As the world continues to open up, travel is once again becoming a thing. As someone who has traveled frequently before--and during--the pandemic, there are a few apps that I consider must-haves. If you find yourself in that situation, these apps can save you time, anxiety, and in many cases, money.
Here are the seven best iOS apps for traveling in 2021:
TripIt has been one of my favorite travel-oriented apps for a while. The idea is pretty simple. Any time you get an email confirmation for a flight, hotel, or rental car, you just forward it to TripIt, and it will parse the information and organize it by trip. It's a great way to be able to keep track of all of the different reservations you might have for a trip in one place.
That would be enough of a reason to recommend TripIt, but recently, it got even more useful. Now the app will provide you with detailed information about Covid-19 restrictions for your destination. For example, if you're headed to Portugal, it will tell you whether a test is required, what restrictions are in place for travelers, and whether you'll have to quarantine.
TripIt is available for free on both iOS and Android. TripIt Pro is $49 a year, and well worth it for push notifications about check-in times and connections.
The best thing about Flighty is that it monitors your flights and provides you with updates, usually in real time. In fact, it's so good it almost always notifies you of delays, changes, or cancellations before whatever airline you're flying with.
The paid version of Flighty lets you choose what types of notifications you want to receive. It also syncs automatically with your TripIt itineraries, making it easy to track your flights without having to enter them manually.
Flighty is available on iOS only, and Flighty Pro is $50 per year.
3. Hotel Tonight
If you travel a lot, there's a good chance that you belong to a hotel rewards program like Marriott's Bonvoy or Hilton Honors. Sometimes, however, you just want to score a great hotel room at an even better price. For that, there is Hotel Tonight.
I've been a fan of Hotel Tonight ever since it launched in 2012, and I use it a lot, especially for last-minute hotel bookings. In addition to having great deals on really nice hotels, the app is also beautifully designed and easy to use. The only drawback worth mentioning is that you usually won't earn points toward your hotel loyalty program. That said, Hotel Tonight does have its own program with a decent set of perks.
Hotel Tonight is a free app on both iOS and Android.
4. Google Translate
If you're traveling somewhere you don't know the language, Google Translate is a must. It allows you to type in phrases and it will give you the translation, or it can speak it out loud for you. The interpreter mode is even better. Simply set your device between two people speaking and it will automatically detect the languages and translate back and forth.
Maybe the best feature is the ability to point your camera at text, and it will instantly translate it into your language. This is especially useful when you're trying to read a sign or printed information.
Google Translate is free on iOS and Android.
There are other ridesharing apps, but Uber is by far the most widely available. In the past two months, I've used it to get between the airport and hotels in New York, Barcelona, and Dubai.
It's hard to beat the convenience of opening an app, typing in where you want to go, having a driver meet you a few minutes later, and avoiding having to deal with pulling out your credit card or cash when you arrive. Everything is handled in the app. The fact that it's that easy to use almost anywhere makes it a must-have app for travelers.
Uber is available on both iOS and Android.
Hopper is a booking app that tells you when you should book a flight or hotel on the basis of pricing trends. You can even set up push notifications to be sure you lock in the best price for your trip. If finding flights or hotel rooms at the best price is your top priority, Hopper is a must-have.
Hopper is free on iOS and Android.
Whenever you travel, there's a good chance you'll spend a decent amount of time on airport, coffee shop, or hotel Wi-Fi networks. That's convenient, but most hotel Wi-Fi networks aren't nearly as secure as you might think. Using a VPN protects your data and internet activity from prying eyes. Because it masks your IP address and location, and encrypts the information sent through the network, the Wi-Fi operator can't see what you're doing or track you.
It's also useful when traveling abroad since some apps or websites may not work unless you're in your home country. ExpressVPN lets you choose different servers around the world, making it look as though your traffic is coming from that source.
ExpressVPN is available on iOS, Android, Mac, and PC, for $12.95 per month or $99.95 a year.
Honorable Mention: Google Maps
While I'm actually a fan of Apple Maps, I know that for many people Google's version is the default way to get around. That's fine, and I highly recommend that you get to know the features available for traveling.
For example, you probably know that Google Maps can provide you with driving directions, but it will also give you walking and public transit directions in most major cities. The latter is great because not only will it tell you exactly which subway to get on in New York City, for example, it will tell you when the next train leaves and when you'll arrive.