During our first couple of backpacking trips around the world, we didn’t have any “techy” stuff – no smart phone, no tablet, no high-end cameras, and definitely no apps! But, things have changed since our first adventure in 2008, and now, having hand-held devices is the norm, rather than the exception. And to be honest, the apps that go along with these modern devices are actually very useful.

Since joining the rest of the world and getting an iPod and iPad, we have found a few cool travel apps which we either use and love, or know of and want to try. Here’s a list of 10 of those apps:

1. Trip Verse

This is a new app, which helps you plan and share your travel itineraries. You add places you want to visit, hotels you want to sleep in, restaurants you want to eat at and sites you want to see. There are popular activities and restaurants already set in the app (via Foursquare), which offer some great ideas when planning, or, you can enter your own must-sees.

Addresses and a map are included for each of the places you choose through the app, but you will have to add your own addresses for those not in the app. Trip Verse is especially cool because it features an offline-readable itinerary viewer, meaning you can check your itinerary while you’re exploring off-track places without wi-fi. Ditch the paper memos and notes, this app keeps track of your daily plans for you. best travel apps

2. Trail Wallet

Our friends over at Never Ending Voyage created this app not long ago, and it’s one that we wish we had during our first couple of trips. Trail Wallet keeps track of your spending. You insert a total budget for your entire trip, or, a daily budget into the program, and every time you purchase something, you enter in the amount of the item. You can choose categories for your spending too – alcohol, food, transportation, accommodation, etc.

It’s a great way to monitor your spending, and make sure you stay on budget! Another great thing about it is it converts the currencies. So, if you put in an amount in, say, Euros, it’ll keep that amount, but you’ll also have the option to convert it to your home currency as well.

We used the app for our trip to Cuba, and have since looked back on it to remember how much we spent on a bus from point a to point b, how much entrance fees to various museums cost us, and more.

top travel apps
The majority of our budget in Cuba went to food.

3. XE Currency

If you’re like me, then trying to do currency conversion math on the spot, with a pushy seller pressuring you to buy, is not an easy task! With the XE Currency app, you just put in the local currency amount, and it’ll convert it right away into your home currency, or currency of choice. It stores the latest updated rates, so it’ll even work offline – but the rate will be slightly off.

4. Uber / Lyft

Everyone’s favourite new taxi apps. If you want to get somewhere, there’s no cooler way than pulling out your smart phone, requesting a car from one of these apps and watching it on a map as it gets closer. Uber gives you time and fee estimates and really makes taking a ride a lot more fun.

If you want to learn more about these apps and how they work, check out for definitive guides, comparisons, fare calculators and more. There’s a lot of news going around about these services lately and RideShare helps to make sense of it.

New users can use RideShare’s free promo codes: FIRSTRIDEFREE for Lyft and 1SEO for Uber.

5. Around Me

This aptly named app is pretty cool. If you’re in a city and are looking for something that’s nearby, you just enter what you’re looking for and voila, it shows up! Need an ATM? Looking for a gas station? Want to find a restaurant? Just input it into the app and the nearest ones will be listed.

top apps around me

6. Trip Advisor

We’ve been using Trip Advisor for a few years now. It’s our go-to website/app for reading reviews about hotels, restaurants and tours. Some of the reviews need to be taken with a grain of salt though, as many people can be way too negative about things, but if you just ween those ones out, you’ll find some pretty solid reviews. Having the Trip Advisor app allows you to place a review right after you’ve finished a meal, or after you’ve come up from a scuba dive!

7. Spanish Dict

This was our app of choice during our backpacking trip through Mexico, our time spent living in Guatemala and our travels through Cuba. If you’re not sure how to say something in Spanish, you just type in the word in English and it’ll translate it. Plus, it shows all of the conjugations for verbs, which is great because that’s what we struggle with. It also works offline, which is a bonus.

(Hopefully now that we’re taking full-time, online lessons with Spanish Marks, we won’t need the app so often!)

8. Google Translate

I’ve just heard of this app and can’t believe I didn’t know about it before. There are over 90 languages available for translation, and you have the choice of typing, or speaking what you want translated. If you’ve met someone from another country, they can speak their native tongue into the app, and it’ll translate it into your native tongue! I also absolutely love that you can hold your device up to a word that you don’t know, and it’ll translate it (available in 6 languages). Unfortunately you can only download languages for offline translations if you have an Android device. Still, this app is Genius.

top apps for travel
I love how you can hold your device up to a word and it can be instantly translated!

9. Google Maps

This is the best for when you’re lost, or are looking for something. There are 220 country maps available, voice-guided GPS navigation and live traffic conditions and reports. You can save maps for offline use as well, but it works best if you have access to wi-fi or a 3G network.

