9 of The Best Travel Apps 2018 – Tried and Tested

Travel Tips

Feb 26

The Best Travel Apps Tried and Tested on an iphone while travelling


Travel apps can simplify your life but they can also be gimmicky, clunky and clog up your phone. Here’s a tried and thoroughly tested list of the best travel apps out there.

The World Before Travel Apps

It’s hard to believe that when I started travelling, not only did we not have apps but we barely had mobile phones. Paper was the name of the game: books, maps and waiting to get paper tickets through the post.

Now, you can hold the entire philosophical works of mankind in the palm of your hand as long as you’ve a power supply and an internet connection.

A train timetable or two is useful as well.

I’m often asked what’s the one thing that I’d never travel without and these days the answer has to be my phone.

Why? Because it’s a sneaky way to take plenty of things with you, to organise your travels and to keep you vaguely sane through the inevitable lost luggage and delayed flights events.

Rigorously Tested List of Travel Apps

I’ve been keeping this list of best travel apps for years, and with the arrival of a new year it’s time to take a fresh look. Which apps still deserve their place on the list? And which have fallen from favour.

Ah, the intoxicating power rush of it all ;-)

But in all seriousness, here are the travel apps that I actually use, all the time. And that’s what makes them, in my mind, the best travel apps out there.

Hope you find this useful – and happy travels!

Anything I’ve missed? Pop it in the comments below…

The Best Travel Apps 2018 - Useful for all travellers, including those who travel for business, with families or on their own. Travel better with these handy tools.

7 of the Best Travel Apps

1) The Best Travel App for Organising Travel Documents: Evernote

Look at any list of the best travel apps and you’ll see plenty of pretty things that claim to organise your trip documents for you. However, though the software is good, I haven’t found one that’s quite there yet.

And there’s no point in having something that kind of organises most of your important travel documents. Probably.

It needs to be reliable: and that’s where I would recommend Evernote.

It May Not Be Pretty But It Is Useful

Unlike the others, it doesn’t claim to target travellers and it doesn’t even look that pretty.

What it does do is let you organise stuff. Easily.

I use Evernote for all sorts of different tasks.

Essentially, it consists of notebooks with notes that can be in photo, text or audio form.

Notebooks can be available offline and you can send information into Evernote by email, screenshot and photo while on the road.

Hotel reservations? Email straight to Evernote. Airline tickets > Evernote. Backup copy of passport, driving license and the state of the car you hired when you picked it up? Evernote, evernote, evernote.

Automatic Geolocation and Text Scanning

What’s more, it stores geolocation info as you add notes on the move.

So if you are in a city and see something you want to come back to, you can add an audio note there and then and it will store the point on the map for you. Or say you discover a bottle of wine you enjoy? Take a snapshot of the label and you can search the text in Evernote when you get home. Genius.

2) The Best Travel App for Finding Flights: Skyscanner

If the time I spent on Skyscanner converted into time spent at the gym, I’d be a contender for an Olympic medal by now.

Unlike so many other competitors, Skyscanner allows you to search for flights on a flexible basis.

Coming back a different way? No problem.

Want to know where you can fly from an airport? That’s easy. Want to change your dates or simply find the cheapest day to fly? Done, done and done.

The app then takes you to the airline’s website so you can book over there – and typically, you don’t need to enter the information again. Brilliant.

3) The Best Travel App for Last Minute Stays: Hotel Tonight

I use a broad smorgasbord of websites when it comes to looking for and booking hotel stays but when time is tight, Hotel Tonight is my go to every time.

It is so EASY to use and it let’s you search for hotels not just for tonight but also for the next few days.

Apparently half of all hotel bookings occur within the seven days before the stay, so I’m not (ahem) the only last minute merchant out there.

4) The Best Travel App Concierge: Fancy Hands

Again, I’ve tried and tested so many concierge or assistant apps but the non-travel focused Fancy Hands remains the clear winner.

You can submit tasks by email, text, or audio and one of a faceless team of assistants will deal with your query, 24 hours a day. Each task is allocated 20 minutes – if it takes them longer than that then they will ask if you want to use another task. They can make phone calls on your behalf and make purchases on your credit card (with agreement) to a value of up to 200 USD.

Perfect for trip research, reporting delays, finding alternative routes, buying tickets and searching for parking options while you drive around. The list is so long I should probably write another post about it.

5) The Best Travel App for Reading Articles Offline: Pocket

I’m at the stage when I can hardly remember how my life used to function before I found Pocket. Enter the URL of a web page into Pocket and it will store the article and pictures there for you so that you can read it offline. Perfect for loading up with travel articles and background reading for any train or plane journey en route to your destination.

6) The Best Travel App to Avoid Jetlag: Sleepstream

I’ve written about Sleepstream before, over here on How to Sleep on a Plane.

Essentially, sleep doesn’t come easily to me and I only wish I’d discovered this app back when I was a tired and harried junior doctor changing shifts every other day. Sleepstream plays a variety of soothing soundtracks to drown out the background noise of crying babies, outside roadworks, chattering passengers and so on. (Obviously, don’t use it to drown out the sound of your own crying baby.)

You can even put it on a timer to prevent all your battery juice draining away. A real sanity saver.

7) The Best Travel App for Spending Well: Xe Currency

Yes, we should all remember to look up the exchange rate in advance and we should all be able to perform simple sums in our heads. But…Well, we should all be able to cook our own food too and that doesn’t stop us from going out to restaurants…(In case that was too cryptic, Xe currency does all the currency brainwork for you.)

