10 Must-Have Apps for Travelers

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

What are the most popular apps for travelers? Which apps should you definitely have on your smartphone when you’re planning or booking a trip? Which ones will still be useful once you get home again?

This summer, mobile analytics firm App Annie began indexing the top apps in the Travel & Transportation category to see which apps are most popular among travel-minded Android and iOS users. Beginning in June, App Annie looked at the top apps in the Google Play Store and iOS App Store. While the June report looked at the category as a whole and divided apps into categories of Airline, Hotel & Lodging, Ground Transportation, and Aggregator, the July report focused on the Hotel & Lodging category, a specific subset of travel and transportation apps. The reports measure the most popular apps by number of downloads across Android and iOS, and draw on App Annie’s tracking of 60 billion app downloads.

As the mobile analytics firm notes, the travel industry has historically been slow to embrace technological advances, but now that tradition is changing to keep up with the market. “Mobile devices are quickly becoming the focal point of travel planning,” the June report notes. “Millennials, who will soon make up the lion’s share of travel spending, have the highest levels of smartphone penetration in the U.S. and are the most likely to use mobile apps to enhance their travel experiences.”

In June, sharing economy apps like Lyft and Uber and public transit apps like HopStop Transit and Moovit landed in the top ten ground transportation apps. Similarly, Airbnb landed squarely at the top of the list of most-downloaded hotel and lodging apps in June, and five of the top ten overall travel and transportation apps were aggregators (think Hotels.com, Expedia, and TripAdvisor). Additionally, App Annie’s June results for the top seven airlines by app downloads exactly mirrored the top seven airlines by domestic revenue passenger mile with apps by Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines, United Airlines, American Airlines, and US Airways at the top of the list. In the firm’s July report, App Annie paid particular attention to apps in the hotel and lodging category, because downloads of apps in that category grew by more than 30 percent with apps by Airbnb, Marriott International, Hilton HHonors, and HomeAway in the lead.

So what are the most popular travel and transportation apps that you should consider downloading? Let’s look at App Annie’s July results for the most popular travel and transportation apps. (These are the apps with the highest number of downloads across iOS and Android.) With these popular apps, your smartphone may be the only tool you need to plan and book your next getaway — or make exploring your own city a little more fun.

1. Uber

Uber app (Android)

Source: Play.google.com

Uber, the most popular app on the list, consistently makes headlines for disrupting the traditional taxi business for experimenting with services like lunch delivery, and for engaging in fierce competition with major competitor Lyft. With Uber, users request a ride among a variety of options, from the affordable UberX cars up through the UberLux service.

2. Expedia

Expedia app (iOS)

Source: Itunes.apple.com

The Expedia Hotels & Flights app extends Expedia’s web-based service to users’ smartphones. The app enables users to find deals (and book) hotel rooms and flights anywhere in the world. The app also lets users view their itineraries and receive important notifications for occurrences like flight delays or gate changes.

3. Hotels.com

Hotels.com app (Android)

Source: Play.google.com

The Hotels.com app is another option for users looking for an easy way to book a hotel via their smartphones. The app shows available hotels on a map, enables users to look up hotel confirmation numbers or details on past, current, or future bookings, and also integrates with Apple’s Passbook feature.

4. TripAdvisor

TripAdvisor app (iOS)

Source: Itunes.apple.com

TripAdvisor provides millions of traveler reviews, photos, and maps to users who are planning a trip. They can find airfares, hotels, restaurants, and other activities, and also book a hotel or flight or reserve a table. Many users also use the TripAdvisor app at home, because the Near Me tool will find options close by, and reviews and photos are useful for discovering restaurants and attractions at home or away.

5. Fly Delta

Fly Delta app (Android)

Source: Play.google.com

Delta Air Lines’ app enables users to compare and book both domestic an international flights, plus reserve preferred seats or purchase other options. Users can also rebook cancelled flights or missed connections from the app, and track the location of their checked bags. They can also access airport maps, public transportation information, and weather data, and add boarding passes to Passbook.

6. Lyft

Lyft app (iOS)

Source: Itunes.apple.com

Lyft, Uber’s biggest competitor, also lets users request a ride from their smartphones. While Uber markets itself as more of a luxury service, even with its affordable UberX service, Lyft places pink mustaches on the front of each driver’s car, and the drivers are known for being friendly and often talkative. But many users keep both apps to be able to choose between the two services for speed or price.

7. Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines app (Android)

Source: Play.google.com

The Southwest Airlines app enables users to book, change, and cancel air reservations, and book or cancel rental car reservations from their smartphones. Users can also check in for their flights, check the status of their flights and set up text notifications, and also view travel and weather alerts based on their itineraries.


KAYAK app (iOS)

Source: Itunes.apple.com

KAYAK is an option for booking and managing different types of reservations for a trip. It enables users to search for and book hotel, flight, and car reservations. They can also track their flights, manage their itineraries, and set up price alerts to be notified when prices change.

9. Airbnb

Airbnb app (Android)

Source: Play.google.com

Airbnb is another startup that, like Uber and Lyft, has made headlines for disrupting a traditional industry: hotels. With Airbnb, users can make reservations to stay at unique homes or apartments (a penthouse, a yurt, or a treehouse are examples the company offers) or find a long-term sublet. The app enables users to book accommodations, access their itinerary, and even list their own home for potential guests.

10. Hotel Tonight

Hotel Tonight app (iOS)

Source: Itunes.apple.com

Hotel Tonight enables users to book “last-minute” hotel rooms to make spontaneous travel decisions easier. The app boasts that users can book a hotel in ten seconds, with three taps and a swipe, and features a curated selection of hotels, photos, and ratings from travelers, and a growing list of cities and countries where the service is available.

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