What to consider when choosing a travel app (2022 Tourist guide)

What to consider when choosing a travel app (2022 Tourist guide)

One of the funniest experiences that I had while on holiday was when I was on honeymoon in Mauritius with my wife. We were on a day tour and my wife commented on the poor driving in the country saying, if only you could tell which drivers are bad just by looking at them. Our tour guide replied…I’m sure that someone is developing an app for that.

There truly is an app for everything and every occasion. This makes planning an international vacation a lot easier than it used to be. However, there are some things you need to pay attention to when choosing an app.

To ensure that you remain connected when travelling abroad, make sure that you make use of a travel SIM card.

Travel app type

There are many kinds of travel apps. The main categories are listed in the table below.

Travel CategoryExample of Travel AppsMain Feature
Travel Planning AppsTripIt, Sygic Travel Trip Planner, Roadtrippers, Kayak, TripAdvisorAllows travellers to plan their international travel without using travel agents.
Cheap Flight Booking AppsSkyscanner, Expedia, Kayak, Priceline, Cheapoair.comAllows travellers to book the cheapest flights to their destination.
Travel Accommodation AppsHostelworld, HotelTonight, Couchsurfing, Priceline.com, OrbitzAllows travellers to find the best deals on hotels at their destination.
Navigation AppsGoogle Maps, Waze, Sygic Navigation and GPS, MapQuest, Spotted by Locals Allows travellers to navigate the streets and sights at their destination.
Travel Budget Apps PocketGuard, Tripcoin, Trip Expense Manager, TravelSpend, TripMateAllows travellers to plan their vacation according to a specific budget.
Packing AppsPackTeo, OneBag, Easy Pack, PackPoint, PackKingAllows travellers to plan their packing needs for their vacation through helpful checklists.
Travel Diary appsDriftr, Bonjournal, Polarsteps, Momento, Day One JournalAllows travellers to document their trip to create lasting memories.
Weather AppsWeather Bug, Weather Channel, AccuWeather, 1Weather, Yahoo WeatherAllows travellers to check the weather of their destination. Daily, weekly and monthly forecasts are available.
Travel Itinerary AppsGuides by Lonely Planet, Hopper, Skiplagged, Skyscanner, Sygic TravelAllows travellers to create travel itiniaries so that they can plan their excertions.
Safety AppsSitata Travel Safe, NordVPN, bSafe, CloseCircle, TripLingoAllows travellers to create safety alerts for their travel destination.
Currency Conversion AppsXE Currency Exchange, Easy Currency Converter, All Currency Converter, Currency, Currency Converter Plus LiveAllows travellers to convert their currency of choice to the currency used at their destination.
Translation AppsiTranslate Voice 3, Google Translate, SayHi, TextGrabber, Microsoft TranslatorAllows travellers to translate from their language of choice to the language used at their destination and vice-versa. 
Apps to Find Travel BuddiesCouchSurfing, UNBLND, Travello, WorldPackers, Travel BuddyAllows travellers to find travel buddies so that they can share their experiences with someone. 
Travel Bucket List AppsTripbucket, iWish Life Goals Wishlist Bucket List, Visited: Been Map, Everyday Bucket List, Strides Habit Tracker Allows travellers to create travel bucket lists so that they can travel with a purpose. 
Local Tour Guides AppsViator, Getyourguide, Airbnb Experiences, Tours by Locals, GuruWalkAllows travellers to find out more information about the sights and experiences of their travel destination. 
Transport AppsCitymapper, Uber, Rome2Rio, Here WeGo (formerly Here Maps)Allows travellers to book public transportation at their travel destination. 
Airport Navigation AppsGateGuru, FlightBoard, LoungeBuddy, TripAdvisor, Just LandedProvides travellers with helpful tips on how to navigate the airport of the destination they are travelling to. 
Travel Guide AppsHopper, Culture Trip, LoungeBuddy, Duolingo, CitymapperAllows travellers to have the information that is packed into a travel guide on their phone. 
Flight Tracking AppsFlightAware Flight Tracker, Flightview – Flight Tracker, FlightStats, Plane Finder – Flight Tracker, Flight BoardAllows travellers to track the progress of their flight or the flight of a family member that is coming to visit them. 
Car Rental AppsGetaround, Kayak, Zipcar, Hertz, Enterprise Rent-A-CarAllows travellers to book car hire at their travel destination.  
Restaurant Apps Zomato, Foodspotting, Roaming Hunger, ChefsFeed, ZagatProvides reccomendations about where travellers should enjoy the best culinary experience at their travel destination. 
Couch Surfing AppsTrustedHoussitter, Airbnb, HomeAway, Tripping, HomeStayAllows travellers to find the best housesitting deals at a destination that they want to travel to. 

When planning your next international vacation, make sure you are making use of a tip travel app.

Further reading: Top 110 Best travel apps (2022 International tourist guide).

App store

App store

Most apps will be available in your app store.

Travel apps are fiercely competitive and app developers will design app that will feature in most major app stores. On the rare occasion you will find an app that will only be found on iOS or Android. However, an equivalent app can be found in the store that doesn’t feature the exact app that you want.

