Although we might not want to admit it but let's be honest, we need to, we all live on our phones in some capacity. Whether you're just using yours for calls, texts, and social media right now or if you're on it for everyday conveniences like ridesharing and delivery. But when it comes to traveling, there is an abundance of apps you can be using to make planning your next trip a breeze. I downloaded nearly 100 apps in the Google Play store to plan and experience my trip. Today I'm here to report the lucky five I've deemed worthy enough to be worth your precious phone's memory when it comes to planning your next trip.
This handy little travel planner is great for automatically organizing your schedule and itinerary. Simply sign up with the email address you're using to make all of your plans and reservations so that it can be linked to your email account. From there TripIt will know when you receive a hotel, activity, or flight confirmation and add it to the schedule. I installed my app after I'd booked my flight but it was easy enough to forward the old confirmation email to TripIt and have the information added to the planner.
The itinerary is available offline and it even updates if you receive any changes to your schedule. For me, I'm only booking sleeping accommodations and flights for my upcoming trip but it is still nice to not have to dig through my old emails looking for my flight times, terminals, or accommodation addresses. TripIt even shows you the map of your airports when they're available to check as well as the carbon footprint of your flight, the app really goes above and beyond for planning details of a trip.
Packing for a trip is hard to do. My upcoming solo, international trip, is the first time I've gone anywhere for longer than a week so I have no idea how to pack for that situation. Since most of my traveling in life was done as a kid, I could usually rely on my mother for extra sweaters or shirts I may not have remembered to pack myself. I discovered PackPoint which has been my savior for finding all the items I'll need to bring on my trip. In PackPoint you input your trip's destination, dates, purpose and any activities you'll be participating in such as hiking or fancy dinners. After collecting this data PackPoint cross references with the location, length of stay, and either current forecasts or typical weather patterns and lets you know what you'll need. PackPoint generates a customizable packing list for you based on this data so you can make sure you pack or buy what you need.
If you're someone that loves guided tours, tour groups, and using those types of resources for traveling then that's great! Everyone does traveling in their own way and, to me, if you're still being respectful and gaining something while educating yourself and giving back to the local economy then go for it. But for me, I grew up in a sort of travel without a plan and learn-as-you-go style. That's one of the reasons I've enjoyed using TripAdvisor to learn about parks, cultural sites, museums, restaurants, and other attractions without relying on spending large amounts on guided tours or tour groups.
Do I think TripAdvisor is a must if you're traveling domestically? Not necessarily, unless it is an area vastly different from where you live. I've certainly used it as an alternative to Yelp in the past as I find the reviews to be slightly less salty. However, I do think it is a huge asset when planning a trip internationally. I've actually been using TripAdvisor as a pair with the next app on this list to make some finalized reference lists for my trip but I do think it can be good enough to stand on its own. Just take the reviews with a large grain of salt, you never know why someone will write them or what someone will say.
While I stand by all of my choices on this list, I think that this is one of the best apps I've found for planning a trip somewhere you've never been before. When I think of what I've spent the most amount of my time doing planning for my trip it's been reading, watching, and listening to the experiences of other travelers and locals to the areas I'm visiting. When I discovered CultureTrip I got lost for hours reading article after article on what to see and do where I'm headed. CultureTrip features articles for everything to do in cities and areas around the world. From food to eat, things to see, and places to walk this app will tell you what to do. There is also a great internal system, much like that in TripAdvisor, for keeping organized lists of places or things you want to remember. However, I found it easier to look up the same locations on TripAdvisor and add them to my pre-existing listing there. Where other apps can feel like an endless sea of options, CultureTrip is a guiding light showing you what you might have overlooked before without only paying attention to the most popular places.
I'm going to level with you, Hopper isn't the only app of its kind I used when I was watching plane ticket prices. But, when it came time to buy, Hopper was the most helpful in the end. In my opinion, unless you're super budget-paranoid (or planning to research ticket-buying apps like me) there's no need to use an app other than Hopper. So what is it? Well, Hopper is an app that watches ticket prices for your trip like a hawk, searching for the best deal and lets you know the second you should buy. For my trip, I was very flexible with my departure date and length of stay (10 days vs 14, leaving on a Wednesday vs a Tuesday, etc) and it is something I recommend among my planning tips. This allowed me to tell Hopper to give me all the best deals around a certain time frame, 6 months in advance, and to alert me of the anticipated price increases or decreases over time. My favorite feature of Hopper was that it gave me a timeline for the absolute last minute I should buy, based on pricing patterns. While I know this is only an estimate, it really helped me budget out the price because this was the biggest expense up-front for my trip. I even broke the rule many people mention of "not looking back" to see if I actually got a good deal buying when I did and... yep! Sure enough, I've saved at least $400 on my ticket buying based on the recommendation of Hopper and Google Flights.
You might notice there is one specific type of app missing from this list. Perhaps the accommodation related type? Look, I would be lying if I told you've I've never used the popular apps associated with staying in another stranger's home, or should I say "home," for a short period of time to save on a hotel and get a more private experience. In fact, one of my very stays for my upcoming trip is in a rented apartment, that I had to rent through one of these services. I might not be happy about it, but it was an apartment I really wanted to stay in (for reasons I'll talk about when I get there) so I made the choice to do it. But to me, I won't be promoting these types of services on my platform. While I understand they make staying somewhere more convenient, there are a number of issues associated with these services. Not the least of which include an increasing number of scams, liabilities the hosts aren't made aware of, and the pain this brings to an already horribly, unequal housing crisis. I still highly encourage you to look into this issue for yourself, but for me, it's no-go on promotion. These other planning apps are just way more worth my time and are making a much better impact on travel, especially CultureTrip!
What's your favorite trip-planning app? Will you be trying out on off of my list? Let me know in my brand new comments sections below! This time they actually work for everyone and don't have a bunch of hoops to jump through! And let me know if there's a topic you want me to cover next in my travel series!