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Best Apps For International Family Travel

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Last Updated on December 15, 2022 by Leslie Stroud

If you are looking to travel abroad and experience a new country, there are some tips you should know. Our family has traveled to more than 25 five countries, including our five kids. Some of the most helpful tools we’ve discovered throughout our travels are the apps on our phones. Many people travel unaware of the help their device can offer.

If you want to simplify your international travels, keep reading for a run-down on our favorite travel apps.

For Lodging

  • Airbnb.  We’ve used Airbnb around the world, in every continent besides Africa (as we haven’t been there yet!)  Depending on the size of your group and the experience you want, we highly suggest looking into Airbnb for your accommodation needs. See this post for more information on the pros/cons and “how-to’s” of Airbnb for family travel.

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  • Booking.com.  If we opt not to use Airbnb, Booking.com is definitely my favorite app for booking hotels.  Booking.com allows you to search for hotels and short-term rentals, usually including free cancellation. Within the app you can also search for rental cars, flights, and even taxi’s directly from the app.
  • Expedia.  Honestly, this is not my favorite app. However, we can get some excellent deals sometimes because we’ve used it for several years. They also offer exclusive mobile deals to all users and double points on bookings when using the app. We typically use Expedia for rental cars, but we occasionally use it for lodging and flights.

For Booking Flights

  • Google Flights.  Google Flights has been our favorite tool for shopping flights for quite some time.  Pay attention to the calendar feature that will show flight prices based on the date. This way, you can see the cheapest times to fly and save a lot of money.
  • Skyscanner.  This is our second favorite because you can select “anywhere” as your destination. Just input a starting location and explore the best deals worldwide. You can also find hotels and activities within the app, so it’s a very convenient option.

For International Transportation

  • Uber.  We use Uber in most countries that we visit.  However, it is illegal in a few big cities (Barcelona and Rome, to name two). You’ll want to download Uber before your trip so you don’t skip a beat once you’re there.
  • Free Now.  Free Now is another great ride-share app for European countries. If Uber isn’t working well, it’s a great option.  Some big cities have a contract with Free Now instead of Uber.
  • Grab.  If you’re looking for ride-share in Asia, this is likely what you’ll use. It also works very similarly to Uber.
  • Google Maps.  We love Google Maps because you can compare several different transportation options within the app. Simply input your destination, and Google Maps will show you directions for walking, biking, driving, and public transportation.
  • Apple Maps.  If you have an Apple iPhone, be sure Apple Maps is downloaded.  Depending on your country, it can sometimes work better than Google Maps and vice versa.

For International Communication

  • WhatsApp.  If you download nothing else from this list, WhatsApp is a MUST to have internationally.  For many, texting and calling internationally costs extra money. Almost everyone internationally uses WhatsApp! Be sure to download this before your travels.
  • If you are traveling to China, download and set up WeChat before you go. This is their messaging, social media, and mobile payment app.
  • Facebook Messenger.  A bit old-school, but still used in many places.  During the Covid lockdown, this is how we ordered takeout in New Zealand!

For Travel Food

  • Uber Eats. If our hotel doesn’t offer breakfast or we haven’t made it to a store to stock our Airbnb, we frequently order Uber Eats for the hungry kids.  We are known to be slow to get out of bed! Haha.  There are MANY local food delivery apps, but these usually require a local mobile number whereas Uber Eats is global.
  • TripAdvisor You can find almost everything on TripAdvisor, from restaurants to tours and hotels. This is great because you can see tons of reviews and recommendations from other travelers.

Other Helpful Apps for International Travel

  • Express VPN. Express VPN will help ensure a safe internet connection, no matter where you are at. 100% you want to have this app!  If your favorite show isn’t playing, if you can’t order something from a US website, or if you can’t access a social media app, you’ll need to use this.  The app essentially “tricks” your device IP address into believing you are located somewhere in the US instead of where you actually are. Sometimes we even use the app to switch up our IP address and compare flight costs!
  • Chrome.  If you aren’t a Chrome fan, you don’t need to convert, but at least download it.  Sometime websites will only operate on Chrome.
  • Google Translate.  This app is absolutely invaluable!  It will facilitate communication and come in handy more than you can imagine. You can use the camera feature to try and read signs or labels; the dictation feature is decent at communicating with someone else and more.  We use this app daily when traveling! Again, be sure this is downloaded before your travels.
  • TripAdvisor. As mentioned above, this is a great resource, no matter where you are at. You can plan your entire trip using the forum. Book flights and hotels, find out where to eat, what to do, how to do it, and reviews of the experience. It is extremely valuable.
  • PayPal. In a pinch, if we are low on cash, we’ve used PayPal to pay our tour guides and other vendors.

Additional Reading






  • We always begin our flight search with Google Flights
  • Booking.com. You can accrue points and rewards when booking through them. They offer accommodation and flight bundles as well.
  • Skyscanner.  We love the “anywhere” feature to see where it is cheap to fly to.
  • Kiwi.com. They will arrange the cheapest connection, which may mean a few different airlines.  However, if flights change, they will find you a solution!
  • Expedia.  Since we fly so many different airlines, we love the Expedia points we can earn.  We also get better deals the more we book through them.
  • Other platforms we like: Priceline, Aviasales, Hopper, and Travelocity.




As a large, full-time traveling family, travel insurance is a must. It’s always a good idea to have travel insurance in case something goes wrong. With the unpredictable state of the world, it is more important now than ever.
We love World Nomads for our travel insurance. They provide travel insurance to travelers from over 130 countries and have many policy options to fit your needs. (Coverage may not be available for residents of all countries, states, or provinces. Be sure to carefully read your policy wording for a full description of coverage)


For a comprehensive list of all the 7 Wayfinders Travel Must-Haves, Click Here. 

Tip: If you are making an online purchase (airline tickets, hotels, clothing…basically anything you can imagine), be sure you are using Rakuten! You can either download the app if you are shopping on mobile or open a browser on a desktop. You then type in the store you are looking to shop at (ie: hotels.com, amazon.com) and shop like normal. The only catch…you get your money back! Each store is different, but you can get anywhere from 2%-35% cashback on every purchase! For us, it’s a no-brainer. We are shopping anyways, might as well get some money back!

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