The Best Free Travel Apps Every Traveler Needs

The travel app marketplace is oversaturated, and there are more and more gimmicky apps popping up by the day. No one wants a phone clogged with paid apps you’ve only used once to realize they were more flash than function. Save your money and device storage with these free apps you’ll actually put to use on the road.

Completely Free Travel Apps That You’ll Actually Use

Here’s a list of the top free travel apps that are worth the download for every type of traveler. I've personally used the following in every corner of the globe, and they've rightfully earned their place on my smartphone. While countless others have gotten deleted, these useful free apps remain. Many are mainstays - and there is a reason why. They consistently outperform the competition. Even as new applications try to take the throne, they still fall short of these must-have mobile apps. If you don't have these installed yet, you're missing out; they're guaranteed to improve your next trip.

XE Currency App

Never get ripped off with those marked up exchange rates again. With the XE App, you'll have access to live exchange rates and charts for every world currency. Even popular cryptocurrencies are now supported. This app is my go-to for calculating how much to take out of foreign ATMs and for pricing items when I’m fresh to a new country and haven’t worked out all the conversions yet. There is a reason this app has over 65 million worldwide downloads, its easy to use interface, precise rates, and ability to function offline without a connection make it a must-have for any traveler heading abroad.

Available for: iOS, Android, Blackberry, Windows, Firefox OS devices

Mobile Passport

After a brief setup, Mobile Passport Control App will zip you through U.S. Customs in just a few short minutes. This app is officially authorized by U.S. Customs and Border Protection essentially offers users the same benefits as Global Entry without the price tag. Currently available at 24 US airports, users of the MPC app can use a dedicated lane on arrival at immigration to skip to the front, avoiding long lines and waits. For instructions on how to setup Mobile Passport you can click here for a step-by-step guide on how to install this timesaving app. 

Available for: iOS, Android devices

Google Translate

Lost in Translation is just a movie if you use the Google Translate App. Lose the confusion with this one-stop translation hub. The app features 103 languages for text translation, 59, which can be used offline if you find yourself off-grid. Google Translate also can convert real-world image text with a tool called Word Lens using your smartphone's camera. Word Lens features AR technology or maybe magic to translate and overwrite text on the fly, perfect for translating food menus or signs. Using your smartphone’s speaker the app can also translate spoken conversation, and there is also a handy drawing feature for languages that write in characters or script. You'll never feel lost for words with this trusty travel app.

Available for: iOS, Android devices

TripAdvisor

With over 500 million reviews and opinions by travelers, the TripAdvisor App provides a bottomless well of travel knowledge and tips. From hotel deals, restaurant reviews, local attractions and activities to do, this App proves useful in almost any travel scenario. One of my favorite features is the ability to download city guides and maps ahead of time, so I can access information while offline or if I want to avoid using up my data allotment while on the road. With a few taps, you can compare area hotel prices from a massive list of booking sites, reserve a table at a nearby restaurant, or have a look at airfare deals if you need a last-minute flight. With updates every two weeks you can be guaranteed this powerhouse travel application is up to date and will run smoothly on your portable device.

Available for: iOS, Android devices

AccuWeather

You might be thinking, “My phone already comes with a weather app, why would I want to install another one?” That one can’t compete with the offerings of the powerful AccuWeather app. With its tagline of “superior accuracy,” the AccuWeather delivers minute-by-minute updates including localized live alerts to many destinations across the world. While in Tromso, Norway last year viewing the Northern Lights, the AccuWeather animated radar gave me the best info out of several weather apps on when the cloud cover would break to see the dancing aurora. With its 15 day forecast, you’ll know everything to pack for your upcoming vacation, and you’ll receive the most accurate read on the upcoming weather. I find the “Real Feel” feature, which shows you how the temperature actually feels outside to be extremely helpful when traveling to a destination that has desert heat, humidity, or winds that can ramp up the chill factor.

