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These days, prepping your phone for vacation is just as important as what goes in your suitcase. Your cell can do it all, from booking hotels and checking into your flight, to finding you the best place to eat and how to ask for the bill. There's no shortage of apps promising to make your trip cheaper, easier, and less hassle - but which ones are really worth it?

Don't clutter up your phone with lots of one-trick apps. Here are the 21 best travel apps from all categories of travel, from planning to on-the-go emergencies, that will really make a difference in the comfort of your trip.

Types of travel apps: 

Itinerary Apps

Packing Apps

Finance Apps

Communication Apps

Apps for When You're There

Let’s start with the basics. 

Flights:

When searching for the cheapest flights, we usually have a few apps going and cross-reference them. Skyscanner and Momondo bring you the cheapest flight prices from all over the world, Kayak can tell you the best time to buy your tickets, and if you're flexible with your destination and travel dates, Skiplagged finds loophole prices to get you the best possible deal.

Accommodation:

Especially in Europe, Airbnb is often cheaper than staying in a (much smaller!) hotel room. Plus, you get to experience the city like a local - your host may even have some insider tips for you! When we do choose to go the hotel route, Booking.com usually has the widest selection and cheapest rates.

If you're looking for something more budget-minded or would like to meet fellow world travelers, check out HostelWorld or Couchsurfing.

Transportation:

Unless you're driving every day, it's typically not worth getting a rental car. When you can't walk or bike somewhere, you can rely on Uber or Lyft for safe rides that are often less than a taxi. We keep both on our phone since their coverage varies from city to city.

Our Top 11 Best Travel Apps

Now that we have the basics covered, here are the eleven best apps that you may not have heard of that will really make a difference on your next trip. These won't take up too much real estate on your phone, and you'll use all of them, we promise.

1. TripIt

TripIt takes all the grunt work out of making an itinerary by organizing all of your bookings and sending you reminders about upcoming deadlines. Just forward all your booking confirmations to plan@tripit.com, and - presto - your master itinerary is at your fingertips.

2. Packing Pro 

Packing Pro allows you to customize your packing list based off their expert sample that most closely corresponds to your travel details. You can even build an all-inclusive pre-trip checklist right in the app.

3. Trail Wallet

Trail Wallet's user-friendly interface allows you to categorize expenses in a way that makes sense to you, so that budgeting is easy and you don't have to carry receipts.

4. Splittr 

If you travel in a group, managing finance can be a problem, but not with Splittr . This app helps to track expenses, including multiple currencies, works offline and syncs with friends. All you need is add expenses as you go and the app will do the math. 

5. XE Currency

XE gives you real-time currency conversion rates offline so you can easily calculate exchange rates and make sure you're actually getting a good deal on that commemorative snowglobe.

6. WhatsApp

International minutes get expensive quickly. WhatsApp lets you message, call, and even video chat with anyone in the app for free, as long as you have the data for it.

7. ICE Contact 

ICE lets you send instant or delayed messages to your high-priority contacts In Case of Emergency, with the option to enable GPS location tracking.

8. LocalEats

If you're traveling foodie, you need LocalEats, the app that will curate the best local dining options in your area. You can customize your search based on proximity, cuisine, dietary restrictions, and price point. And you will not find chain restaurants in the app, only the best independently owned restaurants in the United States + 50 foreign cities. 

9. IP Vanish 

The problem with keeping everything on your phone is keeping all that important information secure. Thankfully, IP Vanish creates an anonymous VPN so that your internet activity can't be traced.

10. Camera Plus

The best iPhone camera-enhancing app out there, Camera Plus will help you get those stunning travel photos you're always scrolling through. The in-app photo editor is simple but powerful.

11. CityMaps2Go

Attempting to navigate a foreign city with spotty data is a nightmare. CityMaps2Go allows you to download a city map while you're online and mark points of interest, so when you're on the go, you know exactly how to get there.

Minimize the stress of travel with these apps that will help you book, plan, and pack for your trip - and keep you safe and connected once you've arrived. The difference they will make in your travel planning is night and day. Bon voyage!

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