It’s no secret that there are tons of travel apps on the Apple and Android apps. But sometimes, that can be overwhelming and you end up forgetting what apps you actually need. These apps to download before you leave will help you with organizing your folder(s) and making room for more of those travel photos instead of apps!
The lists below have some essential travel apps for travelers. Some can help if you get lost and others will help you meet new friends when you first leave home.
Whether you’re heading to South America or Asia, you’ll want to download the ones that are suitable for you before you leave, especially if they require a phone number or verification code. But hey, if you keep your phone number then who knows, you might be able to download them from outside of the United States.
You will not need all of these apps before you leave but it’s nice to have the different options.
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If you’re moving abroad, check out this Moving Abroad Packing List.
I’m guessing most people have heard of all of these apps listed. These accommodation apps are available to users worldwide. But let’s be real, Airbnb is getting costly these days so I like to use this app as a last resort.
Agoda is one of my favorite apps. You can usually find a great deal on there. Booking and Hostelworld are the same.
- Facebook Messenger
- Google Duo
- Google Voice
You’ll want to stay in contact with friends and family back home so having one of these apps to share your stories and pictures is essential in my book.
Who doesn’t have WhatsApp?? If you don’t, download it. It will be one of the most useful apps for your travels.
With Skype you just have to pay a small fee for calling any other country. Talk360 is the same, you just have to pay for minutes.
Google Duo is similar to all of those video apps and it’s free. Google Voice has to be set up before you leave the US so you can get your landline phone number. It doesn’t always work with the 2-factor activations so always make sure before you leave that your bank or whatever you need your US number for works.
For Facebook Messenger, you do need a Facebook account but that can be set up within seconds.
- Jigsaw Puzzle
- Podcasts/Ted Talks
- Streaming Apps
- Netflix/Hulu/HBO Max/Disney Plus
Sudoku is amusing and challenging. I also enjoy a jigsaw puzzle or two during those long train, bus, or plane rides.
Of course, Netflix works internationally. Just be sure to download your favorite movies/shows before you depart or you’re stuck with the movies on the airplane (sometimes they can be good though).
With the others though, you do need a VPN. I used Nord VPN when I was in Korea and can’t complain. However, there’s a free VPN: Hola, so save yourself some money and use the free one.
Downloaded podcasts and Ted Talks can always keep you entertained on those long flights or boring layovers.
- Chase Sapphire Credit Card
- JetBlue Credit Card
If you don’t already have one, make yourself a PayPal account. Since it is international, you can use it to pay for some things in other countries. When I lived in South Korea I used my PayPal account to pay for my phone plan.
Chase Sapphire Preferred and Reserved are one of those travel tips I wish I listened to long ago. The benefits of even just the Preferred card are incredible. Let’s just say if I could go back in time and change one thing, it would be to get this right when I turned 18.
Having a JetBlue credit card is another awesome perk. It is not necessary for international travel but it’s always great stacking up points so when you come home, you might only have to pay the tax. It also doesn’t have any foreign transaction fees and the points never expire.
The Oanda app shows you the exchange rate and with Transferwise you can connect to your US bank account and transfer money that way.
- Google Translate
If you’re looking to learn a language, downloading one of these apps will help you learn at least the basics before your trip completely free!
Memrise, Duolingo, and HelloTalk are completely free unless you choose to upgrade.
HelloTalk is free and you can speak to native speakers of whichever language you choose. If you want to pay for lessons, you can use italki or Preply but you do have to pay for both.
With TripLingo and Google Translate, you can download the language of your choice so you can even use it when you have no cellular data. TripLingo also has categories for you to choose from if you’re just looking to have a conversation and you can find information about the country that you’re going to with their Culture Guide.
- Air Visual
- Bumble BFF
- Google Docs
- Google Photos
- Meditation Podcasts or Calm/Headspace
Air Visual will tell you if you need to wear a mask or not. Not literally, but if the numbers are high, it is a smart idea to do so.
Bumble BFF can help you connect to people all around the world.
Facebook and Reddit are great social apps that will connect you with people who are going to your destination or are already living there! There are numerous groups where you can find like-minded people. However, you should always be cautious when you are meeting people online and meet in a public place.
Google is great, as we all know. You can save your photos on the Google Photo app as a backup but you will need cell service or Wi-Fi.
Meditating before your trip can help to reduce that anxiety and stress to help clear your mind. Calm and Headspace are great but you do have to pay for them if you want more than just the basics. Instead, I suggest you use the Podcast app and from there you can download podcasts so they are always with you, even when you don’t have reception. I recommend Chel Hamilton, her voice is so soothing.
- Smart Traveler
You can use Geosure to stay up to date with your surroundings. It will give you a list of categories and then a percentage that tells you how safe the area is.
Even the free version of Sitata is useful. You can find hospitals and look at the alerts in the country where you’re heading to.
If you are a US citizen, Smart Traveler is such an important app. It gives you a list of all of the countries and then where the U.S. Embassies or Consulates are located in that country. You can also apply to STEP (smart traveler enrollment program) through the app, which you should do. It is a great resource.
TripWhistle has the emergency phone numbers for the country of your choice. It finds your location and you just need to press the button to call that emergency number.
- Google Maps
CityMaps2Go and Maps.me are great apps to have since you can use the maps offline. You can download maps when you have Wi-Fi/service so once you get to a new area, you can just use your phone and follow the downloaded map.
CityMaps2Go will allow you to download maps of a specific city whereas Maps.me is more for countries/continents. Maps.me also has live GPS tracking so you won’t get any of those hefty roaming charges.
Google Maps should always be on your phone. You can use it to get from place to place, to see attractions, restaurants, and other activities to do in your area!
Rome2Rio can be super useful for planning trips. It shows all of the transportation methods and the estimated price and duration.
The Skyscanner app offers great deals that are hard to find elsewhere, especially if you are flexible and choose the cheapest month option from the menu.
Uber is international. I do know that in Colombia it is illegal (but many people still use it) so just keep that in mind.