Traveling can be a stressful experience, even if you fly often. Indeed, packing your suitcase, printing your boarding pass, checking your flight status, finding your way to the right gate and hailing a cab is a hassle and can quickly lead to hectic situations. We’ve all forgotten our suitcase back at home, or even sent our passport with our checked bags, but all these will just be bad memories thanks to our selections of apps for travellers.
Whether you fly often or are traveling for the first time, you’ll be able to book a trip from A to Z, check-in and track your flight directly from your phone. You’ll still be at ease after your land, as we’ve also looked at apps to help you find your way at your destination, and communicate with locals without much effort.
Booking Your Trip
Making Your Reservation
The first step you’ll need to take before you can travel is to book your trip. The below applications let you do just that, directly from your phone or tablet.
Kayak is one of the most popular travel applications. You can search and compare flights, hotels and car rentals from within the app and see which provider is cheaper. The app redirects you to the retailer so you can book your trip from within Kayak. If you’re traveling on a budget, you can even set price alerts to be notified when the fare changes.
In addition, the application has great extra features, such as an airline directory, information on major North American airline fees and airports and a built-in currency converter. Lastly, Kayak has preset packing lists, so you’re sure to have everything with you when you travel.
Similar to Kayak in terms of the booking approach, Hipmunk offers an even smarter booking experience thanks to its intelligent filtering. While the app doesn’t allow for car rental reservations, it’s great when it comes to booking hotels and flights.
Not only will the application allow you to compare flights and hotels at a glance, it will automatically filter flights by “agony” ratings, meaning it’ll take flight duration and layovers into account, in addition to the price. When it comes to hotels, the application displays the results on a plotted map, so you can easily book accommodations close to points of interests. Lastly, Hipmunk will pull the hotel’s rating from TripAdvisor and show it next to each hotel, making it easier to review independent ratings.
Skyscanner is particularly useful if you’re traveling on a budget or have run out of ideas for your next travel destination. One of this app’s most interesting features lets you pick a departure city and get pricing estimates for a bunch of countries. This way, you can select your next destination based on the most interesting price. However, in case you really want to visit Machu Picchu, there’s little chance you’ll change your destination. You may, however, alter your travel dates to benefit from a cheaper price. Skyscanner lets you do just that, as you can display graphs with the most interesting prices over several days.
I would personally recommend Skyscanner if your travel dates are flexible and/or you’re unsure about where you want to go, otherwise Hipmunk and Kayak may be more user friendly.
Booking a hotel room or a flight on your phone needs to be a convenient and eye-candy experience. This is exactly what the Expedia application offers, and also the reason why Google featured it as part of its beautifully designed Android apps page. In terms of features, Expedia displays hotels and even flights on a map and easily allows you to compare flights thanks to a very visual representation of flight times, segments and layovers.
After you book, the application will retrieve all your Expedia reservations and display them in a gorgeous way, with a cover picture for each city and even a car for rental reservations. The only reason why we didn’t feature this app as our number one choice for reservations is exclusivity to Expedia, as the application won’t compare prices from other travel agents. Nevertheless, given Expedia’s popularity, customer service and low prices, you’re highly unlikely to be disappointed if you book through this app.
Airbnb is a famous online community website that lets you list or book accommodations online. Why spend a lot of money for hotel rooms when you can rent great apartments in city centers because the owner is on vacation that week?
With Airbnb you can search for places available, browse featured listings and check their reviews from other users and access host information. All properties can be plotted on a map, like most hotel booking applications, and sorted by price, size and type — shared room, private room or entire apartment/house. The application’s interface is also particularly appealing, making it easy and pleasant to book affordable accommodation for your next trip.
Perfecting Your Booking
Now that you’ve booked your trip, let’s review how you can get the most out of your reservation, thanks to reviews and tips from other travellers and trusted advisors.
SeatGuru is the world’s most popular site when it comes to seat maps and reviews. Thanks to this app, you can review your seat map and select the most comfortable seat based on reviews and tips. Simply enter your flight number or browse your airline’s aircraft type and go back to your airline’s reservation system to select the best seats.
