Essential iPhone Apps for Travelers

Let's face it- we've become dependent on our having our phones with us at all times.   They carry all of our personal information, hold the best camera most of us own and, oh yeah, allow us to communicate with the world. With over one million apps in the Apple App store, there's no way anyone could possible skim through everything.  

Listed below are the essential travel apps we use daily.  Not listed are ones so essential you should have them in your phone already (Apps like Airbnb, Hostelworld, Skype,, etc).  Some of the better known apps in this list have a few travel-centric features that we've called out as well.

iphone outside


Ready to travel...somewhere... but it doesn't matter where? Skyscanner is always my first choice flight search app for this one reason: Once you set your departure location, you are able to search "everywhere" and the app will filter the results with the cheapest flights on top!  Why don't all flight search engines do this?!  We typically don't really 'care' where we're going, it just needs to make sense. If I'm looking for a beach in the Caribbean, there are dozens of islands to choose from - why not just find the cheapest flight first?!  Skyscanner is so powerful for us it essentially creates our itinerary for where we'll be travelling. 



You want powerful? Here it is.  What this app does is so far beyond other flight search engines that it was actually the subject of a lawsuit filed by United Airlines.  Skiplagged searches flight databases all over the world and ALWAYS presents you with the cheapest option.  It might suggest you fly from London to Rome through on a 27 hour layover in Kuala Lumpur, but it will be your cheapest bet.  (Whether you choose to book the flight is certainly up to you). Although you don't book flights on this site (information only) it's a great starting point to feel out what you should expect to pay if you are booking a flight soon.

pocket app icon


(Formerly Read It Later)  

Until you take a smart device away from precious cell service, you won’t know the pain of unlocking your phone away from a wifi signal and realizing how completely useless it is. Pocket allows you to easily save entire webpages to read offline at a later date.  I use it all the time to save long web articles and reddit discussion threads to read when I’m on a bus or the plane.  Use this app to load up on reading material to access offline at a later date.  

finances app icon


Aim Small, miss small-  What does that have to do with finances?  If you track and categorize your daily spending, you’ll have a crystal clear image of where your money is going. While it’s important in the planning phase of your trip, it’s even more important when you hit the road.  Conscious spending will make sure you don’t have to cut your adventure short.  I'm sure using this in everyday life doesn't hurt either! Pay a few pennies for the upgrade and at the end of each month you'll be able to see a colorful bar graph of how much money you spent in each "category" (i.e. Housing, groceries, eating out, etc.)

duolingo icon app


Now that this app has offline capability, it's a great language learning game to use whenever you have some downtime traveling (which will happen more often than you think). If you don’t know a second or third language already, travel is going to open your eyes to how useful a skill it is to have.  You don’t even need to focus on learning the language of the country you’re currently visiting either! Now you have the time you learn that language you’ve been putting off forever. You never know when you’ll run into a German in the Philippines or a Mexican in the middle of Poland.

xe currency app icon

XE Currency-

Just pick the currencies ahead of time and you can use this app offline.  App will refresh exchange rates whenever you have time to connect to wifi again.  While you will usually remember the exchange rate for whatever country you’re in, the occasional brain fart on a high ticket item is bound to happen. Be ready to save yourself from yourself with this app.

duet app icon


Brand new to me and one of the few apps I’ve ever been willing to pay for. Duet allows easy second screen set up between an iPad and a Mac or PC using a simple charger cord. I use it when I’m editing videos to display my browser on in case I need to look up a “How To”. Works as well as you would hope it does with 0 latency and 60fps display rate.

wunderlist app logo


Make a category for a list and then populate with things to do,see,etc.  A simple, stripped down list making app.  You can easily add contributors to selected lists as well. Finney and I use it to add Things to Do under certain locations or destinations.  It's not necessarily quicker than Notes or even writing it down, but it does keep it all in one organized place.

trip advisor app icon


This site (and therefore app) have a bit of mixed reputation with backpackers and travelers.  I don’t really get the neg’ing.  I love Tripadvisor.  I would never, ever, even with a gun to my head, book a tour through them, but the site is great to find out reliable places to eat,stay and visit. The mobile app now allows you to download a “map pack” by location so that you can search and explore while offline.

i heart google
google maps app icon

GOOGLE MAPS (vs. any other maps)

When I see someone open up Apple Maps on their phone, it makes me feel like they don't even deserve to have the phone in the first place.  Using AppleMaps is a behavior that lives so deeply in  naivete that it almost deserves sympathy.  If this is you, it's okay. Let's take out your phone now, download Google Maps (free) and move Apple Maps off of your home screen. Travelling is adventurous enough.  Spending your day frustrated and lost is no way to spend your time.  Google Maps uses the wholly powerful google search engine to know exactly what you want. You can download local maps to use offline; you can type in businesses (your hotel, that spa, the historical site) and get directions right there without knowing the address; not to mention pull up the phone number, website or a photo of your destination; this is the only map app you need.  

google drive app icon


You better not be living without this one!  A great place to store all your Documents and media (yes, including all your travel pictures and video!  It serves as a remote place to store all your items that you may need to access in an emergency: copies of your passport, drivers license, immunizations, etc. 5 GB of storage for free!

google docs app

Google Docs

I like to use Docs to do my writing with as well as my travel log.  Don’t worry, just writing “travel log” makes me want to punch myself in the face. Docs is great because it syncs your work across all platforms.  Before you ask, yes, you can use them offline and they’ll sync when you reconnect to the internets.

google photos app icon

Google Photos

Google Photos through your Google+ account grants you UNLIMITED (yes, really) storage of all photos (up to results from a 16mp camera) and videos (up to 1080p).  I have this on my phone and when I get back to the hotel (and connected to wifi) my iPhone photos are automatically backed up.  (If you're excited about this, also check out the Picassa Uploader for your computer to back up files you might be grabbing from your SD card and putting on your HD or External HD.