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10 Best Travel Apps to Plan your Next Trip
September 23, 2021
Reading time: 9 minutes
Travel planning can be a challenge even under the best of circumstances. From packing your bags to making a budget to booking rooms, there’s so much to consider. Add travel restrictions and safety issues to the mix, and it gets even more complicated. Fortunately, there are some helpful apps for Android and iOS that can prevent those headaches even before they begin.
In this article, we’ll take a look at 10 of the best trip planner apps designed to help you plan and enjoy trips both abroad and domestic. Some are complete, soup-to-nuts trip planners while others are more focused on a single element of travel.
Whether you travel frequently for work or just need help organizing an upcoming vacation, these tools have got your back. Plus, most are free to download and use.
TripIt is a comprehensive travel planner app with a different approach compared to booking services. TripIt works entirely around your plans and makes it easy to input new destinations, appointments, and plans. You also don’t need to worry about integrating other apps, which means fewer hiccups at all stages of planning.
You don’t even have to manually enter stops on your trip. Simply forward your confirmation emails to TripIt, including car rentals and hotel bookings, and it’ll create a master itinerary. You can also manage your schedule directly.
You can upgrade by subscribing to TripIt Pro for $49 per year. The Pro version app adds more functionality, so you can snag better seats on your next flight or monitor changes to your airfare. There are even partner perks, like reduced prices on CLEAR membership (a biometric feature used to cut back on your wait time at security).
Skyscanner is a popular free trip planner with a large audience of millennial travelers. It also boasts a high rating from users on both Google Play and the App Store.
Skyscanner lets you compare hotel deals and then search for car rentals based on a variety of inputs, like vehicle and fuel type. Trying to stick to a budget? Use the Fair Fuel Policy indicator while you search to focus on rentals with the least expensive return fueling policies.
You can also narrow your search for flights in the same manner, entering preferred departure and arrival times, airline preference, and even the flight’s length. A built-in “greener choices” imprint also helps users target travel options with the lowest overall environmental impact. Plus, you don’t have to worry about booking fees or hidden costs using this app.
Airport lounges are a good way to rest and recover during extended travel, but it’s not always easy to tell where your options are located or what they offer. Priority Pass is designed to streamline access to airport lounges, allowing you to look up and enjoy amenities wherever you are – often at a discount.
What amenities do lounges typically offer? Privacy and a convenient place to wait, especially if you’re dealing with flight delays or want a good place to escape with friends and family. Solo travelers benefit, too, with access to food and drinks, plenty of electrical outlets, and high-speed internet.
There are 3 membership levels within Priority Pass:
Standard ($99 per year): Discounted access to airport lounges and amenities for you and a guest.
Standard Plus ($299 per year): Free access to airport lounges and amenities for your first 10 visits per year, with a discounted guest fee.
Prestige ($499 per year): Free access for you at all lounge locations, with discounted guest access.
Note: Not every airport has a participating lounge. Also, benefits may be more limited for domestic travelers, with the most popular destinations typically offering the most amenities.
If you’ve ever booked a trip through Airbnb, you’re already familiar with the service and their popular apps for iOS and Android. Airbnb connects users to their network of hosts, providing access to a variety of unique overnight accommodations. Simply enter a desired location, your travel dates, and the number of guests to get started.
Part of the appeal of Airbnb is its independent model, with a huge variety of properties across the world. According to the latest statistics, Airbnb is available in 220 countries and regions. From urban condos and lofts, to farmhouses and getaways near national parks, the options are almost limitless.
Not sure where you want to go? Use the “I’m flexible” option to search a selection of popular properties. Over time, Airbnb has also become more experience based, too. That means you can browse next-level destinations like domes, mansions, boats, and castles, or book experiences like boat rides, walking tours, and restaurant tastings.
With an expanding suite of features, like global money transfers, the Xe currency converter is a popular option for international travelers. Transfers are fast and secure, with tracking features and notifications to help you stay on top of all your payment processing.
The conversion feature is easy to use. Just enter the value to convert, original currency type (US dollars for most American travelers), and desired currency type (euros, yuan, rupees, etc.). With Xe, you can check prices and compare options before you input any credit card information.
Simply use the app as you go from one country to the next, and it will remember your most recent locations. The latest currency type will display first, with others below. From the interface, you can see currency type, value in dollars (or your preferred currency), as well as pricing trends.
