And with that flashy introduction comes all you need to know about the best travel app ideas that have been used by millions connected to the travel industry. The travel industry has come a long way working together with mobile technology, and tourist destinations are able to utilise travel mobile apps to advertise their event calendar and local attractions for future visitors.
All mobile app users want an instant response to a query, much like using Google on a laptop, and it is speed and minimal clutter that helps a travel app move up the rankings.
The leading mobile apps aim for a particular market and then dominate it. Tourism industry giants such as Booking and Kayak are aimed at the family or casual traveller, while airBnB offers its services to customers looking for a home from home.
While all the bases appear to be covered by those three, there are some highly successful mobile apps that fill the gaps that the big boys have missed.
Breaking it down by travel app category first, let’s have a look at 25 top travel app ideas that have been highly successful.
Flight booking apps
There are many out there in the market, but not all of them are reliable. The few that are incredibly popular have the biggest access to airline databases and can fetch prices quickly and efficiently.
This is a great flight booking application to find the best flights and save money. It will check seat availability on upcoming flights to any particular location, including travel insurance.
Although the app has added some extra booking features for car hire and hotels, its main strength has always been the flight search, which it does beautifully.
This travel app has a neat approach to finding the best flight using a very innovative idea. Once the dates are chosen, the app will let you know by push notifications when to buy tickets to get the best price.
It does this by watching price fluctuation and predicting when is the right time to purchase. Such a travel app is crucial for people who wish to save money.
For the people who are flexible and ready to go anywhere, this travel app offers amazing deals and gets an honourable mention.
Adventurers can check out the ‘All Deals’ section with crazy prices for many travel destinations. It’s only available on iOS or website unfortunately, no android app.
If you’re one of those people who get skittish about flight departure times and gate changes (I am!), then this is absolutely vital for peace of mind.
The brilliant flight tracking mobile app allows you to check the status of any flight worldwide, and will send you push notifications about your flight, including delays and gate changes.
It’s one of those top mobile app ideas I couldn’t live without on vacation.
Hotel booking apps
Travel mobile app development has moved ahead so rapidly that we can offer three flavours of hotel booking apps.
The standard travel apps for booking hotels are usually used when planning a trip before a vacation starts.
Booking is one of the easiest and most convenient travel apps to use, as it offers an extensive range of venues globally.
Its success is based on return customers who wish to participate in the rewards program, which offers price discounts and travel deals.
With nearly 6 million places to stay, Booking gives their customers a wide variety of choice depending on budget.
For the traveler that wishes to get closer to the community, this one is the champion. Over 100,000 cities around the world have local properties and apartments connected to the travel app.
It is a great travel app idea, and there are several businesses who have tried to emulate AirBnB, with varying degrees of success.
One very successful travel app is Vrbo, Vacation rental by owner. It is an online brokerage system that matches property owners with vacationers wishing for a different holiday stay.
Fancy a holiday by the sea, or in the wilderness? Vrbo has cottages, bungalows and cabins to suit all tastes and budgets, including high end villas and ski chalets.
Finally, the last minute market is alive and kicking. Travelers who are spontaneous can save a lot of money with this travel app.
In the tourism industry, there is nothing worse for a hotel to have empty rooms, and by working together with HotelTonight, they can still try and fill those rooms at the last minute, offering discounts to the app users.
This travel app is perfect for those who don’t like fixed plans and are open to offers.
Travel itinerary maker
A travel app development company will hit the nail on the head if they can produce a great itinerary mobile app.
These types of travel apps are designed to take the stress out of document handling and storage traditionally encountered in the tourism sector, by putting together all flight, hotel, travel insurance and tour mobile transactions in one place on a smartphone.
A peach of a travel app, it’s able to help travelers with destination research, organisation of email documents, and storing reservation information.
Offering offline access, the travel app makes it easy to keep track of the entire vacation, without having to worry about connection issues.
Think of it as a tour guide in your pocket, except you have to do all the preparation first!
