Best Travel Apps of 2020

  • Post by Nomadic Method
  • Jan 16, 2020
post-thumb With more travelers relying on smartphone apps for booking travel in 2019 and an increase of 3.8 billion smartphone users estimated by 2021 globally, the rise of travel apps are flooding the market. From catching your favorite Pokemon in Indonesia to budgeting each country based on local currencies, there are travel apps for every occasion. With long-term travelers, finding trustworthy apps that are consistent and reliable come at great value.

2019 was a great year to try new apps as well as test updates for older apps. I have used all of these apps listed below as well as many other apps not listed. Tried and tested, here are the best apps for traveling long-term.

Best app for Budgeting: Trail Wallet (iPhone: free; in-app $4.99 unlock)
Trail Wallet has an easy to use and intuitive platform for managing your budget on the go. You have the option of recording expenses in different currencies, organizing your expenses and tracking your budget. The app can produce histograms and pie charts based on your filters. The app is easy to organize and can filter based on trip, week, or month. You can add photos of your receipts, purchase, or hilarious photo of a poorly translated menu. It can export your budget via email or iMessage, create CSV files and backup to your iCloud.

As of January 2020, the app is only for iPhone. The in-app purchase of $4.99 unlocks the number of budget inputs past 25 inputs.

TrailWallet image
Download: iPhone Trail Wallet

Best app for Currency Conversion: XE Currency Converter (iPhone/Android: free)
XE has been a leader in currency exchange since their site launched in 1995. By 2009, they introduced their XE app that accessed their database for quick and accurate currency conversion. The app lets you monitor up to 10 different currencies that are adjusted based on the current currency you are working in. You can easily switch currencies if you need to look at more currencies. The currencies are updated every minute and provides an easy to use calculator. The rates are downloaded so the currencies will still convert when you’re offline. XE Currency Converter is available for both iPhone and Android, free of charge. If you are running a business that requires international transactions, XE also offers competitive currency exchange rates and the ability to transfer money securely through the app.

XE Converter App image
Download: iPhone / Android XE Currency Converter

Best app for Accommodation (tie): AirBnb and Booking.com (iPhone/Android: free)
I use both these apps almost exclusively for booking accommodation online. I’ve messed around with several other online booking apps however these not only give great options at a reasonable price, they are trustworthy by giving you the full price after service fees.

Both apps are common household names these days. AirBnb offers great alternative and unique stays compared to hotel search options. If on a budget, AirBnb offers cheap accommodation. Another plus side to AirBnb is the connection to a local. Sometimes the best experience in a foreign location has come from the recommendations from an AirBnb host. AirBnb also offers experiences ranging from cooking classes to surf lessons. On the other hand, Booking.com offers a wide variety of accommodations, including apartment rentals. I choose Booking.com over the other mainstream search engines like Expedia, Agoda, and Hotels.com because Booking shows the total price after service fees upfront. It’s easy to find an accommodation in your budget range without having to click through every listing to see what the total price is after fees (such as Expedia, Agoda, and Hotels.com).

Both apps are free to use and link to your AirBnb and Booking.com account. If you don’t have an AirBnb account, click here to receive $55 credit on your first booking.

*Note to reader: link for $55 credit is an affiliate link by the author receiving credit for signing up, no monetary compensation is gained.

AirBnb App image

AirBnb

Booking.com app image

Booking.com

Download: iPhone / Android AirBnb; iPhone / Android Booking.com

Best app for Airfare: Momondo (iPhone/Android: free)
This day and age there are flight trackers, airfare monitoring apps, and even airfare apps based on best time to buy. It’s easy to settle on a single airline search engine but if you’re looking for the best deals, metasearch engines are the way to go. Momondo is an easy to use search engine and app that crawls several different airfare booking platforms including the airlines themselves. You can easily switch between days and Momondo gives you estimated prices for the days around your search criteria so you can find the best price. Once you find the best price, Momondo will give you several options for where to buy the ticket.

It was a close race between Expedia, Skyscanner, and Momondo however Momondo came on top with it’s ease of use and reliability. Although Expedia is not a metasearch, they came in a close second due to their customer service, however, when considering budget and airfare listings, Momondo won by a long shot. Skyscanner’s platform is very similar to Momondo however they collect data and skew prices the more you search (tips and tricks: use private browsing whenever looking for the best flights) while Momondo states clearly they do not use cookies to push flight prices.

