Travel Hacks

10 Essential Apps to Download for Holiday Travel

by Daniel Schwartz
Best Photo by Sebastian Hietsch / Unsplash

You’ve been looking forward to holiday vacation all year, and you want your grand, exciting, possibly once-in-a-lifetime trip to run smoothly. To help with all the moving parts, we curated a list of essential travel apps to help with everything from airport logistics and solid internet to staying relaxed on the road.

Google Trips

Google’s trip planning app is a great tool for staying organized before and during a big trip. The free app sorts your flight, hotel, and car rental reservations in real time after connecting to your Gmail account and maps out your day based on pre-planned packages recommended by Google or custom itineraries you enter in on your own. Best of all, the entire service is available offline.


Scoring free public WiFi while traveling often feels like a steal, but your personal information is at risk when the network is unprotected. To avoid identify theft abroad (and get access to blocked sites in other countries), download a VPN and browse the web securely on an encrypted connection instead. (from $10 a month)


Consider this an essential if you’re trying to streamline your transit experience, especially during the hectic holiday season. Save a profile with details about your credit card, elite status, and lounge membership programs and the app will tell you which lounges you have access to when you get to the airport. The app sells access to many lounges as well.

Spotted by Locals

Plans fell through and need a trustworthy recommendation? Turn to the locals. Specifically, Spotted by Locals, a Fathom Favorite travel blog that sources up-to-date food, shopping, and culture picks from real in-the-know residents. Download their iPhone or Android app to get all that intel in the palm of your hand — in map form — no internet connection required. ($4)

Mobile Passport

Americans and Canadians with B1 or B2 visa status can speed through U.S. immigration by submitting passport control and customs declaration information directly from their iPhone and Android devices at a variety of different airports across the country.

Google Translate

Stuck behind a language barrier? Don’t underestimate the steadfast instant language translator, which has improved significantly in recent times. The app can speak translated text, translate spoken text, live translate pictures of foreign text, and work with 52 languages without an internet connection. (Download on Google Play.)


Create the ultimate packing list: Enter your trip details — length, date, activities  — and the app prompts you with a list of activity-specific items, essentials, and toiletries. Save what you want and — voilà — you definitely won’t leave home without your bathing suit this time.


Order takeout from select airport restaurants ahead of time. Pick up food from special counters without having to wait on line. Avoid separation anxiety from your departure gate and minimize the time you spend with hangry travel companions. Win, win.


Add a little holiday sparkle to your travel photos and videos with a filter that makes objects on screen appear as if they’re glittering. Fun! ($1)


A smoothly designed white noise app with customizable sound mixes drowns out the noise of screaming babies and chatty neighbors on flights. ($2)

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We make every effort to ensure the information in our articles is accurate at the time of publication. But the world moves fast, and even we double-check important details before hitting the road.