The mobile app also lets users collaborate with friends and family, who can add notes and links to the itinerary using a social media platform.
This travel app works in a slightly different way. Every booking confirmation made needs to be emailed to tripit.com who then provides a free itinerary master document.
If mobile or wifi connectivity is not available, a Tripit user can still access the main document for their information.
This compilation of travel documents and confirmations makes Tripit highly successful with travelers.
Local public transportation apps
Once you’ve got there, how do you get around? Some people are not comfortable hiring a car in a new city abroad, so that leaves local public transit or walking.
Here are three great travel apps to consider.
The best tourism app for moving around is probably this one, with its access to bus and train timetables and accurate arrival times. It can also let you know when to get off so you don’t miss your destination.
Moovit ties into the GPS locators on each public transport vehicle to provide real time information on delays and traffic buildups.
A huge number of cities, both big and small, are listed on the travel app, and it makes accessing local public transport a breeze.
Moovit turned a clever travel app idea into such a successful business that Intel bought them out in 2020.
Next on my list is Transit, a similar local public transport option, with access to all buses, trains and subways in the area.
A smart detail in this travel app is that a user can tell it where he/she wants to go and it will provide precise details on how to make the trip.
Although Transit offers less cities on the app, the user interface is really attractive and intuitive, must have features for a successful travel app.
Finally, a great option that is widely used by people living in a new city is Citymapper.
Although the travel app offers the smallest number of destination cities of the three, it is really great for picking the mode of transport needed.
Buses, trams, metros and bicycles are all listed on the app, and if the bike option is chosen, the app will tell the user how many calories they will burn. Pretty useful stuff!
These three travel app ideas above have all become seriously popular with residents and visitors alike.
Car pooling has been around for many years, and was a useful tool for commuters who worked together and lived in the same areas.
Taxis provided the services needed for moving around a city quickly, but the public have started to avoid using them due to high prices, limited numbers of cabs, and often dirty conditions of the vehicle itself.
In 2009, a small company transformed the modern travel industry by providing fast, inexpensive and clean methods to get about.
I am going to list three different types of these travel apps, each with their own speciality.
Offering services similar to taxis, but much cheaper, Uber allows drivers to use their own vehicles to transport passengers, communicating via a mobile application.
Using the mobile app, a person can summon a driver to a location, with an in app feature giving precise GPS location details and time of arrival.
The passenger is able to enjoy time saving journeys, much faster and more comfortable than public transport.
Not without controversies, this is a remarkably successful business, with great benefits to the travel and tourism industry.
This travel app offers a corner to corner ride sharing experience, kind of like a shared shuttle service. Users book rides and then join the shuttle as it comes past.
This clever travel mobile app uses GPS and location algorithms to direct the shuttle to pick up and carry several passengers going in the same general direction.
It is basically a shuttle bus ticket booking app idea turned into an innovative service that helps to reduce carbon emissions and traffic bottlenecks in cities.
Unfortunately, Covid seriously affected the business, although it appears to be bouncing back. The benefits of the service are uncomplicated travel, comfortable shuttle vans, and prices equal to taking public transportation.
Via have also partnered with local transport authorities, universities and hospitals for non emergency patient transport.
The third iteration of ride sharing travel apps is BlaBlaCar, an extremely successful idea that has grown to over 100 million users predominantly in Europe and the surrounding countries.
It works like this. A driver who is going on a journey will upload the itinerary and any waypoints to the app, list the number of seats available and the cost of the ride.
I was amazed when my friend told me he took a 410 km ride with a doctor who was going on vacation.
The driver dropped my friend off right outside his house before heading further south to the mountains.
It cost less than 10 USD.
The travel mobile app is quick, especially for finding trips of 10 kms or more. It is easy to city hop, and then use the same travel app to move across the country.
By the way, the name of this travel app comes from the ‘talkyness’ of the driver in a ratings system. A Bla driver will watch the scenery go by, a BlaBla will be fairly conversational, and the BlaBlaBla driver will be unstoppable!
