9 must-have (free) apps for a smarter, smoother travel

You may already have some of these apps but if you don’t, download them before you leave for your adventure. Source: Shutterstock.

ASIDE FROM PACKING the right items you’d be needing for your trip, double-checking your travel documents, and ensuring that you’ve got all the necessary currencies and cards, there are just a couple more things that you can do for a smarter, smoother travel.

For example, loading up your smartphone with the right apps will help you understand (a bit of) the local language, make the right travel decisions, find your way around town like a pro, and ultimately lessen chances of you having to deal with frustration-induced headaches.

You may already have some of these apps but if you don’t, download them before you leave for your adventure.


Unfamiliar with the city and uncomfortable with the idea of navigating through the streets in the dark?

Can’t get on public transportation because it has stopped for the night?

Unable to speak the language and afraid of getting ripped off by scammer taxi drivers?

Play it safe and book an Uber instead.

There are safer ways to get to where you want to go in a foreign city in the middle of the night. Source: Unsplash.

  • Platforms: Android or iOS or Windows Phone.
  • Price: Free.


Don’t get stuck in the rain without an umbrella or venture out completely unprepared for a snowy day.

Get your holiday weather forecast and plan any journey with precision via the AccuWeather app.

It provides a daily weather forecast as well as minute-by-minute rain, storm, and snow updates wherever you are.

You don’t want to be that person who’s walking in bad weather without an umbrella. Source: Unsplash.

  • Platforms: Android or iOS.
  • Price: Free.


Need a handy digital companion that can tell you how to get from point A to point B in record time?

Rome2rio is a multimodal transport search engine that is capable of long-distance trip planning as well as local journey planning.

Simply enter any town, address or landmark and the platform will instantly display flight, train, bus, ferry and driving options with estimated travel times and fares.

Get the best prices and ways to get from point A to point B in record time. Source: Unsplash.

  • Platforms: Android or iOS
  • Price: Free.

Google Trips

Save yourself the hassle of having to print and cart around a bunch of documents when you travel.

Google Trips keeps reservations, itineraries, saved places, things to do, getting around, and other information based on the bookings in your Gmail account.

You can also enter them manually and download all the information so you can access it offline.

The only problem with carting around a bunch of documents with personal information is potentially losing them. Source: Unsplash.

  • Platform: Android or iOS.
  • Price: Free.


Detour is a platform for location-based audio experiences that will give you a new way to experience a location, beyond an organized tour.

The GPS-enabled app offers walking tours written and narrated by locals, guiding you to physical spaces that you wouldn’t ordinarily find on your own.

It’s like walking with your local friend.

Unlike old-fashioned tours, the Detour app will lead you to lesser known places. Source: Unsplash.

  • Platform: Android or iOS.
  • Price: Free to download, though prices of tours vary.

Google Maps

Nobody likes getting lost in a foreign place, especially while traveling solo.

With Google Maps, you can rely on real-time GPS navigation to get to your intended place faster.

The app also has details about traffic, transit, and places (such as reviews and popular times).

You can even download the maps offline and they’ll work without an internet connection.

There’s nothing like a trusty mapping mobile app to help you navigate your way through your holiday. Source: Unsplash.

  • Platform: Android or iOS.
  • Price: Free.

XE Currency

Math-ing big numbers and trying to convert currency on the spot while you’re out shopping and holding up a line behind you at the cashier counter is never a good look.

To make quick conversions, get XE Currency. The app offers live exchange rates for currencies around the world, with rates refreshed every minute while you’re on-the-go.

You can also view historical data charts, calculate prices, and monitor up to 10 of your favorite currencies so no matter your destination so you’ll know the very second your favorite currency fluctuates.

Do you often awkwardly struggle with calculating and converting cash while traveling? Source: Unsplash.

  • Platform: Android or iOS.
  • Price: Free.

Google Translate

Learning a new language is hard, and you can’t be expected to be taking classes to learn a new language each time you travel.

Luckily, Google has an app that will give you a better shot at making yourself understood abroad, minus the language lessons.

Google Translate can translate multiple forms of text and media from one language to another and help you pronounce words properly

It currently supports over 100 languages at various levels and can even translate signs you snap with your phone’s camera.

It’ll be much easier to make new friends too. Source: Unsplash.

  • Platform: Android or iOS.
  • Price: Free.

Opera Free VPN

Don’t be one of those people who will end up having their social media platforms hijacked due to an unsafe internet connection.

Like many travelers, staying connected is important during travel. Staying connected for absolutely free is even better.

But public/free WiFi networks (airports, hotels, public transportation, shops, libraries, restaurants, and cafes) are dodgier than you think.

Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) app to protect your internet connection from prying eyes and your personal data from getting stolen.

Public/free WiFi is fun and convenient, but not entirely safe. Source: Unsplash.

  • Platform: Android or iOS.
  • Price: Free.