Travel apps are essential if I want to feel organized when traveling. Although I wince at how immersed in phone culture we’ve become, the one time I can’t live without my iPhone is when I’m traveling. In my opinion, my smartphone is key to keep everything related to my trip in one place. Of course cell service or a wifi connection is a must, but it’s rare not to have access to one or the other long enough to check your details.
Here are the 7 FREE travel apps that make my travel life easier to manage:
I know there are many more to choose from but I’m sharing ones I can personally give a thumbs up.
Tripit is an easy to use trip planner to store all your travel details in a chronological itinerary. It’s super helpful when your trip includes planes, trains, hotels and car rentals.
Download the app and sign up using the same email your booking confirmations are sent to. You simply forward those confirmation emails to Tripit and it collates them into chronological order. Magically it extracts all email details to give you a snapshot of each reservation. It even tells you which gate your flight is leaving from and updates you if a flight is delayed. We booked a day excursion out of Edinburgh on TripAdvisor and Tripit added it to our itinerary.
Give your trip a name (ex England, France and Scotland Fall 2016) and Tripit will do the rest when you forward your confirmation emails to Tripit (firstname.lastname@example.org).
You can also manually enter or edit any details. For example if you’re going on a tour and the confirmation email doesn’t include your day to day activities, add those manually.
I can’t tell you how helpful it is to know where you’re going each day. Being able to look at your entire trip at a glance is priceless.
Tripit – Free
TripitPro – $49 a year
iOS | Android
Google Maps is an invaluable mapping resource to locate train stations, stores, hotels and get step by step or turn by turn GPS directions anywhere you need to go. Map your route by walking, driving or public transportation and get an idea of distance, routes and estimated timing. Google Maps isn’t foolproof but I use it as a backup to any printed directions or maps.
Google Maps – Free
iOS | Android
I use this app at home to get a good night’s sleep but it really comes in handy when I’m traveling. White Noise does just what it says. It gives you a library of sounds such as white noise, rain fall, ocean waves and even vacuum cleaner!
You can create your own custom mix. For example, I like a deeper sound so I mix brown noise with waves for my custom ambient sleep sound. Having your own personal sleep sound mix is invaluable to mask out random noises when you’re staying in a hotel or Airbnb.
White Noise – Free
iOS | Android
What’sApp allows you to call or message home for free – what more can I say? I use it to call the US when I’m in the UK and vice versa. When US cell plans charge .20 a minute for calls, What’sApp is a money saver and uber convenient. You can also text, send photos and videos. What’sApp is owned by Facebook, so it’s easy to add your Facebook contacts and start calling. Group your contacts together so you can message two or more at once, handy when you’re communicating with family.
What’sApp – Free
iOS | Android
My boyfriend was green with envy when I breezed through customs ahead of the line with Mobile Pass. This app is officially recognized by US Customs and Border Protection. After you download the app, simply take a selfie, fill in your passport details (you must have a US passport) and you’re ready to roll.
You activate the pass once you’re within 4 hours of landing at a US airport so wait until you’re getting ready to land. Mobile Pass works at 24 US airports and Port Everglades cruise port.
Once you complete the sequence of entry questions your app will create a QR code.
At DIA, there’s a separate line for Mobile Passport or Global Assist once you enter the customs area. Walk to that line and you’ll be directed to a customs official. Have the Mobile Pass app open (be sure to enable cellular data for the app) and you’ll be asked to scan the QR code on their desktop device. That’s it!
Mobile Passport – Free
iOS | Android
Although technically not an app, Apple Wallet is invaluable for quick and easy credit card payments on the go. It also stores your boarding passes and event tickets.
I started using Apple Wallet in England after I got tired of signing for every single purchase on my US credit/debit card.
If you’re traveling to Europe, your US credit cards will trigger an request for signature which can slow you down and have you digging for your wallet and a pen.
In Britain (and Europe), most credit card POS machines are contactless making Apple Wallet a clear choice. Simply add the credit card you want to use to Apple Wallet (if that card has no foreign transaction fees so much the better). Simply hold your phone up to the POS machine, or open Apple Wallet. Select which card you want to use if you have enabled more than one.
If you use touchprint recognition on your phone, lightly hold your phone and touch the home button with your thumb. Or key in your phone’s security code. The phone will beep “Done” once it accepts the card. Most transactions are limited to under $50. but each merchant and bank may have different limits.
Apple Wallet – Free
iOS | Android users, check out Android Pay
I’ve written about the Trainline app before. If you plan to travel by train in the UK, it’s an invaluable resource. Since train service has been deregulated, booking can get a little confusing. You’re dealing with multiple train networks throughout the United Kingdom and each one has its own website and rates.
Trainline is an aggregate site where you can book any overground train on any line in the UK. If your journey leads you through London as ours did from Brighton to Edinburgh, you will be responsible for booking any underground or tube from one train station to the other.
Trainline will allow you to book point to point, single or return at the lowest fare available. The app allows you to book and pay for the tickets; then pick them up at any station ticket machine. I store a CC in the app so I don’t have to key in details each time.
The app allows you to see details such as your trains’ journey tracker and when the next train is to your destination (handy when your train gets canceled!). Buy a ticket ahead of time and it stores them for future travel.
If you’re planning on any train travel within the UK I highly recommend Trainline. You can also book on their website if that’s more convenient.
Trainline – Free
iOS | Android
Now you know my go to travel apps slash phone magic for making travel a lot less stressful and paper free. The only sniggle is you need cell service, data or wifi connection to make it all work. Most trains, buses and public spaces have free wifi so take advantage, just don’t use public wifi for any sensitive transactions. Be sure to enable cellular data for any travel app you plan to use.
Let me know if you’ve found any travel apps you can’t live without!