Making a globetrotter happy — there’s an app for that. A few years ago we wouldn’t have attempted any trip without an arsenal of maps, travel guides and emergency gear, but today we all depend on our tech to make traveling an easy and hassle-free experience. Whether you’re booking your next flight or packing the car for a spontaneous road trip, stop everything and download these smartphone essentials. Your trip will be a snap when you’re armed with these apps.
1. Viber (Free): With more than 200 million users, on both iPhone and Android, you might say that Viber is getting a lot of attention. This app gives users the ability to communicate with other users via voice or text or share photos and videos, because mom wants to hear your voice at each new destination, and you totally want to show off the perfect view from your hotel window.
2. Viator (Free): What could possibly make a fantastic getaway even better? How about getting an awesome deal? Open this app, on iOS or Android, to get instant access to inspiring photos of thousands of destinations, interactive maps and deals and discounts on things to do, helping you pinpoint attractions that align with your budget.
4. Gas Buddy (Free): When you’re on your home turf, you know exactly which gas station usually has the best rates in town. Saving on gas while traveling… eh, it can be a bit tricky. That’s when Gas Buddy comes into play. Simply enter your location on your iPhone or Android phone and turn on the GPS tracker to quickly access a list of the closest stations with complete pricing info. You also have the option to search by price. Gas Buddy will steer you towards the cheapest fill up!
5. Foodspotting (Free): Half the fun of traveling is discovering new cuisine. Rather than offering restaurant reviews, Foodspotting puts the spotlight on individual dishes. iPhone and Androids users alike can snap quick pics of delicious dishes, add mini-reviews and share with the community. This visual guide makes finding your next meal a breeze. Craving pizza? Just use the search function to find the best in town. You can also search by location to find delicious dishes. Careful though, just opening this app will make your mouth water.
6. TripIt (Free): TripIt was named the People’s Voice winner for best travel app for iPhone and Android in the annual Webby Awards… for the second time. This “virtual assistant” effortlessly organizes every aspect of your trip into a master itinerary by scanning your inbox for flight information, email confirmations and reservations. You also have the option to manually enter trip details and can easily assess your itinerary across all your devices or share it with anyone else who might need the scoop. Yep, this is one vacation planner you’ll want to pack in your pocket.
7. Hotel Tonight (Free): Need a hotel room and fast? This app is ideal for the traveler who wants to book a discounted hotel room for a single night. Hotel Tonight provides a listing of unsold rooms available at participating hotels in popular cities around the world. So when a serious case of spontaneous wanderlust leaves you scanning the horizon for a decent place to sleep, just open the app on your iPhone or Android. You’ll find discounted rooms, plus useful information on each location such as Wi-Fi service, amenities and hidden fees.
8. Travel Safe (Free): Travel Safe could potentially save your life. At the very least, it provides peace of mind by storing a database of emergency information for easy access at any time, regardless of Internet connection. It’s available for both iOS and Android.
9. Waze (Free): Want reliable, real-time information from other drivers? The Waze community-based traffic and navigation app makes it possible to route around a traffic jam or steer clear of roadwork. Definitely worth a download on your iPhone and Android.
10. HopStop (Free): Hopstop gets the urban tourist where they need to be, when they need to be there by estimating travel time from point A to point B. iPhone and Android users can get directions, map out locations, find subways or cabs and even estimate travel costs in more than 600 cities worldwide. Your next destination is just a hop, skip and a jump — er, a HopStop away!
11. Gogobot (Free): Gogobot is a travel guide curated by your fellow travelers. It’s a social network that integrates with Facebook, allowing you to explore destinations and customize your travels based on your friends’ experiences and recommendations. You can also opt to select a travel style and join a “tribe” to receive personalized tips from travelers with similar tastes. Use Gogobot to map out your next excursion — but don’t forget that it’s the perfect outlet to voice your own insight on any travel topic, from the best pizza in New York to what type of weather to expect in Indonesia. It’s available on iPhone and Android.
12. Uber (Free): Here’s an iPhone and Android app that can connect you with a driver in major cities worldwide at the touch of a button. A few more clicks will open up local fare rates and allow you to pay via your mobile phone. How’s that for convenience?
13. Flighttrack (Free): Don’t get out that boarding pass quite yet. Keep tabs on your itinerary and on the status of your flight at any given moment with Flighttrack for iPhone and Android. Now you won’t have to guess whether or not you have time to stop for coffee, you’ll just know.
14. Postagram (Free): No time to send off a postcard to grandma? No worries. With Postagram, you can mail personalized photo postcards directly from your for iPhone or Android phone for only $1. These are so pretty we might end up Postagramming ourselves!
15. Airbnb (Free): Looking for accommodations that are a bit less traditional — or that offer an alternative to an overpriced hotel room? We’re in love with Airbnb. Hosts and renters are rated using an Ebay-style review system, which should help ease any reservations you have about this type of sleepover. The most obvious benefit to Airbnb is its budget-friendliness, and if you’re the type who loves to immerse in local culture, you’ll love the more intimate accommodation alternative. The app is available for iPhone and Android.
16. Hipmunk (Free): For iPhone and Android, Hipmunk is one of the more buzzed about apps. But with a dozen similar flight-search apps on the market, what’s all the fuss about? Hipmunk offers side-by-side flight information comparisons to help you quickly locate one that meets your specific criteria. It doesn’t offer package deals such as hotel and flight or car rental combos, but if you’re just looking for a cheap flight or hotel, Hipmunk is the fastest, easiest way to find the deal. We also love that it includes non-traditional lodging options such as Airbnb in the search results. Our opinion? Hipmunk is worth the hype.
17. Around Me (Free): What are you looking for? A hospital? Restaurant? Bank? Gas station? Grocery Store? Pharmacy? Around Me quickly identifies your location and shows a complete list of all the local businesses within the category you have selected. A few taps of a button, and you’ve pinpointed your destination! This iPhone and Android app is a lifesaver when you’re wandering in unfamiliar territory.
What are your top can’t-travel-without free apps? Share your appy thoughts in the comments!