There are so many apps for travellers out there that already do an amazing job allowing you to buy a flight or book a hotel as quickly as going to the toilet.

But if you think about it, there are so many others non-travel apps and websites that also can make your life on the road easier and your trips more enjoyable and productive.

That’s exactly what I’m focusing on this article.

The absolute essential mobile apps you must have on your smartphone when you are out there travelling the world. Trust me, they will save money, space, time or even d) all of the above!

This article has been updated in 2018.

1Maps.me – Offline Maps

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Maps.me: Access detailed maps offline and save on data roaming charges.

What do you do absolutely need when you are lost? Yes, a glass of wine is acceptable, but a map would be even more useful.

Google Maps now has the option to save maps for offline use – which I use a lot – but sadly it still is completely useless. Like the time we got lost following directions in a main island in Croatia.

Because downloading a map is still a great way to save on data roaming fees try Maps.me. Simply download a map of any location in the world and access it later when you’re not connected to your mobile network or if you don’t have WiFi. In other words, perfect for traveling.

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  • Fast and detailed maps
  • You can still locate yourself using GPS even without an internet connection

2Foursquare – Local Tips and Recommendations

With more honest tips than TripAdvisor (from tourists to tourists only) and and a much nicer and simpler review system than Yelp, Foursquare is one my favorite apps whenever I’m traveling.

In fact, it is my go-to app whenever I need to find a nice place to grab something to eat or drink or even find cool places to visit. I’ve found many hidden gems on my travels with it and I quickly can see if my friends have been there (good for social proof).

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  • Honest reviews
  • Social proofing system (you can see where your friends have “checked-in”)
  • Easiness to use

3Google Translate – Real-time translations

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Real-time seamless translation that looks like magic. Seriously.

Google Translate is widely known. What most people don’t is its new surprising feature. Since Google bought Word Lens, real-time translation is available, just by using the camera on your smartphone. Yes, real time! Just select a language, point the camera of your phone to printed words and the translation magically appears on the screen. Bam!

To use this feature, just click the camera icon in your Google Translate app. May come in VERY handy to come out seamlessly of linguistic problematic situations while you’re abroad.

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  • Quick rendering and translation
  • The app adapts the translated text to the font and colors of the original text
  • Includes dictionary for looking up words manually

4Instabridge – WiFi everywhere!

There are 3 basic things in life: breathing, eating and… WiFi. And for satisfy your needs on the latter there is InstaBridge.

In essence it’s a community of users feeding a massive catalog of 1 million (!) WiFi passwords. This means connecting to wireless networks of bars, restaurants, shops, you name it, automatically.

Also if you download the spots ahead of time, you can connect when you’re abroad saving a lot of mobile data, making it an essential tool to make you stay online when travelling internationally.

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  • Considerable amount of reliable wifi passwords
  • Light and extremely useful app
  • Connects automatically to the strongest networks

5Uber – Getting from point A to point B

Uber is perhaps the easiest way to get around anywhere in a city. With literally two taps on your mobile you can be picked up anywhere you want. You immediately receive the exact time of arrival and information on the driver. The payment is done directly to him or by credit card and you can even choose to tip on the app!

I am not even a taxi fan, I try to always walk or use public transportation when traveling, but I have to admit Uber turns the process of getting from point A to point B into some kind of sexy digital magic.

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  • The tariffs are cheaper than a regular taxi
  • Great modern interface
  • Reliable and timely service

6Vivino – Shazam for Wines

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Just tried it on the only bottle I had at home. Apparently I suck at choosing wines.

You know I am a wine creature, I’ve dedicated a post to Porto and Port Wine before. There is nothing more relaxing that a glass of a wine and a view, my friends… *contemplative look through the window*. 

Problem is: I still have no idea how to choose a wine. I basically rely on word of mouth and reviews of friends and family. And when I’m traveling, this tends even more to be a complete random decision since I don’t know the local wines.

Here is when Vivino comes into play.

Just take a picture of the label with the camera on your phone and wait that is cross checked within a catalogue of more than 3 million wines. It quickly gives you detailed information on the winery, types of grapes and the most important for me: ratings of other users. While still a subjective analysis, it’s a great indicator to find out quickly if the bottle in front of you is a gem or something you’ll regret later.

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  • Quick scan of the wine label
  • Option to compare a set of wines to pick the best ones
  • Lots of not only basic information on the wine, but interesting features such as food pairings

7Google Photos – Save your photos on the cloud

essential Apps for travellers - Google Photos
All your photos in one place. And without eating up the space in your phone!

Organising the photos taken with the camera of my mobile phone is the task I find most overwhelming during and after a trip. Selecting the best ones, putting them in albums and backup for your computer or hard drive is a time-consuming process. Extra stress points when you are running out of space on your phone!

Fortunately, someone decided to do something about this photo madness issue. 

With automatic backups, an user-friendly desktop timeline and unlimited storage, Google Photos is an extremely smart way to keep all your photo collection organised. It will automatically even create videoclips and styled pictures from your uploaded pictures automagically. You don’t have to do absolutely anything – which to be honest, is borderline creepy. This is one of the best ideas to keep your travel memories I’ve seen!

This is the only photo management app you’ll ever need.

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  • GREAT User Experience
  • Automatic backups
  • AI identifies objects, people and other elements on photos, making it entirely searchable
  • Possibility of unlimited storage

8CityMapper – Ultimate Transportation App

Navigating the public transportation when you’re traveling can be overwhelming. Particularly in big metropolis like New York City.

While Google Maps does a pretty decent job getting you from point A to point B, it’s far ahead from the impressive features of Citymapper.

