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25 of the best travel apps for iOS and Android

Nail the jet-set lifestyle with these handy smartphone helpers

Time was, travelling meant bumbling around with a map in hand, gesticulating at cab drivers and paying too much for food.

Not any more: nowadays you can live like a local within minutes of touching down at the airport. Sling the right apps onto your trusty smartphone and everything from booking hotels to getting downtown will be just a touch away.

Which Apple iOS and Android apps should you opt for, though? And which can you trust to get you out of a jam when you’re far from home with nothing but a phone, a backup battery and local data roaming?

Fear not. As frequent jet-setters ourselves, we’ve rifled through our app drawer to find the 25 travel apps we swear by on any far-flung trip.

…for flying

Skyscanner

Skyscanner

You’ve decided you need a break? Hooray! Now you have to trawl through tens of airline websites, desperately in search of the cheapest flights landing at an airport vaguely near where you want to go. Boo.

Enter Skyscanner: stick in your dates, pick your location and – voila! – it’ll serve up a host of results sorted by price, with the option to filter by direct routes and layover time. It’ll offer alternative date options which might be cheaper, too, in case you’re flexible.

Download Skyscanner for iOS here

Download Skyscanner for Android here

Kayak

Kayak

There’s nothing worse than booking your big flights, only to find that they’ve halved in price two days later. Thankfully, Kayak serves up a nifty guesstimator that’ll tell you whether to buy or wait, based on previous trends and data.

Like SkyScanner, it’s also decent at checking hundreds of airlines for the best combinations and deals to get you where you want to go.

Download Kayak for iOS here

Download Kayak for Android here

Hopper

Hopper

Like cooking eggs and designing smartphones, there are many, many ways to book flights – and, after the two above, Hopper serves up a third approach. It’s all about playing the waiting game: key in your flight details and Hopper will tell you whether to buy now or wait, based on data including literally trillions of historic fares.

What’s more, it’ll even ping you notifications if the price suddenly drops and it becomes opportune to book – saving you the hassle and heartache of searching for the best deal.

Download Hopper for iOS here

Download Hopper for Android here

Hipmunk

Hipmunk

As much a virtual organiser as it is a personal travel agent, Hipmunk can take care of everything from flights to accommodation to activities, with useful calendar integration and the ability to email it for personalised recommendations.

Using a pinch of AI, it’s as easy as dropping it a note – such as “What are the best dates to fly from London to Barcelona in August for a week?” – and it’ll come back with helpful suggestions and booking options. Spooky.

Download Hipmunk for iOS here

Download Hipmunk for Android here

HolidayPirates

HolidayPirates

Something of an amalgamation of all of the above, HolidayPirates serves up travel deals, including flights, rooms and car rentals, with the option to set up alerts based on destination, dates and budget.

You can do the traditional search thing, too, through a host of daily deals which can be booked right in the app.

Download HolidayPirates for iOS here

Download HolidayPirates for Android here

…for staying

AirBnb

AirBnb

Want to stay somewhere with more character than a hotel, that’ll cost you a lot less? Look no further than AirBnb. What started as a spare-room rental service has become the go-to platform for finding astounding accommodation in cities across the world.

Filter by location, price and a whole lot of other factors, contact hosts and prepare to be surprised. Capital cities can be more expensive, but other areas can serve up modern apartments for brilliant prices.

Download AirBnb for iOS here

Download AirBnb for Android here

Hostelworld

Hostelworld

A firm favourite of backpackers the world over, Hostelworld puts thousands of budget hostels in the palm of your hand. Customer reviews take the guesswork out of booking, while instant confirmation and always-available customer service should give you peace of mind while you’re on the road.

What’s more, with 170 countries covered, Hostelworld should have you covered wherever you head – and will often offer up hostels not available to book elsewhere.

Download Hostelworld for iOS here

Download Hostelworld for Android here

Booking.com

Booking.com

If you do want a hotel, Booking.com is a decent place to head for a pick of the best local accommodation. Its price guarantee generally means you can be assured that you’re getting a good deal, while a broad range of filter options and reviews should serve up just what you’re looking for.