8) The Best Travel App for Reading All Those Books You Meant to Read: iBooks & Kindle

I alluded to this at the start, but really. I am still amazed by this. You can have almost any book in the world available to read on your phone. No heavy hardbacks, no time-consuming choice (this always used to slow me down in the bad old packing days.) No having to leave books behind in order to fit in souvenirs/accommodate the confusing law of physics that says that somehow-the-same-pile-of-stuff-will-never-fit-back-into-your-suitcase-the-way-it-did-when-you-first-packed-it-at-home.

9) The Best Travel App for Getting Around: Google Maps

I won’t win any awards for originality here but Google Maps remains the best in my mind. If you haven’t tried it for a while, it now offers you transport routes across cities too and in about 20 routes across London, it’s got it right every time. Just enter where you want to go, filter how you want to get there, and you’re off.

Just book after book at your fingertips, on your phone.

Travel Apps That Almost Made the List – Maybe Next Year?

The Best Travel App for Managing Business Expenses: Receipts by Wave

OK, so the only reason this didn’t make the list is because it’s only really useful for business travellers, not everyone. But it has changed my accounting life by syncing up to the (free) online tool which lets you create flexible reports when you get back home.

Snap a pic while on the road and you can remember what those cyrillic words on the receipt represent.

January and tax time becomes far less painful…

The Best Travel App for Getting Off the Beaten Track: Spotted by Locals

I love these guys and the work they do. Over 67 cities now have their own Spotted by Locals entry, an offline guide with unusual points of interest and places to eat and drink that skip the tourist crowds. I’ve used them in off the radar places like Sophia in Bulgaria as well as possibly the most visited place on earth: Rome.

So why don’t they make the top list? Just because of the 67 cities. Once you cover the world, guys, your’e in ;-)

The Best Travel App for a Daytime Snooze: Dayuse.com

This app claims to let you get up to 75% off hotel stays by only staying in the day. Useful in between flights and perhaps for napping children? I haven’t tested it yet, though, and that’s why it didn’t make the list.


So that’s it, that’s my list of the 9 best travel apps. And already I am thinking of more…But before I get to that, what do you think?

What do you think are the best travel apps out there?


** A few of these links earn this website money at no extra cost to you. It helps me to keep the show on the road so thank you for your support! As ever, as always, I only include things I think you’ll genuinely find useful. Otherwise, there’s just no point.


About the Author

Hi, I'm Abi, a doctor turned writer who's worked with Lonely Planet, the BBC, UNESCO and more. Let's travel more and think more. Find out more.

  • manonthelam says:

    I’m a big fan of ColorNote for making lists and notes, and TrailWallet for keeping track of expenses.

  • Dan26 says:

    My favorite has to be whatsAPP too as I find it so reliable of keeping in touch with people

  • Ellen Smithfield says:

    One of my favs has to be Simply Declare. I hate scrambling to figure out what I have to declare to the border when we are returning home from anywhere. It’s simple, and I liked the free version enough to upgrade to the paid. Plug in my allowable amount, and add my purchases on the go, no stress and it keeps me in real time exchange rates. I use it for currency exchange before I buy too, so I never get caught.

  • Pocket is a great one, and I’m also a big fan of whatsAPP to stay in touch with family and friends while abroad. Great list- thanks for sharing!

  • Don’t know about the apps but I really would like batteries with longer life to be able to really appreciate all the apps!

  • Very useful, thanks!

  • Theresa says:

    Oh, some new discoveries for me!

    My niece was just visiting me here in Rome, and she made a comment that we’d be lost without my phone. I’m not normally a fan of mapping things (I prefer paper maps and getting lost) but I will say that in a city this big, Google Maps makes it incredibly easy to figure out which way to go (and way less noticeable than a paper map — hugely important in a touristy area).

    I’ve also been using Kindle on this trip. I don’t think I’ll be a convert to ebooks in real life (I love real books too much) but it has made this trip possible — I’m on sabbatical and will have read probably 100+ books by the year’s end; I could never carry or find these books on the road).

    Another vote for WhatsApp. It’s the best.

  • Evernote is really helpful. You should also try Wunderlist, a German app. It’s pretty easy to handle.

    • Abi King says:

      Oh, that’s really interesting. I have Wunderlist on my phone and desktop but use it to manage work assignments and home lists (car insurance, Christmas present lists and the like) rather than for travel. How do you use it for travel? Perhaps it has introduced more features than when I first started using it…

  • I’m all about these apps as well. I use XE and Google Maps everyday, and they are both lifesavers!! I’m becoming a big fan of Trover as well for traveling, as I’ve discovered a few really cool hidden spots because of it. What’s App is also VITAL to my traveling.

    • Abi King says:

      Ooh, thanks for reminding me about Trover. I remember when it was launched but haven’t tried it again for a while. Will give it a go – cheers!

  • Danielle says:

    This is super helpful! I’m always looking for new travel apps, and I know they’re reliable when someone else has tried them out. I especially appreciate the Pocket suggestion. I’d never heard of it!

    My only addition would be maps.me for when I’m in a country and don’t have wifi all the time. It’s been a life saver because I’m terrible at directions!

  • Sarah says:

    I totally agree with skyscanner! The best flight app/site out there for sure. I would also add, in Europe at least, Hotels is really good.

    • Abi King says:

      Interesting. I’ve had mixed results with them but will merrily give them another go in case things have changed…

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