Not only it shows journey times and routes – with virtually all means of transportation possible, from buses and trains to shared bikes and mopeds – it also tells you which part of the train to board and the exit to take to make your way as efficient possible.

Add real-time schedules and offline transportation maps and you get an impressive smart tool to get around anywhere.

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  • Multimodal algorithm which combines fixed options (subway, trams, buses) and floating (shared scooters, moped, bikes + ride hailing).
  • Real-time schedules and offline maps are a great addition
  • Fun and light copy and UX (they also tell you how long a catapult would take 😊)

9Notes – Digital Post Its

I have a wandering mind. As a detail-oriented person, I can get easily distracted by anything. That can be a good thing whilst traveling: I’m usually the one alerting whoever is with me to funny or weird things happening around. But other times I truly need something helping me organise my mind.

The Notes app on my mind helps me put everything together, both on my life on and off travel. Grocery shopping lists. Memories of things that caught my eye abroad. Mini-bucket lists. Restaurants where I had a tasty meal. Or picture snaps with comments I want to incorporate in the blog. 

To be fair, there are other specialized apps with extended features such as Evernote, Google Keep and Bear. I just use the default Apple version to avoid having yet another app.

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  • A note can be a high variety of things: documents, pictures, reminders or plain text
  • Possibility to add tags to your notes for a quicker search
  • Continuity: desktop and mobile app are synced seamlessly

10Revolut – No more conversion fees

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The only thing missing on this list: a smart banking solution to avoid the 20th-century ridiculous exchange fees. Revolut is one of the most exciting fintech companies out there.

It works like an online bank account and their contactless VISA is the perfect card for travels, allowing you to pay with the real exchange rate. No extra fees. Apart from these, it also enables free bank transfers for accounts in 120+ countries. Oh and did I mention is 100% free?

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  • Absolutely free (you can upgrade to a premium plan though)
  • Keep a wallet of 130 different currencies, including cryptocurrency
  • Free payments and ATM withdrawals anywhere in the world

Do you use these apps? Which other ones do you say is an essential app for any traveller? Let’s make this list bigger!

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51 comments

  1. Carousel sounds like a great app, especially when I’m running on very limited space on my mobile at the moment! I’ve heard a lot of great things about Evernote too. Thanks for the tips!

  2. I used WordLens and its pretty good….it unfortunately doesn’t have the only language I need living in Prague and thats Czech! However it is useful to get the gist of what things say in French and Spanish…

    1. I know use Google Translate as Google have acquired Word Lens and incorporate their technology in the new version of the app.
      You’re right, more languages would be much welcomed!

  3. Ouuh I think it’s time to buy a smartphone for myself 😉 I’m still using an old-fashioned samusung solid just because its battery can last up to 3 weeks 😉 Or just take 2 phones, one for call/sms and second for appz!

    1. Wow I admire you Pawel, I couldn’t live without my smartphone anymore!
      But I would definitely swap some of these fancy apps for more battery life…

  4. JACKPOT! For the last month now, my (beloved) dumb iPhone keeps popping up with the infamous “you are almost out of storage.” I have been dreading the day that it actually disallows me from taking pictures…and my Geeky friend, you just solved all of my problems! Carousel! Thank you, thank you, and thank you 😀

  5. Great list of apps! I’m definitely downloading the first one to see if we can crack into any wifi networks while we travel. And the vivino one sounds amazing as I’m always on the lookout for new types of wine. Thanks for posting these!

  6. Awesome Apps you are sharing here. I like the first one best.
    Do you know Everplaces? It´s an awesome App for Apple. You can look for places or save your own recommendations and use it online and offline.

    1. I don’t know it, but will surely try it! I reckon it’s one of those apps it’s only fun when you have a lot of people using it, right?
      Thanks for the tip Christina!

  7. Oh my gosh the Maps.me is something I will definitely be downloading. I have had to use Google Maps so many times while lost and my phone always ends up dying on me while in use! It’s led to some funny travel stories but that weren’t that funny at the time!!

    1. Google Maps has the ability of draining the battery of my phone as well. Hopefully you won’t be lost anymore! 😀

  8. What if you only use Blackberry? Too bad those app won’t work on my phone i would have loved the Map one, especially now that i have to move around London: a city i really don’t know.

    1. I am sorry I have no idea which Blackberry apps there are out there!
      However, just by doing a simple search on BB store, I could find a pro version of Maps.me and many other alternatives 😉

  9. I always love coming across articles like these with great app suggestions 😀 I have used Word Lens when I had an iPhone (happy to hear it is on Android now too!) but I hadn’t heard of Hyperlapse or Maps.me!

    Will be checking out more on your site! Thanks 😀

    1. You welcome. Come back, I’ll be posting more apps and websites in the future 😉

      PS: You changed from iOS to Android? That’s a rarity, “once you go iOS you’ll never go back” 😛

    2. Hah hah! I was about to say the same thing! Switching from iOS is such a rarity! Trust you to be different.. 🙂 . Thanks for the tips. I have world lens, but have never used it. The hyperlapse sounds cool.. Thanks for posting these!

  10. Would love to try that word lens, who would have thought technology would get this far! language is becoming less of a barrier with all these new apps popping up.

    1. It’s incredible how some years ago real-time translation seemed like something would take years to be available and now we have this!

  11. Great list of apps – I think I need to download the maps one as my travels ofte lead me to spots without Internet. I am a big fan of snapseed as it has more advanced editing options for photos.

  12. World lens sounds impressive…But you must have a real good phone to all this…and free wifi cause the international internet fee is not always the best deal. When did my big travel for 2,5 years (came back in December 2013) I didn´t even have a phone…but I guess the world has changed now