There are several travel mobile apps that support currency conversion, but for the most accurate service it is better to use a dedicated app.
This travel app was my go to for all things currency connected. It is simple to use and has a great interface.
Available for over 130 countries, the currency rate converter shows a live mid market rate and previous status up to the last ten years.
With the Xe travel app, you can even send and receive international money transfers, and the app will store all details for future inspection.
But not all tourism app ideas and improvements are well received. Recent changes to the mobile app have damaged its reputation somewhat, and the market leader is now……
All Currency Converter
It has pretty much the same features as Xe, but ACC adds a little flair.
It gives access to charts and the latest trends, tracks precious metals such as gold and silver, but the gem is the tip calculator tool.
After working out what tip you want to add, it will allow the user to pay a restaurant bill via a third party mobile app. Great if you want to split the bill between friends.
GPS based maps
Mobile apps that provide location services are vital for travelling. Having a phone map will allow users to find services such as gas stations close to them, trip distances and best route suggestions.
Some navigation apps are quite specialised for outdoor activities, such as hiking, and offer a premium package with weather forecasting and parking area locations.
The old favourite, Google’s own app, Maps has been used by millions as a city tour guide, to locate amusement parks and even to get information on local shopping trends.
Tied into the travel industry, Maps has helped countless people find exactly what they were looking for.
With the Google name tag attached, it is one of the finest location services around. Combine that with street view, and you get a complete visual exposure to any street, anywhere, just like a city guide.
Designed to be a mobile app for sharing precise locations, What3words is a fabulous app idea that has been a lifesaver to people wishing to meet up in an unknown environment.
Every single 3×3 metre square on the face of the earth is assigned three unique words, which can then be shared as a ‘pin’ for others.
For directions to the ‘pin’, users can use the built in compass or any GPS mobile app.
Lotus 4 map for outdoor activities
The basic free version of the Lotus 4 travel app is set up for adventure enthusiasts who like hiking, biking and geocaching as part of their vacation.
The interface allows app users to plan routes and record tracks. Using in app purchases, a user can upgrade and use the complete set of mapping tools.
The pleasures of travelling to another country can be swiftly diminished by language problems with everyday interactions.
This is where travel apps capable of translating multiple languages come to the fore. Mobile app development in this field has improved drastically, although there are still some teething problems that can be embarrassing.
This app can be used offline, which makes it very handy when there is no internet connection available.
It has a very useful phrasebook built in, giving the users access to the most common phrases in several languages.
The travel app can use voice, text and photo inputs, which is perfect for translating menus and signs.
Pretty much standard on all android phones, this mobile application assists the travel industry as much as the user.
It is very quick and simple to use, but it does require a wifi or mobile connection to work.
One of the greatest travel app ideas has been this one. Who hasn’t fretted over what to take on a vacation and usually has packed too much?
Airlines should give the original travel app development company a pat on the back for reducing the amount of baggage, and users should too.
As far as travel app ideas go, this one is a doozy. It’s like your own personal packing assistant, giving a list of everything you need.
All you need to do is select the destination, the dates and the type of trip (business, general, adventure-based or other) and off it goes.
It will check the weather forecast and decide on rainwear or beach clothes, and will even note if there will be laundry access at the destination, reducing the amount of clothing and saving space.
This travel app does the same as Packpoint without the weather forecast, but adds a few extras that make it even more useful.
Travelling with people and/or pets? Covered.
To Do and shopping lists? All there for you.
It has a simple user interface, and you can use the Assistant, templates or choose your own list which will be stored in the cloud. I love it.
Companies that are involved in travel mobile app development have had a difficult time since 2020, but there are some outstanding performers in the travel industry and have managed to survive.
In many cases, the top mobile apps have strengthened their position in the market with acquisitions of competitors.
A successful business always looks forward to provide the finest service possible, retaining customers and enticing new ones to join.
Travel forums are constantly giving feedback to travel app developers in order to improve services and give more to the consumer.
There will always be simple and clever ideas for the travel app industry, and I expect to see huge growth in the coming years.