While SeatGuru shows relevant information on your aircraft, such as personal entertainment, power port and WiFi availability, be careful when you enter your flight number, as some airlines fly different configurations of the same aircraft. The best way to check this is by matching the seat numbers with the airline’s reservation seat map. Unfortunately, SeatGuru only shows seat reviews and generic information, without actually displaying seat availability or letting users pick a seat directly from within the app. This means you’ll either have to go to your airline’s site or call them to request the seat assignment.
A 12 hour flight in economy is anything but comfortable, and picking a slightly better seat may make your flight feel a little less painful. However, most airlines won’t release all seats before check-in time, and many will rush to pick a good seat, which means you better select the right one before them. As the perfect seat may not be available, Seat Alerts is a great way of getting notified when a seat that matches your criteria is freed up — in case the airline unblocks some, or another passenger surrenders a seat assignment.
The app also integrates with SeatGuru and provides advice before you select a seat. My favorite feature is Seat Alerts’ ability to show which seats are actually occupied and which ones are just blocked by the airline — in most cases airlines show blocked seats are occupied before checkin.
Price: Free — the first alert is complimentary, but additional ones or specific ones are charged $0.99 each
Requires: Android 2.2 or above
Google Play Link: Seat Alerts by ExpertFlyer
Gogobot is an excellent source of recommendations and user reviews for more than 60,000 destinations around the world. Thanks to this application, it’s very easy to plan your trip and book the right place as the community is very active and posts useful comments. Gogobot also lets you book form within the app, but I truly admire they social layer, as the application makes it extremely easy to post pictures and reviews straight from your phone or tablet.
TripAdvisor is one of the best ways of finding great tourist attractions or places to have dinner in a city, but it’s also an excellent way of gathering information on your hotel thanks to feedback from previous guests. This way, you can read some of the tips and request a nice room or cancel your reservation!
Saving and Checking Your Trip Details
Gathering travel documents before a trip is a pain and retrieving them once you reach your destination is even worse. Our selections of applications will help you be more organized with less efforts when it comes to keeping all reservation numbers in one place.
TripIt is definitely the most useful app for messy travellers! With this app, we don’t even talk about ease of use, as everything is fully automated: when setting up TripIt, you will have to give the service access to your email — preferably GMail. After that, the application will automatically pull the trip details from your email and save them in your account. Everything from your flight and your hotel, including your car rental, will be handy within the app and automatically updated from your email account.
Tripit doesn’t stop there, as it can save maps and directions, meetings and activities in the application. Naturally, all your frequent flyer numbers and confirmation numbers are saved as well and updated directly.
CheckMyTrip is a fairly simple yet useful application. While the application doesn’t have TripIt’s automation, the two apps are complementary. Indeed, as CheckMyTrip is Amadeus’ — one of the world’s leading Global Distribution Systems — official application, it can recognize a wide range of confirmation numbers and provide you with detailed information on your reservation, which may not appear on your confirmation email.
This app is also a great way of making sure your mileage account number, travel and seating preferences have been recorded, as some travel agencies don’t always communicate them to the airlines.
There are many application to track flights, including the popular FlightRadar24 app, but most of them are fairly complicated and can only be understood by aviation enthusiasts. FlightTrack is great, as the app is extremely simple to use and shows flight details for the routes you want and plots them on a map. Delays and schedules are taken into account and displayed in real time, making it easy to see if a flight will be on time.
There are times when you want to check if someone’s flight has landed — it can be useful if you’re picking that person up! — but don’t know their flight number. Thanks to FlightBoard, you can use your phone to display a virtual terminal board on your phone and check all departures or arrivals. You can filter the flights that are displayed, check their status, the gates and even share the information on social media.
SafeWallet isn’t really a travel application, but I recommend you give it a try if you fly often. It’s a convenient way of saving your sensitive data, such as your passport, credit card and frequent flyer details. These can be useful in case something unexpected happens, such as the loss of your wallet or identification documents. Even if your phone gets stolen, your data will remain available on the cloud, thanks to the app’s seamless synchronization feature.
Traveling With Peace Of Mind
Electronic Boarding Pass
I’m actually writing this article from an airport lounge and I can only insist on how much checking in online or on your phone can save you time at the airport. If you don’t have bags to check, most airlines will direct you to the gate without the need to go through any counter. Even if you have bags to drop, all major airlines have dedicated counters at the airport for people who have already checked in, even if they’re flying in economy, so next time you’re taking a flight, make sure to checkin online, you’ll save a lot of time and get to pick a nicer seat!