10. Globe Tipping

Ever finished a meal, stepped out of a cab, or received a spa treatment abroad and aren’t sure if you should tip, and if so, how much? Avoid the awkwardness by using this Globe Tipping app! Not only does it show you how much you’re expected to tip (in over 200 countries), but it also helps with splitting up the restaurant bill evenly between you and your friends.

apps for travel
Yep, 15-20% tipping is the norm in Canada!

There you have it! Hopefully you find these apps useful and easy to navigate. Let us know which travel apps you currently have downloaded, and which of the ones listed above you would like to try.

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Useful Travel Apps

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61 thoughts on “10 Useful Apps That You Should Download Before You Travel

  1. It’s good to know that you’re learning Spanish, it’s an easy and useful language, I’d love to take a course too. And I love Globe Tipping! Since I’m really awkward at that. I know that Google Translate app but never actually use it. The others sound amazing too. Thanks for the useful list!

    1. Yes, we’re very excited about learning Spanish! Isn’t globe tipping cool? I’ve never used the Google Translate app, yet, as I just found out about it. When we head off on our next trip, we’ll definitely be using it!

      Thank you for commenting 🙂

  2. This post came right in time! I’m taking a quick getaway to Madrid next weekend, and although at one time in my life I was considered fluent, I fear my Spanish skills are going to be lacking. I just downloaded Soanish Dict and I’ll be getting Globe Tipper too! Thank you for the recs!

  3. TripVerse looks awesome, I can’t believe I hadn’t seen that one before. Do you use it instead of something like Tripit? Globe Tipping isn’t on Android (nor is Trail Wallet) but I found Tipping Bird which is maybe the best option on Android.

  4. I’m like Marina, I tend to rely on my memory and good old-fashioned paper notes and memos to plan my travels, but some of those apps sound super cool…maybe it’s time I embrace modernity?! (Also, I totally agree about taking TripAdvisor with a grain of salt, it amazes me sometimes how picky and difficult some people can be!)

  5. Oh, that budgeting one should be really helpful for me, especially if I can easily convert back to dollars. It’s easy to overspend — or to forget about a great bargain! — when using unfamiliar cash.

  6. Spanish Dict! We have lived of this app whilst in South America. Not that it has helped with our terrible Spanish accents. There are lots of apps we’ve not tried here, thanks for the info. ‘appy travels 🙂

  7. I have to admit I don’t use technology as much as I should on the road. I’ll try some of your recommendations.

  8. There are some really great apps on this list that I need to start using. Around Me and XE Currency are at the top of the priority list. Technology is sure making it easier and more convenient to travel.

  9. Oooooh definitely interested in the Spanish one! I just read your other post on signing up for Spanish classes as well — may have to look into that. I live part of the year here in Belize, which like Grenada, is English speaking, but many of my friends speak Spanish. And, I have been asked to work on some Spanish language posts and websites and what I grew up speaking in So Cal has been forever lost in my memory bank somewhere. Funny similarities by the way — I lived in Taiwan for nearly four years and only learned basically taxi cab Mandarin — I could get back and forth from home and that was it. Mandarin was hard and, in Taiwan they speak Taiwanese, which there is no written for, so it was even worse. And, I took a year of Japanese in college. HAHA Will be following to see how your Spanish lessons go! 🙂

  10. What a great list of apps! I love trail wallet and we use it all the time. Tom and I have a goal or learning Spanish when we head over to South America so that Spanish app will come in use!

  11. Perfect! Thanks for sharing. I’ve heard of and use many of these, but Roadside America is new (and super exciting) to me. Can’t wait to use that one!

  12. I’ve only used XE from the list above because most of my apps are more on flight/hotel search & booking. Have been using Google Translate online but didn’t know it can do much more through its apps. So thanks for this info! Trip Verse and Trail Wallet should come in handy too!

  13. Thanks guys. However, in my opinion you have missed off the best and most frequently used travel app when I’m traveling – MAPS.ME
    Check it out. Once each map is download it works offline, New route option available as well, search feature, bookmarks. And accurate.

  14. Great tips! I definitely use Google Maps – but also end up storing many of my notes or itinerary documents in Google /Files. I will need to check these out!

  15. If you have chrome/google drive there’s an awesome feature that it gives you when printing. Instead of printing to PDF or the printer, you can save to Drive which creates a PDF in your drive that you can make accessible offline. Perfect for travel confirmations and no paper!

  16. Check out Simply Declare. We use it to manage our receipts for customs when we are out of the states. It’s simple to use and makes sure we are aren’t scrambling for receipts on the plane.

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