Available for: iOS, Android, Windows, Kindle devices

TripIt

For the traveler who needs everything buttoned up and organized, TripIt is the app for you. After booking flights, hotels, car rentals, etc., you can forward or let TripIt import your confirmations into the app and viola–an instant itinerary all in one place. The feature I think is the most useful is the ability to share itineraries easily with friends and contacts, making it easy to get in sync when making travel plans with others or arranging things like airport pickups. With all the information synced into one bespoke itinerary, you’ll eliminate the hassle of trying to search your Inbox for flight times and hotel addresses if in a rush. Once created, you can also access your itinerary offline to avoid roaming charges abroad. TripIt offers a Pro option for $49 per year that adds features like alerts on when to leave for the airport, but in my opinion, the free version does all the tricks that the average traveler needs.

Available for: iOS, Android devices

Google Maps

There is a lot of competition in the map application market, but Google Maps still reigns supreme. This nifty navigation and search app contains almost too many functions to highlight, so I’ll mention some of the most useful. A voice-guided, turn-by-turn, real-time navigation system will guide you during your travels, no matter if you are walking, driving, or taking public transportation, making it nearly impossible to find yourself lost in a new city. The app’s search function can pinpoint anything you desire nearby, whether it’s a museum, restaurant, or a specific address. After pin-pointing say, a café, Google Maps will give you a rundown of reviews, opening hours, and even a street view picture of the said café. The Google Maps app also offers downloadable offline maps, which will allow you to navigate and search your destination without a Wi-Fi or cellular connection. With its speed, functionality, and simplicity of use, the Google Maps app is the one I use most when not only traveling but also looking up directions to nearby destinations in my hometown.

Available for: iOS, Android devices

Booking

There's a slew of hotel booking apps out there, but none are as comprehensive and easy to use as the Booking app. This no-nonsense app allows users to book hotels or other accommodations on the go with just a few simple taps. With over 27 million listings you’re guaranteed to find a place that suits your needs. I’m a big fan of the app’s filtered searches. While on a road trip around Sardinia last year, I put the “free parking” filter on so I’d be guaranteed a place to park on arrival, which isn’t always a certainty at many Italian hotels. I also like that the app highlights properties that have free cancelation and ranks them on a scale of 1 to 10 based on detailed user reviews. The Booking app really shines for travelers who like to book things last minute or for when other accommodations fall through, and you're in need to book something on the fly.  

Available for: iOS, Android devices

Netflix

I was hesitant to list this app because it requires a monthly paid subscription, but technically, downloading the app is free as well as signing up for a free trial month. Almost everyone is familiar with Netflix by now, but not everyone is aware that a year and a half ago, the company started to allow video downloads via the Netflix app. You’re no longer stuck with the airline’s in-flight entertainment - if they even have any at all. Download all your favorites before depart, and you'll be able to breeze through your flight binge-watching as you would on a rainy Sunday night at home. You’re not limited to flying either. Watch your downloaded movies or shows during a layover, on a train, or just about anywhere else on the road. 

Available for: iOS, Android, Windows devices 

The Flight Tracker

My favorite flight app “FlightTrack Pro” got discontinued in 2017, and I’ve been looking for a suitable replacement since. The Flight Tracker is the closest resemblance to that app and is now my top choice for tracking and following upcoming flight information. Input your flight info, and you’ll get detailed gate information (including changes), alerts for flight delays, baggage claim info, and even schedule flight reminders so you’ll know when to leave for the airport. To streamline your travel even further, you can link Flight Tracker with the previously mentioned TripIt app, and all your flight info will sync up smoothly. The Flight Tracker app displays detailed maps, flight durations, and allows you to track any flight in the world, so you can keep tabs on real-time flight arrivals so you won’t have to circle the airport parking lot anymore if you are picking up a friend or relative. My only qualm with this fantastic flight-tracking tool is that it relies on ad support and they can annoy at first, but after a short time you'll glance over them. If they’re too bothersome, you can upgrade for a fee to remove them.

Available for: iOS, Android devices 

Which apps do you use when you travel? Leave your comments or suggestions below on any other must-have travel apps.

Editor's Note: Airfarewatchdog.com is a member of the TripAdvisor Media Network

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