Wednesday, February 28, 2018

12 Must-have Free Travel Apps for Your Next Trip

Good travel apps can save busy travelers time and worry. Good and FREE travel apps can save travelers time, worry, and money. Who doesn’t like saving money?

Here are 10 free travel apps that I personally use when traveling, plus two more that I recently downloaded to my phone to use on my next trip.

Quick notes: I have an iPhone. I suspect these apps have an Android equivalent but don’t be mad at me if they do not. Additionally, all of the apps I use are free, but there may be a fee to upgrade to a pro version with more perks.


This is my go-to flight tracking app. It has more bells and whistles than other flight tracking apps. Plus, it is super easy to use. In my experience, critical information about gate changes and delays show up here before other apps, even the airlines’ branded apps! The best feature is the ability to track the plane assigned to your flight as it travels throughout the day. This means that you find out early about a delay or cancellation because of an issue with the inbound plane.

Bed Time Fan

For years I packed a small desk fan in my suitcase because I cannot sleep without some white noise in the background. Thankfully, my sister introduced me to the Bed Time Fan app last summer. The soothing sound of the fan comes through my phone’s speaker crisp and clear all night long. I sleep like a baby and have more room in my suitcase. Win, win.


Truthfully, I use Yelp every day, but it is especially useful when traveling. Yelp is an app that reviews and recommends local businesses in a variety of categories. I never worry about finding a splendid vegetarian meal or the nearest laundromat when I travel. Yelp will tell me what’s good in the ‘hood. Being able to search for what I need in an unfamiliar area gives me peace of mind, especially when traveling solo.

Lyft or Uber

When public transportation is not a convenient option, use a ridesharing app. My personal preference is Lyft, but I know many loyal Uber users. I recommend downloading a ridesharing app even if you prefer walking or using public transportation. Last year, I was walking in Boston at night and could not find my way back to the hotel. It was late, and I started feeling unsafe. I tapped on the Lyft app and within two minutes a car arrived to whisk me away.

If you are visiting a large city, check for local rideshare options. I know in Washington, DC, a service called Via is growing in popularity.


Meetup is a social networking site where hosts plan events. Some events are open to the public, while others require you join a group to see upcoming events. This app is awesome when you are traveling solo. Many of the groups and activities are welcoming to newcomers. It is a great way to find local hangouts and meet people. I often use Meetup to find happy hours and exercise classes while traveling.

Apple Podcasts or any podcast app

One of my favorite ways to pass long layovers or road trips is to catch up on my favorite podcast episodes. Looking to add a few travel podcasts to your subscription list? Try Chris Christensen’s Amateur Traveler or Zero to Travel. They are a great listen when you have extra time or when you want inspiration for your next trip.

Sit or Squat

There truly is an app for everything.Sit or Squat helps find nearby public restrooms when you need to go. Even better, the bathrooms are rated for cleanliness. It’s a simple formula, “Sit” means the restroom is clean and “Squat” means the restroom could use some attention. Users can rate and review restrooms so others are aware of the situation. Download this app so the next time nature calls you know where to go.


This is the best public transportation app available. No question. CityMapper illustrates how to navigate the local subway or bus system to get from Point A to Point B. You can sort for the fastest or cheapest routes. It also gives guidance on how to walk, bike, rideshare, ferry, taxi, etc. Basically, any possible travel route will display in this app.

One caveat, CityMapper is not available in every city so check to make sure your destination is covered before you go.

Google Translate

This app is so powerful and versatile that it might put professional translators out of business. Maybe not, but it is more than capable of helping you navigate the airport in Japan or order lunch in Portugal. Google Translate is available in over 100 languages. So far I have not had to use this app while traveling, but I use the web version to aid me with my Spanish homework. I am getting an 'A' this semester so the translations must be on point.


This app organizes all of my travel plans in one place. The best thing is I don’t have to add the details manually. I simply forward my confirmation emails to TripIt, and my itinerary is updated.Trip details are clearly displayed in chronological order in the app.

TripIt is free, but you can upgrade to TripIt Pro for a few dollars. The pro version will send flight status notifications to your phone along with some other perks.

I have not tried these last two apps yet, but they are on my phone and ready to use on my next adventure.


I think eating alone is a treat and I wrote a post on how to do it right. However, if you want dinner companions, Eatwith may be the app for you. Here is how it works. A local host organizes a food event, like a cooking class or dinner, and promotes it in the app. Travelers can search and sign up to attend. All of a sudden dinner for one has turned into a homemade meal shared with strangers. Even this solo dining veteran can’t wait to try it out.


There are times when every solo traveler decides they want or need a travel buddy. Tourlina is an app that helps women find female travel companions or locals to meet up with while away from home. The sign-up process can be onerous because the company touts itself as being safe and reliable. Nevertheless, I am looking forward to using this app to meet some new friends on my next trip.

Hopefully, this list includes one or two apps that you can use to make your travel life simpler and stress-free. Did I miss any good travel apps? Let me know in the comments.

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