If you’re off on a big holiday, chances are you’ll take your smartphone. The computer you can carry anywhere is a window to a world of thousands of apps, and there’s a shedload that claim they will make your trip better. Few actually can, so we’ve gone to the trouble of finding the best travel apps out there.
Check out our guide on how to book a holiday online.
These are some of the best travel apps out there, and with a decent roaming package from your operator or a decent hotel Wi-Fi connection, these apps will help you plan your trip, find the best mojito in town or get you out of sticky travel situations.
Come June 2017, EU roaming charges will be abolished, and to celebrate we will all go on a Euro holiday and stream Game of Thrones on our smartphones before calling mum back home whilst sending a thousand Snapchats, but until then, make sure to watch your bill.
We’ve broken down the 15 best travel apps into sections, so click below to just straight to a particular one:
Best travel apps: Kayak
The Kayak app is a bit of an all-rounder when it comes to holiday planning. You'll be able to use it to find and book hotels, flights and cars, and also track flights and manage your trip agenda. There's also a price alerts feature that'll help you get the best deal on the holiday you're hoping to go on, as well as a packing list to ensure you don't forget anything.
It's got a really smart, intuitive interface too, so getting the information you need is quick and easy. For example, once you've chosen your city and holiday dates, Kayak's search engine will bring up a long list of available hotels, clearly showing a photo, the hotel's rating and the price it'll cost you for each hotel so you can skip right past the horrible or expensive ones.
One of the most popular apps to use while planning your holiday is TripAdvisor, the main benefit being the huge number of hotel reviews that have been written by holidaymakers themselves. You can make your decision about pretty much any hotel you're interested in based on the reviews left on TripAdvisor, which will tell you about everything from the food and the cleanliness of the rooms to the service and location.
Even if you don't book your hotel through TripAdvisor, it's well worth checking the reviews before you make your decision about where you want to stay.
TripAdvisor also lets you find and book flights.
Best travel apps: Booking.com
Another great app for booking hotels is Booking.com, especially if you're looking to book it last minute or if you're one of those brave people who waits until they arrive to book somewhere. There's a feature that helps you find available hotels nearby, and it works in more than 64,000 destinations around the world. Plus, as well as showing available hotels, Booking.com also includes villas and apartments.
Like TripAdvisor, Booking.com features reviews of each hotel from people who've been there, and you can use the app to go through the entire booking process.
Best travel apps: Expedia
For booking both hotels and flights, Expedia is a good app. It's nicely designed (though sometimes there's a little too much information to take in at once) and it offers some exclusive deals that might be right up your (holiday) street.
As with TripAdvisor and Booking.com, Expedia has reviews from real customers, and lets you book everything straight from the app.
Best travel apps: Hotels.com
Another hotel discovery and booking app is Hotels.com, which has recently had a rather nice redesign. Just like TripAdvisor, Booking.com and Expedia, Hotels.com helps you find good hotels in the area you're planning to travel to, and has helpful filters to weed out the hotels that won't work for you.
There's also a map feature for nearby hotels, which you can book straight from the app.
Really, which of these four similar apps you use is down to your personal preference. They're all free, so it's worth giving them a try until you find the one you like best.
Best travel apps: Triposo
Apps from developer Triposo can help you plan your visit to pretty much any country in the world. You can't use this app to book hotels or flights, but you can use it to help you find out what's nearby to your chosen destination, so you can plan the activities you'll get up to while you're there.
For example, if you're planning to travel to Italy, you can download Triposo's Italy Travel Guide (it's free) to find out what there is to do in the city you're going to, such as Rome, Florence or Venice. You'll find maps with highlighted attractions, restaurants, bars, supermarkets and photo opportunities, as well as information such as directions, reviews and contact details for restaurants, museums and more. These guides, handily, can also be viewed offline.
Other handy features include a phrasebook and currency converter.
There's also a Triposo app that encompasses the entire world, so if you've not yet made up your mind about where you're heading, this might be a better option for you.
Best travel apps: Skyscanner
This one is just for flights, but it sure helps if you're trying to find the best deal. It's free to download, though you will spot some ads unless you're willing to cough up the £1.49 in-app purchase to remove them.
