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21 Essential Travel Apps For 2021

One of the great things about traveling in the digital age is that we have so many apps to help make our journeys easier. We’ve got a roundup for you of 21 essential travel apps for 2021. Our goal is to make your travels easier, cheaper, more efficient, and safer.

There are so many apps to sort through to find not only what you need, but also find reliable ones. Let’s face it, plenty of apps are junk, and you don’t always realize that until you really need it to do its job. Having everything you need right at your fingertips takes so much of the stress and uncertainty out of traveling and allow you to just chill and experience the new memories you’re living right now. So loosen up your thumbs and let’s get you these essential travel apps for 2021! 

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1. Surfshark VPN  

If you’re not using a VPN, you should make it your #1 priority before hopping onto your next free wifi networks. Airport wifis are especially high-risk for identity theft. We recommend NOT opting for one of the many “free” VPN options out there. Surfshark is the best inexpensive VPN out there, and at just $2.49/month, your security is worth every penny of that. 

2. Loungebuddy

photos of various airport lounges on lounge buddy, one of our recommended travel apps

This one lets you know which airport lounges you’re nearest to at the airport. But not all of us have memberships, do we? Well, Loungebuddy will also let you know of any that allow day-passes or even free access!

3. Omio 

You can book flights, buses, trains, and ferries in real-time(!) from your device. Omio has also added Covid-19 travel disruption information to the services it offers. But we love it because their Instagram feed is full of dogs and cats in exotic locations! We’re not sure what that has to do with booking transportation, but we’re here for it nonetheless!

4. HotelTonight

Find last minute hotel deals quickly and easily, and to fit any budget. It’s perfect for those unexpected opportunities to take off, or for the traveler who hates to plan ahead. 

5. HostelWorld 

If a hostel is more of your jam, HostelWorld helps you find one near where you want to be, along with plenty of reviews from folks who’ve stayed there.

6. CouchSurfing 

If you want to lower your costs even further, AND get a deeper sense of the culture of your destination, here you go! CouchSurfing helps you find locals that host travelers in their own homes. 

7. AirBnb

We love to support local businesses as much as possible, but we also know there are times when an Airbnb is a great way to go. And sometimes you’ll find that super-unique spot that you might not find elsewhere. Feel free to use our link, and if you’re new to Airbnb, you can get up to $65 off a qualifying booking.

8. Packing Pro

screen shots of the Packing Pro travel app

Show of hands if you have a love/hate relationship with packing. Just us? There’s a lot to consider when packing for an unfamiliar destination and this handy app takes into account where you’re going, your trip length, the weather, etc., and provides suggested essential items to pack!

9. LuggageHero 

If you’ve got a long layover or a big chunk of time to kill between hotel/airport or vice  versa, LuggageHero finds you a place to stash your luggage so you go and explore without it.

10. Travelspend 

screen shot of the TravelSpend travel app

Not the sexiest or most fun, but keeping track of budget and expenses while traveling is essential, and helps to avoid any financial “surprises” further into your trip. And who says saving money isn’t sexy, anyway?

11. Google Translate

screen shot of the Google Translate app

Probably self explanatory, but you need this. Set the languages you want to translate between, and either type, speak, or use the camera to get the translation you want. You can literally have somewhat awkward but productive conversations using the “speak” feature, and the camera feature is nuts – it really comes in handy in a foreign grocery store for example.

Pro tip: download the languages you’ll need in advance to store offline

12. XE Currency Converter

screen shots of XE Currency Converter app

Transfer money in 65 currencies to over 170 countries, monitor live exchange rates, and more. You can also store info offline for later, in case you lose connectivity.

13. Speedtest 

screen shots of the speedtest app

Test your wifi speed at hotels, cafes, or wherever you might be. This is especially great if you’re a digital nomad and heavily reliant on a solid speed.

14. Signal – Private Messenger

Free and instantaneous communication anywhere in the world. Whether sending  and receiving high fidelity messages or having HD voice/video calls, end-to-end encryption keeps conversations secure. Signal is optimized to operate in the most constrained environment possible, so messages are delivered quickly and reliably, even on slow networks.

15. What3Words 

This is such a brilliant concept. It divides the world into 3 meter squares (around 10 ft., for us Americans) and gives each square a unique combination of 3 words. Find, share, and navigate to precise locations, within 3 meters, and never get lost again!

16.  WHO Info and WHO Academy: Covid 19 Learning 

screen shots of The WHO app. essential travel apps for 2021.

From a trusted source, the official World Health Organization Information app keeps the latest health information at your fingertips. It displays the latest news, events, features, and breaking updates on outbreaks. 

WHO Academy: Covid-19 Learning gives updated news and statistics on the pandemic, and you can also register for realtime notifications in your area.

17. Noonlight: Feel Protected 24/7

screen shot of the Noonlight mobile phone app

If you’ve ever felt unsafe and questioned whether it was dangerous enough to call 911, Noonlight uses advanced technology to get emergency help to your exact location with the release of a button. Just press & hold the button whenever you feel uneasy, release it when you reached your safe destination, and enter your 4-digit pin. If you are in danger, simply press and release the button without entering your pin and local police will be notified of your location and emergency.

18. HappyCow – Vegan Food Near You

screen shots of the HappyCow vegan food locating app for tablets. essential travel apps for 2021.

We know that traveling can often present dietary challenges, especially if you’re a vegan or vegetarian. HappyCow helps you find vegan and vegetarian restaurants in 180 countries! 

19. OpenRice

screen shots of the Open Rice app

From searching and booking restaurants to finding take-away, OpenRice helps you get your nom-nom on while traveling in Asia. It’s very similar to Yelp and as widely used there as Yelp is here, from what we can tell. And while we’re talking Asia and food, check out our post on foods you should try in Japan that aren’t sushi!

20. Unit Converter

screen shots of Unit Converter app. essential travel apps for 2021.

More utilitarian than fun or cool, this app allows you to convert things like distance, area, fuel mileage, temperature, speed and more. 

21. VoiceMap Audio Tours

screen shots of VoiceMap Audio Tours app. essential travel apps for 2021.

Here’s a fun one to wrap things up. VoiceMap provides offline GPS-guided audio walks, cycles, drives, and even boat rides in 200+ cities worldwide. The tours are produced by insightful local storytellers, including journalists, filmmakers, novelists, podcasters, and tour guides, and they tell you stories about what you’re seeing right now!

Your Turn!

Ok, so how’s that “travel” folder on your home screen filling up now? And more importantly, what did we miss? Hopefully you’ve found some new essential travel apps here to help you spend less time figuring crap out and more time actually enjoying your journeys. Also, if there are any apps for traveling that we missed that are on your list, please drop it in the comments below! Apps are always coming and going and we’d love to keep this list fresh as we learn of the latest & greatest. We’re all in this travel thing together, and that’s our favorite part – the community!

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