Hello, and welcome to 2018: the year you promised yourself you would travel more. Whether you're a seasoned nomad or haven't used your vacation days in five years (please don't do that), apps are still very much alive and well to make your life 10x easier—especially when it comes to exploring new destinations. From tracking flights to finding local restaurants to capturing chic photo opps, these are the 16 essential (and mostly free!) apps to download before your next trip.
Café Wifi, available on iOS devices
Name a better feeling than walking around a new city and stumbling upon a local coffee shop. Café Wifi leads you to the nearest free wifi in multiple cities throughout the world, which is perfect for writers and travelers alike who want to catch up on some work or send a call home. The app also lets you hold a seat for someone nearby or even, wait for it, book a seat. 😱
VSCO, available on iOS and Android devices
Remember when you would see all of those "vsco.co" links on people's Instagram bios, and they'd always look so cool/obscure/mysterious, even though you never *really* knew what it was? (Just me? Okay.) The VSCO app allows you to capture and edit your photos into stunning portraits, without the same basic filters on Instagram.
The app supposedly crafted their design with limited text to make it globally accessible (💯), and allows you to create a chic, curated profile to show off your VSCO Cam work. Vintage portrait of the Eiffel Tower? ✓
Hopper, available on iOS devices
Figure out the best time to book your flight with the Hopper app. They've collected billions of itineraries to analyze the best time period to book the cheapest flight possible. Plus, it will send you real-time notifications so you can jump on any spur of the moment deals.
Citymapper, available on IOS devices
If you don't have Citymapper by now...10/10 would recommend. Once you download the app, you can consider yourself the master of public transportation in some of the world's biggest cities. It helps you save money as well, giving you the cheapest and fastest routes to make it from point A to point B. (It even compares public routes to Uber costs!)
Airbnb, available on iOS and Android devices
You've probably heard the Airbnb spiel about 5,000 times by now, but with good reason. The rental platform has over 3 million home listings for you to choose from worldwide (oh, and that includes over 14,000 castles). However, most people don't know how beneficial the app is. When you're commuting on your trip, the last thing you want to do is whip out your laptop to communicate with your host.
By downloading the app, you can easily access any directions your host left you (and manage multiple bookings). For the more spontaneous travelers, use the app to scroll through and find a place to stay within hours. (Sidenote: Airbnb has extended stays too, which means it just got that much easier to live abroad.)
Rome2rio, available on iOS and Android devices
I backpacked for three weeks last summer and will regret forever not knowing about this app sooner. Rome2rio will give you exact schedules and prices for transportation throughout the world (bus, train, flight, car, ferry, etc.)—working with over 4,800 transport operators in over 158 countries. (AKA it totally can capture the best route to that tiny village nobody seems to know about but you.) All you have to do is type in your start and end locations. Plus, it even gives you hotel options so you can swap the unnecessary time spent searching for exploring.
bSafe, available on iOS and Android devices
This one is definitely worth the download for potentially high-risk situations. Think: sketchy streets, or simply anytime you feel uncomfortable in your surroundings. BSafe has an audible alarm that captures your location while allowing friends to follow you to make sure you’ve arrived to your destination safely.
There’s also a timer alarm feature to notify your friends if you haven’t talked to them within a certain amount of time. Basically, it’s the solution for anyone you forgot to share your location with before you left. Plus, it’s free, so why not?
Goodreads, available on iOS and Android devices
When you don’t have enough room to lug the books you planned on reading throughout your 10-hour flight, Goodreads allows you to store your paperbacks digitally. It’s also great at helping you keep track of any recommendations you may hear about on your trip.
Shazam, available on iOS and Android devices
When you’re dancing at the club and suddenly hear the European dance song of your dreams, don’t let it get away without whipping out Shazam. The app captures the song title, artist, *and* the lyrics, helping you discover the best music anytime, anywhere.
Streetography, available on iOS devices
Did a friend recommend a neighborhood to you and you're curious to see what it looks like? Are you simply *dying* to find out what beautiful street your hotel is on? Streetography provides you with an interactive map of thousands of locations, allowing users to post photos and captions of areas throughout the world to give you a unique perspective of multiple areas across the globe. Sign. Us. Up.
OpenTable, available on iOS and Android devices
OpenTable allows you to explore thousands of restaurants and easily book a reservation (literally, within seconds). Plus, you can feel the vibe with access to photos and the full menu. It’s extremely quick, easy, and features all the best restaurants throughout the world from Dubai, to New York, to Tokyo.
Travelbank, available on iOS devices
Whether you're an employee or a manager, TravelBank is for people who travel frequently for business. Not only does the app automate expense reports for you 🙋, it also has a currency converter and gives you the option to book based on your colleagues’ itineraries. If this isn't business-class worthy, we don't know what is.
FlightAware, available on IOS and Android devices
Not only can you track your incoming and outgoing flights with FlightAware, but you can also find out what airport delays are happening throughout the country. The app dubs this the "Misery Map," which, accurate. (And especially relevant with the recent "bomb cyclone.")
Google Trips, available on iOS and Android devices
Google Trips plans out your entire day for you based on the coolest attractions, sights, and eats in the area. If you don't like what's mapped out for you (#FirstWorldProblems), the "magic wand" refreshes the trip and gives you a new itinerary. How's that for some vacation magic?