Yes, the interface is a little cluttered and its reputation isn’t perfect if you need to cancel, but for a quick fix place to sleep it’s a solid option.

Download Booking.com for iOS here

Download Booking.com for Android here

HotelTonight

HotelTonight

Spur-of-the-moment sort? You’ll want to download HotelTonight: it exists to deliver the best last-minute hotel deals around, that can be booked up to a week in advance. Better still, the actual booking process is a cinch, while discounts based on location and concierge support give the app a hint of premium.

Hotels aren’t the cheapest, but if you’re looking for a fancy night without splashing too much cash, this is the app to try.

Download HotelTonight for iOS here

Download HotelTonight for Android here

Trivago

Trivago

With more than a million hotels on its books, it’s hard to argue with the viability of Trivago when it comes to assessing your accommodation options.

It scans booking options and costs from more than 200 hotel websites – including the likes of Booking.com and Expedia – to find you the best price for your dates and destination, including last-minute deals. It even indexes and averages online scores for hotels, so you’ll get the best possible picture of where you’re set to stay.

Download Trivago for iOS here

Download Trivago for Android here

…for getting around

CityMapper

CityMapper

Limited to certain cities, including London, Lisbon and Los Angeles, Citymapper is constantly expanding its coverage – and that’s a good thing, because it’s perhaps the best dedicated urban transport app around.

Stick in your destination, choose your method of moving and it’ll offer up a clutch of options to make getting from A to B a cinch. There are offline transport maps, too, alongside real-time information to help you avoid delays – all wrapped in an interface that’s less cluttered than many others.

Download Citymapper for iOS here

Download Citymapper for Android here

Uber

Uber

Controversial enemy of cabbies everywhere, Uber puts the power of door-to-door transport in your pocket. Drop a pin on where you want to go, hit request and a car will rock up outside your door in a few minutes.

Prices can surge if things are busy (usually when it rains or there’s a big event on), but transparent features such as driver reviews, fare splitting and the ability to share your real-time ETA with friends make it an attractive alternative to hailing a cab in the street.

Download Uber for iOS here

Download Uber for Android here

MyTaxi

MyTaxi

Very much in the same vein as Uber (and, indeed, Grab) Mytaxi (recently merged with Hailo) is the one to use when Uber isn’t available.

Popular across Europe, mytaxi enables you to request a licensed taxi in more than 50 cities across the Continent, with options to review drivers, share journey details and leave tips. Fares are generally similar to Uber, though it can vary both ways depending on your location.

Download Mytaxi for iOS here

Download Mytaxi for Android here

Turo

Turo

Relatively new on the scene, Turo is a car-rental app that gives you the run of local owners’ vehicles when they don’t need them. Currently operating in the USA, Canada and UK, Turo serves up a selection of cars available locally – from hatchbacks to supercars – before letting you book in a trip.

Because you rent directly from owners it tends to be cheaper than a traditional vehicle hire, and you can get the car delivered nearby, too.

Download Turo for iOS here

Download Turo for Android here

Google Maps

Google Maps

Yes, it’s the obvious choice, but Google Maps remains the best do-it-all mapping service available – and it’s absolutely free. With the addition recently of the option to save certain areas for offline use, Maps has become a must for frequent travels.

Save and label locations, create lists, get instant reviews and recommendations for nearby things to do, as well as directions, Street View and more – all in a single app.

Download Google Maps for iOS here

Download Google Maps for Android here

…for eating

TripAdvisor

TripAdvisor

Hated by some, favoured by many, TripAdvisor was arguably the first platform to harness the power of the user review – and, as it’s grown, it’s only become more of a force for consumer feedback.

Yes, top hits tend to stick it out at the top thanks to positive reinforcement, but delve down the lists for reviews on restaurants, bars, activities and more – or, you know, do something new. But where’s the fun in that?

