We live in a mobile world saturated with apps, and while not all of them are actually worth investing your time (or money) into, there are quite a few that can actually help you save money and travel better. These travel apps do everything from tracking your travel expenses and unearthing deals on hotels and car rentals to helping you skip the line at immigration or find the cheapest gas to fuel up your car.
We’ve put together this list of our favorite travel apps designed for travelers who want to save money and travel smart.
Best Travel Apps for Hotels and Lodging
For the flexible or last-minute traveler, HotelTonight offers incredible deals on hotel rooms for same-day bookings (as well as bookings in the near future—up 90 days out). The savings can be significant and every listing has photos and traveler reviews so you know exactly what you’re getting for the price. While they don't yet cover every destination around the world, HotelTonight is available in most major cities and tourist hotspots. One caveat: when you book you aren't guaranteed which room type you'll get, only that it'll fit two adults.
>> Read our guide to getting the cheapest hotel room every time.
If you’ve got a long layover or need somewhere to crash for a few hours during the day, the Dayuse app lets you access a selection of hotels where you can book a room with up to 75% off an overnight stay. You pay by the hour (but don't let that conjure up unsavory images; these are nice rooms at legit hotels), and cancellation is free up until the last minute. So next time you've got some time to kill between flights and don't want to just hang in the airport, it's worth checking to see what's available for a quick nap or quiet space to freshen up.
Of course you've heard of Airbnb. It's one of the biggest travel companies on the planet, with millions of accommodations (and now experiences, too) around the world. Their easy to use app lets you book accommodations from a roster of over four million vacation home rentals in more than 191 countries. You’ll often find incredible accommodations ranging from villas to apartments to yurts for a fraction of the cost of a hotel booking and you can choose from the entire home or a private room in a shared space with lots of other filters too, like number of beds, air conditioning, pool, etc.
Hostelworld is hands-down the best tool for searching hostel dorm accommodations and private rooms around the world. The app lets you search for hostels using a wide range of filters, including price, location, and ratings. And it's not all party spots for cheap travelers—you can find private rooms and more upscale hostels too.
VRBO (formerly known as Vacation Rentals by Owner, now part of HomeAway and the Expedia group) has emerged as Airbnb's main competitor and while they have slightly fewer properties, the spaces listed on VRBO are all private spaces you'll have all to yourself (unlike on Airbnb, which also lists rooms in people's homes). From homes and condos to cabins and cottages, there are more than two million options around the world.
There are dozens of options for apps to help you book hotels but Booking.com is one of the easiest to use. You can select the number of people, number of rooms you need, features you want, dates and location, and it shows you options in that city and nearby, along with the total amount for your entire trip. It also clearly lays out extras like taxes and resort fees so you know what you're truly getting into, and you can usually book with no deposit and no cancellation fee.
Best Travel Apps for Budgeting
Trying to get your finances in order so you can save more for future trips? Mint is one of the best free money management and financial tracking apps. It tracks all your info from your bank accounts, credit cards, bills, and investments in one place to show you where your money goes and how you can spend and save better—whatever your priorities are.
Ibotta makes it easy to earn cash back rewards on almost every purchase, including everyday essentials like groceries. You can use Ibotta if you’re shopping, traveling, dining out or making in-app purchases, and you’ll see the cash back in your account. They parter with more than 1,500 major brands like Gap, Petco, Target, Domino's Pizza, The Home Deport, and Sephora, so you can get cash back on almost anything you buy.
Saving money is hard. Acorns tries to make it a little easier by taking small amounts you'll hardly notice. The app automatically invests the spare change from all your purchases with round-ups (rounding your purchase to the nearest dollar) or recurring investments. Your money will go into a diversified smart portfolio built by experts so it’s an easy way to invest small amounts that can have a big impact over time.
How much is 10,000 Icelandic kronur in US dollars? If I exchange $50 US, how much should I get in Japanese yen? XE has you covered. This currency exchange app lets you calculate prices with the currency converter and monitor up to 10 different currencies of your choice. You’ll have a better understanding of what you’re spending and whether or not you’re getting ripped off in currency exchanges, plus you can use the app offline.
Overspending on your trip is easy to do. You might think you're only spend a bit each day, but if you're not careful, it adds up and soon you're coming home with more credit card debt than souvenirs. Trail Wallet makes it easy to track your expenses while on the road. Organize your expenses by trip or month, set a daily budget, add your expenses (you can scan your bills and receipts), and then review how you’re doing with the app’s insightful breakdowns.
Best Travel Apps for Transportation
The incredibly handy Gasbuddy app lets drivers find the nearest gas station with the lowest-priced gas. Even using this app day-to-day could save you a few hundred dollars per year on gas if you drive frequently, and that’s a lot of vacation savings.
With the current rental car shortage, Turo has skyrocketed in popularity. Turo is a car-sharing marketplace where you can book a vehicle from a local host in the US, Canada, the UK, or Germany. It’s an affordable alternative to traditional car rental services, plus they also offer some unique wheels (like sports cars and campervans).
Need a car just for a few hours? There's no need to pay for it when you're not driving, with Getaround, peer-to-peer car-sharing app much like Turo, but providing on-demand rentals by the hour or day. It’s great if you only need a car for day trips but don’t want the hassle of multiple trips to the car rental office. It’s currently available in six US cities.