AA’s app is one of the best ones on Android: the app is sharply designed and full of features. In addition to checking reservations, booking flights and checking in, the application is very well integrated with your frequent flyer account. Indeed, all screens show your mileage status and a detailed screen makes it very visual to see how many miles, points or flights away you are from your next frequent flyer status. Lastly, in case you’re bored at the gate, you can use the app to play Sudoku while you wait for boarding to begin!
Fly Delta is one of my favorite airline apps, thanks to its ease of use and features. It’s very similar to AA’s, but also lets you track your bags in real time straight from your phone, which is a feature I truly appreciate when flying with them. Checking in is a breeze and the flight details even indicate if your flight has power outlets and WiFi, a great piece of information to have before boarding. Lastly, tracking flights is very nicely designed, as the app shows the flight’s progression on a map and gives you details on its altitude and timing.
Most airlines, such as Air France, British Airways, Lufthansa, KLM, United Airlines, Singapore Airlines and many others offer their own application for you to check in using your phone. Check the Google Play Store to find your airline’s application. Also, note that many airlines operate flights on codeshare agreements. This means that another airline’s application may be able to recognize your booking and generate a mobile boarding pass — try it out before your flight!
Airport apps and guides
There are airports where finding the gate is an adventure, an exercise in frustration and may lead to a missed flight. Thanks to GateGuru, you can easily access airport maps, security wait times, tips and tricks on specific gates and ongoing deals at the airport. But unlike some applications, this one doesn’t feature any localization feature in order to allow for easier navigation.
This application is a 2-in-1 app, as it features both virtual terminal boards to track departures and arrivals as well as terminal maps. It’s very easy to find restaurants, transportation, car rentals and parking lots thanks to this app.
Major cities, such as Paris Charles de Gaulle, London Heathrow and Frakfurt also have their dedicated applications for their airports, which often offer directions to the lounges, shops and gates. Check them out for better information and tips.
Transportation to your accommodation
The only thing you’ll want to do after a long flight is get to your place as soon as possible, and queuing for a cab is definitely not the way to go. The below applications are great for ordering a cab as soon as you land, this way your cab will be waiting for you after you claim your luggage.
Uber is my personal favorite when it comes to getting a driver. The service is somehow different from a cab — even though you can book a regular cab through the app, as the Uber is a personal driver service that works like a cab. Simply request a pickup form your phone, and the app will automatically locate you and send the closest driver to pick you up.
The best part is that the service is international and works without you having to pay the driver: it directly charges the amount to your pre-registered credit card. Check out our full review of Uber here, and don’t forget to use our promo code UberAppStorm when you sign up to get €/$ 10 off your first ride.
GetTaxi is a great way of hailing a cab and is extremely similar to Uber. The main difference is that you hail regular cabs — you get black cars in NYC — and can use the app in various countries. You can even call or text your driver, see its plate and pay using your credit card directly from your phone!
There are plenty of taxi hailing apps on the Play Store. You can have a look at Hailo, Taxibeat and Easy Taxi for multicity apps, or search for apps specific to the country or city you’re traveling to.
Touring Like a Local
Travel Guides, Restaurant Recommendations
Yelp is one of the most useful applications when it comes to finding hotels and restaurants. The application will provide recommendations based on other users’ ratings and opinions, which comes in handy when visiting places for the first time.
Having a good night in a foreign city is hard to plan, but thanks to Zagat, you can easily find the best bars, clubs and restaurants in town. The main difference with Yelp is that Zagat selects the venues based on their experts’ recommendations, even though it does include user ratings as well. The app even has built-in filters and can display the menu of the place you’re going to, but its limitation to a few major US cities may be an issue if you’re traveling somewhere else.
OpenTable is one of the easiest ways to book a restaurant table in most North American cities. Simply browse the available tables based on your party size, date and search criteria — location, cuisine and price — and instantly place your reservation straight from your phone. You can even earn Dining Rewards points through your reservations, and later redeem them at another restaurant.