Billed as a travel guidance company, Tripadvisor offers a comprehensive vacation trip planner service for free and paid users. Browse reviews and photos, book from hotels and other independent accommodations, then plan the rest of your trip. You can also search for restaurants and use the integrated Travel Forum to research ideas.
There’s a Tripadvisor Plus membership to consider, too. The program costs $99 annually and offers perks based on in-network deals. This includes discounted room rates at hotels, extra spending money for resort amenities, and lower prices on flights and rentals. It also includes a free Dollar Flight Club Premium membership (typically $69 per year).
In addition to Tripadvisor Plus memberships, there’s a bespoke trip itinerary planner called Reco. Provide a few starting details about your trip and it matches you with the right planners, who provide a free one-on-one consultation. Once you’re happy with your schedule, you pay a one-time fee to start booking.
Used for route planning and guidance all over the world, Google Maps is one of the most popular travel apps in use today. According to Google’s own usage statistics, more than 1 billion people use Google Maps each month, with more than half of that traffic traced back to mobile devices.
Part of the app’s appeal is its simplicity. You can access most of its features from the map view you use to navigate or pinpoint new destinations. Choose your route and then zoom in to start finding the right opportunities along the way like nearby restaurants, attractions, and gas stations. For drivers, it’s easily one of the best road trip apps available.
Search from the app’s preset categories, like Groceries and Takeout, or enter a street address to begin your trip. You can start with either your destination or origin, and build from there.
Also, while this app is especially useful when you travel, it’s also great for local routing. Traffic monitoring makes it easy to avoid busy roads during times of heavy traffic congestion.
Roadtrippers may share some similarities with Google Maps, but it focuses even more heavily on road travel and experience building. It's optimized for multi-destination trips, making it easy to keep track of complex routes and itineraries as well as any spontaneous route changes.
The app is designed to help you find interesting things to do along your route. There are pre-prepared guides or you can build your own to pick and choose from different things to do. It also promotes a true variety of attractions, like national parks and cool photo opportunities along your route.
Roadtrippers offers its own paid service at $25 per year. It adds collaborative features, support for additional stops, map styles, offline support, and partner deals. With such a strong focus and range of features, Roadtrippers is an obvious candidate for the best road trip planning app.
Designed specifically for budget travel, Hostelworld is an aggregator that focuses on affordable bookings. Listings are typically below $100, with the vast majority less than $40 or $50 per night. That means more money for every other aspect of your trip, which is a big advantage in more expensive cities.
The app encompasses other types of overnight accommodation, including small hotels or bed and breakfasts. It’s also easy to browse, with available listings organized by the three host types and the host city. The biggest selection is in Europe, but there are options on all continents (except Antarctica, that is).
While affordable accommodation is the focus, Hostelworld can help you round out the rest of your trip. Manage car rentals, connections, and transfers, or book tours and excursions through the experience hub. Because you can find affordable rooms in major urban hubs, it’s one of the best trip planning apps for a cheap international vacation.
Packing for a big family or household is uniquely challenging, especially when everyone’s needs are different. Packpoint Travel calls itself a smart packing list app, with a huge index of recommendations tailored to different inputs. That includes the length of your trip, planned activities, and local weather conditions.
Enter your destination and how long you plan to be there, select business or leisure travel, and the app helps you get started. Once you build your trip’s profile, the app prepares a basic packing list you can modify directly as needed. By providing business and leisure options, it helps you cut or add certain items to your list.
You can also compile trip data as plain text, which you can save and share with other members of your party. You can save and share your packing list as a static link, too, which helps guide other travelers with similar plans and taste. It may not be a full-fledged vacation planner app, but it’s a great tool if the rest of your trip is under control.
The best trip planner apps are designed to help streamline your next vacation, whether it’s in terms of costs or logistics. From our list, Packpoint Travel is a great way to avoid forgetting important items, while TripIt or Tripadvisor will cover all aspects of travel. And if you’re hitting the road, you’ll get a lot out of using Roadtrippers.
With current events and potential travel disruptions, good planning is more important than ever. Now that you’ve checked out some apps, don’t forget to also consult the International Air Transport Association’s map of international travel restrictions for overseas trips. Happy travels!
About the Author: Dwight Pavlovic is a contributing writer for HP Tech Takes. Dwight is a music and technology writer based out of West Virginia.
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