application that allows users to search and book accommodation. One can also view and filter results according to different parameters such as price, reviews, location and ratings. The main reason we have this app installed along with Agoda is for cross referencing. If you are a member for quite some time, these companies usually offer some kind of deal’s, like insiders deals, or loyal member deals, in which case you will be shown (usually) a cheaper price from the original price.
This app is another accommodation app but the idea differs from the traditional way of booking accommodation. Instead of staying in hotels, guesthouses, bungalows or hostels, this service offers the possibility to stay with locals. One can also rent a whole apartment or house.
AirBNB offers the possibility to those who have a bedroom (or property) which they are not using to rent it out. You have higher chances of meeting and socialising with locals if you are staying at a local’s house.
The idea behind couch surfing is that someone crashes on your couch for a night or two. An idea which has been around for years in the backpackers world. This app makes this idea easier and more accessible.
Couchsurfing began in 2004 and nowadays has a network of over 12 million subscribers . Like AirBNB, the main idea is to stay at someone else’s place, but this time, for free. Users subscribe on Couchsurfing and list their accommodation type. You can sleep on a mat on the floor, sofa or if you’re lucky you can get your own bed. Just make sure that you fully understand what the host is offering you in order to avoid mishaps. It is always good to have a backup plan in case of last minute cancellations.
Hostelworld is focused on hostel accommodation which is usually the cheapest type of accommodation for solo backpackers. Staying in hostels is also a great way to meet like-minded travelers. It is fun if you don’t mind sharing a room with five, eight or fifteen other travelers, hence it might not be for everyone.Similar to the other accommodation apps. one can also sort out the listings by price, location, reviews etc
The below list of free essential travel apps is focused on apps which allows you to check and book airfare tickets.
SkyScanner is a straightforward app that allows you to search for flights. It is similar to a search engine for airline tickets because it collects data from several different airlines. Search results can be filtered according to price, airport layover time and air lines among others. It has a practical feature that you can select any airport from a specific city and as an outward destination you can type ‘Everywhere’ and the app will show you results of the cheapest locations available at the period of time specified.
Momondo is similar to SkyScanner and great for cross-referencing airfares. It has similar features to SkyScanner such as selecting any airport from a specific city other than searching for a particular airport and has also the possibility to check the prices during a whole month. One can book flights directly from these apps.
XE Currency Converter is another free essential travel app which we use daily especially at the moment in Vietnam where everything costs thousands of Vietnamese Dong. This user friendly app converts all currencies with real-time exchange market prices. One can save several currencies as it is easy to add or remove currencies from your list.
Polarsteps grew to be my favorite travel app. If you want to keep track of the places you visited, then this is the perfect app for you. It tracks all the places you visited (I dare to say in real-time) and keeps track of all your movements. You have to keep the app running in the background of your device but it is totally battery friendly. One can also add pictures and write in a personal note in the steps you saved. Polarsteps is quite interactive and is also accessible by web from your laptop or desktop computer. We’ve been using this app since the beginning of our journey and this is what it looks like now.
I cannot simply compile a list of essential free travel apps without mentioning TripAdvisor. TripAdvisor gives you the best restaurants, things to do, places to visit and accommodation in your current area or in any specified area. It has tons of user reviews in all the sections. One cool feature that has been added lately to this app is the possibility to download and access a city information offline. For example if you are visiting a city such as Istanbul, you can download all the information TripAdvisor has about Istanbul from the app itself, being restaurant reviews, hotel reviews or places to visit, and this data can be accessed offline.
Google calendar is the flagship for organizing your day to day appointments, bookings, and so on. I prefer this Calendar over any other trip/booking organizer app because you are not restricted to travel bookings only. You can use it for anything you want. It usually comes pre-installed with your Android phone but this is not always the case. One can synchronize Google Calendar with several other calendars and can share calendars with other users as well. The layout is user friendly and can be modified from any of your devices and from the web.
Kayak is an all-rounder, easy to use free essential travel app. This app is used to check for accommodation, flights and even car rental. One can also create an account and login on the app in order to save and keep track of your searches and bookings.
Aldiko is my all time favorite electronic book (ebook) reader. I love the layout of how books are displayed on a shelf with their front-page visible to the user. Aldiko has an online shop built in the app itself for users to be able to purchase ebooks. One can also import ebooks from their device as well.
In conclusion, there are thousands of travel applications available and more are introduced daily. Most of them are really worth a shot and some are simply a waste of time. From our experience, free apps are enough to get by while on the road.
The list above includes the free essential travel apps we use most. Let us know if there are any other free essential travel apps you find interesting and use frequently.