Trying to find the cheapest flights to your next destination? There’s an app for that. Need to navigate around a new city without a working cellular connection? No worries - there’s an app for that, too.
Whether it’s working out trip logistics or ordering a meal in a foreign language, gone are the days of lugging around guidebooks and dictionaries that weigh a collective ton.
Instead, smartphones have steadily become the traveler’s most useful accessory, solving problems at the tap of a button and generally helping make your vacation easier.
Although there are constantly new apps popping up, these are our top 7 essentials to download on your phone before you fly.
When it comes to scoping out cheap flights, Skyscanner is your new best friend. It basically compiles data from different airlines to give you the best options for getting from point A to point B.
If your dates are flexible, one of its handiest features is being able to view a monthly calendar outlining the cheapest days to fly. You can also opt to get alerts when prices drop on routes you’re interested in.
If you’re looking for inspiration on where to head next, you can use the “Everywhere” feature. Just pop in your budget and travel window, and Skyscanner will spit out some fun destination suggestions.
Definitely one that’s saved us a lot of money and time when trying to book flights!
TripAdvisor has steadily grown to be the most extensive collection of user generated opinions on pretty much everything trip-related - hotels, pubs, sights, restaurants, attractions... you name it. Using this app is an awesome way to make informed decisions about where to go and what to do abroad.
You can browse over 700 million reviews from fellow travelers, even scoping out uploaded photos and videos. It’s so different hearing what real humans have to say about sights and experiences rather than taking the guide book’s word for it.
You can also ask questions in the forums and leave your own reviews.
Pro tip: the “Near Me” feature is a great way to discover places around you worth visiting.
Very straightforward and super handy, this app is here for all your currency conversion needs. It uses live data, continuously updating currency rates that you can save and use even when offline.
This app is the easiest way to check you’re not getting scammed by exchanges. It supports virtually every currency, so it’s a great one to have no matter where in the world you are.
We also like using it to keep track of how much things are actually costing whilst on the road. It’s easy to forget that what might seem cheap in Euros is maybe not so cheap when converted to Aussie Dollars!
Google Translate is your easiest solution to overcoming language barriers whilst on the road. It’s the most powerful app out there for conversational translations and supports over 103 languages.
You can dictate to the app and listen to translations out loud. There’s also this neat camera translation feature where you can upload photos of text - very handy for things like street signs and menus.
If you’re unsure of what language you’re translating, good guy Google Translate can detect it for you. You can also save translations to the app if you want to refer back to them later, which is great for remembering everyday phrases.
Just make sure you download the right language to the app whilst online so you can still use it offline!
To stay connected to your family and friends whilst overseas, WhatsApp is our top pick.
If you’re already savvy with using iMessage, FaceTime or Facebook Messenger, this might be a little redundant for you. But if not, look at WhatsApp as your way to send text messages and make calls for free.
Just create an account, add your contacts, and you’re pretty much good to go!
You will need a working data connection or WiFi to be able to use this app, but it will save you a hefty phone bill and use very little data to get the job done. It also supports photos and videos.
We definitely don’t want to be limited in our text messaging when we’re on holidays, and WhatsApp is a great workaround for that.
Top tip: you don’t need to change your account when you pop your new SimsDirect travel Sim ;)
Yes, this might seem like a really obvious one, but Google Maps is honestly the Holy Grail of navigation apps and something we can’t live without when we travel.
It whips up instant directions for getting around by car, on foot, by bike, and even suggests local public transport options. Seriously the only navigation app you ever need, so long as you’ve got a 3G or WiFi connection or have downloaded a custom map area to your phone.
Plus with the wider Google database backing it, there’s stacks of extra info on there, like opening times for museums and cafes. You can also use the “Explore nearby” feature to find things like petrol stations, grocery stores or restaurants on the go, which especially comes in handy on a road trip.
Don’t really think there’s much more needed to be said here - Google Maps is epic. Use it.
Before Google Maps was updated to support downloading maps for offline use, Maps.Me was the go-to for navigating in remote spots.
Although we still generally opt for using Google Maps when we can, we still think Maps.Me deserves a spot on this list because it’s generally more reliable for offline use than Google Maps. It also allows you to download maps for entire countries in one go and is always there as a backup.
The other awesome thing about this app is that Maps.Me shows you popular landmarks as well as driving and walking routes. It’s a good way to make sure you’re not missing out on any sights whilst you’re out and about!
Important to note: it’s limitation is not being able to search for a specific address.