If you take a look at the many different types of travel and tourism mobile apps, they can be broken down into segments with regards to their specialist features. Depending on your preference, an app may have almost all the features you want, or perhaps all of them.
But choosing the most helpful travel apps for your style of travel may be challenging, and so I have listed five of the best free travel apps to give you a better picture and maybe introduce some new travel apps to you. But before that, let’s take a look at the different segments I mentioned and see what they are designed to provide the user.
Travel apps such as these help users to find the best possible deals on flights to their chosen destination. By scanning numerous airline schedules, they give you options such as the best days to travel, whether there are any layovers, direct flights, onboard services and so on.
Cheaper air carriers tend to reduce your baggage allowance and charge extra for more comfortable seats, and that information will also be provided. They usually don’t allow free cancellation either.
This type of travel app helps you navigate through the myriad of locations, hotels, and vacation styles. It will also assist you in finding tickets for different venues, such as museums, art galleries and concerts.
Users can also benefit from discount coupons and loyalty rewards while they look through the offers.
Particularly popular booking apps also include car rentals, property or vacation rentals, with sites around the world.
These travel apps are great for reducing paperwork and lost time.
Renting a car is made so much easier by using a transportation travel app, as all the paperwork can be completed in advance.
If you are more into public transportation, these apps can provide you with city wide bus services, with links to bus and train stations included.
If you are new to a city, getting around can be difficult, and transportation travel apps also include taxi and uber-like services around the world.
Trip organizing apps
Maybe this should be at the top of the list, as it is all about your trip planning and itinerary, searching for destinations, and organizing your digital paperwork.
These free travel apps are crucial for many seasoned adventurers and should be on every traveler’s mobile device.
The travel industry always welcomes travelers who are organized, as it directly relates to customer satisfaction and return visits.
Whatever your desired destination, travel apps like these will save money and time in the long run.
Going to a new destination can be exciting, of course, but it can also be a little unnerving.
Big cities have many unsafe areas for unlucky tourists and can easily be avoided by using a good geolocator or GPS application.
Almost all of these apps have offline maps available for download beforehand, if the internet connection is going to be sporadic at the destination.
It’s easy to get lost in a place where English is not spoken, and location apps will have your back.
Additionally, if traveling with family or friends, these travel apps will enable everyone to meet at a precise place.
These super apps help in so many ways. I think it would be a real challenge if you went to a foreign country without a mobile translator to assist you.
With sign recognition and translation, stock phrases, and person to person communication, these travel apps are a must.
Weather forecasting apps
You don’t want any nasty surprises on your vacation, but weather is one of those things that can have a negative effect on your trip.
Online web pages may give you the annual temperatures and rainfall, but you don’t get the latest up-to-date forecast that these applications offer.
These travel apps can give you live forecasts and percentages of precipitation so you can skip the beach and go shopping instead.
Safety and security apps
Travelers need to know the latest information on the destination of choice. Emergency services have different contact numbers all over the world, and any civil unrest in an area close to you may put you in peril.
Added to that, flora and fauna will be different too, and what is different might be dangerous.
These travel apps cover many possible problem areas, from transportation tips to active pickpocket areas and panic alarms linked to a group network.
Some travel apps offer VPNs for use on public internet connections, like cafes, railway stations, etc. so that personal data is not impacted or stolen.
Ratings and reviews
It’s always useful to get an idea of what others think about a place, hotel, restaurant or tour guide. Ratings and review apps are perfect for putting the right information in your hands.
These apps are usually bundled together with all-in-one booking applications, so they are not really standalone.
There are even reviews for the cheapest gas stations if you are taking a road trip.
Cut to the chase
With the segments out of the way, we can now take a look at the top 5 travel and tourism industry apps and explore the functions that each one offers. Although there have been plenty of apps over the last twenty years or so, there are some standout apps for travel that continue to improve with the latest technology.
So, in no particular order, here are my top hits for making all forms of travel and tourism easier and relatively stress free.
Kayak was started in 2004 to fill a gap in the market for comparisons in the travel and tourism industry. It allowed users to search for holiday accommodation by simply adding a few details into the search engine. Kayak’s travel app would then offer a selection of hotels with competing prices, so the user could choose which one to take.
Over the years, it has acquired different partners and therefore can offer many more options. This travel app has grown from just hotel rooms to flights and car rentals as well, and can also help with travel itineraries.
It’s as safe as houses to use, as you don’t have to give any personal or financial information until you decide to make a booking.
Using one of their tools called Hacker Fares, users can spend their time finding cheap flights with one-way trips from different carriers, potentially saving a good deal of money if using budget airlines.
Another tool called Price Forecast will let the user know whether to book your travel dates now or wait for the best flight prices.
The Explore option will show what destinations are available around the world for your vacation budget.
Using their mobile application, you can receive push notifications about flight delays and airport gate changes, and access your boarding passes.
Live flight trackers give flight information about any delays and baggage reclaiming information.
Finally, the travel app uses augmented reality to check the size of your hand luggage to see if it complies with the airline’s requirements. Genius.
Once again, Google comes to the rescue. It provides a superb app completely free and is one of the most used location service apps.
