Our Favorite Apps to Take Travel to the Next Level

The era of smartphones has made travel infinitely easier. You get lost? There’s an app for that. Need a recommendation for a restaurant? Sorted. Can’t figure out what to pack? Check. Here are our picks for the apps (and websites) that make getting to and enjoying your next home exchange almost effortless.

Please note: Some of these apps require being connected to wifi or having a data plan. Please confirm before using them outside your plan area so you don’t get an unexpected surprise with your phone bill.


A Little Planning:

500px (Android, iOS | free)

Every so often, we need a little travel inspiration. Scroll through and find some of the world’s best photography and let each image call to your wanderlust.

Google Trips (Android, iOS | free)

If you use gmail (and even if you don’t), this is a great way to build out your trip. Google Trips will store your flight date, give you travel tips and will use your personal preferences to help create custom recommendations.

Evernote (Android, iOS | free)

Make a list and check it twice. Evernote is the perfect place to keep everything organized. Create folders, set reminders, add images and even share lists with travel companions. It’s a great tool to stay on top of all the tasks that pop up before you leave home.

Packpoint (Android, iOS | free)

Sometimes packing can become a little overwhelming. Packpoint takes the hassle out of packing. Select what type of trip you’re taking, where you are going and how long you’ll be there and the app will build a recommended packing list. One less thing think about!

Duolingo (Android, iOS | free) // Memrise (Android, iOS | free)

When traveling abroad, it is always nice to know a few key phrases in the native language. These two free apps help you expand your vocabulary (even if you failed every language class in school) and teach you a little about the culture. Start early and you’ll be sure to impress your exchange partners with your newly acquired skills.

Accuweather (Android, iOS | free) // Wunderground (Android, iOS | free)

Will you need an umbrella? What about a sweater? These apps have the answer. Save your favorite locations, look ahead at the 10-day forecast and even check out weather pattern.


Consider it Booked:

Google Flights (website | free) // Hopper (Android, iOS | free) // Skyscanner (Android, iOS | free)

When searching for flights, it’s all about the way you shop. These great websites and apps help you do just that. They work with you to find the ideals dates, can send you alerts if prices drop and will even recommend optimal days (and months) for travel.

Kayak (Android, iOS | free)

Kayak has become one of the leading places to go for deals on travel. It reaches out to multiple other sites to make sure you get the best deals on airfare, car rentals and more.

SeatGuru (Android, iOS | free)

Before you think of clicking that “Confirm Order” button, make sure to check out TripAdvisor’s genius website and app. Simply fill out which airline you may be flying, list the flight number and date and SeatGuru will show you details about each seat for your journey. It shows you which places to avoid because of nearness to the bathroom, where there is limited legroom and which seats have plugs to help keep you charged for long flights.


You’re On Your Way:

Audible (Android, iOS | subscription)

With multiple hours on the move, it is important to keep yourself entertained. Try out Audible and choose a few audiobooks to help pass the time. With so many options your biggest challenge will be selecting narrowing down your list.

Netflix (Android, iOS | subscription) // Amazon Prime (Android, iOS | subscription)

Thanks to these apps, you will no longer be limited to the questionable selection of in-flight movies. Download your personal favorites in TV and movies and take them with you. Just be aware that some content is not available in certain countries. So once you connect to the data or wifi in your destination you may lose access to your favorite show. Plan accordingly.

Spotify (Android, iOS | free/subscription)

One of the best perks of Spotify premium is the fact that you can build out your perfect playlist and take it with you. Get yourself in the mood of your exchange location and download some local artists. Or bring along some of your personal favorites so you can feel at home no matter where you go.

Calm (Android, iOS | free)

Traveling can be stressful. (Talk about an understatement.) With Calm, you can ease that burden a bit. Take a few breaths as you follow along with a guided meditation to reduce stress, to sharpen focus or even to sleep better.

XE Currency Converter (Android, iOS | free)

Stay on top of your travel costs by knowing the latest exchange rates for wherever you go. Select multiple types of currency and stay informed.

