Our 5 favorite travel apps right now

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Some of you might remember the days of highlighting guidebooks, tucking your international calling card into your wallet, and trying to quickly learn all of the most important phrases of a language before leaving on a trip. These days, the most essential travel tool weighs less than six ounces and fits in your pocket. And while your iPhone or Android can easily hold more information than you could possibly carry in your daypack, it can also quickly become crowded with unhelpful apps if you’re not selective about what you add.

To help you out, we’ve put together a list of the best travel apps to save you both time and money on your next trip.  

Hotel Tonight

What it does

Hotel Tonight shows discounted hotel rates for last-minute bookings. You can search by location and date to find hotel rooms on the day of your booking, or look to see rates for future dates. The app will rate the hotels as basic, solid, hip, charming, or luxury, so you have an idea of what kind of hotel you’ll be staying in. 

The concept behind this app is pretty brilliant. Hotels often have unbooked rooms, so Hotel Tonight allows users to capitalize on this and receive significant discounts on stays. Long story short, the longer you wait to book a stay on Hotel Tonight, the cheaper the hotel rooms will be. 

Why it’s worth adding to your folder of travel apps

I discovered Hotel Tonight a few years ago and was stunned to see the discounts they offered for last-minute hotel reservations. This app is crucial for any and all travelers — for anyone who has been stuck at the airport, missed a flight, decided to book an impromptu weekend trip, Hotel Tonight is the first place you’ll want to check for last minute hotel deals. Even if you’re not planning a trip at the moment, keep an eye on discounted luxury hotel rates in your own city for a potential staycation. 

All Trails

What it does

All Trails’ goal is to provide the most extensive collection of trail maps to make it easier for people to get out and enjoy nature, regardless of where they are. With All Trails, you can search for trails in a specific area and save them as favorites, making yourr trip planning process faster and easier. You can pull up a trail map when you arrive, and you’re ready to go. 

Why it’s worth adding to your folder of travel apps

For those who love to explore trails and naturescapes, you know how much time it can take to research local hiking options when you’re in a new place. There are two huge benefits to keeping the All Trails app in your travel folder. The first is that you can easily search for trails near you wherever you are in the world. This is a huge time saver. The second is to use the app to track where you are on the trail when you are on the trail, preventing yourself from wandering off and potentially getting lost.

This app gives me a ton of confidence when I’m hiking on a new route. I worry less about losing track of where I am. 

Google Translate 

What it does

With the Google Translate app, you can translate text or images in up to 108 different languages when you’re online and 59 languages when you’re offline. So how does this work? It might seem like magic, but with Google Translate, you can actually point your camera at an image, like a menu, and watch the app translate the content.

There is also a text translation option that allows you to select a language to translate and then type in the text. And perhaps the most fascinating function of this app is the conversation translator, that can translate up to 70 different languages in real-time.  

Why it’s worth adding to your folder of travel apps

This is a fun party trick, not to mention an excellent way to make sure you’re ordering the avocado tacos and not the cow hooves stew (a mistake I’d prefer not ever to repeat). Listen, some folks are quick to pick up languages wherever they go. But for the rest of us, it’s nice to feel like we can still function and blend in a bit with the locals, regardless of where we are. 

LoungeBuddy 

What it does 

LoungeBuddy provides its users access to a network of airport lounges without the requirement of membership or airline elite status. With it, you can find all of the lounges at a particular airport and purchase a day pass to the lounge you’d like to visit.

Why it’s worth adding to your folder of travel apps

When you have a long layover or want to snag a decent meal between flights, it’s incredible to have access to an airport lounge. Some of these lounges are quite luxurious! And LoungeBuddy is a great resource to have in your pocket. But don’t forget, with the right credit card, your lounge visit could be free (wink wink).

Wanderu

What it does

For those traveling in North America and Europe, Wanderu is an app that allows you to quickly and easily book a bus or train ticket. Simply open the app and enter your starting location, your destination and your date of travel. You can also specify a one-way or roundtrip ticket. Wanderu will look for the best deals on tickets and present you with a variety of options. 

Why it’s worth adding to your folder of travel apps

Most travelers often scheduled their flights in advance, while booking ground trransportation is done more last minute. Having an easy option to book a bus or train ticket on the fly allows you that extra level of flexibility when you’re traveling. Want to switch up your plans and add another stop to your itinerary? Just open Wanderu and see when you can catch the next bus. What I love about this app is that it’s really straightforward and easy to use. It serves a purpose, and it serves it well. 

How travel apps can make your trips better

Remember that time that you got lost for 45 minutes when you were trying to find your hotel after a long night out in Paris? I sure do. Or that other time that you tried to order a small cappuccino in Mexico City based on a word you read in your guidebook and made the waiter blush before telling you what that word really meant? Yep. 

Of course, these mishaps are the stories that we love to laugh about after we return home from our travels. And there are always plenty. But there are two resources that we don’t like to waste while traveling, and those are time and money. Travel apps can improve your experience by saving you time, money and evn embarrassment.

Bottom line

In a world where we are increasingly dependent on our devices, it’s important to remember that a huge benefit of travel is that you’re forced to get off your couch and away from your screen. This is one reason why you need to be extra selective about the travel apps you download.

The goal here is to use your pocket technology to enhance your trip without feeling consumed by your phone. To accomplish this, stick with just a few essential apps that will help you stay connected to your surroundings and tuned in to the places that you are exploring. 

Featured image by Kaspars Grinvalds/Shutterstock.


Meghan Hunter is a contributor to Million Mile Secrets, she covers topics on points and miles, credit cards, airlines, hotels, and general travel.

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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