When it comes to international travel, having the right app can be the difference between a good or bad experience. We use a number of apps to help us research and plan, get around, and share our experiences. Here’s a list of the best free travel apps we consider must-haves when planning any trip.

Google Maps

Most travelers know that Google Maps can be a powerful tool to get around. What most don’t know is how to leverage the built-in features of Google Maps when traveling internationally. I can write an entire post just about these options, but for now lets just start with my top three. First is saving offline maps. This is extremely helpful if you don’t have an international roaming data plan. Downloading a map will allow you to find your way without data. While it won’t read street names, on-screen directions and maps appears normal and you’ll hear a ding when it’s time to make the next turn. We’ve used this option extensively.

You can also create custom maps on your computer and access them on your mobile device. This is especially useful when planning the most efficient routes during your trip. We used this option to plan our road trip around the Netherlands.

Lastly, Google Maps can replace most local transit apps. That’s because the app can plan your route on most ferries, subways and metro systems. If you have data service, it will even plan your train times and the fare you can expect to pay.google-maps-transit


Viber started as a humble messaging app. Today, however, Viber offers many  options. We like this app because it is VERY affordable for long-distance calling. We used Viber to modify our airline tickets during our honeymoon. To make the modification we had to call the airline’s home office in Japan. Using Viber, the 10-minute long distance call only cost $1.89!!! That is why we listed it as one of the best free travel apps.

Google Translate

This app has gotten us out of several tricky situations. You can type text or speak into the app to have words translated into your native language. If the person you’re talking to doesn’t mind, you can have them speak to the app while you read the translated text. You can also point your phone to written text or a sign to have it translated in real-time using you phone’s camera.

Fancy Units

Fancy Units is a simple to use app that helps you calculate the actual cost of items when you’re traveling internationally, among other things. It’s really easy to get caught up in the novelty of using a foreign currency. This can and often leads to very expensive mistakes that you may not even realize you’re making! This app allows you to quickly calculate the currency equivalency with or without data service. Be sure to open the app while you’re at your hotel to make sure you have the most up-to-date currency exchange data.

Polar Steps

While this app wont help you plan or communicate in a foreign language, it will make it easier to share your most memorable vacation moments with your loved ones. It organizes your pictures by activities and days. The app organizes your entire trip in a very pleasant format. You can even print a  picture book of your trip.

Check out our Honeymoon trip on Polar Steps