The Best Apps For Making Your Travel Plans, According To Rick Steves

Your phone might be your most powerful tool while you're traveling. It can be a translator, a map, a travel guide, and even your wallet — but it can also be beneficial while you're still at home and planning your upcoming trip. Travel writer Rick Steves has a lot of expert tips for successful vacation planning, including which apps travelers may want to download to help book their flights and hotels, choose the best places to put on their itinerary, figure out how they're going to get from place to place and keep track of all the information they will need while they're on their trip.


If you intend to travel in Europe, you might want to get the Rick Steves Audio Europe Travel App. This will allow you to download some audio files in advance so that you can have Steves as your tour guide as you explore anywhere from Budapest to the Scottish highlands. Regardless of where you will be traveling on your vacation, though, plenty of handy apps can give you a leg up on your planning.

Book hotels and cars through online travel agencies

Some travelers consider using a travel agent for honeymoons and other important trips, but many people are more likely to book their travel and accommodations themselves. On his website, Rick Steves' Europe, Steves recommends using online travel agency goliaths Expedia or to search for the best options – both of which have apps available for current iPhones and Androids.


When choosing which one to use, you might have to shop around to figure out which has the best prices for your destination. According to a report by the travel insurance company InsureMyTrip, (which is owned by Expedia Group), Expedia, and had similar results in finding the best price on hotels in U.S. cities, with Expedia coming out just slightly ahead.

Steves suggests skipping Expedia and and switching to Skyscanner or Momondo to travel within Europe. Will these apps save you money? Maybe. What they definitely can do is make it a little simpler to put together your travel plans because the apps are easy to use, and they keep everything in one place.

Use your chosen airline's app

You can book flights through travel agencies like Expedia, but Rick Steves suggests downloading the app for the airline you want to fly with. Most major airlines have their own apps that you can use to book flights. This doesn't necessarily guarantee you the best deal, but it makes planning simpler because no third party is involved – which is vital if your travel plans change and you need a refund. Depending on the airline, booking directly through their app can help you earn loyalty points, translating into discounts and advantages like free WiFi on your flight.


Major airlines will typically let you check in before the flight on your app and have a digital version of your boarding pass available so you know in advance that you will breeze through the airport. Steves noted on his website that these apps are also an easy way to monitor any potential delays or changes to your flight. While your tickets cost money, these apps are typically free to use, so there's no real disadvantage to downloading them and utilizing them to help make your travel plans other than losing a little storage space on your phone.

Download transportation and navigation apps in advance

Getting lost while figuring out how to get around a new city can be one of the great joys of travel and lead you on unexpected adventures, but if you have a reservation to get to, it's better to know where you're going. Rick Steves recommends downloading local public transportation and mapping apps to make your plans and help you get around smoothly. Steves likes Citymapper for working out the best route on public transit, but depending on the city you're going to, more specific apps may be available that give better directions. For instance, if you go to Paris, you'll want to download Bonjour PATP to navigate the métro.


Accidentally getting off of a train at the wrong stop only to discover that your mapping app can't find you could be a significant inconvenience, but fortunately, the navigation apps Steves recommends, Google Maps, Here WeGo, and Navmii, will all allow you to download maps for the area you're going to be traveling in advance so that you can use them offline if you can't get a signal while you're out. Some of these navigation apps, like Google Maps, are also ideal for planning your travel itinerary and figuring out how long it will take you to go to all your destinations.

Choose the best places to eat through review apps

Rick Steves' most genius travel tip for planning successful vacations may also be the most basic: be prepared. That goes for finding places to eat, too. When setting up your travel plans, you might want to pick out some restaurants and cafes in advance so that you don't find yourself wandering around looking for somewhere to eat well past when you wanted to have lunch or accidentally end up at an expensive tourist trap for dinner. However, when traveling to a new place, knowing where you should go can be tricky. To help you make a good decision, Steves suggests using apps where ordinary people can leave honest reviews about their experiences, like Tripadvisor or Yelp.


While Steves notes that Tripadvisor ratings don't always tell the whole story, they can be very helpful in helping you find options for restaurants you might like to try on your vacation. For instance, on Tripadvisor, you can put in the specific neighborhood you will be visiting and then narrow down the results by type of cuisine, average cost, and even ability to accommodate different dietary restrictions.

Keep all the details on one app

Travel planning can take a lot of time, especially for big international trips. Many people plan their honeymoons far in advance, which can be a great strategy — but the longer and more packed your trip is, the harder it will be to remember everything when you arrive at your destination. To keep it all straight, Rick Steves suggests using an itinerary organizing app to find all your bookings in one place when needed.


You can use several apps to keep everything you're planning for your big trip organized, like TripCase and Wanderlog, but Steves likes TripIt best, and it's easy to see why. This app organizes your bookings into an itinerary with a timetable and sends you reminders and updates about your bookings so that you don't forget anything. You can even use them to remind yourself about your favorite spots for future vacations. As described by one user of Rick Steves' Europe's Travel Forum, TripIt has a feature where you can add comments on the locations you've visited to refer to them the next time you travel to the same place.