If you are enjoying a little wander in your perfect vacation spot, and you zig instead of zag, Maps will guide you back to your hotel, or get you back on track.
In areas of spotty connectivity, you can pre-download the offline map you need and use that to navigate.
Information online is provided about businesses and eateries in your area, showing opening hours and contact lists. By tapping on the pins, you can easily get distance and route indications.
It has over 220 countries and territories listed and millions of businesses, real time traffic information, and indoor maps to guide you swiftly through large buildings like airports, shopping centers and sports stadiums. A really handy app.
Going away from my Google-centric life, I really like this, it’s one of my favorite apps. It has clean lines and gives a very good user experience. Having over 70 languages on board, it is a free, personal translation app that offers a variety of communication tools.
You can translate text, photos, screenshots, voice and conversations. Having a two way bilingual conversation is quite an achievement. In fact, it is claimed that you can connect with up to 100 other people using multiple languages.
It has phrasebooks so you can learn some sentences and pronunciation assistance so you don’t get laughed at. Use this app to get yourself out of a language pickle.
If you’re looking for a great food experience, Tripadvisor can really help. Their restaurant reviews are honest and direct, written by users who have actually been there. So you get the rough with the smooth, so to speak.
Tripadvisor is for travelers, including a flight booking app with many flight deals, travel reservations and car rentals to name a few, and these are made possible by their many partners. However, it is their food and restaurant segment that really shines as their best app.
If you are out and about, looking for a particular style of restaurant, open up Tripadvisor and do a quick search in your immediate area. Or you can plan ahead and put the location in your itinerary.
If a restaurant has a particularly stellar review, the app makes it possible to contact the writer using instant messaging to ask for any further details.
Using a service inside the app, you can see the reviews and ratings any writer has made.
Local attractions connected with food events are also included, so this is a very handy app for foodies everywhere.
Used by millions of travelers in multiple countries, this application is a really good choice to have on your smartphone. It works both ways, and you can leave a review to help other travelers choose wisely. Real people, real content, it makes future trips more delectable.
Moovit is absolutely superb for travelers wishing to move about on public transportation in medium to large cities and is one of my favorite travel apps.
According to 2022 reviews, moovit is simple and user friendly, and most reviewers say it beats Google maps hands down.
It is so popular that many people use it when they relocate to a new city, not just for traveling. It has a useful offline maps mode for when an internet connection is unavailable.
Local support is very high and commuters can use a ‘live’ feature in the application that gives pretty precise arrival information for your bus or train. It will also send push notifications when the transport is approaching your jump off point.
Not content with only buses and trains, it has also expanded into other transport markets. Vacation rentals such as electric scooters, bicycles, metro subways, Uber, and plenty of other mobility services are offered through mobile payment. A truly multi-mode public transportation system.
Moovit gives the traveler an independence of movement and freedom of choice. The only drawbacks are if the scheduled public transport is running late, and the app is only available in medium to large sized cities.
If Moovit is not operating in your chosen holiday location, Google maps is always there to fall back on.
I have tried to be objective about these best free travel apps, but of course there are some personal preferences poking through.
There are many similar travel apps to each one I have mentioned and habitually use. But following my research into this topic, I am comfortable with my choices for the 5 best travel apps for the travel and tourism industry in 2022.
That doesn’t mean to say that smarter travel apps won’t be available in the near future. Will augmented reality play a bigger part in future quests?
Some really helpful travel apps, such as the custom packing list in the PackPoint travel app and price alerts for flights in the Skyscanner app, are incredibly useful to budget travelers.
Who knows what the list will be like in 2023, and what you will use to plan your next trip and get the best travel deals in the industry around the world?
Hopes and dreams
I would like to see one travel app to end all travel apps. Here are my thoughts and wishes.
I’d like to see a complete holiday app, one that would be able to check cheap flights, price alerts, flight bookings and flight delays for world travel.
Next it would trawl through the travel and tourism industry looking for the best deals in hotels alongside real reviews, including discount offers for car reservations from travel companies.
Then it would provide a custom packing list, complete with weather forecasts for the travel dates at the destination.
Moovit or Google Maps would be supported in both online and offline mode for public transportation, vacation rentals, restaurants and local attractions. Offline maps are vital for bad connectivity.
Currency conversion would be linked to google translate or similar, reducing communication and bargaining time!
Social media links could be used to communicate with others for tips and exchanging experiences. Maybe this app offers realtime information about any potential problem area to be avoided. The holiday app will keep you in the loop.
A holiday app like this would be pretty difficult to develop, but I am sure the technology is available already.
Something like this would probably involve a subscription fee, as Lonely Planet has introduced recently, but it would save money for both the traveler and the travel industry. If it is user friendly, everyone will be happy to pay a little of their hard earned cash for peace of mind.
After several uses of my holiday apps, perhaps it would provide tailored recommendations for future trips, offering a desired destination with all the best deals for iOS and android users.
At the moment, there is no single travel app that offers everything, and so the need for multiple travel apps is necessary.
But as technology leaps forward, I think that some enterprising company may build the perfect travel app that offers everything from the first idea of trip planning to the winding down period after the holiday is over, when you have time to sit back and reminisce.