As budget and independent travelers, we like to keep things simple – and free. Our favorite smartphone apps don’t do too much of the heavy lifting for us on our trips, but just enough to add to the experience in a meaningful way. These apps will tell you whether to book your flight to Rome (our example city for this post) now or wait for a better price; direct you to nearby coffee shops; display day trip options from your current location; allow you to capture a high-quality, steady time-lapse video; and more. They are all free to download, though some of them offer in-app purchases or pro versions that cost money.
Hopper on iOS | Currently not offered on Android
Not sure whether you should buy your ticket to Rome now or wait a month? Hopper analyzes all the data you don’t have access to and tells you whether to buy now, wait, change departure or arrival airports, or fly out a day later. You can even enable it to watch a particular route and alert you through a push notification when the price drops.
Kayak on iOS | Android
The app has some pretty fun features. If you’re feeling adventurous and spontaneous, you can use the Explore feature to select your departure city and then view flight prices all over the world (in map view). Click “find flights,” then book within the app! Kayak also offers airline and airport information so you can call your airline or locate an ATM within an airport. Another feature we love is the Flight Tracker, which allows you to view flight details like terminal, gate, baggage claim number, and whether the flight is on time.
On the Ground
XE Currency on iOS| Android
This easy-to-use app stores 10 different currencies on the main page so you can immediately compare live currency rates. Instead of trying to convert Euros to USD or vice versa in your head, open up the app and it’ll do the conversion for you on the spot. You can also check out a currency’s trend over the last week, month, year, etc. versus another currency. The latest information is stored in the app so you can refer back to it offline as well.
Triposo on iOS | Android
This is your virtual travel guide. You can download their general app or destination-specific apps and get information on or offline about sights, restaurants, hotels, city walks, day trips, and more. If you’ve arrived in Rome and want to know admission prices, hours of operation, and the history of the Coliseum, you can find all that information in the app. It even offers local maps that work offline too.
CityMaps2Go on iOS | Android
If you’re not interested in Triposo’s non-map features, then this app is the stripped-down version you’re looking for. You can download city maps for offline use and search within the maps for hotels, restaurants, attractions, street names, and more. You’re also able to create lists with maps of your favorite destinations so they’re easily accessible. The app allows you to download articles so you can read more about each destination and sight, but there aren’t as many features and details as Triposo provides.
Entertainment and Memories
Pocket on iTunes | Android
Leave your books and e-reader at home. This app allows you to save articles and videos to view offline so you can read in a hammock even after the sun sets. Go to longreads.com or your favorite news or entertainment site and download some content to Pocket. You can turn your phone to airplane mode and disable WiFi and view your saved content on a plane, bus, train, or while you’re enjoying a beer along the Mekong.
Hyperlapse on iTunes | Currently not offered on Android
With this app, you can create time-lapse videos without the need for a tripod. Capture the sunrise from a pontoon boat, the hectic atmosphere of a Southeast Asian night market, or the making of your favorite street food. Hyperlapse’s technology stabilizes the footage and then allows you to easily share your finished product on Instagram or Facebook.
Do you currently use any of these apps? Share your comments and other top app choices below!