With City Guides Catalog, you can download and carry city guides in your pocket and access restaurant, attraction and hotel recommendations offline. The app’s most interesting features are the Self Guided tours, which allow you to roam predefined itineraries using your GPS, as well as Nearby Station, which points you to the closest transit station based on your location.
Google’s Maps application has always been my lifesaver, whether I need directions in my hometown or on the other side of the planet. Not only is the application user friendly and full of information, you can download map data offline so you can still find your way abroad even if you don’t want to pay these expensive roaming charges.
Google’s official translation app is my favorite one on Android. Not only can you translate text between more than 70 languages, you can listen to translations out loud and download translation data to use the app offline. In addition, the application can recognize handwritten text and even text from a picture. Lastly, the app’s conversation mode allows you to naturally speak to your phone, have it translate your speech and do the same for the other speaker.
Online Translator takes translation to a new level: instead of simply translating words, the application is able to recognize the domain and topics you’re using in order to provide the most accurate translation. The app even has grammar dictionaries as well as phonetic and audio pronunciations. Lastly, Online Translator is also a great option for travellers, as the app can optimize data traffic and download the phrasebooks for offline use.
iTranslate is similar to Online Translator in a sense that it provides meanings when translating, so you’re sure about the words you’re using. The app can also save and share your translation, so you can refer to them later on. Lastly, iTranslate supports a wide range of languages, which is definitely an added value compared to other applications.
When you travel, you may want to learn a few cliché expressions instead of having to translate everything. SpeakEasy is a good way of learning these expressions, as the application will read them out loud for you, which will avoid any mispronunciation. What I particularly like about this app is that in addition to browsing the various categories to find the right phrase, you can run a quick search for the sentence or topic you’re looking for.
Of course, the entire content is downloaded directly on your device, so you don’t have to bear connection fees abroad. I’ve picked the French version here, but there are many other languages available, as well as paid versions with even more content and options. Check them out on the Play Store.
This phrasebook is very similar to the previous one, but has more phrases bundled. In addition, I find the user interface to be easier to use than SpeakEasy, but I recommend you give both apps a try and pick the one you prefer. Codegent also has more languages available than SpeakEasy, so it’d be wise checking their offering on the Play Store.
aCurrency is a rather complete app to check currency fluctuation. I particularly appreciate this application’s widget, which shows the latest conversion rate for the currencies you define, along with a graph that encompasses the recent evolution of the exchange rate. In short, this application is your best pick to check the foreign exchange rates at a glance.
Currency is originally an iOS app that was later ported to Android. This application is particularly simple to use and lets you easily convert one amount into several currencies without any complication. The main drawback I see with Currency is the absence of a widget, which forces you to actually open the app to check out the latest rates.
XE Currency is a particularly complete application when it comes to foreign exchange. The application’s user interface makes it particularly easy to read currency rates, and the application’s built in options, such as the calculator, evolution charts and comparative grid of 10 currencies make XE Currency the perfect application for world-class travelers and traders.
Clothing Size and More
Going shopping is a tourist’s favorite activity, but buying clothes abroad can easily become a nightmare, as clothe sizes aren’t the same across the planet. Thanks to Clothing Size Conversion, you can easily convert virtually any clothing size straight from your phone or tablet. The app is particularly convenient, but its layout is very old school and definitely needs to be revamped. If you can cope with this, then this application should still do the trick when you travel.
ConvertPad is a very complete application that can convert almost anything. The app even has advanced features, such as a built-in calculator, country-specific units and user-defined units. Nonetheless, the application’s nerdy and 1990-ish look and feel makes it extremely unappealing, but I advise you keep the app handy in case you need to convert an unusual unit.
If you’re looking for a simple yet powerful converter, KLM’s converter application is exactly what you need. The app can convert distances, areas, volumes, weight, liquids, temperatures, speeds and various clothes and shoe sizes.
With the above applications, you’ll feel more at ease than the locals at your destinations and your friends and family will definitely appreciate your ability to pick nice places to visit and dine.
It’s true that Google Now can now replace some of the above applications, such as TripIt, conversion and translation applications, and I’ve personally been relying on Google Now to get the latest flight updates. Nevertheless, the latter usually requires an Internet connection, which can be costly when roaming in foreign countries.