Do you want to know what the most downloaded travel apps in the world are?

Further reading: Top 10 most downloaded travel apps (2022 Tourist guide).


This is one of the most important things to pay attention to when choosing a travel app.

Not all apps are equal. Each app is designed to carry out and perform a specific function. It is important to look at the features of an app to make sure that the app does what you want it to do.

Apps from similar categories (such as weather apps) will have similar features. However, there are occasions where some apps will have added features. For example, a specific travel app may offer the ability to email the weather forecast of your destination to your packing app. Your packing app will then be able to recommend clothing based on this information.

If Covid has taught us anything it is that we don’t get along with everyone. On a trip abroad, there will be some tourists that you will want to spend time with and some tourists that you will want to avoid.

Further reading: 20 Types of tourists (2022 Travellers guide).



When it comes to apps, most travellers will naturally gravitate towards free apps.

While these apps will do what the user wants there are some things that the user needs to consider. Some of the apps functionality may be locked behind a pay wall and some apps may offer in-app purchases in order to enjoy all of the apps features.

So how do apps make money? Mostly through advertising. Most apps will provide you with the option to not have any ads when you upgrade to the paid version of the app.

When travelling, connectivity is important. Make sure you are not left without a connection.

Further reading: What is a travel SIM card? (2022 international travellers guide).


This is where you can really tell whether an app makes the grade or not.

An app can feature all of the things that you want, but if it is not user friendly, it will receive a bad rating. Users use these ratings to make the final decision as to whether they should use the app or look for another one. On the other end of the scale, an app that receives rave reviews will receive the most downloads.

There are benefits to using a travel SIM card.

Further reading: Benefits of a travel SIM card (2022 International tourist guide).

App rating

An apps rating is calculated on the overall functionality of the app and the reviews that the app gets from users. Remember those prompts at the end of a level of Candy Crush or Farmville which asks you to rate the app?

An apps rating will tell you whether you are downloading a top app or not. The higher the app rating, the more downloads it will get.

If you don’t want to make use of a travel SIM card, then make sure that you enable international roaming on your mobile phone.

Further reading: What is international roaming & how it works.


Downloads can be a bit deceiving. An app may be great and have a perfect user interface, but it may have a low download rate.

Apps in certain categories will feature more downloads than others. A travel app like booking.com will have more downloads than the Avis car rental app. It is important to compare apps within the same category and then focus on the downloads. For example. Compare the downloads of booking.com against the Expedia app.

Provided you are comparing apps within the same category, downloads is a good way to determine whether you are looking at a top app.

International roaming can be expensive. Make sure you know how to manage these costs.

Further reading: How to avoid roaming charges (2022 Travellers guide).

User experience

A users experience is important when designing an app. This is why most apps spend a lot of time and effort going through reviews and taking them seriously.

A good user experience will improve an app and will increase its star rating. It will also encourage others to download the app. A bad user experience will offer suggestions to app developers on how they can improve the app. Bad reviews will decrease an apps star rating and may discourage other users from downloading the app.

Customer support

Most apps are designed to optimise the user experience. If the user doesn’t have a good experience, they can contact the customer support desk to ask for help or offer suggestions about how the app can be improved.

It is important to be very clear when you contact customer support. Be very clear about what the problem is and how it is impacting your ability to use the app. Using this information, the customer support agent can help you and provide feedback to app developers on how they can improve the app.  

App developer

App developers build apps and design upgrades for apps.

App developers spend a lot of time with clients in meetings listening to what they want the app to do and the functionality that the app may have.

Competitor apps

The world of travel apps is very competitive. Therefore, there is generally more than one app that performs a specific function.

For example, booking.com allows you to browse for hotel bookings at your destination based on your specific search criteria. Kayak does the same thing but also allows you to book flight tickets at the same time.

Know what you want from an app and then choose accordingly.

App permissions

App permissions will influence the user experience of the app.

For instance, most apps require that they use your GPS location. This will allow the app to make certain recommendations based on your geo-location. However, it is important that you select that this is an option only when using the app. Allowing the app to constantly use GPS may leave an open door for hackers.

Apps have made our lives easier. It is now possible to plan your trip abroad from start to finish without even stepping foot near a travel agent. Make sure you are using a top app by following the above advise.

Choosing a travel app FAQ

  • Will I be using my personal information such as banking details and my physical address then using a travel app?
    Some travel apps may require you to provide some personal information such as banking details and addresses. If you are unsure about the network you are working on, use a VPN app.
  • Will I have to use multiple apps when booking a vacation or can I use one app?
    Depending on how you want to tailor your vacation, you may need to use more than one app. However, apps such as KAYAK allow you to book multiple experiences through one app.
  • Will my app be available in my preferred language?
    Most apps are designed in English. However, some apps provide you with the opportunity to change the language of the app into your preferred language.
  • What are the dangers of not paying attention to the app permissions that I enable?
    Some apps also ask to send you push notifications. If this is enabled, and someone hacks the app, you may be unknowingly prompted to be a victim of cybercrime.  
  • Are travel apps free?
    Most travel apps are free and generate their revenue through advertising and in-app purchases. Apps that are not free will have less advertising.