Using Skyscanner, you can search flights from hundreds of airlines around the world to find the cheapest and best ones. Definitely worth a check before you book your flight.
Best travel apps: TripCase
This is a rather nice app for both planning your holiday and helping you out when you get there. You'd use it once you've already booked your accommodation and flights, as you can enter all of your trip details into TripCase to keep them all in one place and find out if anything has changed (if your flight has been delayed, for example).
In addition to hotel reservations, flights and other transport, you can also add details of trips you plan to make, attractions you've booked and restaurants you'd like to eat at. Sharing the itinerary with others who're coming on your trip with you, or even with those you're leaving behind at home, can come in useful to keep everyone in the loop.
Plus, there's a 10-day weather forecast including so you'll know what to pack and you can rearrange your plans to avoid the rain.
Best travel apps: CityMapper
Currently available in 31 cities worldwide, CityMapper is an excellent app for navigating public transport and walking directions. As long as you’re set up with a good roaming plan so you don’t get charged the earth, it’ll get you from A to B (or from the club to your bed) with excellent step by step instructions based on your current location. It’s a potential lifesaver in a foreign city.
Best travel apps: Google Maps
The king of map apps remains Google’s offering. We’ve found that day in, day out it offers the most reliable routes while remaining very intuitive and easy to use. A plethora of options, from bus-only routes to an optimised in-car GPS mode make this ridiculously good for a free app.
Perhaps one of its still best kept secrets is offline mode – if you’re abroad and haven’t got a data package, you can find where you’re going for the day on your hotel Wi-Fi and save that map for offline use. Google claims the biggest download size for an offline area is 120,000 square kilometres, so we think you’ll be fine for a day or two!
You lose GPS navigation, but carrying around a section of unfamiliar city in your pocket in traditional map form is incredibly handy.
Best travel apps: Untappd
An app for beer lovers the world over, Untappd lets you create your own profile and then discover the best beer in town. You can check in at various watering holes and post opinions on local tipples and talk to others who have been to the same places.
For travelling it’s great, as you can search for popular pubs or simply those closest to you, and hopefully get an idea of what’s on tap there. You can also search for individual beers to see where they are being served near to you – very handy in a city you’re new to.
Best travel apps: OpenTable
OpenTable is a great research and booking app for restaurants while you’re away in the United States, Canada, Mexico, England, Ireland, Germany, Australia and Japan. You can search by location, cuisine, price and more and book tables instantly – great in unfamiliar cities when most places are bound to have a user generated review too, meaning nights out when away just got a whole lot easier.
You can even send booking invitations to friends and add booking to your phone’s calendar, meaning OpenTable is one of the best integrated apps on offer.
Best travel apps: Google Translate
We love this app. It is as intuitive and versatile as you’d expect from a Google-made app and has some excellent features, from fun to downright practical.
You can set the written language and the language to translate into, which then displays on the screen after you type it in, and you can even make it full screen to read easier or show to a (likely unimpressed, but oh well) local.
Even more useful, particularly for menu reading, is the auto-translate option via your smartphone’s camera. Turn it on and hold your phone up to a foreign language sign, and the app translates each individual word for a quick and easy rough translation. Helpful if you don’t want to accidentally order the pig’s tongue.
Best travel apps: XE Currency
For the money conscious traveller (which really should be all of us) this is a standard meat and potatoes currency converter. It’s worth using instead of a pre-installed smartphone function as it is updated with live rates and has around 180 currencies listed, and it’ll help you check whether the rickety shed you’re getting your new currency from because you didn’t do it at the Post Office before you travelled is really ripping you off or not.
It also has a simple conversion calculator for when you cant resist the allure of a duty-free iPad. This will help you check if the saving is truly worth it.
Best travel apps: Eventbrite
The beauty of Eventbrite is it is location based and has a presence in many mahor world cities. Depending on your GPS location, it'll pick out popular events in your area or depending on your preset preferences. You can then see who is going via the linked Facebook event (if there is one), check Google Maps and buy tickets all within the Eventbrite app.
The app then stores your e-tickets, helps set calendar reminders and gives you travel directions. It's a great hub if you want to go to lots of ticketed events when abroad, and it'll serve you well when you get back home too.