Momondo app image
Download: iPhone / Android Momondo

Best app for Transportation: BlablaCar (iPhone/Android: free)
Ground transportation have many options to choose from. From taking a crazy train ride on the Indian Railway to a luxury double decker bus in Switzerland, there are many choices for different budgets. BlablaCar is the best of both worlds. With BlablaCar, you are booking a ride (or sharing a ride, if you have a car) on someone else’s journey. They post available seats and only charge for gas money. BlablaCar sets reasonable prices for the driver based on the transportation expenses so the driver does not make profit off of their ride. The app uses profiles to gauge safety and uses a review system based on every ride for both the driver and passenger. Right now, BlablaCar is offered in 22 different countries primarily in Europe. If you can’t find a ride in your area, set up a ride alert and BlablaCar will notify you when someone posts a ride.

BlablaCar is free to sign up. BlablaCar takes a small fee when a ride is booked.

Blablacar app image
Download: iPhone / Android BlablaCar

Best app for Translation: Google Translate (iPhone/Android: free)
Sometimes English is not as common as you think and pantomiming can only get you so far. With the Google Translate app, you can text a translation, speak-to-text translation, have conversations, and use your camera for live translation. It’s a common app that has been around for awhile however the updates give it a new edge above the competitors. For example, I have had full conversations with Vietnamese people solely through the app. I’ve translated menus using the camera function. When I couldn’t speak the words, Google did it for me. If you know you’re going to be in a country for a long time away from wifi or data, you can download language packages so you can use the app offline. Google Translate is a great app to keep installed while on the road.

Google Translate app image
Download: iPhone / Android Google Translate

Best app for Fitness (tie): Strava and Downdog(iPhone/Android: free with in-app purchases)
Sometimes it’s hard to keep a fitness routine while traveling. Luckily, there are fun apps that make it easier and more enjoyable while on the road. A close tie between Strava and Downdog made the cut. Strava, a fitness sharing app, lets you record several types of endurance based activities (such as running and cycling) and share your posts in your feed. When traveling, Strava is a great way to get exercise while showing off where you are. You can take photos and post them on your runs, check your stats and link a heart rate monitor, and check accumulated stats over time. With a premium Summit account, you unlock a goals function, analysis function, training pack, and safety pack. Downdog is a yogi’s best friend. You can customize yoga sessions based on length and sequencing. It splices together a full routine based on your criteria. Downdog updates frequently so you don’t feel like you’re repeating the same routines. When you unlock the full account, you can change the voice, the music played, open new routines, and target specific areas to focus on.

Both apps are free with in-app subscription based fees. Strava Summit offers different packs based on your needs; training, safety, and analysis. You can buy all three for $5/mo subscription. Downdog offers yearly subscription for $20/year.

Strava app image

Strava

Downdog app image

Downdog

Download: iPhone / Android Strava; iPhone / Android Downdog

Best app for Bragging Rights: Instagram (iPhone/Android: free)
Surprise, surprise, Instagram made the cut. Yes the all-too popular Instagram social media photo-gasm app is the best for showing off where you’ve been from curating photos and feeds to sending your best gloating video to your bitter friends. Let’s not support Instagram culture but it is fun to post the beautiful and adventurous places we’ve been. Just make sure you’re aware of who’s property you’re walking on or what culture you’re appropriating.

Instagram app image

Not much to brag about but you get the point…

Download: iPhone / Android Instagram

Honorable Mentions: Workaway and Couchsurfing (iPhone/Android: free)
Workaway is a fantastic service that doesn’t have a category (yet). For a small fee, the app connects you to possible work opportunities that exchange room, board, and sometimes a cash stipend for several different types of work. It is a great way to travel on the cheap and experience local culture. There are several types of work options around the world. Download the Workaway app (iPhone / Android). Couchsurfing is another honorable mention. Although it helps connect travelers with locals primarily for a couch to crash on for the night, it doesn’t exactly fall under the accommodation section. It offers more than just a place to sleep. By connecting travelers to locals through building profiles, travelers have the unique opportunity to visit foreign destinations from the local’s point of view. If you are short on cash and traveling an expensive destination, Couchsurfing is a great resource for connecting you to a local with a place to crash. Download the Couchsurfing app (iPhone / Android).

With 2020 underway, there are new apps in development. As tech continues to evolve faster than we can keep up with it, this list will ultimately change. If you have your own suggestions for best travel apps, I’ve love to hear from you! Feel free to contact me and let me know your thoughts.