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5 Free Travel Apps To Rule Them All

Put these free travel apps on your phone and you are ready to conquer the world. Image via Flickr by Christopher Michel
Image via Flickr by Christopher Michel
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Rome2Rio Takes You Near and Far


Want to know all the possible ways to get from Chicago to Cleveland or London to Paris? Rome2Rio will show you all your options — flights, trains, carshare, taxi, bus, ferry — along with prices and travel times and link you to resources to buy your tickets. To get accurate airfares, be sure to enter your travel dates. Download for iPhone or visit from your Android or iPad to get the app.

Power User Tips

  • You’re not limited to two cities; Rome2Rio can take you around the world with a dozen stops in just minutes
  • Put in addresses (like your airport to your hotel) to get local transportation options, including taxi estimates that will help you negotiate cab fares.
  • Visit the FAQ page for specifics on how to use some of the power features.blank space

TripIt Makes You Look Like You Have Your Act Together

TripIt   Travel Itinerary   Trip Planner

Never again will you stand at an airline counter without your flight information, or land and realize that you don’t have the address of your hotel to give the cabby.

TripIt gathers your flight numbers, hotel reservation codes, tour operator phone numbers, addresses and more all in one place and makes it accessible even when you’re offline. All you have to do is forward reservation e-mails to TripIt, or let the app scan your incoming e-mails on its own. Visit the website or download the app for iPhone or Android.

Power User Tips

  • Use TripIt to share  itinerary details with your traveling companions or family members
  • Just show your phone screen to a cab driver who doesn’t speak your language and he’ll have the address and phone number of your lodging
  • Make sure you open and update the app before you leave home so your info is up to date even if you can’t connect when you land
  • File directions and other details as notes in your itineraryblank space

TripAdvisor: Find The Good Stuff

tripadvisor app

TripAdvisor’s treasure chest of traveler reviews  is even more useful from your phone. The app will give you a list of hotels, restaurants and attractions based on your current location anywhere in the world, in order of their review rankings or their proximity. One click connects you to a map. Visit the site or download for iPhone or Android.

Power User Tips

  • Mark the restaurants and attractions you want to visit as  favorites so you can access them quickly on the fly
  • Use the app to find highly-rated spas near you
  • Researching hotels? Browsing the “traveler photos” is the fastest way to see what a hotel is really like. If people found dirt, mold, or damage in their rooms they will usually upload photos.
  • Use the traveler photos of restaurant dishes to order in restaurants where the waiters don’t speak Englishblank space

Did You Know Google Maps Did All This?

Finding laundries in an Indonesian village

Sure, Google Maps is great at giving real-time driving and walking directions. The public transportation option works surprisingly well in some cities around the world and is shockingly useless in others. (Rome2Rio is better in some cases)

But you can also use the “find nearby” feature to locate anything, anywhere in the world. Even in remote villages, you can use “find nearby” to find the closest grocery store, pharmacist, hospital, or laundromat. Google Maps doesn’t usually have as many reviews as TripAdvisor, but it will turn up more local options sometimes. For web, iPhone, and Android. (Note: The app works on iPad but some features are lacking)

Power User Tips

  • Drop a pin or star your lodging so you can always find your way “home”
  • Use ‘street view’ to get an idea of what your destination looks like so you’ll know when to get off the bus or signal a cabbie to let you out
  • Use “save map to use offline” in case you lose your data coverage on the way to your destination
  • If you’re afraid of missing your stop on a train or bus, open Google Maps and watch the blue dot as it approaches your destination
  • Zoom in really tight to see all the businesses around youblank space

Google Translate Is Incredibly Robust



You’ve probably used Google Translate on the web to convert typed text from one language to another. But the app will do so much more for you. Use the website, or download the app for Android or iPhone

Power User Tips

  • Speak your text into your phone and it will speak the translation aloud for you, and translate the response. Too cumbersome for everyday use, but perfect for emergencies or important communications.
  • You can take photos of signs, menus, and posters, scan them for text, and instantly translate that text into English. Yes, it’s famously a bit garbled, but so much clearer than the original Yiddish!
  • Learn the vocabulary you’ll need for each days’ adventures. Click the speaker icon to hear the new words pronounced.

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Together, these five apps solve most of the problems of travel. Learn to use them before you leave and managing the details of your trip will be a breeze.