Expensify (Android, iOS | free)

Keeping track of receipts can be a challenge. What goes where, who pays for what. Expensify makes it that much easier to track. You can scan a receipt by taking a photo with your phone, or enter it manually.


Where to?:

Uber (Android, iOS | free) // Lyft (Android, iOS | free)

Finding the best way to get from point A to point B used to be complicated. Now, with the advent of ridesharing apps, that hassle has all but disappeared. The difference between Uber and Lyft all comes down to personal preference. Word to the wise: make sure to check local rules before you leave as some cities and countries are establishing regulations regarding ride-sharing services.

BlaBlaCar (Android, iOS | free)

The HomeExchange of ride sharing. Designed for affordable city-to-city travel, this app let’s you get a ride with someone already planning on driving to your destination. As the name implies, you can choose the (verified) driver based on your level of “chattiness”; Bla – a quiet ride, BlaBla – some friendly conversation, BlaBlaBla – love to talk. You’ll pay only for your share of the cost of the trip.

Google Maps (Android, iOS | free) // Waze (Android, iOS | free)

If you have access to a car while exchanging, look no further than Google Maps or Waze to help you get around. Both give turn-by-turn directions and help you avoid the boredom of traffic.

Citymapper (Android, iOS | free)

Without a car? Citymapper can get you around in more ways that one. It accesses public transportation schedules, can give you directions and will even show you a quick walking route. Better yet, you can access it offline so you don’t have to worry about draining your data plan.

Walc (Android, iOS | free) // Sidekix (Android, iOS | free)

Hitting the pavement with your own two feet can be one of the best ways to explore a city. With Walc and Sidekix, it is like having a personal guide along the way. While routes might not always be most direct, they will show you various landmarks and the perfect restaurant while on the way to your destination.

TripAdvisor (Android, iOS | free) // Yelp (Android, iOS | free)

Travel like a local. With user-generated comments and content, you can discover all sorts of hidden gems. Don’t forget to submit your own thoughts! Just like with HomeExchange, these communities benefit from feedback!

Google Translate (Android, iOS | free)

Want to know what a certain word is on the menu? Type it in and now you know if you are ordering chicken or snails. An announcement being broadcast at the train station? Click on the microphone and the app will tell you what is being said. You can even download specific translation files for use offline.


Wish You Were Here…

Skype (Android, iOS | free) // Whatsapp (Android, iOS | free) // Viber (Android, iOS | free)

Stay in touch with your loved ones back at home. Whether through text or through speech, these are a few great ways to reach out and brag a little about how much fun you’re having.

Circa (Android, iOS | free)

Don’t get caught staring at your watch trying to figure out what time it is back home. Circa lets you set multiple locations and shows you the ideal time to be able to connect with friends and family. Or work, if you must.

Instagram (Android, iOS | free)

Inspire travel envy with all images and videos you capture while on your exchange. With the ability to edit and crop photos, add filters and even share events live, being miles away doesn’t mean being disconnected.

This is a big, ever-changing topic. We’re sure we missed a few of your favorites, so be sure to add your thoughts and suggestions in the comments below!


4 Comments on “Our Favorite Apps to Take Travel to the Next Level

  1. I used to use Kayak and Google flights, but I have consistently found better airfares and options on Hipmunk http://www.hipmunk.com.

    This is also one of the few sites that allows you to include seniors as a search option. I have tested the fares using a ‘senior’ on Hipmunk and then using the exact same information on other sites. Hipmunk always had a lower fare.

  2. This was a great email.

    I have to say I was still disappointed as I thought it was going to be an announcement for an app for Home exchange! It seems like the next obvious thing to be able to have for on the go: an app for the homeexchange.com site. Is that something that is in the works?

    • Hi LAJ, sorry that we didn’t surprise you… But stay tuned! There will be some news coming very soon! 😉 It might be the next app on your phone.

  3. I am trying to make an exchange in Mesa AZ for 2-weeks in March 2018 and need help to understand your system.

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