When we think of summer, many of us think of travel thanks to the nice weather and kids being out of school. On the other hand, some scratch their travel itch during the holidays to visit family or throughout the year for work. Regardless of where, when, and how you travel, technology can be central to creating a positive experience.
Recently, I started planning a business trip to Texas and a personal vacation to Disney World, which got me thinking about travel apps. And just as Apple’s 2009 iPhone ad stated, “There’s an app for that.” There are around 2 million iOS apps and over 3 million Android apps—meaning there are a lot of incredible travel apps to help you plan, sleep, get there, and be entertained.
Here are 13 categories and 34 travel apps that will help make your next trip easier:
A reliable flight tracking app can be a powerful tool to stay current with potential delays and gate changes. Several apps on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store track flights, including Flightradar24 and FlightAware. However, for Apple users, Flighty has become a popular app for choice for flight tracking. Flighty is beautifully designed and has made a name for itself with gate change and flight delay updates before an airline’s own app. Flighty is available on iOS, iPadOS, and macOS.
You can download Flighty from the Apple App Store.
You can download Flightradar24 from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.
You can download FlightAware from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.
Perhaps you’re taking a road trip instead of flying — lucky for you, there are many great apps to make your road trip easier. Roadtrippers is a popular app to help people plot their driving routes. Meanwhile, Gasbuddy is a great way to compare gas prices and ensure you get the most economical deal. For electric vehicle drivers, ABRP (“A Better Route Planner”) is a solid choice to plan your travels around EV charging stations.
ChargeHub and PlugShare are community-based apps to help you identify local charging spots. All of these apps are free and can be downloaded from Apple’s App Store and Google Play Store. However, Roadtripper also has a $50 per year premium subscription.
You can download Roadtripper from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.
You can download Gasbuddy from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.
You can download ABRP from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.
You can download ChargeHub from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.
You can download PlugShare from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.
Trying to figure out where to stay on your next trip? There are countless hotel deal apps out there, but I found three unique apps that I hope are helpful to you on a future trip. First, there’s Hopper. Hopper is the best hotel deals app I’ve used. Simply type in where you’d like to go and have it find some great deals for you. Hopper has a decent user interface and is overall pleasant to use.
Next, there’s Hostelword. Hostelworld is a platform to connect young, social travellers with affordable hostels and alternative places to stay. Finally, there’s Airbnb, probably the most well-known of the three. Airbnb allows homeowners to rent out available rooms, units, or houses to travellers looking for a place to stay.
You can download Hopper from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.
You can download Hostelworld from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.
You can download Airbnb from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.
Hotels and Airlines
Before your trip, download the app for any airline you’re flying with and hotels you’re staying at. For example, Air Canada and West Jet have apps where you can link your flights and check in within 24 hours of your flight. Plus, if you’d like to, you can upgrade or change your seat selection.
Depending on your hotel, you can use their app for contactless check-in and to see amenities. For example, Hilton’s mobile app allows guests to unlock their room’s door with their smartphone.
You can download Air Canada’s app from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.
You can download West Jet’s app from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.
You can download Hilton’s from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.
Every Android phone and iPhone has a maps app pre-installed on it. Whether you’re a fan of Google Maps or Apple Maps or prefer Waze, all three apps are reliable and handy options to help you plan routes and get around, whether by walking, driving, transit, or maybe even ride-share. Just ensure you have a navigation app installed before leaving on your trip so you don’t get lost.
Apple Maps is free to use exclusively on iOS, iPadOS, macOS, and watchOS. Meanwhile, Google Maps and Waze are free to download from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store. If you do not have a mobile data plan while travelling, consider downloading maps for offline use with Google Maps. Apple Maps is bringing a similar feature to iOS sometime in the Fall with iOS 17.
Need help getting around when not on foot? No fear! Uber and Lyft are two of the most popular ride-sharing apps to connect you with available drivers. Uber and Lyft are quick and easy and can be nice if you want to pay for a particular experience, such as a premium car or electric vehicle. Alternatively, the Transit app is an effortless way to use public transit and get around affordably. If you prefer taxi cab services, do a little research, you may find an app for local cap companies too.
