Mobile devices have changed pretty much every facet of our daily lives but very few industries are being disrupted quite like the travel industry. Travel apps in 2019 have completely changed the world and if anything the pace of innovation is picking up.
Gone are the days of printing boarding passes, changing travellers cheques or booking a taxi over the phone a day in advance. Travel still isn’t always painless, but it has been made a lot easier with the advent of some exciting new technologies.
We asked the Big 7 Travel team – who are spread around the world and who travel on a daily basis – and our readers: “what are the apps that you simply couldn’t do without?” These are the apps that have changed the face of travel in 2019, and will continue to do so.
Haven’t downloaded any of these yet? Once you have, you’ll never visit somewhere new without them…
How did we rank the apps?
Our team considered the following when ranking the top 20 travel apps:
- Apps are ranked in order of nice-to-have to absolutely essential
- Ease of use, unique features and ingenuity
- No. of user downloads
- Big 7 Travel reader feedback
- In-app design
- Customer support options
Best Travel Apps in 2019:
What it does : Helps you create a list of everything you need to back based on a specific location.
What you need it for : Not forgetting things like adaptors or your gym shorts – like you normally do.
The killer feature : Being able to tick things off within the app as you pack them in real time.
What it does : Allows you to stay in people’s homes or offer up your own couch to have somebody crash on it.
What you need it for : Connecting with like-minded local people who know the area better than you, or meeting interesting travellers and showing them your city.
The killer feature : Low cost (and often 100% free!) way of staying in expensive cities.
What it does : They deliver food and retail products to you at your gate inside an airport.
What you need it for : Their motto is that you shouldn’t fly hungry, as we often do. They’ll do all the hard work.
The killer feature : Ordering a coffee to be delivered to you at the gate early morning, or a pair of sunglasses that you were eyeing up in Duty Free.
What it does : A community of hostels around the world and booking engine.
What you need it for : Unlike hotels, hostels are more about the community and meeting like minded people. The reviews and community help you find what type of place to stay.
The killer feature : 36,000 hostels all with totally honest reviews from fellow backpackers.
What it does : Helps you protect your identity online and surf the web as if you were at home or in another location.
What you need it for : Watching Netflix or other media services as you would at home.
The killer feature : Protecting your identity when surfing on open wireless networks when traveling and preventing your banking details becoming compromised.
What it does : Keeps track of your itineraries, boarding passes, and frequent-flier programs.
What you need it for : Helping you manage very frequent travel.
The killer feature : You can track boarding and landing times, along with current waits for check-in, security and customs.
What it does : Helps you claim compensation and get help when your travel plans fall through or flights get canceled.
What you need it for : We’ve all been caught out of pocket. This app is on your side to get you money back.
The killer feature : Getting you money back through compensation that you might never have known was possible.
What it does : Process over 2 billion searches a year helping people find the best priced flights, hotels and car rental.
What you need it : Saving money on accommodation and transports.
The killer feature : Automatic booking with price alerts built in.
What it does : Teaches you languages in a fun and engaging way.
What you need it for : To very quickly be able to pick up some works and phrases before arriving in a new country.
The killer feature : The gamification technology that rewards you and helps you learn a lot within hours or days.
What it does : Allows anybody in the world to sell experiences to travellers. You can avail of these tailored experiences anywhere in the world.
What you need it for : Getting to know the country you are visiting and meeting locals in a unique and safe space.
The killer feature : Teaming an experience up with their local accommodation to have a truly unique feeling for a destination.
What it does : Super detailed weather forecasts, including radar maps of rain and live alerts.
What you need it : Most people don’t have lots of time on their vacations, so planning when to hit up the beach can be tough. This allows you to track the weather by the hour.
The killer feature : Live radar to track incoming weather.
What it does : Helps you find airport lounges around the world and check which ones you have access to, by sussing out your personalised offers and deals (on your credit cards etc).
What you need it for : Treating yourself at affordable prices and making travelling way more comfortable.
The killer feature : Identifying lounges where you can have free access that you may not have known you had.
What it does : It takes all the information (booking emails, receipts etc) you have and creates a single itinerary for every trip you take.
What you need it for : Booking a trip could involve dozens of emails and confirmations. This app acts as your virtual private assistant.
The killer feature : Being able to send plans straight to your calendar or anyone you choose. No more messages from friends asking where the hotel is!
What it does : It helps you discover how to get anywhere in the world by plane, train, bus, ferry and car.
What you need it for : We all spend hours trying to research how to get from A to B when travelling. Let them do all the hard work for you.
The killer feature : Saving money by choosing alternative ways of travel you wouldn’t have thought about. Car pool, anyone?
What it does : Locals are always the people who know an area best. This app allows you to book tours, activities and trips with locals as your guide.
What you need it for : You’ll really get under the skin of your destination and experience things most visitors won’t.
The killer feature : A local guide who will personalise your entire experience to your needs.
What it does : It predicts prices and helps you book your flights and hotels at the right time, saving you up to 40%.
What you need it for : Saving money. Simple!
The killer feature : Being able to book up to one year in advance and knowing the exact time to get the best price.
What it does : Maps that are stored on your phone and don’t need the internet.
What you need it for : Arriving in new countries with no connection. Finding hotels. Using taxis. Basically, not getting lost.
The killer feature : Offline mode. No phone connection or WIFI? No problem.
What it does : Ride-sharing app that has everything from high end limousines to small local cars.
What you need it for : Getting around affordably and not having to call or wait for taxis in strange countries.
The killer feature : Not getting ripped off when arriving in a new country. The pricing is all transparent; you use the same app and login in every country.
What it does : Price comparison site that searches millions of flights from 1000s of providers.
What you need it for : To save money, find cheap flights and book multi-destination tickets.
The killer feature : Price alerts you can set up for when prices change and the ‘anywhere’ filter, which shows you the cheapest destinations to fly to on your desired dates.
What it does : An online banking app that has 5 million people already using it across the world. Send people money easily, change currency in real time, buy cryptocurrency, get access to airport lounges, travel insurance and many more super features.
What you need it for : Moving around different countries, taking out cash and transferring between as many currencies as you want.
The killer feature : Splitting bills and sharing money with friends or when traveling with a couple in just a few simple clicks.