As much as we love to travel, it can be a stressful experience if you haven’t properly prepared. From choosing the perfect destination, hotel and airline before you go to interacting with locals, finding your way around and knowing what to visit when you get there.
There is no shortage of travel apps out there – many of which aren’t worth your time. However, to help make the travel planning process easier, I have hand-picked a selection of the best free travel apps to help make your complete travel journey a seamless and stress-free experience.
The best free travel planning apps
Planning a trip can be stressful. There are so many decisions to make. What should you go see? Where should you stay? Where should you eat? How long should you spend in each place? What should you pack? Who should you fly with? With all these decisions to make, preparing for your travels can become a mammoth task.
There are plenty of amazing travel planning apps out there that will make organising your trip so much simpler. Here are a few of the best free travel planning apps of 2021.
For me, Google Travel is the best all-round travel planning app. It’s very easy to set up – all you have to do is sign in with your Google account and the app will automatically update with all of your past travel data, including flights, hotel bookings and other travel activity. Everything you have ever booked through your Gmail account is now synced up with the Google Travel app so that you can easily view and organise your itinerary.
Google Travel also gives you the ability to download sections of Google Maps so that you can find your way around even without an internet connection. You can even view emails, itineraries, reservations and much more when offline using the Google Travel app. You can also use the app to easily find recommendations of the best things to do, the best restaurants to eat at and the best hotels to stay in.
PackPoint is the best app for choosing what to pack for your trip. With so many weight limitations and specifics on bag sizes these days, it is super important to pack smart. It is crucial that you make enough room for all the essentials you might need.
The PackPoint app works by using information about your trip to build you a personalised packing list. You simply start by entering information such as your travel destination, departure date, the length of your stay and more. PackPoint then takes all of this data into account when recommending what you should take with you. One thing I particularly love about this trip planning app is the number of factors that it takes into account when recommending what to take. It even considers what the weather will be like while you’re there and whether you will have access to laundry facilities.
Once the app has generated your personalised packing list, you can tweak it to suit your needs. Then, you can follow the list, ticking off the items as you pack your bag. This ensures that you don’t forget anything essential and allows you to relax knowing you have everything you need.
The Best Free Accommodation Apps:
Deciding on the accommodation for your trip can be one of the most difficult choices. Accommodation can make or break a holiday so it is important to get it right. With so many different accommodation options out there, choosing where to stay can be overwhelming.
Helping you make these difficult decisions, there are plenty of accommodation apps available. Here are a few of the best free accommodation apps of 2021 that I would recommend.
Airbnb is a classic travel app – and for good reason. Airbnb is the best app for finding the most unique accommodations all over the world. Perhaps you’re bored of staying in the same hotels and fancy something a bit different? If so, the Airbnb app should be your go-to.
Incredibly easy to use, simply search for where you want to go and use the filter settings to whittle down the options until you have your perfect place to stay. It is perfect for finding local hosts and booking all types of accommodation from entire houses and apartments to single rooms and even couches.
The Booking.com app is the best for finding the best hotels. It’s so good that you can be confident finding the right hotel just using this app and without having to scour through numerous other hotel sites. It also consistently finds the best prices so that you don’t have to go comparing the same hotels on 10 different sites.
Once you have made your hotel bookings, the app features a handy section where all your upcoming reservations are stored. This makes this app not only great for choosing where to stay but also for managing where you’re staying after you’ve booked.
I’m a true believer in the hostel. Having always travelled on a budget, I am familiar with the prospect of sleeping in a bunk bed and sharing a room with eight strangers. However, while hostels get a bad rep and are often considered by many to be an absolute no-go, hostels can provide rooms that are as nice as hotels at a fraction of the price.
Whether you’re looking for a low-cost room for two or a single bed in a dorm, the HostelWorld app is the best app to find it. Making it easy to find all the best hostel accommodation around the globe and allowing you to easily manage your bookings, HostelWorld is a must-have app for any budget traveller.
CouchSurfing is the best accommodation app for solo travellers. For those travellers who are extra frugal, the CouchSurfing app is the ideal way to find the cheapest accommodation and meet some new people on your journey.
The app even features a ‘Hangouts’ section which allows you to easily chat to and meet fellow travellers.
The Best Free Flight Apps:
Whether you are looking for a cheap flight with a budget airline or you want to fly first-class with a luxury airline, there are plenty of free flight booking apps to choose from.
Here are my top picks for free flight apps in 2021.
Skyscanner is my go-to app for booking flights. It’s my first point of call for online flight booking because it searches a huge database of airlines so that it can provide you with the lowest prices.
It has everything you would expect from a flight booking app and more. The Skyscanner app is also great for when things go a bit wrong. It is good to always be prepared when travelling and if you need to book a last-minute flight then Skyscanner is the app to go to.