For example, a local taxi company in Halifax, Casino Taxi, has an app comparable to Uber’s in terms of functionality. All the apps mentioned in this section are free to use, while Transit does offer a premium subscription for some additional features.
You can download Uber from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.
You can download Lyft from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.
You can download the Transit app from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.
You can download Casino Taxi’s app from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.
Being in the middle of a new city as a visitor and having to use the washroom can be a painful experience. Flush aims to solve that. Flush has a simple purpose, to help you find public washrooms while travelling. Flush has over 200,000 washrooms globally within its database, with users able to submit additional options. Flush is a free app with no in-app purchases. It is entirely ad supported.
Consider the primary attraction or destination for your travel plans. Depending on what it is, there may be an app for it. For example, Walt Disney World, Disneyland, and Universal Orlando all have free apps for their theme parks. I’m using the My Disney Experience app for Walt Disney World to manage my resort stay, book park attractions and meals, see ride wait times, and set up MagicMobile. Parks Canada has an app for the country’s national parks, or if you’re travelling for a work-related conference, see if there’s an app to manage your schedule.
You can download the Disneyland app from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.
You can download the Universal Orlando app from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.
You can download the My Disney Experience app from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.
You can download Parks Canada’s app from the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.
We’ve all been in a position where we’re trying to find a decent place to eat or an incredible new attraction to go see. Finding a travel advice and recommendation app can help ease your trip planning through increasing discovery! Personally, I enjoy using Trip Advisor because as a general source of travel information when looking for tourist attractions in cities I visit. I also leverage Yelp because of its integration with Apple Maps when comparing a specific attraction.
Are you going to a destination where you don’t speak the native language? Well, I have two app recommendations to help you! Before your trip, consider downloading a language-learning app like Duolingo! Duolingo gamifies language learning by leading you through various bite-sized learning activities. Meanwhile, Google Translate or another translator app can be your aid while abroad, helping you translate languages and text. Duolingo and Google Translate are free to use, but Duolingo also offers premium plans at $19.99 per month or $119.99 per year for additional learning activities.
A few months ago, I wrote a piece helping readers determine if they need a VPN. VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. If you’re curious to know more, read that article after this one. However, the short of it is that there are three primary use cases: business access, security, and geo-restrictions. If you’re travelling for work, there’s the possibility that you may need a specific work-approved VPN to access particular work applications.
For everyone else, you may want to use a VPN while travelling to get access to Canadian content on your preferred streaming platform. Sometimes select content is only accessible in particular regions, so if you’re binge-watching a series, you may need to use a VPN to make your device think it’s in Canada to access that content. Additionally, when connected to your hotel or other public WiFi, you may want to use a VPN to help ensure you’re secured from man-in-the-middle attacks and potential network tracking.
If you subscribe to a paid VPN service or have access to a work VPN, that’s great! Use it. Personally, I use a VPN so infrequently that when I do, I opt to use Proton VPN’s free tier, as it’s decent and trustworthy. Proton VPN also has paid tiers ranging from $6.50 to $15 per month if you need additional functionality. I urge you to be cautious of other free VPNs, as many have poor intentions. Again, give my VPN article a read to learn more.
Are you travelling with friends or family and need to efficiently manage costs? Good news, Splitwise is a great option. Splitwise is an app where users invite their travel-mates, and then anyone can add expenses and select who they’re split with. At the end of the trip, everyone can then go into Splitwise, see what they owe each other, and send the outstanding amount.
Once done, the sender or receiver can mark the amount as paid. Splitwise or another cost-sharing app makes tracking expenses easier and far less socially awkward. Splitwise is free to use but offers a paid version for $4 per month or $40 per year to access features like receipt scanning, ad removal, and currency conversions.
Back in October 2022, Canada stopped requiring entrants into the country to use the ArriveCAN app to declare COVID-19 symptoms. However, ArriveCAN still has a purpose. ArriveCAN allows entrants to complete advanced declarations up to 72 hours before arriving in the country. There are ten participating Canadian Airports supporting advanced declarations express lanes. People who use advanced declarations can see entry up to 30 percent faster than people who don’t.