10 Apps You’ll Actually Use on Your Next Vacation

Download these digital tools to stay organized, find recommendations and more.

By Tom Samiljan

It seems as if every week a new travel app launches, promising to make your next vacation stress-free. Few of these apps have lasted because many just aren’t practical for most travelers. But there are exceptions, and it’s well worth keeping a group of apps on your smartphone or tablet that you can turn to on your next vacation or as you plan upcoming travel. If you’re looking for a resort, for example, the RCI app allows you to search by destination or activity, and once you’re on vacation, you can view or share location-based videos from different parts of a resort. We’ve rounded up 10 more standouts that provide long-lasting usefulness to help ensure your next getaway goes smoothly.

Staying Organized

Google

(Android, iOS; google.com; free)

The search app features Google Now, a virtual personal assistant. Open it up the next time you land in, say, Rome. It will automatically adapt to your location, populating itself with instant Italian–English translations and the latest euro–dollar rate, not to mention local weather, restaurants, great photo ops and upcoming flight information.

Kayak

(Android, iOS; kayak.com; free)

Did you know that Kayak offers a travel manager to help keep track of your itineraries and send up-to-the-minute flight alerts? And if you’re not sure where you want to go, the Explore feature provides a clickable map you can search by price, weather, destination type and more.

Getting Around

GasBuddy

(Android, iOS; gasbuddy.com; free)

Long road trips are a lot more wallet-friendly when you can refill your tank at a good price. Just open this app for a list or a map view of the nearest gas stations with their latest rates.

Google Maps

(Android, iOS; google.com; free)

The search giant’s mapping app still delivers some of the most accurate and useful features for travelers who need to get around an unfamiliar city or country, including turn-by-turn directions and up-to-date traffic and travel-time estimates for driving, walking, cycling, Uber-ing or taking public transportation (down to the next few scheduled trains or buses).

Uber

(Android, iOS; uber.com; free)

Available in more than 60 countries—and in cities from Atlanta to Zhenzhou, China—Uber is the only peer-to-peer car service for domestic and international travel alike, allowing you to use your smartphone to hail and pay for a ride without needing to speak the local language or calculate in an unfamiliar currency.

Finding Recommendations

Swarm

(Android, iOS; swarmapp.com; free)

Keep track of nearby friends and all the places you visit with this dedicated check-in app. The check-in function makes it easy to remember exactly where that gem of a yakitori restaurant is located along Tokyo’s warren-like backstreets, and it gives you user-submitted tips on great dishes to order. Plus, the new Perks feature serves up discounts at nearby venues, the chance to win free stuff whenever you check in, such as a shopping spree or concert tickets.

Yelp

(Android, iOS; yelp.com; free)

Whether or not you trust each and every user-generated review, this local-listings app—available in more than 30 countries—is still one of the quickest ways to find what’s near you, from ATMs and shops to restaurants and spas.

Everything Else

Venmo

(Android, iOS; venmo.com; free)

Going with a group? This app lets you instantly pay people back with a few simple swipes (and a password entry) on your bank- or credit-card-connected smartphone. Expert tip: Split the check with the MealShare app for iOS, which integrates directly with Venmo to let you assign different amounts to each diner.

Google Photos

(Android, iOS; google.com; free)

This app’s unlimited high-quality image storage, ability to automatically group your snaps and videos into stories, and astounding AI-powered search capability that doesn’t require user-generated tags—just type in a name, destination or scenario and instantly see relevant images—can’t be beat by any other photo-management app.

Skype

(Android, iOS; skype.com; free)

An all-in-one communications app you can use to make audio and HD-video calls, or for text- and emoji-based chat to other Skype users. Skype also provides you with an outside phone number that can place and receive calls to and from any regular phone, making it ideal for dialing mobiles and landlines back home.

  • NOTE: Information may have changed since publication. Please confirm key details before planning your trip.
  • Published: September 2016