Download TripAdvisor for iOS here

Download TripAdvisor for Android here

Vouchercloud

Vouchercloud

Eating out is a surefire way to rapidly sap your travel budget. Zap Vouchercloud onto your smartphone and you should be able to save a few pennies without staying in.

Covering all kinds of chains and eats places, there’s almost always somewhere nearby with a discount available. What’s more, when you’re done eating you can peruse Vouchercloud’s offering of travel coupons, ready for your next getaway.

Download Vouchercloud for iOS here

Download Vouchercloud for Android here

OpenTable

OpenTable

Want to book a table but can’t speak the local lingo? Or just afraid of picking up the phone? OpenTable is the app you need, with a host of eateries and bars on its books.

Pick a time slot, select your group size and – hey presto! – you’ll have a booking in your name in a jiffy, which should leave you plenty of time to practice how to say “a booking in the name of Jones” when you arrive.

Download OpenTable for iOS here

Download OpenTable for Android here

Tasteful

Tasteful

Call yourself a health nut? Grab Tasteful and you’ll be able to filter nearby eateries based on the quality of their food – and whether they fit with your dietary requirements.

It’s limited to the USA at the moment, unfortunately, but with a range of restaurants rated by the ‘Nutrition Team’ you can trust in Tasteful’s, err, tasteful recommendations.

Download Tasteful for iOS here

Download Tasteful for Android here

UberEats

UberEats

Thought Uber was all about getting you to places? Think again: UberEats brings food from nearby restaurants right to your door.

Even when you’re far, far away sometimes a night in with a takeaway is all you really want. Fire up the app, search through proximate options, give it a wee while and, before long, you’ll have hot food without the hassle – or the language barrier.

Download UberEats for iOS here

Download UberEats for Android here

…for keeping organised

Circa World Time for Travelers

Circa World Time for Travelers

There’s no cure for jet-lag, yet, but Circa will at least show you why your body clock is confused. Yes, it’s possible to add multiple timezones to the default clock apps on both iOS and Android, but Circa makes it a look a lot prettier.

Designed to help international working teams, it displays time periods around a circle, simply illustrating the points at which the various slots overlap – and you’ll all be awake. Input your waking hours and you’ll have an easy way to work out when you can Skype the family from afar.

Download Circa World Time for Travelers for iOS here

Download Circa World Time for Travelers for Android here

Google Translate

Google Translate

Another Google number, this one makes the whole foreign language thing a cinch. Translate can adeptly, well, translate words, images and sound and, here’s the kicker, it’ll even do it offline if you download the right language files beforehand.

Makes you wonder why they made you do that French GCSE, eh?

Download Google Translate for iOS here

Download Google Translate for Android here

TripIt

TripIt

Nearby grown-ups will probably tell you that it’s only right to be organised before you head abroad – but where’s the fun in filing all of your flight bookings and travel itineraries, when you really want to be preparing your Instagram filters?

Thankfully, TripIt handles all of that for you. Simply forward on your booking confirmations and it’ll cleverly process the info into an all-in-one schedule for your adventure. You can add and edit info, too, in case it misses something.

Download TripIt for iOS here

Download TripIt for Android here

Expensify

Expensify

Theoretically intended for business travellers, Expensify is a nifty solution for scanning and processing your trip receipts and keeping track of your holiday spending.

Its smart scanner generally does a good job of processing data (though you’ll need to pay for unlimited scans), while reports can be helpfully emailed over to an address of your choosing. Or your boss, if you’re that fancy.

Download Expensify for iOS here

Download Expensify for Android here

Packpoint

Packpoint

Sure, you probably think you know how to pack. But pro packers can’t just trust their memory to ensure they’ve got all the essentials.

That’s where Packpoint steps in: input the length of your trip, the weather, the destination and any activities you’ve planned, and it’ll list everything you need to stick in your case – from toothbrushes to umbrellas to casual pants. Because you can’t be formal all the time.

Download Packpoint for iOS here

Download Packpoint for Android here