The Travel Apps You Need For Your Next Trip

Who needs a travel agent when you’ve got a smartphone?

Photo by Bruno Gomiero

Travelling is one of the most amazing, fulfilling things you can experience, but it’s also one of the most stressful.

Every beautiful vacation photo you see on Instagram is the results of weeks and weeks of planning and budgeting. You have to stay alert for the best deals on flights, find clean and convenient (but still affordable) accommodation, and negotiate with your travel buddies over an itinerary that fits everyone’s interests. And when you finally get to your dream destination, you have to figure out how their everyday stuff works, from bus routes to self-checkout counters to tipping — and often in a foreign language!

Just to minimize stress, some people rely on travel agents or join tour groups to book and manage everything for them — but thankfully, in the Internet age, you can be your own travel agent armed with nothing more than your smartphone.

Read on to learn about travel apps that’ll help you make the most out of your next trip!

For maximizing your luggage space

Budget airlines are great for deals on cheap flights, but not so much for luggage space. We’ve shared some of our fave packing tips before, but you can save yourself a lot of effort rolling up clothes and squeezing them into packing cubes if you lessen the amount of clothes you bring in the first place.

I used to just throw all my favorite clothes into a bag and decide what to wear for each day on the spot, but I’ve since become a believer in planning my travel wardrobe in advance. Outfit planning apps like GlamOutfit, Smart Closet, and ClosetSpace have been a revelation— you add the clothes you own to your virtual wardrobe, put together outfits, and then schedule them on a calendar for specific days.

This makes it easy to avoid redundant packing — it ensures that every piece of clothing you’re putting in your bag is assigned to a specific day and will actually be used, and you’ll even be able to see where you can re-wear certain pieces like jeans or jackets. It also lets you map outfits to your itinerary, so you’re sure to use your sneakers for the walking tour you booked, and save your cute sandals for your museum day instead.

SmartCloset | ClosetSpace | GlamOutfit

Some of these apps can even create packing lists out of your planned outfits — but if you’re looking for something even more automated, check out smart packing list apps like PackPoint or PackKing. These apps will auto-generate a suggested packing list based on things like your planned activities and the weather, which you can tweak afterwards.

PackKing | PackPoint

Shop travel bags and backpacks on ZALORA Philippines.

For planning — and sticking to — your itinerary

It’s easy to list down what you want to see and do on your trip — the tricky part is organizing that list into an itinerary, especially if it’s your first time visiting that city. You have no sense of how close the attractions really are, or how much time you’ll actually spend at each stop.

It can get overwhelming, so the first step is to create a saved map on Google Maps and pin all the places you want to go to. This will give you an easy overview of how your must-sees are scattered around the city so you can cluster them accordingly. You can even create preset directions between different points on your map so it’s easy to open them when you need them.

And even if some of the places you pin don’t make it into your final itinerary, keep them there — you never know if you’ll have some extra time on your hands, so it’s good to know what else you can do nearby!

Some other app alternatives to Google Maps are Ulmon’s CityMaps2Go, Maps.Me, and Triposo.

The Google Map I used to plan one of my trips last year
Tip: if you won’t have a stable WiFi connection, download the map to use offline.

Once you decide where exactly to go, of course, you’ll need to plan how to get around. Certain cities are very walkable, especially in the CBD area, but others (like Manila) will require you to drive or use public transit to get around. If you don’t want the stress of taking care of a rental car and figuring out parking, there’s always ride-hailing apps like Uber, Grab (SEA), or Lyft (USA).

Personally, though, one of the best ways to get a sense of a city is to use their public transit. Google Maps has decent directions for public transportation built in, but more specialized public transit apps like CityMapper or Moovit can give you details down to the exact arrival of your bus, which station entrance to use, and even which train car to sit in.

CityMapper | Moovit

For staying within budget

If you don’t already use an app to track your expenses for your day-to-day life, definitely download one for your trip. There are dozens of options out there, varying from super basic to very detailed (and with a few specifically dedicated to travel), so take the time to try some out and see what works best for you. A couple of suggestions to get you started: Wally, Fudget, Spendee (general expense tracking); Trail Wallet, TrabeePocket (travel-specific).

Another travel-expense related headache comes when you’re travelling with a group. When I went on my graduation trip with my friends, we used a complicated Google Sheet full of formulas for us to work out who owed who how much — and once we got home, I found out that there was actually already an app for that (as there is for pretty much anything you can think of).

Group expense tracking/splitting apps like Splitwise or Splittr make navigating shared expenses super easy. Just make an entry every time one person pays for another person or for the whole group, and your balances will automatically update. No need to figure out the bill at each meal.

Splitwise | Splittr

For living like a local

One of my favorite things about travelling is immersing in other cultures, and an easy way to do is that to learn the local language! If you’ve got some time, language learning apps like Duolingo or Memrise gamify the process and make it so that you can commit as little as five minutes a day. Even if you don’t progress past the first couple of lessons, you’re sure to at least pick up a few useful phrases.

Even if you do try to learn the language in advance, make sure to have a translation app handy once you’re there. Google Translate is my personal go-to because you can use it offline (just make sure to download the language library beforehand). But its augmented reality is probably its coolest and most useful feature— just point your camera at a sign or a menu, and you’ll see the translation right on your screen!

Another essential part of experiencing another culture is experiencing their food. The best way to find out where to eat is to ask a local — but if you don’t have family or friends living in wherever you’re going to, the next best thing is restaurant review apps, like TripAdvisor or Yelp. Reviews on Google and Facebook pages are also super helpful. Just make sure to take everything you read with a grain of salt!

For keeping your ~aesthetic~ on point

Photo by Eaters Collective

If you’re keeping your social meed feeds updated on your travels, don’t forget to have a photo editing app or two ready. If the editing options on Instagram aren’t enough for you, other popular options are VSCO, Snapseed, and Adobe Lightroom (yup, there’s an app version — and it’s free!). You can give your posts a consistent look and feel by setting up a custom filter and using it for all your pictures from the trip.

Another fun way to keep your trip on theme is to create a soundtrack for it. There are tons of playlists on Spotify or YouTube full of songs dedicated to or inspired by specific cities or countries — think “I Left My Heart In San Francisco” or “London Calling” or our own “Manila”. Hype yourself up for your trip by listening to your soundtrack on the bus or plane ride over.

Did we miss any of your must-have travel apps?

Let us know in the comments section below! And if you’re looking to get a head start on your Holy Week trip, head on over to ZALORA to pick up travel accessories that’ll make travelling a lot easier.

Thread by ZALORA is a fashion, beauty, and lifestyle community where fashion-forward, tech-savvy writers come together to share their insights and discuss trends. Got a story? Drop us an email at!