Zipcar is similar to Getaround. It's another car rental service that lets you locate vehicles in your area to rent by the hour or day but it's available in a lot more places, including in the US, UK, Costa Rica, Taiwan, Iceland, Turkey, and Canada. Gas, insurance, mileage, and parking is included in your reservation so there are no surprise fees and it’s easy to have the car only when you need it.
Need a ride but don't want your own wheels? BlaBlaCar is a global long-distance carpooling service that lets you ride along with a driver who is going the same way and contribute to gas expenses. It’s great for places where bus service or train service is limited. It's basically a more modern, safer, and more convenient version of hitchhiking, and you might make a buddy in the process.
You've probably heard of Lyft, the ridesharing service that lets you request a ride straight from the app, get picked up by a trusted community driver, and then get dropped off at your destination. The rates are often more affordable than a taxi, you'll know the fare in advance, you can pre-schedule pickup, and there are built-in safety features. Note: Lyft is only available in the United States and Canada (at the moment).
Uber is the other famous name in ridesharing. It was the pioneer of ridesharing apps and is arguably more popular than Lyft (perhaps because it’s global). It’s particularly handy while traveling because you can track the route via the app so you never have to worry about a driver trying to take you the long way for a higher fare.
MyTaxi is Europe’s biggest licensed taxi app (available in 100+ cities, including many where Uber doesn’t operate), allowing you to book, track, and pay for a taxi directly in-app. You can book in advance and get fare estimates for your journey.
With Rome2rio, simply input your starting point and end destination (whether it’s an address or a landmark) and you’ll instantly get results for all your best travel options—including plane, train, car, bus, or ferry—so you can compare time and costs for various options.
Transit is an incredibly comprehensive real-time transport app for finding the best route around a city. The design is beautiful and you can select which types of transit you want to see (only subway, for example) to remove even more clutter. You’ll even get upcoming departure times for metro lines near you, without ever having to tap a button.
Cabify is another ridesharing app with all the same features as Lyft and Uber, but with some pretty nifty personalization options: you can select your music, ask the driver to open the door for you, and request air-conditioning (a little high maintenance, maybe). It’s available in Portugal, Spain, and some Caribbean and South American countries.
>> Read our list of best apps for traveling in Europe.
Similar to GasBuddy but for parking lots, SpotHero makes it convenient to find and reserve parking in major US cities by giving you insider access to thousands of garages, lots, and valets, including at the airport. Plus you can save up to 50% off by booking in advance.
>> Read our guide to finding cheap car rentals.
Best Travel Apps for the Airport
There are few worse travel-related feelings than showing up to the airport 45 minutes before your flight to find an epically long security line. MiFlight lets you know how long the security line is at over 100 of the busiest US airports and an additional 100 airports globally. The app collects data from users and is pretty accurate within a few minutes, so you’ll know if you really have to the airport three hours before your flight or if you can wait a bit.
Don't have Global Entry? Mobile Passport allows US citizens and Canadian visitors to submit their passport and declaration forms to US Customs and Border Protection via the app rather than filling out traditional forms. From there, users can access expedited Mobile Passport lanes, which can be significantly shorter than the general queue. There's a paid version that saves your info or for you free, you can upload it upon landing.
Best General Travel Apps
WiFi Finder gives you access to more than two million hotspots worldwide. All you have to do is type in the address—whether it’s a cafe, airport, restaurant, etc.—and the app provides the rest, when available (it’ll even give you the login info if the network is protected).
With Splitwise you can share bills and IOUs with others, like household bills with roommates or group vacations with friends. If you’re traveling with others and sharing the cost, it’s an easy way to make sure everyone pays up fair and square without making things awkward.
PackPoint is a packing app and packing list builder that gives you solid recommendations on what you need to pack based on your length of travel, your destination, and your planned activities. You may need to tweak the list a little, but it’s a great starting point to make sure you have what you need but aren’t overpacking—and can thus save on checked bag fees.
Best Travel Apps for Dining
Groupon offers hugely discounted deals on products, activities, and vacations. If you’re traveling, you can use the app to find deals on restaurants, shopping, or even tours in your destination.
While many countries have their own popular reservation systems, OpenTable is often a good place to start. It lets you search for amazing dining experiences at more than 48,000 restaurants worldwide, and then make a reservation for free. You can also redeem points for dining rewards. In the US, you can also check Resy and Tock, two new platforms gaining steam.
Sometimes when you're traveling you just don't have the energy to go out to eat. That's okay. Ain't no shame in a takeout game. Order delicious takeaway straight to your door with Uber Eats app, available hundreds of cities around the world. If you’re traveling and looking for something local but are short on time, this is a great way to try some local flavors that don’t come from hotel room service. Note: Many countries have their own local delivery apps as well.
Best Apps for Flights
Skyscanner is one of the most popular flight search engines, and many of the deals we send our members can be found on Skyscanner. The app makes it easy to search and find flights, hotels, and car rentals all in one place. You can search and compare fares across the cheapest days and months, and book right from the app.
Scott’s Cheap Flights
Scott’s Cheap Flights isn’t technically an app; we provide an email subscription service that send amazing flight deals right to your inbox. Our team of flight experts spends hundreds of hours every week finding deals departing from airports around the US to destinations around the globe but we never clog your inbox with less-than-fantastic deals. Our members save an average of $550 per international economy ticket.
Join 2 million members of Scott's Cheap Flights and save up to 90% on flights.