We all know how much waiting around in airports sucks. If long layovers, rubbish connections, expensive wifi and terrible food sounds all too familiar, then LoungeBuddy is a must-have app for you. When such circumstances occur, the only place of respite is an airport lounge – but without a business-class ticket or membership, you have no chance.
The LoungeBuddy app solves all these problems. Simply enter your credit card details, airline status and lounge memberships and the app will tell you which lounges you can access in any given airport. And, even if you don’t have any of those things, the app will still inform you of any free lounges or of those that you can purchase a day pass for.
The Best Free Translation/Language Apps:
There is nothing worse than travelling abroad and not being able to understand or be understood. While we Brits often take it for granted that most countries speak good English, it is always best to be prepared just in case.
Here are the best translation and language apps for ensuring you can interact with locals when travelling.
Google Translate is the best app for translating while travelling in non-English speaking countries. You can easily translate words from and to any language in the world. It has everything you could need from a translation app.
It is also great for translating speech in real-time. This is an amazing feature for when you’re having a conversation and don’t have the time to type in every word. Another feature allows you to take a picture of some text and the app will automatically translate it for you. This is great for signs, menus, and any other form of foreign text that you need translating.
Any time I visit a new country, I Iike to learn the basics of the language. There is no way you could learn the whole language of every country you go to but learning the basics makes getting around much easier and allows you to make an effort with locals.
Duolingo is the best language app to learn the basics before you set off on your trip. Even if you only have a few hours to spare, you can easily learn the basics of most spoken languages. With fun tasks and games to make learning a language more enjoyable, the Duolingo app is great for any beginner language learners.
The Best Free Map Apps:
Long gone are the days of carrying around flimsy paper maps, trying to determine where you are based on prominent landmarks. Nowadays, you can carry your map on your smartphone and see exactly where you are with complete ease and accuracy.
Here are the best map apps of 2021.
1. Google Maps
The Google Maps app is an essential for any traveller. You can use this map app to locate exactly where you are and get directions to and from any destination anywhere in the world.
A great feature of the Google Maps app that I particularly like is that you can download any map so that you can use it without an internet connection. This feature is so useful because you can use it no matter where you are and in any situation.
Another great feature of this map app is that you can create lists of different places that you want to go on your trip. All travellers love to research the best places to eat, drink and visit. With Google Maps, once you have determined all the places you want to go to, you can neatly put them in a convenient list so that you can look and find highly-rated restaurants, bars and landmarks.
What makes the Google Maps app even better is that it has a feature that can help keep you safe no matter where you are. The location-sharing feature is great for when you’re travelling with someone else. This feature allows you to see where your travel partner is so that you can easily track them down and ensure neither of you gets lost.
The Roadtrippers app is the must-have app for anyone planning a road trip. This map app allows you to discover the best routes and locations anywhere around the world.
It is very simple to use. All you need to do is select a start and endpoint for your trip and let the app do the rest. Once you have entered this information, the app will provide you with numerous destinations along the way that you shouldn’t miss. Then, you select the places you want to go and see and the app will automatically customise your road trip, creating a definitive route for you to follow.
The Best Free Food Finding Apps:
A big part of travelling is trying the local cuisine and eating some good grub, but finding the best places to eat can be tricky. However, with the many food-finding apps available, you will be spoilt for choice.
Here are the best apps in 2021 for finding the best food places.
When you first touch down in a new city, the sheer volume of eatery choices can be overwhelming. Adding to that pressure is the time constraints of your stay. If you’re only staying in a city for a couple of days, you want to make sure that you visit the must-eat places.
You can use the TripAdvisor app to generate a huge list of all the restaurants near you. You can then filter this list to show the highest-rated restaurants and sort by distance. If you fancy a particular cuisine, you can even sort the results by restaurant type – you can choose everything from casual eats or fine-dining restaurants to Italian or Asian cuisine.
The Zomato app is very similar to trip advisor, but I particularly like the way it scores different eateries. With a robust review system built into the app, it consistently displays the best restaurants.
While Zomato and TripAdvisor work much the same way, different cities seem to have a preference for each so it is a good idea to have both if you really want to find the best places to eat while travelling.
The Best Free Finance Apps:
A huge part of any trip away is budgeting. Being sensible with your funds is vital for successful travelling and there are a number of excellent apps that can help you manage your money.
Here are my favourite free apps for managing your travel funds in 2021.
Understanding and dealing with different currencies when travelling can be really difficult. Introducing the XE Currency Exchange app to solve all your problems. XE Currency Exchange is an app that calculates the cost of things in different countries relative to your home country.
This app is great for making quick calculations when out and about. It lets you easily calculate how pricey things are in different currencies so that you don’t go blindly spending.
Go take a look at the best tiny travel gadgets of 2021.