Our Travel Essentials: Phone Apps

Like many smartphone users, our phones are glued to us most of the time. With all the applications and features available on smartphones now, we usually do everything on them, including booking flights and rental cars, keeping track of travel deals, planning our roadtrips, and finding spur-of-the-moment activities around us.

(Note: We both have iPhones, so we only have the iPhone versions of these apps.)

On the Road

  • Google Maps – Our go-to map app has always been Google Maps. It adjusts to give users the fastest route, alerts users to heavy traffic areas, and has never given us the wrong directions yet.
  • iExit – There have been many times when we’ve found ourselves regretting our decision to wait until the next exit to go to the bathroom instead of taking the exit we just passed. Other than finding bathrooms, iExit has also helped us decide on when to exit the freeway to get to nearby restaurants, gas stations, and rest areas.
  • Roadtrippers – We recently used Roadtrippers to route our road trip to and from Door County, Wisconsin and it was because of it that we found out about the golden pyramid in Illinois. The app let us route our trip and find interesting stops along the way, which we were able to filter to fit our specific interests. It also let us know the average amount we’d have to pay for fuel, if needed, for each segment of our trip and it contains pre-planned trip guides for popular road trips, such as the Pacific Coast Highway.

Frequent Flyer

  • Hopper – This app gives us a color-coded visual representation of airline ticket prices to help us find the best deals. We have a few trips that we saved on Hopper to “watch” the prices and it alerts us whenever it finds a deal that it predicts will be the best one for our trip. It also gives us tips on how to find the best deals, such as switching to a different nearby airport, and lets us view and choose the flight options just like other booking apps or websites.
  • Hitlist – This is one of our favorites because it feeds our wander lusting selves. We can search for flight deals to anywhere at anytime, or to specific destinations on specific dates (or for a specific number of days). It groups deals based on destinations, number of days (such as Weekend Getaways), events, or whatever other specifications we indicate. We can also share our profiles, including where we’ve been to and where we want to go, to family and friends who also use the app.
  • Get the Flight Out! (GTFO) – It finds last-minute flights to anywhere leaving from the airport of origin we choose within the next 24 hours. So far, our weekends are fully booked and spontaneous weekday trips are currently not an option due to our full-time jobs. So, we haven’t tried booking a flight through GTFO yet, but we enjoy checking our options once in a while, hoping to try it out soon.
  • Airline apps (eg, FlyDelta, Sun Country, etc.) – Since we’re both Delta members, we both have the FlyDelta app on our phones because we try to fly through Delta as much as possible and the app makes it easy for us to access our flight details. It also updates us on flight notices, such as cancellations, gate changes, and delays. Most airline apps also allow its users to check-in on the app and pull-up electronic boarding passes that are scannable at the security and boarding gates.
  • Loungebuddy – Not all airport terminals are created equal. For long layovers, lounges can be a haven for rest and relaxation, but lounges can sometimes be hard to find or non-existent. Loungebuddy shows us the lounges available to us at the airport of our choosing and gives us an overview of the amenities each lounge has to offer. (Tip: The Delta lounge at the Tokyo Narita Airport has delicious food options and a very relaxing atmosphere.)
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Sample trip using the Roadtrippers app

From A to B

  • Lyft and Uber – Both of these apps seem to work similarly in the world of ridesharing. Uber does give us more options when it comes to the type of vehicles, but Lyft seems to be cheaper for us even during peak hours (we usually only get the most basic ride service). We haven’t had any bad experiences using both. Also, before deciding whether to rent a car or just Uber/Lyft-ing, we always check that our destinations have these services available because although they seem popular, not all cities and countries have them.
  • Grab – We found out about this app through our friends in the Philippines and although it works similarly with Uber and Lyft, it seems to only be available in Southeast Asia. We’ve only tried “Grabbing” taxis (and it worked well), but the app also has options to “Grab” a sedan, a luxury vehicle, or even a motorbike.
  • Wanderu – If cars and planes are not options, Wanderu finds deals for buses and trains. We haven’t booked trips on this app yet, but according to its FAQ page, it finds deals in inter-city travel by train or bus within the US, Canada, and Mexico.

Roof Over Your Head

  • Airbnb – We just booked our first-ever reservation on Airbnb for our upcoming trip to Nassau, Bahamas. Although we haven’t spent the night at an Airbnb accommodation and we were first-time users of the app, the app itself has proven to be very user-friendly. It was easy for us to find a place (even cancel one reservation) and get in touch with the hosts through the app.
  • Overnight and Hotel Tonight – We haven’t tried booking through both of these apps, but both of them are geared towards users who need last-minute lodging so we keep them on our phones just in case we’ll need them. Overnight is for travelers looking for last-minute accommodations in hosts’ homes, while Hotel Tonight is for last-minute hotel accommodations.

To Do

  • Yelp – Accessing reviews and recommendations from locals and regular patrons of certain establishments helps us navigate our way through neighborhoods unexplored by us, and Yelp is full of those reviews and recommendations.
  • Yonder – This is another app we like to check-out once in a while, especially when we’re not sure what to do or where to go next. We haven’t done it yet, but it also allows us to share our own “experiences” to give other users activity ideas (eg, hiking, swimming, fishing, exploring, etc.). After exploring it a bit, it seems similar to Instagram in the sense that users share “experiences” through photos, but the big difference is that users can search not only for hashtags, usernames, and places, but also for nearby users, destinations, and trending experiences.

Heeeeyyy… Messaging apps that use data/wifi, such as Facebook Messenger, Viber, WhatsApp, Facetime, Skype, and so many more, are great for travelers like us who try not to spend too much money on international cellular services, but are usually able to access the internet (most of the time through wifi). These apps make it easy for us to keep in touch with each other and with family and friends wherever we are.

There are so many other apps available to everyone with a smartphone, including general booking sites like Kayak and Expedia. Each traveler has their own list of essential travel apps and app preferences truly depend on each person’s interests and travel style, so we don’t believe in having one list of apps for everyone. So, we thought we’d just share the apps we think are essential to us and our travel preferences, and maybe you’ll find a couple apps on our list you’d like to check out.

Hitlist app layout
Inside the Hitlist app

What are your essential travel apps? Have you tried any of the apps we mentioned above? Share below!

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