Going on a holiday soon? Here are some iPhone and Android apps that can help you navigate, communicate, and even convert currencies when overseas.
Despite the satisfaction it brings from satiating all those wanderlusting desires, travelling can actually be an overwhelming task. “How much should I pack?”, “Am I spending too much on this trip?”, “How do I ask where the bathroom is in a foreign language?” – we’re certain that all of you have struggled with these problems at some point while globetrotting. But with these handy-dandy mobile apps, we’re positive they’ll give you that smooth-sailing vacay that you deserve. Read on and find out more about these best travel apps – thank us from the other side!
14 Handy apps for all travellers in Hong Kong
1. PackPoint – to get your luggage in order
Whether you’re a frequent traveller or not, packing for your trip can be quite the hassle. And despite coming up with the same ol’ list again and again, you’ll somehow still forget a toothbrush, socks or something important or trivial that you’ll regret on the plane. But with Pack Point, you can cruise through the packing process smoothly. This app will help generate a packing list with reference to the time of year you’re travelling, the activities you’ll be embarking on, and places you’ll be visiting. No more forget this or that!
Find out more about PackPoint.
2. TripIt – to organise your travel more efficiently
Planning for your trip can be a real pain in the butt, but you can reduce the hassle by consolidating your travel plans into a simple, convenient itinerary via TripIt. This mobile trip planner can display all your trip details such as flights, hotels, cars, maps, directions, at a glance. What’s great about this is that it can help you to do all the dirty work. All you have to do is to link your email account to TripIt, and the service will automatically scan through your inbox for reservation confirmations and consolidates all the information onto a readable itinerary. You can also sync your itineraries with your contacts, on Facebook and Twitter, so your overseas mates can join you along the way!
Find out more about TripIt.
3. iTranslate – for speedy translations
Available for both Android and Apple users, iTranslate is the best travel app for when you’re lost in translation, literally. With its simple, minimalistic interface, it is easy to use. It can help you to instantly translate between over 90 languages.If you want to learn how to pronounce the foreign word correctly, the app will say it out loud for you. With its useful voice input and text-to-speech functions, you can communicate with the locals at wherever you are with ease. What’s more? You can also share the newly translated work in a text message, email or even on Facebook so you can refer back to it thereafter.
Find out more about iTranslate.
4. Duolingo – to learn the local language beforehand
What’s more daunting than travelling to a country that speaks a language you have a limited knowledge of? Time to download Duolingo – our go-to language-learning app whenever we want a crash course in local linguistics. With this app, you can start familiarising yourself with any of the languages available on the app even before your trip, and begin practising basics in an easy, approachable manner. Its lessons are fragmented into easily digestible segments – making it easier to commit to picking up a new language. Duolingo can teach you a few important phrases that can definitely be put to good use when you’re in a completely new environment – like “Where is the bathroom?”, or “How much is this?”, or “No officer, I didn’t do it”.
Find out more about Duolingo.
5. XE Currency – for quick currency conversions
The go-to site for currency conversion on the web, it’s hardly startling that the XE Currency app is popular amongst traveller, with over 20 million downloads since its launch. On top of the array of business-oriented features like rates for precious metals and historic currency charts, XE Currency is pretty handy for travellers as it’s able to convert every world currency. It also works offline, via saving the last updated rates – good news for those who are visiting places with limited connectivity!
Find out more about XE Currency.
6. Expensify – to keep your budget in place
It doesn’t matter if you’re business traveller or are travelling for leisure, Expensify should be your best friend as it can help you keep an easy expense report. Capable of manually tracking expenses, photologging receipts and even importing purchase information from your credit card for IRS-validated eReceipts, Expensify is your trusty travel app if you’re pretty uptight on your travel spending and not wanting to bust your budget. Moreover, Expensify also includes input options for travel mileage, time and rate based expenses, and automatic currency conversion.
Find out more about Expensify.
7. Uber – to travel from one point to another, cashless
It works extremely well locally, of course it’s gonna be just as handy overseas! With its sturdy reputation, it’s undeniable that Uber is useful when you need to get from one point to another when you’re without a penny in your wallet. This cab-hailing app is utterly convenient and efficient, and has great customer service that’ll aid you almost instantly, especially when you’re encountering troubles trying to flag down a cab.
Find out more about Uber.
8. Citymapper – to use public transportation with ease
A reliable transit app that offers travel options via time, cost, and mass transit, Citymapper is the navigating app that you must have on your mobile phone. It is comprehensive, user-friendly and provides detailed journey-planning information such as real-time departures, disruption alerts and even cycle routes.
Find out more about Citymapper.
9. Hopper – to snatch the best deal on flights
Searching for the best deal on flights? Hopper is the perfect travel app for that. This well-designed airfare prediction app analyses flights throughout the world and helps predict the cheapest flights; and it even tells you when you should grab it. You can also set alerts, so that you’ll receive the latest updates on flight prices immediately – book your flights smartly!
Find out more about Hopper.
10. Couchsurfing – to have a roof over your head (for free!)
If you’re all about that offbeat travel adventure, you definitely need to download the Couchsurfing app on your mobile straightaway. Why, you ask? On top of allowing you to meet new people from an international community of over 9 million travel enthusiasts in 120,000 cities, Couchsurfing creates an authentic travel experience as you get to stay with local hosts who can provide adventurous, unconventional itineraries – deviating away from all the typical tourist guides. What’s more? Your stay with hosts will be free. You don’t always need a queen-size bed for some shut-eye!
Find out more about Couchsurfing.
11. Booking.com – for your hotel needs
For cheap, luxury, and every hotel in between, you can turn to Booking.com to plan your stay. Not only does this travel app give you the best prices to suit your budget and needs, it also advocates for sustainability with its Travel Sustainable programme, which is a win for us eco-travellers! The programme gives you a credible, globally relevant sustainability measure and provides pertinent information for those who want to travel more mindfully.
Find out more about Booking.com.
12. Trivago – to look for hotels at cheaper rates
Searching for hotels on a budget? Then Trivago is your answer. As the world’s largest hotel search that’s wallet-friendly, Trivago can compare over 900,000 deals from more than 250 booking sites on a day-to-day basis – providing travellers the best possible rates for travel accommodation. Trivago also allows you to filter your search based on price, location, and attractions within the vicinity of your preferred accommodation. Find your home away from home with Trivago, and we assure you, you’ll never feel homesick no matter how long you’re gone.
Find out more about Trivago.
13. Airbnb – to forego the hotel altogether
Wanna stay someplace a little more homey and affordable than a standard hotel? With Airbnb, you can experience somewhere new like a local by staying at another person’s house. Known for its budget-flexibility, you can rent out a room, a whole apartment, or even a luxury home. This travel app is especially useful for when you travel with a furry friend, as every host clearly lists their own rules and requirements, allowing you to pick and choose for your convenience.
Find out more about Airbnb.
14. Culture Trip – to find places to explore
Initially launching as a travel content publisher, Culture Trip has evolved into a travel e-commerce platform. In addition to finding places to stay, you can browse curated collections of things to do and experiences to book. Search for the area you’re visiting and Culture Trip can find a multi-day trip or tour to help you fully immerse yourself in a new city and explore interesting places. There are also travel articles you can read to get you excited for your voyage!
Find out more about Culture Trip.
[This article was originally published in May 2016 and updated in 2023 by Min Ji Park.]